Xiaotao and I waited outside for Captain Zhang to pack up. "Don’t think that we get along just because SWAT officers and criminal investigation policemen are both members of the public security system,” said Xiaotao. “There are actually a lot of contradictions between the two departments, and we both look down on each other. We at the criminal investigation department think that they’re all armed men who only know how to use brute force while they think we’re all talk!"
"This sort of conflict exists everywhere,” I remarked. “At university, my department and the mechanical engineering department can’t stand each other as well."
“Now that the three targets have been found, I'll get the SWAT team to send snipers to strategic locations around the city bureau to protect them. As soon as we hear any suspicious sounds, the snipers will take out the player.”
"What if a street performer comes?” I laughed. “Now that would be a real disaster..."
At this moment, I suddenly heard a melodious tune, sorrowful and aggrieved, filled with anguish. Although I didn't know much about musical instruments, I could tell which traditional Chinese musical instrument it was–the xun!
Xiaotao and I felt our blood run cold. "Plug your ears!" I cried.
However, blocking our ears was of little use; the music was almost intrusive. At this point, Xiaotao took out her gun, pulled me close and fired three shots into the sky right beside our ears. The thunderous gunfire shocked my ears into ringing, and for an instant, I couldn't hear any sounds.
We immediately turned around, bumping into Captain Zhang along the way back to the dormitory. Without warning, Xiaotao whipped a leg at his head, intending to knock the man out but Captain Zhang’s defensive abilities proved too strong. He stood there, solid as a rock as he stared at Xiaotao with a look of bewilderment.
The ringing in my ears gradually subsided around the time the music ended. "Was Long Bangguo playing that stupid tune that sounded like a crying ghost?” asked Captain Zhang. “And here I thought it would be some terrifying demonic tune," he mocked.
"Did you hear all of it?" Xiaotao asked in consternation.
"I did! Aren’t you guys making a big fuss out of nothing?” scoffed Captain Zhang. “Look at me! Can’t you see I’m fine and dandy?!"
Xiaotao grabbed her handcuffs and said, "I’m sorry, we’ll have to handcuff you to prevent you from committing any self-harm."
"Nice job! Handcuffing me instead of going after the suspect!” snickered Captain Zhang. “Alas! The efficiency of you criminal police!"
Despite the reluctance, he obediently reached out both hands and allowed Xiaotao to handcuff him. "If we’re seen by my colleagues, you’ll have to explain the situation,” cried Captain Zhang, somewhat distraught. “Or they might think I’ve committed a crime."
“Did everyone in the building hear it too?” I asked, glancing at the dormitory building in the back. "Should we also restrain them all?"
"There’s no need for that,” Captain Zhang shook his head. “Our building has good sound insulation."
In spite of that, Xiaotao wasn’t willing to take the risk. She called the city bureau and immediately dispatched officers to restrain anyone nearby who might have heard the music in order to prevent unnecessary deaths.
We took Captain Zhang's car back to the bureau, with Xiaotao in the driver’s seat while I sat beside her, keeping an eye on the man in the back. On the road, Captain Zhang chattered endlessly, insisting that we were making a mountain out of a molehill and aggrandizing how strong his willpower was.
But at some point, I noticed an odd change in his eyes as he fell silent at once. "What's wrong with you?" I shook him hard.
"I’m a bit sleepy,” smiled Captain Zhang. “Can I take a nap?"
Before I could reply, Captain Zhang had fallen asleep slumped in his seat, breathing out soft, rhythmic snores much to my relief. When we arrived at the entrance of the public security bureau, Director-General Cheng was already waiting for us with a team of officers. "Lao Zhang, why are you handcuffed?" he asked.
"You’ll have to thank Officer Huang and Consultant Song for that. They’re so afraid I’ll commit suicide, hence the handcuffs,” chuckled Captain Zhang. “But you know me, why the hell would I commit suicide?"
But his microexpressions told another story–the stiff smile that took less than the required twenty-six muscles on his face indicated he was pretending. Keeping my voice low, I turned to Xiaotao and proposed Captain Zhang be given a sedative with officers watching him round the clock.
Captain Zhang held out his hand and said, "Xiao Cheng, I haven't seen you for a while! Look at you, Director-General of the city bureau. You’re doing really well!"
As soon as Director-General Cheng shook hands with him, Captain Zhang slammed his shoulder into the man and quickly pulled out the gun from his holster. Mindful of Xiaotao’s deterrent, he knocked her over and tried to flee. "Don't be impulsive!" I shouted.
Captain Zhang raised the gun, tears streaming down his face. "I’m sorry I let you down. I’m in so much pain, I don't want to live."
"That’s not what you really think!” I yelled. “It's just the voice controlling you. Don't be swayed by it, put down the gun!"
His face wet with tears, Captain Zhang shook his head desperately and slowly slid the muzzle inside his mouth.
"Zhang, you despicable coward!” roared Xiaotao. “Weren't you just bragging about your strong willpower? How can this little thing affect you?! You’re a disgrace! When you’re gone, I’ll erect a monument in your name and inscribe the words, ‘The Great Coward Zhang!’"
However, my soft-soaps and Xiaotao's goading did little to persuade the man. "I never realized how ugly and deplorable my heart was,” he cried. “I hate myself. I don't deserve to be a policeman. Let me die!"
"No!" bellowed Xiaotao.
But it was too late; Captain Zhang already had the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. To our surprise, the expected gunshot didn’t go off. Captain Zhang took the gun out of his mouth and checked the safety in consternation.
"Lao Zhang, sorry to disappoint you,” said Director-General Cheng. “I expected an accident so I removed the bullets in advance."
Then, turning to the officers, he ordered, "Stop him!"
“Why won’t you let me die!” Captain Zhang roared like a startled bear gone mad. Even his voice sounded off-pitch as if he were possessed.
As soon as he threw the gun aside, he turned and ran towards the busy main road, fast as lightning, putting distance between us. Xiaotao and I as well as the other officers dashed towards him, trying to overtake the man. "Shoot him in the leg!" blurted Xiaotao.
Meanwhile, she came to an abrupt stop, standing still with both hands on her gun and opened fire. Bang, bang, bang! Several shots were fired in Captain Zhang's direction, one of the bullets successfully hitting him in the thigh. However, Captain Zhang persisted, staggering as he continued to run.
The other officers fired several shots. Captain Zhang received four shots in the leg, but still he ran like a wild horse, driven by the drug-like impulse to commit suicide. His resolution was truly shocking.
Before we could catch up to him, the man was already standing in front of a speeding truck, waiting for death. Seeing this, the driver quickly slammed the brakes and steered the vehicle sideways. Inertia sent the entire truck upside down, metal grating against gravel as it smashed Captain Zhang into a human patty.
Traffic on the road was paralyzed for an instant, sending vehicle after vehicle colliding into each other, the sound of screeching brakes filled the street.
Everyone just stood there motionless, and for a long time, no one spoke. Alerted by the loud crash, the officers in the station ran out, including Officers Xun and Luo, both of whom were under the bureau’s protection. Meanwhile, Director-General Cheng stared into the distance, chewing his lips bloody.
Right then, a melodious tune filled the air, drifting into our defenseless ears. "Quick! Shoot your guns beside your ears!” instructed Xiaotao. “That way you won’t be able to hear the music!"
Xiaotao raised her gun to make the shot but I quickly interjected, "Wait a minute! That isn’t the tune we heard earlier!"
Upon careful listening, the man was actually playing the tune "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." According to Zhang Jiulin, only a specific tune would be effective at influencing the listener. At the end of the tune, a gloomy voice began to speak, and much like wuxia novels, his voice was able to reach us from miles away though each word remained extremely clear–
"Hello everyone! I am Long Bangguo and I’ve crawled back from hell to get revenge!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter