Monthly Archives: October 2014

Chapter 17.

The psychiatrist.

 

 

Detective Fisher talked to Horn and convinced him that for his own good he had to see a psychiatrist, one recommended by the police. Horn at first was adamant that he didn’t need someone else to tell him that he was sane, but in the end he demurred and agreed. His name was Andrew Merton, a well respected psychiatrist and one that was always used by the police for testing the sanity of possible suspects.

Horn was to see this doctor on a Friday, at 14:00 in the afternoon. The office of the doctor was located in an area of town where a cemetery was not far away. In fact, from the office, one could see it. A rather curious choice to locate an office it seemed to Horn. Horn did not know it but a person was following him at all times, Detective Fisher.

Horn arrived at the scheduled meeting and rang the bell. A lovely secretary opened the door and proceeded to let him in. He promptly sat down on a chair and began reading some magazines that were on the table waiting for the doctor. After a few minutes the door to the office near the waiting room opened and out came a small man, slender in size and completely bald but with a smiling disposition.

“Mr. Horn? I am doctor Merton. Please to meet you. Please come in and take a seat.” Horn had glumly shaken hands with the doctor but had not said a word, unhappy that he was forced in this visit. He knew that it could help him if the report was positive and in his favour and that is all he cared about. With all the circumstantial evidence against him he needed all the help he could get.

“Now Mr. Horn, Detective Strong has asked me to examine you or rather your mental state to determine….”

“Yes, I know, to determine whether I am sane or crazy, isn’t that right doctor?

Merton sat back in his chair, crossed his hands and putt them on his chest. He examined Horn carefully, noting his outburst. Horn was visibly annoyed. “Mr. Horn, it is quite normal for you to feel this angst. Tell me, do you think that you are you sane?”

“Of course I’m sane doctor. I agreed to see you because I think that in the end it will help me. No one believes my story but trust me, it happened.”

At these words the doctor opened his file and began reading the story that Horn had given Detective Strong. At times he smiled and that smile was noticed by Horn, who became increasingly annoyed. After a few minutes the doctor lifted his eyes towards Horn. “So your version of the events is that your shadow escaped from you as you were looking at it, and that your shadow is on a killing spree, right?”

“In fact doctor, it was one of my shadows that left me. I had seven or eight shadows around me and only the one on my left side departed.”

The doctor at those words by Horn began to write some notes in the margins of the papers he had in front of him. It was clear that Horn was intelligent and could hold a conversation. He looked and sounded sane. “And in your statements you said you were visited by this black smoke, this was in fact your shadow, correct?”

“Yes, it was. It even taunted me.”

“It taunted you? How so?” asked the doctor.

“At one point it came underneath my door and appeared in front of me. It then held one finger in the air, and then a second one. It then took off but lifted its finger a third time as it was departing.”

“And this meant what according to you?”

“That it would kill a third time, and it did.” replied Horn.

The doctor stopped looking at Horn and once again began to write on his papers. He was impressed by Horn’s ability to spin such a good story, one that was logical in the sense that it was in theory plausible, even if in fact, the idea of a shadow killing other people was nonsense. He pursued his questioning more interested in the case than at the beginning.

“But tell me, does this shadow kill as a smoke, does it choke its victims or does it become a physical being?”

“I am sure that it starts as a smoke and then becomes a physical being. That is when it kills its victims.”

“Mr. Horn, do you abuse drugs or alcohol?”

“No, not at all. I don’t smoke nor drink.” Horn replied in a strong voice.

“Have you ever suffered from hallucinations, either from sunstroke or from being thirsty or from any other causes.”

“No, never.” Horn was now calmer than at the beginning of the session. He had explained his story and he felt that the doctor understood him better.

“I will now give you a test to do, simply write in the boxes. At times it will be true or false, and at other times you will have to write some short sentences. You have thirty minutes to complete it.”

The doctor gave Horn the test and started the chronometer on his watch. The test was simple enough, just some basic questions that really aimed at whether the person taking the test understood reality and whether the person understood what was logical and what wasn’t.

Horn completed the test and gave it back to the doctor, who promptly took it and began correcting it in front of Horn. After a few minutes, he looked up at Horn. “Well, you passed the test with flying colors. No question that you are perfectly normal. I thank-you for your cooperation and will transmit to Detective Strong my results and observations.”

The doctor stood up, shook hands with Horn and showed him out. Immediately after the departure of Horn the doctor picked up the phone and called the Detective.

“Hello Detective Strong, this doctor Merton. I have the results.”

“Hello doctor, please tell me that he is insane, that would help me a lot!” said Strong laughing.

“Well I’m afraid then that my results will not help you. Mr. Horn is quite sane, notwithstanding the fact that he still believes his story to be true.”

“So, in your opinion he’s sane, but still believes his shadow is killing people, right?”

“Yes indeed,” said the doctor as he was sitting back in his chair. “He is sane just as you and me but still defends his story.”

“But doctor, how can this be? I have an expert opinion from a scientist that shadows of a person do not separate from an individual and that they certainly do not kill others. And you tell me that he still believes this to be true, yet he is sane!”

“I know, but the test showed him to understand reality as you and I, and my conversations with him showed me that he is able to discuss logically anything. So he may hold unconventional views on what shadows can or cannot do, but I assure you that holding unconventional views for human beings is quite normal. We can’t declare someone who holds unconventional views insane because if we did, most humans would be declared insane.”

“Alright doctor Merton, I thank-you for your time and patience.”

“Thank-you for letting me examine such a strange case, Good-bye now.”

Strong was now in a quandary; Horn was declared sane by the medical establishment and yet, science experts told him that what Horn was saying could not be true. Three possibilities existed to explain the murders; Horn was right all along, and therefore something that had never happened before was happening now outside the bounds of science. Or, Horn was suffering from illusions and was the one killing people but could not remember it. Having Detective Fisher following him could solve the case as he could catch him in the act. Third possibility was that Horn was being framed. That looked less and less a possibility as he had no known enemies.

He decided to call Horn and explain to him what the man of science told him, that shadows do not separate from their hosts and that even if Horn was declared sane by the psychiatrist, that did not mean he was right in asserting that his shadow was killing people and that reasonable people could not believe this. He wanted to see his reaction.

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Chapter 16.

 

Professor Curry and shadows.

 

Detective Fisher had located Professor Curry at Temple University and had secured an appointment with him for Strong. It would be after his normal courses on Tuesday so as not to be too disruptive to him.

Strong and Fisher arrived promptly at 15:00 in the afternoon just as the lecture was about to finish, waiting patiently for Professor Curry. Finally, the lecture ended and as the Professor was putting his papers in order the two detectives approached him.

“Professor Curry, I”m Detective Strong and this is Detective Fisher. We called you previously to have your opinion on a case.” said Strong as he extended his hand to the Professor.

“Ah, yes, the two Detectives who wanted to see me.” They shook hands. “Please, let’s go to my office, it will be better for talking.” the professor said as he began directing them towards his office. The professor was in his 60’s, and seemed to be all brains and not much brawn with a head that seemed larger than normal. He had glasses that seemed to always slip on the bridge of his nose with the result that he was constantly fighting gravity, constantly replacing his glasses where they had to be.

“Here we are. Please take a seat and let’s talk about this case of yours.” the professor said as he sat down. Strong and Fisher sat in front of the professor. The office was what one would expect of a scientist; papers piled high on his desk, mountain of books on each side with more books at the back. A small computer was in front of the professor and at the back was a large blackboard, no doubt to write equations and to solve them.

“You understand of course professor that what I am about to tell you is strictly confidential.” said Strong.

“Yes of course. Not a word will escape my lips.” said the professor smiling at the two detectives.

“We have had three murders in rapid succession, and one man is connected to all three murders indirectly. In two of the cases black smoke seemed to have escaped from the murder scene. Now this suspect claims that one day as he was walking, he noticed that one of the shadows that was accompanying him on one side stopped and escaped. And he claims that this shadow embodies in it evil or anger, with the result that the shadow would be responsible for the three murders.I want to know if such a thing has ever been documented in science or if it is feasible.” Strong said.

The professor had been listening intently at what Strong was saying. He took his glasses off his nose and began wiping them, still looking at the two detectives. No doubt he was amazed at this tale. He then put his hand on his large forehead and began rubbing it.

“Well, no, science has never documented such a case.” the professor said. “That does not mean of course that it could never happen or that it may have happened and we know nothing about this event. You know, there are a lot of things that escapes science still. We still don’t know everything about the mind and how it inter-reacts with the body. Perhaps your suspect only thought he had seen his shadow escape. Maybe he is suffering from hallucinations.Did you submit him to a psychiatric test?”

“No, we haven’t. He seems perfectly normal, holding down a job, making decisions. But I will try and convince him to take one but he won’t be happy about that. He does seem to have a temper.” said Strong, smiling.

“Well in my opinion, I don’t see how physically this is possible, to have one of your shadows escape from you. I will submit to you that it was simply an illusion, a trick that his senses played on his mind. Maybe he was taking drugs?”

“I doubt that. He does not seem the type. But even if it is not possible that a shadow escapes from you, what about the black smoke that was seen at two of the murders?” said Strong.

“And there was no fire?” said the professor.

“No, not at all, not a trace of combustion.” replied Strong.

“Well that seems odd. I can’t explain it. But I can assure you that this black smoke had nothing to do with shadows escaping people.” said the professor with a wry smile.

Strong smiled back and got up on his feet along with Fisher. “Well thank-you for your time professor. Sorry to have wasted it on such a case.”

“Oh no, not at all. I would have loved to help you but I don’t even think that it is a scientific problem. In my opinion it is more in the domain of psychiatry.” he shook hands with them, and then escorted them out of the building.

“Well, it seems to solve that angle of the problem.” said Fisher.

“It does scientifically but it doesn’t solve our problem. Just that according to science what Horn is claiming isn’t possible. Maybe we should submit him to a psychiatric test, just to make sure he is sane. What bothers me is that black smoke that comes out of nowhere and was seen at two of the murder scenes.” Strong said as he was walking back to the car.

“I agree, the smoke needs an explanation. I guess then that it is still possible that someone is framing Horn.”

“Yeah, that’s one possibility. The other is of course that it is Horn who is doing the killing himself, but does not remember it.”

“Are you suggesting that he may have a double personality, one that is perfectly sane and the other who is a killer?” said Fisher.

“Yes, that is still possible. So from now on, I want someone to follow him. I want to know what he does, where he goes. And ask him to come in again so he can talk with our psychiatrist. Let him decide if he is sane or not or if he could be suffering from a double personality.” Strong said as he started the car.

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Chapter 15.

Horn is interrogated.

 

The police had picked up Horn at his place of work and this obviously displeased him immensely. He nearly shouted at Detective Fisher who had picked him up. Fisher told him calmly that either he came with him peacefully or he would have to call for reinforcements. Horn had no choice but to comply.

In the car Horn and Fisher sat silently. Horn was sulking, angry at the police. Finally they arrived at the station and both men got out of the car, with Horn following slowly Detective Fisher. They entered the premises and went directly to the office of Detective Strong who was waiting for them patiently seated in his chair, reviewing the case files and the questions he had for Horn.

“Hello again Mr. Horn,” said Strong as he extended a hand to Horn who shook it rapidly, as if it was a distasteful act that he had to commit.

“I must protest at my arrest, in my place of work of all places. All this was very embarrassing to me. Do you have any idea how embarrassing this was?” Horn said, very much agitated.

Strong had enough experience with suspects that sometimes it was better not to say anything for a moment, just to ease the tension. He wanted to speak with Horn in an open manner and not treat him as a prime suspect, which he was of course.

“Mr. Horn, I am quite sorry for having you picked up at your place of work, but there was another murder and you are connected again, I’m afraid.”

At these words Horn slumped in the chair that was offered to him by Strong and became noticeably quiet again. He was afraid of what the Detective would say next so he said it himself. “It was Madame Belle, right?”

“Yes, I am afraid so. Please, tell me your side of the story. You are now related to the three murders. Where were you that evening?

“I’m afraid that I have no alibis, just as for the other murders. In this case, I went to see her hoping that she could help me, you know, with my shadow.”

“Your shadow? Please explain Mr. Horn as I know nothing about this shadow that you speak about.” said a perplexed Strong.

Horn squirmed on his seat but finally began to tell his tale, and how this shadow of his left him and might be involved with the murders. Detective Strong listened to his tall tale and smiled.

“Ah yes, so your shadow separated from you and might be responsible for the murders.” said Strong, smiling and slumping back in his chair. “Are you going to blame this murder on the shadow as well?” said Strong, looking at him directly.

Horn looked down at his hands, pondering the question in his head. “In my opinion, this has to be the work of this shadow, I can see nothing else. That evening, I went to bed quite angry with Madame Belle. She pocketed the money and did not help me at all. I just wasted my time at her place and she knew that.”

Strong looked at him, still slumped in his chair when he suddenly approached Horn quite closely and told him point-blank. “Mr. Horn, I could have told you that Madame Belle was a fraud, and I am sure anybody in this station could have told you the same thing. In fact, most people out there on the streets could have told you as well that she was a fraud. Only you it seems believed that she could help you.” Again Strong slumped back in his chair, looking at Horn’s face grow more pallid by the minute.

“I know, I know. I should have seen this coming, that she just wanted my money. I was a fool.”

“Now tell me, did you get into a fight over the money, did you try to get it back” said Strong.

“Of course I wanted my money back but she refused and asked me to leave, which I did. But I was quite angry at her.”

“And so you came back in the evening still trying to get your money and in the process you finished her off, right?” Strong was now standing up, with his to hands on his desk, towering over Horn who seemed smaller than ever.

“No, not at all!” cried out Horn. “I did no such thing. I am incapable of murder. It must be my shadow. I was angry and it seems that it can sense my anger and it acts on my impulses.” By that time Horn was on his feet, looking at Strong directly in the eye.

Strong looked at him and then sat down, motioning to Horn to sit down as well. The tension slowly ebbed away, and both men looked at each other again unsure of what would happen next. It was Fisher who had witnessed the outcry who broke the silence.

“So, do we book him for murder?” he asked casually looking at Strong. Strong looked at Horn, who looked as if he was about to jump out of his skin; his face was ghostly white with bloodshot eyes. He was about to faint waiting for the answer.

“No. Mr.Horn is free to go.” he motioned to Horn that he could leave. Horn looked at him but did not seem to believe what he had heard. “But please Mr. Horn, do not leave the city. And do not visit other mediums, it would be a waste of your time and money.”

Horn was so happy at the turn of events that he said nothing in leaving. He simply stood up, turned the knob on the door and left the station, happy to be free.

Fisher waited for Horn to leave before turning towards Strong. “But I don’t understand, he has no alibis and he is directly connected to the three murders. He knew them all.”

“Yes, he did know them all, and he has no alibis, but how did he kill them and with what? And why? And what if he is simply being framed by someone else?” said Strong.

“Or by something else.” said Fisher looking at Strong and smiling.

“Do you really believe that it was his shadow that committed the murders? Really?” Strong looked at him in a dubious way.

“Well there was black smoke noticed in the first murder. Maybe no one noticed the smoke in the other two. Can’t a scientist look into this and investigate. Could it be plausible?” Fisher said.

Strong thought about what Fisher was saying. Maybe a scientist could rule on this. And maybe not. But, it was worth a try and at least he could tell Horn that according to science what he saw and believed was impossible.

“Fine. Call me Professor Curry at Temple University. Ask him if I could see him as soon as possible.”

Fisher zoomed out of the office and went out trying to contact the professor who was a well known scientist known for debunking myths in science. Strong needed to validate or not this strange possibility that Horn was perhaps on to something.

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Chapter 14.

The murder of Madame Belle.

 

 

She was found on the floor of her small office face down and clutching her cane in her left hand. A small bruise was visible on her face where she had been struck.
Nothing else seemed to be missing. The neighbors had heard some ruckus and had called the police. That was all that was known of the murder. Detective Strong was
immediately on the case, curious to know if anyone had seen the black smoke escape from her office but it seemed that this time nothing had been seen.

“Fisher, ask the neighbors if they saw or if they heard anything suspicious, anything at all.”

“Right on it.” said Detective Fisher. Strong was walking around the office looking for clues. But as he walked around the small office nothing seemed out of the
ordinary. Money was found on her, about 100 dollars, so the motive for killing her could not be robbery. And at her venerable age, no sane man would be interested in
her sexually. That left Strong in a conundrum; why kill an old woman? At the same time he heard a knock at the door. He opened it and saw a small woman of about 65
years old holding a cat in her arms.

“This is a crime scene, please stay out.” said Detective Strong.

“But I only wanted to return her cat.” cried out the woman as she petted the feline.

“Tell me, Mrs..?”

“Mrs. Muir. I live upstairs. I was the one who called the police.”

“Very well, Mrs. Muir. Do you know if Madame Belle had visitors last evening?”

“Well, she always has visitors. She read the future in tea leaves and had talks with the spirits.” Strong tried hard not to smile.

“And do you know if anyone came last evening?” The woman put her hand to her mouth, leaving the cat on the floor.

“Yes, yes she did. I am sure of this because I heard a male voice. And that was different.”

“How so?” asked Strong.

“Well usually it was women who came to consult her, rarely men. I think in all the years that I had known her perhaps two or three men came in her office to consult
her. But last evening I heard a male voice. You know the walls here are very thin and everyone can hear everything if someone speaks in a loud voice.” she said.

“And what did you hear Mrs. Muir.” Strong was coaxing her to tell all despite the fact that he could see how uncomfortable she was.

“The man was talking about his shadow, and how it separated from him. He also said it was pursuing him. I had to fight hard not to laugh.” said Mrs. Muir, smiling. But
Strong was not smiling when he heard that.

“Go on, please. Did you hear his name by any chance?” Strong was very interested now.

“Yes in fact, she said his name several times.”

“Was it perchance Horn?” asked tentatively the Detective.

“Yes, yes it was. How did you know?” asked Mrs. Muir, looking at the Detective in a quizzical way.

“He is an old friend of mine.” replied Strong. “Now tell me, did Mr. Horn leave the premises peacefully, with Madame Belle still alive?”

“Oh yes. He did leave, but not before complaining about something or other. I heard Madame Belle asking him to leave and he did just that. Its only much later in the
evening that I heard noises and things falling that I called the police.”

Detective Strong was stymied. If Horn had left the premises with the old woman alive then that would work in his favor. But he could have returned in the evening to
finish the job. “And tell me, later on, did you hear any voices during the murder. Did Madame Belle shout any names?”

“No, not at all. She kept saying “get away from me” over and over again. I heard something striking the table and I think it was probably her cane. And then I heard
something fall to the floor and nothing more, no more noises.”

“Well I thank-you very much Mrs. Muir. Maybe you should keep the cat for now.”

“Well yes, I will. Do you think that that Horn guy did it? Did he kill her?” she asked.

“I don’t know Mrs. Muir. Probably not directly. But he has some explanations to give.” said Strong. With that he closed the door and returned to inspect the office.

He could imagine the scene now. Someone or something had returned in the evening to visit Madame Belle. She defended herself valiantly with her cane, striking the
table several times, until she fell to the floor. That would explain all the noises heard by Mrs. Muir. But then, what about Horn, what role did he play in all this?
This time he would have to come down to the station to explain himself. Horn was now connected to three murders and that was too much of a coincidence. He had to be
related in some way to them. If he didn’t kill these people directly he must be involved indirectly. Yes, he did have to answer some pointed questions and he was very
much suspect number one in this investigation.

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