Chapter 7: A Woman Violated
Jiang Zhengkai sat in his office for an entire afternoon. This case had completely ruined his mood. There wasn't a single clue in sight, nor were there any credible leads to speak of. All he had as evidence were six human bodies thoroughly devoid of flesh and blood.
Wei Xin knocked on Jiang Zhengkai’s office door. “Inspector Jiang, are you planning on working overtime tonight?” she asked quietly as she came in and placed the investigation report regarding the third set of murders on his desk. The investigators had been able to verify the victims' identities. The female victim was a prostitute called A-Li, while the male victim was a migrant worker by the name of Liu Nanquan.
Jiang Zhengkai shook his head and said, “No, I’m going home. In fact, tell everyone to take the next two days off!” He waved his hand at Wei Xin and remarked, “They haven’t had a break in ages, so I’m giving them a couple of days off.”
“But, but... Inspector Jiang, didn’t our superiors say...?” Wei Xin’s voice trailed off as she didn’t want to further upset Jiang Zhengkai. What she wanted to say was: Didn’t our superiors set a deadline to crack this case? If we’re taking a break now, doesn’t that mean there’s even less of a chance of solving it?
“Haha, reports about what we've been up to are plastered all over the news. Do you seriously think those women will risk coming out tonight?” Jiang Zhengkai replied as he looked at Wei Xin with a wry smile on his face. “Anyway, that’s all for today. Go home and enjoy the weekend! We’ll meet back on Monday.”
With the night breeze blowing, Jiang Zhengkai slowly walked out onto the street alone. This case was giving him a serious headache. Soon, without even realizing it, he had walked back to the alley where A-Jiao and her girls worked. Ah well, since I’m here already, might as well go inside and take a look. Following that line of thinking, he proceeded to walk down the alley.
“A-Tao, I’m gonna get going now,” A-Jiao called out to the owner of the internet cafe as she exited the building. By this point, her stomach was growling, since it was well past dinner time, and she hadn't eaten anything yet.
In the dark of the night, A-Jiao swung her purse back and forth to stave off boredom as she walked back home. Along the way, she stopped at a noodle shop and ordered a bowl of hand-sliced noodles. A-Jiao would never have come to a place like this before, but ever since Xiaomei had died, something had changed inside of her, and she had stopped frequenting mid- and high-end restaurants altogether.
“What will you be having today, Miss A-Jiao? A bowl of noodles again?” the owner of the restaurant kindly asked.
“That’s right, Uncle Cai!” A-Jiao replied with a smile on her face. If not for the fact that she stood in that dark alley at night, nobody would have guessed she worked in such an ill-regarded profession.
“Alright, you just sit tight there. I’ll be right back with your noodles,” said Uncle Cai as he wiped clean A-Jiao’s table. He then leaned over and said in a concerned tone, “A-Jiao, it hasn’t been very safe here lately. You have to be careful if you go out alone at night.”
“Thanks, Uncle Cai. I’ll be alright.” As A-Jiao spoke, she smiled enough to reveal a pair of dimples. Together with her outfit today, she looked like just another mischievous young girl.
“Still, you can’t be too careful,” remarked Uncle Cai. He then turned around and headed into the kitchen to make A-Jiao’s noodles.
A city at nighttime naturally has its own special kind of charm. Even though A-Jiao had always worked during nighttime, she very rarely had the time to quietly appreciate all the beauty a city could offer at night. Of course, there is nothing beautiful about a dimly-lit alley, which is where A-Jiao was during most nights.
“Here are your noodles, A-Jiao,” Uncle Cai said as he carried a bowl of noodles out from the kitchen.
“Great, thank you! Here’s money for the noodles.” A-Jiao took a five yuan note out of her purse and placed it in Uncle Cai’s hand. “Uncle Cai, your noodles are so delicious!”
“Thank you! Go ahead and eat up,” said Uncle Cai as he placed the money into his pocket. He then looked at A-Jiao and said, “Don’t let your noodles get cold. They don’t taste as good when they’re cold. If you need more toppings, just holler at me, and I’ll go get you some more.”
“Okay, okay. Thanks again, Uncle Cai!” A-Jiao nodded her head as she mumbled her words through a mouth full of noodles. Even though A-Jiao hadn’t been a customer of Uncle Cai’s for very long, the old man nevertheless liked this clever-looking girl quite a lot. Every time she came, he would give her an extra bowl of toppings.
After about ten minutes, A-Jiao stood up and yelled towards the kitchen, “Uncle Cai, I’m done eating here! I’m gonna go now! Take care!”
“Alright, child,” Uncle Cai’s voice drifted in from the kitchen. “Take care of yourself out there!”
“Got it!” A-Jiao replied. She left the noodle shop and continued walking towards her home. When she got to the intersection, however, she glanced over in the direction of the alley. She felt as if some unseen force was pulling her towards that alley.
Unbeknownst to A-Jiao, a man had been quietly following her the entire time. It was none other than the man she scolded back at the internet cafe earlier in the day. Being humiliated by a female stranger and then mocked by a group of local thugs would be more than most men could bear. Plus, he wasn't exactly a gentleman anyway.
A-Jiao walked inside the alley and felt that it seemed especially deserted today. Despite a thorough scan of the area, there wasn't a single soul in sight. Obviously, the media had done their work in scaring people away. Right now, it didn’t matter if you were a buyer or a seller, everyone stayed as far away from this alley as they could, afraid of attracting whatever evil presence lurked within its shadows.
Tap tap, rapped the sound of A-Jiao’s stiletto heels as they struck the cobblestone road beneath her. On this quiet evening, the tapping of her shoes carried especially very far and sounded especially crisp. Far behind her, however, was a silent shadow stalking her every move.
When A-Jiao arrived at the building where she worked, she stopped and took a look inside. There wasn’t a single light visible in the building. The whole edifice looked like a giant monster with its mouth wide open, ready to devour any prey who dared to enter.
“Ai,” A-Jiao let out a sigh. She was just about to walk away when she suddenly felt a large hand covering her mouth and another hand grabbing a brick-like object which swung towards her head at an alarming speed.
BAM! The brick struck the back of A-Jiao’s head. Her knees grew weak, and her eyes went dark as she collapsed onto the floor. Behind her, the man with the big hands looked at the pitch-black darkness within the building and carried her inside.
“Where’s your attitude now, princess?” The man pulled A-Jiao’s purse off her shoulder and opened it to see what was inside. He found over a hundred yuan in cash, a cell phone, and a credit card, all of which he placed into his pocket. He continued rummaging through her possessions, but all he saw were lip gloss, mascara, rouge, and other forms of makeup. Lastly, he found a pair of black silk stockings and a string of condoms, the tools of A-Jiao’s trade.
“Well, what do we have here? Looks like you want me to love you long time,” said the man as he rubbed A-Jiao’s face with his hands, which then quickly moved to her chest. Just then, the men heard the echo of footsteps, which seemed to be getting closer. Accompanying the footsteps was the buzz of conversation. The man immediately stopped what he was doing and held his breath, quietly listening to the footsteps in the alley. After a few minutes, the footsteps and voices gradually became softer and eventually faded away.
“Just a couple of passers-by!” the man said softly. However, this incident did alert him to something. If A-Jiao suddenly woke up in the middle of the act, then he would have a serious problem on his hands. After thinking it over for a few seconds, he stripped A-Jiao of her clothes and tied her up into a shape somewhat reminiscent of a frog. He then carefully listened for any further commotion nearby, but all was quiet in the alley tonight. There won’t be anyone stopping me from having a good time.
In this dark hallway, all that the pale moonlight was able to illuminate was a silhouette of a man's body moving up and down. There also appeared to be something underneath him that was also moving with him. And at the same time, a series of whining noises could be heard from where this silhouette stood.
However, the source of the moans was not the male silhouette, but rather what was beneath him. From the sound of it, it seemed like the desperate cries of a woman, but it didn’t sound quite like it either. Actually, it sounded more like faint whispers coming from the back of the human throat or the sad cries of some sort of wounded animal.
There was also the staccato of a man’s grunts as the male silhouette increased the speed of his movements. After a while, the grunts reached a climax before falling silent and the silhouette gradually became still as well. After several minutes of inactivity, the silhouette appeared to have flipped the object underneath him and then made a series of whipping sounds. Then the grunts began again as the silhouette resumed his thrusting.
These types of acts are a common occurrence in this alley. After all, most of the men who come to this alley are looking to do exactly these types of acts with women. The only difference is most times these acts happen inside the building’s bedrooms, but today, it happened in the building’s hallway.
The stars of this “silhouette show” were none other than A-Jiao and the man stalking her. Some people do these acts out of love, some do it for money, while others do it to satisfy their desire for revenge...
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