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.