(The story begins here.)
(The last recap is here.)
Dr. Fleming was at Darren’s side immediately. “I may be able to force this thing; I brought tools that could open a bank vault.”
“There’s an easier way, I think,” Darren replied, beginning to work the dial. “He usually picked a word that meant ‘door’ or ‘enter.’ As she said, though, the trick is knowing which language to use. There were five letters; I counted the clicks when she selected a letter. Thank God she didn't talk as she dialed; I prayed—”
Another scream came, along with a guttural cry of “Mati!”
“Is there another way in?” Dr. Fleming asked.
“Rear window with steel shutters—closed—that open only from inside.”
“Lassiter! Go around back; it should be easy to find.”
Lassiter left at a run, and Dr. Fleming muttered, “Explosives, Darren…”
Sounds of a struggle lead to another scream, cut short this time, and a cry of “Mi mati yu!” An inarticulate noise followed, just as Darren began working furiously at the dial again.
“Pintu! Door! It must be!”
The next moment he and Dr. Fleming flung the door open, to find their hostess crumpled on the floor near the window. Dr. Fleming was beside her the next instant, and he soon announced that she bore several bruises and a troubling head wound.
Darren, meanwhile, swiftly inspected the area. He paused and glanced at Dr. Fleming. “Attempted murder in a locked, effectively windowless room. I suppose you’ll say this is the work of robots.”
Dr. Fleming thought very briefly and replied, “No, I don’t see anything here that looks like a homicidal automaton.”
“Excellent. Then this is a job for demonology.”
Dr. Fleming scowled. “You don’t really mean that, do you?”
“I don’t sense demonic activity here, no. But I would like to know where the assailant went. The shutters only work from inside, so he couldn’t have left that way and closed them. And given his expressed intention to kill Clio, why didn’t he do so? She clearly wasn’t dead when we entered, but it wouldn’t have taken more than a moment to finish the job.”
“Besides, she has the notes on her,” Dr. Fleming observed, producing the papers. “Her would-be killer accomplished little. In fact, she will probably regain consciousness soon. She doesn’t seem the delicate type.”
“Clio? No, she’s quite sturdy. In fact, I have a theory about what happened here. What do you think was the sequence of events?”
“I would like to know that too,” said a rough yet vaguely feminine voice that seemed to emanate from a pistol in the doorway.
Next: A Slight Detour
1 year ago