The bus had already changed owner, but the woman in red raincoat was still cautious around it. Her arms gripped the door, and the red of her coat was conspicuous in the dark.
"We're both going in the same direction. Why don't you join us as we head toward Li Wan City tonight?" Chen Ge invited the woman on. He had many questions that he wished to ask her. The last time that he left the hearse, he had handed the 'human trafficker' who stole the children to the woman, but since then, he had not seen the human trafficker.
Chen Ge suspected that the woman in the red raincoat had already found out the information that she needed from her, the location of her own children. After all, if she did not come up with any result, she would not have shown up for the last bus on Route 104.
Walking to the front door, Chen Ge bent slightly over to address the woman. "If you've completed all the preparation, we shall go rescue your child tonight. I will go with you—that was my promise to you."
Her lips sewn shut by blood vessels meant that she could not speak, so she made a series of strange gestures toward Chen Ge instead. Her fingertip pointed at the bus, then at Chen Ge's face, and then at the spot where Chen Ge's heart would be. Finally, she squeezed her fingers together like she was crushing Chen Ge's heart in her palm.
"The hearse? My face? Crushing my heart?" It dawned on Chen Ge several moments later. "Do you mean that someone who looks like me is out to gouge out my heart? And he's currently on the bus?"
The woman did not nod or shake her head. She looked through the curtain of her hair as she reached out to grab Chen Ge's arm, trying to pull him off the bus. The bus was now Chen Ge's property, and his backpack and cat were still on the bus, so naturally, he would not give it up so easily.
Chen Ge took a step back. When the woman sensed that, she stopped applying force and allowed Chen Ge to slip from her grasp. The rain slid down her raincoat. For the last piece of communication, she pointed in the direction of Li Wan City and her arms curled together to mimic the action of holding a baby. Before Chen Ge understood what she meant, the woman retreated to the platform. Blood trailed down her raincoat, and the blood pooled around her.
The bus slowly rolled out from the platform, and the woman stood there as she watched the last bus of Route 104 move away. The closer they were to Li Wan City, the heavier the rain outside fell. Outside the window, there was no light at all; it was as if the bus was travelling through a realm of darkness.
"What was she trying to say?" The woman had refused to get on the bus, which was different from what Chen Ge planned. "But if she doesn't want to cooperate with me, she didn't need to have shown up at all. She should have sensed a source of danger in the bus, so she refused to get on."
Chen Ge sneaked a look at the other passengers—the doctor and the drunkard should be a normal human being, so Chen Ge focused his attention on the red high heels and the smiling man.
Should I make the first move? Chen Ge thought to himself when the phone in his pocket vibrated. He glanced at the caller's number before ending the call. Then he fired off a message to the caller. "Inspector Lee, it's not convenient for me to answer your call. I hope you don't mind us communicating via messages."
When Chen Ge saw that it was Lee Zheng's number, he thought that something bad had happened.
"Jia Ming has escaped from the hospital! Be careful! I fear he might go to hurt you!" Lee Zheng used three exclamation marks in his message.
"But why would he come for me? I have not done anything to him. Plus, wasn't he at the hospital with the officers watching him? How did he manage to escape?" Jiujiang's police force was best of the best, and Chen Ge had good faith in the law enforcement.
"The mad man spun a wild story to confuse us. In the story, he was a victim, and through the retelling of eleven different stories, he described a shadowy monster who was an expert at changing its appearance and voice. He told us that the shadow monster was the real mastermind—he was merely an unlucky soul who was at the wrong place at the wrong time!"
"Eleven stories in total, detailing how he was threatened by the mastermind to do things that are in violation of his moral values. However, none of the stories were factually-flawed, and our investigation corroborated his claims."
"This proves that he wasn't lying."
"Yes, he wasn't lying about those eleven stories, but he was deceitful with one major detail!" Lee Zheng sounded agitated. There were many unusual spaces and exclamation points in his messages. "The mastermind was never real to begin with; it was a creation in his mind. He was the real killer! For all of those eleven stories, he was the real killer!"
Seeing this message, Chen Ge finally understood that the eleven stories probably represented eleven human lives.
"This man who looks shy and weak on the surface is hiding a completely twisted persona! When he told us the stories, his voice even broke several times due to emotions. He was so wrought by regret that the doctors and nurses felt sorry for him. We sent out people to inspect the crime scenes in his stories, and as the details surfaced, as the investigation deepened, we felt more unsettled. To speed up the investigation, we arranged more people to join the case. Earlier tonight, Jia Ming's sickness showed signs of worsening, and the doctors suggested sending him to the ICU. Thinking that he wouldn't be awake any time soon, we only left one officer behind to look after him.
"But on the way to send Jia Ming to the ICU, this man who shouldn't have been able to walk jumped out from the second-floor window and escaped. He had already planned everything, he scouted out the route beforehand. His sickroom was on the third floor, and ICU was on the first floor. The window that he jumped out of led to the back alley. It was a maze inside there with the hidden splits and turns—one officer was not enough to catch up to him."
Lee Zheng told Chen Ge about Jia Ming's escape, but Chen Ge was not interested in any of that. "Inspector Lee, I predicted that Jia Ming would attempt to escape, but why would you say he's out to harm me?"
"We found some wooden chips next to his bed. We opened the bedside table and realized that, at the back, someone had used their fingers to carve out your name. After the names were carved, the person would use their nails to gouge them out again, I don't think anyone would do that except when they had extreme hatred toward the named individual. In any case, be careful—we suspect that he's already on his way to find you."
I don't have any history with Jia Ming, so he shouldn't harbor such deep hatred toward me unless it wasn't Jia Ming who we saw at the hospital.
From Lee Zheng's message, Chen Ge suspected that the shadow was still in Jia Ming's body. He had probably fainted outside of White Dragon Cave Tunnel that night because of some accident.
"By the way, where are you now? Don't go wandering tonight!"
After a while, Lee Zheng sent another message. Initially, Chen Ge did not think that it was weird, but as he formulated a reply, he paused.
Wait a minute, why would Inspector Lee ask about my current location? And he rarely used exclamation marks in our previous correspondence. Is it possible that it's Jia Ming and not Lee Zheng who's communicating with me?