Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
“The sudden fire at the Yongchuan Christine Cultural Center affected the hearts of all citizens. It’s reported that more than 3,000 infatuated fans who were originally going to attend Mr. Song Shengsheng’s memorial service are trapped in the fire, including the staff of the cultural center, who didn’t evacuate in time, and dozens of police officers who rushed to the fire to participate in the rescue.”
“According to the trapped personnel who fled the scene, they revealed to reporters that there were many fire points in the center, most of which were located around trash cans, and the fire protection system in the art center was damaged due to unknown reasons.”
“At the same time, relevant news said that the Lake Ludi Tunnel and Yongchuan Avenue were severely blocked, causing delays for rescuers to enter the Xining Development Zone.”
Countless messages spread through countless phones and calls. Many people were crying and asking for help, and some were hugging each other.
Lin Chen looked around from a distance. His phone hadn’t rung since the rolling gate fell. Many people around him were making calls, but it seemed no one could successfully connect them.
If it weren’t for the sound of him running while communicating with someone, getting into a car, then panting violently through the headset, he would’ve felt as if he were on an isolated desert island. All the surrounding scenes would be the same as those filmed in any disaster movie.
After the initial panic, the desperate cries for help came next.
Some people slammed on the door repeatedly, while others tried smashing windows. In the same way, some people continued to rush down from the second floor. Obviously, even though the windows were smashed, the escape speed couldn’t keep up with the flow of people.
What was more, the floor plan for the Christine Cultural Center once again appeared in Xing Conglian’s mind. Although they were now on the first floor, they were equivalent to the fifth floor of an ordinary residential building, so it was extremely dangerous to escape from the window.
Small explosions, fires, network disconnections, blocked communication, difficulties in escaping, and failures in the firefighting system were all the dilemmas they were facing…
Moreover, he looked at the performance information board that originally stood upright. The screen was completely black, and the scrolling subtitles disappeared, so now there was another problem… Power failure…
He quickly analyzed the situation. There were indeed many problems, but that didn’t mean that they were really in a desperate situation. There was always a source of all problems, and they could always be solved. He looked to his side and asked, “What’s wrong with the communication?”
Wang Chao was drenched all over. Water was dripping from his hair, but there was no despair in his eyes. He took his laptop out of his backpack energetically. The first thing he said was, “Fortunately, I bought a waterproof backpack. Comrade Xiao Wang is so smart.”
Although this was out of place, it was rare that Xing Conglian felt relieved.
The current situation was indeed more difficult to deal with than that of the Ansheng International Mall that day. The power failure and loss of wireless connectivity meant that they couldn’t use the broadcasting system to appease the masses. Looking at the phone screens that were lit up in the darkened space, Xing Conglian asked, “Can I send a group text?”
“Mass distribution is no problem. The key is who to send it to?”
Xing Conglian looked out the window and said decisively, “Use the base station to send text messages to all phone users in the signal coverage area.”
“Isn’t this the same as a spam text?!” Wang Chao’s eyes lit up. “Alright, easy-peasy.”
There were only sporadic, light drips of water coming from the ceiling. White smoke was faintly wafting out the window. The fire on the second floor was getting bigger. The captain of the Xining police station wanted to take people to rush upstairs against the flow of people.
Xing Conglian pulled him back and said calmly, “Wait a moment.”
“We have to go up and investigate the situation!”
Xing Conglian looked at the anxious faces of the captain of the Xinni police station and several police officers and nodded. He took out Wang Chao’s tablet, adjusted the floor plan, and said to them, “This is our current situation. This is the second floor. For convenience of description, the locations of the fire rolling gates and emergency fire hydrants are divided into areas A1–A10 from south to north. There must be a huge backlog of people. Be sure to pay attention to safety.” After he finished speaking, he took out four sets of wireless headsets from the backpack. “Sorry, I only have four. Also, this is my number. Please keep in touch at all times after communication is restored.”
He immediately entered a string of numbers into his phone, and several people nodded solemnly to him. Xing Conglian would never forget that kind of look without hesitation for the rest of his life.
When Lin Chen received the text message, he had just gotten out of a car. He passed by an anxious father holding his daughter as the owner of the car lowered his window and wished him luck.
He looked up at the skyscraper in front of him, then looked back at the towering cultural center in the distance. Wisps of green smoke began to surround the building. The fire brigade of Xining Development Zone had already driven the only two remaining firefighting vehicles to the scene, but compared to the giant building and the wide square in front of it, the two fire trucks looked like a drop in the bucket.
[The police have received the alarm. For the sake of smooth communication, if there is no emergency, please do not use your phone and do not make repeated calls for rescue.]
Lin Chen rushed into the elevator entrance, pressed the button, and managed to finally read the text he just received.
The elevator door opened, and he stepped into it.
[The fire situation is unknown. Please try to stay in a safe area. Because the floor is too high, please do not try to escape from the window. If you encounter thick smoke, please lie low and keep crawling away from it as you wait for rescue.]
The elevator was climbing rapidly as the scarlet letter kept changing.
[Don’t panic, don’t push. The police will do everything they can to protect everyone’s safety. Please trust us.]
Ding. The sound of the elevator arriving sounded.
Inside the rolling gate.
The voices of everyone else reporting the fire continued to ring from Xing Conglian’s headset, but there was no voice from Lin Chen.
“Captain Xing, ahem… The fire situation in the A1 and A2 areas isn’t serious. Due to the fall of the rolling gate, we’re temporarily unable to reach A3 and A4.”
“The fire spread from the nearby fire escape, which made it difficult to evacuate the masses.”
“According to the people who escaped from A5 and A6 just now, the fire is most serious near the central hall, which has the densest flow of people, but the situation inside is unknown.”
Xing Conglian held down the headset and looked at Wang Chao. “Can you contact the fans in the central hall?”
Wang Chao pulled up the numbers from the ticket list of the fan club and dialed them.
Mu Wenhua’s phone suddenly rang.
At that time, she was sitting in the front position of the central hall and was writing a text message to her husband. After thinking about it, she deleted the words [Take care of our daughter.].
The screams all around had subsided, and there weren’t many cries. The people who were trying to find the exit also retreated. The surroundings were dark. Except for the green lights from the emergency exits, there was only the light of people’s phones. Looking down from above, it was like a sea of stars shining brightly.
Just now, the backpack of a certain girl in the front row exploded, and flames spread from there. Fortunately, another person next to the girl reacted quickly and happened to be sitting next to a fire extinguisher. They were able to protect the girl and the fire was successfully put out. Except for the few people nearby who had varying degrees of burns, it didn’t cause too serious injuries.
There was already a faint burnt smell in the air, and now the burns weren’t too serious.
Mu Wenhua looked around and pressed the answer button.
Lin Chen was still climbing up. The elevator didn’t go to the highest floor. Although Mr. Meijing could be anywhere in this high-rise building, in fact, in a practical sense, he would only be at the highest point, which was the rooftop.
The voice of Xing Conglian kept ringing in his headset. While comforting the fans in the central hall, Xing Conglian quickly grasped the fire situation and recounted it to him.
Firefighters had already started breaking through the door, and the rest of the area wasn’t a big problem. However, the fire started from outside the central hall, so all the fans attending the meeting were trapped by it.
“This is the most serious problem.” Xing Conglian paused. Lin Chen seemed to hear the sound of a cutting machine grinding on the rolling gate. “The building’s own fire protection system has completely stopped.”
“This is impossible. Didn’t the sprinkler system turn on?”
“I’m afraid that the first floor has run out of water from the reservoir, so the sprinkler system on the second floor can’t access it due to a lack of water. If I’m not wrong, there’s a power outage that caused the problem with the fire pump, which can’t pump in more water.”
“Impossible!” Lin Chen ran up the last floor, holding the handrail. The iron gate that blocked the roof was in front of him. “The fire protection system has two backup power sources, and power won’t be cut off even if the gate is closed.”
“Therefore, the intelligent control system of this building has been artificially destroyed.”
“You just said that because of the sprinkler on the first floor coming on, the water reserves of the sprinkler system on the second floor were used up. This means that the culprit didn’t intend to create a fire on the first floor. His target has always been the fans in the central hall on the second floor.” Lin Chen put his hand on the iron gate as his mind was turning. “Xing Conglian, there’s a problem here. Why must it be Song Shengsheng…”
Lin Chen wanted to say something more, but he felt a light pat on the back.
In the blink of an eye, Lin Chen drew his gun and loaded it. Then he turned and raised his hand, but the man behind him didn’t hide or dodge. At that moment, Lin Chen could only see a gentle smile hidden in the man’s eyes.
It was a middle-aged man in a gray suit and black backpack. He had a pair of earplugs in his ears, as if he were listening to some brisk music. Lin Chen aimed the gun at the man’s forehead, but the man didn’t waver and instead kept smiling at him. “Lin Chen, I’ve been waiting for you for a long time. Why did you come here?”
Lin Chen had never been called in such a way.
It was very intimate and kind, with a slight upturn at the end, as if it were a parent calling their beloved child or an owner calling their pet to go home.
His gun was firmly placed between the brows of the middle-aged man. The eyes of the middle-aged man were slightly bent, revealing a gentle smile. There was no fear; only harmony in those eyes. The next moment, the other party moved. Lin Chen’s hand pressed on the trigger, but he couldn’t fire. The middle-aged man stretched out his hand and touched his head gently, then pinched his earlobe. In the end, he felt no fear. He quickly moved his head away from the muzzle of Lin Chen’s gun, turned slightly sideways, and pushed open the iron door behind him. “Want to see? Let’s go together.”
There was a strong breeze on the rooftop. The closer one got to the sky, the more dazzling the sun became.
The sky was clear and blue. Lin Chen put away his gun. The other party’s meaning was clear. Even if you have a gun, I can do anything, and you still won’t dare shoot me.
He had to admit that the judgment of this gentleman in this situation was completely different from that of a pure pervert like Li Jingtian.
Lin Chen followed the other party and stood facing the cultural center.
The square was crowded with people. Looking down from the sky was like watching countless ants fight for their lives.
Under the blue sky, he couldn’t see any fires from the silver-white building in the distance, but there was vague white smoke floating above. Lin Chen knew very well that when the raging fire could be seen from his position, it was when the entire building would return to heaven.
The middle-aged man stood next to him, looking down at the chaos under his feet with relief. He suddenly seemed to think of something, retracted his gaze, and stretched out his hand to him. “Lin Chen, it’s our first-time meeting. Let me introduce myself. My name is Liang Meijing. You can call me Mr. Meijing.”
Lin Chen bowed to the other party politely and shook hands with him. “Hello, Mr. Meijing.”
The other party shook his hands, as if he were extremely happy that he was addressing him so politely. “In fact, after the last incident, I wanted to meet you, but I’ve been busy with a lot of things recently, so I didn’t come to greet you in time. I hope you don’t mind.”
“How could that be?”
Lin Chen turned the gun around for half a circle and stuffed it back into his pocket. Mr. Meijing seemed to appreciate this gesture. “Yes, it’s rare for us to have a chance to chat. It’s better to face each other with sincerity than weapons.”
Lin Chen nodded and asked, “Shall we sit down and talk?”
When he asked this question, the middle-aged man’s expression was slightly surprised, but he quickly recovered. “Where do you want to sit?”
Lin Chen answered his question through practical action. He sat down crossed-legged on the rooftop. Although the cement surface was scalding hot at noon, he still sat comfortably. Then he raised his hand and patted the area beside him, signaling the other person to sit with him.
Upon seeing this, Mr. Meijing smiled slightly. He took out a snow-white handkerchief from his pocket, spread it on the ground, then sat down. He looked at the fire scene from a distance. The fire was spreading quickly. In a short time, the orange-red flame had already burned through the glass curtain wall and was threatening to show its teeth and claws in mid-air.
“I remember at that time, your shimei jumped to her death?”
Lin Chen looked at the crow’s feet on the corner of the middle-aged man’s eyes next to him and said calmly, “Yes, the distance between me and her at that time was almost as close as we’re now, but I still couldn’t save her.”
“So when you saw Song Shengsheng’s body, did you feel the same way?”
“What does it feel like?”
Mr. Meijing’s eyes seemed to glow. “Like someone who wants to die. Someone who blames themselves. Why couldn’t I come sooner?”
“Yes, it’s a heart-wrenching pain, but that’s all.”
“I’m really sorry for causing you so much pain, but in fact, you shouldn’t blame yourself too much. Your shimei really died willingly. She even gave me a blowjob the morning before she died. A girl of that age, her father complex was too serious, even for me, so it was difficult to parry. You know, she was also pregnant with my child, but in the end, she miscarried. It’s a pity.”
Meijing gave a wry smile, but Lin Chen could see only ridicule in that smile.
“Why are you telling me this?” Lin Chen pointed to the earplugs in his ears. “This whole thing is being recorded. Can I treat it as a confession?”
“Of course you can.” Mr. Meijing smiled and said, “Lin Chen, my child. I just want to talk to you before you die.”
Lin Chen supported his chin with one hand, propped his knees, and easily pointed to the people around him, then pointed to himself. “Why do you think it must be me who will die between the two of us?”
“Because I have the ability to foresee. Later, you will willingly jump off this building and fall into a bloody mess. I have seen that scene with my own eyes. When you die, it’ll be beautiful.”
Lin Chen tilted his head slightly. The scorching sun was burning him all over. He asked earnestly, “But I don’t want to die yet. What should I do?”
“There’s no such thing as not wanting to die in this world.” Meijing laughed. “Song Shengsheng didn’t want to die either. He has lived like a dog for so many years. In order to survive, I don’t know how many people have raped him, but then what? He still died in the end.”
“Do you really think so?” Lin Chen raised his head suddenly, looking at Mr. Meijing’s helpless face, and said seriously, “If you really think so, I suddenly feel that I have a slight chance of getting out here alive.”
The fire spread faster than expected.
As the first member of the fire squadron to rush to the scene, Li Chongyuan felt despair in the face of the behemoth in front of him. The scene was constantly blocked by fire doors. He had been involved in more than ten years of fire rescue, and he would be able to retire honorably in half a month. In his more than ten years of firefighting experience, it wasn’t that he had never seen a fire that was more serious than the disaster in front of him, but at no point was there a shadow of death this intense than now.
He held the cutting machine and used all his strength to cut open the rolling gate in front of him. His teammates had already gone up to the more dangerous fire on the second floor to evacuate the crowd. The flames burned through the glass curtain wall, and there was a violent explosion. According to his experience, even if they gathered 30 firefighting vehicles, it was barely enough to contain the fire. Now that he looked back at the square full of desperate expressions, he continued to hold the machine in his hand tightly.
At the moment the rolling gate was cut open, someone kicked the door open, and a flood of people swarmed out.
He didn’t have time to help the people evacuate, but he looked at the gap in the door and saw two people who were calling non-stop in the corner. He remembered the emergency task assigned by the squadron leader just now and hurried over and saluted. “Hello, Captain Xing. Li Chongyuan of Xining Squadron. I have been ordered to assist you in dealing with the fire.”
The person didn’t pay attention to him immediately, but instead kept listening to the phone with his head down. After a while, he hung up the phone. His tone was calm, without any panic. “Let me briefly report the current situation of the fire to you. The trapped people on the first floor have basically been evacuated through the underground parking lot by the emergency exit. Only our area and the same area on the opposite side have no emergency passage for evacuation, but the main problem now is that it’s difficult to rescue the fire site on the second floor. All emergency exits are blocked, and because of the rolling gates, the fire areas got divided with sporadic people trapped between.” As the man spoke, he showed him all the fire points with his tablet. After he finished speaking, he drew a circle on the largest hall on the three-dimensional map. “The fire is surrounding the central hall. There are 3,000 people in it. Due to the failure of the fire fighting system, the smoke exhaust equipment stopped working. It’s expected that the trapped people will be able to persist for at most 10 to 15 minutes. They’ll die from smoke inhalation.”
Li Chongyuan raised his head suddenly. “It’s too fast. We have too little manpower. It’s impossible to evacuate 3,000 people in such a short time.”
“In your experience, what’s the only possibility for the 3,000 people in the hall to survive?” the man asked.
Li Chongyuan raised his eyes and filtered all the firefighting information from the Christine Cultural Center in his mind. He raised his head and said decisively, “Our follow-up squadron will arrive at the scene in 10 minutes at the earliest. The cultural center adopts an R-level intelligent linkage fire fighting system. We need the fire fighting system to resume operation to reduce the fire for a short time, but it’s not clear what the problem of the fire system failure is exactly.”
“Power distribution room.” Beside Xing Conglian, a young technician said, “I just calculated that the fire fighting system was never activated. There are many fire monitoring points in the building. No one can destroy all the monitoring points at the same time. The fastest way to make the fire fighting system of the entire building fail in a short period of time is to cut off the main power supply. I suspect that the power distribution room has been blown up.”
“Where’s the backup generator?”
He and Xing Conglian asked in unison.
The glass curtain wall was constantly cracking.
Everyone stayed away from the building to avoid being hit by splashes. Every small explosion caused the crowd in the square to scream. The turbulent flow of people was constantly pushing and shoving, and no one knew where the next cluster of flames would rise from.
Firefighters raised ladders to rescue the trapped people inside and continued to evacuate as many people as possible. In the end, only the police officers in the navy-blue uniforms continued to rush towards the fire.
Lin Chen looked at the purgatory-like scene under him. Xing Conglian’s voice, deploying on-site personnel, kept coming out of his headset. He gradually calmed down and listened to Xing Conglian’s voice.
As the wind blew across the sky, he pressed the headset and looked at the calm, middle-aged man beside him. “I didn’t hear what you just said.”
“I said, there’s no possibility that you can walk out of this building alive.”
“You’ll know soon.”
“You don’t need to hurry. Since you were waiting for me here and said that I’d be willing to jump off the building to commit suicide, you probably have the confidence to say this because you have many people’s lives in your hands.”
“Lin Chen, you really amaze me.” Meijing had a look of approval on his face. “So are you going to kneel down and beg me?”
“Didn’t you just say that I’d jump from here willingly? My life is in your hands, so there’s no need to kneel down,” Lin Chen said sincerely. “Then before I die, is there any room for redemption?”
“Hahaha.” Mr. Meijing laughed heartily. “Well, I’ll let you ask three questions, just like the game you played with Li Jingtian, but it’s a little more exciting than that.”
“I appreciate further details.”
“Look, we’re now very close to the edge of the rooftop. You can ask me three questions. Every time I finish answering one, you will take a step back. When I finish answering the last question…” The middle-aged man spread out his palm and breathed softly, “You’ll turn around, disappear from here, and go with the wind.”
“Very interesting.” Lin Chen patted the dust off his body and stood up from the ground somewhat casually. He turned his back to the distant fire and stared at the middle-aged man in front of him.
“You seem very confident?”
“Because I’m really good at guessing, so you must remember to hide your thoughts.”
As he said this, he took a step back. “My first question. Why Song Shengsheng?”
When Xing Conglian heard Lin Chen ask this question, he was wearing a heavy fire fighting suit.
According to the staff who escaped from the negative second floor, the fire there was also very large, and unless they passed through the fire, there was no way to enter the central control area to find the backup generator controls.
“There’s also an electronic door. I’ll give you the access control card. You must keep it safe and don’t let it get burned.”
A young man who claimed to be the secretary of the general manager of the Christine Cultural Center handed him an access card. He nodded and took it. The light voice from his headset made him hold the card tightly.
He could hear the sound of the wind whistling past the top of the high-rise building. Lin Chen’s voice was almost inaudible due to the wind, but he knew very well that Lin Chen was standing on the edge of the roof, and had taken a firm step towards the line of death.
At that moment, Xing Conglian wanted to get rid of everything and rushed upstairs to grab Lin Chen. He raised his head and looked up at the top of the building, which was more than 100 meters high. He then turned around, put on an oxygen mask, and walked towards the basement.
“Lin Chen, I’m really surprised that you used such a precious opportunity to ask why I chose Song Shengsheng.”
“I’m going to die anyway. It’s more important to untangle the knot in my heart.”
“Don’t you understand?” Mr. Meijing sighed softly. “I chose Song Shengsheng because I know exactly what kind of talent is most attractive to you.”
“What you mean is, Song Shengsheng is just bait to lure us, and the fire in the cultural center is to retaliate against us?”
“How can you say it’s revenge? It’s more appropriate to say it’s a gift,” Mr. Meijing said sincerely.
“Because we arrested Yang Dianfeng and disrupted your live broadcast. Why didn’t you target us directly?”
“Lin Chen, my child, you’re so naïve.” Meijing shook his head helplessly. “Turn around and look at those people who are crying so sadly below. The heart-wrenching pain you have tasted, they will soon understand. What do you think they will think when they see the charred corpses of their loved ones and hear that their loved ones are the victims of revenge?”
Lin Chen asked disapprovingly, “Why should I care what they think?”
“Then let me tell you. Many of them must feel that if the police hadn’t fought against us, these people wouldn’t have died. It’s you who they will blame for killing their loved ones.”
Lin Chen nodded. “Well, when these people speak out to condemn the police, you can contribute to making this voice gradually become the mainstream of society. In the future, law enforcers will not dare speak out and will start doing things with their hands tied. Is this the result you want?”
“Indeed. In fact, you should know better than me how easy it is to manipulate the public’s psychology. People are ignorant and follow the crowd. With a little manipulation, the innocent victims who died in this fire can become brain-dead groupies. Many people will say that they wouldn’t have died if they hadn’t chased stars, so they deserve it…”
“I see. Although I think you’re a little naïve and flustered, after hearing what you said, are Song Shengsheng’s fans dead?”
“Don’t cheat. Isn’t this a second question? You have to step back.” Meijing pointed his finger to the ground behind Lin Chen.
Mu Wenhua was sitting in the central hall, unaware that a discussion had been started about her regarding the social evaluation after her death. In fact, everyone may have considered this already. Being trapped and burned to death because of chasing a star didn’t sound glorious.
However, Mr. Meijing probably wouldn’t have thought that what she was thinking about now was similar to what Consultant Lin, who wanted to save her life, was. There were many idiots in the world. If one had to listen to every idiot’s words and remember them, it was better to just die early.
In life, it was more important to love yourself and your loved ones. These were almost the heartfelt words of a mother and groupie who were about to be choked to death by smoke. She completely maintained a posture of crawling on the ground, looking at the photos of her daughter, husband, and her favorite, Mr. Song Shengsheng, in her phone album.
She hummed a very light tune, and then she heard the girl who was lying next to her humming too.
The temperature of the air gradually increased, and a clearly visible flame was ejected from the emergency exit. Although the fire hadn’t completely burned through the walls of the hall, it looked to be coming fast.
Lin Chen took another step back.
He didn’t have eyes behind his head, but he could still feel the crumbling feeling caused by the violent wind and the 100-meter drop. Those weren’t hallucinations but real pressure.
Xing Conglian’s extremely heavy gasping sound came from his headset. Although he didn’t know where the other party was, he could tell that Xing Conglian should have entered the deepest part of the fire just from his breathing. It should be dark there, extremely hot, and it would take all the strength in his body just to breathe. Xing Conglian’s mask should be covered with water vapor. When he wiped them away, he should be able to see those dark, green eyes like a pool of water.
“Of course you don’t have to die.” Mr. Meijing sat on the ground and looked at his watch. “Lin Chen, in fact, as long as you jump off this building to atone for your sins, I guarantee that most of them will be able to survive.”
“1 life for 3,000?” Lin Chen felt incredulous. “That’s too good of a deal. Since when did you start making bad deals?”
“It’s not a loss at all. The legendary Consultant Lin is still very valuable. In fact, you see, it’s the same to me whether you die or those people down there.”
“I see. If I jump as you say, it will tell many people in this world that evil can prevail over those chicken soup for the soul words. People will have to succumb to a stronger party.”
Mr. Meijing stroked his hands and began to applaud. “So, Lin Chen, you still have 10 minutes at most.” Mr. Meijing took out a pack of small cookies from his backpack, unwrapped it, and stuffed a piece into his mouth. “But this should be difficult for you. After all, your indecision killed Song Shengsheng. You obviously had an entire month to save him, but what were you doing at that time? Grabbing tickets? If you used a tough attitude to demand a meeting with Song Shengsheng, perhaps he would have mustered up the courage to tell you everything. Our plan wouldn’t succeed, and the people below you wouldn’t have to die…”
“I’m dying, so don’t lie to me. Song Shengsheng was missing a tooth. You installed a bug on him, and you used the lives of his fans to threaten him, so he wouldn’t tell me about it.” The wind on the top floor was suddenly strong. Lin Chen sat down as he spoke helplessly.
“You know about the dentures?” Mr. Meijing finally showed some surprise on his face.
“Yes, I just asked you why Song Shengsheng. In fact, there should be some reason it’s him, right?”
Mr. Meijing took out a thermos and unscrewed the lid. Gurgling tea flowing into a cup sounded. He breathed in the tea and had a smile of reminiscence on his face. “Song Shengsheng, when I first met him, I thought he was like an expensive large dog with bright fur. When I go out, the little girls who love him would point and scream. I really love him as my own child.”
Lin Chen asked patiently, “Then why destroy him?”
“When he went to Xiang Ye for the first time, I happened to be there that day. I was very distressed when I heard he was being abused by Li Jingtian over and over again. But as you know, Li Jingtian is the grandson of Mr. Li. We operate in Xinni and still need to rely on Lao Li for our business, so Xiang Ye persuaded Song Shengsheng to be patient. But Shengsheng disagreed. I have seen the injuries on his body. It was terrible. He was so miserable, but he actually still had the strength to slam on Xiang Ye’s desk. His entire body was full of fighting spirit, as if he were inflamed.”
“What happened later?”
“He was really disobedient, so we had no choice but to tie him to a chair. Xiang Ye opened his mouth and took pliers and pulled out his teeth…” Meijing said as he leisurely took a sip of tea. “You should really see the scene at that time. He bled profusely, and his voice was broken from screaming so much. We also spent a lot of effort to stop the bleeding and install the fake tooth. But in the end, the way he looked at us was still burning, and he didn’t give in at all. It was quite interesting.”
“Since he’s that kind of person, how did you get him to submit?”
“You know, it’s most interesting to break a hound’s leg and watch him lie in his kernel.” Mr. Meijing bit off a piece of cookie. “Actually, in the beginning, he kept making small movements behind our backs, thinking we wouldn’t know, but in fact, we really knew everything. One day, he was looking through Xiang Ye’s bedroom when I walked in and caught him.”
“You punish him?”
“It can’t be called punishment. After all, the next day happened to be his record signing event. Before the meeting, Xiang Ye took him to stand on a high place, looking at the signing event, and showed him a piece of news. The news of two girls at Fengchun University being involved in a car accident. One of them, Song Shengsheng, knew. She was one of his female fans who had a heart attack. He donated a lot of money to that fan, and she was successfully saved and has gone back to college. Because of his risky actions, we had to kill two people overnight. It was truly exhausting.”
It was hard for Lin Chen not to follow Mr. Meijing’s voice back to that moment ten years ago. Everything that Song Shengsheng experienced was crueler than he imagined.
He couldn’t live or die. It was probably nothing more than that.
“Yes, he punched Xiang Ye and cried. It’s said that was the first time he shed tears. He cried terribly, like a virgin who was preparing to cut her own throat to protect her chastity.”
“But you didn’t let him die?”
“Yes, we told him that if he dares die, I promise to kill many, many more of his fans.” When Meijing said this, his eyes turned to the fire in the distance. The white smoke had turned blue, and everything looked like hell. “I always keep my word.”
Mu Wenhua was singing—specifically—the girls in the entire central hall were singing softly.
[There’s no eternal love in this world, and no one can live forever, so let loose. Be wanton, be free. Fuck it! Let him go!]
She didn’t know why, but everyone chose the same song. They all gathered together as the fire raged. The mothers were keeping the younger girls in a place further inside, away from the flames, but everyone knew that they couldn’t escape today, so they started singing.
That was Shengsheng’s favorite song. Although the song’s lyrics were explicit, it had a wonderful name: <I’ll Be With You Forever>.
I’ll Be With You Forever.
She didn’t know if she was hallucinating, but when she turned her head, she seemed to see Shengsheng standing on stage. His body seemed to be glowing.
He was saying, “Because I’m more handsome, it’s better for me to protect you~”
Traveling in the underground space was more difficult than he imagined. The backlog of smoke made searchlights useless. Xing Conglian was sweating like rain, and it was difficult to breathe. Perhaps it was because the underground space was too quiet that he could clearly hear the conversation at an altitude of 100 meters.
He could hear the calm and joyful voice of Meijing, and he could hear the painful trembling in Lin Chen’s voice when he asked the last question.
But now, he had to drive those pictures out of his mind and listen carefully to the instructions in the headset.
“Captain, Captain Li, there should be a staircase 5 meters in front of you. Walk down the stairs and you will be able to see the central control room.”
“The girl in the central hall said that the fire has broken through the walls and the smoke is getting heavier. They may not be able to hang on for much longer.”
“I checked the information on the cultural center. The central control room adopts the RM5 electronic door. The back door should be automatically opened when the power is off to ensure the safety of the personnel. If it’s not opened, I’m afraid that the server has failed, so the access card won’t work, and you need to enter the code directly.”
“You must pay attention to safety, Captain. No one will give me my allowance if you die.”
Lin Chen pressed the headset. When he heard the last words of Wang Chao, he felt relieved.
The child raised by Xing Conglian was truly fearless.
It was almost time. He patted the dust off his clothes and stood up from the ground.
Seeing him get up, Mr. Meijing’s eyes suddenly lit up. “Oh, have they already reached the electronic door?”
Lin Chen shook his head. “Not yet. So you also tampered with the electronic door?”
Meijing smiled. “Is this the last question?”
Lin Chen shook his head but still took a step back. The strong wind blew against him fiercely as he suddenly sneered. “My last question is, have you ever heard this very famous saying?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Villains die because they talk too much.”
Mr. Meijing laughed. He covered his mouth to prevent the cookie crumbs from spraying out indecently. “What does that mean?”
Lin Chen didn’t hesitate to take out the gun. He pulled the safety, loaded the gun, and pointed it at the middle-aged man on the ground. “After talking so much, you’re actually just going in circles. You keep leading the topic to the argument that I’m the same as Song Shengsheng. Because we provoked you, that’s why you were forced to kill.”
“That’s a fact.”
“It’s not a fact. It’s a typical technique using motive A to cover up motive B. It boils down to the fact that your motive was never to take revenge on us. You just wanted to kill Song Shengsheng’s fans. You just said you knew about me grabbing tickets. It means you have been monitoring the voting system of the fan meeting, and the ticket grabbing rules at that time were very interesting. It shows that every fan in the venue is carefully selected. You deliberately selected the most veteran fans of Song Shengsheng. There must be a reason. Song Shengsheng gradually realized your actions and chose to warn us by committing suicide. The timing of his death couldn’t have been more appropriate. Xiang Ye was arrested, and we’re able to get here in time because of him.”
Meijing just smiled and shook his head speechlessly.
“Song Shengsheng is the toughest person I’ve ever seen in my life. Since you put that tooth on him, I’m afraid he hasn’t said anything for many years. Probably even you haven’t thought about it, but dead people do speak.”
“Lin Chen, I’m the one who has known Song Shengsheng for many years. Not you. Why do you think he didn’t want to meet you? Because he didn’t dare. His bones have been broken, and even his tendons were pulled out one by one. You don’t know how much he wants to return to the stage. Even if he had to kneel and crawl, he would. So he didn’t want to die at all. If he was as smart as you said, he would have known what we wanted to do, and he would have committed suicide. Why did it have to be today?”
“Yes, I also want to know why it must be today.”
The sky was clear, and the sun was blazing. Lin Chen glanced at the bright universe as he asked this solemnly.
Song Shengsheng, what else is there that you want to say but I haven’t heard?
In the underground space, in front of the sturdy electronic door, a tone indicating that the password had failed kept ringing.
Xing Conglian turned his head, and behind him was a flood of hot, black smoke, but he couldn’t see any flames. Beside him, the firefighter who descended into the fire with him was repeatedly trying to open the door with the access card.
But fail, fail, still fail…
Finally, Li Chongyuan threw away the access card and took out the tools from his toolbox that he was carrying with him and prepared to pry off the electronic control board directly.
“Wang Chao, is there any other way? The door can’t be opened. Is it possible to pick the lock? Or hack it?”
“Fuck me, Captain. It stands to reason that this kind of electronic door will automatically open after it’s powered off, and you don’t even need a password. Tell me, is the mode of the electronic display board fail safe or fail security?”
Xing Conglian looked at it immediately. “Fail security.”
Wang Chao roared. “What idiot put the door in fail security mode. Does he think the door to the central control room is a vault? Captain, tell Captain Li not to try to break the door. In fail security mode, the security level is the highest. If you break the door forcibly, it will automatically lock. I promise you, you won’t be able to open it again in a short time!”
Li Chongyuan stopped immediately. The voice in his headset was still talking, but Xing Conglian suddenly felt that the surroundings were very quiet, so quiet that he could only hear Lin Chen’s slow breathing.
“Lin Chen, we need a password,” he said to him.
Lin Chen raised his gun and took a step forward.
Probably discovering the change in his face, the middle-aged man sitting on the ground said, “The door isn’t easy to open, right? Well, leave me a number, and after you commit suicide, I’ll tell them the password. Don’t worry, I always keep my word.”
“You’ve changed the code on the electronic door?” he asked.
“Bingo. So, do you want to save those people or not?”
Lin Chen found this quite comical. “I just said, Mr. Meijing, villains often die because they talk too much. In fact, this is also a psychological problem. Villains like you are proud, arrogant, and think they are always in control of the overall situation, so when it comes to the final moment of victory, you can’t help but brag. It’s always so easy to talk so much shit. If you talk too much, you’ll lose. I suggest you shut up now. This was my sincere advice to Li Jingtian. Don’t give me any chances to guess the password.”
“Even if you want to guess, you’ll still have to know my biographical information, but you don’t even know who I am…” Meijing whispered softly.
Looking at Mr. Meijing’s arrogant and cunning smile, Lin Chen said calmly, “I don’t need to know who you are. You’ve already said so much to me just now. I know enough.”
“You’re cynical and have obvious antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders. You regard human lives as nothing and think all beings are evil. You look down on all ordinary people and treat human life as a joke. You always feel like this is some kind of game set up by you, and everyone is just a pawn in your hand. You ridiculed the fans’ stupid love for Song Shengsheng. Of course, you also think Song Shengsheng is stupid, and you look down on him very, very much.”
“He’s really a dog.”
“As I said just now, your biggest problem is that you think Song Shengsheng is a plaything under your control. I think it’s his hypocrisy and obedience to you that gave you this impression. Every day, he’s under your control, but he’s full of fighting spirit. This battle will not end until he reaches the end of his life, and since he chose death, it means that he has ushered in the final victory with his death.”
“I’m going to blush with you praising Song Shengsheng so much.”
“So, did you really set that password?” Lin Chen sneered as he took another step forward.
After he asked that question, he saw an obvious crack in the originally decent smile on Mr. Meijing’s face.
“No need to answer. Your expression has already told me the answer.” He gently pressed his fingers on his lips and made a quiet gesture. “People like you like to play those cruel human games the most. Let Song Shengsheng know that his resistance killed his fans or force me to commit suicide to save others. You will always have the greatest malice towards the world, but you like to play with meaningless and symbolic things the most. If you want to set up a password for a door that will never be opened and kill those fans who love Song Shengsheng, pray tell, who would you use to come up with it?”
After Lin Chen finished speaking, he took another step forward. He was getting closer to the malicious manifestation on the ground. “Your expression tells me that that person is Song Shengsheng. You wouldn’t be stupid to ask Song Shengsheng casually what number he likes so you can use it to kill the fans that love him the most.” Lin Chen didn’t give Meijing a chance to speak, because he finally knew why Song Shengsheng chose to die today. “Yesterday, he came here for rehearsal. Of course, he didn’t know your plans, but he’s a smart person. When he came here, he finally connected the dots. He knew what you were going to do. You were going to kill people—many, many people—so he had to use his own death to stop all this. He knew the password. He knew how evil you were and knew that you might not necessarily use the string of numbers he provided when you asked him that day. But if he committed suicide, you were more likely to use the number he was thinking of. After all, a password set by a living person will always have the possibility of being cracked, but a password thought up by a dead person wouldn’t, right?”
Mr. Meijing’s face turned ashen. Finally, there was no trace of humility or gentleness left on his face. He laughed cruelly. It was as if an ancient evil had been resurrected, mouthful of blood and devouring goodwill wherever he went.
Lin Chen knew he had guessed right. “Are you wondering what on earth you overlooked that allowed Song Shengsheng to pass on the password? But he obviously didn’t use words. You haven’t thought about it, have you? That old dog that you despise can stab you in the back even after death.”
Meijing grinned. “No, you guessed wrong. It’s a password I set up. The old dog Song Shengsheng doesn’t know anything at all.”
“No, that’s the number he wanted.”
The scorching sun was dazzling as the strong breeze blew through the sky.
Lin Chen spoke slowly. “Song Shengsheng entered showbiz too early. He hasn’t read too many books. If he set the password and wanted to pass it on, it wouldn’t be too complicated, but only those who love him can guess it. You should know that Song Shengsheng likes to paint the symbol & very much, but I didn’t see that symbol in the bathtub where he died. I’ve been thinking, why didn’t a person like him, who was full of faith, draw that symbol?”
“Because Song Shengsheng once said at a concert, if I die one day, please sing a song for me. It was a song full of explicit words, but the name was unexpectedly touching. This song comes from his beloved fairy tale, and only a veteran fan will know that in the lyrics of that song, there’s a decorative & after each line, except for one. That line of the lyrics is as long as a foot wrap, but because of a typesetting error, there was an & missing at the end.”
“So the password he set was in that line of the lyrics.”
Lin Chen didn’t know how the man who had his teeth pulled out, was blackmailed, and lived in the shadows of a hanging sword all day did all this. He didn’t even know what Song Shengsheng relied on to choose to commit suicide before taking the stage and realizing his wish.
But Song Shengsheng, who was rebellious, indulgent, and should have had a life like fire—was full of fighting spirit, and he never gave up.
Lin Chen once asked himself whether suffering and pain would make a soul humble, and he thought that Song Shengsheng had given him the answer.
He seemed to see the 18-year-old Song Shengsheng smiling heartily as he said to him, “Hey. I’m so proud. How can I bow my head to a shit like fate? I will never bow to fate.”
He took the last step and pressed the muzzle of his gun firmly between the middle-aged man’s brows. “Checkmate.”
The water curtain was overwhelming.
Mu Wenhua was helped out of the fire. Although she had been waiting inside for a long time, and her body was hot, the moment she walked into the sun, she discovered for the first time how warm the sun could be.
Separated from countless people, she saw the man she loved the most in her life rushing towards her with her daughter in his arms. Then she hugged her lover tightly with unprecedented strength.
She kissed her daughter’s soft cheek and wiped away the tears on her cheek with her smokey fingers.
There were people everywhere in the square.
Although Wang Chao had sent a text in advance to remind everyone to lay low, stay away from the fire source as much as possible, and pay attention to the high-temperature water vapors before the power was turned on, some people who were too close to the fire got burned by the heat, though it was just a minor injury that could be easily treated. Anyway, as long as people were still alive, there was hope.
At least this was what Comrade Xiao Wang thought.
Many long-legged nurses got out of the ambulances that started to arrive one after another, and they were doing simple bandages for the wounded.
He was finally able to sit comfortably in the police car with the air conditioning blowing. He looked at his laptop, guessing his boss’ roar would soon come out of the headset, telling him to go do this and that. In case his boss asked him to repair the server, repair the network, or something else, he felt he had to charge a high price. In short, he would go to Battle.net and buy the Digital Collector’s Edition of Overwatch.
Lin Chen didn’t know how he got down the stairs.
There was a scattered corpse on the ground. Just now, Meijing had jumped down from the high-rise building. He didn’t even have time to pull the trigger when the other party chose death.
It turned out that 1 was exchanged for 3,000, but the person who committed suicide by jumping off the building in the end became Mr. Meijing.
He walked around the body of the man on the ground and pushed away all the police officers who tried to help him.
Maybe it was because he had been in the sun for too long, but he only felt a splitting headache and severe pain in his eardrums, as if someone were constantly talking in his ear. For a while, it was Song Shengsheng singing, and for a while, it was Xing Conglian’s last “Okay”. The beeping sound of the electronic door failing to unlock kept ringing in his ears, which was incessant and desperate.
He felt that he could no longer tell the chronological order of things. Pictures all became blurred, but he clearly remembered the last scene before Meijing jumped off the building in his mind.
The gentle middle-aged man got up in front of the muzzle, moved his lips, and said to him with a smile, “Please give my regards to Captain Xing.”
After saying these words, Meijing quickly ran to the edge of the rooftop and gracefully jumped down.
For some reason, after he tried to call Xing Conglian, he got no response. He felt the gun in his hand was so heavy that he could barely hold it. If the two of them were the target of Meijing’s revenge, Xing Conglian might also be in danger. With his gun in his hand, any shots fired in the fire would be extremely dangerous.
He ran towards the square, surrounded by people clinging to each other. Men and women were hugging and kissing, with happy smiles on their faces after escaping death. There was water sprinkling in the sky. The fire had gradually extinguished, but there was still the sound of sporadic beeping and glass cracking.
But he couldn’t find Wang Chao or Xing Conglian. There was no familiar face as far as he could see. He kept asking everyone where Xing Conglian was but got no response. Some people even asked him strangely, “Who is Xing Conglian and who are you?”
Yes. Who is Xing Conglian, and what’s his relationship with him?
He stepped into the fire and saw the silver-gray security door that had been cut wide open. It was empty behind the door; the person he was looking for wasn’t there.
He wanted to yell, but found that his throat was too tense to make any sound.
The ground was wet—extremely wet—and everything was falling apart. He occasionally passed by some firefighters who were rescuing people. Someone asked him where he was going and who he was looking for, but he couldn’t answer. A lot of voices sounded in his ears again, as if someone was singing in the square. It was the same song—Song Shengsheng’s song. The singing was like a bright light penetrating the night, dyeing the surrounding chaos with a bit of color.
Someone sang, “There’s no eternal love in this world.”
He walked to the basement. There was only the green light of the emergency exit on. The surroundings were dark, and water was dripping from the ceiling.
He gradually heard the sound of footsteps. It was a firefighter with heavy steps. He grabbed him and asked the question again, “Where’s Xing Conglian?”
The other party scratched his head, then took off his mask and said to him, “You’re looking for Captain Xing? He’s just downstairs.”
He let go of the man and ran downstairs. He opened every door in the underground, but he didn’t find the person he was looking for.
The singing in the square seemed to have passed through the layers of concrete, but it might also be his auditory hallucination.
And no one can live forever…
Someone was harmonizing the song, “And no one can live forever…”
He was about to push open the last iron door at the end of the corridor, and at this moment, someone patted him lightly on the shoulder.
He suddenly turned his head, drew his gun, and pressed it firmly against the man’s forehead.
Then, he saw a pair of green eyes, as if they were the clearest spring water in the forest, or a very light wind blowing across the corners of his eyes and brows.
The man looked ashen. His face was blackened and covered in soot, but with a smile in his eyes, he said to him, “It’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
At that moment, Lin Chen suddenly heard the countless voices pouring into his ears. Many people were clamoring, “So let loose. Be wanton, be free. Fuck it! Let him go!”
There’s no eternal love in this world, and no one can live forever, so let loose. Be wanton, be free. Fuck it! Let him go!
So let loose. Be wonton, be free. Fuck it! Let him go!
Lin Chen dropped the gun, grabbed the man by his hair, and pushed him hard against the wall, then kissed him heavily.
The author has something to say:
I was born in the sky, grew up in the scorching sun. I soar in the wind, but never gone.
My dears, please don’t cry for me.
This marks the end of the fourth arc. So many things I wanted to express, but I held out until the end so there wouldn’t be any spoilers.
First, the importance of Oscar Wilde’s work in this arc. Two of his works were specifically mentioned: The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and The Rose. There’s plenty of symbolism of self-sacrifice embodied by Song Shengsheng throughout this arc, as you can see, which reflects the theme of these two stories.
In both The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and The Rose, you have characters who give up everything in a selfless deed to protect those they love. The prince strips off everything he has to give to the poor, which eventually leads to his death. Likewise, the Nightingale sacrifices herself for a red rose so the one she loves can be happy. Song Shengsheng is very similar in this aspect, as he sacrificed his life to protect his fans.
Speaking of Song Shengsheng, it’s quite ironic that his name [Shengsheng] means sound, but he does not actually speak once throughout this arc (except for events in the past that’s recorded). This was purposeful on the author’s part.
I admit I struggled to get through this arc. The subjects were quite heavy and not to my taste (I really can’t stand rape), but it also has one of my favorite chapters: Lin Chen’s showdown with Li Jingtian, and the overall question about Song Shengsheng kept me anticipating.
I’m quite sad that Song Shengsheng died, which I have personal gripes about. I feel that his death felt forced by the author to make it seem more dramatic and tragic than necessary.
On my first read when I was translating it, I thought everything was too convoluted (including Song Shengsheng’s suicide) to push the tragedy that he will not live. When I read over this arc again for a second time during the proofread, I changed my opinions on the matter.
There’s a reason why Oscar Wilde is so heavily referenced in this arc. Song Shengsheng embodies the two stories that I mentioned above. To many people, the actions of the Happy Prince and the Nightingale might seem stupid (and likewise Song Shengsheng’s). I certainly couldn’t comprehend why he could put up with all this for a decade and still find no way to tell the police what’s going on without having to resort to a suicide, especially after the showdown between Li Jingtian and Lin Chen. He must have witnessed it and know how capable Lin Chen is and the fact that Lin Chen wanted to see him desperately would give him a chance to spill everything.
At least this is what I thought during my first read, but then after analyzing the arc after my second read when proofing, I factored in a few things. First, Song Shengsheng’s age. He was scouted at 16 and became a mega star at 18. At such a young age, he probably didn’t have the education and life experience yet to deal with such complicated issues that he was facing. Hell, probably even as an adult one probably would find it tough to make a decision. You can see this in real life where child stars go down a dangerous path without proper guidance from a caring and wise adult. Unfortunately for Song Shengsheng, the person he trusted the most, his first agent who brought him to his debut, was an evil person and manipulated him.
Second, due to his naiveness given his age, when faced with threats that his fans were going to be killed if he gets out of line, he resolved to suffer in order to protect them. To Song Shengsheng, his fans represent the student who was looking for the rose, or the poor, dying people in the Happy Prince. Seeing that their threat is very real and afraid of even a single one of his fans dying if he goes to the police, he chooses to submit. I would say this was where I had the most problem with as you can never trust an evil person to actually keep their word. However, Song Shengsheng couldn’t take the risk because he loves his fans too much and he knows that if he tries to tell the police, many fans will die before things get solved, and there’s also a fear that they won’t believe him (no evidence).
As indicated by the author, Song Shengsheng is kind and I think this kindness is to the extreme to the point where his love for his fans supersedes everything else, including himself. While Li Jingtian and Meijing think this is stupid, I think it does match his personality. We know he grew up watching Oscar Wilde’s works and regards those stories as his inspiration. His favorite is The Nightingale and The Rose and so after thinking about it for a while, I did find that it does make some sense in why Song Shengsheng acted the way he did.
Personally, I think the author made Song Shengsheng’s character way too altruistic, but it is backed up by the things mentioned in the arc. On my first read, I was too annoyed to really analyze these factors because I just find Song Shengsheng’s action inexplicable, but after letting my emotions settle, I came to a more rational conclusion.
Anyway, I could probably go on and write an entire thesis on this, but I’ll spare you. At the end of the day it is a work of fiction so not everything has to be sensible as they are in real life. Perhaps I’m just being too critical (but common, I’m still pissed that Shengsheng died).
I would say the arc is good but I didn’t enjoy it because of the heavy subject in it and the fact that the one person you wish to have his redemption… kinda did but like died in the process… was just too painful (and I had to read this arc at least twice!).
However, don’t let my thoughts influence your opinions on the story. You’re welcome to join my Discord server to discuss or leave a comment.
At least we finally have movement in Lin Chen’s and Xing Conglian’s relationship.
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4 thoughts on “Criminal Psychology Ch163”
lin chen really at his wit’s end right now i think our man need to rest, xing conglian and wang chao too, they all deserve it
this was really hard..thank you, Kinky, for explaining and sharing your thoughts about this arc! I just have one question – what was the code for the door?
Thank you very much for the translation.
Can’t wait for the next arc.
this was tough.. everyone who read this arc in one go definitely should take some rest before continuing