Chapter 294: The Riddle of the Spontaneous Human Combustion

Between the layers of leather was a yellowish piece of paper as thin as cicada wings!

Although it was dry, it was much softer and flexible than normal paper. Yet, the thin-looking paper felt as heavy as a plate of iron in my hand.

I was puzzled. I didn’t know any type of material that could create this sort of paper.

I handed the piece of paper to Senior Shu. He also looked confused and turned the paper in his hand. Eventually, he shook his head. “I don’t know this thing.”

Zhang Ai was curious. “How could this thing be inside my shoe? Is that some kind of new shoe material?”

I suspected that this girl had only muscles inside her head. Until this moment, she hadn’t noticed that someone had cursed her. I felt the need to remind her, but she didn’t believe me. She thought that I was envious and wanted to vilify that trainee.

I was too lazy to quarrel with Zhang Ai, so I carefully wrapped the piece of paper.

“Ah! I just remembered something.” Zhang Ai suddenly patted her own forehead and said, “I think I’ve seen this thing before.”

“Where?” I asked instinctively.

“It’s related to the case I’m investigating.” Zhang Ai said.

“Tell us the details. Until now, we still don’t know what kind of case you’re working on.”

Ever since Zhang Ai saw the ghost, she had started to trust us. She immediately told us every detail of the case.

Everything started one week ago.

Zhang Ai had just started working at the police station as a trainee, but all the cases she received were trivial cases like neighbors quarreling or thugs fighting. Since she had always desired to become an evil-slaying heroine, she wasn’t happy with these cases. She felt she deserved more.

Not long afterward, Zhang Ai received her first murder case. She was very happy and pledged to catch the murderer at all costs.

The person who reported the case said that they saw their neighbor’s house burn in the middle of the night. The fire was very high, and they heard lots of screams. The scene was absolutely terrifying.

The neighbor was an unemployed young man that lived alone. Since the door to his house was locked, the reporter decided to call the firefighters.

However, when the firefighters arrived, the fire was gone. They didn’t even see a spark. The smoke had also dispersed and disappeared. If it weren’t the thick smell of coal burning that escaped the slit underneath the door, they would have thought that someone had reported a false case to tease them.

When the firefighters broke the door to get in, they all gasped in shock.

A man sat at his study desk, his entire body charred black. Not a single piece of his skin was left intact. There was a hole in his stomach, and his burned internal organs were also visible. His blood had dried, and it seemed that if people gently poked the corpse with a finger, the entire body would scatter into ashes.

When they checked the other areas of the room, there was no burned spot. Whether it was the chair the deceased was sitting on, or the desk or even the book he was holding, all of these were perfectly intact.

This situation looked really strange. The firefighters suspected that someone had murdered him somewhere else and then moved him here. They thought that this place was the second crime scene.

However, this assumption was proven wrong since the neighbors had seen the high flame in the room and heard someone screaming.

Anyway, the firefighters didn’t want to cause more trouble for themselves. They decided to call the police and handed this complicated situation to the Criminal Police Department.

When Zhang Ai brought her people to the scene, they were also shocked. They couldn’t find any logical explanation for the case. How was the body charred black while everything else was intact? The wordless book in the victim’s hand was especially strange.

Zhang Ai had a headache. Still, she had to work according to protocol. They took pictures of the scene and started to collect evidence.

The victim was so badly burned that their body size was now similar to that of a three-year-old child’s. The wordless book the charred corpse was holding seemed a crucial piece of evidence, so Zhang Ai collected it.

However, when they picked up the Wordless Heavenly Book, the book felt like a heavy stone. It was like glued to the table and was even heavier than a TV.

After Zhang Ai collected the evidence, she put all of her efforts into this case and prepared to make full use of what she had learned. She started from the clues she got to track down the murderer.

However, weird things started happening one after another.

At first, it was the autopsy. Although the corpse was burned entirely, there was a part that stayed perfectly intact. All of the victim’s fingernails were perfectly preserved. They were just like those of a living person.

The forensic doctor was puzzled but eventually concluded that it was a rare case of spontaneous human combustion.

Afterwards, those in charge of watching the evidence room started hearing strange movements inside the room late at night, including the voices of thousands of people crying. They eventually discovered that the voices came from the Wordless Heavenly Book.

The old guard that watched the morgue was also terrified and asked to have another guard on duty with him. Ever since the charred body was kept in this morgue, every day after midnight, he would hear people composing poems and reading them.

These strange events were all related to the case Zhang Ai was working on. Zhang Ai was afraid people would be scared if word got out, so she tried her best to suppress the rumors.

However, the rumors still reached the ear of one of her distant relatives.

That relative and Zhang Ai’s family hadn’t been in contact for dozens of years. Zhang Ai remembered that he was an old man around her father’s age. When she was a little girl, that uncle had a fight with her father. After that, they had never contacted each other again. But when her father passed away, the old man did come to visit Zhang Ai and helped her. It was thanks to him that she got this police job.

When the uncle heard about the events Zhang Ai had encountered, he had sent us here to help her solve the case. He also warned Zhang Ai that this case was possibly related to the supernatural, so she should never be careless.

It was also the reason Zhang Ai was hostile toward us. She didn’t believe in the supernatural and thought that we were just some swindlers like those fortune tellers on the streets.

She had never thought that our timely arrival would save her life. I strongly believed that even if we didn’t summon that charred-black ghost, he would have come out sooner or later and harmed Zhang Ai.

After we had listened to Zhang Ai’s story, we sank into our own thoughts.

If she had told us earlier, we wouldn't have needed to prepare any of this. That Wordless Heavenly Book was surely an otherworldly item. Could it be that the young man who was burned to death was the black ghost?

I shared my thoughts with Senior Shu. Senior Shu shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. The departed soul we encountered this evening was a bookworm from ancient times that only like to compose poems. There’s no such kind of people in modern-day.”

I thought about it and found his words reasonable.

However, we all agreed that the piece of yellowish paper was torn from the Wordless Heavenly Book. I thought that we had to see that book.

Senior Shu was still deep in thought. Since he was contemplating, I didn’t disturb him.

After a while, Senior Shu lifted his head and looked at me. “What time is it?”

I checked the clock. “5:40 AM.”

“Go get me some leeches.” Senior Shu said, “I need leeches that have sucked black dog blood. We must take care of this before 6:30 AM.”

“What is it with the leeches?” I asked him.

Senior Shu was irritated. “Stop asking questions, and just do as I say.”

I shrugged and ran off outside.

Zhang Ai went with me as she knew where to get the leeches. There was a seafood shop in this area that sold living leeches.

I was puzzled, “Zhang Ai, do they really sell living leeches? Don’t tell me that people want to eat them?”

Zhang Ai looked at me in disbelief. “If they aren’t for eating, what else are they for? Curing women when they menstruate? You’re really weird, you know?”

I suddenly felt nauseous. I had seen people eat worms, insects, and snakes, but they didn’t even let off leeches nowadays. It was a whole new level of disgust for me.

Zhang Ai asked for three pounds of live leeches. They packed them in a small box. The wiggling noises they created made my scalp numb.

We bought a black dog in the same shop. After the dog was killed, we let those leeches suck the dog’s blood.

As soon as we returned with the fed leeches, Senior Shu spread the yellow piece of paper on the table. He carefully chose twenty leeches and placed them on the cicada-wing-like paper.

At first, the leeches crawled freely on the paper, and nothing strange happened. However, no matter where the leeches headed, they didn’t leave the piece of paper.

“Pop!”

Everything was quiet for a while. Then, all of a sudden, one of the leeches burst open. Blood splashed onto the paper.

Senior Shu was startled by the sudden pop. He shuddered, and his eyes cautiously looked at the paper.

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