I made it to the morgue in relatively good time. Lam arrived at the same time I did. In fact, we almost ran into each other just outside the doors to the building.
We both burst into the morgue; the doors crashing into the wall on either side of the doorway.
The room was in a shambles. One of the lamps had been smashed, the unoccupied examination table was overturned, and there were a few pieces of paper scattered around the room. But what really caught my attention was the cheap LED candles that had been arranged around the body. Why was that still on the examination table?
The good doctor didn’t look very happy at all. In fact, he looked quite perturbed. This in itself was enough to worry me, as Dr Hu never gets flustered.
His assistant looked quite shocked as well, but he appeared to be handling it better than the doctor.
‘What has happened?’ I asked. I frowned.
‘Why all the candles, Doctor?’ Lam asked.
‘I barely understand it myself, Cheung taam-zoeng,’ Dr Hu said, weakly.
That told me that something was definitely amiss.
He rarely called me that together. He would sometimes just call me taam-zoeng when I’d said something that annoyed him, usually when I asked something and he thought the answer was obvious to anyone.
‘I mean; how could such a thing be possible? It shouldn’t even be possible!’ he ranted.
‘What happened?’ I interrupted, gesturing for him to simmer down.
Dr Hu took a deep breath. ‘Well, I was here very late last night trying to get some of my other reports finished. I had just turned off the day lamp when…’ He paused. ‘When it just came to life!’
‘It what?’ Lam exclaimed.
I could feel a headache developing around the front of my forehead. I was afraid of something like this.
‘What do you mean it came to life?’ Lam asked.
‘What I said!’ Dr Hu cried. ‘One moment I was re-examining just to make sure that there wasn’t something that I had missed, and the next it sits straight up, with bloodshot eyes, and fangs of all things.’
‘Fangs?’ Lam repeated.
‘When I had calmed down afterwards, my first thought was that someone had played a prank, or maybe the victim was going through Lazarus Syndrome. Nut I was more than certain that the man was dead when I examined him earlier.’ He took a breath to calm himself down again. ‘My only reasonable explanation is that the things that killed him was a geong si.’
‘A geong si?’ Lam parroted, incredulously. ‘Those only exist in fairy tales and bad gong-fu films.’
‘I know what I saw!’ the good doctor shouted, and glared at Lam for good measure, making him take a step back.
I was a little surprised at the doctor’s outburst. It took a lot to get him to lose his temper.
‘Anyway, you can imagine that I was really quite shocked, and I’m not ashamed to say that I froze. The next thing I know, it smashed that lamp there,’ he pointed to broken lamp I’d noticed earlier. ‘And then he had me by the throat. Then it strangely stopped, like it was confused; maybe because I was holding my breath. Its own stunk to high heaven. Then Mr Ip grabbed our spare lamp and shone it in our victim’s face, and he went limp and fell done to the floor.’
‘That was quick thinking, Ip sin-saang,’ I complimented him.
‘I just read a lot,’ the young man smiled. ‘Apparently geong-si are inert in sunlight, and by candlelight, so…’
‘Yes, he ran out to get some of those fake candles so we don’t have to keep using the day lamp, while I phoned your sergeant. We’d just arranged them around Wan sin-saang when you two arrived.’
‘I’m either going to have to buy some more candles or the batteries that they use,’ Mr Ip commented. ‘It’ll be expensive if it’s going to be the latter.’
‘Don’t worry, I’ll pay towards them,’ Dr Hu assured him. ‘It’s the least I could do.’
Lam and I shared a slightly amused glance; the doctor could be nice after all.
The good doctor caught it and gave us a look. The message was clear enough; “Don’t tell anyone or you won’t like the consequences.”
I cleared my throat. ‘Did you get the results from the hair and DNA traces, yet?’ I asked.
‘Yes!’ he exclaimed, seemingly glad to return to the world of the mundane. ‘Both came from a woman of Asian descent, of indeterminable age. There were no dyes or pigments on the hair, so we can safely assume that her natural hair colour is black. Unfortunately, that’s all I can really tell you. At least not without something to compare it to.’
‘So there’s no chance that it came from a Eurasian woman?’ I asked.
Hu shook his head. ‘No, it doesn’t have the genetic markers that would be present if that were the case.’
Though we now had what I thought were some very important pieces of the puzzle, we were still none the wiser to the identity of the victim’s mysterious lady friend.
Now that there was no way deny I could deny that this case was supernatural, I was going to have to talk to the only person I knew who had any solid connection to the supernatural world. And I for one was not looking forward to speaking with him.
Geong si are a form of psychic or energy vampire that can manipulate and feed on living a living person’s breath or chi (life energy) to satiate their hunger. Also called jiang-shi or chiang-shih; literally translated as “hopping corpse”. It is often referred to as the Hopping Vampire.