Murder in a Fishbowl
By Michele Dutcher
they discover the body,” Elizabeth Miller shouted at the back
of the tall man
striding up the stairs ahead of her.
four hours ago,” answered the police lieutenant. “And the killer
was within five feet of the corpse.”
certain you meant to say ‘the accused’ instead of
‘the killer’, Detective
small frame was causing
her to run up the stairs, but she did so without much effort. She caught up with him,
and they now stood
on the Grand patio of Griffin Enterprises.
Towering over them was a bronze statue of a man with a
robotic dog by
you say she’s already been
lieutenant just nodded and smiled.
wasn’t that difficult to come to the conclusion she was
crazy, Doctor. She
was discovered cowering in a freight
elevator with the body of her boyfriend stuffed into a 1880s safe. And they still
haven’t found his head.”
“How do you
know it was her boyfriend?”
Darcy looked away for a moment as though irritated by the simplicity of
is always about love
or money. As a
psychologist you should
she did it, she certainly had a flair for the dramatic.” They began walking towards
doors leading inside the six-story building.
Lieutenant, a steady man in his
mid-thirties, stopped and looked down upon her, as if ready to give her
need her sane and ready to
stand trial by the end of the week.
Senator Lampton, the press, and the public are all
screaming for a quick
resolution to this case.”
up at him defiantly, meeting his courteous but steady gaze. “All this reeks
of a rush to justice, Detective
Darcy. In spite of
what the public, and
the press, and Sinister Lampton want…”
certain you meant to say ‘Senator
is: no matter what anyone wants, each mind takes its own time to heal. If I attempt to accelerate
the process to
meet some arbitrary schedule, it could push the accused further into
decided to take a
different tack. “This
case is just so
Listeners have never been
involved in any kind of scandal. And
now there’s this murder, right under their noses, right
inside this very
building. And two
of their best and
brightest are involved.”
Miller started to respond, but the detective held up his hand to stop
touched a small, round
device on the rim of his outer ear.
Elizabeth noticed the auburn hair around the back of his
neck seemed a
little unkempt. “I
ready for us, Doctor. Shall
psychologist entered the
revolving glass door first, with Detective Darcy sharing her glass
and silver marbled walls shot
upwards from the lobby floor for three stories.
The left wall was a 30-foot-high pane of sound proof
an eager crowd of tourists shuffled in front of it.
The room behind the glass was commonly referred to as
for a moment, Detective. I
this before.” Doctor
Miller walked up
to the glass wall and peered down upon the twelve people inside. They sat upon
crystal-clear chairs, at crystal-clear
desks, while talking over head-phones with starships.
The only color in the room was incidental, although the
holographic star charts and planetary maps over which their fingertips
were neon bright. None
of the employees
paid attention to the bright colors, or the crowd - although they all
tourists were always there. The
explanation of the employee’s indifference was not the result
of a two-way
mirror. You see, of
course, all twelve
employees were blind.
have thought it,” asked the Detective, stepping up behind
over the top of her braided auburn hair.
have thought what?”
the blind would have become so important to the space industry so
quickly. One day
they’re eking-out a living like the
rest of us, and the next day they’re earning
shifted slightly. “It
wasn’t really an
overnight occurrence, Lieutenant.
blind were routinely using condensed speech recordings as early as the
mid-twentieth century. They
When starships began
sending back audio transmissions condensed due to hyper-light travel,
population became an obvious resource.”
“I had no
idea you were such an expert on the visually impaired,
sensors implanted in their fingertips and toes were also a perfect fit
understand the fingertips, but the toes?”
their feet to shift the star charts, like someone playing an ancient
is very eclectic, Doctor. I
whispered Elizabeth, “look three seats back –
there’s a Yangorian.”
haven’t seen one before?”
they’re very secretive, of course – almost like a
cult. On their home
world they’re regarded almost
as gods.” He
leaned forward a bit. “You
see the gem in their forehead, just
above where their eyes should be?”
“Yes, I see
that device to protect their sonar sight.
When the first Yangorians immigrated to Earth fifteen
years ago, the
department had an all day seminar about them.
It’s believed that, when the galaxy was seeded
with humanoids, their
race was placed below ground. Inside
the shell of their planet, they were protected, and there were endless
filled with water and food and warmth.
Thousands of hot springs provided photosynthesis for plant
others found their way to the
surface, but the Yangorians decided to stay below – and their
away to nothingness.”
“So how did
they end up directing space traffic?”
above-ground race developed space travel over a century ago, and their
ground cousins proved to be as valuable to them, as the blind are to
their hearing is also amazing,” said Dr. Miller.
As if on
cue, the humanoid raised his face towards the pair and smiled. The absence of eyes
couldn’t waylay the
feeling that the Yangorian was looking at them.
Dr. Miller and Detective Darcy released their breath only
the humanoid turned away and returned to his work.
thin woman in a modern, yet
modest dress appeared at a doorway at the far end of the lobby. She motioned to the pair,
inviting them to
follow her inside.
Miller, Detective Darcy, I’m Mary Griffin.
I’ll be your guide.”
related to the Griffins who own the facility,” asked the
Detective Darcy. I’m
one of five
brothers and sisters,” she answered politely.
“As a blind community, we’re use to
things being done a particular way,
as our needs apply. This
is why Griffin
Enterprises opted to keep the accused under house arrest instead of
her to a sighted detention facility.” As Mary began leading
the pair down a
long white hallway, the detective noticed a fragrance he
hadn’t smelled since
that scent, Ms Griffin?”
it’s something else. Wait
a minute –
it’s hand soap, isn’t it?”
friendly lady in the patterned pleated dress turned away from them, the
of her mouth beginning to harden a little.
“You are absolutely correct, detective.
I keep some in my office.
physically reassuring somehow to not use the germ zappers
Miller noticed the doorways were
unmarked. As they
passed by, however,
holographic globes jutted out at them, displaying room information.
tried to shift the conversation somewhat.
“Yes, it is amazing the way some physical
childhood objects can either
calm down or ignite an adult. I
actually putting pen to paper, for instance.
It’s reassuring somehow and enables me to
giggled nervously, throwing her head back enough that her tightly
bounced about. “You
certainly are the
expert on that, Doctor. I’ve
of your papers. It’s
amazing how the
past can flood into the present. Maybe
that’s what happened with…”
Ms. Griffin,” Elizabeth interrupted, “no proper
I’m to successfully re-align this
subject, she must be as anonymous as possible – at least at
wasn’t thinking,” shrinking
away with another forced laugh.
Darcy stepped forward, stalling the trio to a halt.
“No harm done, Ms. Griffin.
As we say in the business; no blood - no foul. I was noticing in the
fishbowl, however, that there were no
for a moment before answering, taking off her glasses and placing them
of her head. “We
brought down two new
Listeners from the third floor. We
a total of eighty Space employees online at all times.”
“It must be
very important for Griffin Enterprises to keep up
appearances,” observed the
Griffin retook the lead. “It
indeed. My family
has closing this case
as our top priority, especially with the annual meeting coming up
tonight. Any help
that we can do to hasten the end of
this mess, will be given immediately.”
What’s that,” asked Darcy.
annual awards program and business meeting.
We have trustees and honorees holographing and
transporting in from all
over this end of the galaxy. It’s
to be a full house, especially with all this murder business going
obvious, then, that Dr. Miller and I should be in attendance. It will be an excellent
opportunity to study
the framework of this organization.”
a note, Detective. Things
get a little
crazy around here while we’re preparing for the AM
– but the dinner starts at
5:30. Chicken, fish
sorry. What do you
mean,” asked Dr.
only the best food at the meeting.
We’ll have dirt grown vegetables and real animal
entrees,” replied Mary.
animals? I think
I’ll stick with the
vegetarian entrée,” said Elizabeth.
know,” thought the lieutenant out loud.
“I’ll try some meat.
Kill me a
your wishes to the staff,” said Mary.
She ran her hand over a light in the wall and the door
open. Inside was a
small room enclosing
a wooden table and two metal chairs.
Upon the small table sat a device closely resembling a
Ms. Griffin. It’s
exactly what I
ordered, except for the second chair.”
hoping I might be allowed to view the re-alignment, Doctor. I’m a huge fan
of the process you
shrugged while answering. “The
is classified, I’m afraid.
the Lieutenant would like to view the re-alignment, I’m sure
that would be
saying anything, Detective Darcy slid into a seat at the table.
looked at Mary. “Has
the accused been
prepped and sedated in the next room.”
memory implant been tested through this receiver,” asked the
towards the crystal ball.
but I’ll be happy to tell the surgeons you are ready to
has been very much appreciated, Ms. Griffin,” said Elizabeth. “If
you’ll also remind Simcha to establish
audio between the two rooms.”
the room quickly, stepping into the make-shift laboratory in the next
yesterday, the room had been
an aseptically clean environment, for use as an electrical lab. Now it was empty except
for a chair, two
surgeons and the accused who reclined quietly while sleeping soundly.
As Mary got
closer, it became obvious that the back of her head had been shaved. A section of her skull
– about the size of a
half-dollar – had been removed, providing clear access to the
brain inside. It
pulsed along with the heartbeat, through
a blood vessel that was clearly in sight.
A dozen pebble-sized devices clung to her scalp.
“Is she in
pain,” she whispered to a surgeon.
really. The brain
has no pain
receptors, and the entrance point itself is heavily
anesthetized,” said one of
the surgeons quietly. “She’s
the REM cycle, Dennis,” he told the other surgeon, noting the
under the eyelids.
getting a signal, Doctor,” asked the surgeon behind the chair.
soothing voice of Dr. Miller rang into the room.
other room, Detective Darcy and Dr. Miller sat facing the crystal ball
table. Above the
glass device hung a
foot-tall holographic image.
what she’s dreaming,” whispered the doctor.
“Really, it’s the image originating
from an implant located in her
hippocampus, at the base of the cranium.”
setting a table. The
kitchen table was
chrome rimmed with six chairs. The
hands went to cupboard and took two plates and two forks, sitting them
the center of the table
appeared a bowlful of ketchup. The
hands began scooping out the red liquid,
sloshing it onto the white china plates.
you doing,” asked Doctor Miller.
setting the table for mommy and me, for me and mommy, mommy and
the hands stopped, and the sound of birds chirping could be heard in
woman’s face appeared from
out of the darkness. “The
fighting again,” it told her harshly.
turned and the kitchen became a hallway.
There were four large men holding college pennants seated
walls. They blew
gently on her face as
she went past and then shouted ‘Hoo-rah’.
lumbered past, twelve feet tall, and looked at her for a moment. It had the body of a huge
poodle, with a
tube-like snout that hung to the floor.
Its tail wagged but was short and hairless. “An elephant
never forgets,” it told the dreamer.
“An elephant never forgets,” it
before disappearing into the darkness.
By now, the
lovebird’s chirping had turned into harsh screeching. The pitch had gotten
higher and the chirping was accelerated and
dreamer could see the
birds clearly now, their claws swiping at each other inside a
lovebirds are fighting again!”
dreamer was screaming now, deep inside her fog-like visions. “The lovebirds
are fighting again!”
Darcy looked at the doctor while she whispered into a small microphone
to her wrist. “Dennis,
three c.c.s of
serotonin, please, followed with 1 c.c. of dopamine.”
Elizabeth couldn’t see the injection being performed, the
surgeon was injecting
the chemicals directly into the exposed blood-vessels.
As the chemicals found their target neurons,
the electrical signals jumping the synapses changed and the hologram
table seemed to waver and melt.
was speaking now in comforting tones, at a conversational volume. “Look again. Look again.
The birds are
in a tree, building a nest.”
As she spoke,
the picture changed. Now
there was a
walnut tree shooting up out of the metal cage.
The lovebirds happily flew in and out of their home built
the endorphins please, at your discretion,” she whispered
into her wrist
appeared at the base of the tree and, through the dreamer’s
eyes, the branches
overhead began to sway near and far, near and far.
hologram faded and was gone as the dreamer slipped happily into a deep
a good beginning, Dennis,” Doctor Miller said into her wrist. “Let’s
schedule the first memory activation
in forty-five minutes.”
looked at the man across from her.
technical name for the process is neurological re-alignment, but I like
think of it as dream and memory sweetening.
We don’t actually re-invent what the subject
remembers, we just modify
the accused was blind,” said Detective Darcy.
obvious kind of guy,” he smiled.
took a deep breath and smiled back.
“Individuals blinded before the age of about
five report no visual
imagery in dreams as adults. Whereas,
those blinded after the age of seven are likely to retain visual images
accused must have been
over seven but pre-teen when she lost her sight.
The fact that she didn’t understand what an
elephant looks like
tells us she probably had never seen an elephant, so her mind made one
forms familiar to her.”
knocked and re-entered the small room.
Lieutenant Darcy quickly rose to his feet.
“I hope your first session went well,”
indeed,” answered Elizabeth.
to proceed to the second step in a few minutes, in fact.”
Darcy extended his open hand towards Elizabeth.
“It was a pleasure to meet you, Doctor. I’d like to sit
in on another session, if you don’t mind.”
you a seat,” she told him, interlocking his hand with hers. They held the handshake
there, over the
crystal ball, for just a moment longer than either of them expected,
also make a recording of the sessions available to me on my
certainly will, Lieutenant.”
swooshed open and Mary and Lieutenant Darcy stepped into the hall. From outside the door, the
one more quick look at Elizabeth, who was making quick notes in a white
like to see the crime scene, Detective?
I can take you there,” said Mary in a chipper
tone of voice.
“If you can
just point the way, Ms. Griffin, I won’t bother you any
“Oh I don’t
Ms. Griffin. Please,
just point me in
the right direction.”
hesitantly gave way. “All
you need do
is hold this mini-guide and tell it where you want to go. Sensors inside the wall
will cause it to
vibrate in the appropriate direction.
If you get too far off course, it will cease vibrating
detective held the small cylinder close to his mouth.
“Murder scene,” he told the device. There was no response.
elevator 2,” Mary said, turning away.
thing, Ms Griffin,” he said, calling her back.
“I noticed earlier that you placed your glasses
on top of your
don’t need them then?”
lieutenant. I had
my eyes re-focused
two years ago. I
continue to wear
glasses because it helps me feel a certain camaraderie with the people
constantly losing them, I
Darcy knelt before the huge black safe, awed by the elaborate floral
decorations painted on its sides.
‘American Publishing House,’ shone in
gold lettering above the opened
four-foot doors. There
was a tropical
scene on the inside, complete with palm trees, a sunset, and dried
around the crime scene. There
policepersons, a maintenance man, and a young, slightly balding man
with his back to him.
was the victim killed exactly.”
The older of
the two police-persons stepped forward, pointing to the door of the
appears that this metal
grate came down first, trapping the victim by the neck, with the rest
body caught outside the cage.”
I can see that.”
you’ll notice the walls, Detective, there are weights and
raise and lower these two, eight-inch thick, metal plates –
causing them to
meet in the middle.”
inside, Jim. So I
can see how that
policeperson stepped in and pushed a button, holding it while the
were closing. The
yellow grate came
down quickly sounding a hollow ‘thud’ as it hit the
floor. Then two
metal plates began to move inside
the walls - one from above the top of the elevator descending, and the
from below moving up. They
met in the
middle with a formidable pounding sound, closing off the shaft so no
fall into it.
“I saw you
holding the button the whole time, Jim.
Is that really necessary?”
If you don’t, the doors and gates
immediately revert to the start of the cycle.”
Jim had been pressing a button below the first, and the
doors and gate
“So if his
body was outside the cage when those metal sheets came together, he
literally been torn in half. Someone
had to actually hold the button down the entire time the victim was
snapped in two…and then stuff it into the
safe…and hide the head.
Anger that strong sounds like love to me.”
“I can see
your point,” said the policeman, opening the elevator door.
aren’t any directions on this elevator and the Braille has
down. How did you
figure out how to run
a finger at the young man still standing in the same spot. “He told
lieutenant looked over at the only civilian in the area. “Excuse
me,” Detective Darcy shouted to the
long has this mountain of
metal been riding this elevator?”
“Can I be
of service,” asked the young man cordially.
As he turned, his obvious blindness caused the lieutenant
to pause for a
Detective Darcy,” he said, introducing himself.
work in the Fishbowl?”
in Field Services, I
still eking out a livelihood
down here on the bottom.”
certainly take your meaning, sir.
you know how long the safe has been on this elevator,
employee smiled. “It’s
been here for as
long as I can remember, and I’ve been with Griffin Inc. for
twenty years. I
know it was made by Hall’s Safe and Lock
in 1872 and originally cost the company $250.”
surprised the doors weren’t sealed shut.
A child could have gotten trapped inside.”
laughed slightly. “Oh, it’s safe enough.
The owners installed powerful magnets between the doors
frame. They repel
Darcy ran his fingers around the edges.
“I don’t see any magnets.”
knelt beside him and began searching for the magnets with his
always been there.”
have been a crime of passion, but it was also pre-meditated,”
said under his breath.
did you say?”
William paused. “How
do you know my rank, Mr. McCarty?”
have told me when you introduced yourself,” he stammered.
of course,” he answered, backing down. “Where does
this elevator go?”
“It goes up
into the building a bit – just floors one through three. And it
Michael stopped suddenly.
Michael. Where else
does it go?”
goes into the basement, but we don’t use the basement any
longer – except for
Darcy paused for a moment. “I’d
see the basement, Michael. Could
accompany me there?”
I could. We all want to help get this thing resolved as quickly as
it’s not a good
just wasting your time
down there in the dungeon.”
an odd nickname.”
what everyone calls it. It’s
and musty,” said Michael, continuing to stand unwavering.
don’t mind pushing the button, Michael.
The panel is right in front of you.”
okay, if you insist, Detective Darcy.”
“I do,” he
hand found the control
panel. The gate
crashed shut, the metal
plates met, and the cage began to descend.
you tell which buttons to push, Michael?”
you push the wrong button, the elevator won’t respond. And if you push the wrong
it’ll make a blaring, honking noise.”
wire cage came to a halt at the basement and Michael began to open the
his left. Detective
Darcy looked in the
other direction. “I’d
like to go the
other way, if you don’t mind.”
Michael let the previous mesh gate slam shut and then slowly opened the
and gate beside the detective.
been most helpful, Michael. I’d
poke around a bit by myself, if you don’t mind.” The detective stepped
not be a good idea. Your
help you down here, because the walls don’t have sensors. You might get
I didn’t warn you,” said Michael, holding down the
button to close the yellow
question: what is that humming sound?”
the fans,” Michael said as
the elevator began to rise. “They
the boxes cool.”
the fans,” echoed the Detective, finally
assured that he was on the
Elizabeth Miller sat before a crystal ball making notes in a white
we ready to proceed, Dennis,” she asked
the air around her.
surgeons in the next room stood in back of the accused who was
I are ready anytime you are, Doctor.”
good,” she said, laying the notebook on the empty chair
across from her.
show me the Subject’s neural map.”
image appeared over the small table’s crystal ball showing
circuits on the surface of her brain.
Even at rest, the cortex was glowing with activity. Eight
of the highest
trafficked neurons clusters glowed brightly, like large lighted cities
against the backdrop of a nighttime planet.
These memory centers had been charted earlier and
regulators had been placed directly over them.
center eight seems to have been recently accessed, let’s see
start with an activation
voltage of 70 millivolts, and build slowly from there.”
over the crystal ball changed from a cerebral cortex to an out of focus
of changing shapes and sounds.
the voltage by 10 millivolts,” she ordered as the image grew
“Ten more,” she
said as the hologram became sharp enough to
see boulders and rocks passing by.
dreamer’s feet were running up a hill in the dark. A giant crystal cliff
glistened in the distance with the reflected
light of a planet’s satellite.
it, Dennis,” she whispered.
are you,” Elizabeth asked.
on my home world. I
need to find a place to hide from my
really angry.” The
movements of the rocks became less
jarring as the girl slid into a pit on the mountain of stone.
there were voices. “That
child is as stupid as a pail full of
warm, wet snails,” said a harsh female voice.
as useless as a bump on a
log,” answered a man’s voice.
darkness in the shallow pit became deeper as the dreamer slipped back
into a corner of the crevasse.
are they looking for you,
dreamer,” asked Elizabeth.
insisted the dreamer.
can’t hear me,” said Doctor
answer me in your mind.”
aunt was having a
Brockaloo party and I ate some of their
there was the sound of
footsteps not five feet from the dreamer’s hiding spot.
work like a dog to help that
girl, and look where it gets me,” said her aunt. “Why I ever
agreed to keep her after my sister died is beyond
can’t make a silk purse from a
sow’s ear, Grace. You’re
woman, that’s all. If
you weren’t my
uncle’s daughter, I would have…”
dreamer shifted nervously in
was that, cousin? Did
you hear something?”
the girl’s eyes, Dr. Miller
could see her look down at her arms and legs.
What looked like shiny black stones glistened in the
moving up and down her legs.
the dreamer shouted in her
mind as they wriggled on her arms.
hands began to swipe at the slithering insects, knocking some of them
pit’s dirt floor.
on, honey, come on out. Your
Auntie Grace ain’t mad at you no
hell I ain’t. I’m
gonna beat that child like a swayback
mule on a Sunday morning.”
the rod and spoil the child
is what I always say,” said her cousin.
you are Lumas. As
right as rain.”
in the pit, the dreamer was
still swatting off bugs.
aunt’s voice cackled through
the night air. “It’s
as cold as a witch’s
tittie out here, Lumas. I
say we just
leave her out here all night. We’ll
come back tomorrow and see what’s left of her.”
her right cousin. Serves
be as crazy as a bedbug,
crazy as a bedbug,” the man
echoed. There was
the sound of
footsteps descending down the rocks.
The wind began to pick up and carried with it the sound of
screams from somewhere further up the mountain.
The monsters lived up there.
That’s what people in the village had told her.
dreamer’s hands began to dig
into the pit’s clay walls.
fingernails clawed upwards, one hand at a time.
“I’ve got it,” she whispered
to herself as her fingers felt the
edge of the pit. Then
she was sliding
backwards, like a tiny mouse trapped in a teacup.
The pitbugs were upon her again, crawling up her feet,
under her clothes. The
slapping them off as quickly as they could, but there were too many of
her safe, well light cozy room,
Dr. Miller signaled Dennis to begin a precise injection regimen of
are you dreamer,” asked
in here! I’m
in the pit!”
you’re not,” she hushed.
“Take another look.”
The scene began to change, shimmering for a
playing Crackers with
your friends – a lovely game of hide-and-seek.
It’s a sunny day and you’re in back of
a tree, hiding and
the scene shifted, it
became exactly as the Doctor described. The dreamer could see other
looking for her. There
was a blonde
girl with sunken cheeks, frolicking with a three-foot-tall Meerkat. A dark-eyed boy ran in
back of a cottage
looking for her, leading around a stuffed squirrel on a string. A girl blurred by a fog
also delighted in
the game, running among the flowers.
Black insects floated by in a non-threatening manner.
you see the stairway, dreamer,”
asked Elizabeth in a marshmallow tone of voice.
of nowhere, a double marbled
stairway appeared at the center of the garden.
“I do see it, I do!”
to the top, dreamer. Climb
up the staircase.”
I’ll stay here if you
please. Here is
better up the stairway,
dreamer. Trust me,
you’ll see,” said
feet began walking then
running up one side of the stairway.
the top of the stairway was a patio, upon which sat a pastry cart. The dreamer began to
sample the sweet
breads, eating as many as she pleased.
hologram faded. “That’s
eleven and a half minutes,
set that as our limit.”
she decide to climb the
did indeed. This
was, once again, an excellent
very impressed by the
resiliency of the subject. Let’s
the subject the rest of the day off.”
I talk you into a late
lunch, Dr. Miller? Simcha
and I are
going to Cunningham’s.”
most certainly could. I’ll
be with you in five.” Elizabeth
returned to working in her
Darcy saw two of the fans
as soon as he turned away from the elevator.
There was little light in the
series of thick block windows, each a foot high, were set into
concrete where the foundation met the new building.
Small hills of neatly stacked boxes rose from floor to
ceiling. They were
still exactly as
their publishers had left them when every blind child routinely began
microdots in their fingertips. Twelve
from the elevator, a six foot fan blasted air into his face.
one,” he said under his
steps further and a ceiling
fan pushed air down from overhead.
He could hear a third fan
in the distance, but couldn’t see it.
Overruling his fear of the dim light, the detective walked
cardboard boxes, doors marked ‘Not An Exit’, rows
of empty lockers. He
passed small pine boxes – two feet by
three feet – which looked like infant caskets.
In reality, they were merely sturdy boxes used to
transport the metal
sheets used in decades past to imprint Braille books.
Five steps forward and two fans blasted air at him, one at
face and the other rotating on a stand at chest level.
three and four.” He
took a few more steps until he came to an
open space in the box towers.
lieutenant looked around, blinking
quickly, allowing his eyes to adjust to the dim light.
He observed the stone walls, glazed concrete
floor, and drop-tiled ceiling. “No
clues here,” he mumbled, spinning around slowly. Then he saw something. It
glimmered in the dim light. He
down, resisting the urge to pick it up.
The object was a woman’s black-rimmed glasses. “The lovebirds
are fighting again,” he whispered.
He tapped the side of his forehead, taking a
picture of the scene with a camera embedded in his blue
behind him shifted. It
was the elevator beginning to
descend. A gate
clanged open and two
metal doors slid up and down.
shouted a man’s
sets of footsteps began coming directly
towards him as he noticed the mini-guide he was holding begin to
placed the device on a
box and slinked away.
the men came into the open
space, the small device began to beep.
Darcy was hiding now,
silently moving towards a staircase.
just his guide,” said Michael
he left it behind
accidentally and then went back upstairs,” said the other man.
perhaps he is still here. Shut
off those two fans,” he ordered.
could hear the click click of
two switches being thrown. The
slowly wound down and stopped. The
were listening now as he held his breath.
Tim, throw the fans back on
and I’ll get the box. It’s
next to shipping.” Footsteps
close, too close. Michael
along the edge of one row. “I’m
finding it,” he said in frustration.
“Can you find it?”
you sure it’s still down here,
Michael? Maybe she
already got it.”
no. She was very
clear that she wanted me to bring it up.
Someone’s moved it, that’s obvious. Boy, is she going to be
detective heard the sound of
footsteps moving back towards the elevator, then weights and
being used, as fans resumed their lonely watch.
He stood and walked into a bathroom off the main room. He could see soap
dispensers over each white
ceramic sink. As he
quietly up a staircase, he could tell the dust on some of steps had
lieutenant dusted himself off
and began walking through the building upstairs.
He saw Michael McCarty talking with a woman who was
agitated. It was
Mary. She turned as
he walked up.
Detective Darcy,” she
thought you had gone
was just about to, Ms.
held out his dusty
hope you don’t consider this
impolite, but could I use your bathroom to just wash my hands. I’ve been
downstairs, you see, and it’s very
dirty down there.”
lady laughed nervously, her
tiny feet shifting about inside her high-heeled shoes.
“Why of course, Detective.
My office is right through this door.”
conversation. I can
find my way,” he
the washroom, lights flooded
the mirror over a small dressing table.
At the golden sink, the germ zapper hung at the ready. He placed his hands under
the facet and felt
the warm air run over his hands, blowing away the dirt.
He then lifted his arms before the zapper,
the old cells hanging in the air for a moment before evaporating. He stepped back.
On the sterile, white
countertop, he could see make-up and clean
towels and hairspray…everything but a bar of soap.
Darcy stood in front of
one set of double doors leading into the Grand Marriot’s
Ballrooms C &
Darcy,” he said and the
doors disappeared briefly, allowing him to step inside.
The grand room was filled with sixty round
tables covered by crisp white tablecloths.
He was half an hour early, and the wait staff were busy
the square china plates and crystal water glasses gracing the tabletops. He walked over to a set of
allowed a spectacular view of the Louisville Skyline.
Being this close to the Ohio River, it was easy to see
walking through the three arboretums spanning the waterway. Each park was named for
the bridge it had
originally been: the I65, the 2nd Street, and
the L & N. Up
river, he could see monorail trains
entering and exiting tunnels under the river.
I thought I’d find you
here,” said a soothing female voice.
didn’t have to look to know it
was Elizabeth – but he looked to his right and smiled anyway. “Good of you to
began to skirt the outside of
the room. “Do
you see the cubes the
wait-staff are putting by the cups,” asked Dr. Miller. Darcy nodded yes.
“The ivory ones
will display menu choices of people actually in
the room. The
silver ones are receivers
for holographic guests.”
spat suddenly broke out between
two waiters at a corner table close to where they stood. “You should know
better,” the elder one
whispered loudly to his subordinate.
“You never sit a human with a Yangorian. The Yangor delegation
would take it as an insult and refuse to
younger man bent forward,
removing the silver cube. “But
won’t even be here – they’re just images.
And we need the extra seats.
planned for 328, and two more were added at the last moment.”
The elder waiter
head again furiously.
me,” said Detective Darcy
approaching the waiters, “but we couldn’t help but
lieutenant broke into a wide smile, in
an effort to soften tempters. “I
believe my lady friend and I are the source of your troubles. I’m Detective
Darcy and this is Dr.
certainly wouldn’t mind
being at a table by ourselves – perhaps over there in a
you for your courtesy and
understanding, sir,” said the eldest server, bowing slightly. “My staff will
be certain provide you
Miller and Detective Darcy
stepped away. “That
was nice of you,
Detective,” said the psychologist.
thank you, but I really wanted
an unimpeded view of the diners.”
hour later, 330 guests were
seated, conversing politely.
tall gentleman with a jovial face
that seemed to say ‘Talk to me, I’m
friendly’ stepped up to the podium.
After a measured amount of time, he began
tapping a symbolic crystal glass with a silver butter knife. “Ladies,
gentlemen, and gender neutrals:
welcome warmly to the 197th Annual Meeting of
Publishing House for the Blind.”
crowd merrily returned his enthusiasm with a round of applause. “My name is Tuck
Griffin, and I’ll be your
MC for the evening. I’m
report revenues are up – so we can all relax and enjoy this
delicious meal set
before us.” Taking
one step to the
right of the podium, he reached down and picked up a six-year-old blind
was standing there. The
shouted to the crowd – “Let’s
Representatives from a dozen different planetary systems
beginning to do just that.
me what you see,
inquired Elizabeth, sipping her soup lightly,
“…as a trained observer I
studied the room for a
see the Dom-powells are
ingesting only water.”
towards a table of eight.
have some food on their
plates,” retorted his companion.
– but they won’t eat it.
The Dom-powells are a military race.
Over a century ago, they began having
processed nutrition packs implanted in their digestive tracts. As they drink water,
nutrients are released
into their blood, eliminating the need for their troops to carry food
seems like a drastic step,”
said the Doctor.
also eliminates any need for
latrines, since there’s no solid waste.
Very efficient and it makes their troops more difficult to
detective took a bite of his fish fillet
and seemed to enjoy it. “What
see Doctor…as a trained observer.”
see the Yangorians in all their
state. Notice the
red sashes tied where
their eyes would be. They
seem to be
very proud of what they don’t have.”
The lieutenant glanced towards their table where four
males were present
Yangorian woman also
physically sat at the table. She
layered robes which completely concealed her form, but her face was
believe the male is the
Yangorian we saw in the fishbowl.”
you seen the female before?”
I haven’t. But
she is stunning, isn’t she.
I’ve heard that her name is Lystria.”
why the red sashes? Are
they afraid they’ll offend us?”
more likely the Yangorians
wear the sashes because they see themselves as perfect, while those of
have eyes are flawed somehow. The
males, at least, seem very satisfied with themselves.”
said the detective,
taking a sip of his beverage.
do they shimmer like that?”
a minute – you’ll see.”
True to form, the holographic image of one
of the Yangorians seemed to blink off for a moment.
Darcy gasped. “They’re
piggy-backing messages on their holo-signal.
It’s not illegal – but it’s
more than a little rude.”
the female at the table
stood up, tore the red sash from her face throwing it onto the table,
rushed out of the room. The
chuckled slightly while glancing briefly at the humans at other tables.
wonder what all that was about,”
have a feeling I’ll find out,
given enough time,” said Darcy, drinking deeply from his wine
stemware. He turned
to a uniformed officer behind the small table.
“Follow that Yangorian woman.
I’ll need a full report on her movements first
thing in the morning.”
the couple returned to their
entrees, a tall, elderly man at a table close to the podium stood,
himself, and exited the ballroom discretely.
Darcy floated thirty
feet above the summit of Gorilla hill.
The Louisville Zoo’s cages lay in ruins on the
ground, and hundreds of
children swarmed from hillside to hillside, happily playing tag with
freed animals. Zebras,
leopards, and more all frolicked in the sunshine with children decked
Halloween costumes which were more fantasy than scary.
Darcy, you need to wake
up,” sighed a feminine voice.
looked towards his left elbow
and found Doctor Miller was floating amongst the clouds with him.
so glad you’re here,” he
turned to face him. “You
need to rise to consciousness,” she
told him, her volume rising.
rather stay right here…” he
Darcy, wake up!”
detective sat straight up in
bed, shaking a little. A
globe of light
floated in front of him.
I’m sorry to disturb
you,” said a man’s voice, “but I find I
need your assistance.
recognized the voice now: it was
Private Anheiser, the policeman he had instructed to follow the
female. Darcy drew
the covers up over
his chest before touching the ball of light.
okay, Andrew,” he said as
the fuzzy globe became a foot tall holograph of the policeman. “Tell me about
been watching Lystria since
the dinner, but SkySpy just confirmed that I’m not alone in
right – someone else is
also watching her.”
detective was racing around his
small room now, throwing on his clothes.
minutes later, Darcy was
walking the last block towards the St. James district at Magnolia and 5th. Originally built as the
city’s first suburb
during the 1890s, preservation societies had thankfully saved three
Victorian mansions from the death grip of
here,” he quietly told Andrew
while skirting the ring of soft light surrounding a gas lamp.
thought maybe I was just
paranoid – I’m not use to these flickering period pieces – but
SkySpy confirmed there’s a human in a mobile who has
been here as long as I have.
won’t look now – but where is
you and two houses up. He’s
parked by the fountain, on the other
side of the divide.”
let’s shake the rabbit from
its briar patch, shall we?”
lieutenant drew a deep breath,
noticing how crisp the night air seemed to be.
“Give me time to alert WinStar and
I’ll approach the mobile from the
back while you approach him directly.
minutes later, Policeman
Anheiser crossed the green, heading straight towards the mobile in
be alarmed,” he
shouted, “I’m a policeman.
I just want
to talk with you.”
he got within five feet, the
vehicle thrust three feet into the air, beginning to hover. “I’m a
policeman,” he shouted again while
displaying his neon globe-badge.
the mobile shot away from
the curb, bouncing Andrew aside with its tiny force field –
only to jerk to a
stop just as suddenly.
do they always run,” gasped
the Lieutenant as he raced to the mobile’s side. “WinStar, open
the door,” he instructed a satellite via his
wristband. The door
opened and a lanky,
elderly gentleman folded out onto the street.
apologize for attempting to
flee,” he said with an air of open honestly.
“I suppose it’s merely
sure you’re right, Mr…”
Will Evans.” The
statesman extended his hand, a handshake
ensuing between him and the Lieutenant.
that title a bestowed honor, or
are you really a…”
no, no, no. I am a
medical doctor,” he answered almost
you don’t mind my asking then,
Doctor Evans – why would an obstetrician be sitting on a
public street till 4
doctor scratched the palm of
his hand nervously. “May
I see some
held out his arm, touched his
sleeve, and a ball of light appeared, floating a few inches beyond his
you, Detective Darcy.” The
steady, graying man looked down and away
before finding the confidence to even whisper his reply. “I’m
guarding one of the aliens.”
The brazenness of the response surprised
both policemen. “Truly. I’ve been
following a Yangorian woman to
ensure her safety.”
we should all go upstairs
and talk to the lady,” Darcy said as he took the
obstetrician’s elbow, nodding
at Andrew to lead the way.
resided in the third floor
flat of a home built for a wealthy family of nine.
The street façade was that of a 17th
Countryside house, built of river stone.
The sides and back of the building were simple red brick.
cranked the restored
doorbell, knowing full-well the action had set in motion a much more
series of technologies than the simple ‘ring ring’
would suggest. “Police,”
he told the air above the welcome
light came on over the door jam,
revealing that someone was home and watching the odd trio. “Identify
yourselves,” ordered a computer-enhanced
Darcy and First Private Anheiser.”
two policemen held out their palms, presenting their globe-badges to
the third person?” As
the policemen broke rank so the third man
could be seen, a woman’s startled voice rang out. “Dr. Evans, is
my child, it is I.”
into the apartment, Darcy
asked the obvious question: “Would you mind turning on the
course, Detective. I
tend to forget little niceties like
As the lights came
couldn’t help but be impressed at the
lavishness of the décor.
“Is it all
only it were. On
Yangor I studied human history and this
was my favorite period. These
hundred houses were the central reason I jumped at the chance to be a
is a marvelous stained glass
window,” said Dr. Evans while striding across the hardwood
floor to look at it
more closely. The
rectangular, at least eight feet high by six feet wide, with a floral
surrounding three people entering a tomb.
a reproduction of ‘The
Miracle of the Resurrection of Bobby at Rochester.’ The original is in London
I’ve heard. I
can’t see the colors, of course, but with my sonar sight I
appreciate the difference in the variance of the hues.”
“Is it the purpose of this clear oval in the
center to allow light into
no,” she began to explain with
obvious pride. “That
piece of lead
glass was inlaid so the riverboat captain who built this house could
paddleboats on the Ohio.”
a shame that all you can see
now is the apartment building across the street.”
progress for you,” shrugged
towards the Lieutenant
standing in front of the tile-encrusted fireplace, Lystria began the
is this all about,
Darcy could answer, Dr.
Evans was upon her, taking her hands in his.
“I fear for your safety, my dear
why doctor? This
building is secure enough, and noone
can get through that door without my approval.”
are no match for the
Vag-gai-nooze,” he whispered hurriedly.
face went pale and Andrew
helped her to a high-backed chair in the corner.
“How do you know this name, Doctor?”
Doctor Evans, why don’t you
tell all of us,” insisted the Detective.
elder gentleman sighed before
beginning his explanation. “We
have been told that citizens from the planet Yangor began coming to our
just over a decade ago.”
looking into the female’s eyes.
some of us believe this is simply not the truth.”
quietly nodded ‘yes’.
this affirmation, the
obstetrician began to pick-up-steam.
am a member of a small circle of friends, with its origins centered in
believe the Yangorians
have been checking in on us throughout human history.
The Hebrew Scriptures talk of a time when the Nephreum
earth. These were
giants among men who
fathered children who later become the great heroes of old.” He paused, giving the
statement a moment to
sink in. “Some
of these giants had
mankind’s best interest at heart.
Imhotep, for example, may have been one of these visitors
– he’s shown
in some etchings with a vale about his eyes.
He introduced humanity to astronomy and architecture
– hence, those
serving him may have founded the Order of which I am a part.
there were others – as there
always are – who chose to hide behind the scenes, pitting one
the other, profiting off the wars and misery which resulted. They fashioned themselves
as gods. They were
taller and stronger than humans,
with two hearts – a spare that took over if the first was
sonar sight and their hearing also
made them superior – except when a human hid.”
lost,” said Andrew, “what does
hide and seek have to do with it?”
me put it like this: When you
were a child, did you ever dream that something huge was chasing
policemen nodded yes.
then you hid behind a chair or
a rock – anything that completely covered your shape? This dream is archival
– its how to escape a Yangorian assassin
because his sonar can’t actually see through objects. What else will a small
child do when hiding?”
their breath,” asked Andrew.
Yangorian can hear your
heartbeat but he can’t tell the
direction its coming from unless he actually hears the
to know, Doctor,” said the
detective appreciatively. “Good
took up the tale now. “This
carnage is why laws were passed on
Yangor to place distance between Earth humans and ourselves. These laws allowed mankind
to grow up. Intermarriage
between our groups became
looked down upon, but the love between Byron and me was too strong to
by these rules.”
as your doctor I can’t
tell these men the truth. You
that. They are here
to protect you – as
drew a breath, rose from her
chair, and turned towards the window.
“I’m pregnant,” she sighed
as though hopeful but heartbroken at the same
will be the first
human-Yangorian baby in…”
that moment, the stained glass
window exploded inward. Years
Darcy would remember how time seemed to slow to a point where he could
dozen shards of colored light shoot past Lystria’s form. Given the density of the
layers of clothes
she wore, she could probably have survived the shards that punctured
and hands – had it not been for the assassin that followed
them into the
Andrew or Darcy could
complete their lunges, the Yangorian male had Lystria in his arms. The brightness of the
shards of flying glass
were nothing in comparison to the brilliance of the female’s
red blood as he
drew a knife across her throat.
later, the detective would
take courage in the thought that Andrew’s sacrifice was not
in vain, for his
flying body knocked the knife from the assassin’s hand. But a sacrifice he was as
the giant in the
living room swatted Andrew away as a child might swat a mosquito
him out the hole created by the window’s absence.
body slumped to the
floor, falling from her murder’s embrace.
He looked around the room but the other humans had
listened and heard the loud thumping of
their heartbeats. He
systematically overturning the furniture.
The wing-backed chair in the corner.
The dining room table.
the time he got to the couch,
Darcy had the knife in his left hand and sprang like a jack-in-the-box,
expertly plunging the blade into the soft spot below the
giant’s left rib.
The assassin only grimaced and then smiled,
knowing he had the fly in his web. And
then the policeman pulled out the blade only to plunge it into his
twice, three times, a fourth… On the fifth stab the
assassin’s face seemed to
turn to stone, his body falling backwards.
Lieutenant stood over the body,
knife in hand, for what seemed like an hour but was only about a minute
Evans, are you alright?”
here, detective,” he answered
quietly – crawling from behind a sofa.
The doctor was obviously in shock.
Evans – Will – we can’t
save Lystria, but you can save her baby.”
yes you’re right,
detective. At least
there is that
see about Andrew, Doctor,” he
said firmly – while placing the Yangorian’s bloody
knife into the
officers approached the
mountains of boxes in the APH basement with a unified resolve. Detective Darcy led, with
the policeman and
policewoman following closely.
task is simple: find the
needle in a haystack. We’re
a box big enough to hide a man’s head.
We need to find it before the killers do.
Stacie, you take the right.
Lawrence, you’re on the left, and I’ll
take the center aisle.”
do you want us to do if
others come down,” asked Lawrence.
hide and observe. Maybe
they’ll lead us to it.”
five minutes of the time the
trio had begun their search, Lieutenant Darcy could hear the
inside the elevator shaft beginning to fall.
He could only hope his assistants were as aware of the
descent as he was.
shouted a man’s voice. Silence. Silence.
There was just the whirling of the fans.
think he’s still upstairs,
probably right. Let’s
just find this blasted thing and get
out of here before she goes crazy.”
were the heavy thumps and
thuds of boxes being shifted and moved for the first time in decades. As he listened, he heard
something else –
something like fingernails on a chalkboard, only muted.
The sound was clawing on cardboard, at the
end of his stack of boxes. Something
inhuman had joined the party. He
crawling towards the noise. It
it was knew he was down here,
invading its territory. Detective
moved closer, closer. The
sound was coming
from inside a room with the door slightly propped open.
A sign on the grey door proclaimed, ‘Every
Machine Inside This Room Is Dangerous’.
He was on his hands and knees as he peered into the room. The clawing sound had
begun again. In the
dim light, in the corner, was a box
out of place. It
was two feet
swallowed his fear, crawling
into the room. He
could see holes torn
in the box, with small brown rats coming and going.
On the edges of the holes was a dark, caked liquid. He couldn’t be
certain, but odds were good
that he had found the victim’s head.
was that,” asked Michael.
shouted “BOO!” and all hell
broke loose. The
Lawrence and Stacie jumped up, Michael and his cohort began to run
sound of the Lieutenant’s voice.
he is,” shouted Michael –
but their objective was already halfway up the stairs, running at full
with the box tucked securely under his left arm.
the time the Detective reached
the 1st floor landing, the four people in the
dispersing in two directions – each pair running up a
Entry,” said a
mechanical female voice.
Miller stopped writing,
laying aside her tablet. She
for a moment thinking it might be a reporter or a civilian. She was seated at the same
complete with crystal ball and extra chain.
person making request.”
William Darcy,” said the
voice with obvious indifference.
allowed,” the Doctor
acquiesced, smiling slightly for no obvious reason.
door to her small room slid
open and the Detective stepped inside, his six-foot-six frame
blocking the entrance. He
back of his neck nervously and Elizabeth noticed he had trimmed his
trust you weren’t already in
progress, Dr. Miller,” he said, taking the seat opposite her.
I had been, I would have
refused entry, Lieutenant. The
is very specific and can’t be interrupted.”
She paused for a moment and almost giggled. “The computer
called you – William. As
in William Darcy?”
mother was a huge fan of Jane
Austin. I believe
the original name in
the book was ‘FitzWilliam.”
so, Detective. I
fear that I cannot tease you about that
then, Mr. Darcy.”
‘What a shame, for I so dearly
love to laugh,” he answered.
laughed for a moment, remembering for a moment that it felt good to
man who knows his 19th
century novelists. I
was hoping I could take you up
on your offer to sit in on another session, Doctor.”
course, Lieutenant. We’re
about ten minutes out.”
the subject responding well to
is. In fact, she
ate dinner on her own last night.”
wasn’t doing that before?”
The first twenty four hours
she refused food completely. And
she allowed herself to be fed. Whatever
happened on Sunday, she’s allowing herself to heal
Miller looked at him directly. “Are
you still certain she’s the killer,
breathed deeply before
can tell you that I have
a gut feeling some of the employees aren’t as helpful as
they’d like to
a physiologist, I have very
much the same impression.”
man’s voice interrupted.
“Dr. Miller, we’ll be ready in about
you, Dennis. Keep
me appraised.” She
looked at the man across the table.
“We’ll be delving into another memory
replayed both the dream
and the memory from Saturday.”
have no idea what we’ll be
privy to. Both good
experiences and bad
have equal value on a neural map.
we’ll have to wait and see.”
she get to the point where we
can see the actual killing?”
doubtful, I’m afraid. It
depends upon her inner strength – her
foundation, if you will.”
we go, Doctor,” said Dennis.
globe on the table began to
glow as a hologram formed over it.
There were blurry shapes and forms that seemed to be
moving around the
we get this image any
can increase the wattage to 80
milivolts, but I’d hesitate going any higher.”
The image grew a little brighter, but the forms were still
it down to 70, and ask Simcha
to increase the audio, please.”
whispered to William, “this is obviously after she went
were men and women talking
times call for
desperate measures and all that…”said a male voice
trailing off at the end.
only the rains had come,
Simon. The crops
are dieing in the
livestock are refusing to
eat the stubble left behind.”
for one child to…well, you
know…than the whole town starve.”
was a cry of pain, and the
forms crowded around the subject.
having another contraction. Come
sweetheart, you’ve got to push or the baby will die inside
focus went to black. “I’d
rather the baby die inside me than
allow you psychos to have it.”
times, my child…” began
a man’s voice again.
I know,” the dreamer
screamed, “desperate measures.”
love, push,” comforted a
dreamer’s voice began crying
and pushing at the same time.
can see the crown of the head,”
said a man’s voice. “Good
one more push…”
and it’s over with,” begged the female’s
baby’s cry filled Dr. Miller’s
a boy,” proclaimed a man to
the applause of the small crowd.
Scordia will be pleased.
firstborn son of a blind girl…He will honor our
man whispered nearby. “Give
her something, Andrew. Something
to knock her out.”
lost too much blood already. She’s
just going to have to endure it. What
you can’t change – ya gotta live through.”
me my baby,” she shouted only
to be drowned out by a rising chanting.
will be pleased,” shouted
one voice. Another
voice was repeating,
“Our god be praised.”
A third chanted,
“Bless your followers with rain.
your faithful with abundant life.”
baby’s crying grew fainter and
fainter as if being carried away.
me my baby back,” sobbed the
Miller sat back in terror as
the hologram dimmed and the sounds slipped into quiet sobs.
Miller, are you okay,”
whispered Detective Darcy, leaning forward.
there,” asked the dreamer.
Miller took a deep breath. “I
I am here with you.”
them bring back my baby.”
pushed a button her
wristband to inform the surgeons to begin a controlled influx of
haven’t taken your
baby. It was some
baby. You were
walking down a path and
came upon a girl giving birth.”
colors on the hologram began to
I remember now. I
was walking to the village when I heard a girl giving
birth. And there
were people all around
right. There were
people there who loved her and
were helping her,” said Elizabeth softly.
“And when the baby was born, they took him away
to wash him, and dress
him, and put him into a crib.”
hologram was bright now, with
colors resembling clouds floating past.
“What was I so upset about,” asked the
forgotten by now.”
forgotten also,” said Dr.
hologram shimmered and
faded, and was gone.
and Simcha, another good
session,” said Dr. Miller loudly.
are on a roll,” answered
set another session for 3
PM,” instructed Elizabeth.
wonder if it helped.”
what helped,” asked Dr. Miller.
rain – I’m just curious if it
came,” said the Detective.
hands flew over her
to the records
available – the planet Kimgee did have a drought around the
time the subject
was 16. The rains
however, flooding the towns around the Great Crystal Cliff in
they should have been
building reservoirs instead of wasting time sacrificing
Darcy stood and began to leave,
hoping,” began Elizabeth, “that I could watch you
like that very much,” William
be going over some
recordings tomorrow morning. They’ve
set me up in a room just down the hall.”
will I find you?”
picked up a new mini-guide, and
you can use it, if you’d like.
the way.” As
he handed it to her,
Elizabeth could feel the tips of his fingers glance off the palm of her
speak to it and it’ll guide
you. Ask for
Tuesday 9 AM
requested” said the feminine
ordered Lieutenant Darcy.
said the Detective, beginning to snicker slightly.
came open and Detective Darcy was still chuckling a bit. “Miss Elizabeth. How good of you to
smiled and began to chuckle as well.
thought I had told you my first name, Mr. Darcy.
How did you find out?”
detective – remember?”
He pointed to
the door. “I’m
lying. The computer
told me when you requested
sat in a chair beside Lieutenant Darcy.
“What are we looking at,” she asked,
motioning towards a flat image
hovering over a table, perhaps five feet by four feet.
Sky Spy review its recordings of the last two weeks.” On the image, the five
rooftops of Griffin Enterprises stayed
constant as people scrambled in and out in fast forward.
searching for the accused?”
secondary program, yes. I’m
watching the victim.” They
waited for a
moment and a white dot appeared with the label V1.
It exited the dormitory, went up the stairs of the Main
and disappeared inside.
the victim going to work on Wednesday morning at 9:30.”
Sky Spy identify people, detective?
I see is the top of people’s heads.”
exactly what the program uses, in fact.
It measures hair density to identify people.”
first it eliminates most people by hair color – blonde,
brunette, or redhead –
then it takes into account the shape of the hairline –
men who are balding.” The
the image as the white dot V1 exited the Main Building and entered the
activities building. The
touched a virtual box on the hologram in the lower right hand corner. A counter in the corner
turned over to
there it counts the
number of hairs on an individual’s scalp and measures the
distance between the
“And all of
this happens from two miles in space,” Elizabeth whispered in
knows the number of hairs on your head…”
and Sky Spy. It’s
He glanced at
Elizabeth briefly before returning his full attention to the screen. He seemed content to know
she was there,
beside him. “SS:
search for any
individuals entering building three multiple times within fifteen
the victim designated V1.”
subjects found meeting the search parameters.”
Label as secondary programs,” said the detective.
McCarty - two
times, human …and Female
Yangorian Lystria…three times.”
female Yangorian Lystria as a secondary subject.”
subject 4 labeled and tracked.”
could be seen coming and going.
Evening, night, morning.
Elizabeth pointed as dots and people ran up and down the
are the other secondary subjects,
there’s Mary Griffin, she’s S2 – she just
seems nervous about the ongoing
McCarty – her ‘familiar’ for want of a
better word. He’s
S1, detective. If
you don’t mind me
asking,” asked Elizabeth.
looked away from the screen and drew a deep breath. “The
other labeled subject is at a remote location,” he informed
her, quietly. “Here
we go again. Friday
morning – people coming to work, 7
AM, 8 AM, 8:30 – there’s the victim –
right on time. Out
the dorm.” They
watched the white dot V1 as it descended the steps and got halfway up
stairs leading to the Main Building before turning moving the bottom of
headed towards the
gardens. Focus at
30 feet.” Four
seconds passed before the dot V1
intersected with blue dot S4.”
and the female Yangorian are standing in the gardens
together,” said Dr.
six feet above, SS, remove dots and reproduce original
the lieutenant and the doctor could see
the couple as if floating six feet above them.
talking together. They’re
you be so sure?”
distance between them and the way they hold their hands behind their
backs – as
though having them in front would produce too great a temptation to
other. And by the
way they sway – it’s
all part of a subconscious, evolutionary mating dance.
It’s unmistakable if you’ve studied
subject S2 approaching V1 and S4,” said the hologram.
Range until S2 shows,” ordered Detective Darcy.
floated upwards a few feet until Mary Griffin could be seen standing
earshot of the pair.
leaned forward. “They
don’t know she’s
there listening. Lystria
has her back
to Mary and Byron can’t see her.
hiding in plain sight.”
unlikely trio stood in the garden for a full five minutes until the
the Yangorian walked away in opposite directions.
Mary finally left after the two were inside different
far too curious just to be an indifferent subject,” said the
detective. Sky Spy
was continuing forward as days and
nights were run through from a god’s eye view above Griffin
victim and the female Yangorian
continued to enter the same buildings from different directions at the
time. Friday night,
the victim dot and
the Mary Griffin dot met in the garden.”
night, morning. “Here
said Lieutenant Darcy. “Eight
9 o’clock.” By
9:30 all three dots (the
accused, the Mary dot, and the victim) were all inside the main
outside of the building seemed oddly
serene as a murder was happening deep within its bowels.
“I want to
listen to the dream holo again,” said William as an aside. The images before them
Elizabeth pointed to the picture.
look, that’s you…” and she stopped
was striding up the stairs followed by a blue dot labeled
fidgeted with his holopad. “End
Sky Spy,” he stammered.
immediately went blank.
apologize,” said William.
“Am I a
all, Dr. Miller,” he told her without facing her. “I use
multi-billion dollar systems to watch smart, beautiful
“It’s not a
problem,” she whispered touching his sleeve for a moment. “Thanks for the
let’s see the dream sequence again.”
relaxed and pressed a button on the table.
The pair now saw and heard the plates being placed on the
walk through the fans, and the bird’s fierce fighting.
requested,” said the computer.
said William, turning off the holopad.
of Yangor,” announced the computer.
male we saw in the fishbowl,” Elizabeth wrote on a notepad.
granted,” said William.
slid open and the Yangorian stepped through, being a whole six inches
even than William. He was magnificent, an ideal of masculine beauty
“I heard an
argument going on in here,” he said.
thought two humans were getting ready to kill each other.
it? Through the
I did,” said the Yangorian, crossing his arms.
people, it was just a recording. It
just two birds chirping…”
stopped him. “Can
you interpret what
was being said?”
“I can make
out most of it. It’s
very speeded up.”
Darcy gave the order to replay the hologram, slowing the audio, and the
Yangorian began to translate.
seeing someone else, I know you are…All you care about is
chip…You must end it with that girl – that
thing…I won’t do it, I’m leaving
you…Don’t turn your back to me or I’ll -
I’ll kill you where you stand…”
Yangorian had eyes, the humans before him would have seen them fill
distain. “It seems obvious what happened,
Lieutenant…even obvious for a human.”
stiffened at the remark.
believe you are the only beings who look down on others,”
asked the Yangorian
don’t believe in wasting
time on civility with inferiors. I’ll
exited quickly, leaving
Elizabeth and William holding their breaths once again.
“I believe we have a new secondary
said William quietly.
Tuesday 9:30 P.M.
the majority of important
structures built after 2015, Griffin Inc had a flat, grass rooftop. To state it clearly, it
was a garden minus
the trees, with flower beds and vegetable patches precisely positioned
small fountains and artificial streams.
The turf of the design insulated the top floors of the
the plants shoved oxygen back into the Louisville atmosphere. It was environmentally
friendly. It was
also a nice place to just sit on a
bench, or host a wedding, or have a memorial service.
was currently involved in the
last endeavor, along with three dozen others.
Evans”, he said quietly to
the tall, elderly gentleman standing about ten feet from the chairs in
of the garden.
Darcy,” he answered
without turning his head towards the speaker. They now stood shoulder
shoulder, facing opposite directions. The two were far enough from the
the group that others were left to assume they were quietly using their
communicators to talk with people not on site.
This assumption was helped along by the dim light of the
service. There were
only the candles
alongside the small streams to give off a soft glow.
there any trouble glazing over
the subject’s end?”
at all, my friend. The
Order to which I belong has been tidying
things up for 3000 years.
the vessel is, of course, the obvious first step, followed by an
death report. Have
you made any
discoveries about Bryon’s killer?”
yet, but it’s still early in
good doctor stopped for a
moment, obviously restraining himself from patting his companion on the
give up, my friend. Don’t
quit until you find the truth…for her
touched his right ear, turned
slowly, and said something about the weather.
Doctor Evans stepped away, rejoining the seated group.
certainly is a beautiful
evening,” observed the detective as he approached Elizabeth
I,” he asked motioning to the seat
course,” she answered from
behind a slight veil that swept casually across her face. She was dressed
in a traditional black
dress, the hem of which fell just below her knee.
“I thought you’d be here.”
with two deaths in one week,
even if the last one was accidental, I felt obliged to
nice that you cared enough to
come,” she said softly.
I’m eager to see who
else shows up. If
you want to find a
man’s killer, just look into the faces at his
detective drew a deep breath, crossed
his arms, and looked heavenward. “The
stars certainly are ablaze tonight.”
viewing of the stars are
necessary for the Yangorian ceremony,” Elizabeth told him. “I’ve
never actually seen a service, but
that’s what I’ve read.”
again, Doctor, your knowledge
is very eclectic. Even
veil, Darcy could see the hint of a shy smile.
He was also encouraged slightly by the way she shifted in
do you see, detective – since
you’re certain the killer is here?”
I see you, Doctor Miller –
but I’ll give you a free pass.”
chairs were arranged in three circles, radiating from an orb in the
looked around quickly,
but discretely, before allowing his gaze to rest again on Elizabeth. “I see Tuck and
his wife…I see Mary Griffin
and Michael McCarty…I see the Yangorian delegation, perhaps
a dozen of them, in
white robes and red eye sashes.
the center of the circle, a
Yangorian elder rose to her feet.
invite you to stand with me, facing Lystria’s homeworld
– the blessed planet of
leader turned and raised
his arm, his hand pointing towards a star in the Pegasus constellation.
group rose solemnly, turning
their backs on the brightness of the Milky Way.
of Yangor, reveal yourself
and join us,” shouted the cleric, cupping her hands around
her mouth. The
crowd waited a moment respectfully.
Jody was making an announcement
over the intercom. “Lystria
please report to the roof of the main building.” Thirty seconds passed in
complete silence before Mrs. Tuck
Griffin coughed softly into her white glove.
then, from the four corners
of the Publishing
House property, the
theme welled up sounding like a combination of human voices and the
conch shells. “Lystria
reveal yourself and join us.”
seconds passed in respectful meditation before the cleric opened her
a wind was upon them, ripping
over the garden wall, tearing blooms from delicate stalks as it raced
those gathered on the rooftop. Women
tended the hems of their skirts and men held up an arm to protect their
but Inspector Darcy couldn’t look away and it roared into the
heart of the
Yangorian delegation. In
spite of his
size, the detective saw the Yangorian male from the fishbowl take a
backwards, as if shoved by the pedals and leaves that shot up from the
into the sky. The
as quickly as it had come.
eyes turned to the center of
the circles. The
elder regained her
composure and resumed the ceremony without commit.
“I invite you to turn with me towards the blaze
of the Milky Way,
towards the new worlds enveloped therein.”
She caressed the glass orb in front of her and it began to
off its pedestal. “This
ball of light
contains the ashes of our friend.
release her now into the life of young stars exploding from the center
orb was shining now like a
small sun, as it continued to rise.
release you now to find your new life, new pain, and new joy.” Suddenly the globe of
light shot into the
atmosphere, it seemingly paused momentarily to choose a direction while
the Ohio, finally disappearing into the night sky over the Knobs of
a sight I won’t soon
forget,” whispered Elizabeth to the Inspector as they began
to collect their
jackets from their chairs.
Wednesday 11 AM
“The boys brought this
up,” said the lab
technician while thumping the side of a 2-by-2 foot box.
it,” asked William.
obvious kind of guy.”
illegal device used to modify the amount of Endorphins flowing from a
“Can I open
it,” asked the detective.
look down at it, if you’d like,” said the tech
while handing the lieutenant a
pair of gloves. Inside
the box was a
glowing array of switches and neon tubes.
“Bio-chips planted within the penal gland slowly
sift a specified amount
of endorphins into the cranial cavity.
The process is used to modify the moods of people
Darcy stepped away from the thing in the box and pulled up a wooden
people use this machine to do what,
device allows the chip to put out more dorfs than prescribed. Someone was probably using
the machine in
the basement of Griffin Inc, away from the prying eyes of cameras on
floors. The result
of abusing dorfs, is
fast process, really. The
begins to shrink from overuse, and eventually fails.
The abuser often commits suicide.
It’s hard to know how many lives this machine
about the other box,” said the detective, pointing to the
The two men
walked the ten steps to four dozen metal doors embedded in a metal wall. “DNA confirms
the head matches the corpse in
the elevator.” The
tech pulled open a
small door, behind which sat a frozen head inside a glass cube.
“How was it
severed,” asked William, looking over the ice-encrusted head
of a Caucasian
male in his mid-twenties.
wasn’t chopped off, or sliced off, or sawed
“Get on with
it, Ernie. I
haven’t had lunch yet.”
to have just popped off. A
object, two inches thick, chocked him until all the tissues and blood
and spinal cartilage was crushed – and the head simply popped
“Was it the
yeah. When your
head pops off you’re
pretty much dead,” said the tech while snickering a little.
please – my lunch, remember.”
okay. He was alive
wrong with the eyes? Is
that just a
refraction of the ice cube?”
that's not an illusion. His
gouged them out –
probably after the victim was dead.
Find the eyes – find your murderer.”
The tech pushed the head back into its small frozen tomb.
Ernie, enjoy the rest of your day.”
detective began ascending the three stairs leading out the morgue door.
answered Ernie happily, returning merrily to dissecting some
sat in the empty cafeteria, within the activities building of Griffin
Inc. She listened
to the slowed audio recording
of the accused’s dream sequence.
“You’re seeing someone else, I know
you are…All you care about is your
Endorphin chip…You must end it with that girl, that
thing…I won’t do it, I’m
leaving you, Mary…”
After replaying the
session for the fifth time, the words were finally beginning to make
then, fine, lover – I give
come a time when you’ll
want me back and I’ll be with someone new.
You just wait and see.
I wash my
hands of the whole train wreck”
Footsteps were walking away.
There was a soft sound in the background now. It was water running.
took another slurp from her cup of java, waiting for the final curse
the fatal blow. Waiting. Waiting.
“Computer, please advance to the end of this
section One-E please.”
section is complete,” said the computer methodically.
One-E complete,” the computer repeated without any trace of
grabbed her holo-pad and ran out the door.
Detective Darcy sat in his office
at the police
station. On the
table in front of him,
his holopad replayed the parts of the past two weeks involving the
secondary subjects. He
watched as Mary,
the Accused, Byron, Michael and Yakasium went about their lives like
aboard a ship. Their
ebbed and flowed without much change – until the Thursday
night before the
to real-time speed,” instructed William as the holopad showed
the lovers in the
garden. Mary could
be seen with her
back turned to them. “Okay
now – so
Mary is a dorfhead, but that doesn’t make her a murderer. What am I missing?
What is it?”
was hanging about forty feet above the odd trio.
“Expand radius of focus, Sky Spy.” The view began to widen,
as if the viewer was floating upward.
dot appeared next to the main building.
“S6” seethed Detective Darcy.
“We got him!
All I need to do
now is put Yakasium in the basement at the time of the
Darcy,” said a small, feminine voice.
Elizabeth Miller stood in the doorway.
Her tiny frame seemed out of sink with the busy people
he said, jumping to his feet with surprise.
“I hope I’m
not intruding, but…”
it’s a pleasure to have you here.”
pulled out a chair beside his desk and motioned for her to sit down.
to tell you something about the case,” she began.
listening to the lovebird’s quarrel in the dream sequence. I slowed it down, of
“ …and the
Yangorian wasn’t quite…well, I believe he altered
his interpretation to fit his
he lied about it.”
breathed a sigh of relief. “I
sure you’d agree with me so quickly.”
now I honestly believe she was
just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Is she doing better?”
“Oh yes. I
believe Herron is well enough to where –
if I was in the room – you could interview her.”
Detective Darcy pointed towards a wall in
his office. “I
was going to go over the
images on the main floor, right before the murder.
You’re welcome to stay, if you’d
surprised you haven't done that before now.”
received the visuals from Griffin Inc.
Private Lawrence had to pry them out of Mary's clutching
she resigned. Maybe
now she can get the
help she needs.”
she will – at some cushy spa by the ocean frequented by the
replied mockingly. “Computer,
and play second floor exits, Saturday September 20th,
2 PM.” The
wall seemed to dematerialize as people
walked within five feet of the staircases.
“Include elevator,” instructed William.
A fifth and sixth scene appeared on the wall. He pointed to the image in
the middle. “Here
we go. There’s
going down into the basement, probably to dorf-up.” Three minutes passing.
“That’s Bryon, the victim, heading
into the basement.” Seven
minutes passing. “Herron,
the accused – that’s her name,
Elizabeth – opens the elevator door, steps inside, shuts the
sat entranced by the events being played out in front of them.
frame,” shouted William, slamming his palms onto the table. “There he
stairwell stood the Yangorian, carrying a small satchel. He turned as if checking
behind him. He
began his descent. One
pointed to the middle image again.
She’s rubbing her
hands against her dress.”
tighten focus on E7 and freeze frame.”
Her hands enlarge to fill the entire screen. “Analyze liquid
water, hand-soap,” answered the computer dryly.
explains the sound of running water I heard in Herron’s
our murderer. Computer,
see who comes up next.”
Five minutes, seven, ten, fifteen.
Yangorian appeared at the top of the stairs.
different,” said Elizabeth, leaning forward.
side by side point of entry and point of exit.” Now it was perfectly clear
– even to a human: he had changed his
have brought the clothes with him.
again, that is premeditation,” said Dr. Miller smiling.
“He has already left the
campus,” said the
about a death
in the family.”
doesn’t that surprise me,” answered Elizabeth.
have sensed we were getting too close.
He’ll be on a flight back to Yangore within the
hour – and they don’t
extradite their own.”
“I’ll bet I
know someone who will eagerly help us catch him,” smiled
I need do is ask her.”
Stacy – toss his room. I
want the eyes
he gouged from the victim’s face.”
in the fishbowl with William, Elizabeth, Jim and Dennis surrounding her. Over the desk in front of
her, hung a neon
Earth, surrounded by brightly glowing starships.
Night and day silently chased each other over the surface
flights,” she instructed.
the starships disappeared. “Eliminate
virtual flights holding more than five passengers.” All but eight neon flights
all flights outside of a one hundred mile radius of
Louisington, Kentucky. One
dot hovered above the globe. Herron’s
thumb pressed on it, seemingly trapping it within the
him while you go get him,” whispered Herron to William, but
he didn’t hear
her. The men had
already raced out the
drew a deep breath. “I’m
woman remained at her station, holding the spaceship under her thumb. “I want to thank
you for bringing me out of
my delirium, Doctor Miller.”
“I need to
explain something to you, Herron.
memories I’ve implanted in your mind will only hold up your
sanity briefly. I’m
afraid your rediscovered stability is only temporary.”
I’ll be crazy again soon?”
the mind is like a tree: the roots must be strong and deep in order for
stand on its own. All
I was able to do
was to prop your mind up long enough to help us catch this
shook her head in understanding. “How
long do I have?”
week, perhaps more. But
I have no
doubt, you’ll eventually recover completely.
Any woman capable of walking out of the hills of Kimgee,
and making a
life for herself, certainly has my admiration.”
you,” whispered Herron sadly.
light below her thumb blinked out.
“There, they have him.
to tell my son about this adventure…wait a minute, I
don’t have a son, do I.”
for you, Herron,” said the doctor, touching her hand.
Friday 3 PM
Yangorian male remained seated and unshaken under the bright lights of
interrogation room. Elizabeth’s
was seated behind Darcy, while the Chief Inspector was dead center. Both were capable of
interacting with the
detective and his prisoner. A
officer guarded the interrogation from a corner.
Darcy stood behind him with arms crossed.
“I have proof you committed this murder. You had opportunity and
access…Herron will testify that it was
you who killed Bryon in front of her. And I have this...a pair of eyes
bottle – found in your room.”
found one bottle” he asked, snickering.
noted,” said the Chief Inspector’s holographic
that the name of the female huddled in
the corner of the cage, shaking like a freezing rat?
I listened with pleasure as the male’s body
snapped in half. And
when I saw the human’s head had popped
off and landed in her lap, I laughed before taking it out of her
fought against his instinct to show emotion.
“The only thing I don’t understand is
the motive.” He
halted suddenly, looking at the alien
before him. Yakasium
was taller than
most humans by a full foot. His
physique and intelligence was so far above a human’s
– more like a Greek god
than a flesh and blood individual.
just a stupid human, Yakasium. I’ll
never figure this out. Could
Yangorian seemed to puff up, as if getting ready to hold court.
I’ll be glad to help.
I followed Lystria to your disgusting little
world because she was my chosen one.”
married then,” asked Elizabeth.
not. When a
Yangorian male chooses his
mate – he doesn’t gravel, asking for her attention. He demands it.” Yakasium
drew a deep breath, as though a thought had knocked the wind out of him. “When I arrived,
she turned me aside.” Silence.
could have overcome
this setback – but for the object of her affections: a human. A human and a Yangorian
have never married –
and they never will.” He
sat as if lost
in sadness, then boosted himself back into the limelight. “Who chooses an
insect over a god!”
Darcy encouraged him to continue.
us why you count yourself among the gods, so that we might
Yakasium was the lecturer. “Humans
believe our planet discovered space travel just two hundred of your
cycles ago. This is
not the truth. Your
race believes that we lost our sight
because we lived too long below ground.
This is not the truth.
heard that looking into a starship’s ion trail will blind
have,” said Darcy.
the ones who learned that first, the Yangorians.
We knew it a million years before we whispered it into
within our collective
subconscious is the memory of the day we sent a thousand ships into the
to seed the galaxy with humanoids.
only I could have been there to see them blast into glory. But those who controlled
eventually lost their sight - so they wrapped their eyes to show their
they moved into
the caverns and developed other senses, never forgetting their glory. Have you heard of
said Doctor Miller.
“He was my
stopped for a
moment, as if using his sonar sense to explore the faces of his small
was about to
disgrace our planet, by lowering herself to wallow around with a human. I would not allow that to
happen. I would
kill that human again, if I had the
afraid of prison, Yakasium? How
speak so freely,” asked William.
for 1000 of your years. When
convict me, I will hibernate for the decade or two that I am under your
control. What is
twenty years in the
face of a millennia? What
millennia in the summer of a sun?”
“Ah, I see
that you are a philosopher, sir. Perhaps
you are aware of one of our poets who said: To sleep – to
sleep: perchance to
there’s the rub.”
William looked at his police captain, who
nodded back from behind a glass wall.
They had his confession.
him away,” William said to the officers waiting nearby.
and Detective Darcy stepped into the mild sunshine of an autumn
was hoping you’d accompany me home, Miss
– I have a new puppy you
might be interested in seeing.”
true? Male or
female, and raising a racket at all hours of the night.”
thought for a moment. “What’s
named after her mother.”
Darcy took her elbow, gently moving her forward.
to see your new puppy, Mr. Darcy,” she answered, nodding yes. “So you were
right about the motive, after
all. The murder was
all about love gone
to say the real motive was prejudice – the unjustified belief
that one person
is better than another by divine right.”
prick us, do we not bleed,” quoted Elizabeth.
“And if you
wrong us, shall we not revenge”.
As they walked into the city swaying,
talking, and laughing, they passed six concrete columns that had once
an overpass of some long forgotten expressway.
Spread over the faces of the six columns, someone probably
long dead had
painted in red:
We Family Stop Black
©2008 Michele Dutcher
Michele Dutcher's stories been published in AlienSkin (Moving Day and the Odd Pets of Deacon Walters), Bewildering Stories (Five Silver Pieces) and Aphelion (A Pocket Filled of Posies).
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