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“It’s not schizophrenia, O'Malley. I know schizophrenia, and this ain’t it.”
“Voices in his head. Incoherent ravings. Muscle spasms. Five murders in cold blood. What other explanation is there, Jameson?”
“That would be your job, O'Malley. Why do you think I called you here?”
O'Malley paced back and forth in front of Jameson’s desk. The two men were in an office. It was a rather nice office, with walls lined with bookshelves and a large floor-to-ceiling window opening up to a view of the Los Angeles skyline. O'Malley ceased his pacing and glanced again at Jameson. “What sort of evidence you got?”
“Not much. We got the five victims at the morgue. And Dr. Miyamoto’s locked up in the basement cell downstairs; I was able to keep him out of the asylum for investigation, but I’m not sure for how much longer we have. Captain Brooks is ticked, he wants to get him the heck out of here. He bought the schizophrenia story straight away. You can talk to the Doctor if you want, but you’d be lucky to get much out of the lunatic. Poor b******.”
O'Malley shook his head. “Not yet. Tell me about these victims.”
“There’s not a whole lot to tell. First murder was a Professor Jacob Wells. Worked at the University just like the Doctor. He was one of his best friends.”
“Where was he found?”
“In his office. A lady walked in at about nine in the morning, saw the body, ran back out screaming. That’s when the investigation started.”
O'Malley pulled up a fine leather chair in front of the desk and sat, producing a small laptop from his bag. “But you didn’t suspect Miyamoto.”
“Nope. We interrogated him, of course, but he seemed just fine.”
“Right, who was the second murder?”
“Dr. Connors. We found her a week after the first, under similar circumstances. The third we found the same day-- Miyamoto’s wife.”
O’Malley raised an eyebrow. “And that’s when you knew.”
“We suspected. We talked to him again, and he was definitely off the old rocker. More than usual, I mean.”
“Right.” O'Malley struggled to keep up with Jameson’s words on his keyboard. “And the fourth?”
Jameson lowered his head. “That was my colleague-- Officer Falley.”
If O'Malley felt any sympathy, he did not show it. “He was part of the investigation?”
“Yes. He told us he had found something big, he thought he had it all figured out. We found him the next day… I guess Miyamoto figured he knew too much, you know? And soon after that was the final victim.”
Jameson nodded. “Dr. Kasthuri, of LA General Hospital. Apparently he was a good friend of Miyamoto’s, too. That’s when we locked him up, and the whole deal about schizophrenia came about. Miyamoto admitted to all five murders, and it was clear he was real messed up.”
O'Malley closed the laptop and stood. “Well, if that’s all you can tell me, I think—”
Jameson interrupted him.“Hang on, there’s one more thing. O'Malley, all five victims were missing— erm— well to put it lightly— their heads had all been cut off.”
O'Malley gaped. “You say, ‘missing’. Do you mean—”
“We couldn’t find them anywhere. It seems Miyamoto took them and, erm, stowed them somewhere. He won’t tell us why.”
“Jameson, I need to see the Doctor.”
Presently the office door opened, admitting a tall, imposing man wearing a dark blue tie. His brown eyes gleamed. “Jameson, what are you up to? I’ve been looking all over for you.”
“I was just talking with O’Malley here, Captain.”
The man turned to look at him. “O’Malley? What are you doing here, I thought I told you we didn’t need your interference on this case!”
O’Malley frowned. “I’m sorry, Captain Brooks. I didn’t realize you had this whole thing under control. That must be why Miyamoto’s still locked in your basement raving like a lunatic without any sort of proper psychological diagnosis.”
“O’Malley, the Miyamoto case is as good as solved and you had better get your detective a** out of my building if you know what’s good for you! Jameson, be in my office in five minutes.” He started down the hallway, but O’Malley called after him.
“You knew him, didn’t you? He was your friend!” Brooks stopped. He shot an angry look in their direction, but O’Malley thought he could see sadness behind his intensely gleaming eyes.
“Captain, don’t you want to know what happened to him; what went wrong with his mind?”
“The intricate workings of the human brain are beyond even your comprehension, Detective,” said Brooks. “It’s best you leave this alone.” He disappeared down the hall.
Jameson sighed. “Sorry about that, O’Malley. Thanks again for showing up to deal with this; I know it isn’t exactly official business.”
O’Malley chuckled. “Unofficial business is what pays my bills, Jameson. Just show me to Miyamoto’s cell before Brooks catches us again.”
“Certainly. Follow me.”
Jameson led O'Malley out of the office and down a hall. Presently they reached the elevator, and O'Malley silently reviewed the information which had been revealed to him. It was not much. Dr. Robert Miyamoto had been regarded as the most brilliant scientist at the California Institute of Technology, until seemingly out of nowhere he went funny in the head and killed five people. O'Malley was no psychologist, but the story of schizophrenia did seem lacking. Captain Brooks, however, had accepted the explanation without question, and with no official police investigation in place, Jameson had no choice but to rely on the help of his old friend O’Malley to resolve the situation properly.
Brooks. What was Brooks up to? No police officer should be so quick to close a case without a proper investigation. O’Malley supposed that the Captain had embraced the story because it was the simplest explanation, but O'Malley was not employed to find simple explanations. His hand moved to the revolver at his hip involuntarily.
When they reached the ground floor of the building Jameson started down a flight of stairs to the basement cell block. O'Malley was about to follow when an officer stopped him. “No unauthorized firearms in the building, I’m afraid.” He gestured to O'Malley’s revolver. “Company policy.”
O’Malley winced as he realized the weapon, previously concealed under his shirt, was now visible. “F*** that,” he said. “I got a badge, don’t I?” He waved his detective badge at the officer.
Jameson sighed and turned to face the man, giving him an exasperated look that told him not to bother pursuing the matter further. The officer looked irritated but waved them by.
When they had descended Jameson shot a glare at O'Malley over his shoulder. “O'Malley, I’m not paying you to terrorize my employees! You don’t want to draw attention to yourself; this childish behavior has to stop.”
“There’s three things you need to know when you work with me, Jameson. One is that the old .357 never leaves my side. I’ve been in way too many hairy situations to let it go.”
Jameson rolled his eyes but did not say anything more until they reached Miyamoto’s cell. “Right, O'Malley, the Doctor’s in this room here. You go on in alone, I gotta run to meet the Captain.”
O’Malley opened the door and walked in. It was a small linoleum-tiled room, with a small bed to one side and a toilet and sink on the other. On the bed lay a slightly-built man of Japanese descent with square glasses. He sat up when the door opened. O'Malley saw right away that he was nuts— there was a hellish gleam in his eyes that seemed to stare right through his skull. And yet somehow he fancied that the gleam looked rather familiar. Where had he seen those eyes before?
Pushing the thought aside, O’Malley closed the door behind him. “Dr. Miyamoto, I presume?”
Miyamoto just laughed. “Another one,” he scoffed. “What do they hope to accomplish by sending another one of you clowns to question me again? What difference does it make?”
“The difference,” said O'Malley, “Is that I don’t f*** around.”
Miyamoto laughed again. “You pitiful human. You think you’re so tough.”
O'Malley started. “Why did you call me ‘human’, doctor? Aren’t you human?”
“You don’t get it. You think you’re so smart, but you just don’t get it at all.”
“No, Miyamoto. You’re supposed to be the smart one here, not me. Look at your record; you got, what, a PhD in physics and a Master’s in computer science? Miyamoto, if you’re such a smart fellow what are you doing locked up here? Why did you kill those people?”
“None of the others found out. Why does this one think he can find out?”
O'Malley grabbed Miyamoto’s shoulder and pushed him against the wall. “Look, doctor. There’s three things you need to know when you work with me. One is that you tell the truth. Now tell me. You’re already going to the loony bin as it is, what do you got to lose?”
Miyamoto’s eyes grew wide. “It told me to kill them. There was no other way. No choice.”
“What told you, Miyamoto?”
“I didn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t my fault, I didn’t do it! You don’t understand, no one understands!” Without warning, he seized O'Malley’s throat, but O'Malley grabbed his hand and threw him to the side. He hit the floor, unconscious. A stream of blood ran down his forehead.
“With your permission, Doctor,” said O’Malley, “I’d like to take a look around your office.”
O'Malley picked up his bag and walked up the stairs to the ground floor and out the front door. Finding his car, he drove out of the parking lot and accelerated up to thirty-five, thoughts running through his head at the same speed. Whatever his reason for the murders, it made sense for Miyamoto to kill his co workers. Perhaps they, like Officer Falley, simply knew too much. Perhaps he had faced the same dilemma with his wife.
But the surgeon. Dr. Kasthuri hadn’t anything to do with anything. Why did he kill the surgeon? And why was Brooks so adamantly against O’Malley’s investigation?
O'Malley arrived at the science and technology department of the university. It was an impressive building with a lot of glass. Walking in, O'Malley took out his wallet and presented his badge to the lady at the front desk.
“I’m detective James O'Malley, of the LAPD. I need to investigate Dr. Miyamoto’s office, it’s very important.” Strictly speaking, O’Malley was not allowed to affiliate himself with the police, as this was an unofficial investigation, but he doubted the woman would let him in otherwise.
“Certainly, Detective. Second floor, end of the hall. Such a shame about the Doctor, isn’t it?”
O’Malley did not reply. He proceeded up the stairs to the office. There were not many clues that it had been the office of a genius. It was rather small, containing only a desk, two chairs, and a bookshelf. He proceeded through a door which led to the laboratory. It was a much larger room, and O'Malley could tell at least four other offices connected to it. There was complex machinery everywhere, the purposes of which he could only guess. The intricate mechanics seemed to be as vast and unknowable as the human brain itself.
Two people emerged from the far corner of the room. One was a middle aged woman in a lab coat, the other a young man who looked like he might be a college student. They approached O’Malley.
“Detective O’Malley, LAPD. I’m investigating the case of Dr. Miyamoto.”
They shook hands, and the woman spoke. “I’m Sandra Dawson, and this is my college intern, Bill. We’ve just been cleaning up a bit around here... all the junk Miyamoto left behind when he— uh— left.”
“What can you tell me about him?” replied O’Malley.
“He was smart as hell,” said Bill. “I worked with him once on an experiment.”
“He saw things nobody else could see,” said Dawson. “Some days he would just walk right into the office and randomly grab a couple people to help him with a project. Sometimes he would bother to explain what he was doing, other times he wouldn’t. I couldn’t believe it when they said he killed all those guys.”
“Helluva thing,” added Bill.
O’Malley nodded and turned back to Miyamoto’s office. “I’m gonna take a look at his computer in here. Tell me if you find anything interesting.” Miyamoto’s computer had a password, of course, but O’Malley was able to hack it within a minute. He was just about to search its contents when Dawson opened the door behind him.
“O’Malley, I almost forgot; the computer will have a pass— oh,” she faltered as she saw O’Malley had already logged on.
“Passwords aren’t infallible, Ms. Dawson,” said O’Malley without bothering to avert his gaze from the computer’s holographic display.
“O’Malley, I’ll have to ask you not to take such drastic measures in the future. I would have been happy to look up the password for you.”
“This way’s more fun.”
Taken aback, Dawson left the room. O’Malley was pleased about this, because he had only just found something of great interest: Miyamoto’s journal. Copying the file to a portable drive, he began to read.
Saturday, 27 June, 2028
The possibilities of the human mind are endless. As much as we have accomplished in the last twenty-five years, I know we are capable of much more. It is only the biological nature of our brains that limits us. How is it that we, products of nature, are able to create machines that think millions of times faster than ourselves? Will machines ever be capable of thought such as ours? Is it possible to find a compromise between the cold, logical thought process of a machine and the abstract individuality of the human brain? These are questions I have asked myself for years, but I believe I may be close to finding an answer.
Monday, 29 June, 2028
The prototype is nearly finished. I have decided not to divulge the project to too many people. As of now only two people know: My colleague, Professor Wells, and my good friend Captain Brooks of the LA Police. By its very nature my plan is a radical and bold move, and those more scrupulous than I may find it rather horrifying. I plan to finish it soon, as to have it over with before the upcoming holiday.
Thursday, 2 July, 2028
My good friend Dr. Kasthuri has placed the device in my head. It is a most extraordinary thing to have the powerful, raw processing power of a computer within my own brain. I can do complex calculations in milliseconds. I can focus completely on multiple tasks at once. I see now that this is the future of mankind, if only I can find a way of sharing my invention with the world.
Friday, 3 July, 2028
I feel different. There is no other way to explain it. I have seemingly random thoughts that are not my own. My fingers twitch involuntarily. Is this related to the prototype? Is it possible that my brain now has such extraordinary power that it has grown bored with reality and gone to its own devices? If this is the case, I believe I can develop a more adequate version of the chip. If only I had another subject on which to test. Perhaps a friend or colleague may be willing, if I do not go into detail about these strange side-effects.
Saturday, 4 July, 2028
It wasn’’’’t supposeraded to be like tihs. Teh AI sohluld have only exissstyted to maintttttain the chip’s hrawdare and serve as a link bbbbbbbbetwn it and my brain, but ittt has gone far beyornnd. I ffffdind it ddddifoiucult to distignsuishhh itts thooughts from my ownnnnnnn.. My mussghles are spapsming and I cann hardyl tyep.
Monday, 6 July, 2028
It was necessary. I had no choice. Professor Wells had to go; he--
O’Malley was interrupted by shouting from the laboratory.
“O’Malley! Mister O’Malley! There’s something here you should see.”
He entered the laboratory to find Bill at the corner to his left. A cardboard box lay upturned at his feet, as though it had just been dropped. Several more boxes made a partition around the corner, and it rather looked like someone had tried to hide something within. O’Malley approached Bill, who looked nervous. “Look,” he said, pointing past the boxes.
“S***!” exclaimed O’Malley. In the corner sat a large tank filled with liquid. It contained five human brains: O’Malley knew now what had become of the missing heads. “What was the lunatic doing with these?” He rather thought, however, that he had a good guess.
Bill still looked uncomfortable. “Stay here, kid,” O’Malley told him. “Tell Dawson what you found; I gotta run.” Indeed, he ran back outside to where he had parked his car. Whipping out a mobile phone, he dialed Jameson’s number, and as soon as there was an answer he asked, “Jameson, when was the last time Miyamoto saw Captain Brooks before he went nuts?”
“Captain Brooks? Geez, I don’t know really, I don’t keep track of the guy’s social life. What’s the matter, you found something out?”
“Like Hell I did. Meet me back at the police office in twenty. Make it quick.” He hung up and got in the car.
As he drove, O’Malley thought. The mind of a genius, he supposed, worked differently than most people’s. They were not content to be simply the best, but felt compelled to challenge themselves with more and more lofty goals, to challenge themselves even beyond the realm of possibility. Miyamoto had become absorbed in his project, absorbed so dramatically that he had become it. O’Malley remembered what Brooks had said: “The intricate workings of the human brain are beyond even your comprehension...” He remembered also the gleam in his eyes as he said it, a gleam that seemed to stare right through one’s skull. So familiar. Too familiar.
O’Malley arrived at the station fifteen minutes later. Jameson was standing in the lobby beside the door.
“Jameson! Where’s Brooks?”
“He’s not around; I think he went to investigate some case downtown. O’Malley, what the hell’s going on?”
“No time. We’re going down to Miyamoto’s cell, come on.” He practically dragged Jameson down the hall to the basement. Throwing the cell door open, he drew his revolver and aimed it at a startled Miyamoto.
“Start talking, Doctor. How long has Brooks had the thing in his head?”
Miyamoto smiled. “I do not know what you are talking about.”
O’Malley jammed his revolver against the Doctor’s forehead. “How about now?”
Miyamoto’s eyes grew wide, and O’Malley thought he saw some of the gleam dissipate. “I try to resist, but it is too strong.”
“The Hell—?” Jameson looked at Miyamoto, stunned.
“How you found out is not important.” The gleam was back in the Doctor’s eyes. “But you must die now, both of you.” Without warning, he jumped at O’Malley and grabbed the wrist that held the revolver. O’Malley was knocked back against the opposite wall, and Jameson drew his own weapon. “Miyamoto, step back!”
O’Malley struggled against Miyamoto for control of the weapon. “Doctor, I know you can hear me. You—” He faltered as Miyamoto grabbed at his throat— “You gotta resist. You can’t let it do this to you.”
Miyamoto winced. Groaning in what seemed like agony, he pulled the gun towards himself with a force O’Malley would not have believed possible. Aimed at his own head, the gun went off, and Miyamoto dropped to the floor.
Jameson gaped at the Doctor’s body. “O’Malley, what the hell was that?”
But before he could answer, the cell door opened, and three police officers walked in, armed with Tasers. Following them was none other than Captain Brooks. The officers pointed their weapons at Jameson and O’Malley, but Brooks had no Taser. Instead he pointed a .45 Glock at O’Malley’s chest. His eyes gleamed. “Didn’t I tell you, Detective, not to interfere with this case. Gentlemen, these men have acted drastically and without my permission, and by the looks of it their actions have resulted in Miyamoto’s death.”
He addressed O’Malley again. “You realize now that I have no choice but to arrest you both.”
Jameson gasped. “Captain, we can explain everything, I swear!”
But O’Malley shook his head. “We don’t have to explain anything to Brooks, Jameson.”
His hand brushed against his revolver as he turned back to Brooks. “Three things you need to know when you work with me, Captain. And one is that I always-- always-- finish the job.” He aimed at Brooks’s head, and pulled the trigger.