Netherworld Investigator

Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Three years later, I was a fourth-year student in a polytechnic university in H City.

Life as a fourth-year student was largely relaxed and carefree. All we had to do was go to class a few hours a week, and we were mostly left to our own devices for the rest of the time. For many, this time was spent playing League of Legends online, or luring innocent juniors to love hotels. In fact, I noticed that most of my dorm-mates were in pairs most of the time.

But I was the notable exception, of course, because I spent most of my time in the library, learning and absorbing all I could about forensics through the books there. I spent so much time there that the bags under my eyes were no different from a panda’s.

I never forgot everything that happened the day Grandpa died. I remembered every word of exchange I had with Officer Sun afterwards, and the promise that I made to myself. When the day comes that Jiangbei Daggers returned, I will have my vengeance!

But the present me, I realized, was still far from being Jiangbei Daggers’ worthy opponent. That was what drove me to learn more and get stronger and better in every minute of my life.

That day I was going to the library to return some books I borrowed that were due, but before I could step out of the door I was blocked by Wang Dali, the closest friend I had at university.

“Hey, dude!” he chirped enthusiastically. “Did you hear? Someone died in our college today!”

“Where?” I asked.

“Near that man-made lake!” he replied, in a tone a tad too jolly considering the circumstances. “A guy in our college had hung himself there, apparently. There are a few police cars over there right now. And you know what? They say that he killed himself over a breakup or something! Geez, you’d think that only girls would do sappy things like that!”

Sensing his callous tactlessness, I thought he needed a bit of scaring to set him straight.

“I’d advise you to watch your mouth, Dali,” I said, “Didn’t you know that the ghosts of people who died tragic deaths like that tend to hang around? Don’t be surprised if the dead student decides to come hang out with you tonight.”

“Whatever, dude,” Dali brushed me off. “Wanna go down there and take a look?”

“Sure,” I replied.

We then made our way to the man-made lake on campus. It was quite a distance from our dorm and faculty where we went for our lectures. Apart from dating couples, rarely anyone would ever venture this far out on campus. But it was more crowded than usual today, apart from a crowd of students, there were also quite a few police officers there as well.

The police had sealed off the area with yellow tape. I could barely see that there was a belt hanging on an old banyan tree on the shores of the lake. The dead body had been taken down from the tree, it seemed. There was a man wearing a white coat, presumably the coroner, kneeling beside what seemed to be the corpse. I said what looked like the corpse because a thick grouping of trees surrounded the scene, plus there was quite a crowd gathered there too, so I couldn’t see the corpse at all.

“That’s strange…” I muttered.

“What is?” asked Dali, craning his neck to see better.

“This small thicket of forest is just steps away from the lake,” I said, “so why didn’t he just drown himself in there?”

“That’s simple,” said Dali. “The guy probably thought about drowning himself in the lake, but when he stepped into the water, he must’ve realized how freezing cold the water was. It is fall now, you see, and it gets really chilly at night in this season. The guy probably didn’t want his last experience in this life to be freezing cold and wet, so he must’ve decided to just hang himself on the tree.”

Dali then paused to admire his own deduction – if you could call it that.

“How about that?” he asked me. “Wasn’t that a great deduction?”

“That was flawless logic, dude,” I joked. “If Di Renjie had heard that, he would just give up being a detective and go back to farming; and if Holmes was born in the same generation as you were, he would’ve been jobless!”

“Damn right he would!” said Dali. It seemed that this idiot mistook my jeers for genuine praise. “You look like you’re eager to learn, so I might as well give you some guidance!”

“I should be so lucky,” I said.

“Man, this is a terrible spot!” Dali complained. “You can’t even see anything from here. Let’s find a better angle.”

We went around the place for almost half a day, weaving through the crowd. Finally, we found a spot that was not so far away from the police line. But even then, all we could see was the back of the coroner. Just as I was about to get a good look at the dead body, Dali tapped me on the shoulder.

“Whoa, dude, look at that smoking hot policewoman!”

“Where?” I asked.

My gaze then followed the direction that Dali pointed, where I saw a female police officer standing near the police line. She did indeed cut a striking figure – slim and tall, unblemished fair skin, and all the curves in the right places. She was wearing a pair of skinny jeans that showed off her lean, long legs. On the upper half of her body, she wore the sky-blue button-up shirt of the police force underneath a leather jacket, her soft and shiny hair was cut short, and she was standing there with her arms akimbo. From what I saw then, the size of her breasts seemed to be C cup – no, they’re more likely D cup.

In short, she looked just as if she was the heroine of a police drama who had stepped out into real life.

She was observing the dead body in deep concentration, with her eyebrows wrinkled and her eyes unblinking. Her face looked like she couldn’t be much older than twenty years old, at most only a few years older than me. With that face and that figure, one could easily believe that she was a celebrity had she been wearing more glamorous clothes.

I turned back to Wang Dali and saw him quite literally drooling.

“You know,” he said, “I’ve always been an honorable man whose heart is not easily moved, but this policewoman is giving me an urge to commit a crime…”

“Yeah, go ahead,” I said. “I bet she could break your ribs with a single punch.”

Dali completely ignored me and kept his eyes glued to the policewoman. I decided it’s time to go find another spot to get a clearer view of the dead body. Perhaps I was wired up wrongly, psychologically speaking, but I’d much rather stare at a corpse than at a pretty woman.

After threading through the crowd again for a few minutes, I finally found just the right spot near the police line where I could clearly see the deceased’s face.

From what I could observe, the deceased was about twenty years old and his appearance was run-of-the-mill. He was wearing a sweater; his eyes were bulging out like that of a goldfish; there was a clear mark on his neck, and the skin above this mark was deathly pale, while the skin below it was dark purplish red. A stiff red tongue stuck out of his mouth and hung limply over his chin.

According to the Collected Cases of Injustices Rectified, the tongue wouldn’t necessarily stick out just because someone died of asphyxiation. If the rope that killed the person constricted the area above the larynx, then the tongue would not stick out; if the constricted area was below the larynx, then it would.

Because only a small part of the tongue was actually inside the mouth, while most of it was in the throat, the strong gravitational force that acted upon the neck would crush the neck bones and force the tongue to stick out of the mouth. The ghosts of hanged men depicted with long protruding tongues in horror movies weren’t entirely artistic invention, after all.

But although the dead body had a very scary look, not only was I not scared at all, there was even a hint of excitement rising up in me.

Apart from the appearance of the tongue, there was the unmistakable stench coming from the deceased’s pants. Obviously, he lost control of his bowel movements right after his death. Based on these two points, the cause of death was clear!

Still, I felt strongly that there was something wrong. I tried to take a better look at the body and the scene and inadvertently almost stepped over the police line, but a police officer quickly shoved me back.

“Stand outside the line!” he shouted.

“What do you think, Dr. Qin?” I heard the policewoman asked the coroner, “Is it murder or suicide?”

The coroner was a man of about fifty or sixty with greying hair. He looked as if he had a lot of experience. He took off his rubber glove before answering the policewoman’s question.

“The cause of death is suffocation,” I heard him say, “and there are no signs of struggle or marks from being bound, so I say it is suicide.”

The policewoman sighed in relief.

“Okay, let’s pack up and get the body ready for autopsy!” she ordered.

“There’s no need for that,” the coroner proclaimed. “I’ve examined countless bodies and I’ve never made a single mistake in my entire career. If I say it is suicide, then suicide it is. An autopsy would just be a waste of time.”

“Ah, what an impressive pair of honkers! I wish I could go up there and ask her name.”

The familiar voice that floated into my ears belonged to Dali, of course. In my concentration, I had completely missed him being right next to me, leering and ogling at the policewoman.

“When did you get here?” I grumbled.

“Damn, were you so caught up in ogling that hot policewoman that you didn’t even notice me right beside you?” asked Dali. “That’s pretty surprising, coming from you. Your face always get as red as a tomato whenever there are girls around!”

“I was only trying to look at the dead body!” I protested.

“Sure, whatever you say, dude,” said Dali. “You go ahead and admire the corpse then. I, on the other hand, would prefer the hot policewoman any day. I wouldn’t mind it at all if she put her handcuffs on me, and spank me, and–”

I was in no mood for Dali’s debauched fantasies, because at that moment a couple of police officers were preparing to wrap the dead body up and take it away.

It was not my plans at all to get involved with the case, but I couldn’t just let the coroner blunder without doing anything about it. I had no idea where I got the courage from in that moment, but I pulled up the police tape, and marched right into the police line.

“Holy shit, dude!” shouted Dali. “What the hell are you doing? You can’t just barge in there and ask for her number!”

“You there!” bellowed a policeman when he saw me crossing the police line. “Turn around now! You’re not allowed in here!”

I took no heed of the warning. Everything in my surrounding just melted into a blur and I just kept heading straight towards the policewoman. I had but one thought in mind – I must tell her they’re making a grave mistake!

“He’s got it all wrong!” I said, pointing at the coroner. “That student didn’t commit suicide; he was murdered!”

“What did you say?” asked the policewoman. Her eyes rounded as she stared straight at me with a mixture of astonishment and confusion.

1. A from the seventh century AD who was a high-ranking official in the Tang and Zhou dynasties. He was often depicted in crime novels as a great detective, which is why he is now widely regarded as the Sherlock Holmes of ancient China.

Tip: You can use left, right, A and D keyboard keys to browse between chapters.