Serial Saturday #1: Vulnerability

Murder In Kinmen began as a Theme Thursday (over on r/writingprompts) response about five months ago. The theme in question was 'vulnerability' and I had to write out a five hundred word response. At the time, I had fallen down a weird rabbit hole on Google Street View about Taiwan. I think it was a raft of news articles about how well they were handling COVID-19 that initially drew me in, but it was all downhill from there and then some random fragment from my Chinese politics classes popped in my brain and I remembered Quemoy and Matsu and the Taiwan Straits crisis and wondered where they were.

So I googled them and was stunned to find that not only does Taiwan still control Quemoy (Kinmen) and Martsu, but the outlying islands are like, right there. In my head, I couldn't imagine a more vulnerable place to live- and the murder mystery aspect of it just sprung from there. Then I went to Campfire and read it and people liked it and said the inevitable: "Hey, you should make this a serial!" Twelve parts later and I'm still going. Still researching. Still learning. Still writing. 

Here's Part One, for your reading pleasure:

The blasted cell phone wouldn't stop ringing. With a groan, her hand shot out from under the covers.

"Hello?"

"Detective Inspector Pei-Shan?"

"Unfortunately, yes, that's me."

"This is Dispatch," the voice on the other end of the phone said. "I've got an officer out with a body on the Nanshan Patch, he's requesting a Detective."

"What time is it?"

"It's 0630."

"Oh, you've got to be kidding..." Pei-Shan pushed herself upright and the pain in her head intensified. She'd hit the kaoliang a little too hard last night before bed, so naturally her phone was ringing and her hangover was vicious. "There's no other Detectives around?"

"Negative," Dispatch replied. "Vice got called over to Penghu County last night. They're not back yet."

"Why did they get called Penghu?"

"Penghu County found their missing drugs."

"Damn it," Pei-Shan groaned. "All right, all right. I'll be there in twenty minutes."

***

It ended up being closer to forty minutes later by the time Pei-Shan found herself walking down the narrow, winding path toward the beach. A round of retching over her toilet bowl and a hot shower had made her barely human but she was still in a foul mood and the officer? As she drew closer, she saw that it was the new kid and boy, did he look nervous.

"What do we have?" Pei-Shan asked as she approached the kid standing over the body.

"Unknown, Detective," the kid said. "Reporting party claimed to be a fisherman."

"A fisherman? Here?" Pei-shan snorted in disbelief. "Maybe on the other side of the island. But not here."

"Yes, ma'am." The kid shifted nervously from foot to foot glancing at the horizon as he did so.

"What's your name, kid?" Pei-Shan asked as she opened a pouch on her belt and pulled out two surgical gloves. She slipped them onto one hand and then the other before kneeling down next to the body.

"Wei-Ting, Detective."

"First dead body?"

"Yes," Wei-ting said. "Actually, it's my first day. I started at 0100."

"So you got your first homicide within six hours on the job?" Pei-Shan snorted in amusement. "That's some good work, rook. You got gloves?"

Wei-ting gave a start and then dug into his pocket and pulled out a pair. He held them up.

"Those will do fine," Pei-Shan said. "Glove up, then kneel down and tell me what you see about this body."

"Yes, Detective," Wei-Ting said. He gloved up and knelt down on the other side of the body. "Looks like a female. Mid-20s."

"Cause of death?" Pei-Shan asked.

"Unknown," Wei-Ting replied. "Drowning?"

Pei-Shan shook her head. "No, the body's too fresh for that. Let's turn her over."

She stood and moved to the head of the body, while Wei-Ting moved to the feet. "Carefully now," Pei-Shan said. Gently, they turned the body over.

Pei-Shan stood up and bit off a very pungent curse word that made Wei-Ting blanch.

"Where's the forensic team?" Pei-Shan asked.

"They're coming," Wei-Ting said. "Dispatch didn't give me an ETA."

"Get one," Pei-Shan said. She held up a hand as Wei-Ting reached up to grab his radio microphone. "Keep it off the radio. Use your phone."

"Okay," Wei-Ting looked confused, but reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone.

"Tell them to get forensics to expedite. Then have them call the Chief and get ahold of the Colonel up at the Mashan Barracks."

"What's wrong, Detective?" Wei-Ting asked.

Pei-Shan stepped around the body and walked down the beach a ways, staring acorss the channel at the towers of Xiamen and the great hulk that was Mainland China. Kinmen was the top of the spear, the fly on the dragon's nose. To live here was to be vulnerable, every damn day knowing the dragon could incinerate you whenever it chose too. She turned back around to Wei-Ting.

"I know her," Pei-Shan said. "She's Jia Desheng, daughter of the local party boss over there." She knelt down next to the body again and Wei-Ting knelt beside her. "Look at the knife handle. What do you see?"

Wei-Ting leaned down further. "Oh."

"Yeah."

"Aren't they usually kitchen knives?"

"A knife is a knife," Pei-Shan shrugged. "But when the daughter of the local party boss over there," she pointed over at Xiamen. "Ends up over here with a Kinmen knife in her belly?"

"Oh," Wei-Ting stood and glanced over at Pei-Shan's shoulder at Mainland China in the distance. "Shit."

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