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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