A female detective hunting for a long-running serial killer for the violent crimes division of the Shantou City Police Department, China.
They can give her the killer.
Shutting the door behind her, Mei let her shoulders slump, and as she pressed her head against the door, she hoped it would absorb her unpleasant thoughts and allow her to resume them when she left her apartment the next morning.
Unable to let her mind shut down, Mei let her eyes open slowly, and she found herself looking at her disgusting carpet, all yellow and most likely older than she was. Lying face down on the floor, just by the base of her door, was a letter. The average envelope, certainly nothing special nor alarming about it. A simple white A5 piece of paper, neatly sealed.
Thinking little of it, Mei bent down and let her fingers rest on it for a few seconds, before allowing them to curl around the edges and clasp the letter in her right hand. Turning it over and slowly rising back up, she turned around to face her small apartment, her gaze still fixed to the back of the envelope, held tightly in her right hand.
In her left hand, Mei allowed her laptop bag to slowly slip from her grasp, before gently letting it drop to the floor next to the door. She would collect it and set it up on her desk in a moment, but for now, she wanted to examine this letter.
Turning it over, she took a few steps toward her kitchenette, and as she leaned against the counter which was still splattered with the stale smell of last night's Kwik-Meal, Mei read the front to herself.
For the attention of Miss Yu Mei.
It was English, but she understood it.
The sound of Mei's own voice made her heart leap, and as she frowned at her own silliness, she returned back to reality and let her index fingers slide into the envelope from either side, messily tearing it open to reveal its contents. A small piece of paper, not as well presented as the front of the envelope, and as Mei took it from the envelope, she opened it quickly, as if ripping off a plaster, for fear of the horror it would conceal.
It was a strange feeling that she had - as if something was intrinsically evil about this letter of unknown origin. But there was nothing at all unconventional about mail at this time. As a police officer, she was prone to receiving letters at all hours of the day and night, and never did their sudden intrusion alarm her. But this disturbed her.
Now, with the contents of the letter revealed in her hands, Mei quickly scanned it, reading the words, which were once again in English, but not really taking them in.
Once again, and for the second time in a short period, Mei felt her brow furrowing. The words had made sense, but again, they had not. This couldn't be what she thought it was, could it? A cruel trick, or a misinterpretation on her part. Whilst very few people she knew would write to her in English, she did know some who would, and maybe her bilingual skills were not all she would have hoped.
Laying the paper down to rest on the sideboard for a moment, Mei staggered to the door and retrieved her laptop bag. Slamming it down on the table, the zips were hastily thrust open, and the laptop yanked from its cubby and onto the table. No plugs, nothing. Mei was too eager to worry about her battery level at this precise moment.
Opening her internet browser, she logged on to a popular language translation site that she was a member of. She paid monthly for it, but it was one of the best, and not one of those automated ones prone to faults. This was the best, for the best.
Before thinking, she was up, and had snatched the paper from her kitchen, before bringing back, pressing it to the table, and examining it slightly, before quickly typing the foreign symbols into her laptop. Mei paused. Mei breathed.
And she hit the return key. She had not been wrong. In Chinese, it read:
Would you like to play a game?
- Michelle Sanchez
- Godfrey De Vries
- Elias Heikkinen
- Tony Blake
- Kamali Ncube
- Ebisawa Hitomi
- Alexi Bogdanov
- Thiago Torres
- Vahide Younan
Winia will be yours. Here is the proof.
Winia. The name stung Mei's eyes. One of the most infamous and dangerous criminals in Santou, possibly the country. Winia will be yours.
Nine names, but Mei could not interpret the meaning. They seemed to be of various nationalities. But what connection could they possibly hold with Winia?
Winia will be yours. Here is the proof.
Proof. Mei turned the paper over, but there was nothing on the other side. There was no proof for whatever unknown fact somebody was trying to enforce. Looking over to the door, Mei lifted herself from her chair and approached her kitchenette once more, and looked at the empty envelope that was lying on the floor. Picking it up and examining it, she did confirm that it was empty.
There was no proof for this imaginary deed. She hadn't paid all that money for such an incorrect translation. Cursing herself for her stupidity, she walked over to her laptop and shut it down. As the lid closed, her light flickered, as it frequently did.
Who turned on the light?
Mei's heart suddenly sank as her subconscious asked a glaringly obvious question. She had not turned the light on when she came in. Who turned on the light.
Looking up at the flickering bulb, Mei allowed a blur to be seared into her vision, before it was dark, and her head hit the floor.