Chapter 1: Mind Reading
The storm was pouring down in a torrent, raindrops pounding against the glass of the car windows and filling the dusk sky with moisture.
The people walking along the road held umbrellas and rushed to and fro, the sound of the rain was mixed with the unending honks of car horns.
It was admisdt this sound of honking that the vehicle slowly started to move.
A radio station reported on the weather: “The thunderstorm began last night and has continued until the present.
The average rainfall for this month has surpassed the historical record.
As there is a flooding situation with the roads, citizens are advised to exercise caution when going out.”
“Don’t tell me there’s an accident up ahead,” the driver fixed his gaze on the windshield wipers swaying back and forth in front of him, remarking with impatience after listening to the report, “How long is it going to rain for? Of course this road is jammed—”
Upon reaching that point, he tilted his head towards the back, directing his speech towards the silhouette sitting in the backseat, “You’re going to……the police station?”
Heavy clouds covered the sky, the lighting inside the car was dim.
The silhouette sitting there moved a bit, dropping his head and lacing his hands together, resting them on top of a crossed leg.
His legs were wrapped in black denim, and his feet were wearing a pair of leather boots.
The custom, simple leather military boots bore some water droplets from the rain.
Since getting into the car, the man had not made any sound.
His destination was displayed on the ride-sharing app’s purchase interface.
He had slept for a short while after getting into the car, and had just now woken up.
The scattered hair over his forehead blocked his eyes.
Sitting there he seemed to be swallowed up by the darkness, half of his body and the dusky light melding together into one.
The driver could only see part of a pale and gaunt jaw in the rear view mirror.
After a few seconds, a merciless sentence emanated from the back seat.
“Drive your car.”
During the conversation, the traffic hadn’t made the slightest improvement.
The driver realized that this passenger was not so easy to get along with.
Compared to casual conversation, he was clearly much more interested in continuing to sleep.
He didn’t try to make any more conversation with his passenger, only thinking furtively to himself, “Running off to the police station at this time of day, hmph, did he commit a crime?”
At the same time, Southern China’s Yong’an-Division Police Station.
Inside, the wall displayed the motto, “Strict Enforcement, Passionate Service,” with the national emblem arranged in the center.
However, even this type of imposing display couldn’t control the chaos going on inside the station at that moment—a man who looked to be in his forties with a police officer on each side, being dragged by the arms into the workspace.
A police officer, “Behave!”
The man didn’t cooperate, struggling aimlessly.
After his struggling had no effect, he started to death grip the door handle, unwilling to relinquish his grip.
Even though the top half of his body had already been pulled inside the door by the police officers, his legs were still standing like a stone obelisk in their original place.
He shouted with a ghastly wail, “You guys can’t just arrest me without any evidence! —Is this how you handle cases? Let me go, I’m gonna go file a complaint!”
The man was wearing gray cargo and the pockets looked like two pasted on pieces of square fabric.
On the contrary, the gym shoes on his feet looked extremely new.
The muddy brown of his eyes revealed the air of a common man.
The newly instated police officer Ji Mingrui came in from behind.
As he came through the door, he stretched out a hand in passing and pulled the man inside, “No evidence!?” He dragged over a chair, waiting until the man had been pushed down by the shoulder and was sitting obediently on the chair, before taking a transparent evidence bag and slamming it onto the table.
A silver, old-fashioned cell phone rested inside the evidence bag.
Ji Mingrui, “When you were robbing somebody's home you left your cell phone behind in the living room, and you dare to say there’s no evidence!?”
The sound of the man’s ghastly wailing came to an abrupt stop, “……”
Ji Mingrui, “Or are you trying to say this cell phone isn’t yours? That there’s somebody else in this world who has your wife’s cell phone number saved as a contact, and also calls your wife ‘wife’?”
The man was completely silent, “……”
Ji Mingrui continued with his questions, “Where did you hide the stuff you stole?”
Half an hour later.
A female police officer came out from the adjacent room “The situation over here is also a complete mess.
The neighbor Wang-a’po keeps on crying and crying, saying that’s the wood carving their family has passed down for generations, that it's especially important to her, that she wants us to hurry up and find it for her.”
(t/n: 阿婆(a1po2)/a’po means ‘granny.’)
“He’s still refusing to explain himself?”
Ji Mingrui was very tall, and his entire being looked quite sturdy, with thick eyebrows and big eyes.
He had just graduated from the police academy that year, becoming a police officer and being thrown into the neighborhood’s various disagreements and quarrels.
After graduating he had discovered that work in the police station was not really about investigating whatever cases, but rather was more like acting as a mediator for disputes.
Today these people are quarreling about divorce, tomorrow another person has beat up a mistress due to an affair……
Ji Mingrui sucked in a deep breath, nobody could have thought that a wood carving could cause torment for so long, “Nope.
He just keeps on stalling and saying he forgot.
Forgot where he himself hid the thing!? I had plans to have dinner with a friend tonight, but looking at how this is going when he gets here I’ll only be able to treat him to instant noodles.
And with his bad attitude, I don’t know whether or not he’ll take the instant noodles and pour them over my head.”
The female officer turned her head and looked at the storm through the window, thinking to herself that making dinner plans with the weather like this was already strange enough.
The interrogation was still ongoing.
Partway through, Wang-a’po really couldn’t wait anymore.
She pushed open the door and rushed into the battlefield, and the situation inside the office became even more chaotic.
In a fight of curses and insults an old person cannot lose to a young person.
Their movements may be trembling and unsteady, but the anger in their words is extreme.
The quarrel caused the mediator Ji Mingrui to feel like his head was going to split in two.
As soon as he pacified Wang-a’po, somebody knocked twice on the glass door of the office, “Mingrui, someone’s looking for you.
Says he’s your friend.” The messenger ended up adding another sentence, “Name’s Chi Qing.”
Ji Mingrui was up to his ears in work and replied without even turning his head, “Yeah that’s my friend.
Let him come straight in.”
Because the scene was truly too chaotic, nobody was paying attention when a person holding an umbrella passed through the hallway a few minutes later.
The tip of the clear, long-handled umbrella was pointing downwards, the raindrops on the man’s leather boots had already been wiped off because of his mysophobia.
Soon afterwards, a hand wearing a black glove pushed the door open.
The black gloves securely wrapped around his fingers, making them appear particularly long and slender.
—If the scene inside the police station had been a bit more calm, it would have been difficult to overlook this hand, so much so that it ought to have had an extremely high rate of causing heads to turn.
This was because in daily life it was perhaps uncommon to see somebody specially put on gloves when leaving the house.
Chi Qing was stuck in traffic for over half an hour.
He pushed open the door just as Wang-a’po was using the local language to spew enthusiastic insults.
(t/n: I left this because it’s supposed to be a different language/dialect.
I don’t know how this is read in the local language, but in Mandarin it’s read “nong2 za2 xiao3 chi4lao3” and it means something like “you scoundrel.”)
The man in the cargo bit back, “Don’t think that I can’t understand just because I'm not a local, you’re cursing me!?”
Ji Mingrui said, “You have no room to talk, do you have no shame? Huh? Are you not aware of just how vile this matter is? How could you steal the wood carving that’s been passed down in your neighbor’s family? Are you not aware that that wood carving—” Because the mediator Ji Mingrui wanted to placate the victim, he shot some criticisms at the man.
Upon reaching that point, he turned to Wang-a’po again, “What type of wood is that carving made out of?”
Ji Mingrui thought to himself that it ought to be a bit valuable, and that he could use it to scare the man.
The neighbor Wang-a’po hastily replied, “Wood that was cut down from the mountains by my great-grandfather.
Aiyoh, it’s already been passed down for three generations.”
Ji Mingrui, “……”
“Hmph……are you listening? Wood that’s been passed down for three generations,” Ji Mingrui tapped the tabletop with his fingers, “The value isn’t something that can’t be measured with money, where the hell did you hide it!?”
While several people were still having an unending argument over that wood carving, only the female police officer who had walked off to the side in the middle to get Wang-a’po some water finally noticed that “friend.” He was minding his own business and sleeping on the sofa in the corner, his silhouette lying sideways on the couch, his long legs curled up.
Because the angle of her view was limited, she couldn’t tell what he looked like.
She could only take note that the man’s wrist was half hanging down.
……Lucky for him to be able to sleep through so much noise.
For an extremely simple dispute, a wood carving, Ji Mingrui employed the various interrogation techniques he had learned the past few years at the police academy.
But it was to no avail.
The man in the cargo across from him was unyieldingly stubborn, and Ji Mingrui didn’t know why he was holding on so relentlessly, “I’ve told you everything.
When I went out to buy things earlier I put it outside.
I threw it—I’m not exactly sure where I threw it either, if you guys go digging around in the trash bin I couldn’t say for sure that you’d find it.
That piece of wood, couldn’t I just pay some money to make up for it?”
Ji Mingrui cursed to himself.
The clock read past eleven.
Outside, the rain was still coming down.
The man in the cargo saw that he’d gained some footing, and his eyes flitted around in thought, “Is there anything else? Since we’ve finished discussing this, can you let me go?”
For a moment, nobody knew what to say.
Just as they had reached a deadlock, a voice drifted over and broke the silence, “It’s been raining for two days straight.”
Everyone heard the voice and looked over towards it, and saw Chi Qing talking as he sat up on the sofa.
Because there were incandescent lights overheard, he lifted a hand to half-block his eyes, pausing for a moment before continuing, “You went out to buy some things, but no silt has seeped into your shoes.
If I were you, I wouldn’t have used such a flimsy excuse.”
He actually hadn't fallen asleep just then, it was too loud inside the office.
In his half-asleep half-awake state he pretty much heard the details of this neighborhood dispute.
The man in the cargo subconsciously withdrew backwards a few steps.
He hadn’t really gone out.
Like a clap of thunder, this sentence jumped simultaneously into everybody's mind.
Ji Mingrui was stupefied, “If he didn’t go out, then the item must be at his house.”
Chi Qing stood up, looking like he hadn’t fully woken up.
With his eyes half-open, he gave off the feeling that he was losing patience.
He stretched a hand out into the air and pointed at the evidence bag, “Can I see it.”
Everyone immediately noticed the black glove on his hand—the cellphone was the type with a touchscreen, and because he needed to ‘slide to unlock,’ Chi Qing had nonchalantly taken off his right glove before taking the phone.
It exposed a hand which seemed to not have seen the sun for many years, and which could be called deathly pale.
His fingers were delicate and long, the skin so white you could almost see the faint blue of the veins residing below the surface.
The time during which that hand held the phone was not more than ten seconds; he very quickly put it down.
What captured people’s attention was not only that hand.
Other than Ji Mingrui, who had seen Chi Qing’s face for many years and already registered it as a non-occurrence, it was difficult for everyone else to digest the force of that face’s gaze.
The female office who was very close to Chi Qing suddenly snapped out of her stupor and realized she had already been staring blankly at him for quite a while, and with the late realization her face burned red.
His was an extremely beautiful face, but one that also revealed a hint of dispirit.
Maybe it was because the hair over his forehead was overly long, or maybe it was because his skin was too white, but his lips looked like they were coated in blood.
Although the man’s features were beautiful, it was just that he had a fed-up expression, and that his body carried an extravagant air of dejection.
It seemed like Chi Qing was accustomed to this type of scrutiny, and he only threw out a few words, “Rather than asking him where he hid it, it’d be better to call his son over for questioning.”
Ji Mingrui was stupefied, His son?
Why are you bringing up his son?
What does this have to do with his son?
Hold on, how did Chi Qing know he had a son?
But after his son was brought up, the man started to become agitated.
It was different from the agitation due to endless pestering from earlier.
This time his eyes opened wide, he stood up with a ‘scrape,’ posturing like he was going to steal back the phone, “If you guys wanna interrogate me that’s fine, but what are you bringing up my son for!”
Ji Mingrui raised an eyebrow, realizing that things weren’t quite right, “Sit down!”
“My son has nothing to do with this!”
When the man in the cargo grabbed the phone, in a moment of desperation he bumped into the hand Chi Qing hadn’t yet fully retracted.
At the exact instant they made contact, Chi Qing’s ears were filled with another layer of sound.
This layer of sound seemed to be separated by a film, and was transmitted into his ears with a bit of distortion.
It was like two of the man in the cargo were talking in his ears at the same time, but the distorted words and what was coming out of his mouth were completely opposite to each other:
[I can’t let them know that my son stole the stuff.
If anyone finds out about this, how would they look at my xiao-Kang? His neighbors and classmates would all make comments about him……]
(t/n: 小(xiao3)/xiao – a term of endearment added before names, literally meaning ‘small’ or ‘little.’)
In the end he still wasn’t able to snatch the phone.
Ji Mingrui got control of the phone, and unlocked it again according to the sequence Chi Qing had used to open it before.
In the browser app, the web searches from within the month were displayed, and they were all the titles of some children’s donghua.
In the phone records, the past six months barely had anything in the call history.
The phone completely lacked the traces of life and work communications.
As for the photo album, there weren’t too many pictures.
For the most part, they were all old pictures from the past, with very few new pictures.
However, the most recent picture was taken just today.
It was a black and white image of something flashing by, extremely unclear, seeming like it was taken by mistake.
—This is an exchanged old cell phone, the man obviously wasn’t using it anymore.
Then who was using it?
“In a general situation, how would someone handle exchanging an old phone?” Ji Mingrui seemed like he was asking a question, but actually he gave himself the answer, “They might give it to someone else in their family to use.
If this family has a kid—most people would give it to their kid to play with.
Do you want to return the item to Wang-a’po yourself, or do you want us to personally go find your son and ask?”
The man lowered his head, knowing the matter could no longer be concealed.
As Ji Mingrui was continuing to inquire after the details and particulars, the female officer at his side pointed to the glass door, “Your friend left.”
Ji Mingrui only took a brief glance, “He went to wash his hands.”
The female officer, “Huh?”
Ji Mingrui was extremely familiar with Chi Qing’s “eccentric” terrible ailment.
As he lowered his head and notated the case details on paper, he spoke, “He’s…very mysophobic.
Being touched by someone will make him have to wash his hands three times.
Did you not see how he was always wearing gloves since coming in here a minute ago?”
“How severe is the mysophobia?”
“It’s more than severe,” Ji Mingrui stopped writing, using the tip of his pen to point at the trashcan, “Around the time I met him in high school, I wanted to help him take out the trash, and I carelessly bumped his hand.
He immediately took the trash can and poured it over my head.
I almost failed at becoming his friend, the mysophobia is that terrible.”
“If you two are so close, then it can’t still be that way right?” the female officer thought the eccentricity was very interesting, and spoke with a smile.
Ji Mingrui, “I’ve asked him that too, he said that in order to give respect to a friend, he’d tolerate it for three seconds, and when he couldn’t tolerate it anymore, I’d get the can again.”
“Did he also go to the police academy? Where’s he working now?”
The female officer asked the question everyone had wanted to ask earlier.
“Nah, he studied film, completely unrelated,” Ji Mingrui knew where her surprise was coming from, “It’s a pity, but that friend of mine really didn’t throw himself into police work—don’t you think he’s amazing? It’s practically like he has mind reading powers.”
The female officer nodded her head.
“……Before when we were still in school he was like that too.
It’s like he always knows what other people are thinking,” Ji Mingrui gestured with his hands again after he finished speaking, “That’s a joke.
How could there really be something in this world like mind reading powers—”
At the end of the hallway, in the bathroom.
Chi Qing stood in front of the mirror, his hands dripping with water, drenching his fingers just as if they had no warmth.
He silently looked face to face with the him in the mirror.
By means of the surface, the same scene re-appeared across from him in the mirror, reflecting into an image, the world seeming as if it was being split into two.
Only he himself knew, in the instant just earlier what he heard really wasn’t a hallucination.
The distorted sound really did crawl slowly upwards from the depths of that mind, slyly muttering: [I can’t let them know that my son stole the stuff……]
Chi Qing lowered his eyes, finally wiping his hands dry as if nothing had happened.
木瓜黄’s author’s note:
I said something wasn’t right! Before I fell asleep I suddenly realized I forgot the author’s note!
Brothers, you’ve waited for a long time.
This book is a new challenge, will I put in a great effort??(??ω??)??
This is my first time translating a full novel, so please be nice about any mistakes ^^;
I just finished this book a few weeks ago, and it’s one of my favorites! I thought it was a shame the English speaking fandom couldn’t read it, since it hadn’t been fully translated yet! I saw that Sleepy Translations had done the first 3 chapters, but since they hadn’t updated in ~4 months I thought it would be okay to pick it up.
I decided to start from the beginning because I think it’s easier, and also because I don’t want to poach anybody’s work.
Like I said, I haven’t done a translation before, so do let me know if I’ve made a misstep with etiquette!
I think I’ll make a character guide eventually, but for now here are the main characters who have been introduced so far, because it seems like lots of people like to see name meanings in other books 🙂
Chi Qing (池青, chi2 qing1):
池 – a surname meaning ‘a pool (of water)’ or ‘a pond’
青 – most commonly used to mean ‘green’ or ‘blue,’ it can also mean ‘youth/young’ and sometimes ‘dark/black’
Ji Mingrui (季鸣锐, ji4 ming2rui4):
季 – a surname meaning ‘season (of the year)’
鸣 – used to describe various sounds (such as the chirping of birds and other animal calls, the sound of thunder), or to voice/express one’s feelings
锐 – meaning ‘sharp,’ ‘keen,’ ‘quick,’ ‘acute’…
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