Chapter 128: The Time Bomb

Sun Tiger glanced at the wounds that I marked and pointed out, “The assailant would have to use their right hand to produce these wounds, which means that we don’t have the proof of Xiaotao’s innocence yet.”

“No,” I shook my head. “At first glance, it might indeed seem like the murderer used their right hand to produce such stab wounds. But there is an anomaly to these wounds, namely their angle. These wounds are angled upwards, and to produce these wounds using the right hand, the murderer would have to hold the knife like this…”

I demonstrated using a scalpel, holding the handle in the palm of my hand with the blade facing up.

“Don’t you think it’s an awkward position?” I asked.

Sun Tiger nodded and groaned.

“What the hell was going on then, kiddo?”

I thought for a long time before replying, “The murderer must’ve entered the door and stabbed the victim in the belly. Then she turned her around and held her head between the legs before stabbing the chest.”

“So the murderer was on top of her?” 

“Yes,” I replied. “This created the illusion of a right-handed murderer, throwing further suspicion on Xiaotao.”

At that moment, Xiaozhou pushed open the door and announced that the test result was ready. The fibrous strand found on the crime scene was from a wig.

That justified my reasoning. The person in the video must’ve been Li Wenjia. She put on Xiaotao’s clothes, a mask, and a wig to impersonate her. I had heard of a site where you could order a customized mask that could be made to look very realistic.

Xiaotao breathed a sigh of relief.

“Thank God,” she cried. “She didn’t hypnotize me after all!”

“I’m done with the autopsy here,” I said. “Let’s go see if Lao Yao discovered anything through the video.”

Just as we went out, several policemen arrived with a few people in tow. These people were part of Li Wenjia’s ‘zombie army’ that had broken into Xiaotao’s house earlier. I quickly told Xiaotao to go into a room and hide before these people could see her.

According to the policemen, they were able to capture these people without meeting any resistance at all. In fact, when they got to Xiaotao’s house, they found the door wide open and these people were standing inside completely motionless like statues. They tried waving their hands in front of their eyes, but received no reactions. It was just as if they’d walked into a wax museum.

I warned Sun Tiger not to mistake these people as harmless. The moment they saw Xiaotao, they’d immediately turn into killing machines, stopping at nothing to attack Xiaotao. 

“This is ridiculous!” spat Sun Tiger. “How dare they attack a police officer!”

“But these people are innocent, Uncle Sun!” I quickly reminded him, mostly because I was afraid that he’d regard Dali and Shiwen as murderers. “They’re all under Li Wenjia’s complete control. They have no knowledge of their actions!”

“Don’t worry, kiddo,” Sun Tiger replied. “I know all that. When everything’s settled, I’ll arrange for them to be treated by psychiatrists.”

Once those people had been herded into another room, we headed into the conference room where Lao Yao had been busy working. When I pushed the door open, I found Lao Yao’s computer was still on, but the man himself was gone. Suddenly, a figure emerged from behind and choked Xiaotao’s neck with a belt. It was Lao Yao.

Xiaotao was completely caught off guard. All she could do was frantically claw at the belt around her neck with her hands.

Lao Yao’s eyes were completely vacant. His grip around Xiaotao’s neck kept tightening. Xiaotao’s face was starting to turn blue. Sun Tiger rushed in to help her, but no matter what he did, he just couldn’t get Lao Yao to let go of Xiaotao.

“Stop it right now or I’ll shoot!” roared Sun Tiger.

“Don’t shoot!” I yelled. “He’s been hypnotized!”

I grabbed a chair and smashed it on Lao Yao’s back. It hit squarely on him, but he didn’t budge. So I repeated it again until the chair itself was bent out of shape.

Meanwhile, Sun Tiger grabbed an ashtray and knocked it on Lao Yao’s head. It was a heavy ashtray. I could hear a dull thud as it hit Lao Yao’s skull. The attack proved to be effective as Lao Yao’s eyes rolled back and he collapsed immediately.

Xiaotao was pinned underneath the unconscious Lao Yao when he fell to the floor, so Sun Tiger and I had to carry Lao Yao off of her. She got up to her knees and coughed up a storm, then spat out a stream of saliva.

“I’ve got the shittiest luck tonight!” she cried.

Sun Tiger suddenly pulled out his mobile phone. Xiaotao and I were both puzzled at what he was trying to do. 

“That woman must be nearby!” he barked. “How else could she hypnotize your friend here?”

“No, Uncle Sun,” I tried to explain. “She’s not here. Lao Yao was hypnotized by that thing!”

I pointed at the computer. To my surprise, the screen was completely blank. As expected, Li Wenjia was utterly thorough. Not only did she look straight into the camera, she must’ve hidden some hypnotic audio in the video too. That way, anyone analyzing the video would fall under her spell. She must’ve instructed Lao Yao not just to attack Xiaotao, but to also destroy the video evidence that might lead back to her.

That was the real purpose of the video—she was sending the third time bomb to Xiaotao. After all that we’d been through that day, none of us suspected that she would have this last trick up her sleeve. It was a really close shave this time. Xiaotao was nearly killed!

Now that she’d used three of my friends as her tool, I felt the rage surging up in me. I vowed to catch this madwoman no matter what it took!

I asked Sun Tiger if there was enough cause to arrest Li Wenjia now. He shook his head wanly and said, “No, kiddo. But at least we can get a warrant to search her house now. Wang Yuanchao is still missing and these three students are all connected to her, so she can be legally identified as a criminal suspect and her residence can be searched in accordance with the law!”

“Great! Then we’ll go there first thing tomorrow morning—”

“Tomorrow?” asked Sun Tiger. “There’s no time to waste. We’ll leave now! Or are you too tired, kiddo?”

“Not at all!” I answered firmly.

Sun Tiger immediately dispatched a group of officers to Li Wenjia’s house. I went with Xiaotao in her car. When we were alone, she thanked me for saving her earlier. 

“Don’t mention it,” I told her. “Besides, the battle is not over yet.”

The police car sirens broke the tranquility of the campus as we arrived. Lights were turned on following the ruckus. We arrived at Li Wenjia’s house and searched through every inch of it, but we found absolutely nothing.

I looked around and suddenly noticed that something was wrong.

“Wait, where’s that fox?”

At that moment, a man wearing glasses arrived at the door. He was holding Li Wenjia’s pet fox in his arms.

“What happened to Professor Li?” he asked.

“Professor, do you know her?” I asked, hoping to find a new clue to track down Li Wenjia.

“Well, not quite,” he answered. “We talk to each other now and then. She told me she’d be going on vacation for a few days, so she left her pet with me while she’s gone.”

Everyone was visibly deflated after hearing that answer. We’d come to another dead end. 

“There must be some way that we can track her down,” muttered Sun Tiger through gritted teeth. “She bought a mask and a wig online, didn’t she? Go check her account activity. Get the list of online stores that sell these items and we’ll go through them one by one!”

The police officers started to execute Sun Tiger’s orders immediately. His decisive and authoritative manner was truly admirable. It reminded me that he did not rise through the ranks through connections at all, but through grit and sheer dedication.

The man in glasses was confused by this scene and was about to leave, but I stopped him. I asked him if he noticed anything unusual about Li Wenjia lately, but he couldn’t give me any helpful answers at all. After all, to most people around her, Li Wenjia was just a demure and pretty woman who would never harm a fly. No one would’ve guessed that she was a dangerous criminal.

I asked the man for his name and number and told him to contact the police immediately if Li Wenjia returned. It was only then that I realized that he was the professor of one of my classes this semester. I didn’t recognize him at all because I’d skipped all his classes!

As soon as we returned to the police station, reports came in from various districts in Nanjiang City about dozens of missing people. There was no doubt in my mind that Li Wenjia had a hand in this.

By that time, it was already four in the morning. Everyone was anticipating a short break, but Sun Tiger unexpectedly announced that a meeting was going to be held immediately. This made many officers grumble, especially those who were used to working with Xiaotao as they tended to be more considerate.

The meeting went on in a room full of cigarette smoke. The police officers all had dark rings around their eyes and were smoking cigarette after cigarette to keep themselves awake.

We had come to a point where Li Wenjia’s whereabouts were completely unknown and there wasn’t a single clue that could lead us to her at all. We were at our wits’ end when, suddenly, Sun Tiger turned to me and asked, didn’t Grandpa have a special technique to smoke out the criminal’s hideout?

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