As soon as the two men reached a public park located near the Kang family ’s residence, Cha In-Cheol took out a cigarette and pushed it toward Kang Jin-Ho while speaking casually, “Here, have one on me.”

Kang Jin-Ho looked back at the policeman weirdly.
”Isn ’t this a non-smoking area? ”

“There ’s no one around, so who cares?”

“…I ’m not sure an officer of the law should say that.”

“If we get caught, I ’ll pay the fine for both of us, okay? So, just go ahead and smoke.”

Kang Jin-Ho smiled wryly and accepted Cha In-Cheol ’s cigarette.


Cha In-Cheol used his own lighter to light up Kang Jin-Ho ’s cigarette, then pulled out his own to smoke as well.
“Nowadays, we gotta find some out-of-sight locations just to get a quick cigarette break.
The world has changed a lot, I tell ya.”

Cha In-Cheol felt like an old man unable to adapt to the changing times.
However, the world was really changing too fast to keep up.
If you told the youngsters that only twenty years ago—one could smoke no problem inside a bus simply by opening a window—no one would believe it.

“It ’s the same story for investigating crimes, you know? In the past, we used to trust our gut instincts to investigate.
If there were someone we found suspicious, we ’d arrest that fool and bite his head off.
More often than not, that fool would turn out to be the perp, you see.
Ah, don ’t get the wrong idea about me, okay? It ’s not like I was torturing the suspects or anything.
No, I ’m just saying our approach was a lot more forceful back then.
Something practically unimaginable these days.”

In the past, the police could arrest someone on suspicion alone, without evidence.
If the cops did that now, though…
Rather than commuting to their stations, they should just head to the nearest courthouse instead.
After all, they would be too busy fending off one lawsuit after another.

“…?” Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly stared at Cha In-Cheol.
He wasn ’t quite sure why this policeman showed up first thing in the morning to tell him stuff like this.
“Officer, I need to go to work soon.”

“Get to the point, is that it? Good.
I like that idea, too.” Cha In-Cheol took a long drag of his cigarette before turning his attention to Kang Jin-Ho.
“Last night, more specifically around three o ’clock in the morning, where were you?”

“I was at home, asleep.”

“At your house, you say?”

“Yes,” Kang Jin-Ho flatly replied.

Cha In-Cheol narrowed his eyes.
“Are you sure?”

Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t bother to respond and simply stared at the cop.

“…Fine, fine.
You askin ’ about evidence, am I right?” Cha In-Cheol chuckled weakly.
Don ’t have any evidence whatsoever.
So, you can relax.”

“I don ’t understand why you ’re asking me this, officer.”

“I ’m sure that ’s the case.” Cha In-Cheol fixed his piercing glare on Kang Jin-Ho.

If this were still in the past, he would have just arrested Kang Jin-Ho despite the lack of evidence and then thought about what to do next.
Too bad, this was no longer that kind of era.

“Working as a cop sometimes makes me think about something…” Cha In-Cheol muttered while making a bitter expression.
“Some perps have political connections or financial power, or they are just too goddamn smart to leave behind any evidence.
We ’re cops, so it ’s our job to arrest them, but without evidence? We can ’t even lay a hand on them.”


“So, what I ’m saying is…
Sometimes, I run into bastards that make my blood boil.
I get this urge to just shove my gun up below their chins and pull the goddamn trigger.
Even if that means I’ll be ending my career as a cop, and the gun had to be all rusty from not getting used until that moment, I still wanna do it.”

Kang Jin-Ho ’s eyes became withdrawn.
Who was this rant aimed at, he wondered.

“So, sometimes I think about how nice it ’d be to have someone to find and kill those untouchable bastards.
Just like this time…” Cha In-Cheol muttered while taking out a photograph from his inner pocket.

Kang Jin-Ho accepted the photo and found a familiar sight depicted on it.
It was the Fallen ’s cold corpse on a field, surrounded by the yellow police tapes.

Cha In-Cheol observed Kang Jin-Ho ’s expressionless face, then smirked deeply.
“I knew it.
You aren ’t surprised.”

Kang Jin-Ho handed the photo back.
“I ’m not cowardly enough to get scared over something like this, officer.”

“Yes, yes.
I ’m sure you aren’t.” Cha In-Cheol cackled.
“That guy in the photo? He ’s dead.
The cause of death is, funnily enough, exposure.
He froze to death.
He didn’t kick the bucket from the excessive blood loss after his limbs got severed but from the cold! Even though it wasn ’t that chilly, he still died that way.
I bet he probably lost too much blood to maintain his body temperature or something.”


“I thought you ’d like to know.” Cha In-Cheol maintained that grin while staring at Kang Jin-Ho.
However, the latter ’s expressionless face didn ’t even flinch once.
“Look here, Kang Jin-Ho.”


“You ’re supposed to react with, ’why are you suspecting me? ’ And not with an expression that says, ’Doesn ’t matter what you think you know, you don ’t have enough evidence to put me away. ’ Get my drift?”

“No, officer.
I still don ’t understand.”

“Sure, sure.
It ’s fine.
I didn ’t come here hoping to do something, anyway.
It ’s just that…” Cha In-Cheol stopped grinning, his expression distorting a little.
“You know why I haven ’t put a bullet in the heads of those untouchable bastards even though I have to go through that crap so many times?”

“No, I don ’t.”

that ’s the law.” Cha In-Cheol began chewing on the cigarette ’s filter.
“Even if shooting ’em dead might be the right thing, it ’s still against the law.
Listen, the law serves as the minimum safety device that allows people to live as human beings.
Even if your goal is noble and righteous, you ’ll eventually cause a serious problem if you’re acting outside the law.
You’ll end up believing you ’re above the law, and eventually, your so-called justice will get warped.
Twisted, I tell ya.
So, I bloody hate those stupid superhero movies.
And I seriously don ’t like f*ckers that act like they are heroes, too.”

As he began his rant, Cha In-Cheol ’s voice became graver.
“F*ckers who think they are some hot sh*t and act like heroes are still criminals.
Do you think killing a murderer doesn ’t make you a murderer yourself?”

Cha In-Cheol ’s pointed question was coolly replied to by Kang Jin-Ho, “Why are you telling me all this?”

A quick look at will leave you more fulfilled.

Their glares collided mid-air.

“Yeah, I ’m not sure myself.
I mean, this matter has nothing to do with you, right?” Cha In-Cheol ’s demeanor suddenly became a lot more relaxed.
Even his manner of speech changed, and he reverted back to using honorifics.
“Thank you for your continued cooperation, sir.
And once more, my apologies for taking up your time so early in the morning, Mister Kang Jin-Ho.”

“…Not at all, officer.”

Cha In-Cheol bowed politely, then turned around to leave.

“Oiii, Kang Jin-Ho.”


“…This is off the record now.”


Cha In-Cheol kept his back turned to Kang Jin-Ho.
“I ’m sure that guy in the photo was the serial killer.
As a human being, I ’m okay with capturing and killing a bastard like that.
However, as a detective, I cannot sympathize with that choice.
The way I see it, you ’re acting like you are some insanely boring normal person, but…
Here ’s my advice: Don ’t act.
Live like an ordinary person, okay? Those who dip their toes in the world of violence always meet with ugly ends, know what I mean? And…”

Cha In-Cheol looked up, his lips opening and closing a few times as if he was unsure about whether to say something or not.
Eventually, though, he groaned loudly.
“Forget it.
Nothing good would come out of it if you knew about it, anyway.
Just don ’t get involved in this matter anymore, got that?”

Kang Jin-Ho replied flatly, “I was never involved in this case, to begin with, officer.”

“You damn brat…!” Cha In-Cheol growled in half irritation and in a half-suppressed chuckle.
“Man, this world ’s gotten really nice these days, huh? If it were the old days, we wouldn ’t have hesitated to throw a punk like you inside the interrogation room and start grilling the living crap out of you.
No, hang on…
Maybe you ’d have chopped my head off before that?”

Cha In-Cheol grabbed his own neck in mock fear and chuckled loudly.
“If we can help it, let ’s not meet again, okay? Honestly, talking to a bastard like you is already making me piss my pants, you see? But being a detective is a crappy job.
A job where we gotta go after the suspect if we have enough evidence, even if that means we might get killed in the process.
So, be more mindful, will ya? So you don ’t accidentally get me killed, you bastard.”

Cha In-Cheol finally finished his rant and tossed the cigarette on the ground, stubbing it dead.
“Okay, I ’m leaving now.”

Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly stared at Cha In-Cheol walking away, then spat out a long sigh.
He also turned around to head back to his house.

Live long enough, and a certain type of people would start showing up sooner or later.
People with a preternaturally sharp intuition, that was.
However, Kang Jin-Ho had never met someone as straightforward and reckless as that detective.

’What was he thinking of telling me before he stopped himself? ’

Kang Jin-Ho noticed that Cha In-Cheol wanted to tell him something only to decide against it after a bout of hesitation.
Those words left unsaid weighed rather heavily on his mind.


Gu Yeong-Don shifted in the driver ’s seat to look at Cha In-Cheol.
“You ’re back, senior?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Annnd, you still got nothing, right?”

Cha In-Cheol grunted unhappily as he climbed into the passenger seat and buckled himself in.
“I didn ’t come here to find something, you fool!”

“…Really? Then, why did you even bother to come here so early in the day, senior?”

“You don ’t need to know,” Cha In-Cheol replied sourly.

Gu Yeong-Don smirked as he turned the ignition on and drove away.
“C ’mon, senior.
Stop bullying a kid for no reason.
Suspecting a kid that squeaky clean is kind of a disease, you know? It ’s a disease, I tell ya.”

“Clean, my foot.
Let me tell you something, he stinks to the high heavens.”

“But, senior.
Didn ’t you see how spotless his looks were? I don ’t think he ’s the type to not wash himself, so saying he stinks is a bit…”


“Ouch! Why are you hitting me in the head? I ’m driving, you know! What if we got into an accident!” Gu Yeong-Don shrunk back while holding the back of his head with one hand.

Cha In-Cheol yelled at him, “Then, stop the car, you idiot! We can get going after I beat you up some more!”

“…Sir, I ’ll rectify my mistake.”

Cha In-Cheol groaned loudly.
How was he supposed to show this clueless, instinctless idiot the ropes with a mouth like that? Even if Gu Yeong-Don was officially his subordinate—and a partner on good days—this seemed like asking for too much!

“…Do we know the identity of our limbless John Doe yet?”

“Thanks to us nagging them to get a move on, they said they are focused on that part of the investigation first, senior.”


“The forensics say they recovered DNA samples belonging to multiple people from below the fingernails on the severed hands.
Even though we are still waiting for the DNA results, usually in situations like ours…
Your thoughts should be on the money, senior.”

“I ’m sure it is.”

Gu Yeong-Don glanced at Cha In-Cheol and cautiously asked a question.
“I gotta say, though, that was amazing, senior.
How did you know? I mean, it was just a corpse discovered in the middle of uninhabited nowhere, yet you instantly figured out that it was our serial killer.
Isn ’t that like, no longer in the realm of investigations and into the world of mudangs and supernatural? Should I place bamboo flag poles behind you, senior?”

Cha In-Cheol shook his head.
“It ’s not that.
I didn ’t figure it out after looking at the corpse.”


“I was merely waiting.
Waiting for a corpse looking as wretched as that to show up, that is.”

Gu Yeong-Don tilted his head.
“…What do you mean?”

You know what kills a male lion?”

“Mm? Isn ’t that because of climate change causing the loss of habitat and reduction of prey?”

Without saying anything, Cha In-Cheol shot a disapproving glare at his junior partner.

Gu Yeong-Don asked back, “What ’s wrong, senior?”

Cha In-Cheol groaned and mouthed a fresh cigarette.
He couldn ’t help but pity himself for having to exchange such inane banter with this fool.
“No, you dumbass.
It ’ll die after losing the territorial battle.
If one male lion mistakenly intrudes into another lion ’s territory, the two will fight to the death.
But now, a measly wolf stupidly wandered into a lion ’s territory to start hunting.
No wonder it got torn to shreds.”

“Senior, I have no idea what you ’re on about.”

“It ’s fine for you to never figure it out.
It ’s better that way, actually.” Cha In-Cheol tutted before opening the glove box to pull out a document folder.
He rummaged through it and pulled out several photographs.

Gu Yeong-Don shook his head.
“So, are you going to snoop around Kang Jin-Ho again, senior?”

That ’s done.”

“Eh? You ’ve been sniffing around that kid ’s surroundings like a madman, but now, you are done? What ’s gotten into you? Maybe you ’ve finally realized he wasn ’t the killer?”

“I gotta reduce the number of victims, no?”

“I ’m sorry?”

“No matter how much of a human waste our killer is, I can ’t let him be slaughtered by a civilian, right? I should be the one doing the slaughtering, anyway.”

Gu Yeong-Don frowned deeply.
He enjoyed working with this senior detective, but it came with a caveat—namely—Cha In-Cheol ’s occasional incomprehensible ramblings.

Cha In-Cheol didn ’t give a rat ’s ass about Gu Yeong-Don ’s evaluation of him and continued to pore through the victims ’ photos.

’It ’s…
different. ’

The first victim died from multiple stab wounds throughout her body.
However, the second victim died without any damage to her body.
Other than the two victims being women, there didn ’t seem many commonalities.
As for the second victim ’s cause of death? Asphyxiation.

’Crazy sons of bi*ches… ’

A woman walking on a street minding her business was dragged out of sight and killed without leaving any traces behind.
Two victims, and in the span of one week, no less.
The other common thing between the two cases was that the criminal had somehow avoided the CCTV cameras.
The perp somehow managed not to get filmed by the myriad of cameras installed everywhere and still dragged his victims away.
That was enough to lump these two cases together as a part of a serial killer ’s murder spree.

However, Cha In-Cheol didn ’t agree with that assessment.
One should focus not just on the lead-up to the murder but on the method of murder itself as well.
The two victims were dragged away in a similar fashion, but they were killed by two completely different methods.

’…I don ’t think we ’re dealing with one killer here. ’

Most likely, the one Kang Jin-Ho took care of was a murderer.
However, there was no proof that the dead murderer was responsible for both murders.
What if there was another killer on the loose?

Cha In-Cheol lit his cigarette and glared outside the car ’s window.
“I ’m sure I made the right choice not to tell him…”

“Sorry, senior?”

“Shut up and hurry up, will ya? We ’ll be late at this rate.”

“Senior, we ’re already late, you know?”

Cha In-Cheol ignored Gu Yeong-Don ’s comeback and continued to stare outside.
“The weather…
is nice and dreary, isn ’t it?”

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