Liu Mengying took a step back, tightened her backpack, looked at Lu Junchi warily, and then looked at Su Hui, who had stood up. “Who are you guys?” she asked.
Lu Junchi showed his identification card. “Police. We suspect that the Sleeper website is related to some recent accidental deaths.”
Liu Mengying’s expression changed, and she turned to Su Hui. “I came to help you…”
Su Hui looked at her, but did not speak to explain.
Lu Junchi handcuffed her wrist. “He didn’t have depression. He didn’t need your help.”
Liu Mengying said to Lu Junchi, “Officer, I think there may be some misunderstanding between us.”
At the other end of the earphones, Qu Ming’s voice came, with a slight wheeze. “Captain Lu, we caught someone here too.”
“Okay, bring them back to the station for questioning,” Lu Junchi said. Then he turned to the girl and said, “If there is a misunderstanding, you can go to the police station to explain it.”
The rain outside was still falling. Zheng Bai and Lao Qu came over and put the girl in the bread van.
Lu Junchi went to the staff room of the convenience store to change his clothes and came out. Su Hui had been waiting for him outside.
When the two of them sat in the car together, Lu Junchi suddenly asked, “Just now…”
Su Hui had already anticipated what he wanted to ask. His expression returned to calmness. He blinked his eyes and leaned back in the seat. “It’s not true, I made it up.”
To be precise, Su Hui couldn’t remember what really happened. He only remembered that the explosion had destroyed his life…
Half an hour later, Lu Junchi and Su Hui sat in the observation room, watching the situation inside. Now two interrogation rooms were open at the same time. On one side were Qu Ming and Zheng Bai, and on the other side were Xia Mingxi and Qiao Ze.
It was already half past eleven in the middle of the night, approaching midnight, but Su Hui was alert and fully focused on listening to the girl’s statement in the interrogation room.
“Name, gender, age.”
“Liu Mengying, female, 23 years old.”
“Why did you go to that convenience store tonight?”
“I made an appointment with someone…”
“Why did you make an appointment with him?”
“I made the appointment because you police officers were pretending to be depressed people online.” Liu Mengying suddenly lifted her head. It was her first time being brought to the police station, and after experiencing the initial fear, she couldn’t help feeling angry about the police’s fishing behavior.
Qu Míng raised his voice: “We’re asking why you were meeting with those depressed people online!”
His loud voice seemed to intimidate Liu Mengying, who lowered her head and used her foot to scratch the ground, assuming a pitiful, helpless look of a little girl. “I didn’t break the law. This is all a misunderstanding. If I tell you the truth, can you let me go?”
Qu Míng said, “We’ll have to see what the truth is. We crack down on all criminal activities.”
Liu Mengying looked up and said, “The Sleeper forum is actually a grassroots organization that values mental health. Once we find someone with depression online, we talk to them, contact them, and make appointments. What we do is provide psychological counseling services to those who suffer from mental illness, trying our best to solve their difficulties and help them from the root.”
Qu Ming asked, “If you’re doing a good deed, why are you doing it secretly?”
“We’re not licensed psychologists, so we can’t get a legitimate status that is widely accepted. We have to be low-key,” Liu Mengying replied.
“Psychological problems are very specialized. Are you sure you’re helping them instead of harming them?” Qu Ming frowned. “And you’re not just low-key. Your server is hosted overseas, and you’re blocking your real phone number?”
Liu Mengying responded confidently, “Officer, we just value personal privacy. Using an overseas server and concealing our phone numbers is not illegal, is it?”
Qu Ming continued, “So what do you talk about and do when you meet with them?”
“The conversation is like tonight, exchanging each other’s experiences. We use our own experiences to inspire those people and encourage them to see a psychologist and solve their problems.”
“How do you help them?”
“We need to understand the root cause of their depression and then prescribe the appropriate treatment.”
“Have you helped them commit murder?”
Liu Mengying looked up at him. “Do you have any evidence that we were involved in murder?”
Qu Ming felt that the woman was not telling the whole truth. He was annoyed by her cunning behavior, but without evidence, he couldn’t find any flaws in her words.
Zheng Bai asked on the side, “How many people are there in your organization?”
“Only two?” Qu Ming frowned, clearly skeptical. The woman was saying this because they had only caught two people tonight.
“The two people who are primarily responsible now are the only ones. The others are just online volunteers,” Liu Mengying sneered, “Besides, if I haven’t committed any crimes, does it really matter how many people are in our organization?”
“What is your accomplice’s name?”
“His name is Luo Wei. He was worried about me being unsafe as a young girl at night, so he drove me here. I don’t think he knew you were the police, otherwise I wouldn’t have been so panicked at the time…” Liu Mengying looked at him and said, “If you don’t believe me, you can ask him.”
“How did you meet him?”
“Over a year ago, when I just started using this account, he had depression. I contacted him and talked him through it, helped him get through a difficult time. After that, he proposed helping me, helping to save more people together.”
“Who originally proposed doing this?”
Liu Mengying blinked, looking like a cute doll, “The person who built the website.”
“Who is that person?”
“Her name is Yu Tian. She was also a depression patient like me. We met in a group. Initially, it was her idea to create this website to reach out to those in need.”
“Previously?” Qu Ming frowned, “Where is she now?”
Liu Mengying looked up at him, “She lost to depression over a year ago.”
“After she passed away, did you continue to use her account?”
Liu Mengying nodded, “She built this forum and shared her ideas with me, but it had not been launched yet. It was only after her death that I officially began doing this.”
She raised her head towards the interrogation light, facing the harsh light, “It was precisely because of her death that I wanted to help others. Her passing did not shake our beliefs, but rather made us feel that our existence was necessary.”
The person who wanted to save others, but ultimately succumbed to illness, sounded somewhat regretful.
Lu Junchi and Su Hui furrowed their brows in the observation room.
Qu Ming said, “We will verify the information you have provided.”
Liu Mengying became a bit impatient, “I have told you everything, why won’t you let me go? Everything I said, including what I told you before, is true. If you don’t believe me, you can check. And those people we contacted in the past, you can also investigate!”
Qu Ming said, “We are investigating all of these.”
Liu Mengying sneered, “You police officers won’t help those who are depressed, but we try to help, and yet you blame us and suspect us of being criminals.”
Qu Ming said, “First of all, as long as there is a police report, we will handle it. Second, we won’t let the guilty go free, nor will we accuse the innocent. If it is proven that what you said is true, we will release you soon.”
Having arrived here, it was already close to midnight. Qu Ming walked out of the interrogation room, and the key information he had just obtained had already been recorded by Zheng Bai’s team and quickly printed out.
“Captain Lu, I’m done with my questioning too,” Qiao Ze said as he handed over several interrogation records.
Lu Junchi took them and flipped through them. The man they had just questioned was named Luo Wei, and what he had said was almost identical to what Liu Mengying had told them.
According to his confession, Luo Wei was an architect. Over a year ago, he had acted as a guarantor for a friend’s loan, but when his friend ran away, he was forced into depression by loan sharks who charged exorbitant interest rates.
He claimed that Liu Mengying had found him and talked him out of his depression, recommending him to see a psychologist. He eventually sold his house, slowly paid off his debts, and then began to volunteer his help.
The call he had received tonight had nothing to do with the case. He had seen the van and suspected that someone might want to harm or kidnap Liu Mengying, so he had warned her to leave.
Lu Junchi turned to ask Su Hui: “Do you believe what they said?”
Su Hui’s eyelashes trembled slightly, and he hesitated for a moment before asking him: “What do you think?”
“I think there are still some doubts. It’s unlikely that they would go to such great lengths to do good deeds, being so cautious online that they use foreign servers, hide all their phone numbers, have someone monitoring outside, and their stories are clearly premeditated,” Lu Junchi said.
Qu Ming interjected, “They blamed everything on a dead person and only singled out two people as the planners and operators. I think there must be some problems with this.”
Su Hui pressed his forehead, “I think part of what they said is true, and part of it is false. But I can’t tell which is which. It just feels a little strange.”
The unexpected incidents were like scattered sand, and they did not successfully connect them through this strange website.
Su Hui felt like he was in a fog again. There were no logical loopholes or behavioral evidence. They seemed to be far from the core of the incident.
Lu Junchi asked him, “You talked to Liu Mengying tonight. What do you think is their motivation for doing this?”
Su Hui thought for a moment, squinted his eyes slightly, and propped his chin with his fist, “The satisfaction of redemption. When they meet people who have had similar experiences, they feel like they have found their kind. Saving their kind can give them a sense of achievement and self-redemption.”
As he said this, he vaguely felt that he had found some direction…
Lu Junchi asked again, “So what are their criteria for selecting their kind?”
“Betrayal, abandonment, and coercion?” Su Hui said a few words, then shook his head and said conservatively and carefully, “I haven’t fully summarized it yet.”
In the quiet Huadu headquarters late at night, only the sound of Qiao Ze typing on the keyboard could be heard.
After a while, he looked up and said, “I have checked and verified the information about Luo Wei. So far, there is no loophole in the archives. What Mengying said is also true. Her mother, before her accidental death 16 months ago, was a somewhat famous violinist in Huadu.”
Lu Junchi pondered for a moment, “If there is no evidence, we cannot detain them for too long.”
As he said this, he narrowed his long, narrow eyes. Could it be that this lead was really wrong?
The whole incident, the entire forum, exuded a kind of weirdness. It all seemed like lies and full of loopholes, but Lu Junchi couldn’t pinpoint where it was wrong.
Su Hui sat quietly beside him, also silent for a while.
The clock in the interrogation room struck twelve.
Lu Junchi made a decision, “You will cross-check their confessions again tomorrow. If there are no problems, let them register and then tell them that we will monitor the website. Then release them.”
Qu Ming was so excited when he heard this that he almost jumped up, “Just let them go like this? There must be a problem in this matter!”
Lu Junchi explained, “Letting them go does not mean that we will not investigate them. I want to access the case files of Liu Mengying’s mother’s accidental death.”