Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Naturally, it was impossible for a store to be robbed for no good reason. It was even more unlikely that the surveillance would simply vanish from the computer for no apparent reason.
The only possibility was that someone had cleaned up all possible clues before the crime.
“How many days ago was this?” Xing Conglian asked as he grabbed the poor employee.
“Three… Three days ago. Yes, it was three days ago.”
“It was the day before teacher’s birthday banquet.” Lin Chen paled slightly.
If the previous investigation still made him feel as if he was groping in the dark, unable to see where they were going, then the situation now certainly was still dark, but he suddenly realized that they had actually been staying close to the sack. Someone had already tightened the sack, and their struggle was only within a very limited range.
“Before the kids committed suicide under the banyan tree, the other party had already set up to erase the evidence. They were well prepared.” Xing Conglian didn’t show any dejection. He even thought that this was a matter of course. “Oh, this can’t be said to be well prepared, but rather the fundamental purpose was like destroying the corpse to not leave any traces?”
An organization that had been hidden for several years and used students to make countless shady dealings and profit off them had always operated low-key. Why did it suddenly create big news with those collective suicides?
They should know better than anyone; once surfaced, there was no turning back. No matter what their final goal was, as long as it was a major social event, the police would always track them down. It was only a matter of time before things would be thoroughly investigated…
Well, in fact, Xing Conglian wasn’t wrong. Six dead students, including Lin Chen’s shimei, were simply discarded as a burden, just like the surveillance video. There was probably no better way to deal with it than to just “delete” them.
So all of this meant that the organization wanted to clear all evidence of their existence, but in this case, they haven’t forgotten to take advantage of this last opportunity to profit from it. This was something that was beyond what cold-blooded could describe.
Lin Chen suddenly remembered Wang Chao’s question.
Have you ever seen an extremely evil world?
This really was too sharp a question.
He rubbed his face vigorously, as if the brief darkness could wake people up, then he heard Xing Conglian’s voice ringing in his ears.
“Let’s go. Let’s go to the store and have a look.”
The young man’s voice was calm and relaxed, and there was no sense of frustration at being preempted.
“I have sent Wang Chao over to see if the surveillance can be restored, but three days have passed. “The chances of the hard drive not being overwritten are slim, and they won’t be so careless in doing things so that it can be recovered.”
Lin Chen nodded and stared at the shop marked with a star on the floor plan.
It wasn’t much different from what he had imagined.
The empty coffee shop wasn’t big. It was located in the corner of the underground mall, like a cold beauty isolated in a corner, and in fact, it was now truly cold.
The glass door was closed, and it was dark inside the store. The light of the street illuminated a piece of the original wooden floor near the glass door and a wooden bar counter that couldn’t be disassembled. The counter was empty; not even a single flier was on it. No matter how he looked at it, it really was as management had said. The store was “robbed”, and there was nothing left.
Except the store sign was still there.
It was a very small wooden board, hung on the lintel of the door, with English letters written in cursive.
Lin Chen frowned, then subconsciously looked at Xing Conglian.
“In French, it means knowledge.”
The outstanding language skills of the captain of the criminal division once again made great contributions.
Lin Chen lowered his eyes in contemplation and unexpectedly felt someone behind him smiling softly. He turned his head and saw Su Fengzi glancing at Xing Conglian and then at him, full of teasing in his eyes.
“Why are you still here?” Lin Chen asked angrily.
“Hey, the police are handling the case. Is the crowd not allowed to watch?”
Lin Chen felt that he couldn’t communicate with this person at all.
At the entrance of the coffee shop called “Knowledge”, Xing Conglian took out his phone, turned on the flashlight, and looked inside the shop. The walls that originally had hanging frames were now bare, with nails protruding from them. The chandelier hanging from the ceiling only had a few chains left, with its lightbulbs and lampshade completely gone.
“I have never seen such a hungry thief in my life.” Xing Conglian sneered. “If I get forensics to scour this store, do you think I won’t be able to find a single fingerprint at all?”
“Yes, it’s too clean.” Lin Chen returned to Xing Conglian’s side and looked at the glass door that didn’t have a single fingerprint on it.
“What the hell is in this store to make someone go through so much trouble to clean up all possible clues?” Xing Conglian complained indifferently, then squatted down and put on his gloves to briefly check the door lock.
The lock core had been violently dismantled, which showed that even if the other party was acting, they were extremely meticulous in their plans.
“In fact, we can probably guess that it has records of people entering and leaving the store, some leaflets and other things, and even issues tasks from this store…” Lin Chen leaned against the wall of the opposite shop and watched Xing Conglian survey the scene. “If only there were surveillance records.”
“Yes.” Xing Conglian raised his head and pointed to a black, teardrop-shaped camera in the southeast corner of the store. “It’s just that we can’t see it.”
“How likely do you think it is that this camera is still operational and they have discovered that we found this store?” Lin Chen asked.
“The likelihood of it being operational is 100%.” Xing Conglian looked at the red dot that lit up on the camera. “However, fortunately, if we don’t enter the store, they won’t be able to find us, since we’re in a blind spot right now.”
As Xing Conglian spoke, his movements became more careful.
After checking the door lock, Xing Conglian started to inspect the exterior wall of the shop. He brushed his rubber-gloved hand across the wall and then stopped at an iron hook.
He turned on the flashlight again to make the white wall clearer.
Under the strong light, he could clearly see that there was an area on the white wall that was lighter in color than other places, like a trace left by something hanging for a long time.
“What did this say?”
“Is it possible to guess it?”
“This store?” Lin Chen looked at the light-colored area and thought for a while, then said, “First, its purpose is of course to attract those potential targets to take the bait, so the store must have some type of flier. With regard to the function of releasing tasks, since it has a wide range of business, there must be an internal and external window…”
“Like a promotional board?” Xing Conglian’s fingers bushed the outline of the light-colored area, which happened to be the size of a children’s blackboard. “What thief would even steal a promotional board by the entrance?”
“This is too…”
Lin Chen didn’t know how to describe his feelings.
While he was stunned, Xing Conglian turned around and opened the jewelry store opposite the coffee shop.
It was already closing time, and the female shopkeeper was closing the window, preparing to lock up.
Xing Conglian flashed his police badge and began to ask about the details of the shop opposite of where she worked.
“It appears that the shop across the street closed three days ago. No one has come since then…” The female shopkeeper tucked back her hair and lowered her voice. She leaned closer to Xing Conglian and said, “I suspect it’s not going to open anymore, and the owners deliberately ran away.”
“Who has nothing better to do but come here and drink coffee? The business was so bad that sometimes there would be no one there for an entire day. And all their staff was so strange and aloof!”
“Yes. That store there, right? Do you know them? When I first opened my store, I went there to place an order for coffee. It stands to reason that since we work in the same area, they would give me a discount and be courteous, but their waiter just ignored me. I sat there for a while and then just left. I’ll never go back there again…”
The female shopkeeper probably had a long-standing grievance against the store on the other side and began to gossip.
The difference in attitude was completely understandable. After all, a female boss was definitely not the target the organization wanted to recruit. Lin Chen decisively interrupted the other party’s complaint and asked, “The property management said that they sold books there. Do you remember what type of books?”
“How should I know? I’ve only been there once.”
“Since you sat there for a while before leaving, there must be something there that makes you feel uncomfortable. It may not just be the attitude of the staff, but perhaps another reason?” Lin Chen began to probe.
“When you put it like that, it’s those books…” The female boss narrowed her eyes and fell into contemplation. “Well, it’s quite embarrassing to read them. It’s all chicken soup for the soul-type. There’s not even a normal magazine!”
“Chicken soup for the soul*?”
*Refers to articles, posts, etc. that are motivational.
“Oh, you know the kind of things like ‘Change Yourself in Ten Days’, or ‘Beautiful Inspirational Life’. That kind of stuff.”
Lin Chen nodded, then pointed to the exterior wall of the coffee shop and asked, “Was there anything hanging there?”
“A small blackboard. I also have it at my door.”
Hearing this, Lin Chen glanced at Xing Conglian.
The captain of the criminal division took out his notepad, wrote a few words, and asked, “Do you perhaps remember what was written on that blackboard?”
“Mr. Police Officer, I really can’t. Who cares what they wrote!”
Lin Chen felt that Xing Conglian was glancing at him with an inquiring look. Although Xing Conglian didn’t speak, Lin Chen could roughly guess what he was asking: “Can you reawaken her memories?”
Lin Chen shook his head.
Xing Conglian tapped on his notepad and asked, “Then how about roughly telling me what was written on it. You can say whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t need to be specific.”
“I think things like the today’s specials that’s free for students, take out calls. Things like that…”
“Does the price change?”
“Of course it changes, but it’s kinda weird…”
“I mean, it’s strange that there’s always someone looking at the blackboard at the entrance… but they never enter. They just look at the blackboard…”
“What kind of people are they?”
“Who else can it be? It’s only students who come and go there.”
Lin Chen looked back at the iron hooks on the opposite wall and their distinctive gray and white outline.
A blackboard, students who stopped by, and the D-zone erased surveillance…
The content written on the blackboard may be more serious than they had guessed.
He could almost imagine that every morning the clerk put on his uniform, casually glanced at his phone, and then slowly fastened his apron. He would open the door, pick up the chalk on the blackboard, and write down “today’s specials” and maybe something else.
To the average person, those characters may be the slogan that determined whether they go in for a cup of coffee, but to others, it could be the difference between life and death.
Students didn’t need to enter the shop. As long as they passed by the entrance occasionally, they knew exactly what they were going to do.
This approach seemed leisurely and light, but in reality it was so truly cold-blooded that it made people shiver.
Lin Chen took a deep breath, hoping that it was all a result of his overactive imagination.
As if thinking of something, Xing Conglian put down his pen and said to him, “You’re not thinking what I’m thinking, are you?”
“What are you thinking?” Lin Chen had just responded when he was dragged to the corner by Xing Conglian.
“It’s a bit exaggerated to say, but we now have a code book. If they are really bold enough to write instructions on the blackboard, wouldn’t we be able to find out what the organization was instructing students to do?”
Lin Chen was surprised by Xing Conglian’s thinking.
“Discrete Mathematics” was the code book, but this was simply speculation. It was also speculated that the organization transmitted various commands to students through an encrypted form. The only way to prove these speculations was to find an exact instruction, which was exactly what they were missing now.
Perhaps someone had taken a picture of the entrance of this coffee shop?
Maybe someone would remember what was written on the blackboard?
But that was tantamount to finding a needle in a haystack, and they, once again, were one step too late.
“If there’s only a camera in this store that monitors that blackboard 24 hours a day,” Lin Chen said almost helplessly.
“There are in this store.” Xing Conglian was a man who had a deep understanding of cameras. He casually pointed to an inconspicuous camera at the corner of the store. “How can you open a store without installing cameras?”
As he spoke, he walked directly under the camera and then looked around. There were large and small glass mirrors hanging everywhere in the jewelry store, and even the back of the window was full of mirrors, making it look extremely bright.
Suddenly, Lin Chen saw Xing Conglian’s gaze stop. Lin Chen followed his gaze and found that Xing Conglian was staring at the floor-to-ceiling mirror.
“Go and open the shop’s door.”
Xing Conglian’s voice suddenly became calm. Lin Chen did as he was instructed and opened the door.
The captain of the criminal division hooked the corner of his mouth and said, “What do you think? With so many mirrors here, how likely is it that one of them accidently reflected the small blackboard on the opposite side?”
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