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.”