The wound on the victim's tongue appeared to have been left by a hook that was used to forcibly pull the entire tongue out of her mouth, which eventually suffocated her to death.
There were ligature marks on the victim’s wrist but not on her ankles. If the murderer had used this sort of torture method on the victim, the victim would have first been bound at the legs so the victim’s ankles should show some degree of chaffing.
The absence of ligature marks on the victim’s ankles meant that at the time, the victim’s hands were tied behind her back but she could still move her feet. The murderer must have pierced a hook through the victim’s tongue and forced her to drag a heavy object using her tongue alone until her entire tongue was finally pulled out from the root...
Beyond a shred of a doubt, this was a kind of torture much like the previous case–an improved version of the ancient tongue-pulling punishment.
These words put a frown on everyone’s faces. Xiaotao clenched her fist and cried, "The murderer is completely devoid of humanity!"
Just then, an officer interrupted us. "Chief, we’ve checked the license plate number."
The owner of the car was a middle-aged woman, a sales elite who had gone missing for a week. "It's the victim’s car!" I exclaimed.
"That’s indisputable,” sighed Xiaotao. “Are we supposed to just wait for the next victim to show up?"
"The last murder happened just a week ago,” I said after a moment’s reflection. “We can assume that the murderer’s ‘program’ is to be performed once a week."
"Do you mean to say we have a week left?" asked Xiaotao.
"I'm afraid not,” I bitterly denied. “Perhaps the murderer might record it in advance so I’lll give us six days at most. I can’t help but wonder, since this is a program, who is the audience? After seeing such bloody content, not even one person has the conscience to inform the police? Are they all sickos? Or do they have a strict VIP membership that forbids them from divulging the contents?"
"Can we start by investigating the audience?" asked Bingxin.
"That’s too wide a net,” Xiaotao shook her head. “So it doesn’t make sense for us to start there."
Without me even noticing, Dali had joined us. He raised his hand, trying to get Xiaotao’s attention. "Xiaotao-jiejie, there is one detail you missed!" he added mysteriously.
Both Xiaotao and I were surprised and eager to hear what amazing discoveries Dali had found. "An explosion happens in the matter of an instant,” he started. “To capture the explosion, the murderer would have to use slow shutter speed photography."
"Thank you for your input,” Xiaotao forced out a smile. “But it doesn’t help us at all."
However, Dali's words had inadvertently reminded me of something. "Yes, why didn't I think of it?" I thought out loud.
"I knew I could be useful," said Dali, his eyes lighting up with a triumphant smile.
"The explosion and murder were done by two different people,” I stressed. “Why do they film the explosion each time? Because the explosion itself is another ‘program’ to entertain the audience. I don't think there were a lot of people watching at the time so it’s most likely a live stream and the murderers are two sadistic streamers who attract the audience’s attention with the allure of novelty!"
Xiaotao immediately ordered, "Drop everything else when we get back. I want everyone to comb through each and every streaming platform!"
"Chief, do you really think they would stream on popular platforms like Kuaishou and Douyu?” an officer interjected. “Wouldn’t someone have reported it to the police a long time ago?"
"He’s right,” I nodded. “It’s obviously not one of the ordinary streaming platforms. It’s definitely a secret website with a strict membership that outsiders don't even know exists."
"Then search through those live stream forums,” instructed Xiaotao. “Regardless of how secretive the website is, they still have to advertise it!"
I gave Lao Yao a call and asked him to help us locate this information. Upon hearing my request, he immediately agreed without any mention of compensation which once again surprised me very much. Lao Yao solemnly condemned, "I can’t stand people who corrupt the internet with such immoral acts. I’ll definitely help you weed out those scum!"
At the time, I was rather moved by Lao Yao’s sense of justice though I later learned that he now had an allowance and bonus. That was the real reason why the paltry compensation I offered was of little interest to him.
Xiaotao said we could go back first but I refused. "We'll stay and give you a hand,” I insisted. “I hope we solve this case as soon as possible!"
"Then let's go back to the station together!" said Xiaotao.
On the way back, I asked her why I hadn’t seen Wang Yuanchao. She explained that he had gone on another lone-hero mission, disappearing to investigate the case. In fact, it had already been several days since Wang Yuanchao showed up at the station. But one thing was certain–he was not the lazy sort.
Wang Yuanchao had always been unregulated and unrestrained. If his boss were anyone else but the understanding Huang Xiaotao, he would have been punished many times over.
When we arrived at the station, Bingxin went to conduct further tests on the corpse while Dali and I were tasked to visit the major live stream forums and platforms. We sat in the conference room, scouring the internet for clues until 7 when Xiaotao had two hearty breakfasts delivered to us. We were spoiled for choice–steamed buns, soy milk and pancakes. With Xiaotao on the case, we would never go hungry.
The most troublesome part of our investigation was the online registration and verification process. My eyes soon grew tired from sifting through each forum, post by post. I asked Dali if he had found anything but didn’t hear a reply. When I looked up, I saw a stupefied Dali staring at the screen with headphones plugged into his ears.
I walked over only to catch the lazy bum watching a live stream on Kuaishou. Slapping him on the shoulder, I lectured, "Are you slacking off again?!”
"I'm looking for clues,” argued Dali. “I just realized how many weirdos there are on Kuaishou. There’s nothing these people won’t do–putting firecrackers on the crotch, eating rotten pork, and burning cars. There are even people who film themselves molesting girls on buses! What a bunch of degenerates!"
I never expected to find such bizzare things on Kuaishou. In this technological age of live streaming, people were accustomed to comparing how low they were willing to stoop or who could accomplish the most grotesque feat. The birth of such murder streamers was inevitable.
"Just give it a quick look-over,” I said. “We’re looking for clues, not trying to gain a deeper understanding."
"You would definitely be famous if you conducted a live autopsy," remarked Dali.
I hammered his shoulder with my fist and shouted, "Shut up and get back to work!"
When I returned to my seat, I found that someone had replied to my question of where I could find more “exciting” videos, preferably ones with illegal content that was hidden from everyone else. The username, "Third Young Master" replied, "They are available as long as you have the money!"
From the tone of his message, this person seemed to have inside information so I logged into my bank account–the one the rich woman had given me–and took a screenshot of the balance that showed one million exactly. "I have plenty of money!" I replied with an upload of the screenshot.
Five minutes later, Third Young Master mocked, "Haha, don't be ridiculous! How can you show off with this meager amount? Without at least 10 million yuan, you should stick to your porn sites!"
I immediately called Xiaotao over, saying that I had found a clue. When everyone had gathered in the conference room, I showed them the message. Third Young Master was obviously an insider and also one of the audiences of this website.
"What the hell?!” complained Dali. “How did you find a clue so quickly? Is this what they call the protagonist’s halo?"
Rolling my eyes at him, I quipped, "Do you think you’ll find clues by drooling at the pretty streamer?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter