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Chapter 36.

The shadow, Horn and Strong.

 

 

The professor had been taken aback at how quickly detective Strong had exited the trap. He had hoped for a signal of some sorts but none had come. And then, as he was watching the scene on his screen, the shadow had appeared with Horn. There was definitely a presence with him but it was not yet solid. The professor put his hand up to Strong and pointed at the machine indicating that it was not the time to take Horn out. Within a few seconds the shadow assumed a corporeal form just as Horn had indicated that it could. The professor was astonished at what he saw on his screen.

“Now! Get him out!” shouted the professor at Strong. The three other policeman present had assumed a defensive position at the entrance of the machine, prepared to counteract the shadow with their canisters of nitrogen.

Strong opened the hatch rapidly, surprising Horn as he was looking at the shadow. He grabbed Horn by the arm and violently threw him out. The shadow had not moved in the few seconds that all that had taken place, still immobile in the center of the machine but looking in a puzzling way when Strong and Horn had exited the trap. Strong and the others quickly closed the door and sealed the hatch signalling immediately to the professor to start the pumps. The liquid nitrogen began to pour into the machine from the top and the sides, attacking the being who was still in its solid state. The professor looked at the screen to see what was going on but a heavy cloud obscured what he could see. He only saw arms flailing here and there but not the head of the being.

The pumps had done the job and liquid nitrogen was poured in for many minutes until the egg shaped machine was deemed to be full. Still the professor could not see inside as too much vapor was present. He left the liquid nitrogen settle in the machine for 15 minutes and began to wait. Meanwhile Horn and Strong were talking near the professor by the screen, both apprehensive about what would happen next.

“Its a dirty trick that you pulled there, getting me all worked up against you.” said Horn, still shocked at the turn of events.

“I didn’t have much choice. I had to get you angry at me at the right moment. Had I told you about the plan and warned you it might not have worked as your anger might not have risen high enough.” replied Strong smiling.

“Still, you risked my life. What if the shadow had seized me before you did, then what?” asked a still shaken Horn.

“I guess we’ll never know and that’s a good thing in my opinion.” said Strong, grinning.

“Gentleman”, said the professor, ” I will now operate the pumps in reverse to evacuate the nitrogen still in the machine and we’ll see if the being has been vitrified or if it did have the time to escape as a gas.” the professor said. The hum of the machines began to be heard again and slowly the machine was emptied of its deadly liquid. The screen showed that slowly the fog was dissipating being evacuated by the pumps. The three men were avidly looking at the screen, trying hard to discern what had happened to the being. Slowly the fog lifted and a head, and then the whole body of the being was visible. Clearly it had been vitrified by the liquid as it was still upright with its arms extended. Its face had an expression of surprise and horror, but it was still without any features and still looked as black as the night.

The machine continued to evacuate the liquid for another 15 minutes and by then everyone knew that the being was dead, without a doubt. To be sure of this, they had to open the hatch and let air from outside come in. That would probably shatter the being in a million pieces due to the difference in pressure between the inside of the machine and the outside according to the professor.

Strong indicated to the other policeman to stand around the hatch just in case the being had not been neutralized. The professor slowly opened the hatch and as it opened they heard a loud shattering noise. The hatch was then completely opened and what they saw confirmed the death of the being; a million pieces of glass littered the floor of the machine. Just as the professor had expected the body of the being had shattered. Everywhere one looked inside the machine shiny pieces of glass were present. At the sight of this the policeman retreated knowing full well that they were not required anymore. The professor looked at Strong who looked back at him. Relief was in his eyes.

“You know, pulling out Mr. Horn at the last minute as you did was fraught with danger. The being could have retained you and Mr.Horn inside, and the pumps could not have been activated.”

“Yes, I know, I was lucky that the being just froze. I guess it was caught by surprise and probably didn’t understand what I was doing, or why.” said Strong.

Everyone was looking at the pieces of the being laying on the floor. Everyone looked at it in awe. The being had been defeated by the ingenuity of many men pulling their minds together. It was not a certainty that the being could be killed, but the attempt had to be made and it worked.

Fisher approached Strong and congratulated him on ending this nightmare. “Yes indeed, it is finished. But who could have predicted that such a thing could happen, and what else lies in store for us. Humanity may still be at risk from totally unknown beings that could threaten it. I find this a sobering thought.” said Strong.

“Tell me detective Strong, what are we to do with the remains of the being, you know, all those lovely pieces of reflecting glass containing body parts?” asked the professor, who obviously in the name of science wanted to be the custodian of them.

Strong looked at him and at the pieces lying on the floor and said, “Professor, they are all yours. Let science examine what is left of this being and study him. It might become useful someday if another of these beings reappears.”

The professor smiled and put his hands together happy that he had what he wanted. He looked at the floor of the machine and bent down to pick up one of the pieces of the being. It was the left eye. It was looking straight up at the professor as he was examining it and then turned left as it saw Horn approach. The professor was shocked by this and promptly dropped the eye, shattering it to another million pieces. He looked to see where detective Strong was to alert him but he was walking towards the exit along with Fisher oblivious to what had happened.

The end.

 

 

Well this is the final installment of my book and I hope that you have liked it. My next book is not quite ready so for  the next few weeks I will start putting up some essays that reflect some of my thinking on life and society in general. See you next week!

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Chapter 35.

The trap is set.

 

 

Strong was happy that Horn understood he had to take risks just as himself and the others were.True, some of the crew could be risking their lives, but that was to be expected in the face of a being that for the most part was still very mysterious.

Strong then called the professor from his office and explained to him that all was well with Horn and that they could begin with the implementation of the plan. Therefore, Saturday was the day that the plan was to be executed and this meant that one day earlier, on Friday, the nitrogen was to be pumped in the tanks and pressurized. All was to be ready by Saturday morning. The professor readily agreed with Strong and promised that all would be done as planned.

Saturday morning arrived. The nitrogen had been pumped in the previous day and all had went well. Slowly the members of the team began to assemble in the room with the professor co-ordinating the whole operation. Strong was one of the first police officers to be on the scene.

“Well detective, satisfied with what you are seeing?” asked the professor.

“Indeed I am,” replied Strong. “You have done a fine job professor. The nitrogen is in the tanks, pressurized, and I see on your table the canisters to be used in case of emergency, correct?”

“You are quite right,” said the professor. “But tell me on your side, have you decided how to arouse the anger of our involuntary subject?”

“I assume that you mean Horn. No, I haven’t decided how to do it. I will probably tell him that we will sedate him immediately, or that I may accuse him of murder as an accessory to the various crimes. Something that will stir in him a desire for vengeance.”

“When is he due to arrive?” asked the professor.

“Any minute now as I told him at what time I would be here and so he should be here shortly.” said Strong.

Just at that moment Horn arrived looking very nervous. He saw the machinery that was in front of him and was impressed; the shiny metallic object looked like a giant egg with its seamless layers overlapping each other. He noticed the hoses connected to the ovoid shape and he let his gaze fall on the top part of it. The hose there was twice as large as the other hoses. He knew that it must be the main nozzle where the nitrogen would be pumped in. Horn advanced slowly towards the professor and Strong. They both looked unsure to him. “All is ready professor?” he asked.

“Indeed Mr. Horn, it was only you that was missing. I simply have to put my assistants on stand-by, and have the various policeman around the trap ready with the canisters and explain to you what you will have to do. Then detective Strong will have a word with you. Isn’t it right detective?” asked the professor with a smile.

Strong looked at the professor in a way that indicated that he did not need more prodding from him, especially now at this crucial time. “Yes Mr. Horn. There is still the matter of how to attract the shadow.” he said. “Mr. Horn, lets go in the back here and talk. I have some bad news for you. It seems that after all you will have to be sedated for a while at least.”

Horn looked at the detective wide-eyed as he obviously was not expecting such news. “Well, I don’t understand. Am I not cooperating with you? Am I not?” asked Horn rhetorically, his anger rising. “Am I not in agreement with you and didn’t we have an understanding? How can you do this to me now?” Horn was now quite agitated, pointing his finger at Strong and making circular movements with his arms. Strong tried to mollify him.

“I agree that you have co-operated with us but it is not enough. We have decided that the risk is too high and so this machinery that you see in front of you is to keep you safe inside. Come, let me show you, you will be comfortable I assure you.” said Strong as he walked towards the machine in the center of the room. Horn looked surprised and devastated.

“What? This will be a holding tank for me? Inside here? Are you crazy, never, no!” shouted Horn at Strong. By that time Horn was clearly angry: he was as red as a beet, with nostrils flaring and still gesticulating wildly as he if he was trying to hit someone. Horn did not understand that Strong was tricking him into the machine and arousing his anger in the process. It was hoped that the shadow would eventually appear with Horn in the egg-shaped contraption.

The professor had seen what was going on, and Strong had given him the signal to prepare himself and the team. It was only a matter of minutes before Strong and Horn would go into the machine to talk and perhaps to have the shadow appear.

But Horn was still discussing the matter with Strong and was refusing to go inside the machine. “Mr. Horn, let us go inside and talk some more and show you your new home.” said Strong in a soothing voice.

Horn said nothing but took two steps in and joined Strong in the machine, looking up and down at the inside of it. The machine was quite different inside as compared to its outside as it was not polished at all inside but was very rough. There were no bed, no lights, just 8 openings around with a large hole on top. Horn could not imagine how someone could lie inside sedated for days on end. He readily believed that he was to be held inside this machine under sedation.

“Look at this, there is no bed, nothing at all. How could I stay inside sedated? You got to be crazy if you think that I’ll submit to this.”

“Mr. Horn, you will simply lay on the floor, curved around the bottom like a dog I’m afraid. We simply have no other choice.” At these words Strong rapidly exited the shiny object and closed the door on Horn but did not seal it. Horn inside was banging on the window, saying that he was still wide awake and that a mistake had been made. From his desk the professor could see the anger and tension rising in Horn. The camera inside the machine clearly showed him to be in an angry mood. Suddenly as Horn calmed down something appeared in the machine with him.

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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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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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