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.