Monthly Archives: January 2015

Chapter 30.

Horn escapes confinement.

 

 

Horn had decided to play along with Detective Strong, agreeing with him to leave his house on Monday morning and to turn himself in willingly at the nearest hospital. The idea of being sedated and held in an artificial coma did not please him and in fact, he had no intention of going through this ordeal. He understood why it was demanded of him but it was too much for him to stomach. No, he would not go through with this. Now, he only wondered how to escape.

He began thinking about the best way to escape and for him waiting at the last minute would not do. He thought the best moment was in the middle of the night, perhaps between 2 and 3 in the morning. At that time any policeman outside might have dozed off. Of course, Horn did not know that the two detectives would be taking turns to watch his house.

In the early hours of Monday morning Horn began his escape. It was 02:00 a.m. and he could see the car of the detectives parked near his home. Their car was positioned so that the detectives could easily see if someone wanted to leave the house by the back but at that time of the night with all the lights out, a figure dressed in black could make an attempt by a kitchen window. Horn promptly lifted up the window and pushing a small bag out he slinked his way out and then crouched on the ground slowly going through the neighbor’s property. From there he stood up and walked slowly while he took off his mask, a free man but now a man on the run.

He did not know where to go. He could not go to a family member as this would be the first thing that the detectives would look into. No, he simply had to walk as far as he could under the cover of darkness and hide somewhere during the day. He knew that by escaping in the middle of the night he had at least 4 or 5 hours in front of him to put some distance between him and the detectives. But would that be enough? He hoped so.

He looked at his watch; 04:00 in the morning. He had been walking for two hours travelling the small roads. At one point a police car had appeared out of nowhere forcing him to crouch rapidly. The police cruiser continued slowly advancing on the road and then turned on the main road and left. He got up and began walking again. Yes he knew what he had to do; he had to leave the area completely. He would still need to access a bank terminal to retrieve most of his money and then he would be free.

It was now 06:00 in the morning and the sun was beginning to ascend in the sky, as bright as a fireball. It would be another sunny day. Horn still probably had a couple of hours in which he could make further progress before someone knocked at his door and expected him to answer. He was walking as quick as he could but he also realized the foolishness of his actions. His face would be shown on the news probably and every police cruiser would have a description of him. It would be only a question of time before he was caught by the authorities. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks and sat down in an area where he was concealed by tall grasses. He looked around and felt lonely. A wave of emotions suddenly submerged him and with all the stress that he was experiencing he suddenly buried his face in his hands he began to sob violently. It lasted only a few seconds and then he re-composed himself. He knew that giving in to his emotions would not help him. He looked at himself as a victim of circumstances, caught in a hurricane of events over which he had no control. A helpless pawn he thought.

He got up and resumed his walk trying to get out of town quickly, but where? His home town was all he knew. He decided that the best thing to do was catch a ride, so he went to the side of the road and put his thumb out. It’s not something that he had done in the past and it showed by the awkwardness that he displayed. His thumb was really not out there, more like pointing the ground but soon enough someone stopped; a small pickup truck, probably a farmer out of town selling his goods at the market and now going back home.

“Where you’re going?” asked the farmer. That question caught Horn off-guard. He had no clue how to answer such a direct question. “Well? Aren’t you going somewhere, cause I am!” said the farmer. He was in his late fifties and his skin had all the appearance of one who spends most of his time in the sun. Of average build, he seemed a no-nonsense kind of a guy.

“Yes, I am going somewhere.” replied Horn, trying to steady himself in front of the farmer. “Just going to the next nearest town, visiting family.” That answer seemed to satisfy the curiosity of the farmer.

“Well hop in then, I”m going to the next town as well.” replied the farmer, grinning.

Horn jumped in the red pick-up truck, fastened his seat belt and looked straight ahead. The truck started slowly but then accelerated and began devouring the miles on the road. Horn noticed that the farmer as he was driving was looking at him from the corner of his eye.

“Anything special in the next town for you?” asked the farmer. “By the way, my name is John, John Long.” he extended his hand to Horn.

“Bill Smith,” replied Horn, not wanting to divulge his real identity. “Just visiting family really, nothing more.” Horn looked away.

“I’m a farmer. Just finished unloading produce at the market. Lotta of work at the farm now so I had to be quick here. What kind of job do you do?”

“I’m…a writer.” replied Horn. He did not know why this occupation came to him. He had secretly always wanted to be a writer but like a lot of people, he was not willing to pay the price. He liked the idea more than actually being one.

“I see.” said the farmer, grinning at Horn. “A scribbler. And about what do you scribble.”

Horn did not like the way he said that word. It sounded as if he was making fun of him, of his so-called occupation. Horn was sensing that he was being made fun off in a gentle way. “I write for magazines and newspapers, current events mainly.”

“Well, that’s nice. But if there were no farmers, you’d starve to death!” exclaimed the farmer. He evidently believed that farming as an occupation was superior to writing, as if necessarily one had to be better than the other. Horn did not like where the conversation was going.

“Probably.” said Horn, not wanting to continue such a fruitless discussion. He had nothing to defend not being of the writing profession. Why bother trying to convince the farmer of the importance of writers, but the farmer would have none of it and continued the conversation.

“Probably? So you’re not sure that a farmer is more important than a writer? Try eating your computer one morning, or you’re wireless connection. Just try.” the farmer said eying Horn. He evidently was taking this to heart, defending not just him but all the farmers of the world. Horn sensed uneasiness and hostility in the truck.

“So, anything more to say to defend your job?” said the farmer as he looked sideways at Horn.

Horn did not say a word. It was pointless to him and so he thought that by being silent the farmer would move on to something else. He wanted to change the subject desperately but he really had nothing else to discuss. The farmer kept stealing glances at Horn as he drove. Suddenly the truck swerved to the side of the road and the farmer reached across Horn and opened the passenger’s door.

“That’s the end of the line for you Mister Smith.” said the farmer. “I ain’t carrying you over to the next town. Get out, now!” he exclaimed.

Horn looked at him crestfallen but he picked up his bag and got out of the truck without saying a word. The door closed behind him and in a cloud of dust the truck left spinning its wheels and leaving Horn looking on. He was in the middle of nowhere by the side of a road just as the sun was setting. He thought that at least he had put some distance between him and the police but that was the only good thing. He had no place to sleep except in the open fields and now he had to depend again on the generosity of another driver who would be willing to pick him up. He sighed.

He decided not to try to get picked up again but to settle in for the night. Just as he was walking away from the road he saw and heard a police car coming from behind. It was too late and he knew it, had been spotted. The car advanced rapidly on him and two police officers got out, guns drawn and walked towards him.

“Don’t move, hands on your head, and get down on your knees.” said one of the police officers. “Walter Horn, there is a warrant for your arrest signed by a judge.”

Horn did not say a word knowing that it was pointless to resist. They probably had a description of him and furthermore he was unarmed and so he opposed no resistance. The police officers handcuffed him and then gently put him in the car, speeding off back to the city where Horn was to be incarcerated and probably sedated.

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Chapter 29.

Another death.

 

 

The policeman was found in his car with his head twisted around. He had slumped in his seat and then had fallen on the side. His face looked like if he had seen something horrific as his eyes were found bulging out of their sockets. No one had seen or heard anything, and for good cause; the time of death had been established as early in the morning around 05:00. The victim had been found by another policeman who was to relieve him in the morning and it was him who found him in the car slumped on his side. The body was still in the car as it was found when Strong and Fisher arrived.

“Well,” asked Strong, “it seems something has happened that has angered Horn.”

“I think that it is a fair assumption.” said Fisher as he looked at the body. Both detectives approached the car carefully and looked at the victim.

“From the expression of his face it is clear to me that the shadow approached it from the front. It then probably penetrated the car through various openings, maybe an open window, and then twisted the head and severed the spinal cord.” said Strong.

“Up to now nothing has been found in the car and no fingerprints other than those of the policeman.” said Fisher.

“And none other will be found I am sure. Come, let us talk to Horn. He may know what happened.” Strong and Fisher left the crime scene and walked a few feet towards Horn’s house. It was now 09:00 Saturday morning.

” Detectives Strong and Fisher. What’s all the commotion over there?” asked Horn, unaware of the murder.

“Well, we thought that you may have the answer for us. We think that the shadow may have killed our man, a policeman assigned to watch over you. Can we talk about this inside?” Strong did not wait for an answer as he simply assumed a yes and walked in along with Fisher.

Horn was unnerved by what he had heard. Another murder. And that he was partly to blame was no doubt in his mind. They all seated themselves around the kitchen table as Horn waited to be peppered by questions.

“Now Mr. Horn, did the shadow appear to you again and did it show you something or indicate something to you?” asked Strong.

“Not at all.” replied Horn. “I did not see the shadow, neither inside the house nor outside. I have no idea why this policeman was killed.” Horn’s face looked blank and pale. He looked down at his hands and twisted his fingers.

“So you didn’t see the shadow at all, is that right?” asked Strong.

“Absolutely. I had no prior warning of what would occur.” replied Horn.

“In that case, this means that the shadow is now more dangerous than before. It seems that it saw the policeman as a threat even if he had done absolutely nothing to provoke the being. This means that there could be an upward spiral in violence for no real reason. Mr. Horn, I am afraid that you must be sedated. You must be rendered unconscious.”

Strong said those last words with dread but he had no choice. If the mere appearance of a policeman near Horn’s house was sufficient to provoke the being to murder then it could kill for even the flimsiest of reasons. That was unacceptable and the risk was too high. Strong looked at Horn and waited to see what he would reply.

“Look, I understand the predicament that you are in. You want to prevent more innocent people from dying and I agree with you. I too want to prevent more killings. But rendering me unconscious without a time limit like you are proposing is unacceptable to me. I am a victim too you know. My life has been turned upside down since this being separated from me.” Horn said, finishing his speech and once again looking at his hands, twisting his fingers and playing with them. Beads of sweat were visible on his forehead.

Strong looked at Horn. Fisher looked at Strong and then turned his gaze towards Horn. All three men knew that something had to be done, but none could agree willingly on the course of action. It was Strong who finally broke the deadlock.

“Mr. Horn, I knew that eventually if you had to be rendered unconscious you might not agree so readily. I therefore have no choice but to serve you with these papers.”

Horn took the papers from Strong’s hand and began reading them. In effect, a judge had signed an order declaring Horn to be under arrest at the hospital. There he would be made unconscious for thirty days, after which if another thirty days was necessary a court hearing would be held in the final days of the first thirty days. Horn look at the words on the page in amazement. His eyes read frantically, looking for a loophole he could exploit but there where none. He reacted violently to the court order.

“You have no right at all to do this, none at all!” he shouted in a shrill voice.

“Remember,” said Strong. “we did discuss the possibility and you agreed. You said that you would go along with it and so I am simply making it official.” Strong felt sure that in the end Horn would agree as he was an intelligent and sensible man. Or so he hoped.

“So what happens now?” asked Horn. “Am I to go straight to the hospital with you or do I have a delay? And what if I refuse to go with you, then what?” said a defiant Horn.

Strong looked at Horn and then at Fisher, as if he knew quite well that it was a possibility that Horn might resist. “If you resist, then I will have no choice but to forcibly arrest you here. I am giving you a delay. You have the rest of the weekend to prepare yourself and Monday morning Fisher and I will pick you up and transport you to the hospital.”

Horn looked at the papers again, unsure of what to do next. Resisting would be futile; several policeman could easily be called by the two detectives. He started thinking that a lot can happen between now and Monday morning. Openly resisting arrest would result in nothing good. It was better to agree outwardly but inwardly, making plans to escape.

“Fine, since I have no choice I will go along with the plan. So I can stay here in my house until Monday morning right?”

“Yes indeed you can.” said Strong. “But you cannot leave the house. You must stay here. If you need anything a policeman will be outside for your convenience.”

“Lets not play with words detective, I will be under surveillance and watched day and night, right?”

“It is true. You will be under surveillance, for the good of the city and its citizens and of course, for your own good as well. I think that we’ll leave you now. If you have any more questions a policeman will be outside.”

With those parting words Strong and Fisher left the kitchen and exited the house, leaving Horn in his doorway. They began walking back to their cars when Fisher spoke.

“I think that it went relatively well considering what we are asking of him.” Fisher said.

“Yes. He knows we had no choice. It is curious though that he did not ask about the test and how it went.” Strong said.

“He probably assumed that it was not successful.” Fisher said. “So we will have to establish another surveillance of his house now, right?”

“Yes. But this could be dangerous considering the death of the previous policeman. So it will only be you and me. I’ll take the evening and then you’ll take the night shift.” Fisher made a grimace at the thought of spending the night alone in his car. Strong saw it and smiled.

“Don’t worry, I’ll come and see you before my shift starts and we’ll do some of it together.”

“But how can we defend ourselves if the shadow returns? It did kill one policeman that was just parked here.” Fisher asked, obviously nervous at the demise of the policeman.

“Don’t worry. The professor said he would be giving me something useful today before we start our shifts. This will deter the shadow and may kill it outright.”

“What is it?” asked Fisher. Just as Strong was about to explain a car arrived near them and out of it came the professor holding two small tanks with a nozzle, similar to a fire extinguisher but smaller in size.

“Hello professor, good to see you. Do you have those gifts for me that you told me about?”

“Yes here they are.” said the professor. He exhibited two small cylinders with a long hose at the end. A nozzle was fixed at the end of the hose. The professor gave one to Strong and the other one to Fisher.

“Please professor, explain how this will help us in defending ourselves against this being.” asked Fisher. The professor cleared his throat, took one of the cylinders and began his explanation.

“You see, this is the result of our little test that was made and that Detective Strong witnessed. We agreed that the test worked but the problem was how to attract the being into the contraption and of course if it could be killed by this gas. There was a real concern on my part that if this being was not warm blooded or even alive it might not die. The gas might simply have no effect on it. So I thought that perhaps only a small amount of nitrogen, compressed in a cylinder, could be cheaper and better with less side-effects. There is still no guarantee that it will kill the being, but it might be sufficient to disable it.”

Fisher looked at Strong with an air of disbelief. He was obviously unsure that the gas would work and fearful that it might simply antagonize the being. But as this seemed the best option he decided to carry it with him and to use it if necessary to defend his life.

“Well if you say that it could kill him maybe then its worth the shot. We should aim at the face, right?”

“Well yes, I would say so.” the professor said. “The fact is that we don’t know if the face would be more sensitive than any other part of his anatomy, but this is what I would do, as if it where a human being.”

“Well professor, thank you very much. And please continue your studies on another possible way of killing this being.” said Strong.

The professor left the two detectives and went back to his lab. The detectives embarked in their cars and studied carefully the two cylinders that were supposed to save them.

“Let’s hope we never have to use this against the being. I don’t want to find out if it really works or not.” Strong said, looking at Fisher.

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Chapter 28.

The test.

 

 

Before the test Strong took the time to visit Horn and to explain to him the ramifications of what was going on. If the test failed Horn would have to be rendered unconscious for some days as Strong could not risk him becoming upset at someone and having his shadow kill again using the negative emotions that were in him. Obviously Horn was not pleased with all this but since he had agreed that he would do it he had no choice. He knew that his shadow killed because of him and his hostile emotions.

After the visit Strong took the car and went straight to the university where the test was to be held. He parked and went to the office of Grugen.

“Hello Detective. Ready for the test?” asked the professor.

“Yes of course. What have you selected for your test subject?” asked Strong.

“Very simply, a cat. One can find stray cats everywhere you know, and this one will donate its life in the name of science. Shall we proceed?”

“Yes. Let’s see this.” said Strong, eager to see how it would all work out.

The detective and the professor walked towards a long corridor and then took the stairs till they reached the bottom floor of the university which was basically the cellar. As they exited another corridor they came face to face with a big metallic door with a small window straight in the center. The professor introduced a card in the security mechanism and the door popped open.

“This is the research lab detective and in the center of the lab is the trap.” said professor Grugen.

The detective walked carefully through the room letting his eyes roam around it. Rows of computers were deployed on his left as well as his right looking as an army in full formation before the attack. A few students, sitting here and there at the various desks and working at their computers, barely lifted their heads when the two men entered. Whispers were heard about the two men as all knew that it was the detective and the professor.

As Strong advanced towards the center of the room he came face to face with the trap. It was a sort of bell, but rather elongated and tapered at the top end and looking more like a test tube than anything else. Pumps were distributed all around the tube but at a good distance from it. On a desk near the tube he saw the sacrificial lamb inside a small pen.

Strong approached the cat and was about to extend his hand to pet it but recoiled when the cat hissed at him.

“Careful now detective, it’s a stray cat and it might carry all sort of diseases. A bite could be nasty business.” said the professor.

Strong smiled and wisely kept his hands away from the pen as the cat still looked nervously at him. He then turned around to embrace the scene and turned towards the professor. “Please professor, explain to me what the trap is and what will happen.”

“It’s really simple. The tube in the middle is where the cat will be. Imagine the cat to be this strange being that you are pursuing. Once the being is in the tube the door would close. Then, the liquid nitrogen will be pumped in as a gas by the three pumps that you see surrounding the trap. The liquid nitrogen will then collect inside the jar and as it is a gas, if the being is vapor it will solidify on contact with the nitrogen. As it solidifies it will crystallize and we will have turned a vaporous being into a solid being, killing it in the process.”

“How sure are you that the nitrogen will kill it?” asked Strong.

“Well if this being can turn into a solid at will or into a vapor, the nitrogen will fix it and kill it in the state that it is in. If we presume that it will enter the trap as a vapor then it would solidify immediately. If it is already in its solid state the result will be the same but quicker, assuming this being is warm blooded. But even if it is not a living breathing animal, it will solidify if it is real. If it is not real but a trick or an hallucination then we will know.”

“So the real challenge will be to get the being to enter the trap. Its a mighty small trap that you have there you know.” Strong could already see the problems in getting this mysterious being inside the trap willingly. A small room would have been better but probably more costly to construct, and time was of the essence here.

“Alright. When do we start this test.” asked Strong.

“Right away. We simply have to take the cat, put it into the trap and release the gasses.” The professor went to the pen and handling the cat with gloves, took the cat to the trap. There, the trap was opened on the side as it had a small door. The cat was unceremoniously pushed into the trap and immediately it began to meow.

“Now as you can see the subject is in the trap. Now look what happens.” said the professor.

The professor nodded to one of the students and the pumps were activated. Immediately a roar was heard which then diminished to a low hum. “What you are hearing is the pumps transforming the liquid nitrogen as a gas.” Strong was looking with interest at the trap and observing the gas being pumped in. The gas slowly fell to the bottom of the trap and as it did it made contact with the warm body of the cat and this in turn elicited a short scream. The cat who previously was on its four legs was now on its back, but frozen and stiff, obviously dead. All this took a mere 30 seconds to occur and Strong was impressed with what he saw and the speed of it all.

The professor then nodded again to the students and again the pumps were heard, but this time to take out all the nitrogen that was still in the trap. After a while, a green light appeared and that was the signal that the trap could be opened.

“Come here detective and let us examine this cat.” said the professor. They both approached the jar. The professor, wearing protective gloves, took the cat by the tail but when he wanted to put it on a examination table the tail broke off and shattered in a million pieces.

“Careful now!” cried out the professor to the detective. The remains of the tail littered the floor.

“This is incredible. So the cat on contact with the nitrogen vapors crystallized right?” asked Strong.

“Yes indeed. With a warm being the contact with the vapors will have this effect. But even if the being is not warm blooded the nitrogen vapor will act in the same way except of course if the being is neither warm nor cold blooded. If its physiology is very different from what we know I cannot predict what will happen.”

“What do you mean? Is it possible that there would be no effect on the being?” asked Strong, concerned at the consequences of not being able to neutralize the shadow.

“It is possible you know. If this being is neither cold nor warm, there might be no effect at all. The vapors might not affect it like it affected the cat.”

Strong looked at the cat who was thoroughly dead. He had to be sure that this would work on the shadow but now, with what was said by the professor, he had doubts about continuing in that vein. Maybe another solution would be better than this one he thought.

“Professor, what about a gravity field, could it imprison a being such as I have described to you?”

“So you do have second doubts about the nitrogen have you?”

“Yes I do. This being is probably not a warm being. Maybe it isn’t alive in the sense that we understand it.”

“Well in that case if it is not alive in the normal sense this scheme of ours would not work. We must find something else. As for a strong gravity field it is possible, but to construct something like this would be costly with no guarantee that it too would work.”

After listening to the professor, Strong thanked him for the test and asked him to continue investigating the case to find a solution, if not a gravity field then something else. Strong decided to leave the professor to his drawing board while he decided to return to the station. As he was about to leave the room the phone rang and one of the students picked it up.

“Detective Strong, its Detective Fisher for you.”

“Thanks. Fisher, what’s going on?”

“Another murder. This time its one of our own, a policeman assigned to watch the Horn’s house.”

“I’m coming.”

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Chapter 27.

First, I want to wish a Happy New Year to all my subscribers.

 

The professor assembles his team.

 

Jerry Grugen wasted no time in assembling his team, picking the best and brightest of the biology department, the physics department as well as the engineering department. Two students from each department were chosen, the best and the brightest, and as soon as they were assembled they began to attack the problem.

“Well Mr.Grugen, how will we adapt the chamber that will hold the being?” asked Susan Price, a top engineer student.

“The chamber really doesn’t require much adaptation, only perhaps putting in three large nozzles in the chamber; one at the top and two others on the sides. The chamber would then be flooded by the gas and this in turn will solidify the being.”

“Will it kill it?” asked Tom Pratts, another stellar student from the physics department.

“Most probably. If we use liquid nitrogen on contact parts of the being would crystallize and shatter. I think that we have to calculate how much liquid nitrogen will be needed. I am in favor of this gas.”

“But what about dry ice? Didn’t you say that it could also work in this case?” asked Susan.

“Most probably. But there are complications in both cases. Let us first examine the chamber and see where the modifications are needed.” said the professor.

Grugen and his team began looking over the chamber. It was small, about 8 feet tall and two feet wide. It basically looked like a jar that was mostly made of metal with one window directly in the middle of it. Adapting it to the task required three more holes to be bored in the chamber so that the nozzles could be connected. The liquid or gas would then flow through the nozzles and into the chamber, killing the being hopefully.

The transformation of the chamber was easy enough and in less than a few days the adjustments had been made. The delicate task of deciding on the liquid was reserved to the two physics students and the professor. Eventually, all agreed that liquid nitrogen would be the best option. It would have to be compressed into a gas and then injected into the chamber through the three nozzles once the being was known to be there.

It took another day before the compressor and the nitrogen needed for a test was assembled, but finally they were ready for the test. The chamber had been modified, the three nozzles installed and enough liquid nitrogen had been bought. The professor now had to notify Detective Strong.

“Detective, this is Jerry Grugen. We are ready when you are.” said the professor, satisfied of his work.

“Well done Jerry!” exulted Strong. “So now we are ready for the test. Can we do it this afternoon?”

“Sure we can. How about 13:00?”

“Perfect. I’ll be there.” Strong hung up and looked at his watch; it was 10:45. Just enough time to pay a visit to Horn and then a quick lunch before the test.

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