Chen Ge’s fingers slowly tightened as he linked the series of unusual actions together. Without saying a word, he pulled out his phone to call Inspector Lee’s number at Western Jiujiang City’s police station while standing in the security office.
The phone rang twice before Inspector Lee’s gravelly voice came through the line. “Hello?”
“Uncle San Bao, I need to report something to the police!”
“One, you’ll need to call 110 for that. Two, my name is Inspector Lee.”
“I found the last fugitive from Ping An Apartments! He was at New Century Park!”
When he heard that, Inspector Lee’s voice changed. “You sure?”
“Yes, I am, but please don’t come in your police car; you’ll spook him, and he’ll go on the run.”
“Be there in fifteen minutes!”
After ending the call, Chen Ge held the phone in his hand as he stared at the surveillance footage. The guards also realized something was wrong, and they hurried to call Uncle Xu.
“What’s going on?” After a while, Uncle Xu rushed over, sipping from his water bottle. “Can I not have my lunch in peace? Xiao Chen, why are you here and not at your Haunted House?”
He glanced at the surveillance footage. When he saw the phone in Chen Ge’s hand, he asked cautiously, “Who were you on the phone with?”
“The police.” Chen Ge did not turn to look at Uncle Xu as his eyes jumped between the many surveillance cameras. “They’ll be here in another fifteen minutes.”
“Police‽ Why didn’t you discuss this with me first‽” Uncle Xu’s voice went up a pitch. “The park management has its own way of dealing with robberies, natural disaster…”
“Uncle Xu.” Chen Ge turned around to interrupt Uncle Xu. His eyes were incongruently calm and collected considering the words that fell out of his lips. “Someone is trying to kill me!”
When he announced that, the security room became silent, and all the guards whipped their heads around to look at him.
“Chen Ge, have you been mentally affected from living inside the Haunted House for too long?” Uncle Xu did not call him Xiao Chen like usual but used Chen Ge, which he reserved for serious occasions only. “What nonsense are you talking about in broad daylight‽”
“I helped the police solve the arson case at Ping An Apartments, but one of the murderers is still on the loose.”
Uncle Xu understood what Chen Ge was getting at then. “You mean that person is now inside the park and is out for revenge?”
“I thought he would escape the region to hide, but who would have thought the man was so courageous?” Chen Ge pointed at the man on screen. “This visitor is acting too strangely. His cap is too low, meaning he’s trying to hide his face. Plus, today is not a cold day, but he’s wearing a long sleeve shirt, and he kept his hands inside his pocket throughout. Even when he was smoking or drinking water, he only used his right hand, and he kept his left hand firmly inside the pocket.”
“That might be so, but none of that proves anything. Perhaps those are just his personal quirks?” Uncle Xu put down the water bottle and walked to close the security room door.
“The fugitive’s name is Zhang Peng; his build is exact same as that of the man on screen. Most importantly, there is the tattoo of a peony on the back of his hand.”
“The flower of good fortune. The man is a down-on-his-luck gambler who has lost everything.”
“Meaning he kept his left hand hidden because it would expose the tattoo?” Uncle Xu was slowly convinced by Chen Ge’s story. “Could it be that the man has some weird skin disease that he doesn’t want anyone to see?”
“I have other proof.” Chen Ge switched the video footage. “After entering the park, he only visited one attraction, the Ferris Wheel, and he went on it three times in a row. Do you know what that represents?”
“What does that represent?” Uncle Xu was slowly lagging behind.
“The Ferris Wheel provides the best vantage point of the park. He was trying to find the best escape route for himself.” Chen Ge slowed down the footage. “When Xu Wan and I left the Haunted House to go to the canteen, I saw him sneak toward the Haunted House. You can see from the video footage that he wandered around the Haunted House the whole morning but didn’t approach it. He only did so after ensuring that Xu Wan and myself had left. This is definitely not the normal way a visitor would act.”
“You’re right.” Uncle Xu nodded, convinced by Chen Ge’s argument. “But why would he go near the Haunted House only when no one is there?”
Chen Ge tapped his fingers on the table. “If I were in his shoes, planning to kill the owner of a Haunted House, I would definitely stake out the place first to familiarize myself with the building’s layout. Perhaps I could hide inside the Haunted House and wait for the place to close for maintenance, then I could jump at my target without him anticipating my arrival. Furthermore, a Haunted House is the perfect place to hide a body. If the blood stains are taken care of, when the body is discovered, it will most likely be the next day already.”
Uncle Xu got chills listening to Chen Ge’s speculation; there was a scene forming in his mind already. “Now that you mention it, it is quite scary.”
“The scariest thing is that it almost happened!” Chen Ge pulled his gaze back, and his balled fists slowly relaxed. “Thankfully, he has acted too rashly. Plus, my senses have been maintained at an all-time high due to the many weird events that have been happening; that’s the only reason I managed to spot him.”
“Then, where is he now? Shall I alert the other visitors?” Uncle Xu finally understood the gravity of the situation.
“He has already left the park after he was discovered. At the time, I still hadn’t seen the footage, so I was not confident with my speculation; that’s why I didn’t stop him.”
“You did well. If the suspect went berserk inside the park, it would have caused great chaos.” Uncle Xu took a sip of the water and told the guards beside him, “Remember to cooperate with the police when they arrive later.”
Ten minutes later, the door to the security room was pushed open. Three men in casual attire strode into the room; the one leading was Lee Sanbao. “Where’s Chen Ge? Let me see your surveillance footage.”
With the aid of the guards, Inspector Lee compared the man in the video to the police station’s database and finally managed to confirm the two were one and the same!
“Kid, you’ve done society another great service!” Inspector Lee smacked Chen Ge on his back before pulling out his phone to contact the station to report on the situation. After some discussion, they decided to split into two teams, one was going to conduct a secret investigation while the other would surround New Century Park and observe from afar.
“Zhang Peng is an extremely dangerous individual. You have to be careful since you’re being targeted. The probability of him coming back is very high, so I suggest you stay away from the Haunted House for the time being.”
After hearing what Inspector Lee had to say, all the guards felt uneasy. Chen Ge, however, was surprisingly unfazed. “If I’m not there, Xiao Wan alone won’t be able to keep the Haunted House open. If I close the Haunted House, Zhang Peng will definitely know that gig is up; he’ll go on the run then.”
“You mean, you’re planning to stay at the Haunted House as bait?” Inspector Lee frowned slightly, thinking this plan was far too dangerous.
“Don’t worry, if he dares come inside my Haunted House, I guarantee he won’t be leaving anytime soon.”