Obviously, there was something highly irregular in the behavior of the people in the meeting room. It appeared that their speech was in the control of an invisible force and that their malice in the heart was magnified indefinitely, so they can’t stop speaking those malicious words. And it also seemed that the longer they participate in the talk, the deeper they sunk.
It was a vicious cycle.
But Jiang Lan was unable to detect the scent of any monster or evil spirit in their bodies. Except for coughing, they didn’t show other symptoms. But it didn’t mean there was no approaching danger. More likely, the severe consequences hadn’t materialized yet.
After the session ended, Jiang Lan still had some time on hand, so he went to the manhole where the tragedy occurred.
The manhole lies on the left of the main entrance gate, where most of the traffic in or out of the apartment complex passes through. Trees lined the road, along with benches and blooming flowers. This part of the apartment complex was the residents’ favorite spot where they spent their evenings chatting or taking a walk. But because the street lights here gave out and no one bothered to repair it, no one would stay here after nightfall in the darkness brought by night, compounded by the gloom of the trees.
After the tragic death, a new manhole cover was installed, and yellow cordon lines were placed around it. Jiang Lan noticed a pattern in passersby’s behavior that almost everyone would keep a distance from the manhole cover, obviously in fear of the life-devouring manhole.
He sneaked through the cordon lines, and when no one was paying attention, he lifted the manhole cover to peek inside.
The diameter of the manhole was about one meter, and the bottom of the manhole was connected with the sewage system. But the bottom was filled with murky sewage water, which made it impossible to measure the depth. He calculated that the surface of the water to the manhole was about 2-3 meters. A few evenly-spaced ladders were attached to the wall and covered with rusts caused by the damp air.
The wall of the manhole was also covered with thick mud and moss. The wall’s surface shows signs of struggles and traces of darkened blood, the result of the tragic accident in which the girl fell into the manhole and later was lifted out.
According to the news, after Chen Ruomei accidentally fell into the manhole, she could not climb out using the ladders because she sustained a head injury and lost her strength. Her loud cry for help attracted the attention of three aunties who were on their way home after their group danceA favorite pastime among elderly women in China in the square. They rescued her using a rope they found nearby. But the girl soon lost any sign of life because she remained in the manhole for a long time. The first-aid medical workers called to the scene later proclaimed her death.
Finally, Chen Ruomei’s death was confirmed as death by accident. The Road Administration of Chang Hong Road should bear responsibility for her death.
So far, all the signs have pointed to an ordinary accidental death.
But if this accident was as simple as that, there was no explanation for the resulting chain of events. Despite finding no trace of evil spirit or wrongdoing by monsters, Jiang Lan felt he couldn’t simply attribute the cause of the death to an accident.
“Did you find anything?” Jiang Lan whispered to Suan Ni hidden in his backpack.
As young as Suan Ni was, he possessed a very keen sense.
Leaning out of the bag, he hiccupped before having time to observe. Then he said,” I can’t see anything, but I have a terrible feeling that something sinister is lurking underneath the water.”
But he couldn’t put the finger on what exactly was sinister.
Unable to find any clues, Jiang Lan moved the cover back in place and was about to leave. But at that moment, a piercing sound halted his steps.
“Did you see the manhole cover is cordoned off? How dare you sneak inside? Are you not afraid that the dead girl’s ghost will drag you inside and suck clean your body?”
The voice came from the other side of the road. The woman speaking was in her forties and worn a flowery dress and high-heeled shoes. When speaking, her eyebrows tend to rise, which had the effect of making her kind face seemed mean.
Before Jiang Lan had time to respond, the woman on the other side of the road walked over quickly to confront Jiang Lan with a look of anger on her face. With one hand placed on her waist, her other hand almost touch Jiang Lan’s face.” Have you heard me? What are you looking at?”
Her gaping mouth was like a black hole from which malicious words kept pouring forth.
But Jiang Lan’s attention was on her mouth. He just vaguely heard an unusual sound beneath the high-pitched voice, which was so much like the sound made by the wind blowing through the leaves.
But when he paid closer attention, the sound was gone, as if the sound was illusory.
“What are you doing, mom?”
The middle-aged woman was obviously losing her hold on herself. Jiang Lan couldn’t understand what provoked that aimless malice and chose not to respond. Soon a girl appeared, dragging her mother away while reproaching her.” Enough mother! What’s the matter with you these days.”
Then she turned to Jiang Lan with a sorry look and apologized for her mother’s behavior. Jiang Lan shook his head, indicating he didn’t mind.” Did your mother need some medical attention?”
The young girl had an embarrassing smile.” She wasn’t like that before. She doesn’t feel well these days and is gloomy…..”
After she said this, she tried to drag her mother away.
The middle-aged woman still didn’t give up her abuse. She turned to glare at Jiang Lan and said ominously.” There was a life lost here. You be careful.”
The suspicious sound appeared again, which confirmed to Jiang Lan what he just heard wasn’t illusory.
There must be something hidden inside her.
Before he took further action, the woman was dragged away by her daughter. They went inside Hong Jing Apartment Complex, obviously lived there.
After a thought, Jiang Lan took out his phone and took a snapshot of these two women.
Before going back to the office, Jiang Lan called his big brother. Perhaps his big brother knows the identity of the monster.
A happy voice answered his call.” Fifth brother? How come you called your big brother again, and I have never received your call?”
The voice sounded jealous.
Jiang Lan smiled when he heard the voice.” You are not busy right now?”
The fourth brother was a lawyer. His business trips always took him around the whole nation, and he barely had time for family.
“Oh, I am busy right now, I happened to be nearby collecting evidence for my case, so I dropped by to see my brother.”
The Dragon Palace is located in the South Sea, so most family businesses have something to do with the ocean. Because of that, Bixi based his company in Hai City海 Hai means ocean.
On the other hand, Bi An chose to establish a law firm in Sheng City申 Sheng is another abbreviated name of Shanghai. It was said that the law firm enjoyed quite a reputation among the human society and consequently handled many cases. Bi An, the director of this firm, led a hectic life.
But he apparently enjoyed his lifestyle.
Jiang Lan complained.” When do you have time to visit me in Jiang City?”
“Oh, I am quite busy right now. I will definitely visit you when I have some free time.”
Bi An put his phone on speaker mode and continued his chat.” Where is little eight? Asking him to meow to me on the phone, my big brother said he did a terrific job of acting like a cat.”
Hearing this, Suan Ni howled inside the backpack pretending to be angry.
Bi An giggled.” This doesn’t sound like a cat.”
Suan Ni was complaining.” Brother, fourth brother is picking on me again!”
Silent Bixi threw a glance at Bi An, and Bi An threw up his hands, declaring.” Ok, I am done.”
Bixi then said.” The fifth brother must have something on his mind, choosing to call us at this moment.”
Without further ado, Jiang Lan described the incidents in Hong Jing Apartment Complex, then added.” Is there any monster capable of controlling human speech or amplifying their hidden malice?”
Pondering for a second, Bixi said.” There are many monsters capable of this. But the ability, as you describe, a brief contact that could enable the monster to control humans is very rare. I doubt any monster possessing this ability is even alive today.”
The cultivation level of monsters varies greatly. Therefore the level of controlling power varies.
Any monsters who could control such a large size of the population while remaining hidden were very powerful. But Bixi knew all high monsters active in human society with a high level of cultivation. As far as he knows, no one among them possesses such ability.
Looks like his inquiry reached an impasse, but Jiang Lan was not easily discouraged.” I will continue looking for clues. If such an act was committed by monsters, a trace was bound to turn up.”
“To be in a position to influence this many people, this monster either has to hide inside the human he chooses to influence or have other media to exert his controlling power. Perhaps you overlooked something.”
Bi An added his opinion.” These people couldn’t be influenced through thin air. Perhaps you could retrace your steps to discover any details you overlooked?”
Jiang Lan felt he must pass over many things while turning over the events in his head.
He thought the best place to restart his investigation was that manhole.
“Thank you, fourth brother, you have been a great help.”
A smile could be detected in Bi An’s voice.” Wait for me in Jiang City. Now let Little Eight Meow to me, doesn’t he always listen to you?”
Jiang Lan could feel Suan Ni’s movement in the bag. He patted his head to comfort him, said helplessly.” Be aware he might refuse to greet you once you are here visiting us.”
“This doesn’t even cross my mind. Two meals for him will definitely set the matter right.”
Then he added.” Little Eight, Meow to me, I will send you money.”
Hearing this, Suan Ni instantly calmed down, and a head came out of the backpack.” How much are you willing to pay?”
Bi An was in a generous mood.” One Meow one million, how about it?”
Suan Ni.” Meow…….”
He meowed continuously for a few seconds, then he added in a challenging tone.” I have meowed twelve times. Now pay me.”
Then he declared happily to Jiang Lan in a soft tone.” Fifth brother, we are wealthy now.”
Suan Ni obviously treated Jiang Lan differently.
How comes I didn’t feel happy right now.