“After investigating a case outside we need to write a report. I type slowly, you do it.” Chu pours a cup of tea, and leisurely leans back on a chair. “Type what I say.”
Guo immediately sits upright in front of the computer, as if he has to take care of a huge task.
The “people” of SIU are all gone, all that’s left are floating ghosts. In the darkness, only one light shines in criminal investigations, like a lighthouse amidst the ocean at night.
Not long after the two are seated, someone knocks on the door. Chu answers, and a big steaming tray comes flying in. Upon a closer look, the tray isn’t flying on its own, but is carried by a headless person, you just can’t see them behind the big tray.
There are two sets of utensils on the tray, four dishes, a pot of soup and two bowls of rice. The headless ghost floats inside softly, and softly places the food on the table. It takes out a bag of cat food out of nowhere, and fills up Da Qing’s cat bowl.
Da Qing sits with elegant composure, and nods subtly, “Thank you… it would be splendid if you could offer your king some concentrated milk as well.”
Some TV shows ought to include a warning: mentally retarded children and fat cats must be accompanied by an adult.
Headless ghost floats towards the fridge and takes out a bottle of milk, pouring a bowlful for Da Qing the Great.
Guo has gotten used to the environment in No. 4 Bright Avenue. Gradually, he finds that humans and ghosts are not much different. Some ghosts are kindhearted, like this headless fella who brings people meals whenever they have to work overtime. When Guo leaves the post office everyday, he has only twenty dollars left, so this helpful ghost really makes him feel the warmth of Spring.
After their meals, Chu sluggishly drinks his hot tea, and says to Guo, “That’s roughly what it means. As for the format, find the old reports and adjust them
on your own… that guy wasn’t poisoned, he was cursed by spirits… uh, as in grudge. The victim’s lower limbs suffer from pain, so the spirit might have died of physical injury. The victim’s forehead is darkened, eyes are reddened, the Line of Karma beneath his eyelids isn’t deep, and the black Mark of Virtue behind his ear is very light. He is probably not directly related to the spirit who laid the curse on him, and didn’t deserve it. On the face of it, that spirit is breaking laws…”
Guo’s eyes widen, his paws lay dead on the keyboard… he doesn’t understand, and can’t keep up with what Chu is saying at all.
Chu sighs, and extends his legs. He turns around and asks the dead-eyed idiot, “Alright, what do you not understand?”
“What’s the Line of Karma?”
Da Qing raises its head from the milk, and a white beard forms on its black fur. It says furiously, without licking off the milk stain, “What’s up with Zhao Yunlan? He spends his days indulging in lust and greed, does he ever have time for important business? Has there ever been a training session for the newcomer? Why does this kid not know dog crap?”
Chu can’t let a cat badmouth the Chief, so he says, “Chief Zhao is busy with the renovation thing lately, if it’s settled, we’ll move to a private chateau with a huge garden, and you can have a big cat house up on a tree, with a view at the bird nests.”
The bossy cat pauses, and its anger subsides a little. After a while, for the sake of its big tree house with a bird-nest view, it wiggles its whiskers and reluctantly explains to Guo without a care, “The Line of Karma is just that, it’s karma, it’s causality. Let’s say a murderer comes in, and kills you for no cause, then there’s no karma, and no Line of Karma. If a murderer comes in, and you’re blocking his way, and he stabs you to death, that barely counts as karma, since you were at the wrong place at the wrong time, and that’s just fate. But the Line would be very light, and it can be wiped off easily. If a murderer comes in, and realises that you were cheating with his wife, and kills you out of wrath, the Line of Karma on you cannot be wiped off, but it wouldn’t be very deep. You weren’t innocent, but didn’t deserve to be killed either, so the cause and the result do not match. If a murder comes in…”
Having been murdered several times already, Guo can’t help but continue, “and he realises I’m his enemy, the one he wants revenge on, and he stabs me to death, then the Line of Karma would be deeper?”
Da Qing shakes its head to and fro, “Stupid but not completely hopeless.”
Guo then asks, “Then… then what’s the Mark of Virtue?”
Chu continues, “Whether a person has done good or bad deeds, there will be a mark behind their ears. If a person kills someone without anyone finding out, and not even the police could catch him, there would still be a black mark behind his ear, that’s the Mark of Virtue.”
As for those with good virtue… Chu looks at Guo, and he can see an apparent white mark behind Guo’s ear, shining in a thick and gentle ray. However, the shining light isn’t visible to everyone. Even those with a third eye must be immensely focused to see it.
Guo seems to be in thought, “Does the black mark look like a dirty hand print?”
Chu is startled, “You’ve seen it?”
Guo nods, and tells them about how he almost ran someone over with his car last night.
Da Qing giggles, “A black mark so big that even a normal human can see, that jerk will probably be electrocuted by the Heavens very soon.”
Chu explains as he sees Guo’s puzzled expression, “A human’s Mark of Virtue isn’t visible to the naked eye, the thing you met wasn’t human. The reason why most fairies dare not harm humans is because of the Mark of Virtue. If the black mark gets too deep, they will be punished by thunder and lightning, and that’s no fun at all. Not only the punished fairy, but nearby fairies will be electrified as well. And so every year when the fairies gather before the New Year, they would monitor everybody’s virtue to make sure no-one is crossing the line. They would take care of the evildoers themselves before it reaches the Heavens.”
Guo understands only partly, “Then if a human does bad deeds the Heavens would also punish them by lightning strike?”
“No,” Da Qing wiggles its tail and jumps on the floor. Its back curls up into a ball of fur and lays next to the heater, “haven’t you heard of ‘he who mends bridges goes blind, he who kills people has plenty of children’? The human world has its own laws, and most people never get to reincarnate anyway. Life is so short, and men die like ants, long before karma can catch up to them, so accruing good virtue really does a human no particular good… perhaps it would make them luckier, but not always. You see, you have great virtue, but you’re still an unlucky little cabbage.”
Guo lost his parents when he was still young. He became an orphan, and on top of that he was born unintelligent and timid. Though Zhao jokingly said that bringing him along as a mascot would bring some strange luck, fairly speaking, Guo has had quite a difficult life.
“Really? I have good virtue?” Guo is shocked to hear this, “I have an unlucky life? Not really, I think my life has been quite good, it’s just that I’m not very capable.”
He always feels that he is not very capable. Since he was little, all his relatives pitied him, and always gave him a lot. Now that he has grown up his is still a useless piece of work, but his uncle arranged such a well-paid job for him, and his Chief and colleagues all take care of him well, even letting him stay when he adds no value to the team whatsoever… isn’t he kind of lucky?
The black cat’s drooping eyes open wide, and looks at Guo. Its emerald eyes shine with a flash of golden light.
Before it can give a speech, Zhao comes in with a whole body of coldness and intoxication. He asks with a voice that is almost mute, “How’s the report going?”
“Eh…” Guo is about to say something, but before he can, Zhao waves towards him and stumbles into the toilet. He vomits.
Chu and Guo hurriedly follow. Da Qing “pffts”, sluggishly extends its fat paws from underneath its body, and dawdles forward while rocking like a boat, “Stupid human.”
The stupid human presses his stomach and stands helplessly, with a pale face. Chu pats his back, and orders Guo, “How did you get so drunk… Little Guo, get some warm water.
Zhao finishes vomiting, washes his mouth, and stands up wobbly. He laughs bitterly, “Those bastards ganged up and forced me to drink, what could I have done?”
Chu replies, “That’s bullshit, who can force you if you don’t want to drink?”
Zhao walks outside while holding on to the wall, “I’m broken-hearted, why can’t I drown my sorrows in alcohol?”
“Ouch, Professor Shen still doesn’t want you? Teachers really do have good taste, the people approves.” Da Qing slides against his leg, “Hey, it’s almost New Year, not a good time for drunk driving, you wouldn’t be so stupid, would you? You can land in jail for half a year.”
Zhao succinctly and bitterly says to the fatty, “Fuck off!”
He finds a chair to sit down on, and sits feebly like a dying dog, “Little Guo, go get Wang here, she has things for me to sign. Old Chu, tell me what this is about.”
Chu briefly summarises the uncomplicated incident, and Zhao pauses for a thought, “How about you finish up the report tonight, I’ll wait, when it’s done I’ll stamp it and fax it, hopefully we can get a reply by tomorrow.”
Chu wouldn’t have a problem with that, after all, it’s not like he has to type up the report.
Then, Wang comes downstairs and pours him a cup of honey water. Zhao doesn’t even have the energy to look at what Wang has for him, he can’t even open his eyes, and just carelessly picks up a pen and signs a bunch of illegible symbols. He waves at the ghastly man behind Wang, “No PDA in front of a lonely single man, fuck off!”
When Chu and Guo finish up the preliminary report for Zhao to sign and stamp, he has already been sleeping on his desk for long.
Da Qing wakes him up with a storm of mighty cat punches, and asks, “I forgot to ask, how’s my super luxurious tree house with a bird-nest view going?”
Zhao says half-consciously, “Fat fuq, I’m gonna kill you and eat your meat.”
Da Qing pounces on to his shoulder, and roars into his ears, “Meow!!! Jerk!!! Where’s my luxurious cat house? Where’s my luxurious cat house!?”
He gobbles down a cup of cooled water, picks up the cat by its stumpy neck and throws it aside. Wiping his face, he is a little more awake, “It’s basically done, if it goes through fast we can probably move by Autumn next year.”
The black cat instantly changes its arrogant attitude, and nudges his hand in flattery, “Well, well, our Chief is so capable. That… that nearby bird nest, better have eggs inside…”
Zhao flicks its cat brain away, and wipes his hands.
“Fucking cat,” he says coldly, “your fur is all over my hands.”
He doesn’t wait for Da Qing to get mad, and quickly signs the report and gets up, “I’m going then, thanks for your work guys.”
Chu asks, “Hey, wait, how did you get here?”
“Taxi. I’ll take another one back.”
Guo kindly reminds, “It’s very late, and very cold outside, you might not be able to find a taxi, how about I dr… Ow!!”
Chu steps on him heavily under the table, and rapidly rushes up and pushes Zhao back on to his chair. He snatches Zhao’s phone from his pocket like a thief, “Professor Shen is probably on holiday, let me call him to pick you up.”
This guy wouldn’t want to know who he is trying to call as a chauffeur!
Zhao tries to get his phone back, but Chu agilely jumps aside, and orders Guo, “Hey, go hold him in place, look at how drunk he is… Trust me, when he looks at you there is something strange, I don’t believe Professor Shen would hold off for so long.”
Zhao is held in place by Guo and Da Qing the cat who just likes causing trouble… it even diligently sits on his stomach, which almost suffocates their Chief.
“No, say I beg you alright, don’t give me trouble will you?” Says Zhao.
Chu raises his eyebrows, and Shen’s voice comes from the other side, “Yunlan? What is it?”
He picks up instantly, even a father might not be so attentive to his son’s phone calls. Chu gestures to Zhao… Chief Zhao, you’re a badass! Why are you heartbroken?
Chu coughs, “Oh, Professor Shen, it’s me. Our Chief drank a lot tonight, he is hugging everyone he sees. The office is in chaos, you see, could I trouble you to come and pick him up?”
Zhao grabs a pencil holder, and hurls it towards Chu’s brain. Chu dodges, and continues, “No, nothing’s wrong, it’s just the drunk cat throwing things at me… right, we’ll take care of him. Please come as soon as you can, it’s No. 4 Bright Avenue, second floor, criminal investigations. See you!”
Zhao points at him, “A bunch of bitches.”
Da Qing wiggles its tail, “Yup, we’re bitches… big stupid guy, what can you do?”
Guo is the most innocent accomplice, and under Chief Zhao’s knife-sharp gaze, all he can do is learn from the ostriches, and curl up into a shivering mushroom.
Not long, Shen arrives.
He has only knocked once, and the door to the office is already sprung open. A body is thrown outside, and Shen catches; Zhao falls right into his embrace.
Zhao can’t even stand properly, but he still has a fighting spirit. He points at Chu inside the office, “Little bitch, just you wait.”
Chu’s bitter face suddenly wears a smile, “Ow, I’m scared to death.”
Shen doesn’t know to cry or laugh, and pushes down Zhao’s trembling hand, “Alright, alright.”
Maybe Zhao really is drunk, or perhaps he is embarrassed in front of Shen, and uses Chu to divert attention. “If I don’t beat you up today, you don’t know how many eyes the Horse God has.”
Then he struggles out of Shen and tries to pounce forward.
Shen sighs, and nods towards the few inside the office, “Thank you, I’ll take care of him.”
He wraps his arm around Zhao’s waist, the other hand grabbing Zhao’s wrist, not letting him quiver and ramp, and tows him away.
Da Qing stands at the door, and stares at the two from behind with profound meaning. It suddenly says, “I’m sensing the peculiar vibe of a reverse couple. Our Chief is such a slut, could it be… hey, homo sapiens, what do you guys think?”
Chu kicks its fat butt away.