Seeing Tao Mu holding the phone in his hand without moving for a long time, Wang Boyuan, who had been watching Tao Mu secretly, couldn’t help asking, “What’s wrong?”
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“It’s nothing, I just received a text message.” Tao Mu was uncertain whether someone was joking with him, or they really wanted to ask for help. After looking at the call display, the phone number showed that it was also from Town H. Tao Mu thought for a bit and then dialed the phone number back.
It rang twice and was hung up. It was completely turned off the second time he called.
Tao Mu’s heart felt heavy so he stood up with his mobile phone: “I’ll go out and make a call.”
While walking, he quickly scrolled through his personal connections in H Town. With a flash of insight, he found the phone numbers of the three girls he met last week and called them one by one. All of them had their phones turned off.
“No way.” Tao Mu muttered to himself and then dialed Da Mao’s phone: “Have you seen Yun Duo, Wu Xiaoxuan and Zhang Hanya these days?”
Da Mao was taken aback for a moment: “Who?”
Tao Mu: “…..” He had no words to describe his childhood friend.
“It’s the three girls we ate dinner with last week.” Tao Mu said quickly: “I just received a distressed text message from an unfamiliar phone. The phone number is also from H Town. I called it but no one answered. The second time they completely turned off the phone. I called the three of them again, but none of them could be reached. There wouldn’t be any trouble, right?”
“Huh?” Da Mao was taken aback: “No. Didn’t they say that they are going to visit the set today?”
“Which crew? Whose set? You guys go ask around. They’re all girls, so it’s best to make sure they’re fine.” If something really did go wrong…..
Tao Mu didn’t say any further. Da Mao and Xiao Pang were also extremely scared. The key point was that they were not too familiar with those three girls. They just had a meal that night. Actually, those three girls wanted to know Tao Mu but unfortunately Tao Mu was too busy and difficult to meet up with. Da Mao and Xiao Pang wanted to become friendly with those girls, but they complained that it would not be fun for the two of them to be following them around, insisting on “exploring jianghu” by themselves.
Da Mao and Xiao Pang were also not shameless enough to insist on following. Besides, they had to pick up newcomers to H Studio City every day and help them rent a house as well as apply for temporary residence permits and acting licenses. There was just no time and energy at all.
As everyone was from Beijing, Da Mao and Xiao Pang only agreed with the three girls to return to Beijing together on the 24th.
Also, this morning, the girl named Yun Duo called Da Mao and said that she would be joining a fan group to visit a popular male celebrity. She called Da Mao to find out the address of the crew. Da Mao and Xiao Pang felt that nothing would happen if a large group of people went together, so he didn’t ask carefully. But now, Tao Mu received such a call for help at the dinner table.
“It’s not necessarily the three of them, right?” Xiao Pang still felt disbelief. How could it be this coincidental: “Could it be someone pranking you?”
“It’s not impossible.” Tao Mu frowned, “But since the text was sent to me, I’d rather believe it just in case.” The key was that of the people who had Tao Mu’s phone number and also happened to be in H Town, except for those three girls, Tao Mu couldn’t think of anyone else who would send this kind of text message.
“Whether it’s a prank or not, you guys find a way to find those three girls. It’s best if they turned out to be fine.” Tao Mu frowned as he reminded them.
Da Mao and Xiao Pang nodded repeatedly. After hanging up the phone, they ran to the hotel where the three girls were staying. But after asking the front desk, the result was that none of the three girls had come back. They then called various places again. But where would they even go to look so late in the evening? Despite the small size of H town, just the temporary population was tens of millions. And there were all sorts of characters around. Those three girls, what if they were really targeted by bad guys?
“Don’t tell me something happened!” Da Mao had a forehead full of wrinkles. He then called Tao Mu: “What should we do? We can’t find them! Should we call the police?”
It hadn’t been more than twenty-four hours since they had disappeared. Besides, Tao Mu just received an unclear text message. Could the police even file a case?
Tao Mu was also uncertain. But he couldn’t sit still at the dinner table anymore. He repeatedly apologized for leaving early. The crowd of bigwigs also noticed that something was wrong. Guo Yaning asked what was wrong so Tao Mu relayed the matter. Everyone also became serious.
After all, they were three young girls in their best years. This group of adults also didn’t want to see something happen to children.
“I’ll also help ask around.” Guo Yaning picked up her phone and called her old acquaintances who were still filming in H Town one by one, asking everyone to help find the girls.
Tao Mu had an idea and called Da Mao again and asked him if he had pictures of the three girls.
Da Mao and Xiao Pang did take a group photo on the day they went to pick up the girls. Hearing Tao Mu’s question, he quickly sent the photo over.
Tao Mu forwarded the photos to the bigwigs one by one, and the bigwigs forwarded the picture to their respective acquaintances.
At this moment, Tao Mu personally experienced the inconvenience of not having a Wechat group or Wechat friend circle.
Like lightning, Tao Mu’s thoughts flashed through his mind, but was immediately overwhelmed by his anxiousness to find the girls.
Cheng Baodong also called the management of H Studio City and asked them to help find the girls.
Tao Mu saw that he couldn’t help here, so he ran to the police station to meet Da Mao and Xiao Pang.
The reality was as Tao Mu expected. The report information they provided was too vague, and the police station simply couldn’t open the case. But the incident involved three girls, so the police also took it seriously. They promised to let them have a look at the monitor cameras.
Da Mao immediately reported the location of the crew where the three girls were going to visit the set.
Tao Mu followed the two policemen and squatted in front of the monitor and watched for a long time, long enough their eyes became bloodshot. Finally, they saw traces of the three girls on one of the screens.
“It’s them!” Da Mao excitedly pointed his finger at the screen: “Mr. Policeman, it’s them!”
The policeman quickly paused the video and enlarged it. In the video, the three girls followed a group of other young girls into the Studio City. After more than an hour, the large group of people came out and stood for a while to say goodbye to each other. Then they either took a taxi or took an electric tricycle and left.
The three girls and a fourth girl in a white T-shirt and short tight skirt got on an electric tricycle together. The tricycle was the kind that was a very common blue painted electric vehicle. The camera pixel resolution was not high so it barely recorded the profile of the girl in the short tight skirt and the driver. The police uncle zoomed in on the stop-frame photo of the video for identification. Tao Mu also took a photo of it with his mobile phone and sent it to Gou Rixin, who as a local would be able to help. Then the video continued, the electric vehicle traveling all the way south along the street, turned left at the intersection, and finally entered an alley where the camera would not be able to track.
——China in 2008 did not have cameras everywhere like in the later years. Especially in small places like H Town where only main roads and important places had cameras installed. Anywhere else would not be tracked.
Tao Mu told the police the phone number that sent the message for help. The police checked it and found that it was just an anonymous phone card.
The matter had reached a deadlock so far. Fortunately, Tao Mu immediately received a call from Gou Rixin: “Why are you looking for Qi Laosan? Did he provoke you?”
Tao Mu’s heart jumped: “Brother Gou knows this person?”
Gou Rixin: “Sure. We drank together before. A very loyal and righteous person. What’s wrong?”
Tao Mu explained briefly and concisely about the SOS message he received: “I’m not looking for that tricycle driver, I want to find those girls riding inside.”
“I will call Qi Laosan right away. You wait a bit.” Gou Rixin didn’t make small talk, and within two minutes of putting down the phone, he returned the call. During this period, Tao Mu also sent Gou Rixin the group picture of the three girls with Da Mao and Xiao Pang.
“Qi Laosan said that they got off in the middle section of Wansheng North Road. Listening to their conversation, it seems that they were heading to a crew to interview as group extras.”
“Interviewing group extras in an alley?” Tao Mu raised his eyebrows. Wasn’t this nonsense.
“I heard that it was at some hotel or inn or something.” Gou Rixin said: “I asked Qi Laosan to come over. Let’s go to Wansheng North Road to look around. If we really can’t find them then we’ll think of another plan.”
There was no other way!
Tao Mu and the three rushed to Wansheng North Road after they left the police station. Before leaving, the police uncle who helped them look at the monitors and check the mobile phone numbers also gave Tao Mu his personal contact information: “If you find any clues, please contact us in time.”
The police were also investigating the identity of the girl who was with Yun Duo and the other two. But there were too many floating populations in H Town, which made it difficult to investigate.
Tao Mu nodded. Suddenly he remembered something and called Gou Rixin again: “Can you think of a way to find out that woman’s information through your group extra connections?”
Because H Studio City had attracted a large number of migrants to come over to work as group extras, coupled with the fact that H Town was increasingly dependent on the tourism industry, the population management of H Town was not strict. If the woman was not a local, and she had not used her ID card to apply for a temporary residence or acting license, the police might not be able to find out the woman’s true identity in the system. After all, H Town had always had extras with the habit of using other people’s acting licenses to muddle their way through——especially during the times every year when the Actor Union ceased to issue acting licenses.
However, this woman hung out in H Town all day long, and someone would definitely recognize her face. Gou Rixin was one of the older group extras leaders in H Town, with a wide network of contacts and was quite familiar with the area. Tao Mu felt that if someone could find out this woman’s information faster than the police, it would be the ones like Gou Rixin who were the local guys.
Human life was at stake so Gou Rixin agreed easily: “Okay. I will immediately send that photo to all the group extras and ask everyone to help.”
After putting down the phone, Tao Mu took a taxi to the middle section of Wansheng North Road. Gou Rixin had already arrived with a group of martial arts brothers and Qi Laosan to the intersection of the alley where the girls disappeared.
Gou Rixin’s face was very ugly. When he saw Tao Mu, he immediately said, “Things are not so good. Someone in our group recognizes the woman. Da Hei, you explain.”
Gou Rixin stretched out his hand to beckon a darkly tanned and thin boy. The boy spoke Mandarin with a thick southern accent and said, “I know this woman. Her name is Xu Jiao. She has been in H Town for more than a year. She was originally a group extra. Later, somehow, she fell in with a bunch of riffraff and started to do MLM.”
Tao Mu’s heart jumped, Da Mao and Xiao Pang immediately asked: “You mean Yun Duo and the others were deceived into MLM?”
“Not only.” Gou Rixin shook his head: “I’ve heard of those people. Their background is very complicated. It’s not just MLM, they also seem to be pimping at nightclubs, and even have some connection with human traffickers.” Anyway, what could be related to girls was only that kind of shitty stuff. And that group of people could be considered to have their fingers in all of it.
Tao Mu’s heart trembled, and he quickly called the police uncle.
When the police received the call, they took it seriously and immediately opened a case for investigation. They also sent some officers to join Tao Mu.
Gou Rixin had always been enthusiastic about helping out against injustices and was even more anxious than Tao Mu: “Don’t wait. We’re a big group of people so nothing will happen. Let’s go in first.”
Group extra leader Gou felt that with the large number of people on their side, there was nothing to be afraid at all. The martial arts brothers who came with him were also eager. Men, who among them didn’t have fantasies of being a hero at least once.
At this moment, it had been almost three hours since Tao Mu received the text for help. Tao Mu was also worried about the three girls, but he was even more worried that a large group of people just going in like this would inadvertently alert the enemy.
Gou Rixin disagreed: “If they are well-informed, then they should have already run away when our group goes over. Besides, I posted the photo to our chatroom. I can’t promise that someone wouldn’t tell them about it. If we wait longer, it will no longer be a case of alerting the enemy but a dead loss.”
Tao Mu felt that Gou Rixin’s words also made sense.
Upon seeing this, Gou Rixin waved his big hand and immediately went into the alley with a large group of brothers following. Qi Laosan, who had driven Yun Duo and the others before, led the way through the twisty alley, finally stopping in front of a inn called “Longmen Inn”.
Da Mao raised his head and glanced at the name of the hotel, and couldn’t help but to say with feeling: “The name is very domineering!”
Big brother Gou led his large group of brothers into the inn, took out his mobile phone and asked the front desk: “Have you seen these three girls?”
The girl in delinquent dress, who was sitting at the front desk and fixing her makeup, glanced at Gou Rixin: “I didn’t pay attention. Us innkeepers, how do you expect us to keep track of the comings and goings of so many people? You planning to book a room or not, if yes then get out your ID card. If not then go away. Bringing so many people over, who you trying to scare?”
“Hey, I say, why is a little girl like you talking so tough! Let me tell you, this is about a human life, you know? We now suspect that these three girls have been tricked into MLM schemes. Can’t you cooperate with us?”
“What do you mean, you saying my hotel is a den of thieves?” The delinquent girl smacked the small mirror she had been using for makeup on the marble desk, and then rolled up the sleeves on her arms: “You fellas come out now! Someone’s here to make trouble!”
Before her words even fell, seven or eight tall sturdy men had already rushed out immediately.
The group of martial arts brothers brought by Gou Rixin also stepped forward. Gou Rixin’s eyelids jumped and blocked the guys: “Who is looking for trouble? I’m looking for someone! I say, little girl, if you don’t want to help then can you at least not make trouble? This is really a matter of life and death. If you aren’t part of them, then you should help us. These are three lives we’re talking about!”
The delinquent girl rolled her eyes: “You the police? Take out your ID and let me have a look!”
“No.” Gou Rixin explained patiently: “These three people are my friends. They came from out of town to travel and experience life. But who knew that in just a few days they became targets for bad guys. This woman——”
Gou Rixin pointed to Xu Jiao in the photo: “She is not a good person. She engages in MLM schemes, pimps in nightclubs, and has something to do with human traffickers. You see, these three little girls are about the same age as you. The way I see it, little sister, you are also a righteous person and wouldn’t stand by and let something bad happen to them, right?”
“Is it my fault if something bad happens to them?” Delinquent girl rolled her eyes and sneered: “If they are missing, then you should go to the police, why are you at our inn? Sorry, we don’t have this obligation! Besides, with you bringing this large group of people here, people who don’t know better would think my inn is a den of thieves. How will I do business in the future?”
“No, wait. Why are you so stubborn——”
Tao Mu could no longer continue to listen to these two people wasting time. He squeezed over to interrupt the two: “Hello, can you help us check. These girls have been missing for several hours. We have also called the police, and the police are also on their way here. But the time is urgent, and we are indeed very worried about the safety of the girls.”
“Oh my god!” The delinquent girl looked at Tao Mu and then closed her eyes and covered her chest as she took a big step back: “Don’t smile anymore. With such a handsome smile, it’s making me go dizzy. These guys, knowing force won’t do it so you are now using a honey trap!”
Tao Mu: “…..”
Tao Mu took a deep breath: “Then can you check for us——”
“Check! Check! Check! I’ll check it for you right away!” The delinquent girl said, craning her neck and shouting: “Lao San! Come down and take a look. Have you seen these girls when you were on duty in the afternoon?”
Soon the sound of kicking and stomping came from the stairs, and then a bald man dressed in old man clothes and flip flops walked downstairs: “Hah?”
“These girls!” The delinquent girl took Gou Rixin’s cell phone and threw it to the bald man: “Have you seen them when you were on duty in the afternoon?”
The bald-headed guy glanced at it: “Sure did! They came with a woman and said it’s to interview for a special role. Isn’t this nonsense? What crew would live in our shabby place. I told them this but they didn’t believe me. The woman with them also glared at me real fierce, say——”
Everyone’s eyes lit up when they heard this, and Tao Mu asked, “Where are they now?”
“They left!” Baldy scratched his neck: “They went up and only stayed barely long enough to fart before leaving. A large group of people left together. Driving on a small and shabby minivan——”
Gou Rixin hurriedly asked: “Is there a license plate number?”
He glanced at Gou Rixin: “Big brother, do you think my eyes have long hooks? That I can be able to take a look at other people’s license plates while sitting behind the bar?”
These words were shockingly right——
Tao Mu took a deep breath: “I saw a camera at the door…..”
“It doesn’t work.” The delinquent girl shook her head: “The camera was broken long ago. We just leave it up there to scare people.”
Everyone felt disappointed when they heard this. Tao Mu was about to say more but was interrupted by the ringing of his phone.
Tao Mu answered the phone: “Officer Yao? We are at the Longmen Inn….. We still didn’t find them. We heard they came to audition, and then left with a group of people. They drove away in a minivan….. Okay, I’ll meet you at the door.”
Tao Mu put down the phone: “Officer Yao and the other police came. I’ll go to the door to greet them.”
Da Mao and Xiao Pang immediately said, “We’ll go with you.”
Then they complained furiously: “Say, are those three girls stupid or what. We already told them that this place is very chaotic and that they shouldn’t trust others or follow others so easily. Why didn’t they listen…..”
“So you don’t really know them?” The delinquent girl understood it now. Looking at Tao Mu’s handsome face, she couldn’t help but comfort: “Then don’t be too anxious. If a person is too stupid even the gods won’t be able to save them. But handsome guy, you are not only handsome, but also have such a good heart. Are you a celebrity, handsome guy? What films are you in, how come I don’t have any impression~?”
Tao Mu didn’t have the time to pay attention to being hit on by a girl at this moment. He walked out of the inn in the direction of the alley with his mobile phone, and greeted Officer Yao’s police car within a few minutes.
Officer Yao rolled down the car window and let Tao Mu get into the car. Tao Mu explained what happened in the inn, and finally said, “We only found out that they were taken away by a minivan. There is no license plate number.”
Officer Yao’s eyebrows were also frowning deeply. The police first got an official statement from the inn again, and it was basically the same as what Tao Mu said. They then called back to the police station to request more police to go search the streets——but again, H town had too many people with many floating populations and the police force was also limited. Fortunately, Gou Rixin took his martial arts brothers to inquire around, and the police also called all the well known group extras leaders in H Town to help as well.
Even Qi Laoan called his fellow tricycle drivers. Those photos were practically sent flying all over the place as they asked for any news.
In the end, it was the delinquent girl from the Longmen Inn that was the first to get the news——the bald guy who had seen Xu Jiao asked around, and finally found out from a drinking buddy where Xu Jiao’s rental apartment was as well as a courtyard house rented in the suburbs she frequented.
After receiving the news, the police immediately dispatched officers over. Tao Mu and Gou Rixin followed. Considering that they didn’t have any idea on the exact numbers in the MLM group and the human trafficking group, they were also willing to let Gou Rixin’s martial arts group extras to come along. Delinquent girl and her brothers were direct informants so they must also follow. During the ride, delinquent girl insisted on being in the same car as Tao Mu where she then asked for Tao Mu’s contact information straightforwardly: “I tell you that I am doing this because of you. If it were anyone else I wouldn’t bother at all!”
Tao Mu had no choice but to tell delinquent girl his mobile phone number in H Town. Delinquent girl carefully saved the phone number and went even further: “Do you have Weibo? Let’s friend each other?”
Before Tao Mu could speak, delinquent girl spoke again: “Wait a moment, let me change my Weibo name first.”
Da Mao and Xiao Pang secretly glanced at delinquent girl’s phone from the corner of their eyes, and found that her original Weibo name was “Big Sister with a Knife” and her Weibo profile picture was an imposing Siberian tiger. Not long, she changed the Weibo name to “Gentle Little White Rabbit”, and the Weibo profile picture was also replaced with a red-eyed white rabbit.
Da Mao and Xiao Pang: “…..”
Several police cars and dozens of vans whizzed past in the dark. They entered the village that the informant mentioned, and finally stopped in front of a very remote courtyard house at the end of the village. When Tao Mu got out of the car, he heard a loud noise come from inside——the MLM group was indeed hiding in the courtyard house. When the police arrived, it happened that Xu Jiao was discussing business with a certain human trafficker, wanting to transfer away all the disobedient girls, and was not expecting to be caught by the police redhanded——now, not only was the MLM den taken out, but also turned up even more dirt in the form of a human trafficking gang hiding in H Town who carried out their operations under the guise of recruiting for crews to deceive young girls. They managed to rescue a group of victims who had been deeply trapped by this MLM den.
There was good news, as well as bad news.
——The three girls had struggled too fiercely when they learned that they were deceived. When struggling, one of the girls had been slapped by a suspect, the force of which knocked her head against a wall and she was now bleeding and unconscious.
The suspect was also afraid of a death occurring, and wanted to send the injured girl to a black clinic for treatment. The others disagreed, for fear that something might happen again. As the two groups quarreled, Yun Duo managed to grab the phone of one of the suspects and sent Tao Mu a message for help. The reason why she didn’t call the police directly was because she was worried that there was no time.
Sure enough, Yun Duo was discovered just after she picked up the phone and typed the word. Fortunately, she had pressed the send button in time during the scramble——and fortunately, Tao Mu’s face was so handsome that the three girls memorized Tao Mu’s phone number as soon as they got it. And also fortunately, Tao Mu didn’t treat it as a prank after receiving the text message, and really did call the police and rescued them.
When Tao Mu and the others rushed to the scene, they saw a group of injured girls and other victims.
Yun Duo was bruised all over her body from being beaten up by those people. The conditions of the remaining two girls were not very good either. But fortunately, nothing else happened——the three of them had made so much trouble that the suspects were worried about something going wrong so they were only anxious to just sell the three girls to some remote place as soon as possible. In addition, one of the girls was bloody all over and appeared to be in danger of dying at any time. The bunch of scumbags were worried about a death on their hands and had no energy or thoughts of raping the girls…..
“Tao Mu wu wu wu…..” Yun Duo collapsed at her first sight of Tao Mu: “I want to go home. I want to go home wu wu wu…..I’m scared to death…..”
Tao Mu stretched out his hand and patted the girl’s back. He listened to the sound of the ambulance coming in and said, “It’s okay. It’s okay. The police uncles rescued you. Let’s go to the hospital. By the way, do you remember your family’s phone number? You can use my cell phone to call them and ask them to come and pick you up.”
“En!” The girl nodded, still holding Tao Mu and not letting go: “My dad’s name is Yun Xingjian, and our phone number is…..”
Tao Mu paused while holding the phone, and looked at Yun Duo with a slightly weird look: “Yun Xingjian? Is that the surgeon Yun Xingjian of Beijing No. 1 People’s Hospital?”
Yun Duo looked at Tao Mu in shock, “Do you know my dad?”
Tao Mu had a weird look on his face: “Do you have a brother named Yun Yi?”
“Ang~” Yun Duo became more and more dazed: “Do you also know my brother?”
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Nonsense! Tao Mu privately thought: Who didn’t know the man who created Skynet Technology, the richest man in China?
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