“Whoever did this really mucked things up didn’t they Detective Green?”
“Yes Inspector Sanchez, it was as if they were more interested in vandalism then any of the valuable antiquities and other art pieces.”
The two police men scanned over the carnage of broken statues, pottery, glass cases and other debris strewn around the 5th floor of the Hargrove Museum of Art. It looked as if a drunken bull came through and just bumped into one exhibit after another and knocked them to the floor. There was a definite path that the vandal, or vandals took through the gallery.
They could see where there were three distinct sets of footprints in the dust. Also some pieces of clothing, some bloodied were also found stuck to pieces of stone and glass. They ended abruptly at a pile of debris on the far end of the gallery.
The police and museum staff were digging through the debris to see what, if anything could be recovered. Also they had to find out if anything valuable was missing.
But strangely enough the two biggest things that were missing, probably the two most important things were the entry and exit points.
Jason Luck the museum’s curator was sitting on a chair and looked over the broken bits of marble, glass, clay and other stuff with a stunned silence of a person who just lost a loved one. This museum was his life. He started just after receiving his degree in History and Archeology, and gave this place everything he had.
This particular gallery was his creation, his baby if you will, and to see it in this condition, well it was just too much to bear.
“Sir I know this must be hard on you , but we really do need your help,” said Inspector Sanchez approaching Jason Luck.
“Of course Inspector it was just after seeing all of this, well let’s just say I was overwhelmed with emotion. How can I help?”
“Well for starters you can tell us who has access to this floor after hours. Also who was the last to lock up the gallery.”
“After hours no one has access to this floor. The doors are locked electronically, like all the other floors, except the first floor for the night security.”
“How is that done?”
“There is a special locking system that electronically sets the deadbolts and turns on all the security beams and cameras.”
“So what happened last night?”
“According to the guard, there was a surge of power coming from this room, then a flash of light, then all the cameras went off. That’s when he notified the police. Naturally I was called in as well, and when we got here, well the gallery was in the condition you see now.”
“So you can override the system?”
“Yes I can in an emergency.”
“Who else might have access to that code?”
“Nobody else. That is how the system was designed. You see I need to login once a day for the system to work. If I don’t, then the deputy curator, Alice Johnson would receive an alert and the code.”
“So what did you hear when you arrived?”
“Nothing. However the guard told me he thought he heard some crashing and breaking of glass and stone.”
“But he didn’t see anybody leave?”
“No and all the windows were locked from the inside.”
“Inspector come quick!” a shout came from one of the uniformed policemen.
Inspector Sanchez and Jason Luck moved quickly to the far side of the gallery.
“What’s up Fred?”
“This sir,” a stunned police officer handed Inspector Sanchez one of the strangest objects he had seen in long time.
It was an old decrypted rotting human finger.
“Turn off the Cycletronic Matrix Generator.”
“Turn off the what?”
“You know that swirly machine thingy.”
“Oh I was confused because yesterday it was called the Matrix Hyperboolean Conduit.”
“I didn’t like that name, besides I forgot what it was called. That’s the trouble with new technology these days, everything changes so fast it is hard to keep up.”
Doctor Cecil Hardcastle pulled the lever that stopped the whirling matrix. He just shook his head at his colleague and partner Doctor Shirley Moss at her lack of attention to details. Sure she was as smart as he was, but she sure couldn’t focus as well.
“Well Cecil look at the haul we got from last night.”
“Yes Shirley I see, but are we really using this technology correctly?”
“You know I really don’t care anymore. You saw the way they laughed at me when I showed them how easy it was to transmat matter across long distances, but hey called me a fraud. Only you and Sergei Ivanovich had any faith.”
“Yes but shouldn’t we be using this technology to better human kind?”
“Oh Cecil you always were the romantic. Look Mr Ivanovich is paying us a lot of money, and if he likes to collect rare art pieces and antiquities, so be it. His money is helping fund my other research.”
“Yes but why are you using the undead for your thefts? I mean I’ve heard the police report about the damage done to the museum, when all we wanted was to steal the statue of Prometheus.”
“Well that’s because living beings can’t go through without massive radiation damage, but if we send in inanimate objects, like say our little zombie friends here, well they can get the job done. Besides if they get caught, who would ever believe what they caught. And besides they won’t talk.”
“Yes Shirley but what if they turn on you and decide to not go through with the thefts and instead decide they want a taste of you?”
“Because I have planted microchips in their sensor regions that force them to do my bidding. I notice you’re not afraid of them yourself.”
“Well Shirley, that’s because of a little experiment I’ve been working on myself. I’ll tell you about it someday.”
“Let’s see what the bossman wants us to steal next. I hope it’s the Mona Lisa as I’ve always wanted to get my hands on that.”
“You know perfectly well he is only interested in Grecian art from the Alexander Era. Particularly those that were looted from the Afghanistan-Iranian border region.”
“Are you sure Inspector? Great thanks for the information. I hope I can help you find a solution.”
Marcus Webster hung up the phone and whistled to himself.
“Wow another theft, same M.O., yet this time in San Francisco,” he said to no one as he was the only one in the room.
Marcus was an Freelance Insurance Investigator. He specialized in art and antiques. He made a good living at his job and was almost always successful. But there was a series of 11 thefts he was following over the last 6 months that baffled everyone, including himself.
That’s what made him mad. He was supposed to be the greatest living “real” investigator in the world, yet he didn’t have a clue.
The Modus Operandi was always the same. Late night, and locked room. Flashes of light knocking out electrical security devices, including cameras and laser beams. No visible entry or exit points. Lots of collateral damage. Footprints in the dust, torn bits of bloodied cloth found in the debris. But always only one piece stolen, something related to the Alexander the Great encampment in Afghanistan.
What he had though was a thought. So far all the pieces that were stolen had the same pedigree, he would search for any other pieces that might be vulnerable.
Lo and behold he came across one last piece, a statue of Alexander “untieing” the Gordian Knot. It happened to be in a small museum in Portland.
Marcus worked fast. He contacted the museum curator and explained his theory. The curator agreed that it was very possible that he was the next target, and yes he had heard of Marcus and knew of his reputation.
Marcus proposed that he be allowed to hide in the gallery and surprise the thieves when they arrived. He of course offered to give the curator part of any reward money he would get from the other incidences. So they were agreed that he would fly to Portland and sit and wait.
Marcus didn’t have to wait long. It was on the third night when he saw the most outrageous sight of his life.
First as he was situated behind a statue of Aphrodite, admiring the care the stone cutter took in making the curves of her butt, he heard a strange sound, like the wind across an open field. The the flash that knocked him back against the wall.
He picked himself up and saw three figures walking, stumbling in the dark. He noticed a putrid smell and how they seemed to just walk aimlessly around, knocking down statues and display cases as if they were unaware of their surroundings.
They just groaned as they moved about.
He tried to signal the guard, but his phone was on the blink. He remembered about the other museum’s electrical equipment and realized then what happened to it.
He took out his gun and shouted “Stop or I’ll shoot.”
The figures did nothing but continue to amble about and ignore him. He did notice however that they were on their way to Alexander statue. He rushed ahead and turned towards the figures. Through the ample windows the street lights shone on the faces of the thieves.
Marcus froze. The thieves appeared to be dead bodies walking. The Undead! Zombies!
He tried hard to think about the movies he saw as a kid and cursed himself for not seeing more Zombie movies or at least paid more attention to the ones he did see.
He drew his gun and fired a few rounds into each of the bodies.
They recoiled but didn’t stop their clumsy advance.
He tried shooting the closest one in the head, and he noticed this stopped him? her? it? In its tracks.
It fell at his feet. The next one looked definitely like a woman zombie, as it wore a dress, and he shot her just as she was reaching for him. She too fell at his feet squirming around like a fish out of water, just like the other one.
The third one was reaching out for him. He pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed. He slowly backed into the statues of Alexander as he furiously tried to unjam his gun. The zombie reached for him, and just as he reached the statue, when……
Marcus woke up holding his head wondering where he was. It looked like he was in some sort of laboratory.
He heard some familiar groans coming from his right when he noticed a cage full of zombied men and women reaching out for him. He stood and picked up his gun. He felt fine, except for a bit of a headache and a bite mark on his hand.
“Well,well what do we have here?” he heard a woman’s voice say.
“I do declare I think we have a hero and a wonderful test patient. How are you feeling young man?” he heard a male’s voice ask him.
“What? Where am I? Who are you? What have you done?”
“All in good time. Let’s see what the readings say.”
The man approached him and ran a smart phone around him.
“Excellent, no structural damage. Some increased dosage of radiation,but not lethal. Shirley I think we have a new discovery here.”
“What’s that Cecil?”
“Live bodies can use the whatever you’re calling it today.”
“I thought Hyperboolean Transmat Chamber.”
“You know that’s the best one yet. Let’s stick with that. Besides HTC sounds like a great acronym.”
“Hello I am asking the questions here,” shouted Marcus reloading his cleared gun.
“Oh look Cecil the boy wants to play with guns. Put that down or you will get hurt.”
The woman started walking towards Marcus. He got nervous and shot her.
“Stupid boy one shouldn’t do things like that,”said the man as he approached Marcus.
He fired and hit the man in the chest. The man didn’t flinch.
“You really shouldn’t play with guns,” he said as he took the gun from Marcus’ hands and crushed it. He then walked over to the woman and raised her up.
Her eyes opened and she blinked.
“What happened?” she asked.
“Oh that experiment I told you about. You see I felt if we were gong to play around with the undead, zombies if you will, we needed better protection in case they break their programming.”
“Yes I was going to surprise you on our anniversary next month. But you see I transferred our brains into a Positronic device and we are basically androids.”
“Oh Cecil you rascal. I guess that is why the zombies listen to us, they sense we are as undead as themselves.”
“Yes my dearest, and we are immortal.”
“But what should we do with him?” she pointed to Marcus standing there holding his hand and rubbing the bite marks.
“Not to worry. See those bite marks? He will soon be one of our brood. Let’s tell the bossman that his latest task is finished.