Mei crumpled up the piece of paper in her hands before returning her attention to the glass wall in front of her. It was covered mainly with the pictures of half dressed young girls, a bloody gash across their throats. Her eyes danced from one picture to the next, anger building up inside her as she did. "Seventeen," she counted. "Seventeen young girls our unsub has..." She bit her tongue, an attempt to stop herself from saying the sick things the unknown subject had done to those young girls.
In the bitter seven months her team had spent profiling this unsub they had concluded three things. One was that he or she preferred to go after younger victims, typically young girls around the ages of eight and nine. From there they came to a conclusion that their unsub chose these younger victims as they were easier for him to overtake.
Two was the way the victims had been found. They all wore half torn clothing, marks around their hands indicating they had been forcibly held down.
Three was that their unsub was arrogant, confident and very clever. They had received several letters that stated who the next victim was to be, where the murder would occur and at what time. The unsub had disguised his handwriting remarkably well, leading her and her team to think their unsub was a woman at one point and a man at another. In all his letters the unsub boasted, mocking their slow response to the victim's final resting place. The unsub had also attached insults to his letters, insults that were written in black ink on a yellow piece of sticky paper directly in front of Mei.
"Really had you going didn’t I”
“I can’t believe you tackled her to the ground!”
“This game never gets old does it detective?”
Mei growled at the written ridicules of the “Nian Killer.” The Nian was a monster that lived in the mountains and oceans close to what was now Shanghai. The creature lurked in the dark and attacked and devoured any unlucky human that was caught off guard. But it had a favorable taste to the flesh of young children.
“Wouldn’t you be scared to find out I am “The Nian” monster detective?”
“Why are you doing this?” It was a question directed to no one in particular. Mei removed the picture of another man their unsub had framed before opening the crumpled up piece of paper in her hands.
“The case is going cold Mei. The search for the Nian will be postponed until further notice.” –Officer Lee
“That’s it? We’re just going to give up and leave this case behind?” Mei sighed as she remembered her outburst from earlier that day to her boss. She insisted that her team and her be given a few more weeks to find the Nian. Sadly their efforts had been futile as the boss declared the search was a waste of money and manpower. He had been especially mad at all their accusations towards a number of people. Many times they had almost arrested a man or woman they assumed was the killer and many times he had to make a personal apology to the city for arresting the wrong suspect.
Mei folded the piece of paper before tossing it in the wastebasket. Job-wise they had been ordered off the case. However she had a personal grudge against the Nian. A grudge that began three weeks ago when her team had found the body of a young girl in an alleyway in one of the city's neighborhoods. Mei reached out to a picture on the far side of the wall, pulling it close to reveal a young man and woman cheek to cheek with a beaming little girl with neat shoulder length hair. She touched the picture of the little girl, her eyes watering as she recalled what she had to tell her team that day.
"Detective...do you know this girl?"
It was from that point on that the case had become personal to Mei. The death of her godchild was hard enough. The faces of her parents were ones that would forever be burned into her mind. Her team and her boss had told her she did not have to continue the case, that a vacation from the case was something that would do her health good. She politely refused both offers, insisting that her personal feelings would not cloud her judgment. However she developed a superhuman will to solve the case, staying up days at a time to find any clues, any possible leads that would lead her closer to finding the Nian, often without her team's assistance.
She folded the picture and placed it in her left pants pocket, shutting off the lights to her office before closing the door. She made her way out of the office, waving to a fellow officer at the front desk. As she took her jacket off a hanger and began wrapping it around her, the officer at the desk suddenly spoke up, waving a brown parcel in one hand.
“Detective! There was a message dropped off for you a few minutes ago.”
“Doh Je” Thank you. Yu Mei swallowed up the frustration inside her and smiled at officer Lee before heading out the door. She shivered a bit at the sudden cold breeze in the normally warm nights. She made her way down the streets until she got to a sleek black convertible. As she fumbled through her other pocket for the keys, she couldn’t help but wonder what the parcel contained. She sat herself down on the soft seat of her car before giving it a good look. “No retuning address huh?”
She opened the brown envelope and removed a piece of paper on it.
Would you like to play a game?
1. Michelle Sanchez
2. Godfrey De Vries
3. Elias Heikkinen
4. Tony Blake
5. Kamali Ncube
6. Ebisawa Hitomi
7. Alexi Bogdanov
8. Vahide Younan
9. Thiago Torres
Kill these people and the “Nian” will be handed over to you. As proof we have evidence of the Nian and what he may look like.
"Is this some kind of joke?" Mei shook her head in disbelief, involuntarily mouthing “impossible” as the next page and a half droned on about the exploits of the Nian’s murders, how and when they were executed. She stared hard at the picture of a Caucasian man in his early forties or late thirties, his eyes covered by sunglasses and a small outline of stubble present on his face.
"The game never gets boring and every time I play it I feel excited and -no pun intended- giddy as a school girl," Mei's eyes widened as she read the journal entry on a torn piece of lined paper. "I have to say China is a country filled with the most beautiful little girls...but I have to admit this girl was my favourite." A single tear slid down Mei's face as she flipped the page over to see a taped on picture of Mia, standing beside two of her friends at the park. The picture had been taken only three hours before her death. "Mia was my most enjoyable victory and I will carry the image of her beautiful face around in my mind forever and-"
Mei stopped, tossing the piece of paper aside before lowering her head onto the wheel, her face wrinkled into an ugly frown. Weeks upon weeks of research and her team had only made a profile of their unsub. Whoever the sender of the package was he had found a picture of the Nian. He didn't even seem to have noticed his own picture being taken!
"But then again, it could all be some kind of sick trick the Nian has devised." Mei pondered the idea for a moment before taking another look at the list of people. Nine lives. Nine people somewhere in the world she barely knew would have to die. But nine was certainly smaller than the number of current and future victims the Nian was sure to go after. Mei wiped her eyes and placed the parcel, the letter and the Nian's letter on the driver's seat before starting her car's engines. As she began backing up out of the parking lot she slowly lifted her foot from the gas pedal, simultaneously hitting the brakes.
She ran her hands through her hair and turned back to the parcel at the ground. She shook her head and growled at an unprofessional, even criminal thought that was brewing in her head. She had the resources to put this plan into fruition. All she had to do was convince her team to do a little research on these people, adding bits of white lies to lower their suspicions. The only problem to this would be the sender of the information on the "Nian." If it had been a true force for the common good, wouldn't they have given her the information and told them who they were? Usually staying anonymous was a sign they had a secret that they did not want anyone else to know. Could she really trust someone that didn't trust her back.
"Maybe Al can help me prove if this information isn't some kind of sick trick." Alfred Hsing was an old friend of hers from a high school, a fellow officer in her unit and a registered hacker. Maybe he could shed some light on whether the trail she was following wasn't some sort of false document to occupy her time or lead her astray, especially since murder may be something she would have to do. As she pulled out of the parking lot and onto the road she couldn't help clinging to a disturbing hope of the evidence being true, a step closer to catching the "Nian."