Chapter 5: Cat Corpses
The Criminal Investigation Unit's former consultant, Xie Lin.
Every person’s mind harbors secrets.
Chi Qing got out of the car.
The guard responsible for the entrance to the xiaoqu had a kindly face and wore an army-green overcoat, opening the access restrictions for the residents with a smile on his face, “Hello, be careful on the road, drive safely.”
He was on extraordinarily good terms with the majority of the residents, “—walking the dog again? Wangcai looks like he has a lot more spirit than he’s had the past few days.”
Everyone praised him as an exceptionally optimistic person who was always looking to improve himself.
Only Chi Qing knew that actually, he was suffering from severe depression.
The smile he wore on his face was nothing but a mask, and when he went to bed he would spend the entire night with his eyes wide open, staring blankly at the ceiling: [What the hell am I doing every day……what the hell am I still living for?]
Beep—he was granted access.
Chi Qing lifted his eyes slightly, the guard was wearing that same familiar smile on his face.
The road inside the xiaoqu was wide, the buildings stood like a forest.
As Chi Qing walked inward from the entrance, a cleaner wearing a wind-blocking hat was passing by with his cart.
The cleaner’s waist was stooped over; excessive hard work made him appear much older than he actually was.
Several different tools were arranged in the cleaning cart, along with a full trash container.
His wife had just passed the previous month.
Well-meaning residents would collect empty plastic bottles for him, uttering a soft, “my condolences,” before they left.
He did indeed appear sorrowful; his eyes had been red for the whole entire month.
Until one time when Chi Qing was not careful when throwing out his trash and accidentally touched his hand, discovering that he was like a drowning person gasping for breath when they made it to shore, concealing delight in his heart: [Who has that much money to take her to the doctor? So many years of having to both work and take care of her, she finally let me go……]
Chi Qing lived in building 16.
After brushing shoulders with the cleaner, he pushed open the door to the building and entered.
The elevator displayed an “8,” at that moment it was coming down from the eighth floor.
Just as the elevator doors had opened a crack, and before he had seen anybody, he heard the lively voice of a little girl.
A girl with pigtails was holding an adult’s hand, lifting her head to ask, “Mama, is baba coming home tonight?”
The woman holding her hand was wearing a beige sweater, and she replied tenderly, “Baba is working overtime today……okay, we’re here, watch where you're stepping, don’t fall again.”
They were residents of this building, a family with three people.
The husband and wife were well-known in the xiaoqu to be a model husband and wife.
A few years ago, on the first day Chi Qing moved into this building, the woman came up and gifted him a box of cookies she had baked herself, “I heard you just moved in, and I just so happened to have baked some cookies.
You can have them if you want.”
The woman smiled bashfully again, “I don’t know whether or not they’re to your liking, but my husband really loves them.”
[……He still thinks the kid is really his.
If it wasn’t for him being well-off, there’s this apartment in the area……]
The woman came out from the elevator, glancing at Chi Qing.
Chi Qing didn’t respond, pressing the button for his floor.
He watched the bouncing image of the little girl from behind, innocently urging, “Mama, hurry up!”
The doors to the elevator gradually closed.
Every person’s mind harbors secrets.
He’d never met anyone whose mind he couldn’t read.
Many people hold thoughts in their hearts that are hard to let out into the light, or deeply hidden guilt that nobody knows about, or desires that are impossible to speak aloud.
These things were like a massive abyss, a dark and deep cave that was almost enough to swallow everything up.
The elevator rose rapidly through the pitch black shaft.
As Chi Qing was experiencing the slight weightless feeling of rising, he recalled the way that nutcase sat in the office chair and took the book off of his face, suspecting that the instant where he didn’t mind-read anything earlier might have just been a coincidence.
The curtains in the apartment were tightly shut, completely blocking out the sunlight from outside.
The lights weren’t on either, but Chi Qing was well adapted to the darkness.
He didn’t like environments that were too bright.
Ji Mingrui’s video call came through just as he was crossing one leg over the other, shrinking into the sofa and flipping through TV channels.
The television emitted cold blue fluorescent light, sending a serene blue cast over his body, accentuating the contours of his features.
Ji Mingrui used this light to effortfully make out half of his face, “……Da-ge, are you the reincarnation of a vampire? It’s pitch black over there.”
Chi Qing used concrete action to express that he really didn’t want to play along, “If there’s nothing, I’m hanging up.”
“Don’t be so impatient.
I’m telling you, it’s bad for your vision……”
Chi Qing, “I’m hanging up.”
“Hold on,” Ji Mingrui’s side was exceptionally bright and clear.
The two video boxes on the phone seemed like day and night; they were clearly in the same time zone, but somehow gave the feeling of having jet lag, “You still haven’t replied to my question, what did the doctor say?”
Chi Qing changed the channel and the cold blue cast over his body flickered, “The doctor said he didn’t have a lot of confidence.”
Ji Mingrui, “That may be the truth, but doctors nowadays are really too blunt, aren’t they?”
Ji Mingrui continued, “And what nutcase did you run into?”
Upon bringing up the “nutcase,” Ji Mingrui suddenly felt like Chi Qing's face was contoured even more coldly by the cold blue light.
Chi Qing, “He’s sick, there’s nothing to say.”
Ji Mingrui wanted to say actually, you’re not so ordinary yourself.
But he didn’t dare.
“That’s good, as long as nothing’s up with you that’s good,” as he was speaking, Ji Mingrui lifted up his phone and got in the car, starting up the engine as he said, “I have to respond to a dispatch, we can talk more later.”
Chi Qing didn’t care.
That last meal had given him a deep understanding of the nature of Ji Mingrui’s work.
He put down the remote and the TV channel finally stopped on some romance type show, “Which couple is squabbling about divorce this time?”
Ji Mingrui listened to the scripted lines coming through from Chi Qing’s TV, “Even though there’s a thirty year difference between us, I truly love him.
I love how mature he is, I love how the years have carved wrinkles onto his face.” His temples pulsed fiercely; he didn’t know all the stuff Chi Qing usually watched was this trashy.
He spoke earnestly and seriously, “You seem to have some kind of misunderstanding about my work.
It isn’t a small-scale problem this time, Comrade Chi Qing.” He emphasized, “This time it’s a murder case, the kind with a river of bloodshed.”
Chi Qing tore some of his attention away from the television program, glancing at him through the cell phone screen and signaling for him to continue.
“In one night, they killed seven—”
Chi Qing, “seven people?”
Ji Mingrui, “……seven cats.”
Chi Qing looked away without a hint of mercy, “Oh.”
Ji Mingrui knew that Chi Qing didn’t particularly like those kinds of furry little animals.
Rather than saying that he didn’t like them, it would be better to say that had barely any feelings towards pets.
Back when they were students, one of the female students brought back a stray cat from the small forest by their school, secretly keeping it in the classroom.
Every day after school, the whole class would gather around to look at the cat, except for Chi Qing who wouldn’t move at all.
“You’re not going to look?”
“What’s there interesting to look at?”
The Ji Mingrui of back then was much shorter than the current one, and every day he would secretly wear height-raising shoes to increase his imposingness and confidence in running for the position of PE class representative, “I-it’s cute.
You don’t think so?”
On the other hand, the Chi QIng of back then was about the same, beautiful yet gloomy.
He used a pen to point at the blackboard, “Are you finished talking, get out of the way, you’re blocking my note taking.”
Ji Mingrui shook his head.
Before hanging up the video call, he spoke one sentence with a constricted voice, “Kitties are so cute, how could someone not like kitties.”
As it turned out, reduplication truly had a lot of destructive power.
This time, Chi QIng didn’t even say the three words “I’m hanging up,” cutting off the video in a straightforward manner.
Haimao xiaoqu was located in the Old City District.
The buildings within the district had white walls and dark roofs, the alleyways were long and narrow, the fleeting sound of bicycles and cars rolling along traveled everywhere throughout the district, a pair of elementary and middle school school districts formed a complete set nearby.
It was a place with a dense flavor of life.
Ji Mingrui parked his car.
Before he could even walk into the xiaoqu, he saw a group of people crowding around the entrance.
Although the accumulation of rainwater had evaporated, the vast stretch of blood that had been scattered by the rain still stained the street, striking and unsightly under the sunlight.
The bloodstains were flowing from the lawn.
A single cat dying was perhaps not a rare occurrence—but the shrubbery was filled with seven, densely packed cat corpses.
Someone had used a blade to split open the chest of each cat.
The internal organs had been forcefully pulled out, chaotically and ruthlessly mixing together in a wretched state of death.
Every single one had it’s eyes wide open, and half of each one’s head was exposed from the black plastic bag it was wrapped in.
Someone was covering their children’s eyes, quickly traversing through the crowd, “……How sinful…那呢尬辣手的啦 (How could they be so heartless).”
(t/n: Here’s some more dialect/local language.
This time 木瓜黄 provided a translation, so I kept her formatting with the dialect text, then the translation in parentheses.
This sounds like ‘na4 ne ga4 la4 shou3 de la’ if you read the characters in Mandarin, but I don’t know how it sounds in the dialect.
Iirc, there are a few more instances like this in this book, so that’s what’s happening if you see something like this again!)
From within the clamorous crowd, Ji Mingrui heard a familiar anguished wail, “My Nannan!—”
(t/n: 囡囡(nan1nan1) means something like ‘little darling’ or ‘sweet baby,’ and it’s an informal, close way to call a little girl.
However, it’s this cat’s name, so I’ve chosen to leave it as is)
It was Wang-a’po’s voice.
It was only then that Ji Mingrui was able to barely distinguish the single ear with a black splotch on it of a silver Scottish Fold from amongst the muddled flesh.
He’d seen this cat before.
(t/n: Sorry about all the notes, but just wanted to say that, although I did some searching, I’m not 100% on that cat breed as I know very little about cats beyond them being cute.
If anyone can confirm what breed 银白高地 is, I would appreciate it haha)
Last time when they’d gone to Wang-a’po’s home to investigate the wood carving case, that cat had been laying on the balcony stealthily watching them.
Su Xiaolan and another male coworker had arrived at the scene beforehand.
When she was finished recording the situation, she took her record book and retreated out of the shrubbery, saying with a lowered voice, “That one is Wang-a’po’s family cat, her daughter raised it before she passed.
It’s accompanied her for so many years……She changed the cat’s name, using her daughter’s childhood nickname to address it.
It’s called Nannan.”
Ji Mingrui, “Did you guys find anything anywhere else? Is it all here?”
Su Xiaolan, “It’s all here.
The residents told us there have been fewer and fewer stray cats in the xiaoqu this past while.
Up until yesterday, when even the last stray cat was nowhere to be found.
They’d been thinking it was because the weather got colder and the stray cats found other places to live.”
Ji Mingrui looked at the shrubbery, unable to keep from pursing his brow.
The sadistic killing of animals like what happened in the xiaoqu was something that sometimes occured, but in the vast majority of cases “poisoning” and “beating to death” were the most likely.
The former stemmed from neighborhood disputes, or hating the noise the animales made.
The latter stemmed from needing to vent one’s feelings, and therefore abusing weaker beings.
Cutting cats open while they were still alive……really wasn’t seen often.
Su Xiaolan spoke again, “Bin-ge said he’d come over to look soon.
Looking at the time, he’s probably almost here.”
“Bin-ge” wasn’t at all some young chap.
Rather, he was an old police detective who’d stepped down from above.
When he was young he’d been involved in many serious cases, but two years ago he’d been injured while out on assignment.
Adding on the fact that he was getting older, he’d finally stepped down to minding newcomers like them.
Ordinarily, as soon as it was time for a meal they liked to circle around Bin-ge and listen to him talk about cases.
Bin-ge would take the opportunity to reminisce on former years, “Back then when I caught the offender—”
After Ji Mingrui had reassured Wang-a’po, who was crying so hard she could barely stand, he had sat down on the masonry of a flower bed off to the side to recuperate his state of mind.
Just as he was going to stand back up, he saw a black Maybach slowly approaching from the other end of the road.
The car parked neither too near nor too far in the vicinity of the crowd.
Their “Bin-ge” got out from the passenger’s seat.
Bin-ge’s full name was Wu Zhibin, and his hair was shaved into a pristine crew cut.
Because his stride was unsteady he needed a cane, and when he got out of the car his black cane hit the ground first, “What’s going on, there’s such a racket.”
However, through the crack in the door during that instant, the person sitting in the driver’s seat caught Ji Mingrui’s attention.
That man’s face was extremely good looking.
He seemed to glance in Ji Mingrui’s direction, and his eyes were exceptionally ‘distinguished yet unconstrained.’ His hand rested on the steering wheel, and he wore a single delicate ring on his finger.
Even with the cane, Wu Zhibin still walked like he had the wind under his feet, “What’s the situation?”
Ji Mingrui moved off to the side, making it easier for him to get a clear look at the situation in the shrubbery, “Seven dead cats, exactly the same sadistic method.
It’s most likely the work of the same person.
But because of the rain, a lot of the evidence was washed away with the rainwater……the surveillance cameras over here have been broken for over a month already, and the other cameras in the xiaoqu are undergoing adjustments.”
Wu Zhibin, “All of that information is useless, you’d be better off saying that you guys surveilled the crime scene for this long and didn’t find anything.”
Ji Mingrui, “……”
Wu Zhibin leaned on his cane, effortfully crouching down to look at the seven cat corpses for a while, then suddenly asked another question, “What do you think?”
Ji Mingrui and Su Xiaolan were standing behind him, for a moment not understanding what he meant.
Ji Mingrui glanced at Su Xiaolan, silently asking: I finished my report already, is he talking to you?
Su Xiaolan replied with a meaningful look of innocence.
Just as Su Xiaolan opened her mouth intending to come up with some more information to continue reporting, she heard someone behind her say, “From the footprints, the suspect appears to be an adult male, but his body condition is probably pretty poor; he’s not very strong.”
She turned her head around and was faced with a pair of slightly lifted eyes.
They had been examining the scene for over half an hour, and had only found some superficial information.
But as soon as this person opened his mouth, he able to start outline the suspect’s distinguishing features, even if it was just a small “his body condition is poor”—during many criminal investigations, it was often exactly this type of minor distinguishing feature that would end up exposing the murderer.
Disregarding the fact that the two of them were not acquainted at all, Su Xiaolan asked, “Where’d you see that from?”
The man wasn’t offended at all, and pointed at the ground, “Plastic bags.”
“The bottom of the plastic bags have severe abrasion marks, telling me they were dragged against the ground for a period of time.”
After he finished speaking, he followed procedure and grabbed the rubber gloves Su Xiaolan had placed near the shrubbery previously.
The chests of these cat corpses all carried the traces of being stabbed, each and every bloody hole was horrifyingly aligned in a long line.
“The cross-section of the wounds isn’t level; they have the traces of a sawing motion,” the man’s hand gently propped up the cat’s body.
After he inspected it, his hand paused at the cat’s eyes.
With another gentle motion, he covered the cat’s wide-open eyes, shutting them and making it appear as if it had gone a bit more peacefully, “They’re most likely from a small saw.”
“Who’s he? Someone from headquarters?” Ji Mingrui asked in a whisper.
Su Xiaolan, “I dunno.
I heard Bin-ge call him ‘brat’ earlier.”
At that moment another male officer who had kept quiet through the whole exchange finally opened his mouth in befuddlement, questioning, “Are you guys actually in this profession or not?”
Ji Mingrui and Su Xiaolan, “?”
“He’s the Criminal Investigation Unit’s former consultant, Xie Lin.”
After the male officer finished speaking, he ceremoniously added on two more words, “……My idol.”
木瓜黄’s author’s note:
(＞人＜；) Arrived late
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