At noon, Tao Yueyue settled for lunch near the school as usual. On the way back to school, she suddenly felt that someone was following her. When she looked back, a boy in the uniform of the Sixth Middle School hid behind the power pole.
Tao Yueyue, who was instinctively wary of strangers, immediately sped up and returned to the classroom. Many of the classmates who didn’t return home at noon were taking their lunch break. The boys were playing games on one side. Wei Zengmali was sprawled on her seat while reading manhua for young girls on her phone and giggling idiotically.
"Mali, it seems that someone was following me just now." Tao Yueyue said.
"What? Guy or girl?"
"A boy. I seem to have seen him before. He’s from our school."
"He couldn’t have fallen for you, right?"
"You think of nonsense all day!"
Tao Yueyue returned to her seat. Her lunchtime entertainment consisted of reading a thick classic novel. Wei Zengmali went over and asked about the topic from just now, "Was the boy handsome? Was he tall?"
"I. Do. Not. Know!"
"Oh, don't you normally think about this at all? Have you ever received a love letter? Or is there someone that you like?"
"I like Stendhal."
"Which class is he from?"
Tao Yueyue tapped on the author's name on the book.
"Tch, you’re fooling me! I’m talking about a guy in reality."
"Do you really have to get me to say one before you’re happy?" Tao Yueyue indifferently read her book.
"I understand now!"
"What do you understand?"
"You have an Electra complex..."
"Don't talk nonsense!" Tao Yueyue's cheeks turned red.
"You must like the older brother type, so these boys in the class aren’t your type."
Tao Yueyue was pursing her lips in contempt, when she noticed something in the corner of her eye. She turned her head and saw that the boy from just now was sneaking glances at her from outside the window, and then he suddenly retracted his head.
At the same time, Chen Shi and the police were at a wasteland in the countryside. A burnt female body was lying in the dirt pit. Chen Shi judged from experience that the body had been burned after death, and the murderer had burned her thoroughly. They first smashed the female’s face, then cut her stomach open. A lot of combustion aid had been sprinkled in her belly and on her body. The whole body had shrunk because of the burning, and it looked dry and thin, leaving only the dark skeleton.
Peng Sijue was collecting fragments of skin from the female body. Chen Shi squatted down next to him and asked, "Can you tell the time of death?"
Peng Sijue shook his head. "The margin of error will be very large with this kind of burning method.”
Lin Dongxue sent a few people to retrieve the surveillance footage around the intersection and to search for any remaining traces. The police found several shoe prints, a tire print, and some fabric fragments, which might have been from the clothing of the deceased, that had flown away during the incineration process.
Throughout the afternoon, Chen Shi walked back and forth in the corridor, anxiously waiting for the results. The first autopsy report came out that there were intensive injuries on the head of the deceased caused by a blunt object, but it was impossible to tell whether they had occurred before or after death due to the burning.
The internal organs were almost all burnt, and neither the stomach contents nor liver temperature could be the basis for judging the time of death. It could only be vaguely judged from the plants at the bottom of the pit that the time of death was within one week.
The skin at the fingertips of the deceased had been cut off. It seemed that the murderer intentionally wanted to hide her identity, but DNA identification showed that the body was Lin Xiaoxiao.
Hearing the result, Chen Shi said, "Maybe the fingerprints were cut off not to hide her identity, but for other purposes. Old Peng, can the fingerprints on the foot washer packaging be investigated further?"
"We’re already doing so."
The surveillance footage was more troublesome. There were too many vehicles passing through the intersection within the week. It was necessary to check them one by one. After two days of non-stop work, everyone was so exhausted that they almost went blind. The answer only arrived on the morning of October 10th. The vehicle that had abandoned the corpse was a black SUV passing through the intersection on the evening of October 1st. The tire prints and the one found at the scene were basically the same. Through tracing the license plate, they found the owner, who claimed that the car had been stolen. The owner had reported the loss on October 1st and the record could be found at the local police station.
All clues pointed to the time of disappearance as October 1st, except for Peng Sijue's test results. After in-depth evaluation, it was found that the fingerprints left by Lin Xiaoxiao on the foot washer packaging had a fat secretion level much lower than that of a normal person’s.
In other words, the person who held the box with both hands and handed it to Teacher Lin’s father that day may have been Lin Xiaoxiao who had already died, or another person who had left fake fingerprints on the packaging using the victim’s pre-cut skin ahead of time.
The whole case was shrouded in a dense fog of mystery. When everyone went to investigate the case in the morning, Chen Shi sat in the empty office, holding a cup of coffee in his hand. His eyebrows were tightly knit. He hadn’t taken a good rest over the past few days, and he had slight eye-circles.
Although the nature of the case had been reclassified after the corpse was found, and there were now a lot of clues that could be followed up with, the most critical one had ended in a dead end without any possibility of reversal. It made him puzzled despite much thought. How did the mastermind “resurrect” the dead and have three unrelated people see her with their own eyes?!
He had already considered disguise methods, and had also looked up some information. In reality, disguise methods were not so mysterious. Even the “Fujisaki Ayumi Disguise Method” used by spies in actual combat only changed the facial muscles using clay strips and cosmetics. The faked face could only be static and mask-like, and it was impossible for even the biological father to be deceived.
Another point. It’s very difficult to imitate another person. Chen Shi himself was wearing another person’s face, but when the real Chen Shi appeared, he found that their temperaments, micro-expressions, and small movements were very different. It was impossible to imitate them in a short time.
Yet another point was the person’s voice, which is the hardest to copy.
He envisioned a bunch of possibilities and the final answer were three characters - Impossible!
This was simply an impossible crime. It was extremely clever and made him feel a little admiration in the midst of frustration.
There were footsteps behind him. He knew that it was Peng Sijue based on the sound. Chen Shi asked, "Any new findings?"
"I found that when you’re investigating a case, your brain is only filled with the case. I'm very sorry, but nothing new was found."
Peng Sijue pulled out the chair next to him and sat down. "Today is your ‘birthday’."
Chen Shi thought about it and smiled, "Yes, my 'birthday'."
"You haven't bathed in the last two days. Seeing you so haggard, let's rest for a day today."
"Aiyo, it's rare to hear you caring about people."
Peng Sijue took out a cigarette. Since it was a special day today, Chen Shi made an exception and did not refuse. He took it and lit it up. He was in bliss as he inhaled it. He said, "Do you think that this case was done by Zhou Tiannan?"
"When there’s no evidence, I generally don’t have an opinion. All opinions are nonsense. It’s better to do something practical."
"We’re just discussing it! How boring."
"You shouldn’t bang your head against a brick wall. It’s not just one or two cases that only get solved after a few years. The serial murder case from back then still has no answer."
"You want to say that as long as Zhou Tiannan is involved, I'll be defeated!"
Peng Sijue made a speechless gesture.
"He’s indeed a professional criminal, and his psychological qualities, techniques, and anti-investigation awareness are first-rate, but he is not without any weaknesses. The body could obviously have been buried in place, but he threw it there carelessly and waited for it to be found. It’s like throwing me a puzzle to see if I can solve it. He’s very conceited. Killing is like a game to him. Perhaps the clues have already appeared, but we haven’t realized them!"
1. 19th century French writer.
2. A fictional disguise method used in Chinese spy thriller drama Peace Hotel involving the use of prosthetic material and makeup.
3. ‘Impossible’ in Chinese is made up of three Chinese characters.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter