The Corpse Hopped at Midnight: Part One

This is my first attempt at writing crime fiction. The title is sort of my homage to my favourite television series, "Murder, She Wrote", as well as a reference to the Chinese version of the vampire, geong si. Third place winner in The Vampire Diaries competition (2016)

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2. Chapter One

BRR…BRR…BRR…

I groaned as I fumbled for my phone.

‘Cheung,’ I muttered sleepily when I answered.

‘There’s been a murder, sir,’ my sergeant, Lam Zi-Coeng, said.

Murder? Huh…first one in a while.

‘All right, text me the address; I’ll be there as soon as I can.’  I started to roll myself out of bed.  The movement woke up my wife, Chun-To, who had been asleep next to me.  She can sleep through a foghorn blast, but the slightest vibration in our bed wakes her up.

‘What is it?’ she asked, sleepily.

‘I’m being called in,’ I told her, apologetically.

‘Mm,’ she moaned.

‘Go back to sleep,’ I said.  ‘You know have to take Cheng-Lei to school, and then you have a shift at the store.’  To help pay the bills, Chun-To worked part-time at a bookshop in Festival Walk .  It also gave her something to occupy her mind while I was at work and Cheng-Lei at school; though it did not stop her from worrying about me when I had to go out in the field.

‘Be careful, dear,’ Chun-To murmured, as she settled back under the covers.

‘Always.’  I quickly pulled on a pair of trousers and a clean shirt.  I had taken the time to loop my tie before going to bed, so all I needed to do was put it on and straighten it.  I grabbed my gun holster, which already had my SIG Sauer P250 Dcc, from the wardrobe door where I’d hung it and slipped it on.  My jacket went over that and I finally slipped my phone and police identification into its inner pocket.

I quickly ran through my mental checklist; badge, gun, phone, keys…

What am I forgetting? Ah, my wallet.

It wasn’t on my bedside table…Did it fall down on the floor?  Ah, yes, there it is.  I plucked it off the floor next to bed and put it in the inner pocket of my jacket with my phone.  I would be waiting until I got home to have anything to eat if I didn’t have my wallet.

Before leaving our bedroom I glanced back at my wife.  She looked so peaceful when she was deeply asleep.  Even after fifteen years of marriage, she still makes my heart melt.  I couldn’t resist leaning over and kissing her cheek, before making sure that she was tucked in nice and warm.  She smiled in her sleep.

Before I left, I took a moment to look in on our son.  Like his mother, he was fast asleep.  His schoolbag was sat on in his desk chair, ready for school.  He always slept on his left side facing his bedroom door on arm tucked beneath his pillow while his other arm rested over his comforter.  Watching my son, whether he was awake or asleep, was another thing that always made me smile.

I gently closed his bedroom door and left.  I locked the apartment door behind me and walked down the corridor to the lift at the end of the corridor.  I didn’t have to wait long for it to open.

As the lift descended to the ground floor, I took the chance to quickly read the address where the murder had taken place.  It was in Pak Tin.  That would take me about half an hour to get there by car.

 

I carefully maneuvered my dark blue Audi A10 through the rain that had just started as I was driving out of the parking garage.  Though it was early morning, there were still some people out and about either coming home from a night of clubbing or a late shift somewhere; or they were heading in for work, like me.

I stopped at a red light on a pedestrian crossing, giving me a chance to reflect on the city where I was born and had grown up.  People describe places like New York as “a city that never sleeps”; but that is a perfect description for a city like Hong Kong.  There’s always something happening somewhere and at least one person is still awake.

I glanced at the rain that was still gently pitter-pattering on my windshield as I drove through the still busy streets.  A good thing the scene of the crime is indoors and not outdoors.  Small mercies, I suppose.  And it was still early enough in the day that there wasn’t as much traffic.

It didn’t take long for the light to turn green, and I was soon arriving at the address that Lam had texted to me.  It was an older apartment block built in the nineties.  The apartment block had a car park round the back of the building where several officers dressed in waterproofs lingered where the vehicles from the crime scene investigation unit were parked.  I noticed that the pathologist hadn’t arrived yet.

Just as well, I thought to myself.  That gives me a bit more time to look over the body.

Raindrops fell on my head as stepped out from my car.  Why didn’t I taken an umbrella?

I rushed over to the building where I met Lam met me in the lobby.

‘We’ve got a nasty one, Inspector,’ he said he led me to the elevator.  Lam had been made sergeant just last year.  He’s a good police officer, but still naïve to aspects of man’s darker nature.  He gets a lot of singer jokes because of his name , and I have to wonder what his parents were thinking when they named him.

‘All murders are nasty, Sergeant,’ I commented as the elevator doors opened; but I could understand why he thought the way he did.  Crime was relatively low in Hong Kong compared to most places in the world, so to have a murder committed was something of a rarity.

‘Oh, yes, of course,’ Lam muttered apologetically as we stepped inside.  He pressed the button for the fourth floor.  ‘The body was discovered by his neighbour at just after eleven o’clock this evening.  He called emergency services at about ten past.’

‘When was the first officer on the scene?’

‘Just over three quarters of an hour ago, sir.’

‘Hm.’

The rest of the ride up was spent in silence before the elevator doors slid open.

‘It’s this way,’ Lam said as he led me down the narrow corridor, which was only wide enough for one man to walk through.

The Scene of Crime investigators were already there and were dusting for prints, and searching for other trace evidence.

The apartment was fairly spacious for Hong Kong real estate, about nine-hundred square feet if I had to guess.  The dining table had been set for a romantic meal for two; placemats at opposite ends, and a set of three LED candles that had been left switched on at the centre.  The dinner plates and cutlery were no longer on the table, but if I had to guess they were already in the kitchen to be washed later today.

A messenger bag had been left slumped against the side of a leather settee.  No doubt the victim had intended to pick it up on his way to work today.  I sighed.  I’d seen items like this often during my career as a police officer; things left out ready for the victim to take with them as they start their working day, never knowing that their life was going to be cut short.

I mentally shook myself of these melancholy thoughts.

‘Where is he?’

‘In the bedroom, sir.’

We carefully navigated our way around the forensics team to the scene of the crime.

Lam let me go in first, and though I had been warned me that it was going to be a fairly gruesome sight, but I was still caught off-guard.

Like Lam had said, the victim’s neck and upper chest had been slashed to shreds; almost like he had been savaged by a wild animal, but I don’t think that any animal would have done something like this.  His eyes were wide open and already had a dull, glassy look; and coupled with his open mouth, he gave the impression that he hadn’t been expecting such an attack.

Large amounts of his blood had already seeped into the mattress; and there was a lot of spatter on the wall behind the bed, on the ceiling, and on the bedside table.  Considering arterial spray had travelled I was almost certain that the victim had been alive when the killer had started slashing him.  The cause of death was most likely blood loss, given how much of it now decorated the wall and ceiling, and was soaking into the mattress.  Of course, he would wait for the pathologist to confirm his suspicions.

The bed sheets were rumpled, and half kicked to the floor, and his clothes had been strewn all over the bedroom floor.  I could very well imagine what was going on here before the victim got a very nasty surprise.

In spite of the violence, the person that he had been…doing the deed with was most likely the one who killed him.  I had to wonder what kind of woman the victim had got himself involved in to have ended up like this.  And what kind of woman could do something like this?

 

 

 

Cultural Notes:

When addressing someone, the Chinese always say surnames first, then first names.

Lam, Zi-Coeng (George Lam) is a popular Hong Kong Cantopop singer and actor.

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