Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Daily Story 147: Unsolved Mysteries

Detective Burns stepped into the room, light floating strangely along the walls like layered reflections on water. The florescent bulbs had all shattered, and the beam from his flashlight might as well have been shining on a disco ball; it lit everything, illuminated nothing. The scene was mottled silver and black. He leaned over slowly, and plucked a single specimen off of the knee-high drift of quarters nearest to him. It was highly polished and proclaimed itself to be minted the previous year. He assumed for the moment all of them would say the same, but glanced at a few others just out of curiosity. Several had gouges on their faces, and two had somehow become interlocked, as if one coin had sawed halfway through the other.

With this in mind he turned the flashlight to the walls, and saw a number of thin holes in the sheetrock - entry wounds. Where the walls were tougher quarters had scratched or dented or even embedded themselves. Detective Burns wasn't a ballistics expert, especially when it came to situations with so many objects bouncing around a strangely-shaped room, but he felt certain somehow that they hadn't all been going at the same speed. In addition to the lights, some computer monitors had been shredded and jagged white teeth were all that remained of a whiteboard on the wall. The aluminum doorframe next to him had a coin sticking out at an odd angle right at eye level, and a line of red trailed downwards from it. There was little enough blood that it had already dried. He stepped gingerly around the biggest piles and slowly balanced his weight on the shifting landscape until he had worked his way to the blood's source; a mangled hand reaching upwards from the silver carpet.

"There were three of them in here when it happened," a voice behind him offered. "None have been pulled out yet but enough was located of each to know they're dead."
Burns didn't turn around. "I suppose you're going to tell me that they were the only ones that knew what this experiment was about?" There was a pause instead of an answer, but that told him plenty. "You're going to seal this room off, bodies and all. You're going to gather up every scrap of information on the research these scientists were doing. You are going to refer to this only as a lab accident, and insist that you do not know details - and you are under no circumstances going to remove a single coin from this room. Do we understand each other?" There was another pause, this one punctuated by the sound of shifting metal. Burns could see the man shuffling his feet without looking.

"You... I don't know that you have the authority to do this." There it was. Detective Burns had been waiting for that, and slowly turned to look the speaker in the eye. As expected, it was a nervous-looking older man in a suit made even more uncomfortable by the stare that was leveled at him.
"You're probably right, but I'm going to call some contacts of mine in the government, and they have all the authority you could ever ask for. I'm telling you what to do in order to make them arrive in a good mood, because you wouldn't like them very much when they're upset." The man's shallow pool of righteous indignation had already run dry, and he nodded slightly before a thought occurred to him. "Detective... you've seen something like this before?"

Like this? Burns looked around at the mounds of money. What could cause something like that? Probably they'd tried to send a quarter a split-second back in time, or they got all of them from a million adjacent dimensions, or... it didn't matter.
"Not like this," he said. "Last time there was a lot more blood and a lot less money." There had also been an invisible thing of some sort, but he didn't mention that. Wasn't allowed. "Just... just get this place sealed off." Detective Burns pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number for the government agents with the blank badges. The sooner they took this off his hands the better.