Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Around dinner time, citizens of Hongjing unexpectedly found that the promotional ad for the tourism festival that had been showing on TV for most of the month had changed to a new style.
Accompanied by the sound of the zither, the TV screen gradually brightened, and an emerald-colored river slowly came into view. Several small ducks were playing in it. They shook their heads as if they were in a hurry to return home.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…”
A tender voice of a child overpowered the crisp sound of the zither. An old man was holding his grandson, who appeared at the stone arch bridge. The little boy’s footsteps were unsteady as he counted each of his steps excitedly.
The camera moved to the other side of the small bridge, capturing a traveler with a backpack standing by the bridge. He froze for a moment, then read out the couplets on the stone pillars of the bridge. “In spring, the flowing water is green. In autumn, the sunset at the ferry is red.”
The traveler’s voice sounded almost ethereal, giving those who heard it a warm, pleasant feeling.
The traveler started to move away, and the camera followed his footprints to an open river that was surging.
The camera then zoomed across the river and finally landed on the words “Taiqian Bridge”.
The soundtrack stopped abruptly, and the pretty face of a female anchor appeared.
“We interrupt this broadcast for an emergency announcement. A vicious murder occurred on the 10th of this month in the city. The suspect is Feng Peilin. Male. 37 years old. The police remind everyone that this person is extremely dangerous. If you see this person, please contact the police immediately.”
Following the female anchor’s solemn voice, a photo of Feng Peilin appeared at the top left of the screen. He had the corners of his mouth crook, as if mocking something.
This was obviously a trap Lin Chen had set up to catch Feng Peilin.
In this regard, Lin Chen’s explanation was that any prison had a “psychological belonging point”. Just like when people go shopping, they would subconsciously choose the most convenient place, so the suspect would commit crimes in places that could make them feel at ease or have special significance.
The crimes committed by Feng Peilin were all in an area within a 1.5-kilometer radius of the school he worked at as the center. The Taiqian Bridge happened to be in this area as well.
What was even better was that the river under the bridge was full of water, which represented the initial surge of life, which was related to the intention of the sand table.
To appease the suspect’s obsession with the number seven, the short ad featured seven little ducks and a child counting to seven, which would elicit a sense of familiarity with Feng Peilin.
Finally, the Taiqian* Bridge was also seven strokes. In Feng Peilin’s subconscious, he would think this place was very calming.
*Writing out the characters [Taiqian] (太千) is seven strokes.
If the tranquil short film could evoke Feng Peilin’s fond memories, then the subsequent interruption was to let Feng Peilin know that the police were looking for him, which would force him to act faster.
Under the dual combination of unconscious memory and external pressure, he would definitely choose to go to the Taiqian Bridge.
Staring at Feng Peilin’s pale yet handsome face, someone raised the remote control and turned off the TV.
The screen became dark. There was only a table lamp that still exuded warm light. In another place there was also a spot that was bright.
That was the reflection from the top of someone’s head.
“Inspector Huang, why did you suddenly think of finding an old man like me to have tea with?” In the director’s office, the Chief of Police was holding a teacup in his hand as he took big sips from it. He didn’t bother to mention anything about the promotional ad just now.
Huang Ze sat opposite the old director. He smiled and poured himself a cup of tea, then gently pushed it in front of the old director. “I’m here this time mainly to talk to you.”
The old director couldn’t help but take a deep breath. He closed his eyes, as if he was enjoying the fragrance of the tea, and acted as if he hadn’t heard anything at all.
However, Huang Ze didn’t get angry at this response. He sat there and waited, and such a wait represented respect.
The time passed so long that the fragrance in the room no longer smelled like tea, and the old man couldn’t hold his breath forever. “Young Master Huang, you’re too polite, much too polite.”
The old director took the teacup and drank it all in one go. He acted so casually, as if the tea he drank was no different than the tea served on the side of the road.
“This is as it should be.” Huang Ze filled the old director’s teacup again. “Friends from other families wanted to ask you, Uncle Shi, what exactly are your intentions?” Huang Ze didn’t even give the old man time to breathe. He was straightforward. “Without your acquiescence, Lin Chen couldn’t participate in the investigation of this case. What exactly are your intentions?”
The fact that Huang Ze asked “What exactly are your intentions” twice was, in and of itself, quite interesting.
A person of Huang Ze’s stature rarely needed to express his emotions and position through emphatic statements, but he asked the same question twice in a row.
This signified to the old man that he was annoyed, and of course, the reason was because of Lin Chen.
Lin Chen was a small person who had no background or backing. He could be easily squished, like killing an ant. The only reason he was still alive was because if you hated someone, it was best to watch their dreams shatter and have them kneel and beg for mercy like the ant they were.
In the past two years, Lin Chen had lived a very hard life.
Until a few days ago, he had reappeared in their sights again, and insisted on intervening in this case with an unyielding attitude. If there was no acquiescence from the old man, no matter how much the police captain trusted Lin Chen, it would be impossible for a small dorm manager like him to express key opinions for the investigation, let alone with just a few words, convince the TV station to produce a commercial within three hours so they could trap Feng Peilin.
Therefore, the main purpose of Huang Ze’s trip was to ask the old man behind all this: What exactly was his intentions?
For an old man like him that could prevent Chen Dong from taking action and have Huang Ze himself appear in person, it meant he himself had some status. His surname was Wu, the Wu that was part of the elite four families, Zhou, Wu, Chen, and Huang.
“Didn’t you and Xiao Lin get along quite well before?” Director Wu narrowed his eyes as he tried to dodge the question.
“Uncle Shi, this isn’t funny. Among the people who died that night, my own sister was one of them. No matter what, Lin Chen and I can’t return to the past.” Huang Ze’s expression turned gloomy as he responded bluntly to the old man’s question.
“Well, if you can’t be good friends, how about just regular friends?”
“I won’t be friends with a murderer.”
“Subjective. That’s subjective…”
“Is there a problem with what I said? There have been discrepancies between his confession and the on-site investigation. He has never cleared himself of suspicion so far.”
Hearing what he said, Director Wu could only sigh helplessly.
“Uncle Shi, pardon me, but what exactly are you planning?” Huang Ze continued to ask persistently.
“Xiao Lin told me this case is very dangerous.”
“So you agreed. Aren’t you afraid he’ll kill more people?”
“He said that when this case is resolved, he’ll leave.”
Sunday, September 14th.
The typhoon had just passed, but the looming clouds hadn’t yet completely dissipated.
The sky was bright, dotting the streets with sporadic lights in the morning fog.
There were twice as many stalls selling breakfast under Taiqian Bridge as usual.
The sixth floor of a building adjacent to the bridge was temporarily requisitioned. Xing Conglian and Fu Hao were there, watching the pedestrians on Taiqian Bridge closely through their black binoculars.
After waiting all night, all the police officers on the scene were sleepy.
Lin Chen slept soundly in an armchair as if he didn’t care about Feng Peilin’s arrest.
“Captain, we’ve been watching all night and Feng Peilin hasn’t shown up. Is that psychologist legit?”
At nearly 6:30, there was still no suspicious person. Xing Conglian pressed his headset tightly, not wanting the sound coming from it to leak out. However, Lin Chen still heard it. He glanced at the clock on the wall and sat up slowly, then said, “Let me go to the bridge.”
“No. It’s too dangerous.”
“You have deployed so many police forces. What danger will I be in?” Lin Chen asked rhetorically.
“If you show up, then won’t he know it’s a trap, so he won’t get on the bridge?”
“Do you think a trap has any meaning to a person who’s looking for death?”
Xing Conglian had to admit that Lin Chen always had the ability to make people speechless.
Under the watchful eyes of all the police officers in the room, Xing Conglian had to wave his hand and give in to Lin Chen’s request.
Lin Chen was wearing a clean white shirt. As he walked on the bridge, he put his hand on the white marbled rail. The wind was blowing in his face as the waters of the river surged underneath.
In the distance was a dark-colored roof, like the back of a giant beast, that stretched across the city’s center.
It was gradually getting brighter as dawn approached, and the number of pedestrians and vehicles coming and going on the bridge steadily increased.
There were parents riding their mopeds to send their children off to school and vendors on tricycles pulling their carts with difficulty across the bridge. An old man with a cane slowly walked to the top.
Xing Conglian held his binoculars and scanned the people on the bridge. He felt that his heart was beating very fast.
“Lao Fu, I think there is something wrong.”
Xing Conglian couldn’t explain how he felt. From identifying the suspect to arresting him, everything was moving so fast that he didn’t have the time to process it. He felt something was amiss and he was sure that something was wrong, but he couldn’t grasp the key problem.
“Lao Xing, shixiong is also a person who’s been through many battles. He can take care of himself.”
Before Fu Hao could finish, Xing Conglian’s cellphone suddenly rang. The frenzied piano sound made everyone feel uneasy.
“Captain, there’s a problem. I don’t know if it’s convenient to talk now.” Wang Chao was in front of a computer. He was chewing on his pencil as he pressed the pause button.
“What is it?”
“There seems to be something wrong with A’Chen’s* reasoning. Didn’t he say that Feng Peilin watched Yu Yanqing commit suicide? Going by procedure, I wanted to find out where Feng Peilin was during that time and discovered that while Yu Yanqing was committing suicide, Feng Peilin went to visit his mother’s grave. There was a photo captured of him at the highway tollbooth. This didn’t seem important, but I felt I needed to report it to you…”
*When (阿) is used in front of a name, it usually indicates affection and closeness when addressing someone, but in this case, Wang Chao is using it as a more casual way to address Lin Chen, like a nickname for him.
While Wang Chao was babbling endlessly on the other end of the line, Xing Conglian hung up abruptly. His heart sank as he finally realized what was wrong.
Lin Chen was such a meticulous person, while Feng Peilin was an obsessive-compulsive person.
Lin Chen’s reasoning about the steps of death training was only four steps, which Yu Yanqing also strictly followed. Then, since Feng Peilin wanted to commit suicide, he should also perform these four steps instead of the five steps that Lin Chen told him.
Get close to the body → Observe a murder → Kill with your own hands → Observe and help Yu Yanqing commit suicide → Commit suicide
So what if the step of “Observe and help Yu Yanqing commit suicide” was itself invented by Lin Chen?
On the bridge, the old man with a cane stopped not far from Lin Chen. As if perceiving something, the young man in the white shirt turned his head.
“In less than 30 seconds, the nearest police officer will rush up to arrest you,” he said to the old man.
“For a messenger, 30 seconds is enough!” The old man said excitedly.
“He said you will accompany me in death, won’t you?”
A police officer in plainclothes closest to the top of the bridge began to run wildly.
Xing Conglian felt as if he had been hit by a hammer and his head was about to explode.
If the entire death training process returned to its previous four steps, then there wasn’t a homicide that was “missed” by the police like Lin Chen said!
This meant Feng Peilin hadn’t killed anyone yet!
Then Lin Chen, being on the bridge, was the best prey. He wanted to kill Lin Chen and then commit suicide!
Lin Chen had already figured out Feng Peilin’s purpose!
He was tired and wanted to end everything. Instead of trapping Feng Peilin with the commercial, it was actually sending a message to him, telling him that he would wait for him there!
Xing Conglian thought of the worst possibility.
On the bridge, the old man threw away his cane and suddenly rushed towards Lin Chen as fast as lightning.
He pressed Lin Chen on the railing of the bridge and chanted devoutly, “He just wanted to ask you, in this world of sand, in this confrontation between the small and grand, which side will you stand on?”
The bridge railing suddenly broke.
“Lin Chen!” Xing Conglian’s roar resounded through the sky.
The author has something to say:
“One Sand” is over.
This marks the end of the first arc.
Now the question remains, is Huang Ze a past flame or a past friend? Based on the clues so far, it seems that Lin Chen did something that inadvertently got the kids from the elite families killed, one of them being Huang Ze’s sister.
Man all the tea drinking in that room and all I can think about is, rather than drinking all that tea old man, why don’t you actually spill it.