After leaving Xue Meng’s home, the three of them went to Hong Jing Apartment Complex.
Jiang Lan had a rendezvous with the young Police officer named Wang Qing, who had handled the Tai Sui Case(Chapter6-13). On the way to Xue Meng’s home, he had already listed some suspicious facts about Chen Ruomei’s death in a message to Wang Qing and asked him for any clues.
Wang Qing went over the case files again, and sure enough, the case files confirmed what Jiang Lan said in the message, which prompted them to meet at the entrance to Hong Jing Apartment Complex.
Wang Qing came together with a colleague; both of them were in plain clothes.
After coming across the Tai Sui case by accident, Wang Qing was made aware of parts of the world beyond his scope of knowledge. As a young and energetic officer, he was not intimidated by this exposure to the supernatural. Quite the contrary, this new knowledge greatly excited his enthusiasm for his job.
Seeing Jiang Lan, he gladly came forward to shake hands with him and introduced him to his colleague.
The colleague was a senior Police officer named Zhao Heng, who handled all the cases involving all non-humans. After Wang Qing accidentally came into contact with a case like this, his superiors assigned him to work as Zhao Heng’s partner. In addition to their regular line of duty, they were responsible for any cases involving non-humans.
After making the introductions, Wang Qing went over the case with them again. The facts contained in the case file matched what Jiang Lan knew about this case.
The only discrepancy in their knowledge of this case was Chen Ruomei’s occupation.
Wang Qing said.” Chen Ruomei was definitely not a sex worker. She was just a bar waitress. Because of her good looks and self-learned dance skills, she occasionally danced to warm up the atmosphere for the bar. As to her call to the Police claiming she was raped, we have confirmed it was true. She was a smart girl, taking care to preserve the evidence. The suspect was her colleague. After she called the Police, he ran away and hid in his country home. At the moment, we are asking the local Police force to arrest him.”
After she died by accident, the Police made inquiries at her workplace. According to her manager, she was a silent girl, not very good at social skills. Because she had no proper schooling and money, she had no choice but to work in a bar. Actually, she was pretty modest and conservative, only wearing heavy make-up because her job demanded it.
The rape, which was confused for a dispute between a prostitute and a client by local residents, took place after Chen Ruomei got drunk in a social gathering with her colleagues. At the end of the party, a male colleague who was friendly towards her at work undertook to accompany her home. No one expected it would end up like this.
Jiang Lan fell silent after hearing this.
Wang Qing said.” Her hometown is in another province. We just made contact with her family. She has no other family members except for her father. After hearing the tragedy, he is now on the way here.”
The real Chen Ruomei was totally different from the one the rumor made out to be.
The rumor spread far and wide in the few apartment complexes in and around Hong Jing Apartment Complex. An ancient saying went like this: three persons could turn into a tiger, which was used to describe the power of people sticking together to accomplish something. In this context, the saying could also describe the power of a rumor that almost changed the narrative of the events surrounding her death.
No wonder Chen Ruomei’s ghost bore such a grudge.
Jiang Lan asked.” Is it possible to find the origin of the rumor?”
Wang Qing shook his head.” It is near impossible. The residents of these apartment complexes are primarily locals, and most of them are resettled villagers. These residents are all connected in some ways, which makes them a close-knitted community. They tend to stick together, whether in spreading the rumor to slander someone or resisting outside force. If we asked them directly, they definitely wouldn’t tell us the truth.”
Ying Qiao said contemptuously.” None of them will get off easily if the origin of the rumor remains unknown.”
He pointed to the manhole not far away.” Look over there.”
There was a thin layer of red mist slowly spreading over the manhole cover. It was easily overlooked if not paid close attention. But once you knew this red mist was the spores of Red Devil Umbrellas looking for hosts, you won’t miss it.
With a solemn look, Jiang Lan walked over to the manhole to recheck it.
There was no red mist when he was here this morning.
Ying Qiao grabbed his wrist, stopping him.” Don’t go; gods know what’s underneath that cover.”
The disgust was all over his face, and he turned to Cheng Hua. The look on his face seemed to say something to Cheng Hua without uttering a word.
Cursing under his breath, Cheng Hua had no choice but to go forward to check. After removing the manhole cover, he immediately averted his eyes after only one look.
On the manhole walls, tightly packed Red Devil Umbrellas covered every inch of the surface. Even the sewage water was tinted red. It was a mystery how this stuff grew so fast. No wonder the spores are so dense that they formed a mist.
Cheng Hua ignited an evil-dispelling Fu and threw it down the manhole. Then he moved the manhole cover back in place a moment before those Red Devil Umbrellas were consumed in flames.
Wang Qing and his colleagues still remained ignorant of what was going on.” What’s that stuff?”
Jiang Lan offered his explanation.” If Chen Ruomei’s ghost is allowed to remain, those Red Devil Umbrellas will continue to release spores into the surrounding air. No one could be sure how many people would end up being their hosts.”
Wang Qing and Zhao Heng both shuddered at the thought.
Finally, Zhao Heng offered a solution.” Let’s try to start with Xu Meifang and her two friends.”
Xue Meifang was among the three aunties who dragged Chen Ruomei out of the manhole.
Officer Zhao also explained that if they were kind-hearted enough to rescue her, they must have nothing against Chen Ruomei. Any people brave enough to help a stranger must be reasonable and shouldn’t be difficult to talk to.
Wang Qing had their addresses. They had prepared to visit them to try to find some clues.
Ying Qiao and Cheng Hua didn’t want to go with them. Instead, they preferred another approach, which involves using violent means to force the suspects into the open.
But Jiang Lan would like to tag along, but at that moment, they were interrupted by a message coming from Xue Meng.
His grandfather recognized the young woman and her mother from the photo taken by Jiang Lan. The mother’s name was Tan Zhi, the daughter’s name was Tao Liu. They lived in Block 3. Xue Meng even had the flat number.
“Tan Zhi?” Wang Qing stopped and turned to Jiang Lan.
“You know her?”
Jiang Lan showed him her picture.
Unexpectedly Wang Qing recognized her from the picture. He pointed to the photo.” Her hairstyle and dress are very recognizable. She was one of the three people who rescued Chen Ruomei.”
That night, the names of the three aunties who heard the cry of Chen Ruomei were Xu Meifang, Tan Zhi, and Xie Guizheng.
The accident occurred at nine o’clock that night when the three aunties were on their way home from a group dance.
After hearing that Tan Zhi had become a host and had severe symptoms, Wang Qing had a quizzical look.” I don’t get it. She tried to rescue Chen Ruomei. Even though she failed to revive her, she shouldn’t be the target of revenge.”
Based on the current situation, it was easy to guess that the criteria for becoming the hosts of Red Devil Umbrella were spreading the rumor of Chen Ruomei.
Given that, it could be imagined that the ghost of Chen Ruomei was taking revenge on people who slandered her.
But Tan Zhi had tried to rescue Chen Ruomei, and it didn’t add up that she would slander the people she tried to save.
The whole situation didn’t make sense.
Jiang Lan furrowed his eyebrows.” Let’s split into two groups, I went to Tan Zhi’s home, and you went to Xue Meifang’s”
Wang Qing and his partner agreed, and then they split up.
Ying Qiao and Cheng Hua planned to make their moves after nightfall. But because Jiang Lan wanted to visit Tan Zhi first, they chose to tag along.
The Little Monster was too fond of being concerned for humans, and Ying Qiao didn’t like him to remain concerned for long.
After a little thought, Ying Qiao brought out an orange candy from his pocket. Peeling off the wrapping paper, he tried to feed it to Jiang Lan’s mouth while reassuring him.” Take it easy. The monster couldn’t escape us this time when my boss is here.”
Actually, he preferred to say: Take it easy, I am here.
But that wouldn’t be very reassuring considering the role he played now.
Then he cast a cold glance at Cheng Hua as if he was the source of his present inconvenience.
What’s the matter with you? Why did you look at me like this?
Jiang Lan’s mind was wholly taken up with the matters at hand, so he ate the candy Ying Qiao offered him without thinking. He only realized it when the candy was in his mouth. Instantly he turned to look at Ying Qiao with widened eyes.
So much like a startled bunny. So cute.
Ying Qiao was delighted at that moment, full of a sense of achievement with the success of feeding a cub.
He even raised his hand to massage his head.” Don’t be too worried.”
With his mouth stuffed with candies, Jiang Lan made a sound in reply. Actually, he wasn’t too concerned. He just felt the whole situation was very bizarre.
But he couldn’t specify what exactly was bizarre because he still lacked vital parts in the whole jigsaw puzzle.