Crying out in horror, Bingxin immediately hid behind me.
"What's so scary about a dead body?" I asked.
"Who said I was scared?” Bingxin tried to argue her way out, “It's just an instinctive reaction to seeing something unusual–exactly how I’d react to seeing a handsome boy."
Mr. Qin couldn’t bear to look straight into the coffin. "What a sin against my daughter–being defiled even after death! Please hasten the autopsy and bury her."
In truth, the smile on the girl’s corpse was merely caused by the muscle contractions in her face after death. However, when matched with the position of her hands and her attire, it seemed strange. Seeing this at night would certainly scare someone into wetting their pants.
I put on the rubber gloves I had prepared in advance and moved the dead girl’s arm. Her joints were abnormally stiff, so much so that they were impossible to move.
The man’s expression was one of pure panic. Because of his posture, I couldn’t use Organ Echolocation and could only judge the time of death–which was about 30 hours ago–from the opacity of his pupils and rigor mortis. That was to say, he wasn’t really dead at the time but was buried alive and died from asphyxiation.
The dead man's fingernails were damaged and wooden splinters were stuck in the flesh of his fingers, but there was no soil under his nails which proved that the coffin was open when he arrived.
His cheeks and throat had a tinge of purple, which was an obvious sign of asphyxiation. There were also rashes on his skin, just like Zheng Zaihao. Bingxin asked, "Song Yang-gege, is this a symptom of being poisoned by locust toxin?"
"To be exact, it is the toxin of the Black Locust. The fresh sap of the Black Locust is poisonous. However, this toxicity cannot be compared to snake venom. The level of toxicity produced is only enough to prevent the tree from being eaten by wild animals so it’s generally not fatal," I explained.
Country folk had this saying, "Don’t plant mulberry trees in the front, willow trees in the back, and locust trees in the yard." The reason for this superstition was to prevent children from being poisoned whenever they climbed a locust tree. Many superstitions had a rationale behind them.
I came clean to Mr. Qin. "I’m sorry, I lied to you about something. Zheng Zaihao is dead."
"I didn't kill him!" Mr. Qin’s eyes widened in shock.
"I know you didn't kill him,” I said. “His death was caused by a series of coincidences."
When Zheng Zaihao was buried in the coffin, he came into contact with a large amount of sap from the locust tree. As soon as he escaped, he fled the entire way, speeding up the blood flow in his body and causing the locust poison to enter his liver.
Furthermore, he had been under extreme stress and fear. The temperature also happened to be extremely low that night. When he entered the car, his body and mind relaxed at once. With various factors acting on his body at the same time, he eventually died in the driver’s seat.
Xiao Boli only came to the graveyard after Zheng Zaihao had escaped. Upon seeing the beautiful girl in the open coffin, he was blinded by lust and raped the body. Doing that sort of activity sped up one’s breathing, so he inhaled a large amount of locust poison and fell unconscious. The next day, when Mr. Qin and the others arrived, they assumed he was dead because his breath was so weak it went unnoticed. After they buried him, Xiao Boli woke up in the coffin, yelling, but no one came to save him. Coupled with the corpse’s tight embrace, it was almost impossible for him to breathe so he finally suffocated to death.
Mr. Qin had merely committed negligent homicide and inadvertently added fuel to the flames, pushing a man closer to his death.
I comforted him, "All the evidence before us shows that you did give Zheng Zaihao the chance to escape and you didn’t kill him. The evidence may be beneficial to you in court."
"I knew I would end up going to jail." A bitter smile appeared on his lips.
"I’m going to ask you something I know I shouldn't ask. Why didn't you kill him so he couldn’t report you to the police? Isn't that safer? Zheng Zaihao would surely have brought a case against you if he had escaped."
Mr. Qin shook his head, "I’ll go to hell for killing someone. I couldn’t bring myself to do such a thing. Besides, my daughter used to like this Korean bastard. I didn't want my daughter to grieve in the underworld."
Bingxin pulled at my shirt. "Song Yang-gege, you haven’t explained the most important part. Why was the corpse hugging the man?"
"It wasn’t exactly a hug, but this action-" I said, crossing my arms.
"Are you trying to make me anxious? Regardless of which action it was, why would the dead move?"
I explained that it was merely a simple nerve reflex, just like how a frog could still move under the stimulation of electric current even with its head cut off. This was called the Lazarus Phenomenon. In the Bible, Lazarus was an old man who had been resurrected from the dead by Jesus. If the vertebra of a recently dead body was stimulated, both its hands would slowly cross in front of the chest as if it had been resurrected.
Xiao Boli must have touched the dead girl’s spine while he was doing the deed. Or perhaps the static electricity generated by the friction from his moving body stimulated the corpse so its arms tightly wrapped around the man, indirectly causing him to faint.
This shared the same principle as the Song family's Corpse Reanimation. A portion of energy remained in the magnetic pulse of the human body. Proper stimulation could make the body "move."
Bingxin exclaimed, "Wow, so it’s actually real! You’ve opened my eyes!"
"There have been cases of people raping corpses and being hugged by them. I think this might be God’s way of leaving us that last bit of dignity!"
"Officer, how long will my prison sentence be?" asked Mr. Qin.
"The penalty for manslaughter varies. In your case, your circumstances allow for greater discretion in reducing your sentence. We won't arrest you so you can turn yourself in! This will definitely win you leniency," I counseled.
"Uncle Qin, I'll find you the best public defender. You should be able to fight for a suspended sentence. If you behave well during your probation, your sentence may also be reduced," Bingxin assured the man.
“I still have one more tiny request," Mr. Qin turned to the both of us.
I nodded, "Go ahead."
Uncle Qin sighed, "Can you publicize the case in the newspaper so people are aware of it? My hope is that Chinese girls will know what self-esteem and self-love are, and won’t be fooled by those foreign men. I have already lost my daughter and I hope no other family has to suffer the same tragedy.”
His words struck a chord with me and I found myself declaring, "Yes! I promise to do this for you!"
Wiping away the uncontrollable tears that welled up in his eyes, Mr. Qin sighed, "Thank you, thank you so much. Meeting the two of you was a stroke of good luck. I only did such a foolish thing because I couldn’t let it go. My daughter died for nothing while that Korean bastard still lived to harm other young girls in the future. I just couldn’t accept how unfair the situation was."
As Bingxin consoled the man, I pulled out a stash of yellow joss papers and burned them while chanting the reincarnation mantra. Just as I finished, Bingxin asked me what to do with the two corpses. I said, "If we want to separate them, we’ll have to saw off Qin Lu's arm. I don’t think Mr. Qin would be happy with that. Xiao Boli has no relatives anyway, so we might as well bury them like that."
By the time we reached the bottom of the hill, it was already dark. Mr. Qin brought his car around and offered to send us home before turning himself in.
Taking one last look at the hill, he sighed with regret, "Alas! This old locust tree grew on the graves of my ancestors yet I cut it down with great disrespect. This is my retribution."
"You shouldn’t think of it like that,” I said. “Perhaps it is your ancestors who are protecting the descendants of the Qin family!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter