At this moment, Qu Ming and Qiu Yelin, along with five police officers, were standing in a concealed spot ten meters away from the entrance of the psychological counseling room.
In front of them was a cluster of white buildings, connected together.
This place used to be rented out by an educational institution and was specially renovated to hold a period of psychological and family counseling courses. An Yu Ci was invited to be a counseling psychologist at that time, but due to various reasons, the courses were discontinued and they hid out here.
The closest three-story building was lit up, indicating that someone was inside.
Qiu Yelin asked his subordinate officers, “Are you sure this is the place?”
“Absolutely sure, we also notified the land team and they’re on their way.”
One impulsive police officer said, “Don’t wait, Captain Qiu, there are seven of us here, let’s go in and arrest them now.”
Upon hearing this, Qu Ming quickly intervened, “The land team is on their way, let’s wait for them to arrive so we can discuss together.”
The impulsive officer pointed to the three-story building in front of them, “It’s just a small place with one counseling psychologist and a few depressed patients. Why do we need to wait? Let’s catch them now and go home to get some sleep.”
His words were immediately supported by the other team members.
Qu Ming stopped him, “That’s the serial killer we’ve been chasing for over a month! He’s been committing crimes in Huadu for nearly two years, it’s not that simple. Don’t underestimate the situation.”
Qiu Yelin stepped in to ease the tension, “Alright, alright, the kids are just eager to contribute. We know that if you guys catch the killer, it’s a great achievement for the Heavy Crime Unit. We wouldn’t want our Criminal Investigation Unit to be left with nothing to do, would we?”
Then Qiu Yelin turned to Qu Ming. Although they entered the bureau at the same time, Qiu Yelin had been a team leader for many years and was now half a rank above him. He patted Qu Ming’s shoulder and said, “I’m not saying this to criticize you, Old Qu. Look, we both entered the bureau at the same time, but I’ve been a captain for many years now. In a place where you can climb higher, you should strive to climb higher. If we catch the suspect, isn’t that a great accomplishment for our team?”
Qu Ming couldn’t help but sneer at his words.
The other people on the scene all agreed. They were all from the Third Team and were young and full of energy.
These detectives were used to arresting suspects with guns and knives, and they were fearless when faced with dangerous criminals. In their eyes, these patients were just small fry.
Qu Ming said, “Anyway, we’ve already surrounded the place, and the suspect can’t escape. If we rush in recklessly and make a mistake, it will be difficult to handle.”
Qiu Yelin then eased his tone, “Okay, okay, let’s wait. We’ll wait for your land team to arrive.” He took a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, lit one for himself, and offered one to Qu Ming. “Not to criticize, but your land team is too young. He hasn’t participated in as many arrest operations as you and I have combined. We’re two old partners, what could possibly go wrong?”
Qu Ming waved his hand and rejected the cigarette that was offered to him. “Lao Qiu, smoke less.”
Just then, a woman’s scream pierced through the night sky.
At the same time, the glass on the second floor of the building shattered with a crash, and a bloody hand stretched out from it, struggling for a few moments.
“Help, save me…” The woman’s voice continued to cry out, sounding very clear.
Then the hand seemed to be pulled by someone and disappeared from the window.
Now, the few people standing downstairs were all stunned.
“There’s a hostage! Save her!” Upon seeing this scene, Qiu Yelin didn’t care about anything else, threw his cigarette on the ground and stamped it out, then turned his head to organize. “You two, enter from the back door, everyone else, follow me and break through the front door.”
“Did you get a good look at that woman? Be careful, it could be a trap…” Qu Ming called out. “Hey… should we leave someone outside to provide support?”
“If we wait any longer, we might miss the opportunity to rescue her. Once backup arrives, it’ll be too late for anything.” Qiu Yelin was anxious. “Lao Qu, I think you’re suitable for providing support. Either you come with us, or you wait here. Everyone else, follow me.”
This put Qu Ming in a predicament, and he could only reluctantly pull out his gun and send a message to Lu Junchi before quickly catching up.
With a bang, the front door was kicked open, and several people entered the building, finding it completely empty.
The lobby in front of them was about four hundred square meters, completely empty, without a single person in sight.
The lobby had a height of more than ten meters, and from the high ceiling hung more than ten white round balls, emitting a soft light, swaying gently like a pendulum.
As soon as they entered, Qu Ming smelled a strong fragrance, like burning incense or some kind of spice.
The back door was also quickly breached, and seven police officers quickly searched the entire first floor.
“Captain Qiu, no one here!”
“I don’t have anyone over here either. It’s safe!”
The eerie cry for help never sounded again, as if that scene had been their imagination. The surroundings were extremely quiet, with only their footsteps and breathing.
Qiu Yelin looked at the several regularly swaying balls in the middle, not daring to be careless. “Everyone, stick to your teams from before, find the stairs and go up. Saving the hostage is the priority!”
The crowd immediately dispersed. Qu Ming held a gun and followed behind Qiu Yelin, walking up a long staircase. He felt that this place was inexplicably strange, and much bigger than it looked from the outside.
Suddenly, he heard a soothing melody. He didn’t know who turned on the broadcast here, but with the music, a voice said, “Relax, everyone don’t need to be so nervous, take a deep breath and slowly exhale…”
“Damn it, why is there yoga teaching here?” Several police officers who were originally very nervous couldn’t help but mock.
“Those people won’t have such a small ability to want to influence us, right?”
“Psychiatrist, maybe they want to hypnotize us.”
“Hypnotize? That’s something to fool children.”
“…There is an endless mysterious power around you, and with your breath, that power enters your body. Your body becomes lighter, and all your pressure disappears…” The man’s voice continued.
“Don’t listen to the recording, everyone quickly search for the suspect and hostage.” Qiu Yelin shouted.
When Qu Ming heard this, he breathed a sigh of relief. Then he found something terrifying that he had unconsciously adjusted his breathing according to the recording.
“Breath… focus your gaze on the pendulum on the top floor…” The people on the stairs couldn’t help but look up, the round ball of the pendulum hanging from the high ceiling was still swaying.
“Damn it, who can turn off the music?! It’s so annoying!”
“What is that swaying thing? I can still see it when I close my eyes.”
“Is it the visual persistence phenomenon?”
“It’s okay, firm willpower, if you don’t cooperate with hypnosis, you won’t be hypnotized at all.”
Among the crowd, only Qu Ming realized that something was not right: “This is not a recording! This is mass hypnosis! Don’t look at those things, don’t listen to his guidance!” He quickly said through the walkie-talkie. They were too careless, these people, including him, didn’t understand hypnosis…
People will despise things they don’t understand, but hypnosis is a phenomenon that is more complex and profound than what they know.
The voice continued, “…All external sounds, all kinds of willpower resistance, will only make you more focused on what I am saying.”
This sentence resisted all their struggles.
“…It’s very cold now, your body is almost frozen. The weapon in your hand is very heavy. Your fingers have already connected with the gun, and your hand is very heavy… so heavy that you can’t even lift your shoulders.”
Qu Ming tried hard not to listen to those words. He felt that his mind was clear, and he wasn’t being controlled. But then he suddenly realized something terrible – his hand holding the gun had lowered a few inches…
They had to find the source of the voice as soon as possible!
They walked forward in the sound, and a hallway full of mirrors appeared in front of them.
In front of the eyes is like a maze, surrounded by reflecting mirrors. Only by looking up can one see the shaking balls outside.
“…Use your extraordinary imagination… you are getting heavier and heavier… your body is stiff, your steps are getting heavier, and you can’t move your feet… there is quicksand under your feet, and you sink deeper with each step… you can’t move anymore…”
“Lao Qiu, something’s not right here. Let’s retreat first!” Qu Ming said, stuffing his ears with one hand, trying not to be disturbed by those voices.
Qiu Yelin didn’t answer him, and then Qu Ming found that Qiu Yelin, who was just in front of him, disappeared into the mirror after turning a corner.
“Put down your weapon, you are safe now, resistance is dangerous. Do not resist your consciousness.”
“Your eyelids are very heavy, very heavy, your memory is blurred…”
“Close your eyes…”
“Sand surrounds you, this is a desert, you are in the middle and your body has also become sand.”
Qu Ming felt his eyelids starting to get heavy, and it took effort to keep them open. He also found that his steps were getting slower.
Why, why was this happening?
He had never even met the other person, but just listening to that music and those words had an effect on him.
As long as he closed his eyes, he could see the huge pendulum swinging in front of him.
He wanted to fall asleep and was about to lose consciousness…
He shook his head hard, driving away the illusions in his mind.
“You can’t move at all, relax completely, and you will fall into a sleeping state…”
“Now, you are alone, with no support…”
“Don’t resist anymore, don’t struggle… relax…”
Suddenly, Qu Ming found that there was no one around him.
The police frequency that had been speaking all the time was quiet. He could only hear some shallow breathing.
“F*ck, wake up!” Qu Ming roared, and this scene sounded extremely eerie and terrifying to him.
The mirror in front suddenly reversed, and a black shadow rushed behind him. With a loud bang, the wooden stick in his hand hit the back of his head.
Qu Ming’s eyes went black, and he fell into darkness.
“Three… two… one…”
Along with these three numbers, the answer to him was silence, an endless silence… The group of people from earlier seemed to have been swallowed up by this eerie building.
Footsteps echoed in the spacious third-floor room of the building. Several people walked into the broadcasting room and looked at An Yuci sitting in front of the monitor. “Dr. An, those people have been caught,” they said.
They placed the phones and weapons they had taken from the police officers on the table.
“Thank you. Tie them up and put them in the hydrotherapy room. You can leave after that,” An Yuci said as he adjusted his glasses and turned to the group of people in front of him, some men and some women.
Some of these people had not participated in the series of murders, they were just his patients, so the police had not found anything on them yet.
The fact that they were willing to believe and help him at this time was enough.
The patients gradually left, and An Yuci took a gun and put it on himself.
Then he walked into the hydrotherapy room, used Qu Ming’s fingerprint to unlock his phone, and then exited, locking the door and throwing away the key before pressing the switch for the water flow.
An Yuci turned around and saw a familiar person, Luo Wei. He had been hiding here since the police began reporting.
“Dr. An, I’m willing to follow you,” Luo Wei said. He had not left with the others earlier.
“Then stay here. Watch the entrance to the hydrotherapy room upstairs and don’t let anyone in,” An Yuci said. He looked up and watched as the water level in the hydrotherapy room gradually rose, as if admiring some magnificent scenery.
An Yuci recorded this scene with his phone and then searched for Qu Ming’s contacts, finding a number…
In Huadu, the whole world was plunged into darkness.
Su Hui frowned and thought as she looked out the car window, where some wild beasts seemed to be lurking in the darkness.
Lu Junchi’s car had already arrived outside the building, and he quickly hit the brakes.
The white building door was open, with soft lights shining inside, peaceful and quiet.
It had been ten minutes since those people had entered, but there had been no sound from either the walkie-talkie or their phones.
It could be predicted that the whole team might have encountered some mishap.
Lu Junchi gave up trying to contact them and sent a request for support. But even if the support arrived quickly, it would still take some time.
Qiao Ze had also heard Qu Ming’s message and said, “They were too careless. These people have no idea what hypnosis is.”
Lu Junchi frowned. “Is An Yuci a hypnosis master?”
Su Hui withdrew her gaze from outside the window. “He’s not necessarily a master, but he definitely knows some hypnosis techniques. Sometimes group hypnosis can influence each other, and it can be easier than hypnosis of an individual.”
He further explained, “Hypnosis is a form of induction, a powerful suggestion, and it doesn’t necessarily require a hypnotist and the person face to face. The environment in which hypnosis occurs is very important, a quiet environment, objects moving rhythmically, people hearing suggestive voices, and even some touches or caresses can lead people into a hypnotic state.”
Lu Junchi still found it somewhat unbelievable: “But there were seven people in the team, are you saying that not even one of them could resist?”
Su Hui explained simply, “I don’t think they lost contact just because they were hypnotized, they may have also been attacked. At the first stage of hypnosis, the person being hypnotized doesn’t believe they’re being hypnotized, but they’ve already entered a hypnotic state. Their small muscle groups may start to be controlled by language, and they may also experience a sticky eyelid reaction. At this point, their reactions become sluggish and they become easier to subdue.”
The more one struggles, the more counterproductive it becomes. Unless they immediately leave the hypnosis environment, this hypnosis state will deepen, making their movements sluggish and causing them to fall into trouble…
As the three of them spoke, Lu Junchi’s phone suddenly rang. He looked down and saw that it was Qu Ming calling. Lu Junchi frowned and answered the phone, and An Yuci’s voice came through from the other end: “Captain Lu, we meet again.”
Lu Junchi said, “An Yuci, what did you do to those officers?”
An Yuci looked at him and said, “They’re still alive, and besides, they invaded my territory.”
Lu Junchi said, “You’ve violated the law and should face punishment.”
An Yuci’s voice sounded gentle and harmless, “Captain Lu, I didn’t do too much to your colleagues, I just put them in a hypnotic state and locked them in the hydrotherapy room. You can wait here for rescue, but I’m not sure if they can hold on that long.”
The conversation ended here.
Afterward, Lu Junchi’s phone vibrated and he received a video from Qu Ming’s account.
It was a hydrotherapy room entirely made of glass, with several officers bound hand and foot and sitting by the glass curtain wall. Water was continuously pouring in, and it had already reached their chests.
Lu Junchi hesitated for a moment. This was obviously another trap, and there were only the three of them here.
The door of the building was wide open, as if inviting them in.
There was definitely deceit inside, but now Lu Junchi felt as if he had already stepped onto a tightrope and couldn’t decide.
What did this person want to do? Kill the officers? Stall for time? It didn’t seem like either.
Su Hui patted him on the shoulder from behind and said, “An Yuci probably wasn’t lying. Saving lives is the priority. If we’re going in, don’t focus on moving objects and don’t concentrate on small things.”
Qiao Ze quickly searched on the computer, “I pulled up the topography map here. The hydrotherapy room is on the first floor and the control room is on the second floor. There’s a shortcut we can take.”
Looking at the gradually rising water level, Lu Junchi made his decision. “Qiao Ze, let’s go save them. Su Teacher, you stay in the car and don’t get out.”
Lu Junchi and Qiao Ze took out their guns and walked into the white building.
The building was very spacious, and there was not a soul in sight. The sound of rushing water could be heard from far away.
Qiao Ze led Lu and quickly arrived outside the entrance of the hydrotherapy room, where a massive hydrotherapy room appeared before them.
It was a square-shaped glass structure, sealed on all sides, with a size of approximately ten square meters. From this perspective, it looked like the kind of large fish tank commonly seen in aquariums, yet it also resembled a transparent swimming pool.
This was a high-end hydrotherapy room that had been popular a few years ago. Its purpose was to allow patients to completely immerse themselves in amniotic fluid, resembling a baby and approaching a natural state.
But now, An Yu Ci had turned it into a water prison capable of taking lives.
Several police officers were sitting crookedly inside the hydrotherapy room, leaning against the glass wall with their heads lowered and their hands bound.
The colorless water had already begun to pour in, and the water level was gradually rising, nearing their necks. However, those few individuals seemed completely unaware, devoid of consciousness.
“Old Qu! Captain Qiu?!” Lu Junchi shouted, but there was no response from the people inside.
Lu Junchi circled around the glass room, finding it tightly sealed with water cascading in from the top like a waterfall.
Qiao Ze attempted to find various exits and noticed a keyhole above: “There’s a keyhole here, but without a key, we can’t open it.”
Lu Junchi pulled the trigger, firing a shot towards a blank glass spot beside him, but the glass remained unscathed. He then aimed at the keyhole and fired another shot, but the bullet flew out, indicating that the mechanism was extremely sturdy.
Qiao Ze said, “Captain Lu, based on the flow rate, we still have approximately five minutes.”
The sound of water continued to gush, and the waterline was rising second by second.
Lu Junchi took a deep breath and looked at the glass structure before him…
Outside the psychological treatment center, in the pitch-black parking lot, a figure walked up to a parked police car.
Su Hui lifted his head from inside the car, seemingly unsurprised by An Yuci’s appearance.
“Now, all the troublesome people are gone,” An Yuci said with a smile. The car windows were not completely soundproof, allowing his words to be heard inside.
An Yuci held a gun in his hand. He pulled the trigger, and the rear side window of the car shattered. He reached in through the broken glass, opened the car door, and now the sound was much clearer.
“Captain Lu must have advised you not to go out,” An Yuci said with a smile, looking at Su Hui sitting beside him. He made a gesture of invitation and said, “But now, due to the circumstances, Su Hui, why don’t you come to my place for a while?”
Su Hui didn’t say much and followed An Yuci out of the car.
An Yuci didn’t go through the main entrance but led Su Hui through a side door into the building, arriving at a small room.
It was a white room with simple furnishings, only two sofas and a small coffee table, all in white. The overhead light cast an orange-yellow glow.
The entire room looked both neat and warm, and it was quiet, particularly quiet.
It felt as if the whole world had been separated by walls and doors.
This was a well-equipped psychological therapy room. Su Hui didn’t know what material the walls were made of. He couldn’t even hear a sound from Lu Junchi and Qiao Ze, nor could he hear the slightest sound of water.
An Yu Ci gestured towards Su Hui with the gun in his hand and then motioned for him to sit. The smile on his face made him look like a hospitable host.
Su Hui looked at An Yuci in front of him. He didn’t have a gun, nor did he carry any weapons. Or rather, having a gun would be of no use due to his visual impairment.
He followed the instructions and sat on the sofa, looking at An Yuci. There was only a small round coffee table between the two of them.
An Yuci smiled and said, “Su Hui, you seem very calm now.”
Su Hui replied, “Your intention is not to kill me. Moreover, based on my profiling, you are not someone who kills indiscriminately.”
Su Hui was well aware that he was still safe at this point.
An Yuci didn’t really want to kill anyone. If he had the intention to kill, when they arrived, they would have seen a pile of bodies, and it wouldn’t be so troublesome.
But every step An Yuci took had a purpose.
“I was a bit worried that you wouldn’t come, but when I saw you in that instant, I felt relieved,” An Yuci said, taking out a small hourglass and flipping it over before placing it aside. It was a timing tool commonly used by therapists, and this small hourglass lasted exactly ten minutes.
The scene before them resembled the beginning of a psychological therapy session.
An Yuci continued, “Su Hui, I heard someone say before that Huadu has an excellent profiler. I specifically requested to be transferred to Yang Yuqing’s clinic and actively receive the police officers who were being treated. Since the day I saw you at the clinic, I’ve been thinking if that person might be you.”
Su Hui asked, “Who told you that?”
An Yuci answered with a faint smile, avoiding the question, “That person told me that without meeting him, you wouldn’t be able to confirm who he is. But once you see him and have a conversation, you will immediately know that he is the person you’re looking for. Should I call you Consultant Su or Poet?”
An Yuci’s attitude at this moment reminded Su Hui of the words Qian Yongchen said to him when he was seriously injured. He became more and more convinced that someone was contacting these serial killers.
Moreover, that person might be familiar with him, but undoubtedly, they were unwilling to reveal information about the mastermind to him.
An Yuci looked at him and said, “I have been extremely careful in planning the entire layout. The clues are broken in the logical reasoning of ordinary people, and there is no substantial evidence. Even if the police have clues and feel that the cases are suspicious, it is difficult to connect them. At this point, unless the killer’s trajectory is traced through profiling, it is difficult to predict all the patterns of their attacks.” He tilted his head and said, “In other words, I believe that only you or other profilers can see through this puzzle.”
Certified member of the IIO(International Introverts Organization), PhD holder in Overthinking and Ghosting, Spokesperson for BOBAH(Benefits of Being a Homebody), Founder of SFA(Salted Fish Association), Brand Ambassador for Couch Potato fall line Pajama set.