Monthly Archives: February 2015

Chapter 34.

Strong and Horn discuss the plan.



Strong went back to the station and found Horn playing cards with one of the policeman, seemingly in a good mood despite the fact that he was being held in custody against his will.

“Well Mr. Horn, are you winning yet?” asked Strong.

“I am in fact. But tell me how is the plan going.” asked Horn, hoping to be able to spend time under house arrest in his house rather than in a police station.

“Very well indeed. In fact, this is why I am here now to speak with you about the plan. Please, let’s go in my office for some privacy.” said Strong.

Both men entered the small office with barely enough space to move around. The desk of the detective was littered with papers and drawings and a box containing a half-eaten pizza was lying on top. Strong tried to tidy up the desk rapidly, flinging the pizza box with the pizza in the garbage bin. He finally looked at Horn who watched with amusement how quickly the desk had been tidied up.

“Mr. Horn. Everything is set up. The trap has been constructed and we simply have to decide when to bring in the nitrogen. I have suggested to the professor that this Saturday would be the best day, as there are fewer people in the university and so, less chances of people being harmed. You would therefore be transported on Saturday morning. And things would develop from then on.” said Strong.

“But detective, how will the shadow be attracted to the trap. How will he go in and why would he?” asked Horn.

Strong knew that he had to come clean and tell Horn the details. He feared his reaction but he had no choice. Furthermore, he knew that he would be taking as great a chance as Horn. “You see, you will be the bait. You will have to be inside the trap with the door open of course, and when the shadow appears, you would have to get out quickly before the doors are closed and the nitrogen is pumped in.” Strong said, looking intently at Horn and waiting for his reaction which he knew would be one of incredulity.

“What? You want me to go in the trap and then get out? But you still have not told me how the shadow will be attracted in the trap.”

“Well for now I will keep that a secret as it is best for both of us I think. We might still change our plans up to the last minute.”

“You know that I could die in that cylinder, don’t you?” said Horn.

“I know. The risk exists but we will all be running some risks, some perhaps more than others it is true, be we have no choice. We have to end this thing once and for all. This being cannot continue killing honest citizens indiscriminately and you know that as well I do.” said Strong in a firm voice.

Horn was looking at him and then chuckled. “I say that with your little plan of yours you can get rid of the problem in two ways; either the plan succeeds and the shadow is killed or I am killed along with the shadow, accidentally of course. Or the shadow kills me first and then by killing me the shadow can then be killed. Which plan is it” he asked sarcastically.

“I understand your concern,” said Strong, ” but I must stress that you are an important piece of the puzzle in the plan for it to work. We need you there in the trap. Yes there are personal risks for you but we will run the same risks as the shadow could escape and turn its fury on us, don’t you think?” asked Strong, trying to impress on Horn that the risk of personal injury would not fall only on his shoulders.

“I suppose that you are right on that score,” said Horn. “But I still don’t understand how the shadow will be attracted in the trap.”

“Look, for now assume that the shadow will be attracted and let’s agree to move forward with the plan. Will you go along with it as it stands now?” asked Strong. He knew that if Horn refused he would have no choice but to try enforce an artificial coma on him. The citizens of the city had to be protected at all cost.

Horn looked intently at Strong. He feared that things would go wrong and he feared for his life but if others were willing to risk their lives he could not refuse them that chance. “Fine. Let’s go with it as is.” He extended his hand and shook hands with Strong who was all smiles.


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Chapter 33.

Horn, the trap and the shadow.



Detective Strong left the professor and with Fisher went back to the police station to inform Horn that for now, his residency at the station would be extended. Horn was unhappy about this, hoping that no plan would emerge in such a short period of time but he accepted the fact that he had to stay in jail for now till the trap was built. Strong was now hoping that the trap could be built in less than a week and that it would be operational by the end of it. He had no choice, he had to move fast. Once the trap was finished, the matter of how to attract the shadow into the trap remained.

“Obviously Horn has to be excited or at the very least, angered by something or someone. And he would need to appear to be in the trap physically or actually.” said Fisher to Strong. Both were at Strong’s desk, looking at the plan submitted by the professor to them. In the design it was clear that the cylinder that was to contain the shadow was three times as large as the jar bell used for the test.

“Yes indeed, that is the crux of the matter, to anger Horn enough that the shadow will make an appearance. But that in itself is a risky proposition.” said Strong. “And what if the mirrors showing Horn in the cylinder do not entice the shadow inside. We will be forced to use the contingency plan, risking lives in the process.”

“Well at least two of the policeman could be us, each equipped with a canister of nitrogen. Two others could be volunteers from the station.” said Fisher.

“You’re right. That’s what will do and therefore limiting the risk to others. Its our plan and it is normal that we take the lions share of the risk.” said Strong.

Meanwhile the construction of the cylinder began under the watchful eye of the professor down in the basement of the University. This location had been chosen due to the fact that it was isolated from the people above it. They all knew that the shadow could still escape and wreck havoc on the upper floors as nothing could prevent this being to pass under doors or open windows but it was thought that it was the best solution.

The trap was to be constructed by using sheets of metal that would become several cylinders that would insert themselves one into the other so as to achieve something that would appear to be seamless. A large main hole was to be cut on top so that the nitrogen could be poured in. Everything would have to be perfectly sealed. Nozzles around the trap, eight of them, would pump more nitrogen gas under pressure into the cylinder. The students of the engineering lab would construct the trap for the professor while the students of the physics lab would help determine the volume of nitrogen needed to completely engulf the being. The construction of the cylinder was to take a week but in the end it was built according to plan. Visually it was impossible not to be impressed as Strong was when he was invited to examine it.

“I must say professor this looks great. Let’s hope that as a trap it will do the job that it was intended for.” Strong said, looking approvingly at the shiny ovoid metal object.

“I do not see why it would not work. And if the being refuses to enter the trap, with several people around the room equipped with those portable canisters we can finish it off, I trust.” the professor said, looking straight at Strong.

Strong walked around the trap and began examining it under every angle. It was a piece of art without a doubt but it was art that had a function; to destroy a being that was itself bent on destruction. Strong examined the nozzles that surrounded the slick metal shell; eight of them he counted with the largest nozzle on top. That was to be the main nozzle and the one that was designed to give a knock-out punch. The other seven nozzles were smaller and were only supposed to be the finishing touches to the elimination of the being. He then examined the room in detail, trying to imagine where the other policeman including himself and Fisher would be located in case they had to finish off the being with the portable canisters. The room was small but it was possible to block the exits adequately. He hoped that he would not need to put himself or the others with him in jeopardy. What was left now was the decision when to bring in the liquid nitrogen and how to attract the shadow inside the trap.

“Professor, all this is splendid, a job well done. But have you given consideration how to attract the being inside the trap? How would mirrors do the trick?” asked Strong.

“Well, the mirror analogy that I gave you was only that, an analogy. I think that maybe Mr.Horn will have to be more involved than he might wish to be.” the professor said.

“What do you mean?” asked a worried Strong.

“What I mean is that Horn might have to put himself in danger. He might have to be inside the trap, physically I mean, so as to attract the being inside. He then would have to escape outside the cylinder by himself.” the professor said, taking his pipe and smoking, avoiding looking at Strong.

“That’s very nice professor but I will have to explain this to Horn and then convince him that the risk is low to him. And that won’t be easy.”

“Yes, well I know that, but we don’t have many choices detective. The being must be attracted inside the trap, and the best cheese that we have is Horn. Hopefully the mouse will try not to bite the bait, but there is no guarantee. It is the only way.”

“So you mean to tell me that the door to the cylinder will be open, and Horn will be inside waiting for the shadow. Then somehow he has to rapidly escape the trap so that the doors can be sealed and the nitrogen pumped in to neutralize the being, is that it?” asked an incredulous Strong.

“Yes indeed. Without a doubt Mr. Horn is the key and so he must put himself at risk. But first of course, he needs to be aroused in anger towards someone. I suggest that it could be you.” the professor said smiling as he looked at Strong.

“Thanks a lot professor. Really, you think that I should put not only Mr.Horn in jeopardy but myself as well?” the detective said in a dejected way. He put his hands on his hips and looked down at the floor while the professor was looking at him and was smoking his pipe. “Really?” said Strong.

“Oh well yes, yes, I think that it is the best way. You are the one pursuing this affair so intently and I am sure that Horn does see you as some sort of adversary, even if in an unconscious way. You did want to have him interned in a hospital. You wanted to put him in a coma and right now he is in your jail. It is a jail despite the comfortable conditions that you gave him, isn’t that so?” the professor said.

Strong knew that there was a lot of truth in what the professor was saying, and that provoking Horn could be very easy as there was a long list of grievances that Horn could come up with. He needed one that would put Horn in such a position that the shadow would come to him. The thought of this made Strong squirm.

“Very well professor, I shall anger him when the moment is ripe, but the idea of Horn in the cylinder waiting for the shadow is not a great idea. If swiftness is the key, and I believe that it is so, Horn might not be able to get out in time, or the shadow will get out as soon as it sees Horn wanting to escape the cylinder. I am afraid that we need something better.” Strong said.

“Well, what about this. Inside the cylinder Horn will have with him a portable canister. When the shadow appears he shall spray the shadow briefly in the vicinity of the eyes and then leave quickly.”

“I still don’t like the plan,” said Strong, “but for now it will do. Now to see what Horn thinks about all this.”

Strong shook hands with the professor, thanking him and his students for a job well done. He was now on his way back to the station to discuss all this with Horn. He anticipated that Horn would not be happy at all and would raise serious objections.

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Chapter 32.

The meeting of the last chance.



The meeting that would determine Horn’s fate and his shadow was to be held at Temple university in the office of professor Grugen. As a physicist his job was to offer a solution to the problem caused by the shadow. The professor and both detectives were sitting in his office, an office that was very ordinary except for the large blackboard that was located at the back.

“Well lets start this meeting. May I remind you professor Grugen that our talks here are strictly confidential and nothing of what we discuss must come out, alright?” said Strong.

“Yes of course, I quite understand,” said the professor, taking a long smoke from his pipe.

“Let me explain the problem again. We have a man who’s shadow has separated from him and seems to be malevolent. The shadow that is, not the man. It has killed four people for no obvious reason but it seems to be emotionally connected to Horn. We must find a way to either kill this shadow or disable it so that it will not kill again.”

Both detectives looked at each other and then looked at professor Grugen who was intensely enjoying his pipe; his eyes were semi-closed and he seemed to be in a reflective mode.

“Professor Grugen? Do you have any possible solutions to this?” asked Strong, mildly indisposed by the smoke coming out of the pipe as by now it had permeated the little office and a cloud seemed to be suspended above the heads of the detectives.

“Gentlemen please, I am thinking and this is a hard problem. This shadow can transform into a solid at will it seems, and then escape as a vapor. The best thing would be to use Mr. Horn as a bait and trap this shadow.”

“Well professor this is easier said than done, don’t you think? And once the shadow takes the bait, how are we to dispose of it or render it as innocuous as possible?” asked Strong. Fisher had said nothing so far as he had no clue on how to neutralize the entity and was content in letting the professor explain his thoughts.

“Yes, hum…I understand that the second step is probably even harder than the first.” the professor said, taking a long sip from his pipe. “Let me go to the blackboard and write down the problem and possible solutions. Perhaps seeing this on the board will help us.” The professor got up, took a chalk and began writing. He first wrote the problem, with its salient points and then separated the board into two, drawing a line from top to bottom.

“Well gentlemen, here is the problem in all its complexity. It seems to me that the fact that Horn and the shadow are linked implies that Horn must be used in the solution. Secondly, as the shadow can transform at will between a solid and a vapor we can use that to our advantage.” the professor said, looking at the two detectives who looked at each other with Fisher rolling his eyes to the ceiling.

“We already know that,” said Fisher close to exasperation. “I see no solution to the problem except by incapacitating Horn. If Horn is unconscious then his shadow is harmless. The other solution would be to kill Horn and since it would be murder then it can’t be entertain as a possible solution.” Fisher said, tongue firmly in cheek.

“What about using the trap that we talked about, the one about nitrogen. We could build a bigger container at the university and use Horn as a bait even if that meant he would be risking his life.” said Strong.

“Well yes, we could, but as I said it would be costly and it would take some time to build and there still would be no guarantees that it would work. The shadow might still escape or worse, it could turn on Horn and kill him before we could do anything. And this could be much worse as the shadow would be without a connection to its host and it might go on a killing spree. We must assume that if there is some restrain on the part of the shadow it is because Horn is in some way preventing more mischief on its part. If Horn goes, there would be no restraints on the shadow.” the professor said, taking a smoke from his pipe again.

“Is it possible that the shadow can exist without Horn? I mean, could it be possible that one day the shadow kills Horn if he gets in the way?” exclaimed Fisher.

“I must say that it is possible, although so far Horn and the shadow go together, with the shadow appearing when Horn is angry at someone and subliminally wants revenge. We are all at times treated badly by people, but we don’t have a shadow that does the dirty job for us, and that’s a good thing.” said the professor smiling, talking more like a philosopher than a man of science.

“In other words, we must be careful. Horn must be protected as well as the security of the people in this city. Professor, we must have a plan today so I can show it to Horn rapidly. In your opinion, what is the best way?” said detective Strong.

The professor got up and looked at the blackboard carefully, thinking long and hard about a possible solution. He looked over the security constraints, knowing full well that Horn must not get hurt in the solution. Finally he turned around and faced the detectives.

“Gentleman, I believe that the best solution is to continue with our nitrogen trap. The test that we did showed that on a small scale it works. Lets build a larger container, with twice as more liquid nitrogen and then attract the shadow inside. Mr. Horn can be used as bait but perhaps a trick can persuade the shadow to enter the trap and kill it.” the professor said.

“What do you mean a trick?” asked Strong.

“Well I was merely suggesting that Mr.Horn would appear to the shadow to be with it in the container, but he would not be. Perhaps we could use some mirrors to achieve the illusion, thereby attracting the shadow.” the professor said.

“I understand what you mean.” said Strong. “But what if it does not work, what if the shadow discovers the trick and does not enter the trap, then what?” Strong said, persisting in his questions.

“I suppose that we need some sort of contingency plan. Maybe we could have people on the sidelines equipped with portable units of nitrogen. These people would intervene if the shadow did not enter the trap. These portable units of nitrogen could perhaps do the trick for us if need be.” the professor said.

“And so these portable units, several of them I assume, would be fired upon the shadow and the combined effect would be the same as if the shadow had entered the trap, right?” asked Fisher.

“Yes indeed. The result would be the death of the shadow. It would crystallize and then would shatter, thereby ending the nightmare of Mr. Horn.” the professor said, taking another long sip from his pipe. “But of course, it still would be best if the shadow entered the trap. It would then be engulfed by the nitrogen. With people firing on it around it there is a chance that it could escape. I might also add that there is a risk for those operating the portable canisters as if any of the nitrogen landed on them that part would solidify and fall off. Death might ensue possibly.” said professor Grugen, eliciting gasps from Fisher and Strong.

“I guess then that the portable canisters will be used only by me or Fisher, and hopefully we won’t have to use them.” said Strong. “Alright professor, lets build this trap as well as the contingency plan. At least we have a plan to offer to Mr. Horn.”

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Chapter 31.

Horn is in police custody.



The police brought back Horn to the police station where Detective Strong was waiting for him. When the time had come on Monday morning and Horn had not responded the Detectives had broken in the door and had discovered Horn’s disappearance. The alert had been given to all police cruisers and so it was only a question of time before Horn was apprehended. Strong was therefore not surprised at the turn of events.

The police car arrived at the main downtown station and two police officers escorted Horn in the station. He was then fingerprinted and his picture taken.

“I am not a criminal!” shouted Horn at the top of his lungs. “My lawyer will take care of this, you’ll see.” he said in a menacing voice.

“Mr. Horn, no need to get upset. In fact, if you don’t calm down I will have to sedate you immediately. The doctor here is able and willing to do this.” Strong said, pointing at a man by his side. The man looked at Horn in a curious way, as if he were a circus animal.

“I assume this is my new patient. My name is Doctor Pike.” the doctor said. He was about to extend his hand to Horn and then realized that Horn was still in handcuffs. “Is this necessary?” asked the doctor, turning towards Strong.

Strong looked at Horn and decided that inside the police station Horn could not go very far. He fetched the key and removed the handcuffs. Horn was looking at him with an air of defiance.

“Now please Mr. Horn, sit down with us and lets talk about our predicament.” Horn as well as the doctor sat down with Strong facing them. Coffee was brought to all three men and the discussion began.

“Now Mr.Horn, can you explain to me why you decided to flee you house?”

“You know damn well why I fled; I have no intention of submitting myself to this forced sedation. I do not consent to it.”

“I understand,” said Strong. “But we had a deal and you agreed to this deal willingly. Now you are reneging on it forcing me to take drastic action.”

“You mean the court ordered incarceration into a hospital? You mean the suspension of my rights as a free individual?” exclaimed Horn, visibly agitated.

“Do not forget that you are a menace to the health and security of your fellow citizens, who just as you have the right to live out their lives without fear.” Strong said. The doctor was listening to the conversation with interest. He had been appraised of the problem caused by Horn, or rather by his shadow. He still could not believe it. He decided to interject.

“Mr.Horn, don’t you think that it would be wiser for you to submit willingly? After all, we all want the same thing, a peaceful resolution of the problem caused by….you or your shadow, right?” said the doctor. He had hesitated between laying the blame for the murders on Horn or the shadow but it was clear that Horn had not killed. Strong had discussed the case with the doctor and had fully explained to him the particulars of it but the doctor was still unconvinced.

Horn decided to respond to the doctor in no uncertain terms. ” I will not submit to being put into an artificial coma. The only way that I would submit to this is if you show me a plan by which you can capture or kill this shadow, and a deadline for it, nothing else.” Horn was standing his ground. If he was to be incapacitated then it would have to be against his will.

Detective Strong had listened to Horn’s speech. There was a way to sedate him with his agreement but that entailed that he submit a plan to capture the shadow and he had none so far. But he still decided to stick his neck out. “Fine, give me 24 hours and I will present a plan to you. For now, you will stay in this cell and you will remain as calm as you can. We will bring food and some books for you.”

Horn was dubious of the offer but decided to push in the direction of Strong to see what would happen. “And what happens if you have no plans after 24 hours? I want to be free, so here is the deal; present a plan in 24 hours or you will agree to let me live in my house freely but under house arrest until the shadow is killed or captured, deal?”

Strong decided to take the offer. In the worst case Horn would still be confined in his house and that would limit the risk to the public but it would not eliminate it. He would try to present a plan as it was in the interest of all to do so. “Fine, I accept your offer.” With that Strong and Horn shook hands with the doctor looking on approvingly.

Horn was escorted to a cell and given books as well as a television set to pass the time. As it was only for 24 hours he thought that it was well worth it if it meant a return to his house and not the threat of a hospital. Meanwhile Strong decided to call a meeting in his office, asking Detective Fisher to join him as well as Doctor Pike and he decided to call Professor Grugen as well. The more people had ideas the higher were the odds of finding a solution to the problem.

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