After our discussion, Xiaotao suggested, "Since we can’t find a place, why don’t we just create one?"
"Build an office?" asked Bingxin.
"That’s right. After experiencing this incident, I think my dad wouldn’t mind donating some money to the city bureau so we can construct another building next to this one and justifiably occupy the first floor."
"Wow, your dad’s got deep pockets!" Bingxin flashed two thumbs up.
A few minutes later, Lao Yao rushed in, looking like an indescribable mess. His head was tangled like beach kelp after a storm, shirt buttoned incorrectly, with one foot in a shoe and the other in flip-flops. He carried his breakfast in a paper bag, gasping for air as if he had run all the way here.
Glancing at her watch, Xiaotao remarked, "Just in time, not bad! Guys, give him a round of applause."
While Bingxin and Xiaotao clapped their hands enthusiastically, Lao Yao scanned the room, taking a seat between Song Xingchen and me. As soon as he was seated, Lao Yao winked flirtatiously at Song Xingchen, "What's your name, handsome?"
Song Xingchen replied coldly, "Fuck off!"
Thus, Xiaotao commenced our first formal meeting, giving a general idea of our current case. Upon hearing the incidents that led up to our discovery, they were horrified and taken aback, especially Lao Yao and Bingxin.
The urgent task at hand was to locate this club. We had three directions to start our investigation. The first was the bodyguard company, which Wang Yuanchao was in charge of exploring. Next were the wealthy folk present for the club meeting, which Xiaotao would look into. Meanwhile, Song Xingchen and I were to locate the actual location of the club according to Mr. Huang’s description.
Lao Yao would search for clues of the club on the Internet. Considering the hidden nature of the club, the Internet was undoubtedly most convenient for the organization’s operations.
On the other hand, Bingxin was tasked with testing the kidney to determine the victim’s identity.
After assigning our tasks, Xiaotao turned her attention to me.
"Let me modify Bingxin’s task. Do you still remember the human nails we found in Guihe Garden’s soup dumplings two days ago?" I asked.
"Another team has been placed in charge of the investigation. I hear they’ve brought some people in for questioning," replied Xiaotao.
"My intuition tells me that this case is somehow involved with the cannibal club. Bingxin, look for any connections between the two cases... Oh, never mind,” I changed my mind. “I’ll look into it. I’m rather concerned about this case."
"Alright then, that’s it for the time being. I'll set up a WeChat group to facilitate communication. Please share your contact information with each other to ensure that we have no problem contacting one another. We are now a special team so we must learn to cooperate with each other!" said Xiaotao.
With that, Xiaotao, Bingxin and I headed to the forensic laboratory. Unfortunately, the coroner didn't find any information from the fingernail. Because it was broken and cooked, extracting DNA from the fingernail proved even more challenging.
The coroner pulled out physical evidence from the refrigerator. In fact, it was common for them to keep human organs in the refrigerator. At the sight of those bloody organs, my mind drifted to the cannibal club once more.
There lay the soup dumpling and nail that we pieced together. It was a complete adult-sized nail with traces of trimming in the front section and lunula on the base.
I stared at this fingernail thoughtfully for a long time, unable to discern anything from it.
"How did this fingernail get into the meat? Was it added into the meat before the wrapping process or after? Could it be a deliberate attempt of sabotage by their competitors?" Bingxin wondered out loud.
Though unintentional, Bingxin’s casual remark sparked a thought. "Yes, now that you mention it, can you check how long the meat was frozen?"
The coroner took some samples and looked at them under a microscope. When cells were frozen and thawed, the damage would be inevitable. The severity of the damage could only be seen under a microscope. Upon examination, the coroner proceeded to test the cells with reagents. We waited patiently for the results.
"It has been frozen for quite some time, at least a week," concluded the coroner.
I nodded after getting the message.
"Why do you ask if the pork was frozen?" asked Xiaotao.
"In order to determine the time and place of the victim's death!" I explained.
"What?" Bingxin and Xiaotao exclaimed in unison.
I smiled, "Bingxin's question reminded me that the fingernail was inserted into the meat. You've all seen frozen meat. They’re as hard as stone. It’s impossible to get a fingernail in there. In other words, when this fingernail was added to the meat, the meat was still fresh. Since it was frozen for about a week, the victim was most likely killed a week ago."
A week ago?
Speaking of which, I suddenly remembered that the cannibal club held their activities once a week.
"I see,” said Xiaotao. “I can’t believe you thought of that! What about the location of the crime scene?"
"I'm not sure about that,” I admitted. “But it's definitely not Guihe Garden. We did check the cold storage where the frozen meat was kept. According to the manager, it was directly shipped from the meat factory, which makes it the most probable crime scene!"
Xiaotao shook her head, "The people in the meat factory were repeatedly questioned and investigated by the police. There are no suspicious people or missing persons."
Bingxin interjected, "What I’m curious about is why the victim would place his fingernail in the meat. What’s their motive?"
Upon picturing the scene and putting myself in the victim’s shoes, I came to a realization, "That’s because the victim wants to tell the world that he was murdered!"
The two stared at me as I rubbed the corner of my eye, "This happens in many cases. The victims try their best to leave some clues, hoping to have someone like Song Ci redress their grievances. I guess the victim had nothing around him except for meat. Knowing that he was going to die, the only thing he could do was pull out a fingernail and stuff it into the meat."
"Why choose such a painful method?" asked Bingxin.
I glanced at the coroner who was present since what I was going to say involved some inside information about the case.
Gesturing for us to leave, I waited till we exited the lab. "Because the victim knows there won’t be a body..."
"What!" the girls shouted.
The gears in my head were put into motion. Like open floodgates, the crime scene emerged in my mind–a naked man trapped with meat in a cold room. His limbs were frozen stiff. Well aware there wouldn’t even be a corpse, he pulled out his nails and stuffed them into the meat, hoping to let the outside world know he had been murdered via his nails.
The man's body disappeared, probably becoming a pot of meat in the club, but the pork was sent to Guihe Garden and was made into soup dumplings. Why was there such an intersection? Was there a relationship between Guihe Garden and the club? Obviously not. The place where the victim was killed was a refrigerator truck. Temperatures in these refrigerators could reach 20 degrees below zero. Only if the victim’s peripheral nerve was completely frozen could he have pulled out his entire nail.
At the thought of this, I quickly ordered, "Check the driver who transports the meat. I suspect he has a ‘part-time job' like the security guard from the chicken farm!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter