TWELFTH FLOOR MYSTERY - CHAPTER 15, PART 2

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CHAPTER 15

PART 2


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Below the building of Unit 3, a crowd had gathered. Apart from Fan Lin and the members of the "big family," there were also the property management, residents, including two policemen, Tan Yong and Li Bin.


With so many people around, Su Xiaotong's heart tensed again. Had someone else died? She worried about witnessing a bloody scene, so she asked Gu Xiaoliang to play aside for a while, and she and Gu Lei squeezed into the crowd, asking, "What happened?"


"Did you just come back from outside?" Fan Lin asked.


"Yes, early this morning, Xiaoliang insisted on going out to play. We couldn't stop him, so we took him cycling on Huanhai West Road. After seeing your message, we rushed back," Su Xiaotong said.


"So, it couldn't have been you."


"What's wrong?"


"Take a look for yourself," Fan Lin pointed at the ground.


Su Xiaotong and Gu Lei looked down and noticed many steel beads, about one centimeter in diameter, scattered around Fan Lin's feet. There were quite a lot of them, roughly dozens. These steel beads had cracked the stone pavement, clearly thrown from a height.


Su Xiaotong and Gu Lei glanced at each other, immediately realizing what had happened - someone, while Fan Lin passed by below, had calculated the moment to throw down a handful of steel beads from above, intending to kill her!


Tan Yong and Li Bin looked up at the windows above and realized that only residents of Units 03 and 04 on every floor could throw beads to this location. Tan Yong pointed upwards, addressing the property management, "The beads must have been thrown from the windows of these two unit types. To crack the stone pavement, they had to be thrown from at least the third floor or above. Provide me with the names of all residents in Units 03 and 04 on the third floor and above."


"Understood," the property management replied. "We'll put up signs prohibiting throwing objects from heights in the elevator lobby and below the building."


"No need!" Fan Lin said angrily. "This isn't just ordinary objects thrown from a height; it's attempted murder! These steel beads dropped from over ten meters high, as powerful as bullets. If the timing had been slightly different, I'd be riddled with holes by now, lying dead! The perpetrator calculated slightly early, throwing the beads before I reached the spot. Otherwise, I'd be dead!"


"Enough, Fan Lin, if there's anything, let's discuss it upstairs," Tan Yong said, dispersing the other residents. Li Bin put on gloves and collected all the steel beads from the ground for fingerprint comparison. Tan Yong glanced around and noticed all the members of the big family were present, except Wang Xingxing.


"Where's Wang Xingxing?"


"Didn't he move in with me?" Fan Lin said. "He stays up all night playing games; he's probably still asleep."


"Then let's go to your place. Everyone else, come along; I need to understand the situation."


Everyone nodded and took the elevator to the fourteenth floor, entering 1401, Fan Lin's home. Before this, Gu Lei had taken Gu Xiaoliang back home.

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The others sat down in the living room while Tan Yong knocked on the door of the second bedroom, calling out, "Wang Xingxing."


There was no response initially, so Tan Yong knocked harder and called out his name louder, finally getting a reply. "Who is it?"


"It's me, Tan Yong, open the door!"


After a few seconds, Wang Xingxing opened the door. He was shirtless, wearing only boxers. Seeing Tan Yong, still half asleep, he asked, "Old Tan, what brings you here..."


Before he finished speaking, he glimpsed the others in the living room and was startled. He said, "Wait a moment, let me put on some clothes."


After putting on clothes, Wang Xingxing shuffled out wearing slippers, looking weary with messy hair. Seeing so many people gathered, he anticipated trouble and asked anxiously, "What's going on? Has someone... been murdered again?"


"I almost died just now!" Fan Lin said, angry.


"What happened?"


"I took Wen Jing to school, had breakfast, and then strolled on the street for a while. When I came back, a bunch of steel beads nearly hit me on the head! If it had been on target, I'd be dead!" Fan Lin said, starting to cry.


Wang Xingxing was extremely shocked. "Who would do such a thing?"


"Don't you know?" Tan Yong asked.


"How could I know? I only slept at 5 a.m., almost every day. I've been sleeping just now; you can see that!" Wang Xingxing said.


"You didn't check WeChat?"


Wang Xingxing shook his head, "I'm a deep sleeper; WeChat notifications don't wake me."


Tan Yong didn't inquire further. He called the property management to check if they had compiled the list. After a few minutes, they sent a picture to Tan Yong's phone, showing the names of residents in Units 03 and 04 on each floor.


After reviewing the image, Tan Yong said, "Han Lei, 604 on the sixth floor; Shen Fengxia, 803 on the eighth floor; Li Xueli, 1203 on the twelfth floor; Wang Xingxing, 1503 on the fifteenth floor."


Fan Lin snorted, looking at them and said, "So, the culprit must be one of you four."


"Hey, wait a minute! Didn't I move into your place? I'm not in 1503 on the fifteenth floor!" Wang Xingxing protested.


Fan Lin didn't respond, but Shen Fengxia said, "It's not certain. What if you hurried back, threw the beads, then came back and pretended to be asleep?"


"Hey, don't frame me!" Wang Xingxing was flustered. "Why would I do such a thing? If something happened to Fan Lin, I'd be the prime suspect, wouldn't I?"


Su Xiaotong frowned and couldn't help but say, "This logic doesn't seem right. Fan Lin's safety here is most relevant to your connection. If something happened downstairs, it wouldn't necessarily point to you."


Fan Lin looked at Wang Xingxing with a doubtful expression. Wang Xingxing loudly protested, "Fan Lin, don't listen to their nonsense. I stay up playing games every night, you know that! For you, it's morning; for me, it's night, time for sleep! My schedule is different from yours!"


Fan Lin remained non-committal. It was evident she suspected more than just Wang Xingxing.

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Tan Yong asked, "Han Lei, Li Xueli, and Shen Fengxia, what were you doing earlier?"


Han Lei said, "I just got up, I was in the bathroom getting ready."


Li Xueli said, "I made breakfast for Ma Qiang in the morning; he left after eating. I was washing dishes when I saw Fan Lin's WeChat message."


Shen Fengxia said, "Old Tan, don't bother asking. We all live alone, there are no witnesses. Moreover, throwing steel beads from the window is something one could do without the other person knowing, even if there were others at home."


Tan Yong knew this, but it was standard procedure. Throwing steel beads from above was indeed too cunning. The surveillance in the courtyard of the residential area couldn't capture such high floors. Unless someone across witnessed it, the chances were slim. Moreover, Yuehai Bay's low plot ratio meant there was quite a distance between residential buildings, making it unlikely for an ordinary person's eyesight to see clearly what someone across was doing. It meant even in broad daylight, this method could be used to ambush passersby. Tan Yong hadn't considered this kind of murder method before. Fortunately, Fan Lin was lucky and wasn't hit. This incident served as a wake-up call for him - the culprit would go to extreme lengths to kill. He realized he needed to consider things more comprehensively to prevent the perpetrator from using such insidious methods for murder.


"I said before, I'm the most vulnerable target!" Fan Lin, with a tearful voice, said, "Because I have to take Wen Jing to school every day, I must go out, and my schedule is predictable. I was right! But I didn't expect the assailant to be so heartless, actually targeting me! Damn you! Have you ever thought, if you killed me, what would happen to Wen Jing? Her dad is a scumbag who knows where he's gallivanting. If I die, Wen Jing becomes an orphan! Bastard, why are you so ruthless? Even if for the sake of the child, why pick on me?"


Fan Lin's seemingly random outburst was actually a targeted accusation towards the perpetrator because the assailant must be one of the people present.


No one spoke in the living room, only Fan Lin's cursing and sobbing. After a while, Su Xiaotong said, "Fan Lin, I'm not defending the culprit, but at least he didn't attack when you were taking Wen Jing out."


"Yeah, if that happened, even Wen Jing..." Gu Lei shuddered.


"Should I thank him then?" Fan Lin cried, "If he killed me, wouldn't Wen Jing suffer more? Has the perpetrator ever considered that?"


Tan Yong realized there was nothing more to extract here. He comforted Fan Lin, "Stop crying; I'll find the culprit. Han Lei, Li Xueli, Shen Fengxia, Wang Xingxing, you four come with me to the Criminal Investigation Bureau for fingerprint comparison."


"Ah... Do I have to go too?" Wang Xingxing said.


"Yes."


Wang Xingxing had nothing to say.


"The rest of you can go home. Try to minimize going out for now. If you have to, observe your surroundings when coming and going," Tan Yong instructed. Everyone silently nodded.

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