Monthly Archives: December 2014

Chapter 26.

A possible solution.

 

 

Temple University had no shortage of physicists. In fact, they had a surplus of them. But what Strong wanted was a physicist with an open mind, someone who could think outside the box, someone who could come up with a solution even if it was strange  as long as it was feasible.

Strong and Fisher went straight to the science department where Strong had previously asked if someone could help them with the problem and if it was feasible. Immediately a man waiting at a desk sprung up at the sight of the two detectives.

“Detectives Strong and Fisher. I was expecting you.” the man said. He was in his late forties, well built and tall. He could easily pass for a basketball player. “Please take a seat.” he said.

“Thank-you very much.” said Strong. “Are you the physicist that was offered by the department to help us”

“I’m much more than that,” said the professor smiling. “I am the head of the physics department and I will try to help you with your scientific problem.”

“Very well then professor..”

“Professor Grugen. Please call me Jerry.”

“Well Jerry here is the problem. I must ask for complete secrecy on your part as this is a real case that we are working on.”

“A real case? I swear to respect this secret.” said the professor smiling. He had thought that the problem was merely hypothetical.

“Please accept the details of this case as true. Or if you prefer, you can say “what if it were true”. Assume that it is and that the details have been checked and corroborated by us.” said Strong.

“Alright then. Let’s assume that the details are true and have been verified. Go on.” said the professor, listening with eager anticipation.

“Imagine that a being can transform itself at will between a solid and a vapor. In a solid state it can kill but not as a vapor. I would like to know how to freeze this being to render it harmless or better yet to destroy it.”

The professor took a sheet of paper and began writing down the details that had been furnished by Strong. He then began writing possible solutions to the problem. After a few minutes he looked up at the detectives and smiled. “Well gentlemen, I can offer you several options. Considering that this being is dangerous and that it must be neutralized, there are a variety of ways to do this. My preferred way would be using what is called a cold trap, but on a bigger scale.”

“And what is a cold trap?” asked Strong, intrigued by the name.

“Well, once the being is trapped in some sort of container, liquid nitrogen could be pumped into it. The result would be that the vapor-like being would be forced to materialize. In fact, it would shatter to pieces if it were touched. Instead of liquid nitrogen, a spray could also be used. Five or six well placed nozzles could spray the liquid nitrogen and solidify the being in question.”

Strong sat and listened to what the professor had to say. Even if it was feasible, it would have to be constructed and quickly. “Tell me, could you construct such a container here at the university?”

“Well, we already have something like that, but not quite. It would have to be adapted to accept the liquid nitrogen or perhaps another freezing liquid perhaps. We must look into what would be the best liquid to use against our foe.”

“How long to adapt the container?” asked Strong, eager to get a deadline.

“Only a few days perhaps. Deciding on the freezing agent is more problematic.” the professor said.

“And why is that?” asked Strong.

“Well, each of these liquids have their strong points and their weak points. As well, we would have to import more of the liquids into the lab as we simply do not have enough to do the job.”

Strong looked at Fisher. He knew that in the time that all that was decided, the being could kill again. He would have to sedate Horn for a short while, just to make sure that no one was killed during the delay. At least Horn had agreed to this even if it was for a short period of time.

“Alright professor, we have a deal. Construct this chamber, and decide on the most lethal gas you can find that would freeze that being quickly and painlessly. If we need to buy different liquids, the police department will furnish the funds. But please, lets do a test before the real thing happens.” Strong said.

“Alright then, I will assemble a team with some of my best students. We will construct a small chamber, decide on the best liquids and then do a test. I will report to you as soon as we are ready.” said the professor as he stood up and shook hands with the detectives and escorted them out to the front door.

“And please professor, not a word of this to anyone. Pick your team with care, and make sure they understand that secrecy is important. No one must know what we are going to do here, understood?”

“Do not worry Detective Strong, I understand the need for secrecy. As soon as we are ready for the test we will contact you, probably in less than week.”

At those words Strong and Fisher left the professor and drove back to the police station. Strong was thinking about the details and the time lag before all this would happen when Fisher asked him a question.

“What if it doesn’t work? What if the being survives all this?

“Look, I am confident that this being is still bound by the laws of nature. If he is in a vapor state it must be possible to neutralize him in such a state. I am sure that the professor will find the right gas to do the job. If he can’t do it, then we might have to convince Horn to remain in a coma, and I’m sure that he won’t accept it willingly.”

“Well let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that.” said Fisher as he stepped out of the car and walked towards the police station.

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Chapter 25.

The plan.

 

 

Strong arrived in less than 15 minutes at Horn’s house and immediately sat down around the kitchen table with Horn and Fisher. “Mr.Horn, you must tell me in details how it came about that one of your shadows separated from you. Its the details that interest me.”

Horn sat back in his chair and smiled at Strong. “So now you believe me, do you? It took a while for this to happen.”

“Your story was fantastic enough from the beginning and I don’t think that you expected someone to believe it outright. It’s just too outlandish. But after all those murders I have to believe you because all the other options are closed. Only this supernatural and fantastic one is open, so please, try to remember all the details and Fisher will note them down and then we will go over them.”

” I gave you all the information at the beginning and you should have believed me right there. Instead we have lost valuable time and now we have several people dead.” said Horn, looking in a accusing way at Strong who looked back at him with a straight but determined face.

“I know Mr. Horn that time was lost at the start, but I had no choice really. The obvious explanations had to be discarded before seriously embarking on the less plausible ones. It was really simply logical to operate in this fashion. Occam’s razor it is called. Among various possibilities that try to explain a phenomena, the one with the fewest assumptions is probably the correct one. Now please proceed.”

“Fine. I’ll start from the beginning. I had finished work but my mind was troubled as I was in conflict with one of my superiors and it weighed heavily on mind. I was walking home in an absent-minded way, looking here and there but nothing more. The sun was about to set and as I looked ahead of me I saw one shadow clearly. But as I turned my head to the left I saw many more shadows, up to 5 or 6 at one point, depending on the light that struck the wall at my left. I was still walking and thinking and looking at the shadows at the left of me on the wall. At one point I stopped to look at the wall and there I could count at least 3 or 4 shadows. And then one of the shadows, the one closest to me simply stopped walking with me. I stopped and retreated to where it was. The shadow looked at me and then stepped out of the wall. It was a real body, but with no eyes. No features except total blackness. It then pointed at me and started to transform itself into a vapor and went up in the sky leaving a trail of black smoke as it disappeared.” said Horn.

“And tell me, has this being ever contacted you again, did it re-visit you afterwords?” said Strong.

“Yes it did, before the last two murders occurred.”

“It is clear to me that since there is a connection between you and the shadow, we must exploit this in some way. Mr. Horn, you must be prepared for the possibility that we might have to induce a comatose state in you to prevent more murders from happening.”

“What? Is this a joke? I will not accept to be in a coma so that the possibility of further deaths can be prevented. I understand that there is a link between me and the shadow, and it seems that my anger is used as fuel by the shadow, but it would be cruel to do this to me. In any case the link is tenuous at best.” said Horn.

“I understand your misgivings,” said Strong. “but I insist that unless we find a solution, that is the only way to prevent more murders due to your anger management problems. I will try to contact more scientists in the hope of finding a solution, but you on the other hand must accept your part of responsibility in all of this. It would only be a last case scenario, that is all Mr. Horn.”

Strong knew that it would be a hard sell to Horn that of putting him in a drug-induced coma, but he had to tell him. Preventing a murderous action by the shadow of Horn was all that mattered. If he had to, Strong was prepared to go in front of a judge and obtain the necessary papers for it but he knew that it might take weeks if not months. Only with the cooperation of Horn could the process be speeded up. But this of course Horn did not need to know.

Horn looked despondent, putting his hands on his head and then rubbing his temples.. He looked at Strong and then at Fisher. Both men were looking at him, expecting him to agree with them about the solution. “Alright. If as a last resort I have to be under sedation for some period of time, I will agree to it but only if there are no other solutions and only for a small amount of time, something like a few days or a week at most.”

This was not the solution that Strong had wanted. He wanted a drug-induced coma lasting as long as the shadow could not be captured and what Horn was offering was no real solution, with the real prospect of Strong being obliged to go to the courts to have something longer applied to Horn. But for now Strong thought it was best to humor Horn.

“Well I’m happy that you agree with me Mr.Horn. It is the only way to prevent more innocent people being killed.”

“So what is the plan to capture this being? Do you even have one?” said Horn, knowing full well that there was no plan except incapacitating him.

“Mr. Horn, I will be working on this problem as soon as I leave your house. My plan is to find some scientists who could explain to me how to capture a being that can turn itself into a vapor and at times be a solid. Maybe a cryogenics spray could do the trick, something that could freeze this being. If we can’t destroy it it must be rendered safe.”

“Well I wish you good luck, because from what I have seen this being is very resourceful and will not be captured easily you know.” said Horn.

“Yes, well, we have no choice but to try. Good day Mr. Horn.” said Strong as he shook Horn’s hand and left with Fisher in tow. It was well into the evening when both men entered their cars. The silence was broken by Fisher who wanted to know how to stop this creature from killing again.

“Look, I really have no idea how to go about it, but I think that some sort of paralyzing gel could do the trick or maybe some sort of electromagnetic field could immobilize it. I will have to investigate further.” said Strong.

“What about Horn, do I stop following him?” asked Fisher.

“Yes. It is clear now that he is not directly involved. I suppose that he is innocent of all those murders as he did not commit them but one of his shadows did. No one would condemn him as a murderer especially as he has alibis for most of them. No jury would convict him as just playing the victim would be sufficient.”

“Very well, what next?” asked Fisher.

“We are going straight to Temple University to meet a physicist, any will do, and expose our problem. Surely they can come up with a scientific solution to this.” said Strong as he sped ahead.

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Chapter 24.

The Detective and  the solution.

 

 

Detective Strong was still walking in the park and trying to think of a solution when an idea struck him; if Horn and his shadow were the problem then the solution had to involve Horn to solve the equation. The shadow that kills must be reunited with Horn. Perhaps an electrical current through Horn at the right moment might do this but when was the right moment? He knew that he was grasping at straws. But this was a novel problem that required out-of-the-box- thinking. Of course, thought Strong, when Horn is angry that should be the moment to attempt something. It seems that the shadow kills people that have angered Horn, so maybe if Horn is provoked the shadow will retaliate against that person. But how to protect that individual from the deathly grips of the shadow?

Strong knew that the solution was right in front of him. If he could protect the person who angers Horn, and then have a dialog with the shadow, perhaps some sort of understanding could occur. It was clear that without Horn no solution was possible. One other solution suddenly struck the imagination of Strong; perhaps if they re-created the conditions that led to the separation of the shadow from Horn they could understand what really happened and how to solve this problem.

After thinking about the problem, Strong thought that the best thing to do was first to re-create the circumstances that led to the separation of the shadow from Horn and then perhaps a solution will emerge. He decided to call Fisher.

“Fisher, are you still following Horn?”

“Yes, of course. He is still in his home.”

“Alright then. I want you to go in and wait for me there. I will be coming there shortly and we will examine all three of us the case.”

“What are we going to do?” asked Fisher.

“Well, I want to re-create the circumstances that led to the events that Horn described to us. We didn’t take him seriously before but now, we really have to understand what happened. Maybe the solution lies there. Once we understand this then maybe we can provoke something with the shadow and solve the problem once and for all.”

“I guess its worth the shot. But what if we still can’t solve this?” asked Fisher.

“The shadow will continue to kill each time that Horn gets angry about something or someone. We might have to take extreme measures that might involve rendering him unconscious for a while or in an induced coma. Horn won’t like that and that’s why we won’t tell him of this extreme measure.”

“Alright, so that means that once you’re here we’ll discuss with Horn how to go about this, right?”

“Exactly. At least we’ll have a plan of action based on what Horn will tell us. In five minutes I’m there.” said Strong as he departed from the park.

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Chapter 23.

Detective Strong investigates the murder.

 

 

Strong arrived at the murder scene as soon as the description of the priest had been given to him. The body was still on the ground covered by a white vinyl material. Strong approached the cadaver of the priest and lifted up the white sheet and was horrified at the sight that greeting him.

“Good lord, is that a bible in his mouth?” asked Strong to another detective.

“Yep. And it is solidly in his mouth, I can assure you. The pathologist on the scene tried to remove it and was unable to. He said that the force used to shove it down was extreme. For that reason alone he believes the killer was a man.”

Strong continued his examination of the body. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary except for the bible in his throat. He recognized the priest immediately, and even in death and on the ground he looked massive. “Time of death?” asked Strong.

“Well according to the pathologist as rigor mortis has not yet set in, it could be only a couple of hours ago.”

“Where is the witness?” asked Strong, looking around him.

“She’s right at the back giving her deposition.”

Strong decided to speak to the witness immediately as the events where still fresh in her mind. “Mrs. Collins, can I speak with you for a moment?”

Mrs. Joanna Collins was about 55, a wisp of a woman weighing perhaps less than 110 pounds with a pleasant face framed by short blond hair. She appeared to be a strict woman with pinched lips.

“Mrs. Collins, my name is Detective Strong. It seems that you saw what happened to the victim, didn’t you?”

“Well detective, not quite. I guess I arrived at the end when he was dead. How horrible, our priest at Hollytown. A godly man killed for no reason at all and by something that I can’t describe.” she said. A handkerchief suddenly appeared in her hand and she began wiping tears from her eyes, clutching it for dear life.

“Now please, start from the beginning and tell me what you saw.” said Strong.

“Well, I was walking through the park and just as I turned the corner I saw someone on the ground, and something that was completely black on top of him, with his hands on his face. Even if the sun was beginning to set this man was very dark or he wore dark clothing I guess.”

“Continue please.”

“I approach the scene from behind and I was then able to see that the man in black was pushing something down our priests throat. At that point I didn’t know that it was our priest of course. I continued approaching the scene and that is when I recognized our priest.”

“And then what did you do.” asked Strong.

“I screamed when I saw who was on the ground, and I screamed again when the man in black turned around and I saw his face.”

At those words Strong smiled, hoping that the face that Mrs. Collins had seen could be described in details and with a good drawing of it perhaps the killer could be caught. Strong never really believed that some black smoke was killing people and assuming a solid form when it wanted to kill. “Please, tell me about the face, why did you scream at the sight of it?”

“Well, because even if it looked like a face, it had no real features. It did have a nose, ears and a mouth, but it was all black. He had no eyes you see, only deep black sockets where the eyes should have been. It was like looking at something that was inhuman. The worst part was when it smiled at me, it smiled! And I could see no teeth at all, just blackness. I have goose bumps just thinking about it.” said the woman.

“After this being turned around and smiled at you, what happened?”

“It did the most surprising thing as it transformed itself into a black vapor and then slowly rose in the sky and disappeared.”

“Well thank-you Mrs. Collins for your testimony. Please stay in town in case when need to talk to you again.”

“Tell me Detective, what was it? A man cannot transform itself into vapor and into a solid. Is it human?”

“Mrs. Collins, truly I do not know what it was. I am investigating this matter seriously. Again, thank-you for your cooperation.”

Mrs. Collins left the scene still thinking about what she had witnessed. Strong wanted to be alone and think. Clearly this testimony meant that Horn was right, this thing can transform into vapor to escape and into a solid when it wants to kill. He decided to call Detective Fisher to know about the whereabouts of Horn the night of the murder.

“Fisher, this is Strong. Tell me, still following Horn wherever he goes?”

“Yes of course, why?”

“Tell me, where was he last evening between 6 and 9.”

“Well, around 6 he received the visit of the priest. The priest left around 6:30. Horn stayed inside his house for the whole evening so he was nowhere near the park where the body of the priest was found.”

“Alright, so at least he has a solid alibi for the evening where the priest was killed. In addition, the witness of the murder had corroborated some of the testimony of Horn about the appearance of that thing.” Strong said.

“You mean the description of the thing?” said Fisher.

“Yes. As well as the fact that this thing can transform itself into vapor when it wants to escape or into a solid when it wants to kill. The complete blackness of the thing was confirmed as well. Also, the absence of features of the face. It was simply all black, no eyes but empty black sockets.”

“Well I guess that Horn was right all along and our expert in science was wrong it seems.” Fisher said.

“Yes. It seems that science is wrong about this case or it is simply outside the bounds of science. Thanks Fisher for the information. Good-bye.” said Strong.

“Good-bye.” said Fisher.

Strong decided to take a walk in the park in order to sort out his thoughts. Now that he knew that this thing was something probably not human, how does one go about capturing it? Can Horn be used in the process? After all, it seems that it was part of him before it escaped. Maybe it was possible to have it come back into Horn, but how? These thoughts and more swirled into the detective’s head.

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