Serial Saturday #4: Despair
Very happy to present part four of my ongoing serial Murder In Kinmen... hope you enjoy: Despair
"We've got nothing." Pei-Shan leaned back in the chair, rubbing her eyes. "We've been at this for six hours." She shook her head, fighting off a growing sense of despair. "Damn. First homicide we've had in years and it's like we've hit a brick wall."
"Maybe we should-" Wei-Ting hesitated.
"Do what?" Pei-Shan asked. "Go over all this footage again? There's no sign of movement from the Mainland at all."
"I've been checking internet forums, the dark web, the news from over there and there's nothing," Wei-Ting said. "Not even so much as a police report. Even the local underground types in Xiamen haven't heard anything."
"The local underground types?" Pei-Shan arched an eyebrow. Wei-Ting flushed. "Not like dissidents or anything," he said hurriedly. "But, you know, gamers and stuff."
"Gamers," Pei-Shan said.
"Yeah, gamers," Wei-Ting said. "They also tend to dabble in other things."
"Other, frowned upon things in the computer world?" Pei-Shan arched her eyebrow again.
"Maybe," Wei-Ting said. "But none of them have heard anything at all. Not even so much as a police report. So I kind of have to wonder, do they even know?" Wei-Ting asked.
"Well now," Pei-Shan considered the question. "That's a good point, kid. If they do know, they're being awfully quiet about it though. Which means either they genuinely don't know which would be unlike them or her Daddy got caught up in a purge of some kind and this is... political." She dripped as much distaste off the last word as she could. "I hate the political ones."
"Because the political ones never end up the way they should, kid," Pei-Shan said. "The victims and their families rarely see justice. The powerful always get away with it."
"Well, that's not right!" Wei-Ting said, indignation in his voice. He must have realized how naive he sounded because he flushed and Pei-Shan forced herself not to roll her eyes at him.
"Of course, it's not right, kid. Nothing about the world is fair. If you do the job long enough, you'll find that your real enemy isn't the criminals or even the people. It's despair. Nothing ever seems to change for the better, no matter how hard you try."
"So I should just quit now?" Wei-Ting asked.
"No," Pei-Shan sighed. "Quit and the despair wins. Come to work every day asking yourself how you can serve and protect your community better than you did yesterday. Always keep trying."
"But you said-"
"I say a lot of things, kid," Pei-Shan said in irritation. "There's a reason I'm still stuck in homicide and not running a Division somewhere back home."
"Oh," Wei-Ting subsided into silence. Then: "What about the fishing boat?"
"The dhow?" Pei-Shan leaned forward and looked at a piece of paper full of scribbled notes. "The one at 0200?"
"Yes," Wei-Ting said.
Pei-Shan sighed and began scrolling back through the footage. The dhow wasn't important. There were always a few of them heading out as early as they could to get a jump on the day's fishing. On the other hand, they couldn't entirely rule it out either. Economic links between Kinmen and the mainland had been growing for a few years now, but that didn't stop a lively local smuggling scene from prospering either. Liquor, pirated movies and video games headed to Xiamen while cigarettes, liquor and heroin liked to go the other way back to Kinmen.
"It's probably nothing," Pei-Shan said. "I mean that would be around the right time for the fishing boats to head out. There's a lively contraband trade between here and Xiamen, but that stuff doesn't usually get shipped in dhows-"
"There," Wei-Ting pointed. "What's that?"
Pei-Shan blinked. "Well, I'll be damned." She zoomed in on the area he was pointing at. "What are they doing?"
"Looks like they're launching a boat." Wei-Ting said. "Can you get a registration on it?"
Pei-Sha paused the footage and moved the camera up the prow of the ship. "Only a partial. Some numbers- 734?"
"Yeah," Wei-Ting said. "Go back and hit play. Zoom in further. Wait. There!"
One of the people getting into the boat turned, a light from the rigging framing her face:
"That's her!" Wei-Ting said.
"Whoa," Pei-Shan said. "That's a nice catch kid." She stood. "Damn it," she sighed. "Now I have to go and try and be nice to the Chief."
"Well... he's the Chief, right?" Wei-Ting asked. "Can't be that hard."
"It was when I was married to him, kid."