Monday, 16 August 2010

The Pendulum Cypher

Eminent political blogger Davidoff Latour burst through the doorway, landing in a pile at the foot of the uncarpeted stairs. He quickly leapt to his feet and made a grab for the heavy revolver that he kept on the table, next to the black Olivetti rotary-dial telephone. It was gone. "Merde!" he cried, under his breath; then he slammed the front door shut behind himself and fastened the lock.

The 42-year-old mounted the stairs, taking three at a time. When he reached the landing he froze: the door to his study was leaning open. He never left the door to his study leaning open. "Merde," he cried again, quieter this time. Standing on tiptoe, he crept over to the doorway; then he reached into the room for the baseball bat that he kept by the door. It was a souvenir from his trip to New York, two years before, emblazoned with the words "NY Yankees." This time, he found it. He hoisted the bat aloft and stormed into his office, ready to take a swing at anyone who appeared before him. There was no one there.

Latour straightened up, allowing the bat to fall by his side. Then he heard a click.

"Don't move," said a hoarse voice, coming from behind him. "The room is wired with explosive devices."

There was a shiny silver coffee pot sitting on the desk, and in it Latour was able to make out the distorted reflection of a huge, sinister figure, easily seven feet tall, with red piercing eyes. "Who are you?" he demanded, trying to cover the fear in his voice with manly bluster.

"Who I am is not important," hissed the figure, whose accent seemed familiar yet strange. "What matters is what I want from you. A very small thing. No problem." The blogger watched the reflection as it lit a match and then blew it out immediately. Then it spoke again. "You are in possession of a certain artifact that I seek to obtain. A relic from another age."

Latour began to sweat coldly. "You mean?"

"Yes," said the figure. "I mean." A gun appeared in the reflection's hand. "Give it to me. Now."

"It's in my safe," squeaked Latour.

"Get it." The gun grew larger.

Two days later, the body of eminent political blogger Davidoff Latour was pulled out of a river in a Paris suburb. There was a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. He was 42-years old.

That was when I received the call.

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