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“Has any female student come to look him up before?”

“No,” the three students answered unanimously.

“During bedtime, have you guys ever woken up in the middle of the night to find that he was still awake?”

“Yes, there had been several times when I woke up in the middle of the night to use the washroom and guided myself with the torchlight on my mobile phone. I would often get a great shock when I come down from the upper deck and find that his eyes were still wide open. He doesn’t get much quality sleep,” one answered.

After pondering for a while, An Xiaoning asked again, “Does he have any habits that you guys can’t tolerate?”

The three students looked at each other. Classmate B then said, “There’s one bad habit of his that does get on our nerves. He often forgets to flush the toilet after he’s done with his business. That’s the only thing we can’t stand about him after sharing the same dormitory for so long, because we are all clean freaks.”

“Anything else?”

“No. He’s very quiet and reserved. But there’s no animosity between us because we rarely talk to him.”

An Xiaoning nodded and said, “Thank you for your cooperation. That’s all for today.”

The three students then took their leave.

“Officer An, Liu Chen’s parents have made a trip down upon hearing that you guys are here.”

An Xiaoning craned her neck to see that a middle-aged couple had entered, appearing extremely haggard. She could tell that their son’s death had come as a huge blow to them.

“Uncle and Auntie, please have a seat here. I’m An Xiaoning, the police officer in charge of your son’s case,” said An Xiaoning, reaching out for a handshake.

The middle-aged couple shook her hand one after another.

“I heard from your son’s classmates that Liu Chen is rather withdrawn and introverted. From your perspective, was his personality really like that?”

“I’ve been working outside most of the time, so I’ve rarely interacted with my son in recent years. His mother should be clearer about what he’s like,” said Mr. Liu.

Mrs. Liu burst into tears as they approached the topic. “Liu Chen wasn’t like this in the past. He used to be a lively and bubbly child, but he’s experienced a drastic change in his character ever since he went to university. He became quiet and irascible, as if he’s a different person. He used to live in a dormitory during high school too and would call home every week. However, ever since he went to university, he stopped doing so and even went an entire semester without calling us. Sometimes, he’d even refuse to pick up my phone calls,” she explained.

“Did he only go through a major change after attending university? Have you had a proper talk with him?”

Mrs. Liu nodded and said, “Whenever he returned home, I would ask him about his situation in school out of concern, but he always refused to answer. He even found me annoying when I continued to probe. I just can’t figure out why he took things so hard. Everyone says that he killed himself because he was down with depression.”

“Do you think he committed suicide because of depression then?”

Shaking her head, Mrs. Liu answered, “No, I don’t think he’s depressed either. Because, well, there’s no reason for him to be. I doubt he’s stressed about his academics, neither does he have a girlfriend or any relationship woes. How could he possibly be depressed if there’s no trigger? Besides, he’s our only son. How could he bear to leave his father and me behind by taking his own life? I’m very certain he wouldn’t have done that.”

An Xiaoning nodded in acknowledgment. Although it appeared on the surface that there was no visible issue, that was the very reason why the entire situation seemed all the more fishy.

There must be a motive and reason even if it were suicide.

She turned to face the teacher and asked, “May I ask if anyone died in the dormitory Liu Chen lived in throughout the three years of his time in university?”

“I’m not too sure about that. I’ll have to ask the dormitory staff,” the teacher answered, dumbfounded.

“Could I trouble you to look into it now? Please.”


Mrs. Liu wiped her tears and held onto An Xiaoning’s hand. “Police officer, you must find out the reason behind my son’s death, please.”

“Auntie, don’t you worry. I’ll definitely get to the bottom of this matter and give you and Uncle an explanation,” said An Xiaoning, taking pity on Mr. and Mrs. Liu for losing their only son. She empathized with them and understood their misery.

Half an hour passed.

The teacher entered hurriedly and said, “Officer An, I just heard from the staff in charge of managing the dormitory that a murder once took place in the freshmen dormitory four years ago. The matter wasn’t exposed to the public in a bid to save the school’s reputation. Thus, it was settled in private. The room where the murder happened was the very same room Liu Chen stayed in during his first year in university.”

Everyone was taken aback by the revelation and immediately turned their heads to look at An Xiaoning.

“Officer Ma, you and Zu Dong go find out the information and details of the murderer as well as the victim of that murder, which took place four years ago. Teacher, please take me to that room immediately,” An Xiaoning said with a grave expression.


Without delay, An Xiaoning and her two other colleagues followed the teacher to the dormitory room where Liu Chen used to stay in during his first year of university.

Liu Chen’s parents had also tagged along.

The room was spick and span, with no strange odor at all. It was evident that the male occupants of the room were rather particular about cleanliness too.

Although that was the generic observation, An Xiaoning found the room to be extremely unusual.

“Teacher, could you please make another trip down to call the four students occupying this room to come here? Sorry to trouble you,” An Xiaoning requested.

Noticing how serious and stern she looked, the teacher immediately nodded and said, “No problem, please wait here, Officer An. I’ll go ahead right away.”

An Xiaoning nodded in agreement. Just as Ding Liang was about to enter, An Xiaoning stopped him abruptly, “Don’t go in. Wait here by the door.”

“Team Leader, what’s the matter? Are there spirits in there?” Ding Liang asked softly.

“I have a feeling there are.”

Upon hearing her words, Gong Le immediately took a step back. “Those things scare me the most.”

After waiting for more than ten minutes, they heard footsteps approaching.

The four students were walking towards them one after another. An Xiaoning noticed immediately that one of them did not look too well and appeared rather sickly as he hung his head low.

“Hey, this student over here, are you ill?”

The male student nodded and said, “I caught a cold.”

“How long has it been?”

“Quite some time now. I haven’t recovered since and I always get a fever at night. I’ve been sent to the emergency unit at the hospital several times.”

An Xiaoning opened her purse, which contained a few amulets – necessities she brought along with her everywhere she went, every single day, without fail.

She took one out and pasted it on the male student’s forehead with no moisture at all. The dry piece of amulet was stuck closely onto his forehead.

“I feel so much better,” the male student exclaimed with a look of surprise.

An Xiaoning had an answer to the situation upon hearing his words.

“You can’t take this amulet off. Keep it on for an entire day until tomorrow morning, got it?” An Xiaoning instructed.

“Sister, what does it do?”

“It gets rid of spirits and unholy beings.” An Xiaoning did not wait for him to react in shock and instead said to Gong Le, “Why are you standing so far away? Come here.”

“Team Leader, you can’t be planning to get me to enter, can you?” Gong Le said with a wry smile.

“I’m going to perform a ritual here. I want you to make a trip to my place to get some necessary items. Ask for them directly from Fan Shixin, he’ll hand them to you. I’ll call him now to inform him.” An Xiaoning then whipped her phone out to give Fan Shixin a call.

After ending the call, she pasted two other amulets onto the door frame, one on each side.

The students and teacher were filled with fear and worry as they watched her.