February 21st 2039
It was nearly nine o’clock when the alarm had rung. Something had activated the security system of the natural history museum in the city-center. Inspector Thomas Volgard was on his way to the police headquarters to deposit his official car when he received the call, he was the nearest police officer to the museum. The inspector was therefore required to go and inspect the building, secure it if necessary until the arrival of the museum’s director and the police force, only act if necessary. He parked in front of the main entry and its great marble columns, he hastily climbed the stairs to the screen doors and immediately noticed something strange. They were closed and locked without any damage visible. Volgard rapidly circled the antique looking building and checked the only two emergency exits without any success, both were closed and locked, no sign of forced entry. Strange, what could have triggered the alarm if nothing came from the outside ? He heard an engine noise coming from the front and rapidly came back to his vehicle. A man was coming out of a grey BMW, he looked extremely stressed and walked towards the inspector with amazing speed.
“Are you the police ?” He asked with a high-pitched voice, revealing his stress and uneasiness.
“Yes, I’m inspector Volgard.” Answered the policeman while showing his badge. “Could you open the main doors so that I can go and take a look inside ?”
The man seemed to hesitate, then mumbling a weak “Oh of course !” He walked towards the doors and after fumbling nervously through his pockets he finally took out the keys and unlocked them. he let the detective enter before him. Volgard then turned around.
“Stay here” He said. “I’m going in alone.”
“What ? But- I- Well… My god ! How-”
“No, you are staying here until the other policemen arrive, I cannot worry about your security while I’m checking inside. When my colleagues arrive tell them everything you know and that I’m already inside. Understood ?” Said the inspector while looking the director directly in the eyes.
This little speech always proved useful with stressed victims, it convinced them to stay out of the crime scene, reassured them and made them feel like they had a role to play, that they were in control. And the fact that the police was relying on them calmed them down so that they obeyed without asking useless questions. Inspector Volgard did that often to avoid having them right behind when he needed to act fast.
Thomas Volgard went in the large building. It was dark inside, the only sources of light were the small emergency exit signs. He turned on the flashlight he had taken in his car earlier and pointed it in front of him. No sound came to him, everything was silent apart from the low rumble of the ventilation system. He passed by the main desk and decided to find the switches for the lights to light up the room. But as he prepared to jump over the counter a faint sound from the first floor caught his attention. The police officer decided to climb up the stairs immediately to see what had caused this noise and that the lights would have to wait. He quickly walked to the first floor, climbing the big wooden stairs two by two and arrived in a large corridor. The inspector walked slowly along the dark passage, not tripping only thanks to his torch. No other sound came to his ears as he did so but a faint light came from under one of the doors on his right. He approached it as soundlessly as possible, taking his time to be sure not to make any noise, and put his hand on the handle, ready to open when ready. With his right hand he took out his weapon in case he would need it, it was always better to be careful.
He pressed the handle and slowly opened the door. His eyes adjusted with difficulty to the strange intensity of the light in the room. Volgard didn’t notice instantly where the green light illuminating the room was coming from. After a few seconds he noticed a beam of emerald light coming from one of the displays. He also heard the sound of the sirens coming his way. Ah, they’re almost here. But he decided not to wait for backup to check on the light and continued to walk towards it.
The display had a piece of glass in the shape of a circle missing in its center. The sheet of glass that had been cut was lying against the front of the display. A pro’s work. The officer noticed that the ray of light was coming from a miniature pyramid.Looks like the Luxor. He thought with a chuckle. It was placed on the top of the glass display, towards the ceiling. Volgard remembered seeing objects like this on a trip to Las Vegas a few years back. The light suddenly turned on, lighting the room and blinding the inspector for a few seconds. He heard loud steps in the stairs and sighed. If anyone was still here before that they had surely escaped by now. He wouldn’t catch anyone by surprise now… He decided to call his colleagues to make his presence known.
“Up here guys !”
He looked at the display from up close, looking at the cut glass and then at its contents, trying to check if anything was actually taken. It didn’t look like it, all the pedestals had a rock, a piece of pottery or metal lying on them. Two policemen in uniform came in, followed by the director of the museum.
“I don’t understand, what could interest thieves here ? We have some rare rock indeed but they aren’t worth much…”
One of the policeman nodded while the other walked to the inspector. He took out his badge to prove his identity.
“Inspector Volgard I presume ?” Asked the closer of the two officers.
“Yes, that’s me. I came by as soon as I got the order. Good to have you guys around, it was a bit dark here…”
The first policeman flinched slightly at this remark, he apparently ha realized his mistake a bit too late.
“So, did you see anybody then ?” He asked, trying to hide his uneasiness and not sounding hopeful at all.
“No, everything was locked down. The director opened the main doors on my request. When I came in I heard a noise coming from this floor but when I came up here to check only this room was lit. I entered to check and found out this little device.” He pointed at the black pyramid. “This sort of lamp was lighting the room when I came in. And the glass here was cut open as if someone had tried to steal something. But nothing seems to have been taken, though the director should confirm this himself. I saw no one entering nor exiting the building. Not a soul inside.”
“Mmmh mmmh” Nodded the policeman. “The director told us that the alarm had been activated at about eight fifty-seven. It was deactivated less than a minute later. No other security system was triggered so he found it strange that one would suddenly activate and then deactivate on its own. He called the police and then came here.
The inspector turned towards the director.
“The alarm was turned off ? From the inside ?”
“Yes, it stopped ringing after a minute and only someone inside with an access to the main control panel, wich is inside my office, could have turned it off.”
“That is strange.” The inspector started scratching his chin, seemingly deep in thoughts at this revelation. The curator seemed very eager to check his precious collection of objects so he motioned towards him to do so. The man had greying hair and was not very tall, he seemed puny and very fragile. He sweated a lot and his hands shook as he walked towards the display. Th inspector decided to reassure him before he fainted or had a cardiac arrest.
“Don’t worry, I have a feeling that nothing has been stolen. I simply want your confirmation.”
The man appeared to regain some self-control and came up close to the glass cover, lowering his eyes to look at its content. After only a few seconds of intense observation he sighed in relief. Such a straightforward reaction that it made Volgard and the policemen smile slightly. Then the man looked up again.
“Nothing was stolen, thank god !” He exclaimed. “But…” He trailed off.
“But what ?” Asked the policeman before Thomas Volgard could react.
“But it seems that this small card wasn’t there before.”
He was pointing towards a white cardboard card that was lying against one of the stones. One could discerns a small G written in a decorative hand in black ink. The inspector took out some gloves from his pocket and reached for the card once he had them on so as not to arase any eventual print. He looked at the G for a few moments, trying to understand what it meant then turned it around to see if anything was written on the other side. Two words were written in the same writing style and he read them out loud.
Someone had come here with the intention of stealing something but they either hadn’t had the time or hadn’t found what they wanted. But why go to this extent to be unnoticed and leave all this behind ? Leaving a message like that could only mean one thing to Volgard : whoever did that was taunting the police. And the police didn’t tolerate that. He gave the card to the second policeman who put it in a plastic bag for safekeeping. He then let the other police officer do their job and search for evidence and gave them his number if they needed his testimony for the investigation. When he walked out of the museum it was almost half past nine. He started the engine and drove of to the police headquarters to take his personal car before driving home. All along the way Thomas Volgard was thoughtful. Who could have done that ? Someone with excellent electronic and thieving skills he presumed. Either the culprit was very dumb for leaving all this evidence behind or he was really confident. That was something Volgard was determined to discover.
As the inspector was hoping in his car he didn’t notice the dark silhouette watching him from the top of the museum, hidden in darkness. The stranger was wearing a mask and a dark body suit to be undiscernible from the shadows. He watched as the car was disappearing in night and jumped, landing without a sound on the street before walking away. Another failure, he thought. He still hadn’t found what he was looking for and it was starting to unnerve him. At leat the night hadn’t been without a reward, an interesting man this Volgard. Very interesting indeed. The future seemed to be much more interesting suddenly…