Snow opened up his cell phone and dialed the L.A. FBI office as they neared Doctor Russell’s house. He heard the phone ring, “Agent Halloway,” came the response from the other end.
“This is Agent David Snow. Last night my partner and I acted on a warrant, investigating the Clark-Reynolds Technologies Company. We spoke to their CEO Harvey Conrad.”
“Yes?” said the agent on the other end of the phone.
“We poked around a bit, but left without removing anything since they were cooperating. I just visited the hospital where a man is slowly dying, likely caused by some new technologies they’re developing. We’re on our way to the original crime scene right now, but I think its time we seized everything they have. Can you get a team down there immediately?”
“No problem,” said Halloway. “I’ll let you know once my people are in place.”
“One more thing,” Snow said, “they’re contracted through the Department of Defense. Don’t let them use that as a roadblock.”
“Got it. We’ll get on that right away,” said Halloway.
Snow flipped his phone closed and observed the house they were approaching. It was a two story brown house, and he guessed that it was approximately three thousand square feet, with a large yard, and numerous tall bushes, all of which was enclosed within a black wrought-iron fence. They pulled into the driveway and exited the car.
Natalie opened the case file and pulled out the crime scene photos and the ballistic reports. “OK, it looks like Russell was shot in the breezeway between the house and the garage.”
They quickly found the breezeway. It was open, with round cinderblocks leading from the garage door to the house door. About twenty feet separated the two buildings. The chalk outline of the doctor’s body had not yet faded. Snow walked into the outline and stood there.
“According to the ballistics report, the gun was fired from about ten feet from the ground, presumably from the house,” Natalie said. They looked at the house and saw a door set into an otherwise solid wall.
“No windows,” Snow said. “The killer didn’t shoot him from inside the house.”
“So that narrows it down to two possibilities,” Natalie remarked. “Either the killer was holding the gun with his arms fully extended above his head when he pulled the trigger, or he was standing on a ladder.”
Snow grimaced, “Neither of those seem likely. There is another possibility.”
“What’s that?” Natalie asked.
“We already know that the killer has, or had, psionic abilities. He may have been levitating.”
“I suppose that might make sense,” Natalie agreed. “Instinct tells me that’s not what happened though.”
“Same here,” Snow said. “As long as we’re here, we might as well take a look inside.”
Natalie pulled the key to the house from a plastic bag inside the folder, walked over to the house, and opened the door, entering through the kitchen. The interior of the house was hot; the doctor had been the only inhabitant, and the air conditioner had not been running in his absence.
The kitchen was spacious, with new appliances and a large island counter in the center of the room. The dining room was through an archway to their left while the living room was to their right. Snow walked into the living room.
Mounted on the wall was a big screen plasma HDTV besides which sat a cabinet where the stereo and various video components were stored. They also noticed a bookshelf. “Check the notes from the investigation. Did they go through everything in the house?” Snow asked.
Natalie flipped through several pages of the report. “It looks like they assumed that the killer assaulted him outside the house, so the interior of the house was briefly checked over to ensure that it hadn’t been ransacked. Seeing everything in order, they focused on the body and whatever evidence they could find there.”
“I don’t remember reading that they found a murder weapon. Is there anything about that?”
Natalie shook her head. “They assumed that the killer took it with him.”
“Was the door locked or unlocked?”
“Unlocked,” Natalie replied.
“Alright. Let’s search everything. I’ll check the bookshelf, you check the entertainment center, then we move on to the rest of the house,” Snow said.
Natalie walked over to the entertainment center and began investigating the components while Snow began the task of pulling out each of the books, one by one, looking for anything that might be contained or concealed within.
“Nothing unusual here,” Natalie said, completing her search of the bookshelf. “I’ll move on to the bedrooms.”
Snow kept pulling out the books one by one, opening each one up to ensure that it was an actual book and that there was no documentation within. Three shelves down, he found a large book with the words “Journal of Abnormal Psychology” written on the cover. The exterior appeared normal for a book of that size, but it weighed considerably less than it should have. He opened it up and discovered that the interior was hollow, with what looked like a metal headset device within. Unlike typical headsets however, this had no speakers, or any other device mounted to it. In fact, the item appeared to be nothing more than a band that fit over the head.
“I think I found something!” Snow said.
“Me too,” Natalie said from one of the bedrooms.
Snow took the hollow book with him to see what Natalie had found.
“Based on the doctor’s profile, he didn’t strike me as a man who was into model aircraft,” Natalie said.
“It’s hard to say,” Snow remarked.
Within the room was a king sized bed, an oak chest of drawers, and a clothes hamper. Like the rest of the house, this room was neatly organized. The only thing that seemed out of place was a large model helicopter sitting on the chest. “That seems like an odd item to have here.”
“That’s what I was thinking,” Natalie said.
Snow picked up the helicopter. It was black, and about three feet long. Snow looked it over and noticed a round hole in the front. He sniffed the opening and immediately detected an odor. “Gunpowder. And it’s been fired recently without being cleaned. What do you want to bet that this will match up with the ballistics on the bullet?”
“Our murder weapon?” Natalie guessed. “Strange thing though. If this is a remote controlled helicopter, where is the remote?”
Snow opened the book he had brought from the living room, revealing the headset. “What do you want to bet this is it?”
Suddenly the pieces fell into place for Natalie. “That explains it. That explains everything! The reason we experienced that painful ticking noises at the office last night, the reason Eli Kemp’s brain is deteriorating. Clark-Reynolds is developing technology that directly interfaces with psionic abilities.”
Snow nodded. “I’ve suspected as much since we left the hospital. Think of the military applications if this technology actually works. Sure, you can manipulate objects with psionic talent, but you will always be limited by your range. Let’s say that this company produces technologies that extend your range, even to the point of accessing satellites to give you control of weapons on the other side of the world. Let’s also say that the technology allows you to directly interface with equipment. The military could forego pilots, drivers, maybe even soldiers. The only fighting force that would be needed is a bunch of guys with psionic abilities and these controls on their heads. You could also cut out some of the human weaknesses. You wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not the G-force would cause a jet fighter pilot to black out when performing a maneuver.”
“The only problem is that it fries your brain,” Natalie commented.
“Yeah,” Snow agreed.
“And this is probably some sort of prototype,” Natalie said.
“Most likely,” Snow agreed, “but I’m not about to test it out.”
“So Eli knew that his mental capacity was diminishing after testing this out for an extended period of time. He may have even been suffering from some pain, so he came here to what he perceived as the source of the problem.” Natalie said.
“Doctor Russell,” said Snow.
“So the only questions that remain are who killed Agent Holt and why, and where is Agent Scott?”
Just then Snow’s telephone rang. He pulled it from his pocket, and flipped it open. “Agent Snow,” he answered.
“Hey this is Agent Halloway.”
“Good to hear from you already,” Snow said.
“I’m afraid there’s a problem.”
“What kind of problem?” Snow asked.
“Our agents were just dispatched to the company offices and the warehouse on that search warrant. Both buildings have been cleaned out. There were no employees, no computers, no files, nothing. All we found was a building full of cubicles and empty desks.”
Snow’s paused, shocked. “Are you sure they were sent to the right place?”
“We checked the address, even compared it to satellite imaging. Our agents definitely went to the right locations.”
“Understood,” said Snow, flipping his phone closed.
“What is it?” Natalie asked.
“Clark-Reynolds apparently disappeared. They must have moved everything out last night after we left.”
“So that would point towards them being behind the death of Agent Holt,” Natalie said.
“That was too quick for a corporate move,” Snow remarked. “I’m guessing that the Department of Defense doesn’t want us to know anything about this research.”
“Why?” Natalie asked.
“Because they know that there’s a sizeable group of psionicists who would be opposed to this type of technology, and would try to stop its development. Either way, we found what we’re looking for. Let’s get the prototype back to headquarters and figure out where to go from here.”
The agents carried the helicopter into the living room and looked out the large picture window to see two black cars drive up and park in front of the house.
“Oh, this can’t be good,” Natalie said.
“No, not really,” Snow agreed.
The doors opened and five men, each dressed in casual clothing piled out of the cars. The agents watched as the men drew their weapons and moved towards the house. “No, not good at all,” Snow said as he drew his gun.
To be continued...