UNITED STATES—The clandestine reports that came from the land “up there” contrasted wildly and that, too, accounted for Detective Zorba’s fascination for playing with a cold case “up there.” When Robbins, the sergeant, strolled by the luminous desk in the dark office, which naturally served to conceal things, Zorba’s instinct was to crouch over the screen where the photos and documents pertinent to the Wilcox case flowed.

Some depicted “up there” as toxic hell, where people lived in squalor, many suffering hideous mutations after all the hounds of the devil were released during the Vegan Wars, which started simply enough as an organic crop failure one season. From this started the end of humanity as it had been known. It was stuff his grandmother told him about, and it didn’t quite add up. It was history more than mystery, and history wasn’t something he could chew on. A mystery, yes.

Sergeant Robbins strolled by and said, “I know you’re looking at one of your cases from up there…”

It was not said in a gotcha way, but still his gave his heart a turn and that same time as arousing an anger at the interruption.

The obsessive pleasure he derived from the Wilcox case, and others like it, was just beginning to flow. His eye flicked on the checkmark for audio component to the case.

While waiting for audio to be accessed, Detective Zorba gazed at at a photographed black plastic box that people used to use to record phone messages on. As soon as Sergeant Robbins, bustled down to another cubicle in the air-cooled station, Zorba delved back into the evidence. The encounter with Robbins, his boss had run him in record time through all the paces, evasion, discomfort, the craving to get back to digging deeper, and then finally a joyous release at being able to pursue that end again. He had come close to yelling at her.

Thank heaven she had moved on, at appeared to be chatting to a squad commander in the next cubicle, leaving Detective Zorba free to delve into some long antiquated audio from the night of the killing. A neighbor lived upstairs from where the deaf man was bludgeoned had been leaving a phone message and hung up (or thought they had) and the person they’d been talking to got a recording of dialogue from the presumed killer:

“Yoo-hoo, hey!” Crisp footsteps on the sidewalk. ”Yoo-hoo!” louder.

Still No response. The same strident voice continued:

”YOO-HOO! Listen to me, you stuck-up cretin! Stop. Turn around when I speak to you. You don’t keep walking when I speak!”

The files indicated some organic material collected under the fingernails of the deaf man clawing, grasping out as the killer retreated. In the corner of the file screen he saw some news about the Leader from “up there”.  There were rumors about whether she was alive, even, or an avatar culled from old videos. One thing was certain, she had launched the vision that weaned their land from technologies.

All the technologies had migrated south to the underground Twin Cities and rendered the land up there lawless. Here Devon Zorba had the latest and newest, not to mention the accumulated data-base of two centuries. He ordered a new DNA sample on the previous flesh gouged by the victim’s fingernails, to confirm the earlier findings and –sad advancement– find out what maladies may have plagued the deaf man in a life he never had, the murdered deaf man who passed out cards on busses with basic sign language terms, Hello, Thank You, Please, You’re Welcome… 

What a miserable way to make a living, thought the detective. The poor guy had probably never tried feta cheese. With two clicks of the tongue, Detective Zorba brought up the phone, “Zorba speaking. Can you do an audio-dimensional test in the audio sample of the Wilcox file?… Thanks.”

He cut off the call and looked forward to the results of this new test which could, from a small audio sample, completely recreate visual image of crime. Detective Zorba couldn’t wait: technology had it’s perks.

Just then Sergeant Robbins said, “Keep up the good work.”

He cheekily responded, “It’s not work at all,” even as Robbin’s nicest smile made his heart jump like a bullfrog.

To be continued…