Intruders Chapter 11 scene 2
Jones crossed his arms and waited.
Darrow took a deep breath.
‘My engineer examined a copy of the video record of the night Mr Kozlik saw his ghost. He tried changing the lighting, and under infrared light a figure appears. I don’t have the details yet, but Kozlik was right. I told you earlier there have been thefts elsewhere, but this is the first time we’ve found proof of a figure. The aliens can’t be seen in normal light, so no one knows they’re there. Now, what else can you tell me about this latest incident?’
‘I haven’t had time to speak to everyone yet,’ Jones frowned, ‘but there was something. I don’t know if it’s relevant. Pavel wasn’t dead when he was found. Apparently he said ‘butterfly’ before he died. Have you heard of that before, Captain?’
‘Not that I recall. I’ll check the records.’
‘Now, what am I going to tell the men? They’re not likely to believe in invisible aliens.’
‘You can’t tell them anything. They don't know I'm investigating, and I need to pull my evidence together.'
Jones snorted. 'You've spoken to Parry, Koslik, and Koslik's wife. Your investigation isn't going to stay secret for long.'
'I can't help that.' Darrow thought for a moment. 'Admit it if you have to, but don't release any details. I'll see you get a copy of my report. You could always blame the thefts on the smugglers.’
Jones paused to consider the idea. ‘That’ll frighten them! We can keep asking them where they put the missing quartz, and then accuse them of Pavel’s death.’
‘At least it will buy time for me to put this new evidence with my other findings and take it to my superiors.’
‘Wait!’ said Jones. ‘Who are the smugglers?’
Darrow smiled. ‘Have you heard of Ochrans?’
‘The lanky green-skinned guys? What have they got to do with it?’
‘Ochrans are tall, but they’re not all taller than humans. Their atmosphere has less oxygen than earth, and Ochran green skin goes pink in an oxygen-rich atmosphere. You’ve got at least one Ochran posing as human here.’
‘That’s impossible! We all know each other.’
‘Well, maybe there are a few people vouching for each other. All you have to do is get everyone together and reduce the oxygen until your smugglers appear.’
Despite himself, Jones laughed. ‘This I’ve got to see. At least it will give everyone something to focus on.’
[Next week: Darrow gets reports from Robinson and Blackwell.]
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