The haunting sonata could scare the pants off of anyone who heard it, but the guy managed to escape back to his dorm room and hide under his blanket while shivering in fear, but all that night, he could not get the melodies of Moonlight Sonata out of his head!
Not long after that, someone discovered the dismembered body parts in the piano. The police started investigating, and the guy simply could not handle the pressure and the guilt, so he wrote a letter of confession before he committed suicide by slitting his wrist.
But the story did not end there. Though the girl’s body parts had been cleaned out, the piano was no longer useful. It just wouldn’t make any sound no matter how many times it was tuned. And when night came, the sound of Moonlight Sonata would always ring out from that old building. In fact, people nearby often witnessed the figure of a woman with long hair wearing a white dress around the music room in that old building. Sometimes, you could hear the sound of a girl weeping.
The college was afraid that this kind of incident would negatively affect new students coming in every year, so some people were hired to move the piano away. But strangely anyone who tried to move the piano would somehow have some kind of accident, some would accidentally cut their hands, some would accidentally get their foot under the piano leg. Eventually, no one dared to even touch the piano.
Many students wouldn’t dare step foot anywhere near the music room after that. The management of the college didn’t know what else to do, so they decided to seal the building off and abandon it.
The legend of the cursed piano became ever more mysterious the longer it spread among the students in the college. Some people claim that the moment you heard Moonlight Sonata it meant that the girl would be coming to you to beg you to accompany her to the end of time. Others claimed that if you interrupted with her playing of Moonlight Sonata, you would die a horrible death within three days.
Huang Xiaotao grew silent for a long while after hearing the tale.
“Do you believe that ghosts exist, Song Yang?” she asked when she finally spoke again.
“Since time immemorial,” I said, “there’s been countless things that humans could not understand. Science is merely an instrument that humans use to make sense of the world, and it is inadequate to explain the things that happen beyond the grave. I try to keep an open mind when it comes to things like ghosts. I don’t know if they’re real or not, I only know one thing.”
“What is it?” asked Huang Xiaotao.
“Ghosts can’t directly kill people.”
“You mean to say that they can kill people indirectly?”
“Yes,” I said, “and by indirectly killing someone I mean something like being frightened to death, for example, like how the guy in the legend couldn’t bear the sound of Moonlight Sonata that kept haunting him, so he committed suicide. In other words, I think the only people who can be frightened to death by ghosts are those that hide a ghost of guilt and shame in their hearts.”
“I completely agree with you on that!” said Huang Xiaotao.
I then told Huang Xiaotao of everything that we found out with the help of Lao Yao.
“I guess there is no longer any doubt that Deng Chao was the real murderer,” she said. “You solved a serial murder case in half a day, Song Yang! That is the best record in ten years in our division! I can hardly believe it.”
“I don’t think the case is solved yet,” I said, “since we haven’t caught the murderer.”
“Well, that’s true,” Huang Xiaotao agreed. “Do you have a plan?”
Before I could answer, my phone rang again. I said ‘again’ because all the time while we were having lunch my phone had been ringing non-stop.
“Did someone hack your phone and send you junk mails, Song Yang?” asked Huang Xiaotao. “Why has it been ringing non-stop?”
I opened the Weibo app in my phone and checked my account. Within the period of time that it took for us to finish our lunch, I had gained two thousand ‘fans’ and received more than 300 private messages. Dali leaned over my shoulder and glanced at my phone, then gasped at what he saw.
“Whoa, dude!” he exclaimed. “You’re famous now!”
“What’s going on?” asked Huang Xiaotao.
I showed my phone to her.
“I asked Lao Yao to spread the news of my involvement with the case on Weibo,” I explained. “I’ve attracted a group of ‘fans’ apparently, and people are calling the Great Detective Song now.”
“Hah!” sneered Huang Xiaotao, with a hint of what I thought might be jealousy. “So you’re planning to gain fame and fortune by being famous online, huh? I guess it’s not a bad idea since there aren’t many young great detectives around. If you manage it well and take a few flattering publicity photos, I bet in half a year you’ll be famous nationwide, and attract a host of crazed fans. Then your life is set and you won’t need to worry about getting a job ever again.”
“Perhaps you’re right,” I said, “but I have no intention to pursue fame at all. When this case is over, I’ll shut down my Weibo account immediately. I’m only doing this to lure Deng Chao into my trap.”
“How do you plan to do that?” asked Huang Xiaotao. “By calling him a cowardly turtle hiding its head in its shell on Weibo?”
“Don’t you worry,” I said, “I’ve set up a tempting bait for him. If everything goes according to plan, we should be able to capture him tonight.”
“Really?” asked Huang Xiaotao, her eyes gleaming. “Then tell me what your plan is right now! I’ll make the necessary preparations.”
“About that…” I said. “I’ll have to keep it a secret for now.”
Huang Xiaotao slammed the table angrily and said, “Don’t you dare keep a secret from me! Don’t you remember the three rules that you promised to obey?”
“All right, all right!” I relented.
It’s not that I was trying to create suspense by keeping the plan a secret from her or anything like that. I was just worried that the more people who knew of the plan, the higher the risk of Deng Chao finding out about it. And when that happens all my planning will go to waste and there might never be a second chance to capture him ever again.
But seeing how adamant Huang Xiaotao was in getting the details of the plan, I had no choice but to dish it out.
I used the handwriting in Zhang Kai’s lecture notes to fake a letter that exposed all of Deng Chao’s crimes. Then I spread two pieces of information on my Weibo. Firstly, I said that I had Zhang Kai’s confession letter in my possession. Secondly, I said that I hadn’t even informed the police about this!
And the prime objective was to lure Deng Chao out of the darkness so that he would come and find me. Then we’d catch him!
Huang Xiaotao and Dali were both shocked when they heard my plan.
“That’s a dangerous plan, dude!” said Dali. “What if he kills you?”
“There is that possibility,” I said, “but we are currently at a disadvantage. Without this kind of plan there’s no way we’ll solve the case before Dr. Qin.”
“Well, now that I think about it,” said Dali, “with Xiaotao-jiejie on our side, we might be safe after all.”
“Are you sure that Deng Chao would notice your Weibo and fall into your trap?” asked Huang Xiaotao. “Didn’t you say that he was a formidable high IQ criminal?”
“The smarter he is, the more he contemplates,” I said, “and the more he contemplates, the more worried he becomes. This is a case of serial murder, after all, not a panty theft. I’m sure the murderer is very nervous right now, and he’s very likely to be paying close attention to what was happening on campus. I’m positive that he will appear!”
“Song Yang, you really are impressive,” said Huang Xiaotao. “I’ll definitely write you a recommendation letter so that you’ll be accepted into the police force after your graduation. I’m sure there’s no case that you can’t solve.”
“That’s great, Xiaotao-jiejie!” said Dali. “In that case, would you mind writing me a recommendation letter too? You know how helpful I’ve been and how much Song Yang needs me!”
“Sure, I can do that!” said Huang Xiaotao. “Think about it, Song Yang! You’re in the fourth year of college now—soon you’ll need to find a job. You shouldn’t be wasting your remarkable talent by ending up as a salaryman working in a cubicle farm!”
I merely smiled wanly in reply. There’s nothing that I wanted more than to follow Huang Xiaotao’s advice, but the rules of the Song family must be obeyed, so I had to politely reject her offer.
“I don’t really want to be a police officer,” I said. “I guess I’ll just carry on being a consultant to the police, helping you the way I am now…”
“Dude!” said Dali. “Why are you throwing away this golden opportunity?”
“He’s right, Song Yang!” echoed Huang Xiaotao.
There was nothing they could say to sway me, though that didn’t mean that they didn’t try. Eventually, they both gave up and changed the subject.
“So, what should we do next?” asked Huang Xiaotao, finishing the last drops of her milkshake.
“We wait!” I answered with a smile.
“Then why don’t we go hang out at the cybercaf this afternoon?” asked Dali.
“There’s a class this afternoon!” I said, glaring at him.
“You’re still thinking of going to class? With such a huge case going on?”
“Well, I’m going anyway. You can do whatever you want!”
“What dedication!” Huang Xiaotao mocked. “Solve a case in the morning; go to class as usual in the afternoon.”
Grandpa always taught me the importance of staying humble no matter how many people around you were trying to lift you up. Never forget your duties and responsibilities and always do what you had to do. Only modest and humble people could maintain a successful life and good fortune; boastful people would always be met with calamities in the end.
“Do you have any tasks for me then, Mr. Great Detective?” asked Huang Xiaotao.
“If you don’t mind,” I said after considering it for a while, “can you help me get the details of the murder in the music room from ten years ago? I’d like to know the names of the murderer and the victim.”
“Roger that!” said Huang Xiaotao.