Chapter 157: Not for the Faint of Heart

The police officers soon arrived and dealt with the murder scene accordingly. By then it was already one o’clock in the morning and the three of us were exhausted. We decided to rest for a while in a police car. Xiaotao ordered one of her officers to prepare three bowls of instant noodles for us. We were starving at the time, so when the three piping hot bowls of noodles arrived, we gobbled them up and finished them within minutes.

“How considerate of the officers to even bring their own hot water!” Dali remarked.

“They didn’t,” replied Xiaotao. “It’s from the victim’s kettle.”

“Shit!” cursed Dali, almost throwing the bowl away.

Once she was done eating, Xiaotao got out of the car and ordered a few officers to contact the person in charge of the funeral home. The others were ordered to track down a black Volkswagen Santana with a broken rear windshield.

An idea flashed in my head and I told her, “I’ve heard that people with unusual ‘hobbies’ like necrophilia generally would have forums or chat groups on the internet where they discuss their activities. If we can find this network, these people should be within easy reach.”

“But it’s half past one right now,” replied Xiaotao. “Who’s going to help us look for that?”

“Well,” I smiled. “I think it’s time to call Lao Yao again.”

I gave Lao Yao a call, and unsurprisingly, he was still up at the time. I briefly explained the situation that we were in. Lao Yao sounded excited at the prospect of investigating necrophilia forums, but him being the greedy pig that he was, there was no way that we could end the conversation without discussing his rewards.

Xiaotao motioned with her fingers telling me to hand my phone over to her. Then she said, “Hey, Lao Yao! It’s me!”

“Oh, is that you, Xiaotao-jiejie?” answered Lao Yao excitedly. The pitch of his voice increased at least two notes the moment he recognized Xiaotao’s voice. “The hand cream from New Zealand was so luxurious! I loved it so much! What am I going to get this time?”

“I’m sorry, Lao Yao,” Xiaotao replied. “I can’t afford to give you expensive things every time. Have you had supper yet?”

“Oh,” said Lao Yao, “now that you mention it, I’ve been playing League of Legends all night and I haven’t had a bite of food since lunch! I’m starving now!”

“Okay, then I’ll order a full barbecue meal from a famous restaurant for you right away.”

Lao Yao was so thrilled that he didn’t know what to say. Xiaotao hung up the phone and picked the cheapest barbecue restaurant near our college to order from. She ordered plenty of eggplants, roasted leeks, and potatoes, all of which cost no more than fifty yuan.

It was very clever on Xiaotao’s part to reward Lao Yao with objects instead of money, because you could always lie about the true value of objects while at the same time making yourself look generous. Lao Yao might have been known for his cunningness and shrewdness within our circle, but he was no match for Xiaotao.

My mind went back to the female corpse in the current case. Indeed, she must be extremely beautiful as she was an insatiable temptation to the victim and his friend. Something would definitely happen to the man who stole the female corpse soon, so we couldn’t rest now. We must race against time to find him.

We returned to the police station. Xiaotao asked an officer to buy a large box of Red Bull to keep us awake as we gathered in a conference room waiting for new information. This case excited me so much that I didn’t need any energy drink to keep going. Dali, on the other hand, gulped down three cans of Red Bull and still struggled to keep his eyes open. 

At two o’clock in the morning, Lao Yao called Xiaotao through a messenger app. She connected her phone to a laptop and increased the volume so everyone could hear Lao Yao.

“These guys sure are a piece of work!” exclaimed Lao Yao while chewing some food, probably the barbecue that Xiaotao ordered for him. “Take a look at these photos I found from their forum! I must warn you though—they’re not for the faint of heart! I almost lost my appetite when I saw them.”

“Get to the point!” urged Xiaotao.

Lao Yao shared his screen from his computer to the laptop in the conference room. Xiaotao asked someone to turn on the projector so everyone could see what Lao Yao was doing. He was in a forum called NecroLove and his username was NecroDevil. 

“Don’t get me wrong,” Lao Yao interjected. “I’m not one of them. It’s difficult for non-members to get into their forum, so I had to steal one of their identities.”

A QQ profile appeared on the screen, to which Lao Yao explained, “This is the 48-year-old crematorium staff you found dead. He claimed here in his profile that he works in ‘the industry’ and that he’s been the provider of ‘goods’ for a long time. He also stated very clearly here that any interested parties can chat privately with him.”

Lao Yao scrolled through his old chat history and found some pictures of corpses. Some of the officer’s faces turned sickly green when they saw the pictures of those corpses in various questionable positions. I had learned from some psychology textbooks that necrophilia was a form of mental illness. There were many causes that triggered it. Affected people would have a strong desire to engage in a sexual intercourse with corpses and some would have no interest whatsoever, whether sexually or emotionally, in living people.

Some necrophiliacs might not actually have sex with actual corpses, but they would instead make their partners or prostitutes dress up and pretend to be dead bodies. Others would even cool their partner’s body with ice packs and use makeup foundation to paint their partner’s skin as white as a corpse. And if their partner moved even a little bit during sex, they would be violently furious!

Some necrophiliacs, like the man Lao Yao found for example, worked in the morgues or in funeral homes where they could easily satisfy their darkest desires secretly.

Some extreme necrophiliacs would go so far as digging up dead bodies from the graves. They would dress the corpse up meticulously, then live with them and treat them just as they would their real lovers. There was a man in Russia who dug up twenty-six female corpses from the cemetery, all aged between 15 and 26, and dressed them up like dolls and slept with them every night. The sight of this ghoulish ‘harem’ gave the police the fright of their lives when they discovered it.

Lao Yao found another post by a member who went by the name Blooming Spring who said he’d just obtained a piece of ‘fresh meat’ and was getting it ready. The posting time was about an hour after the black Santana escaped. The same forum member also posted several photos of a female corpse lying on the bed with the face blurred out.

Xiaotao asked Lao Yao to enlarge the photo. The female corpse wore a pink dress and was barefooted. Her body was pale and stiff, just like an inflatable doll.

“The blood has been wiped clean,” I said, “and the clothes have been changed. I guess that’s what the guy meant by ‘getting it ready.’”

“Can you pin down the IP address?” Xiaotao asked. 

“It’s from an apartment complex near a post office in the south of the city according to the LAN unit used,” replied Lao Yao. “That’s the best I can do.”

Xiaotao sprang up to her feet and shouted, “Let’s go!”

We hurried there, and by the time we reached the apartment complex it was already 3.30 am. I was worried that the murder had already occurred. There were about four or five blocks in the apartment complex. An officer reported that he found a black Santana parked nearby. The red cloth covering the license plate had been removed. Xiaotao ordered the officers to track down the car owner’s information. I stared wordlessly at the car for a few seconds, then had an idea. I broke the car window with my elbow and opened the door, triggering the deafening car alarm. Lights in several houses were turned on as soon as the noise rang through the area.

“What the hell are you doing, dude?” asked Dali.

“Looking for clues in the car!”

I got into the driver’s seat and rummaged through the glove compartment, then found a fine ticket with the name Li Wei on it.

Soon, residents of the apartment complex ran down as they thought that there was a car burglar. The officers roughly explained the situation to them.

“Do you know where Li Wei lives?” I asked the residents.

“I’m a member of the neighborhood committee,” a middle-aged woman answered. “There are four people called Li Wei here. Which one are you looking for?”

“A single man, pale-skinned, not very tall, seldom talks or socializes, and has never missed a bill payment before.”

The woman thought for a while and replied, “Must be the guy from Unit 502!”

We hurried to that house, and on the way Xiaotao asked me, “How did you know what he looks like, Song Yang?”

“Just a guess!” I replied.

I explained that perverts like Li Wei generally seemed innocuous to the outside world in order to hide their dark secrets. They generally kept a low profile and had no social charm at all. Li Wei being a necrophiliac also meant that he certainly wouldn’t have a girlfriend or a wife. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to enter his house, so he would make sure to pay his water and electricity bills every month.

Xiaotao looked at me with admiring eyes after listening to my deduction.

When we reached the house, we found that the door was already wide open. We entered the house cautiously, but soon was met with the sight of a man lying in a pool of blood. He looked exactly as I had speculated. 

“We’ve come too late!” sighed Xiaotao.

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