The Corpse Hopped at Midnight: Part Two

Continuing where I left off in Part One.

The investigation continues...

DI Cheung, Baak-Long and his sergeant, Lam, Zi-Coeng, are trying to solve the murder of a young publishing house employee. Is it the victim's ex-girlfriend? Her current boyfriend? Or could it be the mysterious woman that none of the victim's friends or family have ever met? Who is she? And where has she disappeared to? So many questions that just lead to more questions. Then there's the victim's corpse suddenly coming back to life...wait, what?

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7. Chapter Ten

The common room was a just a large room where faculty members could spend a few quiet minutes.  It was currently empty so we didn’t have to worry too much about being overheard.

I sat down at one of the empty round tables, while the fox went to purchase a cup of coffee from the hot drinks machine that stood near the double doors.  He offered to buy me a hot drink as well but I declined.

‘Might I assume that you found a supernatural element in the case and are unsure how to proceed?’

I just nodded.

The fox sipped at his coffee, waiting for me to tell him.

I took a moment to gather my thoughts.  ‘I was called into a murder investigation the other morning.  At first it seemed like a normal murder.  As normal as any murder could be, but certain elements in the case came up that quickly pointed to the supernatural.

‘First the medical examiner found a piece of a fingernail that was harder and sharper than any human’s.

‘The second was the presence of an unknown substance in the victim’s blood that bore certain genetic markers similar to the neurotoxins that certain species of snakes excrete through their fangs.’

‘The third was a hair, undyed from a female of indeterminate age.  Our assumption was that the sample was somehow corrupted during the process; but there was no doubt that the hair was from the same person as the piece of fingernail.’

‘I have a feeling I know where you’re going with this,’ the fox sighed.

‘While I was…speaking to your girlfriend, I received a call from our medical examiner.  He was frantic and demanded that I get down to the morgue immediately.  Naturally, I rushed to the morgue as he requested.  When I got there the room was in a shambles.  The victim’s corpse suddenly came back to life, somewhat changed. Glowing red eyes, elongated teeth and fingernails like knives.  A struggle ensued in which the medical examiner’s assistant had managed to immobilise the reanimated corpse with another day lamp as the first had been broken in the struggle.’

My narration was followed by a deafening silence.

‘I’m a afraid that you definitely have a geong si.’

‘That’s what we all think, yes.’  I internally debated how to pose my next question.  But in the end I decided that it was best to just ask.  ‘How exactly does a corpse become a geong si?’

The fox raised an eyebrow at me.  ‘Surely you know the stories.’

I gave him what I hoped a flat stare.  ‘We both know that any story told again and again over time tend to become distorted.’

The fox nodded.  ‘Fair point.’

I waited for him to answer.

‘There are a few ways that one can become a geong si,’ the fox began.  ‘The first and most well-known way is when the body is not buried quickly.  The second theory is that a geong si is created when a person dies a violent death.

‘Usually, if there’s any reason that the body cannot be buried quickly enough, a burning candle can placed near the body at night so that the corpse would absorb the positive yang energy from the candlelight.’

The fox paused.  ‘However there is a fourth lesser known method of creating a geong si.’

‘Really?’

He nodded.  ‘This method more closely follows the western belief of how vampires are created.  Like you must have already guessed, geong si excrete a paralytic neurotoxin in their teeth, as well as their claws.  However, it also has transformative qualities if and when certain parameters are met.  Not very much is known of the process, but it said that is extremely violent.’

Well, the fourth method sounded like the best fit if the culprit were a geong si as we have been led to believe.  And it would explain why the body suddenly came to life when the day lamp was switched off as it imitated natural sunlight.

‘As to what you should do…If you really want my advice?’ he asked.  ‘Drop the case and drop it quick.’

I glared at him.  ‘I do not like leaving matters unfinished.’

The fox sighed.  ‘Well then, taam-zeong, you better solve it soon.  The longer that geong si is left unburied, well…I would hate to find out.’

I wasn’t exactly enthused by the situation, either.

I told him about the precautions that Dr Hu and Mr Ip had taken to make sure that Wan, Yeung would not rise again.

The fox shook his head.  ‘Unfortunately there is no guarantee that the lights will keep on for however long the investigation is, especially since I’m fairly certain that your medical examiner will have other cases to attend to while also handling yours.  Not to mention, it would be very expensive constantly buying batteries for the LED candles.’

‘Yes, well, I don’t know of any Taoist priests who can subdue a geong si.’

‘I can help you there,’ he smiled enigmatically, reaching into the inner pocket of his jacket.  He brought out a wad of yellow, about the same size as a cheque and a brush pen from the front pocket of his lab coat.  The brush pen was the sort that could be bought from any stationary shop.

I had to ask, ‘Do you always carry spell paper and brush pens with you?’

‘You never know when you might need either,’ was his very serious reply as he began to write, what I assumed was a subjugation charm.  He used the whole wad of paper so Dr Hu would have plenty to spare.  I would see to it that Dr Hu got them as quickly as possible.

I definitely didn’t have anything that pointed to his involvement with this.  By all accounts from what I knew of the spirit world was that most tended to steer clear of geong si; wu-lèi jing included.

 

 

Cultural Notes

It was a practise in Chinese folklore for poor families to employ a Taoist priest to animate a corpse and have it travel to their home village o that it could be buried.  This was thought to be the origin behind the “hopping corpse” legend.
 

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