The mysterious mystery of the missing mysteries.
by Lee Cross
Chapter One – A case of the terrifyingly obvious.
“Rain, rain go away, and come back another day”, wouldn’t the weather broadcast on television be a lot more interesting if it had information like that on it.
“Red sky at night, Shepherd’s delight – red sky in the morning, Shepherd’s warning”, although some fellows say, “Sailors delight”. I suppose it depends on how close you live to the sea, or how close the fellow doing the weather forecasting grew up to the sea maybe.
I’m assuming they don’t use script writers for the weather shows, perhaps they do, but I don’t honestly know and it’s not something I’ve ever thought about before, which is weird because thinking about stuff is generally what I do.
Oh, by the way, there is a dead body on the floor at my feet.
I suppose they probably do have someone telling the weather forecaster what to say, I mean how many things were truly ever unscripted in the world of television? I think that’s why people liked to watch sports, for that mystery, that certainty that anything could happen.
Even then sports were scripted to an extent, “anything could happen”, sort of implies that anything, without limitation, could happen but it wasn’t often that you saw a soccer star pick up the ball and run around with it, or a tennisser, or whatever they were called, lose interest in a game and start to use their racket as a prop guitar, while serenading their opponent, apologies, former opponent, with a selection of love songs; or possibly the music of the rock group Queen.
“Hello, can I speak to the Police please”
“Yes, there’s a body on the floor here”
“no, I haven’t called an ambulance”
“because they’re dead”
“well, I thought that was implied when I said, “there is a body on the floor”, would someone making a call like this usually say the person’s name?”
“yes, yes, I can see what you’re saying but I don’t think an ambulance would make much difference at this point, as I’ve said, the body is quite dead”
“I really am quite sure, the head seems to have been separated from the body; decapitated, is that the word?”
“How? well I read it in a book, I don’t honestly think I’ve ever used the word before”.
“No, the head isn’t missing, it’s just not entirely attached the rest of the body”
“Ok, ok, ok, I’ll call an ambulance to make sure”.
Having someone write a script for the weather seems so inherently wrong though, the world just makes more sense when you can look out of the window and decide what the weather is like. “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane”, wasn’t a sentence formulated on the basis of a complex meteorological forecast; some fellow just looked out of a window.
“Hello, can I speak to the… well, erm, the Ambulance please”
“Yes, there is a body on the floor; oh wait, sorry, I mean a dead body on the floor here and, yes, I’m quite sure they’re dead, their head appears to have been cut off”
“Yes, I understand completely, but they told me to call you”
“No, I’m not trying to be funny, does this sound funny, there is a dead person on the floor, missing their head, and I’m just trying to tell someone about it”.
What law said that people who could predict the weather accurately, without a script, weren’t suitable for appearing on television. There was that very nice lady who appeared on ‘Countdown’ for twenty years, and she was replaced by an even more lovely young lady, both of whom were rather good at mathematics.
Surely there must have been marketable meteorologists, haunting the lady’s dormitories of some of the better universities; although, as to why they should be ladies per say I have no answer; beyond my suspicion that men were more likely to watch, “the weather”, and a pretty face brightened even the dullest days .
Oh yes, the body. I walked in and there it was on the floor. It felt awfully blasé saying, “the body”, especially when it’s considered that I knew the name of the person in question. I’m just concerned that by invoking the name of the deceased, I will somehow cause offense to someone, somewhere, at some point, who will have a fuller appreciation of the etiquette in such matters; as I myself had never seen a dead person before.
It was around this point, as I was considering the weather and when used a persons ceased to be appropriate, that the police arrived.
They were happy to see me.
I believe they considered me to be a murderer, or perhaps the murder.
Chapter Two – Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
“Could you confirm for the record your name”, asked the lady across the table from me, who mostly certainly did not meet the qualifications of the early 21st Century weather forecaster; being approximately my height and equal in muscle mass, with short-cropped dark hair and a slight yellowing of her teeth, that gave the impression she smoked cigarettes when not confined to a room in which the record was present.
“Yes”, I spoke clearly, directing my tone towards the small box on the table, which I took to be the record, “I am currently called Constance Patrick Smith, although most people tend to call be Pat”.
“You said, “currently”, please be clear on this point, as no ID was found in your possession, could you explain what you mean”, the police officer again asked, “for the record”.
“Well, I think, it has something to do with the name itself, with Constance most commonly considered to be a woman’s name; men seem more comfortable addressing me as Pat”.
An appreciable period of silence passed, during which neither the officer nor the record chose to make comment, until a light tapping on the window to my left signalled to the young lady in some way, causing her to rise and leave the room.
With a little time to think, it was clear that my theories on merely looking out of the window as a means of weather prediction were horribly naïve. Sitting in what I could only suppose passed as an interrogation room, I was unable to look out the window, it having been affected somehow to render it as a mirror, upon which the recent knock gave a clear indication, when coupled with the memory of the three flight of stairs my journey here had entailed, that it was an internal portal only.
Why I should ever have assumed that weather presenters made their predictions from a room with a view of the outside world, I couldn’t say, but given my current view and the possibility of conflicting circumstance, it seemed an obviously flawed assumption.
The mirrored window did provide me an opportunity to view the source of the pain currently afflicting my eyes, nose and face in general. A nasty set of bruises had appeared, at some point in the immediate aftermath of the words, “ARMED POLICE, GET DOWN ON THE GROUND, NOW!!!”, being screamed at me by a group of burly gentlemen who, via the means of their not inconsiderable combined weight, had invited me to lay on the ground.
Face first. With my arms secured behind back. And a gun held to my head.
This was not a pleasant experience; one I would perhaps have made comment on but as the room was devoid of, “the record”, and in fact full of shouting, mostly the word, “CLEAR!”, I decided upon silence as the correct expression of distress.
Before I could consider the relative value of an opaque window at length, the female police officer returned and took her seat.
“Look Patrick, let’s start again”, she began, less formally, “it’s clear that we’ve both been jumping to the wrong conclusions here”, which given my recent consideration of the possibility of internal windows, was certainly a fair reflection of my own account. “Why don’t we start at the beginning”, looking down at her note pad, “our officers found you first at the scene of murder, is that correct”?
It was not correct, “no, and I apologise for the contradiction, but that was not the case”.
“Would you care to explain”, her hand made an involutory gesture to the box on the table, “please remember that you are on the record”.
“Well, it seems certain that I was at least the third person on the scene”, a fact that I felt was entirely evident in the decapitated body on the floor, and that I myself was found without the means to remove somebody’s head from their shoulders, “which is, of course, entirely based on the assumption that only one person committed the crime”.
There was another period of silence, during which the police officer only looked into my eyes, neither she nor the record, or the mirrored window for that matter, chose to make a sound for the full length of a minute.
As the time continued to stretch, I could only assume that I was supposed to talk next.
“You see there was the murderee”, which I wasn’t entirely sure was actually a word, “and the fellow who murdered her, which would place me third on the scene, unless of course the murder itself was the act of multiple assailants, then I couldn’t begin to place myself in the order of those involved, however passively, in the act”.
The silence returned and persisted.
“I suppose it’s also possible that someone else discovered the body, and foreseeing these very circumstances decided to flee the scene, without first reporting the crime”.
“PLEASE”, more of an adamant exclamation than a shout, “Patrick just stop”. “Why don’t you just tell me what actually happened from your point of view”.
So, I explained about my call to the police office, well to the 999 number and the representative of the police department; it seemed rather unlikely that police officers themselves answered the phone. Or perhaps they did, “not having enough officers on the street”, was a fairly common complaint of the media at this point in history.
The officer listened to my story, taking a few notes here and there on the pad in front of her, until I myself fell quiet; although not before making my thoughts on Countdown and weather forecasting entirely clear.
You didn’t have to be a mind reader to tell that there was clearly a lot of things she wanted to say, but she chose to stick with establishing a timeline, as I believe was important to police procedure.
“Yes, we have those calls noted, they were recorded and”, here she stopped short, as if at the end of a sentence in midsentence. “Could you explain what brought you to the deceased apartment at that exact time”, looking at me, dead in the eye, with her pen at the ready, she nodded, to show it was my turn to speak.
“Oh, well I was there in fact to witness that exact time; you see…”, but I trailed off. There was no sense in trying to explain why I had arrived at the moment, without first explaining why I had chosen to journey at all…
Chapter Three – Determination, predetermination, prescience and chance.
Throughout the course of human history several moments of overriding importance occurred; the first boats that could navigate ocean’s and cross from one land mass to another, the invention of the written word and the splitting of the atom; all, quite literally, came to change everything about the world from the instant of their creation
The invention of the wheel, the development of antibiotics, the introduction of self-service checkouts; things of that sort happened quite regularly, although the peoples of the corresponding times didn’t understand fully their impact for many years, or generations, thereafter.
An interesting historical point being the “self-service” checkout. When it was created, its impact was not wildly considered, with it being thought of as nothing more than a tool of convenience, much like the potato peeler, or the chainsaw.
Step forward a hundred years, to look back, and the invention of SSC was widely seen as the operative cause of mass unemployment amongst the uneducated working classes. Step forward another century, and they were credited with helping to increase the base level of educational standard amongst the population as a whole, and more, to have aided the commercial rollout of the very first true Artificial Intelligence – something that could never have been foreseen at their inception.
Of all the important dates in recorded human history, one eventually came to stand unrivaled above all others: February 2nd 2017.
Sandra Baker (maiden name: Rhone) was a 47-year-old woman, born, raised and educated in, what was at the time known as, East Germany.
Initially interested in the science of physics, she studied hard and achieved her doctorate at a young age; during which process she increasingly became interested in the wider sciences as a whole, eventually choosing to pursue her studies further, in the historically famous University town of Cambridge, in the “United Kingdom”.
By the time she had reached her early twenties, she was considered amongst the genii of her time, and assumed to be destined to eventually join the ranks of; Hawking, Oppenheimer, de Selby, Einstein and Newton.
Sadly, at the age of Thirty-One, tragedy touched her life, in the deaths of her husband, Robert Baker, an unemployed cartographer, and their Five-year-old daughter, Dorothy.
Their deaths could not possibly have been foreseen, both being in the best of health, and maintained in the security of affluence.
The story is recorded in a few simple lines: When driving home one evening, returning from one of Dorothy’s very first swimming lessons, the vehicle in which they traveled was hit by a falling tree branch, which had been brought down an utterly freakish lightning strike, out of a clear early evening sky.
The four witnesses present, who had been traveling in the opposite lane of traffic, heading back towards the city; reported sheer amazement at seeing the bolt strike the branch.
Both husband and daughter were killed instantly; their car veering off the road into the surrounding wooded area, impacting directly with a large tree trunk, while still traveling at a significant speed.
And with their deaths, Sandra’s life was forever changed.
Had she been a spiritual person, it’s quite likely she would have been consumed by questions of faith; what were the reasons for such a brutal and undeserved happening of fate; questioning why such evil should come in to the lives of a family that tried to be good – and there is no recorded data to suggest that she, her husband, and their child, were anything other than good people.
But she was not. She was a scientist; believing in cause and effect; believing in research, recording, correlation and understanding; believing in finding answers, and not merely asking questions.
And so she refocused her mind, with the sort of dedication and intensity that could never be attributed to the truly sane.
In took twenty years, the loss of all but her most steadfast friends, not to mention the entirety of her credibility in the academic community and accumulated wealth; but on February 2nd 2017, Sandra Baker created the base formulas that would eventually allow her species to view space, time and matter in a completely new and revolutionary way.
Finally culminating in the ability to travel through time.
Which is why I arrived at Sandra’s house on the morning of Thursday the 2nd of February – 2017.
To witness how everything came to be.
Only to find a dead on the floor.
Chapter Four – The death of the future.
“And so, I was standing outside her house when it started to rain, which as you can see”, I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops, “I’m not really dressed for, so I decided to try knocking on the door”.
That’s one of the problems about walking around in different times, yes you can study what they wore at any given moment in history and dress in the appropriate garments, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll know the right moments to wear what clothing.
Like wearing a wetsuit to a swimming pool, it seems to make a lot of sense, but in reality you would like rather odd and stand out as different. Especially on the bus there.
More confusingly I had seen people on my journey to Mallbrack Road, where Sandra had lived the later part of her life, and in this present died, who were in the street wearing pyjamas, which seemed to make no sense – given that they were also known as bedclothes.
How do you know what to wear, and when, while travelling? well, in other times, you would have asked someone, but in these current moments you could consult the television. My reasoning on the beachwear was simple, the fellow who was presenting the weather, who could be described as having a pert bottom, had said, “the weather should be great today, the only way you can go wrong is if you DON’T dress for the beach”, so that was the look I effected.
It was clear that my integrator wasn’t sure of what words came next, she tried, “how”, but stopped, clearly unsure of what question to form. “Who”, was the next sentence starter, but again there wasn’t anything to follow, or at least anything that made sense to the police officer.
I decided to take a little initiative, and offer a spot to begin again, “I know, I must look a bit silly”, even without the rather livid facial bruising, “I’m always conscious of standing out in a crowd”.
Come to think of it, I don’t actually have any idea where the closest beach was. This being London, I had to imagine it must be several miles away.
And it was February; if memory serves this was a winter month in the northern hemisphere, in these times before artificial weather and climate control, and it would be highly unlikely that beaches would be entirely hospitable.
Perhaps the fellow on the television was being sarcastic, that was what had happened, or perhaps it was the person who wrote the script who was feeling sarcastic; sarcasm, and its appropriate application was a mystery to me.
My initial thought, about just looking out of a window, and judging the weather as your saw fit, was carrying more weight again.
“And that is your story?”.
It was, or at least the part that I felt was currently relevant, “well…”, but this time it was my turn to trail off, there was no sense in further confusing an already confusing matter, if I started in on spacetime and matter manipulation at this point, the interrogation really wouldn’t be heading to a place where the interrogator wanted it to go.
I decided to keep it simple, “yes, that is my story, I assume you have some questions”?
It wasn’t much of a leap: inappropriately dressed fellow discovers a headless lady on the floor; the police are likely to have a few questions.
Said fellow goes to on the claim that he had arrived at that specific time to witness the birth of the future, and most people are likely to some questions; regardless of their occupation.
“Yes”, she said in a completely dead tone, “I have SOME questions”. Did the way she had over empathised the word, ‘some’, mean that she was being sarcastic; and didn’t actually have any questions.
Sarcasm seemed unlikely however, so I decided to wait in silence, and see what she said next. Perhaps she would suggest Ice-cream. That would be a nice surprise.
“Yes, you could say we have some questions”, she repeated, and this time I’m sure she meant it. “I suppose the obvious one is, if you’re from the future, why didn’t you know what was going to happen in advance?”.
Oh yes, that was an obvious one. It usually came up in one form or another, whenever time travel was mentioned; although in this particular instance I personally would have started with, where did you see the weather on television, and were you naked at the time?
Of course, I was not a police officer, and was only aware of them from recorded history, so was in no way a fit judge what would appear to be most pertinent question to a trained investigator.
It was actually quite refreshing to be asked the obvious question without some sort of derogatory comment being attached. Most commonly it the foul language of a particular era, in varying times I had been described as, “touched in the fucking head”, or, “full of shit”, and, “a queer duck”; all of which had hurt my feelings.
“Yes, I can quite seem how that might be strange to you”, people always found my lack of prescience surprising. “I’m afraid that answer is quite mundane however”. Still, this was an interrogation after, so I decided it appropriate offer an explanation, “an absolutely precise record of the weather at this point of recorded history isn’t kept, so it was impossible for me to know, ahead of time as it were, that it was going to rain this morning”.
“I know what you’re thinking”, telepathic probing was not required, “major weather related incidents, and the like, are recorded in extreme detail; which of course is true – my counter-argument would be, that it’s actually the event that is the cause, and focus of, a more precise record being kept; with the exact weather conditions being a mere footnote of history”.
“Like the superstorm that washed away the city of Amsterdam; or the story of Noah, who led the survivors of the great flood; or the Pleistocene Ice Age”.
“That wasn’t what I was thinking”, her voice had maintained the completely dead and business-like tone it had taken for most of the questioning process.
Oh. Perhaps telepathy was required. It certainly wasn’t worth the risk though.
“And we don’t believe in those things anymore”.
“I’m sorry”, I was pretty sure it was rude to respond to a questioner with a question but, “you don’t believe in Ice Ages?”.
I hadn’t known they were matters of faith you see.
“What! – No”, which as far as she got before somebody started banging on the window, and she was again required to leave the room, presumably deciding to pause my interrogation to ask them to stop, given that to the record it could easily be assumed that the loud thudding noises were the sound of my head being repeatedly beaten against the table. An assumption that would likely be supported in a court of law by my already damaged visage.
Beachwear was a little difficult to understand when you considered the subject with a knowledge of history. If you were to correlate the tastes of fashion, with the amount of clothing worn on a very sunny day, there is an unmistakable trend towards wearing less, and less, from almost the exact point that it was discovered that the Suns’ warming ultra-violet rays were incredibly damaging to a person’s skin, and their wider health in general
What could possibly be the driving motivation behind that trend was impossible to say from a distance of time, but it couldn’t be denied that it had existed.
People rejoiced in the sunny days, they stripped and frolicked; laughed off their obviously damaged skin and the ever increasing possibility of an untimely death, as just a by-product of looking good.
The trend was beyond confusing – it was frankly absurd.
I liked wearing flipflops however, their appeal made a lot of sense once they had been worn.
The door banging brought my attention back to the present present; my female interrogator had returned, this time accompanied with a gentleman, who clearly thought a lot of himself, because he made straight to the table and took his colleagues chair; which run contrary to the etiquette of this particular time.
The first thing he did, after taking her seat, was turn the recording device off. The next thing he did was swear at me, which was not pleasant.
“Let’s cut the crap – let’s cut the bullshit – let’s get straight to the fucking point”, he said very aggressively, before pausing to add gravitas to his words. A strange tactic to my mind, given that he was also trying to impress the urgency of a situation upon me.
“I have more than enough evidence to lock you up and throw away the key”, another striking pause, “so you either start telling me the truth now or you never get a chance to talk with anyone again”.
“Well”, I wasn’t really sure what to say, I could only assume that he had been listening into the preceding interrogation, and was in someone frustrated by the apparent lack of progress. “Well, as I was saying to your colleague, whose name”, I directed my attention briefly over his shoulder, to make contact with the person in question, “and forgive me, I seem to have forgotten”.
“DETECTIVE CONSTABLE Claire Fitzpatrick”, he interjected.
“Oh, yes, well apologies”, which drew a slight nod from the background; clearly being a Detective Constable, whatever that may mean, was not sufficiently important as to be able to speak out of turn. “Well, as I was saying to you colleague, I was there to meet a scientist, of some considerable note, who I believed to be on the verge of a significant breakthrough – perhaps the significant breakthrough”.
“I said, CUT THE FUCKING BULLSHIT”, I’d like to report that he wasn’t shouting across the table into my face, but that would have been a lie; he was shouting across the table into my face, and continuing to use foul language.
“You think we don’t have records? Do you think we don’t check these things? Constance Patrick Smith? – the only thing we don’t have a record of, is you – No name – No Fingerprints – No nothing”.
“So, I want you to start talking – Now!”.
I wasn’t really sure what I could say, this man was apparently irate, accelerated pulse and body temperature were evident in the flush of his skin; he wasn’t prepared to listen to my rational answers, because he had already chosen to believe them to be fantasies.
“I’m afraid sir, I’m not sure what else I can say to you”, I really preferred not to lie, and as such was terrible at it; even in the worst of situations a selective version of truth was the most sensible option.
“Would you like me to tell you what I know?”
“Yes”, I managed to squeeze in between his sentences, apparently the question had been intended to be rhetorical.
“Sandra Baker was not a world renowned scientist”, this was certainly the case, she was not, “while we know she was educated to a PhD level, she was considered to be both a lunatic and a fool; who couldn’t even get, let alone hold down, a teaching job in a secondary school”.
“The house where you found her is a council house, one that she had failed to pay rent for”, he was looking at me full in the face, making sure I was taking in every word, which of course I was; even though it was information I already had. “She was on income support Patrick, the only reason she wasn’t homeless, Patrick, was that the council wouldn’t have been able to find someone else who wanted to live in that shit-hole”.
“It took less than twenty minutes to pull all of that information and put it together, most of it was just sitting there on Google”, a multinational conglomerate, which was to eventually become recognised as a sovereign entity, complete with its own standing army of thousands, “so what I want to know is, why were you really there?”.
“Everything you have said is true sir”, and it was to a greater extent, although Dr Baker did still teach sporadically, but he was right in saying she couldn’t hold down a job; her personal studies would constantly overtake her more rational needs to eat and live. “I can only hope to assure, that everything I have said is true, and that she really was on the verge of a major discovery”.
“Explain it to me”.
This made me smile involuntarily, which caused the anger to rise in his face, I was glad I managed to suppress any further emotion, “I’m afraid it would be beyond your ability to understand”.
Trying to explain even the basic science, behind matter-energy manipulation and time-travel, to anyone from this era was nearly impossible; there just wasn’t a common point of reference for the average person to work with, with only a handful of people who’d ever lived, up to this point, being able to make the series of theoretically leaps required.
“Do you know who the fuck I am?”
I did not. Nor did I expect it was actually a question.
What I could see was, that he was short fellow, especially compared to the peoples of his time, who mostly tended towards the taller side of what was considered average throughout the entirety of human existence; their physical evolution having been driven by a couple of thousand years consuming almost everything in the surrounding environment.
He had blue eyes, which looked tired, an impression that was reinforced by the faded to grey brown of his hair, and slightly unkept appearance; his shirt, in particular, had a noticeably unwashed look about it.
“I am Detective Chief Inspector John Browne, and I run the major crime unit here”
The way he said the words told me that, Detective Chief Inspector, was obviously an important title; perhaps one that been handed down from native-american culture.
Actually, perhaps not; the connection just seemed to remote.
“It’s very nice to meet you”, which wasn’t sufficient for situations such as these, so I added “sir”, as a sign of deference and respect.
Neither of which caused the fellow to break stride, “and you are the prime suspect in a murder”.
“Do know what I think?”
I did not, at least currently, “well, I could probably…”, which was as far as I got, in my explanation that I could probably try to find out.
“Shut the fuck up”, oh dear, such terrible language. “I think you know that you’re screwed, and that we have you bang to rights”, an expression I had never heard, “and you’re trying to cop some bullshit insanity plea – what do you have to say to that?”
If the record had still be recording, I might have tried to offer some explanation, for whoever else might have been listening in; I might still have spoken out, if I believed that somebody else remained behind the mirrored window, but I couldn’t be sure that was the case.
“I’m sorry that I can’t be of more help Chief, my story it the truth and I assure you that I am quite sane”, at least currently; but I thought it best to leave out that part of the truth.
“Whatever you’re trying to pull, it won’t happen on my watch!”, which was spoken with enough force to accidentally launch spittle across the table into my face.
At least I hope accidentally. He wasn’t a very pleasant man, but I can’t believe he would deliberately spit into somebody’s face.
There followed a period of some silence, during which I was trying to decide what to say next, wondering if it was time to perhaps do something instead; something beyond wiping my face.
While it was certainly within my abilities to do something about the current predicament, I wasn’t entirely sure it was the right thing to do; much like when my face had been placed against the floor – repeatedly.
“Are you even listening to me?”
“Sorry”, it was a reaction, the first word out of my mouth, and completely wrong because it gave the impression that I hadn’t been listening, which in fact I had”.
Mister Detective Chief Inspector Browne’s voice went very quiet, “I’m not sure I understand you” , he seemed rather angry, “do you think this is some sort of game?”
“Not at all, I’m just concerned that a crime, although I think assassination might be an equally apt word, has taken place and you don’t seem to be trying to find the culprits responsible”.
I think, “culprit”, was correct word but it was very much like, “decapitation”, in that I had never had to say the word aloud.
“And you think”, quieter still he spoke, with a progressively slower pronunciation to each word, “that you know how to do my job?”
“No, far from it”, my certainty, that I would not be able to solve the crime, was why I had called the police to attend the scene, “my only worry is that you don’t seem to comprehend the severity of the crime”.
“WE’RE TALKING ABOUT A MURDER HERE!”, he shouted directly in my face, while slamming his fist on the table between us; and sending some more spit on the small journey though the space between us.
While I knew almost nothing about the investigative process, I believe that spitting in the face of a suspect was generally frowned upon. Clearly this latest outburst was slightly beyond the norm, because Officer Fitzpatrick took a step back, unseen by her superior.
“Yes sir”, I didn’t think the extra courtesy could do any harm, “we’re talking about death; but not just of poor Doctor Baker, which is a terrible tragedy in itself”.
“We are talking about the death of the future”.
Chapter Five – A not so great escape.
Now, given that I had just proclaimed impending and unavoidable doom, I had expected some more table banging, with perhaps some light, and hopefully accidental, spitting; however, none followed, and the room again fell into silence.
“Well Fitzpatrick”, the quite likely not Native-American chiefs voice was no longer enraged, more devoid of emotion in general, business like was the term, much like his colleague had been before, “what do you think, you’re supposed to be the expert with cases like this like this; what’s your recommendation?”
“Honestly sir, I can’t say, this is a little beyond the training I’ve had for dealing with at risk subjects; my recommendation would be to bring in a shrink, and have him assessed properly”.
Not once during her response, did John Browne take his eyes from my own, nor did he turn around when he replied, “I agree, am I ok to throw in the cells in the interim?”, his eyes attempting to bore into me, “let him get a taste of what’s to come”.
“I think so, he is the prime suspect in a murder and could be considered deliberately noncooperative, although a paramedic does need to take a good look at his face, make sure his physical condition is documented, nothing is broken etc – but If you think the cells are justified, I’d judge him to be of sound enough mind to be taken down”.
His eyes still hadn’t left mine, “I do”. “Bring an EMT up to look him over, then lock him up”.
This fellows behaviour had been awfully strange and unpredictable, I began to wonder if his previous anger had all been part of an act; a famed police interview technique known as Bad-Cop, whereby one officer worked in counterpoint with another, who had adopted the role of Good-Cop. The general idea being that a suspect, as I surely was, would be more likely to release information to a fellow who was nice to him, after someone else had been particularly mean.
“I apologise for speaking out of turn officers”, I didn’t want to interrupt but I had to, “could you just confirm that it is your intention to hold me in a confirmation space; and not allow me to leave?”
Officer Fitzpatrick left the response to Chief Browne, as it was clearly he who had the final say, “yes, that is my intention – you’ll see a doctor, we’ll lock you up, and we’ll even bring you a solicitor; despite the fact that you haven’t asked for one”.
“Oh, that’s unfortunate”, and it was, even with my distaste for interfering with the normal course of the actions, and behaviour, of the ancient peoples; I couldn’t allow myself to be detained in a confined space for an indefinite period.
So, I had to change something. The first step was to focus eye contact. The next was to focus, and communicate sub-vocally:
Detective Chief Inspector John Browne – please listen to everything I have to say – very carefully – you are going to order your subordinate officer to escort me from the building – after declaring me a completely free and innocent man – then you are going to walk to your office and complete all paperwork necessary to make my innocence official, to the fullest extent of your powers – after which you will fall into a deep and refreshing sleep.
Although that was the sum total of everything I needed from him, I felt more than a little bad for influencing him to act against his own will; so I added some more instructions, which weren’t strictly necessary:
While you sleep you will have a very pleasant dream – where you get to try every flavour of Ice Cream you are aware of – mentally compiling them into a list, which orders them from you most to least favourite – then when you wake from your sleep, whenever that may be, you will leave work early today – stopping at the first shop selling Ice-Cream that you see – where you will buy your second favourite choice from those on offer – to eat on your journey home.
While I certainly felt bad for affecting this man, he had been rather mean to me, even if I conceded that the spitting had been purely accidental, and the meanness itself an act; so I felt no compunction about denying him the mint chocolate chip, in favour of the raspberry ripple, which in itself was still a fine Ice-Cream.
Now wait ten seconds, “Moo”, to signal understanding, and then carry out your instructions.
The cow noise may seem somewhat excessive, to all but an omniscient observer, but whenever it was necessary to programme someone to act against their will, it’s always essential to make them do something completely alien to their nature; thus ensuring that the more mundane instructions have been fully, and unconditionally, accepted.
The process of control had been known as Harmonic Compulsion, or ‘the voice’, as it had been called colloquially. It was discovered an age ago when the people who came before where split into two distinct groups, bound together only by a single evolutionary past, with the Homo Sapiens being the lesser of two animals, and soon to pass from the moment into memory.
The Voice was surprisingly easy to do, at least once the trick was discovered; being mostly reliant on pitching your tone in a very specific way, which when combined with absolute eye contact and basic telepathic focus, produced an irresistible compulsion, that could rarely be fought.
Sadly, the ability was ill-used by those people who could control it which, being a student to history, was why I had a particular distaste for using it; in all but cases of unavoidable necessity.
Just because you can do something, it doesn’t necessarily hold that you should do something.
Hence the instruction to get Ice Cream
At this point, several things happened seemingly at once, but there was a clear order to events; with the first being the Detective Chief Inspector saying, “MOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”, although it wasn’t so much as a spoken word, rather a very passable facsimile of the noise a cow had made.
There was barely the passing of a second of clock time before the observation, “she looked shocked”, could be applied to Detective Constable Fitzpatrick’s expression. So quick was her processing of the unmistakable farm yard noise, that she was ready to speak at the very moment her boss began to regain his breath, “SIR?”
“Fitzpatrick”, he said rising from his chair, while breathing out deeply – it had been a mighty wind. “I was completely wrong about this man, he is innocent, and I want you to set him free”, and to the trained observer, the strain on his voice, as he fought the compulsion, was frankly obvious.
It was a measure of the man’s spirit, that he managed to say the words, set him free, in a way that could possibly mean, “throw him out of the window”, as if I had been a caged bird.
Fortunately, the window in the interview room did not open, nor lead to the external world, so I was spared seeing if a police officer would actually try to throw me through it, just because they were told to.
Clearly Detective Constable Fitzpatrick had questions which, being a police officer, she managed to compile into, “sir?”
I was pleased that she had not shown more imagination, to include queries such as, “which window”, “how high”, and perhaps most pertinently, “sir, why have you just made a noise like an agitated cow”.
In her place, I doubt I would have been able to limit by response to a single word.
“Just do what I say”, he said, while turning to face both her and the door fully, “this man isn’t a killer”.
“I don’t believe he killed that woman – and I am now going back to my office to complete all the necessary paperwork required to affirm that fact”.
As I stood up, I tried to affect an air of only casual disinterest, after all I was in fact innocent of any crime, or at least any crime currently acknowledged – a few thousand years from this point, Harmonic Compulsion had been ruled as illegal, as part of massive anti-slavery movement that swept across several planets – but there was no way these police officers could be aware of that fact, or detain me under intergalactic law.
Still, and obviously, utterly confused by the rapid turn of events, which hadn’t even taken a full minute to unfold, Detective Constable Fitzpatrick tried another question, which again only managed to come out as, “sir?”
“Just DO AS I SAY”, he said heading straight out of the interview room, leaving the door open behind him, “AND FIND ME SOME FUCKING ICE CREAM”.
We both looked out of the doorway, the police officer confused by the whole situation, with myself wondering if I had overdone things by adding the compulsion for Ice Cream.
She turned to me, clearly about to vocalise some version of, “good golly, what on earth was that about”, but before she even had a change to draw breath and broach the question John Browne voice came trailing through the door, “I MEANT FIND ME A MURDER”. “Get out there and find me a murderer”, he was probably still shouting, but as he was now at the other end of the corridor and walking away, it didn’t sound like it.
Detective Constable Fitzpatrick looked utterly confused, and unsure as to what would come next. I doubted that it would comfort her to know that her boss was about to fall as asleep and have very pleasant dreams; so I decided to say something practical instead, “shall be go?”
[end of part one of two]