Youth of the Night
Through the fog in the early dusk excited like a wolf I tirelessly sprint walking. Through the mist in the alleys of rustic houses like the early bird I rush towards sunrise. Through the chills of the morning wind in the desolate streets like a bard I talk, like a poet I recite my cunning actions. I urge to hurry for my free marmalade breakfast.
“Hey man, are you alright? Whom are you talking to?” asked a topless muscular guy in long sport trousers removing the cigar from his mouth while dropping a garbage bag in the bin next to him.
I guess I was thinking out loud again.
“Are you alright? Look at you going around naked in January.”
The man looked around. The weather was in a state of a mildly cold autumn to spring seasonal transition. Not too bad, but for sure not warm enough for someone who walked around without a shirt.
“At least the ladies appreciate what I’m doing. Besides it’s not really that cold. It’s not even snowing. Don’t walk away when I’m talking to you!”
Just as I got at Harsh’s home, he opened the door and was clearly about to leave.
“Did you have your breakfast?”
“No, I came as soon as I could since you called me up to come early”
“Right of course. You always eat at my place in the morning for a healthy dose of vitamins found within my aunt’s natural marmalades and jams! Not this morning mate!”
“Why? Have you run out of marmalade?” said the assistant to stall.
He found out!
“No. We don’t have any time to idle and must hurry! Any second we waste might allow the suspect to get away and his traces to disappear. Two guards in the cinema were assaulted by a man’s ghost. The incident repeated last night.”
The taxi rolled to a halt in front of doctor Harsh. They both stepped in and just as the door closed, the car rushed away.
The greatest cinema in Oxford, the Morteliour Theatre Halls! Residing within a dark old building to which a fancy new piece was built, just an attachment at the front, a façade that makes it look like the entrance to one’s dream holidays. A resort of choice, garnished with few piles of sand contained within concrete boxes and decorated with very realistic looking palm trees and a beach ball between them. Further ahead are safari themed decorations, but the entrance is before us. Some alien or a hoaxer might like to play pranks in such an enjoyable place for their own amusement. But not on my watch! Not as long as I, doctor Harsh, am around!
Apparently nobody was waiting for their arrival. Fresh new batches of popcorn and hotdogs were made. No signs of poltergeist activity whatsoever. They look around the entrance hall and as the assistant approaches the hotdogs, the cashier exclaims:
“You must be the private paranormal investigators!”
“How can you tell?” asks the assistant.
“We usually don’t expect any visitors at this time of the day.”
“Oh, right. How much for the hotdogs?”
“It’s on the house. Manager’s choice of course. In return he wants you to calm down the guards and keep them working their nightshifts. They’ve been seeing things lately. Hope you can talk some sense into them.”
With a look of clearly withheld excitement the assistant replies in a low voice. “Well I guess it can’t be helped. We all have to do our job.” He said while looking at the hotdogs. “If they stop working, I’ll guard the place all by myself. I promise you that.
“Give me a couple with mustard and few with mustard and onions. I would also like some popcorn and a milkshake. That should do for now.”
From the entrance to the staff area, Harsh looked back at his assistant, noticing with great contempt the extreme seriousness on his assistant’s face.
“Of course. Here you are,” said the cashier.
Two guards were waiting to lead them to the surveillance room.
“We have some tapes put aside that show clear images of this apparition. It looks like a man. Perhaps we can find more of him on the other tapes.”
“It’s hard for us to work here with an individual that we can’t catch. He’s sneaking all around the building messing around with the lights, doors and whatever else he feels like playing around with. And worst of all, we two are the only witnesses.” continued the other watchman.
“So what do you think the apparition is trying to accomplish?” asked Harsh.
“Just trying to scare us. I see no other reason why it would come here. By the way, I’m Steve and this is John. We are the only watchmen working in this place.”
The surveillance room was a cosy, dark and warm place. Too damn comfortable, but that’s what the assistant was looking for to finish his early meal.
Seeing his assistant stuffing his face with hotdogs piled on a big platter, Harsh tells him, “It’s not healthy. That meat is made of carton boxes with few colorants and artificial flavors. Just you wait, we’ll visit my aunt and you can have some natural marmalade to take home with you.”
After few hours of watching recorded tapes it appeared as if the ghost only wanted to scare them. Lights were switching on and off and doors were opened and slammed. Things were thrown on the ground and there were the random background growls. All effective methods to grow a few goosebumps.
“Who’s the man over there?” Harsh was pointing at one of the active monitors streaming live images.
“That’s one of our cleaners.” replied John.
“Most peculiar,” said Harsh. “Very strange indeed,” he continued.
“What do you mean?” Steve paused for a minute and remembered he was supposed to never question a superior and doctor Harsh was now leading the investigation. “You heard the doc! Let’s go, go, go!” he exclaimed.
They immediately rushed out of the room and were tramping through the corridors towards the cleaner. No second was spared.
“Freeze!” yelled John.
“What are you doing here?” asked the assistant.
“I am cleaning and rearranging the storeroom. What does it look like I’m doing?”
Somewhat relieved, the assistant turns around to see what Harsh’s opinion on the matter was, but he was nowhere to be found. Then he turned back with a scared look.
“What? Been a long time since someone cleaned the storeroom.”
“Doctor Harsh has gone missing. Quick, we must search for him! The ghost might have gotten him,” bellowed the assistant.
They immediately ran off in different directions to find him as soon as possible. After a while one of the guards checked the surveillance room. Harsh was lolling comfortably in a chair observing what the cameras were filming.
“It’s a big cinema and it’s easy to get lost. Yet your ghostly acquaintance knows his way around quite well. Oh, I wonder how we’ll call the other two back here.”
“I got a walkie talkie to call my colleague back. How did you end up here? We were worried when you’ve gone missing.”
“I never left this room. You ran off without me.”
“But didn’t you say the cleaner looks strange?”
“He is wearing casual clothes instead of an uniform. Sorry, I didn’t feel like chasing after a mere cleaner although I’m sure you had a good reason for doing so.”
After a short moment, filled with bewilderment the guard replies. “This cleaner never wears an uniform and if that’s ok with the manager then I don’t interfere.”
As I roam through the endless halls, I stumble into the perilous shadows of a large room. I find myself confronted with yells of the agonized lost souls that confined themselves within this mysterious place. Their screams and groans tempt me to sit down. The most astonishing encounter is the huge glowing portal radiating events one would perhaps not be able to imagine even in their wildest dreams. This very moment I know I have to sit down and watch this movie to the end. It is Monster Cry Out Loud Rage 3 and I waited an entire year for it to finally come out so I can download it via a torrent.
Compelled to stop and watch through one of his favorite movies, the assistant remembers during the credits screen he has work to do. A sudden revelation strikes him. It was the watchmen Steve who rushed out of the room panicked to check on the cleaner. Harsh himself never asked for it and he wasn’t the kind of person to run after others to calm them down, not unless it was urgent to do so.
The assistant goes back to the surveillance room.
“Enjoyed the movie? Don’t worry. I’m just glad you had the opportunity to look around and get to know the inside of the building better.” said Harsh.
After even more long hours of viewing tapes and munching cheap tasting burgers, they don’t manage to find any further clue about the suspect.
“How comes we didn’t even get a glimpse of his face?” the assistant asks. “Is he scared? Is he a coward? It’s a frightened apparition that has taken the form of a man, covering its face below the hood. A scared ghost!
“Looks like it’s only trying to scare the guards,” agreed Harsh.
It was very late in the evening and the continuous tape watching had been extremely tiresome and boring. Both watchmen were both about to return for their night duty, although there usually was only one of them working.
On one of the screens in the dark desolated cinema rooms a figure was suddenly sitting on a chair as if it was waiting to be observed.
“Aren’t all your customers gone at this time?” asks the assistant just as the two guards made it to the surveillance room.
“They are indeed.”
“Then who is that.”
With utter amazement they kept staring for few seconds at the figure, when it suddenly vanished. One moment passed and a figure with a hood was rising closely on the camera’s field of view. It approached its face to the camera so everyone in the room could clearly see it on the monitor.
Quickly Harsh took a screenshot and sent a database search request to find out the true identity of the mysterious person that has been haunting the cinema for weeks now. The silence didn’t last long, for the ghost started growling at the camera and then walked away laughing.
“He’s messing with us, trying to provoke us,” remarked Steve.
“Could the culprit be human?” assistant asks.
Harsh was silent for about full five minutes and during that time nobody said anything since they all relied on him to think of the next move to solve the case. He turned his head towards the result of the database search displayed on his little gadget. No matching results were found.
“Nothing found. Yet the conclusion of the search engine is ‘typical face of an English man’ which means he could be from anywhere in the world.”
“Or he could be an alien taking that appearance since he can’t be found in our database,” said the assistant. “I think we shouldn’t expect to find any evidence that will reveal a human identity. Hair and other clues to reveal his identity could be found within the cinema, but relying on that sort of evidence is out of question since it would be hard to isolate his traces from those of the daily crowds.“
“I concluded he has to be an alien and he has to be very hungry at this time when he comes out to haunt us. We will find him at the entrance hall around the area where the food and drinks are sold. There are glass cases and he will unavoidably touch them and leave finger prints and if my guess is correct, then he is a special reptilic alien that has a triangle shaped finger print or something close to it,” said doctor Harsh.
“Why are you so sure about this?” asked the assistant utterly surprised.
“We must not question his brilliant thinking. Let’s go there right now!” said John.
“Trust me. I’ve thought this very carefully. The alien has to have a green appearance and will only growl at us. Also this kind of alien will dispose of all that food when we go there, since its habit doesn’t allow it to share,” continued Harsh.
The assistant found it hard to believe that an alien would bother with such unimportant things. He had no choice but to trust his mentor for now. They all headed for the entrance hall where they found a lizard man that was growling at them as soon as they made eye contact. It had a very strange shape and coloration. The creature itself seemed to have its skin and scales oddly stretched and compressed in irregular patterns that made it look like a poorly done graphical animation. It threw all food on the floor, trampled on it and then ran off. Harsh stopped them from following.
“What? Why?” they asked surprised.
“No need. I already got what I was looking for,” said Harsh in a very calm and relaxed tone. “Don’t you find that his reptilic shape was a bit out of place as if he had to quickly edit a hologram’s setting?”
“Well it was oddly shaped indeed, but how does that help us with anything?”
“It was a hologram, but his behavior wasn’t alien like. Check for finger prints quickly and you’ll see what I mean. Would an alien go through all this trouble? What for? Look at the mess and visible damage he left behind.
“If it were alien these two watchmen would have been abducted and experimented on for a while, although the lack of an abduction might show they’re just being psychologically tested. But even that is out of question. These two have no wounds, no implants and yes I had them do a full body check before we arrived at the cinema, which means the ghost only wants them scared. This is very unalien like behavior since they usually want to study, learn, impose morals or change something significant. They don’t waste time,” assured Harsh.
“But you were the one who said it has to be a reptile,” said Steve.
“Hey I think I found a triangle shaped finger print, just as you said!” exclaimed the assistant. “It’s not a perfect triangle in shape though.”
“That’s exactly what I mean!” affirmed Steve.
“Before you two arrived, my assistant said the ghost is a coward that likes to hide himself and never reveals its face, but just as soon as you arrived he threw his face in front of the camera in the boldest way we could expect. That’s a very strange move for a ghost and it was a clear reaction to my assistant’s words.
“To make sure of this I immediately thought of some random assumptions about its appearance and behavior that I would throw out and thus indirectly challenge it to conform to it. It had to be something that couldn’t possibly be a mere coincidental guess to see if it will react the same way to my words, which it did.”
“So you tricked it into revealing some basic characteristic about itself! Amazing!” cheered John.
“Yes. It’s very uncommon for someone to bother to go through so much trouble just to impress us. I believe we are dealing with a more human being and chances of it being alien are very low. Having said all this you must realize that it’s obviously listening to everything we say, at least during the night, which means that it might be changing its way of acting yet again.”
“Doctor, it can walk through walls. No human can do that!” blurted Steve.
“Unless he has a phase shifter,” said the assistant. “Where would a human get a phase shifter anyway? Also why did you make him to throw the food on the ground?”
“We have phase shifters too and I have four of them with me. Time for a little chase in this game of hide and seek,” grinned Harsh. “As for the food, well it was rubbish anyway so you should be really grateful about my decision.”
“It’s true we have phase shifters too, but you collected them throughout our missions of hunting aliens. In fact to obtain phase shifters we made use of the ones we already had and for a human to obtain one, he would need to already posses one or have equally advanced tricks at his disposal,” said the assistant.
“Ok so these phase shifters allow you to walk through walls, but how did you guys get your first phase shifter?” asked John.
“I got it a long time ago when I had a detective named Valdo as my assistant. It was a bonus prize on an alien TV show, but enough of that, I don’t want to talk about it and I never do talk about it anyway. Let’s catch that ghost,” said Harsh.
For over an hour the watchmen were thought how to use their newly received phase shifters and how to set and search for the various frequencies.
“Right and with the walkie talkies we can keep contact. I obtained two more just for the sake of an easier time through this investigation,” said John.
“Being able to communicate throughout this chase is merely an assumption considering our available communication frequencies won’t stay stable, but we can try.”
Breaking through unseen barriers without damaging the physical limits, the structure’s walls, bypassing its contents and its surroundings we plunge through solid matter in a most harmless and peaceful manner. This pond of concrete rooms can no longer tie us down to doors and stairs.
We see the shadow. The shadow can see us and it’s far more adapted to this strange environment. It’s better accustomed than us to jumping through walls and then changing back to a frequency that allows one to run and move around more rapidly.
After a tiresome chase with no effect or positive result whatsoever they take a break to reassemble and rethink their strategy.
“Damn. He is incredibly good at it.”
“He’s been doing it for weeks and perhaps months before that.”
“Alright, change of tactic,” said Harsh. “You all know the frequencies that allow us to see through walls. We are going to avoid using them, because he is aware he has no chance against four of us if we all see where he is. To encourage him to run less we’ll allow him to hide with more ease. We’ll also spread out a bit more. This way we gain higher chances of encountering him and it gives him a bit more false hope. We’ll still stay in touch over the walkie talkies. Occasionally taunting and provoking him will make him come at us and thus we get an easier chance of capturing him, but you all have to be careful since this will most likely end in one on one fights. We don’t know how strong he really is so be very careful.”
And the wild chase continued. Objects remained now opaque permanently instead of occasionally being viewed as mere borders and overlapped lines representing the edges. Mirrors were reflecting instead of becoming black objects or transparent.
The assistant was the shortest from the group. The ghost decided it would be wise to go first for the weakest. Eliminate him to frighten the rest.
He grabbed around the neck and got a tight grip, but the assistant being a well trained martial artist, slammed him on the ground out of reflex the minute he got grabbed. Quickly the ghost guy changed frequency and dropped through the floor.
Once the ghost realized the small guy is too strong for him, it decided to go for the guards. He knew them well since he had scared them for weeks. They were easy to trick so they should be easy targets. He stepped forwards through the wall to meet face to face with Steve, that inexperienced numbskull.
“You got no chance! Just give up and remain where you are!”
The ghostly man in hood raised his hands as a sign of forfeit, but slowly retreated with backward steps into the wall.
It would have been a good moment to change frequencies to see where the ghost was heading, but the guard thought Harsh would be mad with him once he found that out. He jumped through the wall after the dark clothed figure and stepped into the next room which was empty. He carefully made few steps forward to check if the ghost might be hiding somewhere between the empty rows of chairs.
It felt as if he was being watched and he heard a faint sound behind him. When he turned around he saw John, who was very silent.
“Hey mate. I saw him nearby so watch your step.”
It was unusual for John to not respond. Perhaps a necessity since they were hunting for the ghost. But why would they bother staying silent when the ghost could obviously see through walls?
“It won’t scare the ghost if you say few words. Say something John …”
Just as Steve was about to turn around to John once again, he felt a blow on the lower back of his head and dropped unconscious on the floor.
Waves of grass fluttering through the air like a blanket, raising and lowering chirping all over the vast meadows, were nearing Steve. They were singing him a song as if they were trying to send him a message. He could feel the words ‘come to your senses’. His eyes opened and his hands reached for his swollen cheeks. That assistant sure could apply some very strong facepalming.
“Quit sleeping on the job. Damn it. Tell us what happened!”
“Well John came out of the wall and apparently he hit me on the back, when I was looking around for the ghost.”
“How do you know it was John who knocked you out?” asked Harsh.
“I don’t. It’s just that John acted suspicious that moment and didn’t say a single word,” replied Steve.
“Didn’t you change your frequency to see where the ghost lies hidden around? He probably took John’s appearance to fool you.”
“You said I shouldn’t use the frequency that would allow us to see the ghost and chase him anywhere it goes.”
“That was meant to make him more confident and approach us. Obviously you should have used the phase shifter to it’s full potential once the ghost is within reach so it wouldn’t escape,” blurted Harsh. “Why do I have to explain every detail to you guys? I never expected you to follow orders so strictly.
“It’s as if you try to aid the culprit. I’m done with trying to catch this ghost. I’ll be in the surveillance room if anyone needs to talk to me.”
“I confronted the ghost head on. He is clearly at the capacity of an ordinary human,” said the assistant while helping Steve up. “We could’ve caught him for sure.”
“Who asked you?” complained Steve.
At sunrise, when the guards were about to go home, the assistant went to check on Harsh in the surveillance room. He was sitting arms crossed in the chair, with his feet on the table before him and was starring without blinking at the wall of monitors.
“I am trying to follow his every move and to better understand this individual.”
“Any conclusions yet?”
“Just an ordinary troublemaking thug with sophisticated gadgets.”
Over the walkie talkie an agitated Steve was begging. “Doctor, please come fast. I think I found evidence John might be an accomplice …”
“Am not!” resounded a voice louder than Steve’s.
Without responding, Harsh stood up and while walking out of the room he said in a low exhausted tone: “Come. Time to check on the clowns.”
It turned out John had clothing in his locker that looked exactly like the one the ghost was wearing.
“It’s obviously a setup accomplished by Steve!” yelled John.
“No it’s not! You’re under the same blanket with the culprit,” groaned Steve.
“Ah just shut up. Both of you. Steve, open your locker.”
“I just want to look inside. Open it!”
Steve’s locker had the exact same pieces of clothing as John’s locker.
“Well these aren’t my clothes and I rarely use my locker. It’s clear John planted them there after he knocked me out.”
“You’re both in the dark about what’s going on. The ghostly guy planted those clothes in you drawers to have a good laugh at the two of you. I am surprised it worked so damn well. Bet he’s never bored here and that’s why he keeps visiting. I’ll let my assistant lead the rest of this investigation. You’ll follow his orders.
“You might be more suitable for solving this case than I am. The solution to it isn’t based on rational thinking, but more on gut feeling and instinct.”
“That guy? We don’t even know his name. How can we even consider taking orders from him?” retorted John.
“Just do it. His name is irrelevant and also to be kept secret. As long as he is working as my assistant he doesn’t have a name. Not in his private life and neither when on duty.”
“Oh come on! Are you serious? We may work as watchmen, but we are officers of the law, tasked by the local police force to keep an eye on this place.”
“His name is classified for your puny boss’ level of clearance, so don’t expect to hear a name. If you need a name you may call him assistant, like I do.”
“I’m a bit too inexperienced to lead an investigation,” agreed the assistant.
“You have a different mindset and it might throw the ghost off balance, this haunting hood, whoever he might be. Don’t worry, I’ll still coach you when needed. Consider this as merely another step in learning.”
Looking down at the worried face expression of his assistant, that was a midget in size compared to his height which was topping even the guards’ with the height of a human head, he immediately understood he had to redirect his assistant’s thoughts at something other than his lack of experience.
“You being less rational than me makes you less predictable. Use that to your advantage to outsmart the ghost.”
Infuriated at the remark of being less rational, the assistant just went along with his mentor’s request, hoping he would solve the case fast out of spite.
“Well, alright. Not like we got a choice, do we?”
“We don’t,” agreed Steve. “See you in the evening.”
“Are you sure?” It was the first case he would have to solve on his own.
“Yes, why not? Eventually you got to learn to do this all by yourself. Who knows what the future might bring.”
“I won’t disappoint you. In fact I will try to end this quickly.”
“Sure. You got time till evening to think of a plan.”
“Hey! Where are you going?”
“There are few movies I need to inspect for possible ghost traces. See if the effects are shown on the big screen.” Harsh was fluttering glasses around.
“3D glasses, heh! So what are those shades in your pocket for?”
“Ignore them, ignore me. Think about solving this case.”
Late in the afternoon, Harsh returned to check on his assistant. Steve and John were there listening to the assistant’s every word.
“Hey! I was waiting for you. We were discussing what other facts we should ditch considering yesterday’s setup. That ghost sure …”
Harsh looked in shock at them.
“Enough! There’s nothing you can ditch from any case. To distinguish the truth in the lie, you need to know the lie first. There are a lot of things we don’t know yet. You also need to take that into consideration to get a full picture of this case.”
“So I should work with all the detail I have including what I don’t have?”
“I think Mr. Assistant is right about deciding what facts to throw away. Besides mind telling us where you were?” asked Steve.
Harsh stepped in, grabbed a chair and dropped down on it.
“I watched the movie ‘Billy Cripple’. It’s about a guy who ran away from home when an unavoidable huge hurricane was announced on TV. He hijacks a car and races out of state. Police chase him but never find his identity. He ends up homeless straying through the streets after he gets kicked out of a refugee camp over a misunderstanding.
“Eventually he returns home injured only to find his little brother unharmed and well. His brother was ten and he survived without stress the hurricane, by robbing the local supermarkets after the town was evacuated. It turned out the hurricane wasn’t as bad as your usually major catastrophe.
“There were few other movies I sat through. I can’t remember what they were about though. Then ‘Ratman - The Numb Sight’ was about to start and since it’s such an awful and dull movie, I came back here to see how you’re doing.”
“I never thought you’d like ‘Billy Cripple’,” replied the assistant.
“I don’t. I told you the summary I’ve read in a review. I was taking a nap during that movie. Being awake all night is tough.”
“So that’s what your shades were for? I hired a sidekick. He will be here late in the evening. I think I’ll go rest a bit too,” said the assistant.
“A sidekick?” The assistant was already gone and the guards could only reply with a surprised stare while lifting their shoulders.
“Eeewwwww!! Mommy, there is a homeless man sleeping in the cinema seats!” yelled a little boy.
“What? Where?” jumped the assistant up all panicked up. “What time is it?” How long had he been asleep? He ran off quickly to the surveillance room.
“Your magnificent spirit guide has arrived,” said Harsh to the assistant.
The sidekick jumped from his seat into view, so the assistant could immediately notice him. It was a fat guy with zip shaped eyes, black hair and a large forehead, his baldness stretching high over his scalp. He was dressed in robes.
“You must be Assistant-san. I sensed the presence of a human.”
“Yes, I’m human. Well noted,” replied the assistant, unsure what to think of him.
“Here is a copy of the building’s layout which John was so kind to provide me with. I want you to mark in the parts where you felt strong spiritual presences. Meanwhile I have to go around the cinema and closely inspect it for evil spirit activity. It would be safer for all of you to not come and check on me. Things can get very complicated when I’m performing powerful exorcism.”
“Just don’t scare any customers with your weird rituals,” shouted Steve after him.
After scribbling the building’s map a little, several munched burgers and a somewhat long wait the strange fat guy returned.
“Enjoyed your time watching movies?” asked Steve sarcastically.
“I made my round across the building to sense the various areas and I didn’t have any time to watch a movie.”
“You’ve been observed to have only watched movies.”
“That’s because there was a certain strange karma emanating from those movies which I had to inspect to ensure everyone’s safety.”
“You only returned, because the cinema is about to close.”
Ignoring the incessant complaints, the exorcist turned to the assistant.
“Let’s compare the parts you have marked out. Here’s the copy of the map I did markings on, during my spiritual journey through the halls.” Then turning to Steve he asked. “Did you count how long it took him for each marking, as I asked you to?”
“Yes. About half a minute each.”
“Perfect! That means he is concentrating and is in absolute alignment with the galactic spirit. Unlike you guys,” he rudely threw at them.
“You’re too kind. I only counted the areas until I reached 27 and then marked. Repeated this few times and ended up with these results,” said the assistant.
“Don’t worry. That’s called spiritual amplitude of skill to detect paranormal events. It doesn’t make your markings less eligible. Well then, now we shall start with the basement. All ghosts love basements.”
In a poorly lit small room on the basement level, the sidekick was performing a quite noisy and ear scratching incantation. His lips moved freely and unrelated to the sound he was producing. They suddenly came to a halt forming a nearly perfect hourglass shape. This reduced the assistant to a complete state of amazement. He had never seen anyone pull of such a stunt. “Uhmm! Aham! I sense the presence of a human.”
“Could it be me? Am I standing too close?” asked John.
“It is a human presence with ill intent towards me,” replied the spirit guide with his eyes closed and arms stretched out, moving his fingers as if he was trying to tickle the air in front of him.
“I admit I don’t have any good intent towards your mockery!” complained Steve.
The sidekick had suddenly stopped his incantation and turned towards Steve, fixating him with his eyes and shaking his head. “Tsk. Tsk. Anyways, the chef should be here soon with the meal I’ve ordered.”
There was a knock on the door. Steve opened it and a chef entered the room with a large serving dish.
“Place it on the table in the middle of the room,” said the sidekick.
“How did this guy get here?” asked John.
“I requested from the cleaner to make sure the front door remains open.”
“That still doesn’t explain how he knew he had to come down to the basement,” retorted Steve.
“I told him too. Obviously. Can’t you figure at least that on your own?” asked the sidekick with utter bewilderment.
“Oven fried lamb leg with chopped lettuce and radices as garnish, as well as pommes frites. No mint added. Just as you asked.”
“Very well done. Have you brought the utensils necessary to perform this ritual?”
“Carving knife and a set of forks.”
“Ah! No wonder you’re my favorite master chef! Well that’s all. Thank you. Have a good night and see you tomorrow at the restaurant,” cheered the sidekick.
“Are we going to watch this stupid fat ass stuff his belly?” snapped Steve.
“This stupid fatass has solved the case for you. You ignorant prick. Now let’s move out of this room and let the spirit feast. That’s the only way we can quell it. Everyone stay away from this room. I’ll be staying outside in front of the door, performing incantations. Don’t you dare and think you can trespass while I am standing guard,” exclaimed the sidekick overly excited.
The fat guy was covering the door, performing weird rituals and incantations that supposedly were meant to exorcise.
From a safe distance on the ground floor, the assistant and Harsh had their shifters set to a frequency that allowed them to see through walls and keep their eyes on the plate.
“Doubt we will catch the guy from this distance.”
The ghostly figure was now there enjoying the free meal.
“I think you can sprint fast enough to grab him when he isn’t paying. It’s the only chance we really got,” replied Harsh. “Go for it.”
The assistant was already running towards the apparition, who didn’t notice him yet, but as soon as the assistant came close enough to grab it, he understood something wasn’t right. The man in hood collapsed on the floor.
The door slammed opened.
“I told you to not interfere. It’s more like you don’t have to. That lamb leg has a nice rich glaze of a very strong sedative. Surprisingly this young fellow couldn’t notice the stench coming from it.
“Well, I got my pay in advance and you got your ghost, so this is it. See you some other time. I have to hurry to a party tonight!”
The assistant took his walkie talkie and called the rest to the room.
“You didn’t have to knock him out,” grinned Harsh. “Where did your sidekick friend leave in such a hurry?”
Steve and John soon arrived and together they carried the man upstairs. Cuffed and ready to be put behind bars.
“I didn’t knock him out. There was sedative in the food.”
“A very unusual sidekick you hired. Where did you find him?”
“I got his number a long time ago from a friend who claimed his life had been changed by this guy and insisted to give him a call when in need.”
“Did you pay much?”
“Quite. I took from the budget we use for investigation equipment, to pay him.”
“That means less profit this time, but I have to admit that guy is brilliant. I should’ve thought of using a dirty method like that from the start. Something makes me doubt he isn’t human though. Maybe we should investigate him one day.”
“Sure, if we can find him, but what makes you think he ain’t human?”
“He claimed he was sensing the human presence. Which I find hard to believe. Don’t start thinking I’m being paranoid about someone’s superstition invoking rituals. You know I noticed during the movies I’ve watch that the 3D glasses are like a device that let’s you experience a parallel reality while you have them on. A person without the glasses will see some pixeled blur on the screen, while only a person with glasses will be able to witness the clear three-dimensional picture. You can basically see a parallel reality within our own reality.”
“But that priest didn’t have any glasses on.”
“Then perhaps he had a pair of sophisticated contacts. At first I was thinking that in his subconscious he was able to react to stimuli and draw his conclusions from that.”
“Stop shaking him, he’s regaining consciousness.
“Enjoyed the lamb?”
“Yeah. A good piece of meat. Why did you cuff me? I didn’t stole the food. That strange pope offered it to me.”
“We took you in for a little interrogation.”
“Oh boy, am I glad that pope isn’t here. I was being tortured through the horrid sounds he was making.”
“Care to tell us why an alien scum is haunting the cinema halls before I make sure you get a proper beating for what you did?”
“Doctor Harsh right? It’s what everyone was calling you. Well you got nothing on me doc, I’m human.”
“Is that so?” asked Harsh in a relaxed tone.
“That is so!” replied the young man with a large grin while staring directly at Harsh. One could clearly see the haunting hood guy was about twenty years old.
“Thanks for confirming it. I had my doubts about you.”
Now it was Harsh’s turn to grin and all the culprit could reply with was an odd confused stare.
“Where are you from? How did you get your hands on a phase shifter?”
“I’m from Earth and I bought the phase shifter on Earth. You just need a license for it, which I got. Do you got one for yours?” He didn’t hesitate to mock Harsh.
“We have a very intense and throughout beating treatment in our department. Care to stop joking before I resort to it?” intervened the assistant.
“You primitives can’t travel to parallel universes I guess. I am human and all of my little tricks are made on Earth by humans.”
“If that’s the case, then how come our cultures haven’t made contact yet?”
“Hah! What for? You’re just being spied on. My world waits for your world to get invaded by aliens so it can perform a political correct take over, through the role of rescuers. Gratefulness can subdue much easier than dictatorship.”
“That may be, but until then we will torture you and kick your ass as we see fit until we get all the information we want out of you.”
The guy seemed a bit offended. He started being agitated and raised a brow.
“I won’t say another word until I get a lawyer. I know my rights and I know this is a police station not a detention center.”
“What are lawyers? We don’t have any lawyers in this universe,” replied Harsh in a faked upset voice.
“You can’t fool me. I’ve done my research.”
A policeman bumped in and cracked his mouth just when Harsh wanted to try and push the bluff to the limits.
“Sorry Harsh. He asked for a lawyer and he has the right to hire one to make things more complicated, no matter how crazy he is.”
“That’s fine. Good luck finding a good one you prick.”
Things were going to be a lot more than just complicated. Haunting hood, as he was nicknamed in the absence of any identification, managed to get the most hated lawyer out there to take care of his case. It was a lawyer hated not for exceptionally good quality and arguing, but rather for delaying and dragging court cases out as much as possible when in his favor, that aside from using every dirty trick in the book to save his clients due to wanting to keep the reputation of an invincible man.
“Marqueau Jerald?” asked Harsh unimpressed by the name.
“Right. That’s his lawyer and he demands the phase shifter and other gadgets you confiscated to be returned to the suspect’s deposit or he will make sure you are heavily sanctioned,” replied the chief of police.
“It’s currently in a test lab and the researcher I gave it too accidentally broke it. I am so terribly sorry about this little accident.”
“Holding a shifter isn’t against the law, you have no right to retain it from my client,” replied Marqueau approaching the conversation. “According to the law, you are either to return it or to replace it with something of equal value and since it’s something nearly unobtainable as you and my client both claimed, the cost has yet to reach a peak.”
“I can’t risk giving the device back. It could allow the suspect to escape.”
“I am sorry Harsh, but this pest of a lawyer done his job really well. If you won’t return what you took away, you will follow your suspect behind bars. I would have to arrest you. Don’t worry the gadget is safe with me in the deposit we have.”
Seeing no way out of the situation, Harsh took out one of his own phase shifters and placed it on the table. “This is my phase shifter and it will have to do.”
“Looks like an interesting gadget. I’ll have to discuss it with my client first.”
“No objections. He offered a replacement and if he claims it’s a worthy replacement then I believe him.”
“Well if you trust the doctor, then so will I. Guess I will have to kindly thank you all for your cooperation. I shall stay here to make sure it will be placed in the deposit.”
“You truly are a pest.”
“I’m just doing my job.”
“I demand surveillance all around the clock. Don’t let the culprit out of your eyes even for a moment and I want this building constantly surrounded,” demanded Harsh. He turned to his assistant. “Come. We have to prepare to contravene an escape now. Had I known he’s from a different universe, I would have locked that guy in my cellar for the interrogation.”
“What is he talking about?” asked Marqueau.
“Probably something confidential enough that not even a stick-nose-in-every-pile-of-shit like you will find out,” replied the chief as he went away with the phase shifter.
“Think he’ll be gone by tomorrow?”
“Probably will make his escape around this evening. This type of lawyer is the lowest and he can achieve short term wonders, but I’ll make sure to catch the hood guy again once he is out and have him go missing in a place that will make him talk more.”
After few hours of nothing happening, while Harsh and the assistant were waiting in the car with a close view on the building, suddenly a figure fell through the wall of the building. It was their suspect running away with Harsh’s phase shifter in his hand. They immediately jumped out of the car and chased after him on foot. It wasn’t long until they caught up with him in an isolated side street.”
“Hey doc, guess what! My phase shifter was indeed broken. Thanks for lending me yours. Ahahaha! Mine was barely working anymore when you captured me.”
“Did your lawyer just hand you the shifter?”
“He insisted on my behalf, to have a proper look at the gadget to make sure it’s the real thing. You might be thinking I snatched it out of his hands after I inspected it to see how it works instead of checking if it’s the real thing.
“But you’re wrong in thinking that. I actually promised him the full payment if he brings me the shifter to take a look at. He obviously didn’t believe I might run away with it since he is too confident in his fixed view of the world he lives in.”
“Just shut up already and hand that over!” ordered the assistant.
“I set the countdown for the transfer already. Come arrest me again if you want, you’ll be able to visit my world. Too bad people there might not agree with the arrest since your license won’t be worth anything. What will you do detective?”
“I’m not a detective! I’m a paranormal hunter!”
“You know there is a force above your law. Call it god, call it nature, call it truth. It’s what rules supreme even over your made up rules.
“Justice is decided by those in control. Those that submit can't impose the rules. Don’t look at me like that. You’re not god, you can’t rewrite this rule. I’m in control and I’ll impose on you my escape. This is justice ... “ and it was clear he would have talked on and on, were it not for his device zapping up a lightning like glow all around him, through which he fell into a different dimension and from there back into a three-dimensional space within one of the many worlds in the vastness of the multiverse.
“I was worried his timer would never run out,” sighed the assistant.
“He never got the chance to wish us farewell,” remarked Harsh.
“Guess we’ll never catch him now that he is back in his universe, on an Earth with technology that surpasses ours.”
“We’ll find that out eventually. He’s bound to return.”
“Why is that?”
“You remember when I said his phase shifter is broken and gave one of ours?”