Every Holmes needs a Moriarty, and every teleportation story needs someone to abuse the hell out of it. Two birds, meet one stone.
This is a sequel to “The Joy of Deduction.”
Chasing The Guy Fantastic, by Alexander Paul Willging
Word Count: 860
The Einstein-Rosen Bridge was originally designed to eliminate travel and shipping issues for the human race. But no one could have foreseen the rise of those annoying vagabonds who insisted on abusing the traversable wormhole network for fun and profit.
They were called light-chasers. And there was no light-chaser more notorious than Clark Hill.
On Wednesday, June 11, he dropped out of the sky in the middle of a press conference by the Mayor of Los Angeles. Hill was wearing data-capture gloves; he managed to pull the mayor’s speech right out of the teleprompter and disappear in a flash.
He was even brash enough to let the press see how he did it. Light-chasers would jury-rig their own ERB beacons, disguising them as phones, datapads, jewelry, even hats and scarves.
Clark Hill was classier than the rest. His beacon was disguised as an antique pocket watch, which matched his Neo-Victorian frock coat. And being a very clever kid, he was never one to be seen walking the street dressed like that. That was the whole advantage of modern teleporters: total discretion and crimes carried out with impunity.
For weeks afterward, the LAPD was flooded with calls about people being spotted with Hill’s pocket watch. The handful of Neo-Victorians living in LA weren’t treated too fairly either, being accused of harboring the prankster. The whole crime was creating a strange kind of public hysteria about light-chasers and ERB travel.
In other words, it was just the sort of thing to bring the case to our attention.
“Okay, I think I’ve got it.” Holly was lying on her stomach on the carpet, staring down at her disassembled pocket watch through pink-tinted glasses. “He removed most of the gears in the watch and replaced them with a circular circuitry pattern and the Einstein-Rosen matrix where the mainspring would be. But here’s the interesting bit—you won’t believe it, Ray, honestly!”
“Try me,” I said, looking down at her work from the armchair.
“Okay.” The girl detective was twitching with excitement. “He set it all up to work just like a pocket watch! Most light-chasers activate the matrices in their beacons with an prearranged algorithm. But Hill didn’t do that. He uses the winding mechanism to set up the resonance. When it releases, he slips in and out of the Bridge!” She slapped the floor as she laughed. “I mean, how cool is that?”
“Pretty cool.” When I glanced down at the Quicknote my boss had sent, I frowned. Only two more hours until the President’s address was due to air. “So what does that tell you about Hill’s next move?”
“Oh, I don’t have a clue. How about you?”
“What?” My young charge looked up at me with curious eyes. “I read the FBI profile. It’s nothing substantial. Loves pranks and being flashy, never stays in the same place twice. He’s like a ghost. Not really very interesting on paper.” Then she flashed a terrible grin. “But his handiwork gives me shivers.”
I was going to tell her that it wasn’t the most appropriate attitude for this case, but I didn’t have the time. My jaw dropped when I saw a blue light shimmering in the air over Holly’s head. She looked up and gasped.
I barely had time to grab Holly away before the blue light exploded and a well-dressed gentleman appeared in our living room. He was swinging a pocket watch from a chain on his belt, then smiled as the watch landed in his gloved hand.
“Seven-oh-five, on the dot.” Clark Hill bowed. “Pleasure to finally meet you, Miss Holly. So nice to meet a fan.”
Holly squealed with delight. “Oh my God, oh my God! It’s really you!”
I pushed her behind me as I stood up. Unfortunately, I was an inch shorter than Hill, so I doubt I was very intimidating. “You’ve a lot to answer for, Mr. Hill. Why don’t you let me have that?” I held out my hand, motioning to the pocket watch.
“What, this thing?” Hill tossed it to me with a smirk. “By all means, Mr. Farr. Oh, and here. Take my card while you’re at it.”
He handed me a Neo-Victorian calling card. On the front, printed in flowery black font, was the name Clark Michael Hill, followed by Professional Prankster and Rogue Extraordinaire.
“Looking forward to working with you!” I looked up just in time to see Hill suddenly vanish in a violent spray of light. I threw down the card, furious at how late I’d been.
Holly gasped. “No way! It wasn’t the watch!” She held up the trinket, cradling it lovingly in her palm. “The beacon’s disguised as something else! Good old misdirection! Ray, do you know what this means?”
“Yes,” I said grimly. “It means we’ve got less than two hours before we can stop him from—”
“No!” She jumped up and down like a kid on Christmas—and for her, it might as well have been. “It means I’ve got my first archenemy! I’ve always wanted one of those!”
I shook my head. This was going to be a very long and difficult chase.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.