After Xiaotao’s arrest, Wang Xuebing and I were escorted to the bureau for questioning. The policeman who recorded my testimony was someone I was familiar with.
"Song-ge, no one expected this to happen,” he smiled wryly. “Please don’t be offended!"
"It's okay. Just play by the rules. I’ll give you my full cooperation," I assured him.
After I explained the situation in detail, the officer asked, "When you ran into the alley, you didn't see anyone other than Qin Aonan, Wang Xuebing, and Captain Huang?"
"I didn't see anyone!" I stressed the word "see," a clever approach to implying there must have been a fifth person at the scene.
"And Captain Huang’s gun had just been fired?" he added.
"Yes,” I nodded helplessly.
"Well, thank you for your cooperation!" The officer closed his notebook.
"About the case..." I anxiously inquired.
"The case has now been taken over by Captain Xing and Director Sun has specifically indicated that you’re not allowed in the investigation," explained the officer.
Disheartened, I asked to meet Xiaotao but was refused. Since I was an important witness and had a close personal relationship with Xiaotao, I wasn’t allowed to contact the suspect during this sensitive period.
Not only me, but Bingxin and Wang Yuanchao weren’t allowed to see her either.
Hoping to meet with Sun Tiger, I walked to the director's office but was stopped at the door. It was Captain Xing whom I had once cooperated with before.
"Song Yang, Director Sun isn’t in the office now," he said.
"Where did he go? Is he at the scene?" I asked.
"I’m sorry, I can’t disclose this,” frowned Captain Xing. “This case happened within the Public Security Bureau and the case of the four young masters is at the forefront. Haven’t you seen the reaction on Weibo? Everyone’s cheering. Since the situation is so, we have to appear even more impartial. So please avoid any suspicion!"
"I know," I nodded.
Captain Xing patted me on the shoulder, "Don't worry, I will definitely find the truth!"
After saying goodbye to him, I called Sun Tiger and found his phone turned off. At the forensic laboratory, another coroner reported that Bingxin was on leave and they couldn't get through to her.
It seemed the entire station received a memo from Sun Tiger, ordering my exclusion from the case. Although I could understand their intentions, I was depressed at the thought of my helplessness.
When I walked out of the bureau, a bunch of reporters were waiting outside. Seeing me exit the station, they came flocking around me and asked questions.
"I’m sorry, I'm not an officer,” I made up an excuse. “I'm just here on an errand." Fortunately, the reporters didn't know me so they let me go undisturbed.
Back in the store, Luo Youyou was scrolling through Weibo. Since today marked the public trial of the four young masters, almost everyone around me was paying attention to the developments of the case.
"Song Yang, the news on Weibo says that the four young masters were acquitted. And an officer was impulsive enough to kill one of them. Is it true?"
I didn't know how to answer her question so I waved my hand, "Those are just rumors. That’s not true at all!"
Throughout the day, I sat in the store in a daze, heart heavy. I didn’t get a wink of sleep at night. The thought of Xiaotao sitting in the cold detention room in handcuffs was a passing insomnia that wouldn’t quit.
Tossing and turning until four in the morning, I decided not to hesitate any longer. So I got dressed and headed to the crime scene.
When I arrived at the doors of the court, dawn had just broken. There were no pedestrians on the streets. A large scorch mark stained the ground where the burning bottle was thrown yesterday. I stood there trying to recall the scene.
The court faced a main road. If this was premeditated, how was the murderer able to manipulate Qin Aonan and Wang Xuebing’s movements to ensure they headed to the alley where Xiaotao was framed?
I paced back and forth on the sidewalk but I couldn't figure it out.
Then, I went to the crime scene that had been cordoned off. Fortunately, there were no officers around at this time. Wrapping my shoes with shoe covers I had prepared in advance, I wore rubber gloves and quietly entered the alley.
Qin Aonan had been shot at the end of the alley so that was where I began my investigation. There was a bay window on the second floor, probably part of the kitchen of a residential home. The window was broken and mended with a plastic sheet which was covered in soot.
Xiaotao's position at the time was close to the bay window. If anyone were to orchestrate a set-up, the bay window was the best point of attack! I was certain I heard the sound of one gunshot so the murderer must have used a silencer.
But there was still something I couldn’t wrap my head around, which were the rifling marks. Every gun had a unique rifling mark, equivalent to the fingerprint of a gun. Thus, any bullet could be easily traced to the gun it was fired from.
Right now, I wasn’t privy to the ballistic results. But an expert like the Dog Trainer would surely understand this so he must have had special means to fabricate such evidence.
There weren’t many clues at the scene so I decided to head to the second floor. If this was where the murderer lay in ambush, then the place must be unoccupied!
I walked around to the community, stopping in front of the apartment. There, I pried the door open as quietly as possible, successfully opening the door. To my great surprise, the house was inhabited. There were two people snoring soundly in the bedroom, and takeout boxes and fruits were on the table.
My actions constituted breaking into someone else’s home. After hesitating at the door for a moment, I grabbed my handkerchief, covered my face and closed the door behind me.
Breaking and entering kept me on my toes. With every step I took, I made sure to make as little noise as humanly possible. If the owner of the apartment were to wake up, I would use the Eyes of Yama and flee the scene.
I slowly tiptoed my way through the living room. When I passed the bedroom, I noticed a man and a woman in bed and wedding photos of them hanging on the wall.
The darkness didn't affect me at all. From my observations, it did seem like the home of a couple who had lived here for some time. When I arrived at the kitchen, I approached the bay window overlooking the crime scene, examining the plastic sheet and leaning in to sniff. There weren’t any distinct odors.
I checked the kitchen but came up empty. The soot on the plastic sheet covered a large area. If I were to tear off a piece and replace it with a new one, the homeowners would notice the abnormality at a glance...
Thus, I quietly left the apartment and decided to visit the third floor. The bay window on the third floor was also a suitable point of attack, though not as effective as the second floor.
When I opened the door, an elderly voice sounded from the apartment, "Hui Zhen, you’re back?"
I remained motionless, afraid to move as my heart raced a mile a minute. The apartment was filled with old mahogany furniture, giving the impression that an old man lived here alone. The muffled voice I had just heard made me wonder if the man was awake or talking in his sleep.
After a moment’s hesitation, I decided to proceed anyway. Scanning the bay window and the surrounding area, I found nothing special. The only sound that accompanied my search was the grinding of the old man’s teeth as he slept in the bedroom.
However, on my way out of the apartment, I suddenly noticed a dark figure standing at the door with something in his hand. Click! A white light flashed; it turned out to be a cell phone. I was photographed breaking into the apartment.
The biggest weakness of Cave Vision was the fear of bright lights. Vision blurry, I could hardly make out a man in a long trench coat with his hands in his pockets as he wordlessly left.
I ran after the man, searching outside the door for his figure. Suddenly a deep voice sounded from behind—
"Hello, Song Yang. I am the Dog Trainer!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter