We were going to discuss countermeasures for handling the ghost bus tomorrow. It was already late and we needed rest.
I stayed at Bingxin's place for yet another night. Since we traveled quite a distance on the bus, we hailed a cab. On the way there, Bingxin suddenly exclaimed, "Oh no, my cell phone’s gone!"
"Did you leave it in the store?" I asked.
"Let’s go back and get it. I don’t feel safe without my cell phone,” she added.
Xiaotao told the cab driver to turn around at the front intersection. When we pulled up outside the store, Bingxin said, "You can wait here! I’ll be back in a jiffy!"
I was worried for her safety, so I told her, “I'll go with you."
There was a small door on the roller shutters. When we got to the store, I opened the door with my key and turned on the lights. The table where we played Monopoly was still there. Bingxin looked around and said, "Here it is!"
At this moment, I noticed some things missing on the shelf. The store mainly sold women's products and snacks and I usually tallied our stock so I was aware of missing items at a glance.
Additionally, there was an inconspicuous footprint on the ceramic tile floor, very similar to the one we saw at the crime scene. It was very likely the murderer broke in when we left and waited to ambush us.
He must be hiding in a blind corner that I couldn’t see!
I motioned for Bingxin to keep quiet and mouthed the words, "There’s someone in here!"
Bingxin was alarmed and endeavored to be as quiet as she could as I gestured for her to slowly leave the store. My plan was to lock up the place and look for Xiaotao.
Unfortunately, Bingxin had just taken a few steps when a burly man emerged from behind the shelf, wearing a face mask and a cap, eyes burning with a murderous look. He was holding a small mace wrapped in leather with a sharp protrusion at the tip.
Bingxin screamed in fear as the burly man charged towards her. Because he wasn’t looking in my direction, there was no opportunity for me to use the Eyes of Yama on him. If I rushed to activate it now, not only would I fail to deter him, my capacity for self-defense would be affected.
In a fit of anxiety, I pushed the shelves in front of me, and rows of shelves fell down like dominoes, one after the other. Shocked by the turn of events, the murderer took a step backwards, hiding between two shelves.
"Run!" I yelled.
Right then, the lights suddenly dimmed. It turned out that the murderer flipped the switch on the wall. In the dark, Bingxin tripped over the fallen shelf and cried, "Song Yang-gege!"
When I rushed to help her up, the murderer caught up from behind. I couldn’t resist swearing inside, Is this guy so eager to die?! How dare he confront me in the dark! To my surprise, I found that he was prepared; he wore a pair of night-vision goggles that could be purchased online.
The murderer assumed I couldn't see in the dark, deliberately lowering the sound of his footsteps as he played with the mace in his hand. Though I was so nervous my heart pounded wildly, I tapped Bingxin's palm and signalled her not to move.
When the murderer was three steps away from us, I shouted, "Run!" Then, I pulled her and fled in the direction of the door.
Whoosh! There came the sound of something whizzing through the air. Realization dawned upon me and I quickly dodged. The murderer actually threw the mace in his hand! The mace hit the roller shutters, making a dent. I pushed Bingxin towards the door and turned around to remove the weapon.
Right then, the murderer strode over, pulled out an identical mace from his sleeve, and smashed it at me.
I dodged to the right, feeling it brush past my face—my heart was pounding with fear. He held up his right hand, ready to attack the second time. I was currently in a disadvantageous position and was eventually forced between the roller shutters and the corner–I had no way of hiding.
At this critical juncture, I charged head-on into the man, filled with courage I didn’t even know I had.
The murderer stumbled backwards. Had Song Xingchen been in my place, the murderer would have been killed in an instant. Unfortunately, I hadn’t studied any kung fu. At that moment, there was only one thought in my mind–run!
I grabbed Bingxin and rushed out of the door.
"Wait a minute!" shouted Bingxin.
She turned around and shut the door, never expecting the murderer to kick heavily at the roller shutters. Bingxin fell onto me with a loud whoop. Then, the murderer appeared in the doorway, enveloped by a murderous aura as he fiddled with the mace in his hand.
"It's not easy to find you," he spat.
"Why do you want to kill us?" I demanded.
"Do I have to have a reason? I’ll kill whoever I want to!" he retorted.
The murderer sprinted nimbly towards us, hiding his right hand behind him. Earlier, I had already seen through his little trick when he threw the mace at me. As soon as we turned around, he would aim that mace at our heads. This was most likely how Zhang Bing died.
I pushed Bignxin aside, "Come at me if you dare!"
"Oh, you’ve guts!" the murderer sneered.
Overcome with fear, I unconsciously stepped backwards, and the murderer approached closer step by step as he watched me retreat into a corner. But I never dared to turn around. At this moment, three gunshots shattered the night sky. "Police! Freeze!" shouted Xiaotao.
Stunned by her presence, the murderer turned tail and fled. Xiaotao stood there with both hands around her gun, carefully aiming before she fired once more.
The murderer seemed to sway a little as he dashed into an alley.
"Are you all right?" asked Xiaotao.
"We can't let him escape! You watch after Bingxin and I’ll chase after him!" I declared.
The two girls persistently followed me. "Song Yang-gege, let's go together!"
The murderer was most likely shot as indicated by the drops of blood on the ground. We followed the trail, chasing him all the way to the river where the blood disappeared.
There was a discarded coat and a pair of night-vision goggles by the river. Looking at the vast river before me, I realized the murderer had escaped by diving in, and the water could wash away the smell of blood. He knew how to throw off his pursuers.
Xiaotao grabbed her cell phone, "I’ll contact the SWAT team so they can conduct a search!"
“Hold on,” I stopped her. “There are several neighbourhoods and thousands of households across the river. There are too many places in which he could hide. If the murderer is forced into a corner, it’ll turn into a hostage situation! Send some officers to patrol the main roads. Let’s trap him there first."
"Surrounding him might not necessarily work!" argued Xiaotao.
"Let's head back to the station first. I’ve come up with a comprehensive plan for arrest."
"Why the hell are you keeping it under wraps?” complained Xiaotao. “Can't you tell me now?"
I shook my head, "I have to look at a map of the area."
The three of us walked back to the store. Thankfully, Bingxin suffered no injuries except for a broken nail, which she sustained when the murderer slammed the door.
"This guy is really daring! He actually came to the store to kill you!" seethed Xiaotao.
"We were careless,” I sighed. “I thought he would lie dormant for a while."
When we reached the store, we met a bewildered Dali staring at the mess. "What happened here? Did Xiaotao-jiejie fire shots just now? Did someone bad break into the store?"
I explained, “Bingxin and I were almost killed!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter