As part of this blog's feature-list, I'll be looking for stuff to use on the forum, to put on Digg and send out to a wider audience of people so that the actual blog staff have to do less work (I kid, I kid). This is the first of such, a hilarious detective story by currently-residing-in-Japan forum member Sum0. Be sure to digg it.
Ambrose Hopkins paused as he arrived at the front door of his trendy city house, in the trendy part of town. On the doorstep in front of him his cat, a Maine Coon called Apollo, was sitting, lazily licking herself. "I have no catflap," thought the tall, well-built amateur detective, "and my cat was inside when I left home. Something is afoot." Ambrose silently selected his house key from the inside pocket of his raincoat and slowly, silently, placed it in the lock and turned. The door opened on silent hinges with a silent push. Creeping inside, Ambrose closed the door behind him silently. He then hoisted himself on to the bannister of his elegant staircase and crawled up, avoiding the creaky wooden steps and using the posts as handholds. Reaching the silent sanctuary of the upstairs landing carpet, he dismounted the bannister, drew a highly-illegal fifty-thousand watt tazer from his left trouser pocket, and with a swift kick opened the door to his bedroom.
"Argh!" said the man inside, a short gentleman in a bowler hat wearing round spectacles and Lycra running shorts. The man's hands were poised over the keyboard of Ambrose's iMac, in an unmistakable home-key arrangement. Ambrose rose his tazer to point directly at the man's head, then reconsided and positioned himself for a thigh shot. "Who are you, and what are you doing here?" he demanded.
"Argh!" said the man.
"I won't ask you again!" said Ambrose, activating the electric prongs so that they gave a satisfying crack and a blue glow in the half-darkness of his bedroom.
"I'm... I'm a time traveller!"
"I travelled back from the future!" The man's eyes gleamed in the dull sodium glow of the street-lamps.
"What nonsense! Time travel is theorectically improbable, and that's good enough for me!"
"But... but... I have travelled back in time ... in order to retrieve the private diary of the famous Ambrose Hopkins!"
"You... you have?"
Ambrose rose his hand to his chin.
"Well, that would explain the Lycra. I'm ... famous in the future?"
"Yes! You're a legendary detective!" said the short man.
"Amateur detective," said Ambrose.
"Yes! Everyone knows you. I was hired by a company to retrieve your private diary from your computer... because... everyone wants to know what was going on in that head of yours!"
"Why, that's fantastic!" said Ambrose, beaming.
"I was just about to search for it, see..." The man turned to the computer and tapped effortlessly on the keyboard. He certainly could type quickly, thought Ambrose. "Look, here it is! Now, if I may just download it to my future memory device..."
"There's time for that later. Come, have tea with me!"
"But I really shou-"
"You've come all this way to get my diary. Surely you'd relish the chance to relax and have a cup of tea with the famous Ambrose Hopkins?"
"Well, er... I suppose so!"
"Excellent, friend! Let us retire to the sitting room."
Ambrose poured some more tea. "So, Mr Sterling. Your description of the future is fantastically vivid. What do you think the most important invention in the future is? I mean, will be?"
"Well, it'll be -- I mean, it was... er... the invention of mind-machine interfaces in... 2050!"
"Yes, it... it lead to a real revolution in how we use computers. No longer do we use our hands to push buttons, or move cursors: we just think the thought, the computer picks up on it and executes it instantly. It's really something. Of course, it all happened years before I was born. I've never known any other way."
"I see. Excuse me, I think I hear the door. Please, my friend, wait here. Have a slice of cake!"
The small man sat rigid, eyes roaming the sitting room. It was very, very Victorian: elaborate wallpaper, a large cabinet, rows of leather-bound books, large luxurious armchairs, and a large, HD-ready flatscreen television. Ambrose had left the room. The small man slowly got up and made for the door, which had been left ajar. He leaned out into the corridor -- Ambrose had headed to the front door, and was nowhere to be seen. The small man tiptoed down the corridor into the modest-sized kitchen, where his point of entry -- the back door -- was still unlocked. Quietly, the man reached for the door-handle and turned it, with the greatest of care not to make a noise --
A jolt went through the man's body.
"Mr Sterling, I'd like to introduce you to my good friend, Detective Thompson." The small man looked at the long arm holding the pair of handcuffs snapped tightly around his wrists. A gruff-looking, moustached man narrowed his eyes at him.
"I'd like to inform you, Mr Sterling," said Detective Thompson, "that you are under arrest for breaking and entering a private property, and for illegally accessing Mr Hopkins' computer system. You have the right to remain silent."
"What? What is this? I'm... I'm a time traveller! I thought... you... you said you believed me, Ambrose! It's true! The... the lycra!"
"I'm sorry for the masquerade, Mr Sterling, but I knew you were lying all along. For the one thing, the very notion of time travel is ridiculous."
"But we discovered a way! Using wormholes and--"
"That's irrelevant, Mr Sterling. You mentioned that in the future, computers are controlled by mind-power alone."
"It's true! It's incredible!"
"And yet you have an almost phenomenal ability to touch-type. I noticed it when you were using my computer."
"How, exactly, would a traveller from a civilization where keyboards are obsolete know how to touch-type?"
"It was--" The man started to sweat.
"I propose, Mr Sterling, that you are actually the popular novelist, Mr Howard Wells, whose stories of crime and mystery are a hit in the weekly publication Tales of Crime and Criminality, and who additionally penned a fantastical tale of time travel in your recent novel, Waterloo 3001! This would, naturally, account for your ability to type ever so well and also your uncanny ability to come up with such an unlikely explanation for your activities. Your intention to steal my diaries was a simple ruse to gain inspiration -- or should I say, plagarise material for your ever-popular series of stories!"
The man frowned. "Well, Mr Hopkins. It would seem that real life has put me into a situation that, if I were to write it, my readers would criticise as being utterly unbelievable! I tip my hat to your skills of deduction, as one story-teller to another."
"Take him away, Detective."
"Right you are, Ambrose." Detective Thompson led the restrained Mr Wells down the corridor and out of the front door, to the waiting police car.
Ambrose Hopkins walked back to his sitting room, and drank tea with his cat.
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