Xiaotao and Dali screamed in horror and were about to bolt. The man stumbled and fell on me. I supported him with both of my hands. His body was wrapped up in white shrouds and his hands were stretched forward stiffly like a zombie. It seemed that it was another case of post-mortem spasm.
“What is there to be scared of about dead bodies?” I laughed.
“You’re the weirdo, dude!” Dali shouted. “What kind of question is that? What could be scarier than a freaking walking corpse?”
I looked around and found another corpse in the room. I pushed the walking corpse to the side and walked into the room. There were three large iron furnaces in the crematorium. One of them was still burning, while the other two were locked. Glowing red light radiated from the mouth of the furnace, illuminating the whole room even though no light was turned on. There was a faint scent of roasted meat in the air. A human corpse would need to be burned for a long time to turn it into ashes. Someone would need to monitor the temperature of the furnace at all times for safety reasons and also to allow the corpse to burn fully.
There was a table on the other side of the room with unfinished food and a drink on it. There was also a washbasin next to the table with combs, towels, vaseline oil and a kettle.
There was a rolled-up straw mat on the ground in front of the table, and a man was lying on it on his back. The right half of his face was covered in blood which flowed down to his neck and even on his padded jacket. His eyes were both bulging out from the sockets.
A blood-stained ashtray lay beside him, and the cigarette butts in it were scattered everywhere.
Judging from his outfit, he was probably the staff responsible for monitoring the furnace. He was about 40 to 50 years old. He was wearing a padded jacket, but his lower body was completely nude. His penis was erect and it was glistening under the dim light from the furnace.
At first glance, it was obvious that the man had just died not long ago. The blood on his head hadn’t yet completely dried up. Xiaotao checked his jugular vein with her fingers and said, “I’ll call to inform the station.”
“How would you explain our presence here?” I asked.
“I’ll just be honest,” Xiaotao answered. “We came here to investigate a murder, after all. Still, we must be careful not to let any outsiders know that we’re here.”
I nodded. Xiaotao called the police station and asked for some officers to be dispatched here immediately.
“I’ve seen enough tonight,” Dali whined. “Can’t we go home now, dude?”
I glared at him and started to perform Organ Echolocation on the victim. It seemed that his internal organs were directly injured, but there was a hematoma in the stomach, which had ruptured. This might have been caused by the blow to the head and the subsequent fall. When someone got hit severely hit on the head in the movies, they would immediately faint and black out. But in reality, if you got hit on the head seriously enough, your body would twitch violently and your saliva would stream out of your mouth. It would be a horrifying sight indeed, nothing like the tame version usually shown on TV at all.
Likewise, the drool in the corners of the victim’s mouth and the bulging eyes would’ve been caused by the blow to the head.
I sprinkled some seaweed powder on the victim and found a clear palm print on his neck. This got me excited. For the first time that night, I was able to acquire a clear fingerprint. I pulled out my phone and took a picture of it immediately.
Then I realized something. I compared the palm print with the fingerprint fragment from earlier and told Xiaotao, “They’re identical!”
“What? But how?”
I got on my knees and smelled the ground like a dog. There was a very faint feminine scent on the straw mat.
“Wait here,” I said. “I’ll be back in a minute!”
I rushed out and returned to the main funeral home. There was an empty bed next to Cao Da, not the one we used earlier but on the other side of the victim. The white sheet on that bed was quite messy, as if a body used to be there but was removed recently.
This was a crucial detail that I’d overlooked!
I sniffed at the bed carefully, and it smelled of rot and some cleaning chemicals used to clean the corpse. But apart from that, I detected a very faint feminine fragrance too.
Cao Da and the staff in the crematorium were killed by the same person!
The murderer had been lying beside the victim all along! That was the true meaning of the words ‘not a single living person’ found in the room with Cao Da!
Every detail fell into place neatly now, and I could feel that I was close to finding out the truth. I almost burst out in laughter due to the excitement!
At that moment, a bright light flickered outside the window. It couldn’t have been the police yet. My first hunch told me that someone was probably stealing Xiaotao’s car.
I ran out in a hurry, but found Xiaotao’s BMW sedan parked there undisturbed. Then I saw a black Volkswagen Santana pulling up and leaving the place. The car’s license plate was covered with a red cloth. This car was just too suspicious. It was highly likely that it was related to the two murders.
I yelled for the car to stop but to no avail. I remembered how Xiaotao shot a car to mark an escaping car in an earlier case, so I picked up a stone and hurled it towards the car, smashing the rear windshield.
Xiaotao and Dali ran out, but at that point the car was already gone. I briefly explained what just went on to them. Xiaotao nodded and replied, “Right, when the police arrive, I’ll ask them to track down the car.”
“By the way,” I added, “I found out who the murderer is.”
“Who is it?” Xiaotao and Dali asked in unison.
“A female corpse!” I replied.
Cao Da was probably a necrophiliac. He was probably having his way with the corpse alone in the back room of the night club. He bathed her, dressed her up just like a child would dress up a doll, and then have sex with her.
Unbeknownst to him, the corpse suddenly came back to life during sex and stabbed Cao Da in the chest. The knife was either prepared in advance or it probably was something Cao Da carried with him all the time. After stabbing Cao Da, she forced the knife into his hand and continued to pretend to be dead.
Therefore, the murderer didn’t need to herself at all, because no one would ever suspect a dead woman.
When the gang members broke in, all they saw was their boss, stabbed multiple times in the chest while still holding a weapon in his hands. None of them would take notice of the corpse since they knew that she was dead all along. And that was why they insisted that there wasn’t a single living person at the murder scene.
Cao Da’s body was then sent to the funeral home together with the dead woman. The staff at the crematorium saw the young and beautiful dead woman, so he brought her to the crematorium during the night to have his way with her. The comb we saw at the scene was probably used to comb the corpse’s hair, the towel was probably soaked in hot water to soften the joints of her stiff body, and it was probably unnecessary to explain what he used the Vaseline for.
In fact, such scandals were not uncommon in funeral homes. Because of their profession, undertakers and those who worked in funeral homes were shunned by society in general and they were mostly isolated. So, whenever there was a young and beautiful corpse, some of them used it as an opportunity to vent their frustrations.
For some unknown reason, the dead woman came back to life again, and when she saw what was happening, she hurled the ashtray at the funeral home staff and accidentally killed him before escaping. Then she wandered around the funeral home, which was when we saw her. She even bumped into Dali in the toilet.
After listening to my explanation, Xiaotao sighed, “A dead woman who came back to life… What a horrifying twist!”
Dali’s face was as white as a sheet. In a voice that almost broke into sobs, he pleaded, “Dude, this case is just too scary! Let’s not investigate it anymore! We can’t fight a zombie!”
“No,” I said. “The murderer is definitely a normal human being. She just suffers from some kind of strange disease that puts her into a death-like state. Either that, or she uses some type of drug to induce that state. Dali, do you remember what she looked like?”
Xiaotao and I looked at him at the same time.
“No, dude,” said Dali, waving his hands. “My phone fell out of my hand and into the toilet when she appeared in front of me, so I didn’t see anything at all.”
“Perhaps she had an accomplice?” she suggested. “Could she escape with someone else in that black Santana?”
I fell silent for a while.
“Let’s go,” I said. “I think we can find more clues from the dead body!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter