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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