The Judge 14
Jiang Hu was awoken by the ringtone in the middle of the night.
They had been busy as a beaver for a few days, catching and interrogating people, repeatedly watching those disgusting videos, studying the ways the crimes were committed, and mulling over how they contact each other. Finally, the case was drawing to a close. The killers and hidden killers were already caught, and the police officers had returned to their own regions to continue working too. However, there were still unresolved points that bothered them relentlessly, preventing them from being at ease.
Jiang Hu was not in a deep sleep. By the first ring of his phone on the bedside table, he was already awake. Shen Yexi frowned, turning to wrap his arm around his waist and tightening as if throwing a tantrum. He buried his head in his neck, mumbling in a muffled voice, “Who is it?”
Lazy, Jiang Hu kept his eyes closed and the lights off, instead feeling around to pick up his phone. “Hello.”
The other party did not answer. In the dark, only slight breathing came from the phone. Jiang Hu opened his eyes, scrunching his brows slightly. “Who is this?”
The other party chuckled softly. “It appears I woke you up. I truly apologize.”
Jiang Hu’s drowsiness immediately vanished into thin air. “Ke Ruhui.”
“No need to be so hostile.” Ke Ruhui’s words were slow. “It’s been a while since we last met. It’s almost winter. Do take care of your health.”
Feeling the tension in his body, Shen Yexi opened his eyes. He understood what the situation was after a word or two, his hand reaching behind him to turn on the bedside lamp. He said nothing, only pulling Jiang Hu’s body closer, patting his back as if to comfort a small animal.
Only then did the tension slowly leave Jiang Hu. “What are you doing?”
But Ke Ruhui made an odd “mhm”. “Did your breathing rate change? Seems like Captain Shen has been taking quite a good care of you?” He chuckled. “But you must be careful too. Loving someone is like fire. It may warm you up when you feel cold, but at times, it will become very, very dangerous.”
Jiang Hu’s voice was cold, “Don’t talk about things you don’t understand. Stop pretending you understand something you don’t.”
Ke Ruhui laughed. As if he was facing an impolite child, his voice held some benevolence. “It’s already to such a degree. Why are you still refusing to admit that I’m correct? J, to doubt is an excellent learning spirit. However, you cannot pretend you saw nothing when the truth is right in front of you.”
“You’re correct?” Jiang Hu’s voice raised slightly along with the rise of his eyebrows. He could not understand at first what this “correct” referred to.
Ke Ruhui sighed. “Oh, child… I told you long before. SCHOLAR’S life haS no such thing as a ‘finishing line’. You have to continue studying and researching ceaselessly. It is not over just because you obtained the degree. When you were a student, you loved doing things unrelated to your major, and that’s true even until now. You traveled miles back to China just to hole yourself up in a small police station.”
Shen Yexi embraced Jiang Hu, sticking close enough to hear every word Ke Ruhui uttered. Although he knew it was inappropriate, he could not help bursting into sniggers, his fingers jabbing into Jiang Hu—this serial killer was being real heartfelt and sincere.
Jiang Hu slapped his hand away and gave him a glare. He responded with gritted teeth, “I’m not a scholar. I’m a psychologist working in a police station from 9 to 5. Of course, you’re even less of a scholar than me. You’re just a perverted sadist with a personality disorder.”
“Your so-called concepts of ‘perverseness’ and ‘scholar’ do not actually clash in terms of logic.” Ke Ruhui sounded like a teacher at the start of his lecture, and even patiently said, “And, did I not give you a topic back then? The so-called ‘perverseness of the mind’ is not an absolute concept. In truth, it’s related to the specific society’s culture and their social norms. For example…”
“Did you call in the middle of the night just to discuss with me the definition of a perverse mind?” Jiang Hu interrupted, tone chilly.
Ke Ruhui responded softly, “Not quite. I wanted to hear your voice.”
Shen Yexi immediately blew his top. He hooked Jiang Hu’s neck, forcefully pulling away the hand holding the phone, his feet hooking around the back of his knees. Like this, half of his body was pressing down on him, forming an extremely possessive act. Then, he glared at Jiang Hu, seething—you’re not allowed to talk to him anymore!
But as though Ke Ruhui could see their room, he laughed, “Why did you stop talking? Did Captain Shen get angry?”
Jiang Hu rolled his eyes, lifting Shen Yexi’s jaw to skillfully push him to the side. The latter wrapped around him, unwilling to concede. Jiang Hu had no choice but to free a hand to massage his face soothingly. But his words to Ke Ruhui lacked this same patience, “Stop acting mysterious to put yourself on a higher ground. Aren’t you just a murderer who can’t be in public view? Just spit out what you want to say. On the day we catch you, I’m afraid you won’t have the chance to sprout any more nonsense.”
“Oh? You’re not curious about those people’s motives?” Ke Ruhui was a little dissatisfied that he was not in control of the conversation progress.
“Of course I know those fucking bastard son of bitches’ motives,” Jiang Hu said.
Shen Yexi widened his eyes and mouthed soundlessly at him: Honey, you sound so good when you swear.
Jiang Hu decided to treat him like thin air.
Ke Ruhui asked again, “Then… what about my motive?”
Jiang Hu laughed coldly. “You inherited it from your scumbag father, obviously.”
Shen Yexi gave him a thumbs-up.
Ke Ruhui’s breathing halted peculiarly, and on the other end, Jiang Hu similarly caught it with keen senses.
Ke Ruhui’s parents were undoubtedly one of his vulnerable spots. This person was arrogant and self-important, not allowing a single hint of disobedience or doubt. But his parents and his background were the slight that he could never wipe away.
But his many years of self-restraint surprisingly allowed him to endure it. Ke Ruhui recovered his breathing rate only some time later. He spoke slowly, “J, after all that had happened, you still dare to provoke me without restraint. Aren’t you afraid I’ll… send you some rather uncute presents? Such as certain human parts?”
“Terribly afraid.” Jiang Hu did not fall for it. “Aren’t you just a beast who would stab, kill and torture people? Other than your butcher skills, do you even have anything new to scare others?”
“Oh, my, your tongue has become rather sharp now, hasn’t it.” Ke Ruhui laughed. “Did that person’s embrace give you a greater sense of security?”
Shen Yexi inched closer, eager for him to nod, but he was slapped away.
Without waiting for Jiang Hu’s reply, Ke Ruhui continued, “It seems that you still don’t understand. J, the reason why those people died, and why those other people killed was actually all because of you.”
“What a load of crap.” This was voiced by Shen Yexi.
Jiang Hu looked at him, and realized that the words he wanted to say had been snatched. So, he swallowed them back.
Ke Ruhui gave a cold laugh. “I’ve said that committing crimes is a human instinct. Every single person have a different procedure that activates their motive for murder. Their actions can be predicted, controlled and guided. But their imagination when committing crimes is usually unimaginable in normal situations. This gene is in all of us. Everyone is a natural criminal…”
Jiang Hu pursed his lips. He remembered these words. Back when Ke Ruhui invited him to join his research project, he had introduced his topic with this.
“Teacher Ke, do you have a fever?”—Back then, he had asked this, and now, he still returned with these exact words.
Ke Ruhui sighed. “In order to prove this theory, I started planning this project a few years ago. The evidence is laid out in front of you right now, but you still chose not to believe it—it’s wrong to be stubborn.”
Jiang Hu was silent for a while. Shen Yexi realized with surprise that he was trembling slightly.
Despite hearing no response from Jiang Hu, Ke Ruhui was not discouraged, and continued, “You may be very talented, but you’re overly idealistic, and so naive that it’s almost stubborn, with an outmoded righteousness and an opinionated sympathy—of course, I cannot say this is wrong, but in science, objectivity is required. J, if the representatives for laws and the national law enforcement system could do such… extreme actions, if the laws themselves are illogical and flawed in the first place, what’s this world operating on? Humans have long removed themselves from the food chain, but nature and what we received from our ancestors still remained etched in our bones. You said I’m perverted, you said I cannot feel any human emotion, that I’m incapable of developing normal feelings towards others, but do those so-called ‘feelings’ truly exist? J, you have to know that the theme of nature has only ever been one: survival and slaughter.”
“…this is just to prove to me that you’re correct?” It was eons later when Jiang Hu asked in a quiet voice.
“I’ve accomplished it,” Ke Ruhui responded calmly.
Jiang Hu’s lips barely moved, and each word was forced out from his mouth like this, “I will personally catch you, and personally send you on your way, Ke Ruhui.”
“I’ll wait 24 hours for you, darling.”
The busy tone came from the receiver—
The next morning, when daybreak had yet to tear away the silence of the night, the phone began to ring shrilly again. This time, Shen Yexi leaped up from the bed first to take the call. It took only one sentence for his face to grow grim. He turned back to tell Jiang Hu, “Something happened in the bureau.”
When the two reached, the bureau entrance was packed like sardines. They squeezed their way in with difficulty to see Mo Cong standing at the side as he turned his slightly haggard face to them. “You’re here.”
Shen Yexi was confounded. “This… Isn’t this…”
Right at the entrance, a large nude body was sitting against the wall on the ground. A wound through his chest had turned his flesh inside out, exposing the shining white fats inside. Cradled in the body’s arms was the owner’s own head. A big bloody word trailed down behind him—Judgement.
The victim was the ex-chief head of Nancheng sub-bureau, Wei Yingxian.
“Wasn’t he caught?” Shen Yexi asked in a shrill voice.
“He used his connections with the higher-ups. Although he didn’t keep his position, with the reason of ‘insufficient evidence’, he was temporarily released.” Mo Cong wiped his face, lighting a cigarette he fished from his pockets. “He was only released yesterday, and now, today…”
“Chief Mo, Captain Shen, the victim’s hands were holding something.” The forensics called. A small piece of paper was carefully put into an evidence bag with a pair of pliers, before it was given to him.
It had just a simple one-liner—I’ll wait 24 hours for you.
At this time, the other team members had rushed here too. Sheng Yao had no time for breakfast, a bun was still shoved in his mouth. Once he saw this sight, he silently spat the bun out and immediately tossed it into the trash bin. WIth a nauseated face, he asked, “Twenty-four hours for what?”
“Twenty-four hours to catch him,” Jiang Hu answered shortly.
“Could it be a trap?” Yang Man asked with dark circles under her eyes. Then, seeing the gazes everyone had on her, she immediately added, self-aware, “Okay, I know that goes without saying.”
“He may have laid traps, but we may not necessarily land on them,” Jiang Hu said. “So, in order to get us to jump on them, he has to continuously pressure us, and confuse our understanding and ability to think.”
“What pressure?” An Yining asked.
Jiang Hu shifted his gaze to the corpse sitting against the wall. Everyone sucked in a chilly breath, and understood —