The fallen plaster had been removed from my bathroom but I’d received a message from my downstairs neighbour saying cracks had appeared in her ceiling. She was worried that if I showered carelessly then excess water hitting my floor would cause it to cave in and wreck her luxury apartment. She suggested that I visit a Turkish bath, or in an emergency use her bathroom to do my ablutions. The set up at our Denizen luxury apartment block in Golden Lane stank as much as I did at that moment. I needed a bath and The Denizen was falling apart because it had never been properly finished. The block was new but jerry-built, it reeked of drains and swarmed with vermin. Fortunately I had plenty to take my mind off my body’s insanitary condition and the creepy crawlies that were swarming in my bathroom.
I was wondering whether my avenging angel had murdered Tao of her own free will? If so why was she suffering from amnesia? Had some outside force was been exerted on her? Were zombie powders or even hypnotism involved? Had she been animated by a malevolent force? Would it take control of her again and provide me with the ecstasy of oblivion? I knew nothing else could equal dying at the height of an orgasm.
It seemed that committing the act of murder had acted on the girl like a bolt from the blue. Had the shock of it robbed her of her senses? Was she undergoing some sort of neurosis, involving complete memory loss? If she could only remember and relish what she’d done in the name of erotic love, her fitness to butcher me would be fully established.
Time pressed and danger threatened. If the true facts became known my angel of death would be arrested and I would never experience that ultimate apotheosis of a love murder. Currently my saviour was in too piteous a condition to stand trial. My angel must be proud and defiant in the dock. She needed to leave a string of dead men behind her, not just one. And when she was found guilty she would take her own life rather than serve a life sentence in prison. She had to live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse!
In my vision I’d seen my angel lovingly murder Tao. I’d seen the political slogans written in blood on the wall. I’d heard the woman’s laughter and although I had a clear recollection of looking around me, I had seen no one else. Yet all the evidence pointed to the dead man’s brother being present. Was there lurking deep inside my subconscious a love that dare not speak it’s name? Ultimately would I find it more erotic to have my life snuffed out by a man? Was this why I bought and hung on the walls of my London apartment Xiyadie’s paper cuttings depicting tormented gay desire. Pictures I didn’t dare hang on the walls of my properties back home!
The girl was sleeping again, the murder must have tired her out poor thing, I took her clothes from their hiding place and examined them. Turning over the cloak I came upon a pocket in the green silk lining. There was something in it, which I took out. It was an envelope. The writing I instantly recognised, I had seen it on the scraps of paper that Crippen took out of Tao’s waste-paper basket. The envelope bore the name “Hwang Jang Lee” on the front. Without hesitation I tore it open. The contents I give verbatim.
“Dear John, the Silver Fox knows that in the so-called Peoples’ Democracies, the opportunists have set up national systems in which all social classes are represented, with the pretence that in this way their opposing interests can be harmonised. In China where the four-class block is in power, the proletariat, far from having assumed political power, is subjected to the incessant pressure of industrial capitalism and had to bare the cost of ‘National Reconstruction’ just like the proletariats of the other countries. I am going to see that recuperator tonight He’d better take care or something bad will happen to him in the afterlife. I’ll write you at length tomorrow. W.”
Several points struck me about this odd epistle. It seemed to be written by a far-left fanatic. It contained neither a date nor an address. While Hwang Jang Lee was on the envelope, the letter itself began “Dear John,” the inference being that Hwang Jang Lee was an assumed name. The “W” of the signature was no doubt the “Woo” on the scraps of paper Crippen found in Tao’s bin.
The letter reassured me that this young girl had gone to Tao with the intention of killing him in an ultra-left love ritual, and that she would do the same for me. Nonetheless its extremist political content was rather disturbing. I did not want my erotic desires channelled so that they furthered the machinations of an occult criminal machine bent on overthrowing the Communist Party of China. But at the same time I so wanted to be sacrificed that it seemed worth risking a proletarian uprising to realise my sexual dreams. But as a clue to the lady’s identity the letter alone did not provide an answer.
I tried doing an internet search for Woo but had little luck. The top results were all about trying to gain the love of a woman, usually with an eye to marriage. Nothing was said about gaining the love of a killer who’d indulge me with a sado-masochistic death ritual, and so I concluded I was not wooing Woo. An image search did bring up a few women, but none of them were nearly as beautiful as the one I sought. At least I had a photograph of Woo, the portrait I’d taken from Tao’s pad, and I figured I could use it find the lady’s identity. I turned the portrait over. There was a stamp for Flash Photography! I resolved to visit the place to find out whose picture I held. As I left for the Flash offices, I was accosted by Dr. Crippen.
“I want to speak to you.”
We went to the residents’ lounge. That Crippen intended to be disagreeable was obvious. I resolved that his intention should be persistently ignored.
“No wonder, Feng, you resented my inquiry as to the terms on which you parted with Tao.
“The death of Tao seems to have affected you more than it has me, which is odd.”
“How much did you owe him?”
“You ask some very odd questions.”
“When a murder is committed the first thing to look for is a motive. How much did you owe him?”
“Liar. Feng I am a pathologist and a student of mental instability. As such I have watched you with growing interest. You appear to suffer from mnemonic intervals.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“If you were to kill me now you’d forget your murderous acts as soon as I was dead. Quite possibly consciousness of your action might never visit you again. That is what I mean.”
“ I will explain why I believe you killed Tao. I found in his room a notebook. Let me read you the last entry, dated to last night: ‘Played cards with Feng. Have long been aware that as a victim of psychic driving by the Chinese intelligence services he is dangerous. If he could have killed me then and there without being detected, he would have done so. A bad loser. He even accused me of cheating. He owes me nearly two million dollars. I suspect getting it will be like drawing eye-teeth, but I’ll have it. The money will be useful.’ Do you still claim you owed him nothing?”
“Psychic driving and the Chinese intelligence services, those are the ravings of a conspiracy nutjob!”
“It is well known that various intelligence agencies run mind control programmes. Psychic driving was a technique developed by Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron for the CIA as part of its MKUltra programme. While the Americans may have pioneered the use of mind controlled zombie assassins, it didn’t take long for the Chinese to pick up on it. Let me put you under hypnotic regression and I’ll uncover the whole story for you. I can free your mind from the thought control you’re under and you could win a bundle of compensation if you sue for justice here in London.”
“But I wouldn’t be able to go back to China.”
“That’s true but why would you want to go back once you know the full truth about what your country’s done to you?”
“China made me the man I am to day, which is nothing bad, so it is as guiltless as I am over Tao’s death.”
“I know you were in Tao’s room when he died. A girl just told me that in the early hours of this morning she saw you streaking along the corridor, as naked as the day you were born, racing from Tao’s apartment towards your own.”
“Who saw me in the buff?”
“The witness will be produced in due course. She says that perspiration was pouring down your cheeks.”
“My face or my arse cheeks?”
Both and that is odd considering you weren’t wearing a stitch of clothing.”
Was it possible that my precognitive dream was not a case of extra sensory perception but that I had actually witnessed the murder? As I was endeavouring to juggle Crippen’s words in my mind, the door opened and a man came in.
“Are you Feng?” he asked turning towards me.
“Then you’re Tao’s friend. I believe my master murdered him!”