Near dinner time, Hong Jing City’s residents found the promotional ad that been out for barely half a month suddenly changed its style.
The music was bright, but the sky was dark.
The river in the ad was emerald, and there were several ducklings floating atop it, shaking their little heads as they went home.
「One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…」
A child’s voice overwhelmed the melody of the guqin, and a man holding his grandson’s hand appeared beside a stone-arched bridge.
The little boy’s steps were unstable, but he sounded very excited as he counted the steps over and over again.
A traveler, bag tossed over his shoulder, stood by the bridge and read the couplet on the bridge’s stone pillar: 「Spring enters in a green boat, autumn ferries return under a red sunset.
His voice was dream-like and pleasant, appealing to everyone who heard it.
Afterward, the traveler traipsed away, and the camera followed, leading to an open river.
This river surged with raging water.
The camera swept across the bridge and over the river, then landed on the three words: Tai Qian Bridge.
The background music abruptly stopped, and the beautiful face of a female anchor appeared.
「The following broadcast is urgent.
On the 10th of this month, a vicious murder occurred in this city.
The suspect is Feng Pei Lin, 37 years old, male.
Police have warned he is extremely dangerous.
Please report any sightings immediately.」
The anchor’s voice was solemn, and Feng Pei Lin’s picture appeared on the top left of the screen.
His smile was mocking.
This short advertisement was Lin Chen’s trap for Feng Pei Lin.
Lin Chen’s explanation was any prisoner had a “place of belonging.” Like when people go shopping, they subconsciously chose the most convenient place, and criminals would also commit crimes in the places they were most at ease or held the most significance to them.
Feng Pei Lin’s crimes occurred within 1.5km of the city’s center, and Tian Qian Bridge happened to be within this geographical profile.
Better yet, there was a river flowing under the bridge which represented the source of life and also related to the concept behind the sand table.
To satisfy a suspect with OCD over the number seven, there were seven ducklings in the ad, and the number seven also appeared, making Feng Pei Lin feel at ease.
Tian Qian Bridge was written in seven strokes, and in his subconscious, this location would appeal to him.
If the serene ad would evoke fond memories, the news broadcast directly after would force him to speed up his plans as he would know the police were dogging his steps.
Under the double suggestions of subconscious calm and external pressure, he would definitely choose Tai Qian Bridge.
Someone stared at Feng Pei Lin’s pale, handsome face on the television, then lifted a remote and turned it off.
The screen went dark, but a lamp on the desk still emitted light.
And of course, there was another light in the room.
One reflected on that person’s head.
“Inspector Huang, why did you suddenly come to drink tea with this old man” In the police commissioner’s office, the director held a teacup and took a big sip, continuing to watch the news after the short ad.
Huang Ze sat opposite the old director.
As if he had forgotten about the news, he poured another cup and pushed it over the table.
“I’m mainly here for you.”
The old director took in a deep breath.
He closed his eyes, appearing to enjoy the scent of the tea as if didn’t hear him at all.
But Huang Ze wasn’t angry for being ignored.
He waited, a picture of respect.
After a while, the scent in the air faded, and the director couldn’t take it any longer.
“Young Huang, you’re too polite.”
The old man picked up the teacup and drank it all.
His action was so casual, he may as well have been drinking a buck worth of tea by the roadside.
“It’s what I ought to do.” Huang Ze filled the cup again.
“Friends of the family want to ask you, Uncle.
What exactly are you doing” Huang Ze didn’t give the old man time to deflect and straightforwardly asked, “Without your approval, Lin Chen wouldn’t be able to participate in the investigation.
So what exactly are you doing”
Huang Ze said those words, “What exactly are you doing” twice, which was interesting in itself.
People like Huang Ze seldom expressed their emotions and opinions with emphasis.
Yet, he asked the same question twice.
This showed the old man had really annoyed him, and the reason was, of course, Lin Chen.
Lin Chen was just an ordinary man.
He didn’t have any background, nor did he have backing.
Their gargantuan families could easily squash him like an ant.
The reason he still lived was because killing him wasn’t the best way to solve the problem.
If you hate someone, it was best to watch them suffer, beg for mercy, and struggle to live like an ant.
That perverted demon, chairman of the Chen family, had always been at the forefront of the crusade against Lin Chen, giving him an extremely hard time.
Until a few days ago when Lin Chen reappeared and insisted on participating in the investigation with such an unyielding attitude.
Without the director’s tacit permission, it was impossible for a small dorm warden like Lin Chen to express an opinion on an investigation, no matter how much Cong Lian trusted him.
Let alone making a local TV station broadcast an ad to lure Feng Pei Lin every three hours with just a few words.
As Huang Ze already stated, his main purpose this visit was to ask the old man behind all this: what exactly he was doing.
This old man could stop Boss Chen’s hands, and also force Huang Ze to humble himself and come visit.
He had status.
His surname was Wu, one of the four families: Zhou, Wu, Chen, and Huang.
“Before this, wasn’t your relationship with Xiao Lin also good” The director squeezed his eyes shut, blocking out Huang Ze’s question.
“This isn’t funny, Uncle.
The one who died that night was my own sister.
He and I can never go back to how we were, not after that.” Huang Ze’s expression was as gloomy as his answer was stubbornly serious.
“If not good friends, friends will do.”
“I will not be friends with a murderer.”
“Just speculation, speculation, ah…”
“Is there a problem with what I said There were inconsistencies in the investigation and his statement.
So far, he has yet to be cleared of suspicion.”
The most terrible thing in the world other than psychopathic killers were those with Second Grade Middle School Syndrome.
The old Director Wu had lost all will to argue and only sighed in frustration.
“Uncle, please answer me, what’s going on” Huang Ze asked persistently.
“Xiao Lin told me this is a very dangerous case.”
“So you agreed Are you not worried that he will kill even more people”
“He said that when the case is over, he will leave.”
14 September, Saturday
The typhoon had passed, but the clouds had not dissipated.
Bright lights flashed by the street that misty early morning.
The stalls selling breakfast under Tai Qian Bridge were doubled compared to usual.
The sixth floor of the building next to the bridge was temporarily requisitioned.
Xing Cong Lian and Fu Hao watched the pedestrians on the bridge through black binoculars from inside.
After a full night of waiting, all officers were quite sleepy.
Lin Chen slept in a chair on his side, still in clothes, as if he didn’t care about catching Feng Pei Lin at all.
“Boss, we’ve been waiting here all night, but Feng Pei Lin never appeared.
Is that psychologist really credible”
It was nearly 6:30, and there wasn’t even a shadow of someone suspicious.
Cong Lian clutched the walkie-talkie and headset close to his ear, not wanting to let the noise echo.
But Lin Chen still heard it.
He looked at the clock and slowly sat up.
“Let me go to the bridge.”
“No, it’s too dangerous.”
“With all these officers you have here, what’s dangerous” Lin Chen asked.
“What if you show up, and he figures out it’s a trap and doesn’t go”
“Do you think traps have any meaning to a person seeking death”
It had to be said, Lin Chen had the ability to take people at a loss for words.
Under the watchful eyes of all the officers present, Cong Lian had to wave his hand and let Lin Chen go to the bridge.
Lin Chen wore a clean, white shirt and rested his hand on the bridge’s white jade railing.
The wind blew into his face, and the water below appeared boundless.
The dark, crisscrossing roofs were like the back of a giant beast at the city’s center in the distance.
As dawn arrived, more pedestrians and vehicles came and went across the bridge deck.
Some were parents, sending their children to school on bicycles.
Some peddlers pushed their three-wheeled carts across the bridge with difficulty.
An old man walked slowly to the top with a crutch.
Xing Cong Lian held up his binocular and watched the people on the bridge, heart racing.
“Lao Fu, I think there’s something wrong here.”
Unable to explain his unrest, from confirming the suspect to carrying out the arrest, everything seemed too fast for him to process his thoughts.
He had always felt there was something wrong, and he was sure of it, but he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was.
“Lao Xing, my brother has seen a lot of things and been in many fights.
He can take care of himself.”
Fu Hao was still talking when Cong Lian’s phone rang.
The frantic piano was disturbing.
“Boss, there’s a problem, and I don’t know if it’s appropriate to mention it now.” In front of the computer, Wang Chao bit the end of his pencil, pressing the pause key.
“What is it”
“Ah Chen’s reasoning seems a little bit problematic.
He said Feng Pei Lin watched Yu Yan Qing commit suicide, right From that, I wanted to find where he was at the time she committed suicide and found he was driving to his mother’s grave to sweep it.
The freeway toll station took his picture.
It doesn’t seem to be important, but I still thought I should let you know…”
While Wang Chao chattered on, Cong Lian hung up.
His heart sank when he finally realized what was wrong.
Lin Chen was a meticulous person, while Feng Pei Lin had OCD.
Lin Chen surmised there were four steps in this death training method, and Yu Yan Qing strictly followed those steps.
Since Feng Pei Lin wanted to commit suicide, he also had to follow those four steps.
What if Lin Chen falsified “helping and observing Yu Yan Qing’s suicide” as a step
On the bridge, the old man with a crutch stopped not far from Lin Chen.
Sensing something, the young man in white turned his head.
“In less than thirty seconds, the nearest officer will arrest you,” he told the old man.
“Thirty seconds is enough for a message!” The old man said excitedly.
“He said you would die with me.
Will you really”
The plain-clothes officer nearest the top of the bridge already rushed forward.
Like being knocked overhead with a hammer, Cong Lian’s head pulsed.
“If the whole death training Lin Chen said was true, then there are no murder cases the police missed!”
“Feng Pei Lin may have never killed anyone yet!”
“Lin Chen being on the bridge is the best prey! He wants to kill Lin Chen then commit suicide!”
“Lin Chen already knew Feng Pei Lin’s intent! He was tired and wanted to end everything.
That short ad wasn’t a trap for Pei Lin at all, it was Lin Chen saying he would wait for him here!”
The worst possibility rushed to the forefront of Cong Lian’s mind.
On the bridge, the old man threw away his crutch and suddenly rushed toward Lin Chen with the speed of a runner’s 100m sprint.
As if he was a poet, he pressed Lin Chen to the railing and said devoutly, “He just wanted to ask.
In this world of sand, in the plethora of big and small confrontation, which side are you on”
The railing broke.
Cong Lian roared, “Lin Chen!”
《A Grain of Sand》