Chapter 34: The Man Who Was Afraid of Sunlight

Not long after that, there was a commotion outside the room. I thought it was the hotel manager being brought in, but Dali strained his neck and looked outside and said, “It’s the anti-prostitution team taking the fat guy and that girl away.”

“Judging by the victim’s state of undress,” said Huang Xiaotao, “do you think she and the murderer were in that kind of relationship too?”

“You can’t just make that assumption,” I said. “I’ll have to verify it.”

I drew in a breath.

Frankly speaking, I was a virgin. Examining the genitalia of a seven-day-old corpse was a daunting task for me. But there were no other coroners in Huang Xiaotao’s team, so if I didn’t do it, no one else could.

When she saw me hesitating, Huang Xiaotao said, “Let Xiaozhou do it. He probably has more experience.”

Xiaozhou waved his hands immediately.

“Nope,” he said. “I’m an expert in collecting physical evidence, I’m not a coroner!”

“Fine, I’ll do it,” I said. “It’s not a difficult thing to do anyway.” And so, I pushed the victim’s legs apart, to which everyone in the room reacted by immediately taking a few steps backwards, then I bent down, gave myself a bit of encouragement, and inserted my fingers into that certain organ.

I wouldn’t describe what it looked like, how it felt, or how it smelled; suffice for me to say that after that I was completely turned off to watching porn.

I asked Dali for my flashlight. I held it in one hand and examined the skin of the victim’s inner thighs, then nodded and said, “There was indeed that kind of activity going on.”

I asked Xiaozhou for some cotton swabs, then pulled out a small bottle from my bag. Then, I dipped the cotton swabs into the bottle, covering them with the medicinal powder inside.

“What is that?” Huang Xiaotao asked.

“A medicinal herb that I prepared myself,” I said. “It contains perilla extract, magnolia extract, wampee fruit, thorowax root, and kudzu root.”

“I know nothing about Chinese medicine,” she said, shaking her head. “Just tell me what it does.”

“This medicinal powder can drain the bodily fluid out of the body.”

And so, I inserted a few cotton swabs deep into the victim’s vagina, I could hear everyone else’s disgusted expressions immediately, especially Dali’s.

“Dude!” he said. “Are you really a virgin? You’re acting like it doesn’t bother you at all!”

“Shut up!” I said. Did the idiot think that I was enjoying this? He didn’t know that I was traumatized by it for a long time after that.

When the time came to remove the cotton swabs, things would get even more… interesting!

The hotel manager arrived, so Huang Xiaotao said, “I’ll go and talk to him. Song Yang, you stay here and continue with your, um, work…”

“Okay,” I replied.

Huang Xiaotao then brought the hotel manager to another room to interrogate him. It wasn’t to intimidate him, but more to prevent from making too much noise in the hallway while I was still working in the room. She understood that I needed the room to be quiet for me to be able to work.

I used forceps to examine the two puncture wounds on the neck, and saw that the surroundings were growing a bit dark. It looked like a bacterial infection, and the human being’s mouth was usually a host to a myriad of bacteria.

“Dude, do you think the murderer is a vampire?” asked Dali.

“Impossible,” I said. “I’m a hundred percent sure that the murderer is a human being!”

Someone knocked on the door — it was the burly police officer that picked us up at college earlier. He looked around the room and asked, “Where’s the team leader?”

“Interrogating,” I said. “You can tell me what you’re going to tell her.”

“I’ve identified the victim. She’s a prostitute working in a nearby salon, and she has been missing for a week. Since it’s a common occurrence, and their business isn’t legal, they didn’t report it.”

I nodded. “Tell me about the victim.”

“Her name is Ma Lizhen, twenty-three years old, came from a family of farmers. She came into the city for work five years ago.”

“Whoa! She started becoming a prostitute at the age of eighteen!” exclaimed Dali.

I fixed my stare at him, and he shut up immediately and slowly lowered his head in shame.

It was almost time to pull out the cotton swabs. I warned everyone that there was going to be an ‘explosion’ and that if anyone felt they wouldn’t be able to stomach it they should leave the room now.

“No, I’ll be fine, dude,” said Dali. “I’ve got a heart of steel.”

“Suit yourself. But I warned you.”

I then pulled out the cotton swabs. Instantly, a whitish sticky fluid sprayed out of her genitalia with considerable force. It even came in multiple waves, so after the first spurt, it stopped for a few seconds, then the fluid began spraying out again.

Everyone there was understandably horrified. I heard groans and cries. Some people couldn’t stand it anymore and ran out of the room. Dali himself covered his mouth and rushed to the bathroom to throw up, but it was already full of other people who got there first. He kept circling around aimlessly while covering his mouth, not knowing what to do. He finally found a paper bag and immediately threw up in it. The room was suddenly filled with a horrible stench. I could even detect the smell of chive omelet that Dali had for dinner earlier this evening mixed up in that rotten stench.

By then even Xiaozhou’s face had gotten green, but he could still hold it in and kept his composure. The only person who was completely unaffected was the big burly police officer from earlier. He stood there as if nothing happened, in fact he even looked slightly bored — I had mad respect for the man.

I took the cotton swabs and held it near my face, then I sniffed them. I could smell different types of bodily fluids, but no semen.

“The murderer had sex with the victim,” I said, “but there’s no sign of direct contact.”

“Maybe he wore a condom…” Xiaozhou postulated.

I took another sniff. I could distinguish the smell of various kinds of bodily fluids — vaginal discharge, blood residue, urine and an overwhelming stench of rotted flesh — but no lubricant.

“No,” I said. The murderer didn’t wear a condom.”

“Then… Is he impotent?” Xiaozhou asked.

I glanced at the dead body. The murderer didn’t sweat, he engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim but didn’t ejaculate — all these observations pointed to one conclusion.

“The murderer has a rare disease!” I said. “His body can’t secrete any bodily fluid!”

“Is this relevant to the case?” asked Xiaozhou.

“Yes, very much so!” I said. “The murderer doesn’t sweat, so he can’t be exposed to sunlight. He would have to wear layers of tight clothes that cover his whole body; he would wear sunglasses and face mask all the time; and he would live like a vampire in this city. Oh, by the way, did you find any hair samples?”

“Only the victim’s,” said Xiaozhou.

“Right!” I said. “If the murderer’s body cannot secrete any bodily fluids, that means all the hair would’ve fallen off soon after it grew. That means that the murderer is also completely hairless!”

“Th-then…” Xiaozhou’s expressions worsened. “Then is he really a human being?”

“Of course,” I said. “A human being who stands out starkly in a crowd. That makes finding him easier!”

Huang Xiaotao knocked the door.

“Good, you’re all here,” she said. “Come on, there’s a big discovery.”

I pulled off the rubber gloves and realized that my hands were all sticky from the sweat after having worn gloves for so long, and my nose had been assaulted by the stench in that room for too long too, so I took out a box of mint candy from my pocket and popped one into my mouth to refresh myself with the cool minty taste.

Having just thrown up, Dali looked very sickly, so I asked him if he wanted one too. He shook his head vehemently.

“Shit, dude, what’s wrong with you? How could you eat anything after what just happened? I don’t want to touch any food right now.”

“I wonder who it was that said he had a heart of steel.”

“Oh, come on! Stop mocking me!” Dali was on the brink of tears.

Perhaps Dali was right about there being something wrong with me. I realized that my tolerance for the macabre had advanced a little after the last case we worked on.

We then came to a room where a young man wearing porter uniform was sitting on the bed looking dejected.

“He’s the one who put up the camera in the room,” said Huang Xiaotao in a stern voice. “He spilled everything the minute we put pressure on him.”

“A-Am I going to get… arrested?” the porter asked.

“Are you? Violating the privacy of others is a serious crime according to the Public Security Code, Act… uh…” Huang Xiaotao couldn’t remember no matter how hard she tried to, and she stood there awkwardly scratching her head.

“Act 42,” said the burly police officer with a blank expression.

“Yes, Act 42! If anyone reported you then expect to be jailed and fined! And of course, we police officers have the right to report too, so it all depends on your behavior now.”

The porter stood up and said, “But it’s only a hobby of mine! It was all for me alone, I never shared it with anyone else, and I never used it to blackmail anyone!”

“You’ve got the nerve to use the word hobby,” I said. “Why don’t you just rent some adult movies instead?”

“Ah, but they’re not the same,” said the porter. “Those are all scripted, unlike these footages which are raw, and real, and exciting. I’d always watch the recordings before going to bed, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sleep…” At that point the porter realized that he’d gotten carried away. He noticed how everyone glared down at him with furious looks in their eyes, so he lowered his head down in shame.

“Did you stick the wallpaper on the peephole?” I asked.

“Yes,” he answered. “I was checking the room when I noticed the hole in the wall. If the boss saw that, he would’ve taken the wallpaper down and saw my cameras, so I took the initiative to do it myself…”

“Didn’t you see someone died in their room seven days ago?” I asked.

“Mister, I’ve got cameras in so many rooms!” said the porter. “I’ve got a hundred hours’ worth of recording every day! There’s no way I could’ve seen them all! In fact, I only select a few of the best ones when I get a break from work, and only watch them on my days off.”

“Your life must be really interesting.” I mocked.

“I hate this kind of people the most!” said Huang Xiaotao. “They couldn’t find a girlfriend so they use strangers to fulfill their filthy desires. It’s disgusting!”

Perhaps it was because Huang Xiaotao was a woman so this issue affected her especially. Plus, she was a very beautiful woman, it’s possible that she had experienced something similar first-hand, so that it infuriated her even more.

She kicked the porter’s leg and yelled, “Go get all your recordings now!”

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