In The Eyes Of The Law

Ken is dead. Apparently murdered. Possibly caught by the Kredese and killed as a trespasser. But possibly killed by his wife. The incriminating weapon was either Kerdolan-made at Destination. Or the copy Ken himself had made. And with Fliss convinced that Ken and Julia were having an affair . . . of course the police will be interested in her.

Episode 59 PRIORY PROJECT A Sci-fi Fantasy

As Dave had predicted, the police weren’t long in calling on me—even before the day was out (while I was at work). And they didn’t just ask me to call in at the station, but bundled me into a brightly-marked car and ‘escorted’ me. Talk about being treated as a criminal. The only thing missing were the ‘cuffs.

I was shown the dagger. Did I recognise it, had I seen it before? I admitted it could be Ken’s, that he had made a replica of one he’d seen at Destination.

Apparently this was third time they’d heard that term at Destination. “We’re waiting on a chap from Leeds,” the interviewing officer said as an aside to the WPC attending. “An expert in . . . whatever. We’re hoping he’ll understand these technicalities Mrs Friedman spouted about her supposed ‘time-pods’. Now,” he turned back to me. “You’d like to tell us about this Destination?”

Though I couldn’t see the police believing one word of it yet I explained of the culture I’d found. I explained how we had expected it to conform to the known archaeology, and how it had not. I said of Ken’s speculated multi-verse and my preferred ‘divergent worlds’. They asked me for proof. Both Fliss and Dave had mentioned my photos and the tape. Fliss could only have known of the photos from Ken. I hadn’t shown them to her. So the police commandeered my phone (photos still in memory), and accompanied me back to The Lady where I handed over the tape and transcript. And that led to Siobhán being questioned.

I’m absolutely sure if Fliss had been other than a respected scientist, even though her reputation had been gained States-side, they wouldn’t have believed a word we told them, even with my supplied evidence and the expert from Leeds. And even then I could see their immense hesitation.

Next they asked me if I was pregnant. I told them yes, I was less than two months gone. They asked of the father. I told them, Dannyn, a shaman at Destination. That raised a few brows. They asked how that came about. I refused an answer. “It’s my business.”

“No, madam,” said the interviewing officer. “It was ‘your business’ until your chum, Kenneth Freidman, turned up dead in a granite coffin.”

“It’s a time-pod,” I corrected.

“Now if it’s the deceased’s baby,” he continued, “your friend Felicity could be in a whole lot of trouble.”

Forensics had found Fliss’s fingerprints on the dagger—the murder weapon. I could feel my face pale. Though Dave had thought it 99% likely, I still refused to believe her guilty. I mean, how was it possible when she was stuck in that wheelchair? I told the police, if her prints were on it then so would be ours. I explained how Ken had shown his dagger to me and Dave. “We all handled it.”

“Then Mr Freidman must have subsequently wiped it. We found only one set of prints.”

“But . . . “ I didn’t want to believe it. “She must have tried pulling it out. When he arrived back. Was there blood on her?”

They’d already gone over this with Fliss. Apparently, and this came out at the trial, she’d answered, quite reasonably, that if she had plunged that dagger into his heart before sending him for a three day sojourn in the Neolithic, why was there no blood on her?

It was only when they repeated this back to me that I was could see how she’d done it—if she had done it. She had fifteen minutes before his return. That’s ample time to wash away any blood, and to change her clothes. Fliss always wore the same colour; all her clothes were the same ivory-cream. And they all had that same fluid, almost insubstantial quality. Kind of Gothic. Would her cleaner, Mrs Sharmin, notice the change? I wouldn’t have. And who else was there to see? Poor Mrs Sharmin, she was in such a state, she wouldn’t have been taking notice of the finer points of Fliss’s apparel. Yea, fifteen minutes, that was ample—though what had she done with the clothes? Burned them? She couldn’t have just consigned them to the bins. The police would be sure to check out such things. It was as well that the police officer conducting the interview wasn’t equipped with Dannyn’s Brictish abilities, for my thoughts were enough to condemn her.

I wanted to ask about Ken’s camera. That was the reason for his ‘trip. But I wasn’t supposed to know of it. Dave only knew because Mrs Sharmin had told him. Besides, if they’d seen the camera, and seen the photos, then they’d have passed them to someone who’d know what they were. My boss, most likely. The photos would prove him alive at Destination. Those, photos, if they existed, would clear Fliss of the charge. But clearly that wasn’t the case since they still were holding her, and questioning me. Ipso facto, there were no photos.

« »

The police were looking for a motive. Before her accident Fliss had been an outstanding physicist in her field who had made significant advances in the technology that she and Ken had later developed into the Priory Project. Though she’d lost her funding because of the accident—too long away from her project—the accident itself wasn’t as crippling to her career as it would have been fifty years previous. Even so, she was dependent on Ken for his technical skills. So, from the career angle, it would be counter-productive for her to kill him. On a personal level, too, though Fliss was attractive, she was confined to that wheelchair and, according to Ken, sexually unable. Unless the woman was self-destructive, it made no sense for her to kill him. Ken’s possible adultery was taken as insufficient motive (and they only had Mrs Sharmin’s statement for that; apparently Fliss had had the sense to keep quiet). Given Fliss’s situation, they expected she’d tolerate it.

But for her husband to father a child on his lover, when she herself wasn’t able to bear one, that, they judged, would be sufficient to drive her over the edge. So, again it was asked, was Ken the father of my child? When they’d asked Fliss about it she had pooh-poohed it. “Jules, and my Kenneth? No. More likely it’s Dave’s.”

They asked again of my relationship with the shaman, the where and when of intercourse. The way they asked their questions, so matter-of-factly, was embarrassing and emotionally destructive. And it should have been a woman officer asking me this. It was downright intrusive. I felt like they were stripping me naked. But I could see their tack and it wasn’t subtle. They were trying to trip me into revealing a lie. But there was no lie, only a beautiful truth that now would be forever tainted.

The answer, of course, would be a DNA test. There’d be no arguing with that.

I’d no doubt they had already taken DNA from Ken. And I knew they could order the test done on my baby. It might be as well to volunteer it, to show I’d nothing to hide.

But that’s when I suffered a major shock, delivered by a woman police officer specially brought in to deal with it. “We have to bail you over till the baby’s born.”

My mouth dropped. I squealed. “What?”

“You’re a vital witness—or the baby is. We can’t afford to lose you.”

“Yea, but witness, not suspect. This is outrageous!”

“I can see you would think it,” she said, and even nodded. “But we have to conform to the law. Your baby is evidence. And we can’t have you absconding with the evidence now can we. Your friend wouldn’t like that. Not when it’s that and only that that’s going to get her off this charge.”

“But-but . . .” I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t the choice of volunteering; I was being sequestered. “I’m only five weeks gone. It’s another eight months till its born.”

“Unless you have a termination,” she said. “Your friend might prefer that. Mrs Freidman, is it? You’re objecting to being sworn over, but think of her. She’s already in prison, on remand.”

“But I thought it could be done in uterus. Can’t it be done from the amniotic fluid?”

“So I understand,” she said. “But there’s a one in a hundred chance of miscarriage. And it costs.”

I was about to say to go for it, I’d pay for it, but she wasn’t finished.

“A pointless exercise when the courts won’t accept it anyway. They’ll only accept a buccal swab—for which your baby must be delivered. Even then,” she went on, with all my hopes collapsing around me, “the test mayn’t exclude . . . Kenneth Freidman, is it? . . . as the biological father. It would be better if we could test the other —the claimed father?”

My head was whirling, trying to grasp what she was saying. “So either we wait another eight months till the baby is born, or I have a termination? And even then it won’t prove that Ken isn’t the father?”

“It might prove that he is,” she said and smiled, cold as a fish on a marble slab.

“Well, I can tell you now, there’ll be no termination,” I said.

“Then your friend will stay in prison. And you will report in once a week. You weren’t thinking of taking a holiday? Only you’re not to leave the country.”

“But . . .” I was trapped. Helpless. And I hadn’t done anything; I wasn’t even a witness. Yet the child I was carrying could either clear or convict Fliss of murder.

« »

Danny was born in the early hours of Valentine’s Day. Dave was with me. Dave had been with me since the fourth month of pregnancy—a month after his father died. There wasn’t a day in that month when he hadn’t pleaded with me to go live with him (he couldn’t leave the nursery, not while it was in turmoil). But, stubborn, I stayed on the Lazy Lady. It was only when the Press found my address. Then Dave’s nursery seemed a safer retreat. And now, with everything coming out in court, the Press again will be chasing me.

As I had so fervently hoped (and despite what that WPO had said), the DNA test proved beyond any doubt that Ken was not the father. How could he be, when my child’s DNA was labelled ‘Archaic’. Oh how they buzzed around me. The geneticists first, then other specialists, homing in like I was a mosquito on heat. But at least Siobhán can now go ahead and publish her findings, amended to this new—and proven—development.

But there is concern for my child with his 4,500 years old DNA. They say he could have adverse reactions to our 21st century environment. Yet he has my antibodies, I’ve given him the best of starts. And he’s booked in for three-monthly check-ups. Later, when they’re happy with his progress, they’ll relax that to yearly.

My Neolithic baby has become the star of his own show in other ways, too. His existence demonstrates and verifies Fliss’s ‘pod-technology as a means of trans-world-portation. But now there’s the question of whether those worlds are separated only by time, or whether they exist as discrete (but divergent) worlds in this universe, or in a multi-verse. My evidence—the photos, the tape, my observations—is now being studied. But by my reasoning the answer can only be of past or divergent worlds. How else to explain the DNA?

And I wish even the divergent world weren’t so. When Dannyn said of his longevity and of his cyclic rebirth, he’d thought he’d be due for another rebirth around about now. And if this were the same world as Dannyn’s then there’d be a chance of us meeting again. But I can’t kid myself. And at least I have his child. Little Danny.

Fliss hasn’t been slow to capitalise. She was released from prison the day following the DNA results, though she still had the court appearance to endure. She’s used that time to offer her machines, Ken’s notes, her direction and knowledge, to any university willing to undertake study of how and why this technology works. She has had two takers so far, both in America.

That disappoints me. She’ll be shipping the ‘pods there, and I had hoped for another chance to visit Dannyn. He would have liked to hold his son, and it would have been good for little Danny to meet his real dad—though Dave is doing his best to shape up. We’ve given him Dave’s name, Eastman (Daniel Cannings sounded too much like an illusionist, a stage magician).

And like his father, he is Brictish. How do I know? By the way I’m always there to attend him before he cries. I’m just waiting now for him to tell me what I’m thinking.

But there remains the question of who killed Ken. Dave still is convinced it was Fliss. And though publicly and to the police I repeatedly denied it, yet I can see no other answer. Why then have I gone all out to defend her? Because she’s my cousin and blood is thicker? No, I think not. I did it as penance. In killing her ‘baby’ I’d helped to push her over the edge. So I’m as guilty of Ken’s death as she.

The End

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About crimsonprose

After years as a multi-colour octopus in entertainment, now chilling and writing
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17 Responses to In The Eyes Of The Law

  1. Wow! What an ending…

  2. Brian Bixby says:

    i had thought about one worse ending: that Julia would decide that somehow her interactions at Destination had killed Ken there. But that would be to eliminate doubt, and doubt is in some ways far more corrosive.

    • crimsonprose says:

      I have left it was an element of doubt. Did Fliss kill Ken? And though we assume he was at Destination for 3 days, perhaps it was longer. If stabbed before being transported, 3 days at Destination would effectively finish him off, and explain his condition on return. Then again, perhaps Murdan found him? Except that the ‘pods are supposed to grab the tripper out of danger if life readings show alerts. So, still unanswered questions. I don’t labour the point in the story. The police have established her apparent lack of motive. Coupled with insufficient evidence . . . Who knows?

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Hmm, but would the pods send a dead or dying person? Who knows?

        I have to wonder whether Julia ever considers whether she would have been better off if the pod’s alarms had yanked her back before Dannyn could impregnate her. Probably not, but . . .

      • crimsonprose says:

        I’ve purposely left Ken’s death as an unsolved mystery. Mrs Marples et al would be demanding all kinds of explanations. e.g. the bronze dagger needs metal analysis. And since, quite early on, we’re told that the pods will fetch back the tripper if life systems seem under threat, how come Ken was clearly away for at least 3 days? Answer could be because he was already dead before the ‘sending’. As to Julia, I don’t think she regrets her brief affair with Dannyn. And I like to think that maybe baby-Danny is Dannyn yet again reborn. Except . . . divergent worlds; would it be possible? But perhaps the DNA would be enough to pull him through? And now, if all that was in a divergent world, what about Neve? To which I answer, Skimaskal. An amorous pinky-purple dragon is as unlikely as telepathic Asars. Plus if you read Neve you’ll find certain aspects of the medieval history isn’t quite right (though it might take someone steeped in the period to winkle it out.) Ah, but T-Rex and Sammy Hagar, they’re our world. And who’s to say a divergent world couldn’t become, also, a convergent world? Lots of ponderings for the keen reader to . . . ponder.

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Oh, dear, a multiverse of Sammy Hagars! 😉

      • crimsonprose says:

        Could be worse. Think of some of the music Raesan liked. Interesting, though, that the Triumph Spitfire exists in both worlds, and in the same garish yellow!

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Conservation of bad taste across multiverses.
        Oddly enough, a story Judy mentioned to me when I posted my retelling of Genesis is applicable here. In it, God has created world after world, an din all of them Eve eats the fruit. And then one time she doesn’t . . .

      • crimsonprose says:

        Sequel? Or is that to be left to our imaginations? But what wonderful material for a plot!

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Well, as it turns out, if humans can live without violating God’s order to know good and evil, they are innocent, no matter what they do, and also immortal, and also God has promised them happiness. Since they will also reproduce immortal progeny at a rapid rate, have no interest in engaging in labor, and have no concern for other species, God faces a nasty paradox of having to help them destroy other life forms, including intelligent life forms on other planets. Further I won’t relate, in case anyone wants to read the story on Pierre Boulle’s “Because it is absurd.”

      • crimsonprose says:

        So, basically, Eve did God a favour in eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. See now, isn’t that typical: the woman always gets the blame even when her curiosity does save the planet, the universe—God!

      • Brian Bixby says:

        That indeed is one of the morals of the story.

  3. Judy says:

    When you said in the comment maybe Dannyn was reborn in Danny even across divergent worlds or maybe if worlds diverge they can converge, my thoughts were going that way. Though in ways we are reborn in our children. I confess to hopes that the lovers could have found a way to defeat time and be together some when. But Julia had no way to control whether she could go back. Dannyn’s wistfulness on wanting to be with her in a recent chapter seems now to have foreshadowed the end. I felt a powerful absence or longing when Julia went back without Dannyn being there and trying to travel on her own without him. I felt a big void. I have to say that whatever concerns you had reference pacing were made up for in the last 4 or 5 chapters. My pulse was up; I hate false accusations!

    While I wanted Dannyn and Julia to be together, I think your ending was the better and more real choice. Nothing Gold can Stay so to speak. I also like the development of the relationship with Dave as the story wrapped up too.

    Hmm well maybe those American people will want Julia to travel in the pics from there? But, would she go to an America centric divergence instead and be nowhere near Dannyn? Big sigh! This has potential for a great series.

    Lastly, ( I hate typing on the iPad) I think this is a very publishable story. You need to design a cover, format and maybe put up for sale. Indie pub maybe? You have a pre sale with me!
    I really like this story and its mythology is beautiful. I like the reasoning of sorting out why and when and what Destination was.

    Well I’d better shut up….but beautiful work!

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