Descent of the Demon Master
“Goddamn it, what the hell is going on here?” Lieutenant Cha In-Cheol of Korea ’s National Police Agency swore loudly, “Hey, can ’t you go faster?”
“But, Lieutenant, you can see how bad the traffic is, can ’t you?”
We ’re blaring our siren like crazy, so shouldn ’t they move out of the way already?! Motherf*ckers, should I just arrest the whole lot of them?!”
Lieutenant Cha In-Cheol wouldn
’t usually get this angry at the other road users refusing to move out of his squad car
However, he was furious enough to hurl expletives nonstop as if he would yank out his pistol at any second now.
There was no helping it.
“F*cking hell! A serial killer, in this day and age?! We ain ’t even back in the 80s, so what the f*ck, man?!”
’s junior partner driving the car, Gu Yeong-Don, really wanted to trip his senior up by retorting,
’s era got to do with murders, sir?
” but he wisely abstained, knowing that one misplaced word here could get him a fist to his face.
That was how scary Cha In-Cheol ’s fury was.
“Hey, I told you to step on it, didn ’t I? You moron!”
“Ah, yes, sir!” Gu Yeong-Don hurriedly stomped on the accelerator when a gap in the traffic presented itself.
The car shot forward like a bullet, but Cha In-Cheol was still gritting his teeth.
“I don ’t know which motherf*cker is responsible, but I ’m gonna rip you apart when I catch you…!”
The crime scene was more or less organized by the time Cha In-Cheol arrived.
He looked around before asking one of the officers.
“…Is the scene preserved properly?”
’ve arrived, Lieutenant.
Good to see you, too.”
“Where ’s the victim?”
“We ’re in the middle of recovering her.”
“…Got it.” Cha In-Cheol nodded before slipping under the yellow police tape cordoning off the crime scene.
He immediately spotted something that stood out a bit.
And that was a young man squatting on the street boundary stone, silently smoking away.
“…Who ’s that now?”
He ’s the one who reported it.
He called right away after finding the victim.”
“Is that right?” Cha In-Cheol silently clicked his tongue.
“I guess it must have been quite a shock.”
He could see that this area was gloomy and poorly lit.
Stumbling onto a dead body in the middle of such a place would leave most people shocked and frightened out of their wits.
And it wasn’t unusual to see the first people to find such a grisly scene seek professional counseling for their mental trauma.
The officer whispered to Cha In-Cheol, “But sir, we might have a slight issue here.”
“…It seems that man and the victim knew each other.”
“Is that right?” Cha In-Cheol cocked an eyebrow.
According to the witness, the victim was a regular in the cafe his father operates.”
“Hmm…” Cha In-Cheol leaned closer and whispered back.
“What are the odds of him being the perp?”
This novel is available on bit.ly/3iBfjkV.
“Rather unlikely, Lieutenant.
According to him, he hadn ’t left his cafe until its closing time.
There ’s some distance between here and the cafe, and even at a quick glance, we can tell the victim was murdered some time ago.
The time frame doesn ’t fit.”
“Is that right?” Cha In-Cheol clicked his tongue again, this time not bothering to quieten it.
Most people wouldn
’t even be able to digest food for a while if they happened to find the corpse of an acquaintance during their commute home.
The concept of death held that much power to terrorize even if most people were not always cognizant of it.
Cha In-Cheol scanned the crime scene one more time before walking up to Kang Jin-Ho.
Kang Jin-Ho slowly raised his head, a burning cigarette still stuck between his lips.
Cha In-Cheol noted how bone-chillingly cold and withdrawn this young man
’s eyes were, then put on a well-practiced business smile.
“You must ’ve been greatly shocked, sir.
I ’m Lieutenant Cha In-Cheol, from Seocho Station ’s Violent Crimes Division.”
“I see,” said Kang Jin-Ho.
“I heard that you were the first person to discover the crime scene and called it in.
Is that true?”
“Yes, it is.”
’d like to ask you a few questions.
I hope that ’s okay with you.”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly nodded.
“Did you see anyone else around here, or were you with someone when you first discovered the victim?”
“No, there was no one.”
“Not even far away?”
“Mm, I see.
I heard that you and the victim were acquaintances.”
“Have you noticed any changes in the victim prior to the crime?”
Such as strange behavior or something like that.”
Kang Jin-Ho slowly shook his head.
don ’t know.”
Cha In-Cheol frowned slightly at Kang Jin-Ho
’s response which seemed to be cooperative and uncooperative at the same time.
“…Your name is Mister Kang Jin-Ho, yes?”
“I know you
’re going through a shock, but…
Your testimony can decide whether we can catch the perp or not.
That ’s why I implore you to think deeper and harder, even if it ’s difficult for you.
Did you really not notice anything different about the victim?”
Cha In-Cheol quietly stared at Kang Jin-Ho.
Outwardly, this young man looked as if he couldn ’t form a coherent sentence at the shock of finding a dead body.
In a way, he looked like a typical example of a shocked eyewitness.
“Mm, I see.
We still need to take your statement, so can you accompany us to the station?”
“…You mean, the police station?”
“Ah, you don
’t have anything to worry about.
We don ’t think of you as a suspect but as a witness, and that ’s why we need your written statement.
I know it ’s difficult, but I still ask you for your cooperation.”
“…Understood.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded, then mouthed a fresh cigarette.
All the burnt cigarette butts on the ground made Cha In-Cheol frown.
Smoking was obviously prohibited around a crime scene, but considering Kang Jin-Ho ’s current mental state, stopping him didn ’t seem like the right move.
Cha In-Cheol looked around.
“Someone, bring this man a blanket or something!”
Cha In-Cheol walked some distance away, then looked back at Kang Jin-Ho.
While he observed how that young man kept smoking away with his head down, Gu Yeong-Don walked up to his lieutenant.
“Hey, Yeong-Don,” Cha In-Cheol quietly called out to his junior.
“Did you already check out that witness ’s personal info?”
“How did it look?”
“Lieutenant? You can
’t be suspecting that man now, are you? He
’s as clean as a whistle, sir.
He even received the brave citizen award in the past, too.
His school records are clean, and his background is as solid as it can get.”
“Listen here, you dumbass.
The really crazy bastards don ’t show their insanity on the surface.”
Gu Yeong-Don waved his hand dismissively.
“Sounds like you really suspect that guy, Lieutenant.
But his alibi is watertight, sir.
What ’s gotten into you, anyway?”
“You trust me, don ’t you?”
“What are you saying all of a sudden?” Gu Yeong-Don tilted his head.
Cha In-Cheol continued to stare at the lowered-head Kang Jin-Ho in the distance before muttering, “That…
That ’s no human being.”
Cha In-Cheol didn
’t say anything else and took out a cigarette for himself.
He might not be saying a word, but his mind was still racing away.
’Those eyes don ’t belong to a human being. ’
Work in this job long enough, and you would learn to differentiate such things.
And this job was pretty f*cked up.
Over three hundred souls would lose their lives to murder each year in South Korea.
Gu Yeong-Don alone had to have met almost two hundred murderers after joining the force.
Among them, some were accidental killers who would shudder and tremble from the shock and fear of their actions.
Alternatively, some killers were the types who couldn ’t understand the severity of their actions and would get angry at the cops instead.
The ones who always gave Cha In-Cheol the biggest creeps were the killers who showed no reaction—no agitation whatsoever.
They perfectly understood what they had done and knew that they had committed a serious crime.
Those people chilled him to the bones.
Were they psychopaths? No.
This wasn ’t as simple as a psychological illness.
It wasn ’t as if they couldn ’t empathize with their victims or they were suffering from various mental issues.
However, they still saw the act of murder as the same as, say, slaughtering a chicken for dinner.
These people were born to be murderers, or their emotional growth had been stunted somewhere, somehow.
At first, Cha In-Cheol wasn
’t aware of such things.
However, the years of experience slowly taught him the truth.
Now, he knew that such types of ’humans ’ walked among the rest of society.
People who were either born evil or acquired their evil streak without one iota of remorse while committing murder…
Such people did exist in this world.
normally, it ’s that kind of a guy, isn ’t it? ’
Cha In-Cheol got that gut feeling when he looked into Kang Jin-Ho
’s withdrawn eyes filled to the brim with gloominess and barely-contained rage.
He knew this young man was not someone ordinary.
“The brave citizen award? Good academic records? Hah.”
None of those mattered.
No murderer would walk around with the words ’I ’m a Killer ’ plastered on their forehead, after all.
Many of the serial killers captured over the years turned out to be perfectly ordinary-looking young men next door or an elite of society living a pretty good life.
Letting such things as one ’s background or history cloud one ’s judgment would be a failure as an investigator.
“I ’m not getting a good vibe off him,” said Cha In-Cheol.
“Come on, Lieutenant.
You know I ’d normally at least pretend to listen to you when you get this serious, but you ’re wrong this time.
That young man really does have a solid alibi.
He was in the cafe until closing time.”
“Couldn ’t he have cooked up a fake alibi?”
Gu Yeong-Don groaned.
The cafe ’s located in an affluent suburb, so the street it ’s on has five CCTV cameras.
If a murderer is capable of tempering with all five of them, then we better give up catching the guy, sir.
We might as well applaud the dude for his incredible ability instead.”
“…Is that so?”
Was he wrong? Cha In-Cheol
’s head began to tilt to the side.
His gut feeling said Kang Jin-Ho had done something bad in the past.
However, that young man ’s alibi was just too watertight.
’Then, let ’s be objective about this. ’
Even if Kang Jin-Ho was that kind of a human being, was there a guarantee that he was guilty of this particular crime? In this world, there were plenty of unexpected things happening everywhere.
It shouldn ’t be too weird to learn that a murderer on a stroll happened to come across a murder scene and called the police.
Such a thing might make the international news, though.
Cha In-Cheol narrowed his eyes and continued to observe Kang Jin-Ho.
Whether that young man knew what the police detective was thinking about or not, he kept his head low and simply smoked away in silence.
Why am I so anxious here, though? ’ Cha In-Cheol grimaced and sucked in a deep breath.
Anyone could see that Kang Jin-Ho was quietly trying to comfort himself.
But to Cha In-Cheol ’s eyes, that young man ’s figure resembled a powder keg about to explode.
Not just any ordinary powder keg either, but one massive enough to burn the world down if it went off.
Kang Yu-Hwan rushed over to the police station as soon as he heard the news and also became a person of interest.
Specifically, he was questioned as another witness who knew some parts of the victim ’s whereabouts and activities prior to her death.
“Yes, she was in my father ’s cafe taking several photographs of me,” said Kang Jin-Ho to the investigator.
“Did you happen to hear about where she was headed off to next?”
“No, all I heard was that she was busy with work.
It sounded like she had another appointment to get to.”
Kang Jin-Ho cooperated with the investigation and replied to every question with a calm, unflustered attitude.
Kang Yu-Hwan would occasionally look at his son with worry.
What if his son was suffering from the trauma of what happened?
However, Kang Jin-Ho
’s current appearance, at least after he had entered the police station, didn
’t differ all that much from during the day when he was working in the cafe.
He replied honestly to the questions and even calmly explained the circumstances leading to his discovery of the crime scene.
’Even though he must be shocked… ’
Kang Yu-Hwan could only look on at his son with pity and worry.
Kang Jin-Ho didn’t express his emotions outwardly, but he was still a surprisingly caring person.
There was no way he would feel calm inside after something this tragic happened to an acquaintance.
“Thank you for your cooperation, sir.
You can go home now.
However, we might have follow-up questions later, so we ’d like to ask you for your continued cooperation, sir.”
“Understood, officer.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded and got up from the chair.
Kang Yu-Hwan waiting for the interview to end gently grasped his son
“Are you alright, son?”
“Yes, Father.” Kang Jin-Ho quietly nodded.
“Don ’t worry about me.”
Kang Yu-Hwan sighed deeply while patting his son
“…Let ’s go home.”
The father and son duo slowly headed to Kang Yu-Hwan
’s car parked in front of the police station.
Kang Yu-Hwan quietly muttered in frustration.
“A murderer on the loose…
Just how can such a thing even…
That bastard deserves a divine punishment!”
Kang Yu-Hwan seemed to be shocked by the event as well, as his voice was trembling noticeably.
Kang Jin-Ho glanced at his father.
“He ’ll soon be caught.”
“Yes, that killer must be caught! He did that unmentionable thing to that nice lady, so he must be apprehended and pay for his crimes!”
“…Our meeting was brief, but we still formed a connection, didn
’t we? And this saddens me greatly, son.” Kang Yu-Hwan sighed deeply before patting his son
“I ’m sure the detectives will investigate this matter thoroughly.
As for us…
We should just go home.”
The two men got into the parked car.
The car issued a quiet little exhaust noise as it slowly glided toward the Kang family home.
Kang Jin-Ho in the front passenger seat was silent; his gaze was fixed outside the window.
They had no choice but to pass the crime scene again while on their way home, though.
Kang Jin-Ho quietly observed the somewhat disorderly crime scene blocked off by the police tapes.
he wanted to engrave that scene in his brain.
“Once I get paid for the next commission, I ’m gonna thank you properly!”
Her voice still rang vividly in his ears.
Kang Jin-Ho quietly closed his eyes.
His hands resting on his lap were imperceptibly trembling away.
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