Criminal Psychology

Hans Gross

Chapter 27

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Two Way Trip 10 Missing Qiong Mountain was located southwest of Hong Jing. At an alt.i.tude of almost one kilometer, it was blanketed with clouds and fog all year round.

The scenery was best when the rainy season approached. Water vapor condensed on the rocky wall, brushing aside green moss and converging into a stream from the fine seams.

A campsite resided by a creek in the valley, near the Qiong Mountain. The s.p.a.ce was colorful, easily noticed even from a distance. Numerous tents were arranged on the campgrounds, with more people popping up as the hours ticked by. 

More importantly, there were children among them.

Cao Qian Zhi was a primary school teacher at Feng Jing School. Today was the spring outing for their first graders located at Qiong Mountain.

Standing at the edge of the campsite, Cao Qian Zhi watched as the camp staff, posing as mountain people, brought out a goat for the children to see. Never having seen a live goat before, many of the children surrounded it, excited to the point of shrieking.

His gaze wandered from the goat to the water, watching the other children fish by the stream. They huddled close together, discussing techniques with a serious att.i.tude. The stream was very shallow, so Cao Qian Zhi didn't prevent them from doing so. This was an artificial landscape built solely for the scenic area, after all. He doubted they'd want to get their shoes wet in the cold spring weather, anyway. 

The scene was peaceful and harmonious.

But there was an uneasiness in Cao Qian Zhi's heart he couldn't shake off.

A series of urgent footsteps echoed in the distance. Cao Qian Zhi hurried over to them.

The dean and another teacher who led the group were running towards him. With seriousness coating both faces, they solemnly shook their heads. 

"You couldn't reach them?" Even though he already knew the answer, he was still compelled to ask.

"Yeah," the dean said, "We can't get through to Mr. Xu's phone and Teacher An's phone was turned off. The car should have arrived half an hour ago!"

Cao Qian Zhi looked at his watch. It was long past their agreed time.

The school had rented six buses for today's spring outing to Qiong Mountain. They gathered at the school gate early that morning, taking three hours to get from the school to the mountain due to a traffic jam. And because of this jam, several of the buses were delayed by ten minutes when they arrived.

If that was the case, it was simply a matter of adjusting their schedule. But after 5 of the buses arrived, one still didn't show. It was Cla.s.s 3's bus with 26 students and two teachers on board.

Everyone thought the bus was still stuck in the traffic jam. They tried to contact the driver and two teachers but their phones were all out of reach.

At first, they a.s.sumed it was because of poor signal. But just now, the dean and the other teacher went to the scenic area's management center to try and contact them again. The one answering the call was a mechanical female voice. It was then that they realized that these people might be in trouble.

"Even if they had an accident, their phones wouldn't be turned off!" the other teacher said.

"Did you call the highway management?" Cao Qian Zhi asked.

"Yes, they said they're checking it. They haven't found them yet."

After a long silence, Cao Qian Zhi finally said, "Let's call the police."

In the Hong Jing Expressway chairman's office, three phones rang almost simultaneously.

Xing Cong Lian stepped back from the desk and took out his cell phone. The chairman let out a sigh of relief before picking up his own, while Liu Hang left to answer the one ringing in his own office.

Moments later, Xing Cong Lian turned to look at Lin Chen. The chairman turned stiff as Liu Hang rushed back into the room.

From the other end was news of their worst case scenario.

"The munic.i.p.al bureau just received a report from Feng Jing School that a tourist bus they rented disappeared on the highway," Xing Cong Lian reported to Lin Chen, covering the receiver on his phone.

"How can it disappear? The highway exits are monitored!" Before Lin Chen could open his mouth, Yang Dian Feng already barged into the conversation.

Lin Chen's thin lips pursed. He sat up straighter, saying nothing.

Xing Cong Lian was still on the phone and had no time to answer Yang Dian Feng's question. After a while, he suddenly looked up and while holding the phone in one hand, he pointed at it and gestured at w.a.n.g Chao.

w.a.n.g Chao wasted no time. He took out his own cell phone from his pocket and handed it over to Xing Cong Lian, who gestured at him to give it to Lin Chen.

"The school's teacher will call soon and you will answer it," he said, before rattling off a series of numbers to the caller at the other end.

Soon, w.a.n.g Chao's phone rang.

Qiong Mountain scenic area, campsite.

By now, Cao Qian Zhi's palms were slick with sweat, and the female teacher had already started crying. All kinds of horrible scenarios flashed through his mind, agitating him even more.

When the call connected, he couldn't stop himself from shouting, "You haven't found the bus yet? Did something happen? What do we do now?!" 

The other end of the line was silent for a brief moment before someone answered.

The voice was quiet and peaceful, like trickling water in a spring or the breeze in the mountains, flowing into his ears.

"h.e.l.lo, sir. I understand that you're anxious, but right now, the most important thing is to remain calm. Take a deep breath with me, then answer my following questions."

Cao Qian Zhi knew how to take a deep breath, but the situation was urgent. There was no time for that! But even as he was thinking this, his body subconsciously followed the man's instructions. He took a deep inhale, then exhaled.

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"When did the missing bus leave the school?"

Following the soft voice, Cao Qian Zhi closed his eyes and felt as though he had returned to the noisy bus. Looking out the window, he saw a bus pa.s.sing by.

"I remember!" His voice grew loud. "I remember the bus, but I don't know the time!"

"Try to remember if there were any landmarks or signs. They are by the side of the road, very noticeable…"

"No, nothing. It was only reeds all around." Cao Qian Zhi frowned, trying to grasp the fleeting image in his mind. "Wait a minute, I remember! A child told me they wanted to go to the toilet and the driver said he would drive to the Mei Village R&R station!" Cao Qian Zhi's eyes snapped open.

Lin Chen hurried back to the desk, grabbed a pen, and wrote "Mei Village" on the paper.

"Do you or any other teachers remember the time you went to the Mei Village station?"

"Wait, I'll ask."

w.a.n.g Chao had already pulled up the map of Hong Jing highway. While looking at the map, he calculated, "The Mei Village R&R station is about 130 km from Qiong Mountain. The traffic jam happened after 7:00. If they leave at 6:30, they should arrive at the station around 8:30, considering all variables."

w.a.n.g Chao dropped his pen just as an urgent voice came from the speakers. "Our dean said it should be 8:30 when we arrived at Mei Village! I really can't remember anything else!"

The teacher's voice was full of remorse.

"This is already great. Thank you very much for your cooperation."

Seeing Lin Chen hanging up, w.a.n.g Chao let out a sigh of relief. But he still felt something was strange. "How did you know that the third bus is different!"

"I didn't." Lin Chen picked up the paper the technician used to do his calculation. "But we could only hope for luck."

"What if your luck is bad?"

"If you're not lucky, then keep trying."

Translator(s): Kuro

TL Checker(s): Zryuu

Editor(s): Namio

Proofer(s): Celine

Kuro: Huge thanks to Zryuu for helping us out. (Belated) Happy New Year everyone! And we got a new TLC!!! Say h.e.l.lo to Zryuu, everyone. I'm pretty sure a lot of you guys know her lol

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