Chapter 35: Count Dracula

The porter stuttered out the words ‘I’ll be back in a minute,’ then ran to his locker room to get his stuff.

“What if he runs away?” asked Dali.

“Don’t you worry,” said Huang Xiaotao. “He wouldn’t dare. I know this type of guy very well.”

She smiled and gave Dali a knowing look.

Then she noticed how terrible everyone looked, so she asked, “What’s wrong with all of you? You look like you’ve all just seen a ghost! What happened just now?”

I related everything that happened to her. She sniggered and said, “Is that what you grown men are scared of?”

“Xiaotao-jiejie,” said Dali, “you weren’t there, so don’t act so tough! Why don’t you go and take a look yourself? Maybe you’ll throw up too!”

“I’m not an idiot, so there’s no way I’m going to walk into that room.”

Soon afterwards, the porter came back with an incredibly huge USB drive, as big as a wallet. It was probably what they call an external hard disk.

“Looks like you’ve got a huge collection there,” Huang Xiaotao coldly said.

The porter flinched.

“These are all raw recordings that haven’t been edited yet. If you want the edited version, I can go back and get the other hard drive.”

“Shut up, bastard!” scolded Huang Xiaotao. “No one wants to see your disgusting edited version!”

There were no computers in the hotel, but there was a wall-mounted television with a USB slot at the back, so Huang Xiaotao ordered the porter to connect the external hard drive to the television and get her a remote control. We eventually found more than a hundred files of video recordings. I thought to myself if the police really wanted to report this guy, they had enough evidence to keep him in jail for months.

There was a room number and the date under each file, so Huang Xiaotao found the appropriate one for this case and opened it.

Dali hid behind my back again, which cracked me up.

“What are you doing?” I asked. “Do you think that the murderer is going to crawl out of the screen?”

“No,” said Dali. “But I don’t know if there’s gonna be anything gruesome in the video that I can’t stomach. It’s better to be safe than sorry!”

I felt like laughing. What was there to be careful about? It was just a video recording, not one of those cursed videos where everyone who watched would die within three days or something. Although to be frank, I was never scared when watching horror movies anyway.

The video lasted for six hours, and the first part of it was pitch black as the room was still unoccupied. Huang Xiaotao pressed fast forward to the middle part of the video, when something was finally happening. A young woman wearing a red minidress and carrying a small handbag walked into the room, and she was followed by a man.

The man’s clothes were a stark contrast to the young woman. He wore a black sweater, a mask on his face, and sunglasses.

Xiaozhou gasped and said, “He’s exactly as Song Yang described!”

“This angle is terrible!” said Huang Xiaotao. “I can’t see his face at all!”

“Be patient,” I said. “Let’s watch on.”

The woman in the video sat on the edge of the bed and chatted with the man in black. Because the video did not record sound, we could only guess what they were talking about.

They talked for about five minutes, then the young woman lit up a cigarette.

“When is she going to strip?” lamented Dali with irritation.

Everyone stared at him with contempt. Dali was so embarrassed he almost buried his head in his chest.

Then the man in black disappeared for a period of time. The young woman stayed on the bed, looking at her phone. Huang Xiaotao jotted something down on her little notebook and checked the young woman’s phone number.

After a while, the young woman finally began to take off her clothes. She stripped down to her bra and panties, then the man appeared once more, but this time he was completely naked, and everyone drew in a sharp breath when they saw what he looked like.

The man didn’t have a single hair on his body, his skin was as white as paper and as skinny as a rail.

“Shit! It really is a vampire!” said Dali.

“No,” said Xiaozhou. “That skin color is probably the result of not being exposed to ultraviolet light for a very long time, resulting in the loss of melanin.”

“It’d be nice if my skin was that fair,” said Huang Xiaotao casually. In truth her skin wasn’t dark at all, it just had a very slight healthy tan to it. She realized that everyone was staring at her, so she said, “What? It’s just a passing thought! Go back to watching the video!”

“They’re doing it!” said Dali, full of excitement. I wish it wasn’t too late for me to claim that I didn’t know the idiot.

The young woman was lying on the bed, when suddenly the man took out two strands of ribbons from somewhere that was not captured in the camera. The victim’s two feet were tied with one of those ribbons, while the other ribbon was used to tie both of her hands, and the ribbons were then hung somewhere that’s outside of the camera’s view.

“That’s interesting,” said Huang Xiaotao. “The victim seemed to consent to being bound. I thought she would be struggling against it.”

“Perhaps the man increased the amount of money he would pay her?” I suggested. “They were probably discussing it earlier on the bed.” As I spoke, the realization that the young woman was completely oblivious to the fact that she had fallen into a death trap hit me. When I thought of how the person on the screen would soon die a horrible death, a wash of sorrow swept over me.

I then noticed that the man in the video did not seem to be putting nails into the wall. Had he already done it before that day?

Then the man climbed on top of the young woman’s body and they started having sex. The room was mostly filled with men, so even though they were working on an official investigation, most couldn’t help but be interested in what was happening on the screen. Only Huang Xiaotao was blushing, and she shoved the remote control into my hand, saying, “Press fast forward!”

“Okay.” I said.

The moment I pressed fast forward, I could hear the disappointment in the room. It felt as if I’d snatched a cookie out of a child’s hand.

I must admit, though, that the man lasted pretty long. I had to skip forward to about fifteen minutes later when I saw him lean down suddenly. I stopped the fast forward, and exactly at that moment, the man bit the woman on her neck!

The woman started to violently struggle and convulse due to the sharp pain. She seemed to try to free herself, but her hands and feet were tightly bound. The man pressed on her shoulders to pin her down, so her struggle was completely in vain.

Even though the video was silent, it took nothing away from the horror of the spectacle. Just as everyone’s full attention was focused on the video, a grotesque face suddenly appeared right in front of the camera, as sudden as a jump scare scene in a horror movie. The face that appeared was as black as the bottom of an old pot while the eyes were blood-red, and protruding out of the mouth was a long pair of sharp fangs!

“Ah!!!”

Dali’s scream drowned out the whole room. His loud cries shocked me even more than the actual face that appeared on the screen. The face completely obscured the view of the camera. Suddenly I noticed something wrong about the face.

“This face does not belong to a human being!”

“Is… Is it a vampire?” asked Xiaozhou.

I wondered if this guy really was a graduate from a foreign university. Why did he always think of vampires?

“It’s a bat,” the burly officer said monotonously.

It’s only after that that everyone else noticed that it was indeed a bat. I continued the video, and saw the bat wrap itself up with its wings and completely blocking the camera’s view, which was really inconvenient for us.

I pressed fast forward and skipped about an hour of recording before the bat finally disappeared. But by then, the whole room was pitch black. The murderer had probably already checked out of the room, and the bed now seemed neat and tidy.

“The damned bat!” cursed Huang Xiaotao. “Blocking the view at a very crucial moments! We didn’t even get to see the murderer’s face yet.”

“It’s definitely a vampire!” said Xiaozhou. “Why else would there be a bat in a hotel room? You guys have heard of the legend of Count Dracula who lived in medieval Europe, haven’t you? It is said that he could turn himself into a group of bats…”

“Can you be more realistic?” said Huang Xiaotao. “Stop attributing everything to vampires!”

“But vampires are real!” said Xiaozhou. “When I was studying abroad, I read a book about the history of vampires, and it said that vampires could be a tribe of people who preserve the wild ways of life and was afraid of sunlight who don’t eat but suck blood instead. If they are real in the West, then they must be real here too.”

“I’ll prove it to you that the murderer is not a vampire but just a human being that is a little bit different from other people.” Then I turned to Huang Xiaotao and said, “Xiaotao, keep rewinding and see who got into this room before the murderer and the victim. Dali, let’s go back to the crime scene.”

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