Hongjing Municipal Detention Center.

As a place where the government managed prisoners, it should naturally have a well-regulated routine, much like a psychiatric hospital.

Late into the night, the television broadcast news with a low hum. It was already midnight, and the voting had been ongoing for four hours. In the room where Lin Chen and Shen Lian were having their conversation, the LCD TV continuously displayed the voting results, while Lin Chen kept on drinking water.

During this time, many other news events occurred across different locations. For instance, there was a collective student protest against the arbitrary execution of criminals, and a big fight broke out among powerful inmates in the dark room of Min River No. 1 Prison, which eventually ended with Inspector Huang intervening to break it up.

However, overall, nothing major occurred that night that could overshadow the opening of the voting.

But perhaps due to the lateness of the hour, the voting pace slowed down, and some minor fluctuations appeared. The government’s official website still maintained a high ratio of 1:4, and no one was surprised by this result.

According to a certain statistician, when the sample size was larger, the data tended to stabilize. In other words, by the time one-sixth of the voting time had passed, the final result could be determined with a high degree of certainty.

Shen Lian wasn’t surprised by this outcome. Although she didn’t know the exact ratio that the final result would have, she knew that most people would choose to sacrifice the lives of the four criminals to obtain the antidote, which would save more people. The overwhelming majority would support this decision.

So, what she was most curious about now was what Lin Chen was up to.

“Do you know, Consultant Lin…” She suddenly spoke, causing Lin Chen to pause in his action of holding the water cup.

During this period, their roles seemed to have reversed. She became the one constantly talking and asking questions, while Lin Chen had taken a folding stool, propped himself up on the back of a chair, and was dozing lightly.

Lin Chen raised his eyelids slightly to look at her. His face was extremely pale, showing signs of mental exhaustion.

“You’re thirsty and keep wanting to drink water. It’s also a form of acute withdrawal reaction,” she told Lin Chen.

Lin Chen gave a slight smile, tapping the glass with his fingertips, and his smile seemed forced. “Well then, why don’t you cooperate and give me the antidote so I can rest?”

“Tsk.” Shen Lian chuckled happily. “No way, I find this version of you quite cute. Weren’t you full of confidence earlier?”

Lin Chen coaxed her like one would to a little girl. “I’m still very confident.”

Shen Lian frowned and said, “I really suspect now that you wanted to kill those four people from the beginning to get the antidote. When you guys get ruthless, it’s sometimes even more brutal than us.”

Lin Chen tapped the glass with his fingertips and made a crisp sound. He suddenly looked at her earnestly, his pitch-black eyes full of inquiry. “You always use ‘you guys’ and ‘we’ to separate the human species. What basis do you have for doing that?”

“Huh?” Shen Lian felt surprised. “Wasn’t it ‘you guys’ who separated ‘us’ in the first?”

“That sounds like a tongue twister.” Lin Chen shook his head.

“Criminologists have spent hundreds, even thousands of years studying why a person becomes a criminal, from the earliest phrenology to the present genetic determinism. Aren’t they making great efforts to identify potential criminals?”

“That’s just humans exploring the unknown about themselves,” Lin Chen said.

His face was calm, and this attitude irritated Shen Lian. “Yeah, just like studying human diseases. We need to correct, treat, and, if necessary, remove the parts. You guys treat us as… What exactly do you see ‘us’ as? You already know in your hearts!”

“What do you think it is, hm?” Lin Chen asked rhetorically.

Shen Lian suddenly choked, finding herself unable to come up with the right adjective at the moment.

“Potential criminals, objects that must be eliminated?” Lin Chen struggled to pull the clothes covering his legs and turned to point at the television. “So now, I’ve selected four real criminals. In a more extreme situation, you can see what we really consider you guys to be.”

Although Lin Chen was as weak as an addict, he still spoke so firmly that it left Shen Lian wondering where his confidence came from. “It’s 1:4, bud. You can’t possibly win!”

“In your eyes, what does my so-called winning mean?” It was at this moment that Lin Chen seemed to grasp onto something crucial and, with a somewhat suspicious demeanor, answered his own question, “If I win, those four people won’t die in the end, right?”

Lin Chen stopped tapping the glass, and this pause annoyed Shen Lian even more. But Lin Chen always knew how to provoke her. “You see, Shen Lian, it’s just a very ordinary idea from you, but if I were your therapist, I’d tell you that you’re not even aware of the cognitive issues behind this question.”

“Too bad you’re not,”

Before Shen Lian could continue, Lin Chen interrupted her.

“You’re afraid, yes. It looks like you’re confident, standing there as if you’re about to be the winner and mocking me. But what if I win? How will you handle that? You don’t really care about winning or losing; you care about the ideas symbolized behind it. If you win, it means your previously held beliefs were completely correct. Humans are selfish creatures, and you are just a kind closer to your true nature. But what if I win?” Lin Chen finally revealed a genuine smile, radiating an extremely bright aura. “If I win, what does it mean? Have you truly thought about this question?”

“Shut up. Do you think there’s even a possibility of that happening?” Shen Lian said coldly.

“‘Denial’ is the most basic and primitive psychological defense mechanism. If I were your therapist, I would seize this opportunity to say a few more words. Although ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ are just simple words, from my perspective, this term actually reflects your basic cognitive ability for moral evaluation. You actually have a clear understanding of what opinion you would hold about me. You even fully comprehend the social moral evaluation system. But it simply doesn’t move you, so you choose not to follow, let alone respect it. But deep down inside, you really know what kindness is.”

For a long time, Shen Lian couldn’t find the words to respond, feeling genuinely disgusted and nauseous by Lin Chen’s words. “Lin Chen, congratulations, you’ve succeeded in disgusting me.”

“My pleasure,” Lin Chen said.

Following the usual flow, when Lin Chen finished his concluding statement, the conversation should have come to an end.

But perhaps Lin Chen’s previous words really struck a nerve with her, or maybe it was just some psychological therapist’s technique, she couldn’t help but retort, “Come on, my point was simple. From both the perspective of human selfishness and human conformity, they would vote to execute those four criminals.”

“I’d like to hear the details.”

Lin Chen only replied like this, and regardless of how much or how little he said, it annoyed Shen Lian.

“Previously, I always thought you would create a batch of accounts online to spread grand virtues and goodness, to influence foolish people to make choices, thus reflecting what you call the brilliance of human nature.”

“That’s not beautiful. As I’ve said before, since it’s each individual’s choice, then it should be determined by each person’s free will.”

“But you not guiding doesn’t mean others won’t guide. In group environments, people tend to conform, especially online. Once someone expresses an opinion early, loudly, and it sounds very reasonable, many foolish people will be influenced, keep spreading it, and form fixed ideas.” Shen Lian paused and continued, “And often, those who are eager to express their own views, tsk…”

Lin Chen shook his head, and his feet followed with a little sway, as if expressing his helplessness.

Shen Lian knew that, in a sense, Lin Chen had a clearer understanding of this matter than her, so she had nothing more to say.

Just as she was about to continue, Lin Chen’s phone rang. Although there was no ringtone, Shen Lian clearly heard the vibration sound.

This was the first time Lin Chen’s phone rang since he entered the interrogation room for so long. Shen Lian knew something must have happened.

However, when she subconsciously stared at Lin Chen, the weak man who had been half-leaning on the chair suddenly stood up, pointed to the hidden door in the interrogation room, and coaxed her, “I need to use the restroom. You stay here for a while, be good.”

It was simply telling a blatant lie, and Shen Lian was infuriated.


The interrogation room’s built-in bathroom was very small.

It only took two steps to reach the end, and when standing to urinate, your back would press against the cold back wall.

The flush toilet and sink were of the lowest quality to prevent any impulsive actions—even the mirror on the wall was covered with a simple layer of cellophane to avoid any danger.

Therefore, when standing in front of the sink and looking at himself, Lin Chen always felt as if he was seeing a ghost.

He turned on the tap and aimlessly let the water flow over his fingers while using his other hand to answer the phone. “Hello.”

“Why is your voice so hoarse? How much nonsense did you say?” Su Fengzi’s voice sounded in the earpiece, slightly mocking, and Lin Chen finally heard the tone of a normal person, which made him feel a little warmth.

“I was discussing psychological defense mechanisms with Shen Lian, and then got into the topic of group psychology. If we went deeper, we would probably get into the field of mirror neurons. Fortunately, you called.”

Su Fengzi was obviously not a conventional normal person. He only said, “Are you interrogating or dating? Does Xing Conglian even care about you?”

“I’m a person with my own opinions; he can’t control me.” Lin Chen laughed helplessly again. He turned off the tap and sat on the toilet with his knees against the wall. It was an uncomfortable posture, but for some inexplicable reason, it made him feel safe.

Su Fengzi probably knew that he had sat down, so he changed the subject. “It’s already so late. Your dear Inspector Huang almost shot someone in the cell. Fortunately, the director cut off the signal in time. Have you found a breakthrough with Shen Lian?”

“No, I haven’t discussed anything about her personally yet,” Lin Chen honestly replied.

“There are still 20 hours left, Lin Chen. You can’t just be direct with Shen Lian?” Su Fengzi said, a little impatiently.

“I’m always gentle with girls.”

“So you asked me to come to Yongchuan Medical College to find something related to Duan Wanshan and can break through Shen Lian’s defenses, but you’re chatting about poems, songs, and life ideals with a little beauty?”

Su Fengzi rarely sounded annoyed like this, and Lin Chen could almost imagine him standing alone under a streetlight, sulking. Although he knew that Su Fengzi deliberately said this to make him relax, he still couldn’t help but laugh. “After all, I’m counting on you, Shixiong.”

“I’ve already looked into it. After so many years, who can remember a small detail from many years ago? You don’t even tell me what aspect the detail might be related to. It’s as difficult as finding another planet with life in the universe.”

“Your analogy is really beautiful, Shixiong.”

On the other end of the phone, Su Fengzi let out a long sigh and finally said, “I’m very worried.”

Lin Chen knew that this wasn’t a joke. He looked at the suppressed wall in front of him and listened as Su Fengzi continued, “If more people really believe that those four should die, will you kill them in exchange for the antidote?”


“And then?”

“Pay them for their lives.”

“That is meaningless,” Su Fengzi said.

“But what else can I do?” Lin Chen replied calmly.

“I understand,” Su Fengzi said solemnly. “Although I think it’s not worth it, I respect your choice.”

“Thank you.”