Chapter 1083: Who Will Be Next? [2 in 1]
Standing next to Chen Ge, Wen Qing did not know what to say or ask. She was afraid that she might accidentally expose some important information. After all, by now, she at least understood that there was no one in this building that could truly be trusted. One wrong step and she could put them in extreme danger.
“Why don’t you go and accompany Granny Lee in the living room? I will stay to investigate what happened here.”
Wen Qing nodded and left.
Chen Ge stayed in the bedroom alone. He closed the bedroom door and knelt by the bed to inspect the boy’s dead body. The burning from electrocution, the bruises from heavy beatings, Chen Ge’s eyes finally landed around the boy’s neck.
“He was strangled to death by electrical wires. There are wooden chips lodged in the boy’s fingernails. Before he perished, his arms were tied to the bed frame…”
Chen Ge undid the rope around the body. He placed the clean cover over the boy.
“The electrician looked like a reticent and harmless worker on the surface, but in reality, he has a flaming temper. Yet, he has a knack for reining it in around others. And then he vents it through torturing others who are weaker than him. The man is rotten through and through.”
The scary thing was that the electrician was not an exception to the rule at this apartment building. Chen Ge started to think deeper into other consequences.
“Under the limitation of law and morality, their actual nature was hidden and closed away, but in the world behind Xiang Nuan’s door, the most disgusting and horrid facet of their personality is exposed. This door appears to purposely highlight the sin in human nature, and it twists everyone into monstrous beings.”
Chen Ge tried to analyze the ghost fetus’ thoughts, but with the meagre number of clues that he had so far, he was unable to come to any concrete conclusion. Rummaging through the backpack, Chen Ge noticed that blood vessels had started to surface on the comic. He tried to summon his workers, but unfortunately, he still got no response.
“Chen Ge!” Wen Qing’s voice came from outside the bedroom, and then the door was pushed open. “Something seems to have happened downstairs!”
The sound of screaming, running, wailing, and crying were mixed together as they drifted up from downstairs. It sounded like a battlefield down there.
“Do not worry. Let them deal with this among themselves for now.” Chen Ge slowly walked out from the room. The faces of the tenants that were in the room earlier flashed across his mind. “Who will be next?”
Chen Ge’s group soon arrived at the second floor. The smell of blood lingered in the air. There were even fresh blood stains that were noticeable on the staircase.
“What is going on here?” Before Chen Ge got near, he was able to hear Auntie Ding crying. The rest of the tenants blocked the corridor. They formed a wall that did not allow anyone to pass.
“The electrician is dead.” Xiao Sun leaned against the wall, and his face was pale as a sheet.
“He’s dead‽” Chen Ge looked very surprised. He picked up his pace and crossed through the crowd. “Move out of the way please!”
Standing at the corner between the first floor and the second floor, Chen Ge appeared to have frozen. He could see Auntie Ding kneeling on the ground, her lips mumbling Jia Qi’s name again and again. Both of her arms and her upper body were covered in fresh blood. Auntie Ding appeared to have lost her grasp on reality due to overwhelming sadness. Others had trouble getting close to her, or to be more precise, no one was willing to get close to Auntie Ding in her current state.
“You… have killed him?” Chen Ge’s pupils were shivering. “But he was our only clue!”
“Jia Qi was the first child that I adopted. He went missing in this residential area! I have been looking so hard for him!” Auntie Ding’s hair was disheveled as she pressed her hands into the pool of blood on the ground. “That was my child. Can you understand how that would have affected a mother like myself? Do you know how I felt when I saw that child in that state in his room…”
Auntie Ding’s words petered off into a blubbering mess. All the energy in her body seemed to have drained from her as she collapsed in the pool of blood.
“Actually, it would wrong to say that Sister Ding has killed him. I saw with my own eyes that there was an altercation between Sister Ding and the electrician. Both of them slipped down the stairs, and the fruit knife just so happened to get stuck in the electrician’s neck. I suppose, in a way, this is karma working her magic. No one is to blame but the man himself.” The one who spoke was a tenant from the fifth floor. He was very tall, and he always stood together beside Auntie Ding. This was the first time he had spoken with Chen Ge.
“An accident you say?” Chen Ge’s gaze moved past Auntie Ding as he looked down the first-floor corridor. The electrician had already run out of the stairwell and was racing to get out of the building. His body was lying near the entrance, and the locked front door even had the man’s bloody handprints on it.
“With a knife puncturing through his neck, even if he was not dead, I doubt he wouldn’t be able to speak anymore. This is so unfortunate. The trail of clues that we found with such difficulty has been wiped away just like that.” Chen Ge’s tone was quite helpless. He then turned to the tall guy. “And who are you? I do not think we have met before.”
“My surname is Li.”
“I am sorry if this is a forward question, but why do you reek of medicine?”
“I am a practicing pediatrician.”
“Isn’t the medicine meant for children supposed to have as diluted a smell as possible to prevent them from gagging on the taste?” Before waiting for the man to answer, Chen Ge changed the subject. “I was not here when the electrician died. Did anyone hear what he said before he died?”
“He called out Auntie Ding’s full name…” Xiao Sun started to say something, but he was rudely interrupted by Doctor Li.
“The electrician is already dead. What we need to do now is confirm as soon as possible whether he is the murderer behind Qu Gui’s death.”
“But…” Xiao Sun insisted on saying something, but this time, Chen Ge cut him off.
“Indeed, the most important thing that we needed to do now is capture the culprit. If the electrician is Qu Gui’s murderer, of course, that would be best, but I am afraid that he is just an accomplice, and the real murderer is still hiding among us.”
A living human being was murdered just like that before their eyes. The atmosphere inside the apartment building became more suffocating.
“I will take Auntie Ding back to her room for now. She must have been greatly traumatized to have seen her adopted child in such a state.” Doctor Li tried to pick up Auntie Ding from the pool of blood, but he failed even after several tries. He turned to the crowd and waved at a short guy. “Big Head, would you mind coming over to help me?”
The short man was bald, and a large part of his face was swollen, giving him the look of a monster. Big Head and Doctor Li carried Auntie Ding back to the fourth floor while Chen Ge watched them walk away quietly.
Doctor Li is tall and well built. He looks quite strong. As large as Auntie Ding is, it is impossible for him to be incapable of carrying her on his own. He was merely looking for an excuse to get Big Head to leave this place with them. The three of them should know each other, and they operate as a group.
Doctor Li, Big Head, Auntie Ding, and the electrician—Chen Ge now suspected that it was the four of them who cooperated to kill the landlord and then stole the spare keys to all the rooms. With regards to their motive, Chen Ge had a fairly good guess. The landlord had found out about their secrets, so he needed to die.
“Er… So, how shall we deal with the electrician’s body?” Qu Yin felt a headache coming. Qu Gui’s dead body was still lying in his living room, and now they had another dead body in the building. Their initial intention was to find the killer, but somehow, things had started to get out of control as if there was a pair of hands that had been pushing them around for the tenants to turn on each other.
“Let’s just ignore that for now. I just discovered something very scary.” Xiao Sun only dared to speak after he saw Doctor Li walk further way. “The electrician was pushed down the stairs. The person who dealt the final blow was not Auntie Ding but Doctor Li. At the time, they were the ones who were chasing after the electrician the most passionately. They were the most desperate to hunt him down.”
“Jia Qi is Auntie Ding’s adopted son. Why would Doctor Li react so brashly? He does not look like a vindictive person to me.” Chen Ge was slowly laying the trail for the tenants to consider. He could not be as direct as Xiao Sun because he still had no idea how many people in the building were involved in the murder of the landlord. But there was one thing that was for certain—the number of people involved would not that be high, or else they would not need to be afraid of Chen Ge at this moment, and they did not to sacrifice the electrician.
“I also think that is quite weird.” The middle-aged man who had the female underwear stored away in his home stood in the corner alone. Now he had decided not to trust anyone, which honestly was a bright decision. “That Ding woman has been acting very strangely today. She treats her adopted children so badly normally. Compared to human beings, she treats them more like pets. She beats and scolds them for the smallest transgression or when she is in a bad mood.”
“So, it is your opinion that Auntie Ding did not kill the electrician out of revenge but to cover up something else, right?”
“I did not say anything like that!” The middle-aged man looked at Chen Ge and quickly waved his hands. He was an old tenant here; he knew how dangerous it was to run his mouth.
“Then, should we go and ask Wu You? He is the child who lives in Room 301. The tenants of the building all say that the boy likes to lie, but I personally think that the child is quite an obedient kid,” Xiao Sun suddenly said, and what he said caused the middle-aged man to break out in cold sweat. “He is probably this way because he has been left alone for a long time and lacks human company. Well, we have a psychiatrist among us now. Perhaps this is the best opportunity for us to approach him.”
The middle-aged man shook his head while trying to calm himself down. “The kid, Wu You spews out nothing but lies. Not a single word out of his mouth can be trusted. Plus, he is just a small child. What does he know? If you expose him to a dead body, you might worsen his condition.”
“Alright, I was just giving a suggestion. After all, the child is seen running all over the building sometimes. Perhaps he might know something.” Xiao Sun was analyzing the situation rationally. He had no idea that he had made himself a target in most people’s eyes.
Chen Ge also wiped away the sweat from his forehead. As a normal person amid a group of crazed murderers, the first thing one needed to learn to do was not mimic a detective to solve the case but learn how to properly protect oneself. Chen Ge understood that Xiao Sun was just trying to help, but he did not approve of his dangerous method.
“I also do not think we should bring this to a child, but with a murderer on the loose, it is too dangerous for Wu You to stay at home alone. We should get him to stay with us.” When Chen Ge started with his sentence, the middle-aged man was nodding vehemently, but when Chen Ge finished the rest of the sentence, the man’s head froze in midair.
“Wouldn’t it be very inconvenient to bring a child with us in a situation like this?”
“It will be fine. I will look after him. We shall go to Room 301 to get Wu You now.” Chen Ge headed toward the third floor. He just arrived at the third-floor corridor when he saw a boy’s head poke out from the door of the room at the end of the corridor. It was quite scary seeing that in the middle of the night.
“Wu You, there is a murderer among us in the building. It is too dangerous for you to stay alone. Why don’t you come with us for now?” Chen Ge reached out to grab Wu You’s hand, but the latter skipped away from him.
“Murderer?” Wu You looked at Chen Ge and the rest of the tenants. He used his very juvenile voice to ask, “But aren’t all you murderers?”
“See, all the boy does is lie.” The middle-aged man shrugged, looking as helpless as he could.
“Since you know we are all murderers, why do you still live here? Aren’t you afraid of us?” Chen Ge looked at the boy before him.
“I am waiting for my parents.”
“If something happens to you, your parents won’t be able to find you, so you’d better come with us. This is for your own good.” Chen Ge was quite forceful when he was negotiating with this boy. Grabbing Wu You by his hand, Chen Ge had the boy stick close to him. Realizing how firm Chen Ge was with his decision, the middle-aged man suddenly professed that he had a stomachache and needed to go home for a while. Chen Ge did not say anything to stop him and allowed him to go.
Actually, Chen Ge knew that the middle-aged man was only making an excuse. He was worried that Wu You would accidentally sell him out, so he quickly hurried home to destroy any incriminating evidence.
After the middle-aged man left, the rest of them moved to Auntie Ding’s room on the fourth floor. Doctor Li called after Big Head and Auntie Ding naturally because they had something to discuss. Chen Ge did not wish to give them too much time to come up with a solution or an excuse. When they came to the fourth floor, before they reached Auntie Ding’s place, Chen Ge saw Big Head guarding outside Auntie Ding’s room.
“Is Sister Ding feeling better?”
“With Doctor Li looking after her, I’m sure she will be fine.” Big Head might look scary, but his tone was friendly. He gave off the feeling of those honest floormats that were easily bullied by others.
“After you guys left, something else happened. There is a question that I need to ask Auntie Ding in person.”
“But she still needs to rest.”
“You’d better step out of the way. This matter is very serious.” Qu Yin, Xiao Sun, Wen Qing, and Granny Lee were following behind Chen Ge. They had the numerical advantage. “I will enter the room alone so that we won’t disturb Sister Ding’s rest.”
“Okay then.” Big Head knocked on the door. More than ten seconds later, the door opened, and Chen Ge walked in alone. Even though Auntie Ding could not be called young anymore, the home decoration was extremely pink and fluffy. It felt more like the room of a teenage girl. Once Chen Ge entered the room, he was assaulted by the heavy mist of perfume and air freshener that hung in the air. He coughed lightly and closed the door behind him. Auntie Ding was lying on the couch, and Doctor Li stood beside her. They did not look happy to see Chen Ge walk in.
“How can we help you?”
“Do any of you know the salacious-looking middle-aged man that lives on the third floor?”
“What about him?”
“Just now, he said that the electrician did not trip on the stairs and fell but was pushed down the stairs, and then he sneaked in a suggestion to tell us to go and ask Wu You about it,” Chen Ge said with a stone-cold expression.
“Did you find anything out from the boy?” Auntie Ding’s face was pale, and her voice was involuntarily shaking.
“The child was seriously traumatized. We cannot understand what is he trying to express. He kept saying things like seeing Auntie Ding carrying children up and down the stairs and seeing the children’s ghost appearing around him.” As if he was unable to see Auntie Ding’s paling face, Chen Ge continued to speak. “But the key is not the boy but that strange man living on the third floor. He stays the opposite of Wu You. I suspect that it might be him who fed these words to Wu You. After all, even if a child likes to lie, why would he choose these things to lie about?”
“You have a point there.” Both Doctor Li and Auntie Ding nodded at the same time.
“Other than that, I realized something else. The middle-aged man appeared to be purposely hindering us from finding out the truth. I suspect…” Chen Ge raised his head, and his eyes were shining. “Could he be the culprit behind the landlord’s death?”
“That is very possible. There are many strange things about that man.” Color returned to Auntie Ding’s face, and even her words flowed more naturally. “There’s a lot of female underwear hidden in that man’s room. Who knows where he got it all? In any case, that is a very disgusting man.”
“You guys suspect him, and he has been trying to throw the suspicion onto you.” Chen Ge appeared conflicted. “I also do not know who to believe. How about this? In a bit, we will pretend to check one of the rooms on the third floor, but before he knows what’s happening, we will barge into his house for a spot check and see if we can come up with any evidence. If there is anything related to the landlord that can be discovered at his house, we can confirm for sure that he is the landlord’s killer.”
Chen Ge was making a very brave move. The real purpose of his plan was for the real murderer to produce the evidence themselves. It was a trap within a trap.