TSA Chapter 64

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Chapter 64: Hint

He nodded to the forensic expert knowingly and asked for the autopsy reports. He looked them over and took out his sketchbook and began studying one of the corpses’ faces.

The face was beginning to distort and some unknown, white, fat and short insect larvae were crawling out of the slightly open mouth one after another. Zhang Chi rubbed his eyes and instinctively moved back. The maggots were becoming more and more, gradually emerging from a crevice in the other corpse and falling to the floor, one or two crawling toward the back of Zhang Chi’s shoe.

The forensic expert moved far away, leaving Zhang Chi alone in the lab aside from the corpses and the instruments. Zhang Chi sprang up in alarm as he noticed the floor now covered with maggots. He shifted over a couple steps to avoid them, accidentally stepping on some.

They were like moist white lichen, slippery and sticky. He lost his balance and and grabbed onto the dissecting table to catch himself, tilting the table up and causing the corpse to slide to the floor. When it hit the floor the white cloth around the body fell and the cut-open abdominal cavity opened up. White maggots streamed out of the body like a flood and wriggled quickly around in all directions…

Zhang Chi jerked a few times and his eyes shot open. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and sat up and propped himself up against the headboard and thought for a while. It was not quite 11:00 pm. He had returned from the lab, having not eaten anything and fallen asleep almost as soon as he hit the pillow and had this strange, lifelike dream.

The faces of the bodies in his dream were not at all grotesque. He thought back and recalled they were healthy faces and vivid, mumbling as is imploring something as their hands pulled at their collars and repeatedly crosses their chests as if asking him for help.

Were they trying to tell him something by showing up in his dream? He shook his head and laughed at himself for thinking such fantastic thoughts.

He turned on his phone and saw an unread message. Gu Shi was telling him to contact her father. “I’m worried about how he’s getting along and want to go home early. How are things going over there?”

He couldn’t help but smile. His life and Gu Shi’s seemed to be mingling, no longer separate from each other. He quickly wrote back: “I don’t know right now. Give me two more days. If I haven’t finished in two days then go on back first. How’s that?”

He sent the message but did not get a response for a long time. He quietly stared at his phone. He knew Gu Shi had seen it. He could even imagine her laying on her bed, lost in thought.

His phone screen dimmed, but he still held onto it. Less than five seconds later it lit up again. “In two days I want you to come back with me.”

Zhang Chi and Gu Shi were coincidentally holding their phones in the the pitch-black night, pursing their lips and giggling and typing on their phones.

Zhang Chi ran into the forensics expert the next morning in the cafeteria. He handed Zhang Chi a bowl of soybean milk sympathetically. “Judging by your complexion you definitely didn’t sleep well last night.”

Zhang Chi smiled wryly. “I was too lost in thought. Even chased me into my dreams.”

“Oh, did it give you any information?” The forensics expert lowered his head and took a big bite of spicy beef noodles.

Zhang Chi, nibbling on a fried dough stick, looked up in surprise. “You scientists believe in that stuff?”

“Sometimes you can’t not believe it. We have a lot of comrades here that go make offerings at temples when stuck on a difficult case. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or providence, but there’s really been many times when a clue somehow emerges right after and the case is solved without a hitch.”

“You don’t say?”

“Don’t think I’m just telling tall tales. It’s all true.”

Zhang Chi lowered his voice. “Then, what do you think is different about these two corpses?”

The forensic expert looked up. “I wrote it all clearly in my reports. Deduction is your specialty.”

“I saw in the reports you mentioned that both bodies had been tidied up. Have the medical notes from before then been checked?”

“Everything that ought to be checked has been checked. Nothing.”

“Based on your analysis, what do you think their financial situation was before they were murdered?

“Don’t ask me, I’m not clairvoyant.”

“Okay then, their level of nutrition, condition of their bodies, were they good or bad?”

“Brother, please. Their both about to become giant, bloated corpses. Even their ages can’t be ascertained with accuracy. All I can say is, while alive they were much healthier than the average person. But what good does it do to know that?”

Zhang Chi looked at him calmly. “It can get me pretty close. You’ll see.”

Ji Liang was smoking out in the hallway when Zhang Chi came up to him and held up two sketches. Ji Liang was delighted. “Little Zhang, you’re very efficient. Only took you one night. Are you in a hurry to get back?”

“Cases won’t wait for us.” Zhang Chi told him, “Captain Ji, I wrote several notes next to the sketches. When you go looking for this person, take the sketches with you, but whatever you do, don’t ask people if they’ve seen this person before.”

Ji Liang was surprised. “If I don’t ask that, then what can I ask?”

“The sketches this time are special. They’re based on the corpses’ conditions, ages, athletic ability, facial characteristics, regional characteristics, etc. A lot of different elements combined together.”

“So you’re not too sure?”

“Not at all, really. So you might as well ask if people have seen someone who looks similar to the one in the sketch. You might have a chance of finding the real person that way.”

“That reduces our scope, but it’s also a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

“So, I have another suggestion, but I don’t know how useful it will be.” Zhang Chi said cautiously. He waited for the reply.

Ji Liang waved his hand. “Say it. Just say it. I’ll take responsibility for whatever happens.”

“Captain Ji, did you notice any other common ground besides their age and sex?”

Ji Liang couldn’t think of anything. He motioned for Zhang Chi to continue.

“They both have had breast implants. I asked a friend who does facelifts about standards and practices for cosmetic surgery and imported materials for breast augmentation, and these types of silicone implants all have unique serial numbers.”

“So you suggest we start by checking the numbers on the implants?”

“Yes. Based on the forensic medical analysis, plus my own judgment, both of the victims were likely well-off. If they went in for breast implants they would definitely select standard hospitals and superior materials. Using the serial numbers plus my sketches and the missing persons data, you ought to be able to find out who the victims were, and continue the investigation from there.”

Ji Liang threw away his cigarette and shook Zhang Chi’s hand vigorously. “Ah, we never expected you’d really be such a genuine talent. Your efforts have been invaluable and opened up a new path for us to investigate. I’ll have people get on it right away.”

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