Monday, June 25, 2012

Chapter 1 (j)


Satsukawa: "All right... go ahead, the shed is all yours, but mind that all the relevant items were collected as evidences and are no longer here.

Erika: "Of course, there's no need to tell me. Dlanor, let's check the scene carefully."

Dlanor nods and we both move forward. I pull the caution tape up, enough for me to pass below it just by lowering my head slightly.
The first thing I want to check is the door, or rather that's what I want to check the most. Fortunately it didn't suffer much damage when it was breached. The hinges are still in good conditions, the only thing that was completely destroyed is the latch itself. Not surprising, I must say.
The door was left half open, so I move it where it should be when properly closed. As I expected it's really poorly conceived. Security and privacy have never been a concern of those who built this shed, and after all there's absolutely no reason it should have been different. It's just a storage for P.E. equipment, not exactly the stuff people would bother to rob. There isn't even a locking mechanism, just a metal handle, that's all. You would figure that if one really wanted to close this, he would just use a chain and a padlock.
But the relevant detail is that the crack on the opening side isn't covered and it is wide enough for someone to see what is on the other side. Naturally I can't see anything now since it is pretty dark inside, but during nighttime, if all those candles are lit, the situation would most probably reverse.

Satsukawa: "I know what you're thinking, but the old trick of the plastic card wouldn't work. It isn't a door lock we're dealing with, there isn't even one. It was a latch, and a pretty solid one.

Erika: "Did you hear him, Dlanor? The old trick of the plastic card, he said! *giggle* *giggle*"

Dlanor: "..."

Satsukawa: "Did I... say something funny?"

Erika: "Well, yes. That's a trick you use to open doors, not to close them. In other words it would be completely useless to create the illusion of a closed room."

Satsukawa: "Uh... right..."

Erika: "But you're not completely off track. I think that understanding how someone would open this door from outside is as important as understanding how someone would close it."

Dlanor: "I did not think about that. I could definitely close this door from outside, but how would you open it?"

Satsukawa: "Eh, what?!"

Erika: "Satsukawa-san, it's absolutely elementary, I can't believe none of the investigators even thought about that possibility."

Satsukawa: "You already solved it?! How! How would you do it?"

Erika: "It just requires an IQ slightly above that of a chimp. Think harder."

Satsukawa: "You're kidding me..."

Erika: "Just think how would you close it for now. Opening it is a bit trickier I think."

Dlanor: "At any rate I think we can safely assume that this door was closed from outside."

Erika: "That wasn't even something you should have questioned in the first place. If you did, you obviously focused on the crime without thinking about the bigger picture. The latch is the only thing that can close this shed, and we know it was always closed normally. It's quite easy to understand why, obviously the person who transformed this storage into his personal magic den didn't want students to have free access to it."

Satsukawa: "In other words... this closed room trick existed since a long time! But then..."

Erika: "Just reflect about it for a while, Satsukawa-san, I'll tell you more once you solve the basic trick first. How would you close this door from outside? Once you realize how simple it is, I'll tell you all about my reasonings."

Satsukawa: "Ugh..."

The poor guy now is completely absorbed in his own thoughts. It must be really tough to be an ordinary person. I just can't fathom how could the crime investigation section be this dumb. One would suppose only the smartest cops get there, and yet I know by first hand experience how much intellectually challenged they are. Too bad the new recruit isn't any different.
I enter inside the shed and I find it more or less the same as it was in the pictures I saw. Except a lot of objects have been removed, and the corpse was taken away. For obvious reasons the magic circle is still here, but the demonic idol is a bit surprising. Did they really think it wasn't relevant to the case, or were they just too lazy to move something they couldn't easily put in a plastic bag?
I notice there's a light switch and I push it, but nothing happens.

Satsukawa: "There's no electricity. It was cut off when the shed was abandoned and I think the new owner didn't mind."

Erika: "Quite apparently so."

Some occultists believe that technology interferes negatively with the spiritual world, In particular artificial lights, electricity and electromagnetic waves are believed to possess a strong affinity with it and they might disrupt the esoteric rituals. Naturally not everyone shares this view and there are some that even make use of technology in order to channel the unseen world in this realm. Whatever it is the belief of our Pazuzu cultist, anyway, he certainly prefers candles over neon lights. But I guess it could be just to add to the atmosphere.
The broken latch was left on the ground. I suppose there wasn't much use into taking it into custody, it's really basic. It's a solid metal bar that can be made to slide left and right by pushing a small handle. The bar itself is still intact but the support was detached from the door. I touch it and I feel a greasy substance.

Erika: "Lubricant. Someone doesn't like noisy latches."

Dlanor: "There are no tricks on the latch itself."

Erika: "Right, it's a very simple device, but I still think it was chosen with care."

I check the magic circle closely, but I can't see any particular that I didn't see in the pictures earlier. I wish there was more light, I should have brought a torch. It will probably get dark in a hour too, so I can't really waste my time.
I examine the idol closely next. Like I imagined, this is hand made.

Erika: "Did you find out what material was used to make this?"

Satsukawa: "Plaster."

Erika: "Plaster?!"

Satsukawa: "It's widely used for cheap reproduction of sculptures, it can be coated or painted to resemble any kind of material. In this case it's made to look like terracotta, but it's clearly not."

Erika: "The original is a bronze statue though... Well, I guess it wouldn't have been very credible. Plaster, uh?"

I take another look around, searching for any kind of clue that might have been missed, but I find none. There isn't much else to do inside this room.

Erika: "I wonder how many people can fit inside this place. Or rather how many were usually invited at a time."

Satsukawa: "Just how many students do you think came here?"

Erika: "who knows? Maybe everyone, maybe just the girls, or maybe a selected few. At any rate I expect a lot more than the sixteen you've found traces of. All girls you said, right?"

Satsukawa: "For what concerns the DNA samples, yes. But we're assuming they overlap with the fingerprints. If they don't, then there might be indeed even more people involved. And yet I just can't believe so many students would come in this place."

Erika: "It's pointless to think about it, we'll get our answers once we'll get a list of the persons that without any doubt have been here. When that happens, they won't be able deny their involvement anymore."

Satsukawa: "That's right. Anyway, did you find anything else of interest?"

Erika: "No, this place is boring me. Let's go to a completely different place."

Satsukawa: "Do you have something in mind?"

Erika: "Of course. I want to visit the victim's house."

Satsukawa: "Oh... well, it's not like it's a real problem going there, but..."

Erika: "Uh? What are you talking about?"

Satsukawa: "Those people are still in mourning, it's always very hard for a parent to accept the loss of a child. This is especially true when the child dies under tragic circumstances. It's not something you can recover from in a few days... or even decades to be honest..."

Erika: "Are you trying to move me? Because if that's the case you're just wasting your time. They lost a child, you say? Tragic circumstances? Don't make me laugh! Ridiculous!"

Satsukawa: "Uhm, yeah... I'm sorry..."

Erika: "What are you apologizing for? Just bring me there without ado."

Satsukawa: "Just promise me you'll be sensitive to them."

Erika: "Fine! I promise I'll do my best and refrain from making outrageous comments that might upset them. Is that okay?"

Satsukawa: "At least that's something."

Erika: "Let's go then."

We leave the shed and close the door behind us. It's not like it matters anyway, the door can't be locked anymore and the caution tape doesn't really stop anyone.
It might get dark pretty soon, and for a moment I wonder if I shouldn't remain here for a little while and wait, just so I can see with my own eyes how bad the visibility is when there are no lights.
But then something unthinkable happens.
I hear a sound, a sort of deep and hollow rumble. It has a strange vibe to it, it echoes oddly as if it was coming from another world, but the source is clear to me as it is to everyone else. We all freeze on the spot and look back. We stare at the the closed door, pointlessly trying to see beyond it. And beyond is a place where no one is supposed to be, no one except the statue of Pazuzu. Something just moved there, and yet there was no living being inside once we left. No, I actually can't say that with certainty, there were plenty of hiding places I didn't check. But a human being there hidden for who knows how long... that's a frightening thought. Maybe it's just an animal, it's not impossible, but what kind of animal could make that sound? The more I think about it, there more I think this is completely crazy, and I suddenly get struck by the odd feeling that someone is watching me from afar... smirking...

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