2018-04-29 18:00 fiction cyclopaedia

Cyclopaedia Chapter Three: Sealed

Slv took out her notebook for the interview, flipping past several pages of references and a summary of the case. She often took notes while Elin asked questions, but not always, sometimes they reversed this setup. Once they had an instructor who warned not to rely too much on habits during an investigation. Do things that can help you see the usual, common, or frequently seen things as if they were fresh, he said, as if you were a stranger visiting a new world. This technique could only be taken so far of course, but Slv thought of it often.

Slv&Elin had been paired almost a year. The current case regarded a missing person. This wasn't the first time they'd gotten a missing persons case, but when someone vanished, there were usually easy explanations. However, these circumstances were already abnormal. The vanished man was a scientist named Ove. He entered his office at a complex of laboratories operated by the Ministry Of Statistics. The man was never accounted for, he wasn't seen leaving the building, he wasn't seen in his neighborhood or at home, his assistants did not see him the following day at work. His wife reported the disappearance. She waited a full day before reporting it, assuming he'd been caught up in his work. A report was also filed independently by the Director of the laboratory.

It was another two days until Slv&Elin had been allocated. Normally no Inspectors would be assigned for up to a week, but as soon as the particulars crossed enough desks, the name of the scientist, the laboratory he worked at, and so on, wheels went into motion quickly. Their first interviews would be at the laboratories where Ove worked. They'd taken a statement from Ove's wife, but since she was distraught they kept it succinct. The report from the Director of the laboratory indicated he'd arrived at work, but was never seen leaving.

The department still used carriages, the newer Engines were large resource debts, so only the Inspectors with the highest priorities had access to them. There was a disagreeable amount of clout and favoritism involved with having one's own Engine. As Slv&Elin rode up to the broad, low brick building, their carriage moved smoothly on a brand new road. They iterated over the few things they knew and the direction they would take the investigation, what to ask, how to manage the visit.

They'd never been to this building before. While they were familiar with the Ministry Of Statistics in the city, this complex at the city's edge was newly built and secretive—they'd needed to initialize a series of permissions, that process taking up almost another day. They'd used this time to wire Inspectors in an adjacent town in which Ove had a relative to confirm Ove hadn't shown up there. Unusual aspects of this case had already manifested—the scientist may not have been a name known to them, but Slv&Elin were led to believe he was a person of importance in the Ministry. He had no obvious, or predictable reasons for disappearing, like many of their previous cases. Slv&Elin agreed that Ove was highly intelligent, and probably highly compartmentalized. His wife seemed to know nothing substantial about his work, Slv&Elin guessed that their interview with his colleagues would reveal a similar lack of knowledge about his personal life. This could indicate a number of interesting permutations. They believed their investigation would be difficult. While they were trained not to over apply experiential data, it was this combination of factors that triggered certain misleading assumptions or anticipations.

The entrance to the complex was functional. There was no effort placed in presentation, a quality they noted. It was, perhaps presciently, completely modern in its lack of comfort. Regardless, they were here to interview the guards, then the Director.

The guards' office, behind the reception desk, was a dreary, airless, cramped room with a scattered miscellany that hinted at long, boring work shifts—popular books, empty glasses, several maintenance sheets attached to the wall next to a lifeless calendar. There were a few chairs, worn in, creaky, and a large, imponderable desk—certainly too large for the room. At least two guards were always on duty. One patrolled, the other sat at the front reception area with a sign-in sheet. Everyone had to show identification and sign in, when leaving they were required to sign out. Slv&Elin interviewed the guards individually in the small office, repeating their questions to each.

"Surely there must be other ways out of the complex, other doors, a loading platform for supplies, and so on."

"Yes, of course," each guard stated in similar fashion, "but the doors to the outside open only outwards and when they're opened they trigger an alarm, a loud sound at the door itself, and an alarm here in the office and reception desk. We do a routine inspection of those doors several times during a shift. The loading platform is likewise monitored, deliveries are scheduled and supervised by us, all of these things get recorded—times entering, exiting, identities, credentials, all of that."

"Is there a record of scientist Ove leaving, or do you remember seeing him leave?" Elin asked.

"No, I didn't see him leave. There's no record, he did not sign out. You'll need to confirm that with the guards on the other shifts. but he didn't leave through the front entrance and if he had left through any other door, an alarm would've gone off, and there would be a record of an alarm going off. No alarm has been tripped," each guard said.

"And yet Ove is no longer here. How is that possible? Could the alarms be faulty? Or could one of the other guards have fallen asleep at the front desk?" Elin made sure to say "other guards" to prevent any sudden defensive and unhelpful reactions from assigning blame.

"I suppose it's possible, but we check those doors and alarms several times a day on our rounds. As far as a guard falling asleep, everyone who works here has been instructed to report that kind of thing immediately. The guard would be removed. Everyone also knows they have to tell the guard on duty they are coming or going and sign the sheet. Ove would have had to ignore all of these procedures if the guard was asleep."

The responses from each guard was effectively identical. Elin wasn't surprised that the burden was shifted from guard to Ove—they believed Ove would be responsible in this event.

"Can you think of any other ways out of the building beyond the things we've talked about?" Elin asked, and in each case the answer was definitively negative.

Slv&Elin spent some time going over the logs kept by the guards, finding out when Ove had arrived clearly, with his signature. They examined the logs for shift relief, the alarm and door checks, deliveries and patrols. They looked, casually, for signs of falsification or other discrepancies. The logs went back consistently, perhaps even relentlessly, to the opening of the building a year before.

Slv&Elin then spoke with Ove's two assistants, Pietr and Jon. Since the scientist's disappearance, the project had been suspended by the Director. The assistants came to the building at the Inspector's request. Slv&Elin repeated the same process they'd done with the guards, speaking with each, and asking each the same set of questions.

"When did you last see citizen Ove?" asked Elin.

"It was three days ago. It was a normal work day, and we both left at our usual time. Ove stayed. He often worked late. There was nothing about that to raise any concern."

"Did he seem distraught or did his behavior in any other way seem strange to you?"

Neither of the assistants thought anything was out of the ordinary. Slv&Elin checked the logs for records of the assistants signing in and out, finding that the assistants regularly worked late.

"We have a summary of the personnel of the project—there are other people associated with the work. Did anyone else visit the lab the last day Ove was there?"

"Correct, there are consultants and Compilers from the Cyclopaedia. But they're not here all the time. The only person who showed up at the lab that day was the Director and a Compiler named Hedvin."

"When you left that night, did you lock the doors while Ove was inside the lab?" Slv asked.

"Yes, that's the procedure. At the end of the work day, always lock the doors. If he wanted to unlock them after we left, he could, but at the end of the day we're told they're supposed to be locked no matter what."

"And the next morning, was the door the way you left it? Was there anything out of place, or did you notice anything unusual?"

No, both said consistently, the lab doors were locked and nothing was out of place. Everything was exactly as they'd left it the night before.

The next interview was with the Director. He took them from the guards' office to his own, a corner space with light and a view of an area outside that had been recently landscaped. The pictures and furniture of the office indicated he was a man with expensive tastes, an aesthete, perhaps a vain man. He was polite, even deferential to the inspectors. He was nervous, but Slv&Elin didn't necessarily view this as suspicious, or as any sign of guilt. It wasn't uncommon for those interviewed by Inspectors to display anxiety. While the guards attitudes could be described as matter-of-fact, the Director wasn't, undoubtedly because he had more to lose. His nervousness, then, hinted at the importance of Ove to his career.

"When did you last see scientist Ove?" Elin asked.

"Oh, well, I suppose it was four or five days ago. Let me check my calendar, one moment..." He flipped back and forth through the calendar in a manner that suggested he'd done this several times before the Inspectors arrived and did it now to demonstrate to them that he wrote it down. "It was four days ago," he said confidently, "it was for our monthly progress meeting."

"Progress meeting?"

"Yes, these meetings—once a month, sometimes more, I meet with each of the scientists leading projects here at the laboratories to catch up, you know, get a sense of where they are in the work and where they're headed. And if they need anything I always remind them to ask me for help, I'm here to help them accomplish their goals. Our goals," he said.

"And how did that meeting with Ove go? Was there anything particular about it that you thought was out of the ordinary?"

"I don't think there was, no, not that I recall. Ove was fairly close to having some exciting results, and he was happy about where the work was heading. He thought that by the next meeting he'd be able to present something significant." The Director said this with pride, Slv&Elin inferred that the Director's role wasn't only support, but also promotion. He would be a valuable ally in the thorny wilds of oversight committees.

"Were these the kind of milestones he repeated frequently? Did he consistently under-deliver or miss deadlines?" Elin asked.

The Director laughed awkwardly. Elin wondered if he hadn't expected Inspectors to ask, or care, about management. "No. No, no. Nothing like that. Not that I haven't encountered exactly what you mean, believe me, having done this job for a long time, I know just what you mean. No. Ove's estimates and assessments were always very accurate, very realistic—no matter what the other members of his team might propose, Ove was very good at balancing that for the work. I never felt like he was feeding me fabrications or wildly inaccurate estimates."

As the Director spoke he fiddled with a small crystal globe that was on his desk, turning it over and over. The habit was common enough, but Slv&Elin found that these kinds of actions reflected mental convolution. Not so long ago their predecessors would have focused on the shape of his cranium, the ridges and prominences of facial features, collecting information about his date of birth, his breeding and upbringing, how close he may have been to noxious humors, could malevolent spirits have effected his demeanor. Decisions made about guilt were based on superstitions, hearsay, prejudices. Back then there was still a belief in the invisible, the magical, the confluence of cosmic forces, but Inspectors in the modern era were trained to place value on observing and analyzing behavioral patterns. Slv&Elin watched him closely.

"How many people were on his team? Were there any that he had difficulty with, or that he found abrasive?" Elin asked.

The Director stopped fiddling, Elin had surmised a productive tact. "Abrasive? Hmm. Keep in mind some of the work that the teams do here can be stressful, even intense—because of the quality demanded of them, and yes, often the deadlines are demanding, sometimes people thrash about somewhat, or act out these pressures in ways that aren't necessarily professional." The Director cleared his throat. "One of the Compilers on Ove's team was very vocal, but I believe Ove was handling him properly."

"We'd like a list of the members of his team. And how to contact them." Slv said.

"Yes, of course, I'll see that is sent over to you."

"Could you describe, as simply as possible, the scientist's project?"

"Gladly." The Director leaned forward, hands clasped, eyes gleaming, clearly pleased to talk about concepts instead of personnel conflicts. "Ove was building an automatic Compilation machine."

"Automatic?" Elin said.

"Correct. For several years we've proposed that the labor going into producing any single entry of the Cyclopaedia is inefficient. Radically inefficient. The machine would be able to take data that has already been collected—that is, either raw data or current entries—and extrapolate new entries using the least amount of input," the Director smirked. "Imagine, no more hordes of Compilers roaming the world, putting their lives at risk. Fewer anyway. There would necessarily, of course, still need to be some Compilers, but they would have very clear gathering parameters set by the Master Compiler. They wouldn't really be Compilers any more, they'd be agents of the Master, collecting data. No more individual interpretation and analysis—the peculiarities, errors, or other problems that leaving the work to people would be solved."

"A Master Compiler?"

"That's right. An automatic, Master Compiler created using the latest technological advances in mechanics and tabulation. It would assign the collection routines as well as the final compilation of entries—because it understands, in so many words, the gaps in the tree, and the possible categorical branches. It can, almost instantly, make connections between existing data and new data. And it can also determine where best to exert effort. Instead of relying on the whims of an ancient order, it would make the creation and maintenance of the Cyclopaedia a normal operation instead of, forgive me for saying so, a nearly mystical one." The Director say back slightly, pleased with himself.

"Sounds incredible," Elin said. The Director's smile continued, unchanged. "Although, I wonder," she said, "how existing Compilers feel about this—since, correct me if I'm wrong—their profession requires the Oath. You mentioned a Compiler worked with Ove, you recall, the one you said was very vocal."

The Director noticeably winced. He reached again for the small globe on his desk, giving it half a glance and several swirls. "That's correct, the Compiler, Compiler Hedvin, had contrary opinions, or should we say, ongoing concerns. Although one of the reasons to involve Compilers at all in the project was this very case—to not only get an understanding of the systems involved but also their culture. You're absolutely correct to point out that their culture, Compiler culture, can be opaque to outsiders. Their Oath is a powerful social binder. I think we've all heard stories over the years about Compilers' eccentric behaviors. Resistance to the Master Compiler? Yes. But the project has approval from the very top of the Cyclopaedia—the absolute top, believe me—and the primary goal of the first stage is a working prototype. The second stage would be scaling and acclimating. As for these details, about stage two, I can't really tell you much, other than the Cyclopaedia's internal timeline—like everything the Cyclopaedia does—isn't in years, probably not even in decades, but longer, much longer. So, resistance? Certainly right now. In fifty or a hundred years? I think you could say as much about resistance to the Engine or Electric. There may have been resistance to these things, I am certain there was, but as time goes on those reactions get washed away by the steady march of progress."

"Interesting. Yes, you're probably right." Elin said encouragingly. Slv looked up from the notepad at Elin, they knew they'd gotten as much useful information on the subject of the abrasive Compiler as they were going to get from him, there was no need to encourage a sermon. They would need to schedule an interview with the Compiler.

"We'd like to see Ove's lab," Elin said. There was no legal refusal to an Inspector during an open case, still, it was best practice to ask for access and evidence politely—at least at first. This was how Slv&Elin proceeded.

"Yes, of course. If you'll follow me I'll take you over. I personally looked at the lab with one of the guards when I heard Ove was missing. Just to make sure there hadn't been an accident. That he wasn't still there, in some capacity. Then I made sure the doors were locked and kept everyone else out. Nobody has access to the lab other than myself at the moment," he said.

The Director stood, escorting them from the office then down a hallway where areas of wall were raw and unfinished—guts of the structure were exposed without shame. "Excuse the hallway, we are a lab, so the priorities went to the work spaces rather than the surface details I'm afraid. In the next few months the rest will be finished."

"What kind of accident could you imagine happening in Ove's lab?" Slv asked.

"We're very safety conscious. But accidents are possible. There is a considerable amount of machinery in Ove's lab. As you'll see. Although how this particular mechanism could or could've caused any harm is something I can't really imagine—I'm not an engineer, so my understanding may be somewhat stunted in a sort of bureaucratic manner. But, honestly, to assume the worst, Ove wasn't a young man. If he'd been there alone and suffered a health problem... these sorts of things could happen. And it's part of my job to consider them. Perhaps his assistants simply missed seeing him. Perhaps he'd fallen, or he had a health problem." The Director walked quickly, leading them.

"Has anything like that ever happened here at the complex?"

"No, no. We've got a perfect record so far. But, then, of course we've only been operational for about a year. Certainly this incident, depending on your findings, or when Ove turns up—regardless—will cause us to alter our procedures, I'm sure. Ah, here we are."

The Director stopped in front of the only set of doors in the corridor. The doors were large and wide, both locked at the top and bottom and clearly labeled.

"Are these doors kept locked at all times?" Elin asked.

"During working hours these doors are unlocked sometimes, it's left up to the team in the lab when they want them unlocked. But when nobody's in the lab the doors must be locked. The guards make sure of this. And the guards continue to patrol. You'll see, on the other side there's a sign to hang out front if the lab is in the middle of important work, they can lock it from the inside to make sure they aren't disturbed."

"When you checked the lab after the assistants told you that Ove didn't come in for work that day, and you saw he'd never signed out of the building, were the doors locked or was that sign placed out front?"

"The doors were locked. There was no sign. This is how the assistants left it. This is normal. I can't say what they may or may not have done, or moved, or whatever, in that almost full day when they were working without Ove. But I felt like it was important for me to personally double check what they'd told me—that he wasn't there and that he hadn't come in. It is highly unusual—unexplainable really—how he could've signed in but not signed out. This has caused me immediate and great concern. I tried not to waste time, that's when I filed the report, right after I checked the lab." The Director displayed an earnest frown.

The Director held out a keychain, which contained more than a dozen keys.

"Who has keys to this lab?" Slv asked.

"I do, naturally. And the guards. The manager of the project, Ove, yes. Any other members of the project can have keys if the manager wants them to, but those personnel must go through a security review and sign for them. You can check that record up front in the guards' office. If we were ever to dismiss someone, we would change the locks and go through the process again. We also have a policy of changing locks and reissuing keys once a year. However, since we've only been operating that long, that policy has never been enforced."

When the Director opened the door Slv&Elin's hair stood on end. It was a subtle tingle, an enveloping wave of goosebumps.

"You may notice some effects generated by the mechanism, don't worry, it's harmless and passes in a few moments once you enter the field of influence," he said.

The size of the lab was impressive. There were two glass offices to the right, the rest of the floor was open and wide, with various hardware carts containing machinery, and to the left there were several precision milling tools, benches and drawers and cabinets. There were a variety of parts being assembled, milled, or repaired. In the center of the space was a large circle of pipes, pistons and cylinders sticking up through the floor with a surrounding gap. The gap was covered by metal grates clearly designed to be lifted up, and around these was a metal fence painted bright yellow. It would be essentially impossible to fall into the gap unless one or more of these grates were removed and you somehow got over the waist-high fence. To one side, almost touching the fencing, were several large desks, or stations, that had what Slv&Elin assumed were control and monitoring apparatuses, as well as sizable bins next to each station full of stacks of paper, or paper cards.

"The Master Compiler is almost three stories tall. As soon as we realized Ove was missing the first thing we did was check the well see if there had been an accident. As you can see here, the fencing and grates reasonably prevent anyone from falling in," the Director said.

"How do you get down to the bottom?"

"There's an elevator over here. When we reach the bottom there's a short access tunnel since the shaft flares outwards. The narrowest point is what we're seeing now, here."

Slv&Elin watched the Director unlock a sliding door on the back wall, behind the stations for the Master Compiler, close to the glass offices.

"Is the lock on the elevator the same as the lock on the front door?" Elin asked.

"That's right."

He beckoned them into an elevator that was obviously designed for heavy loads of equipment. The elevator started with a loud whirl of engine noise above them. The lighting was antiseptic, no detail remained hidden in the square compartment.

"Is the Master Compiler always turned on?" Slv asked.

"The architecture is unique. Ove could explain this much better than I can. He might suggest it is never actually on or off. The source of power isn't Electric. There is no big switch. That tingling you may have felt as you entered? This is a sort of, field, I suppose you'd say, that the mechanism generates for itself."

The Director opened the door of the elevator and they saw a corridor that was a half circle of concrete which led to the floor of the well. The wide metal structure of the device was fixed to the floor with bolts bigger than a hand. The base of it was large enough to hold the carriage they arrived in. There was nothing in the space or floor around it, no clutter, and no indication that there'd been any accident. Slv&Elin stood and looked upwards at the light shining through the grates at the top, light that illuminated the machinery of the Master Compiler, a tightly packed conglomerate of pipes, gears, shafts, pistons.

"What's inside the mechanism?" Elin asked.

"As far as I know it's a solid piece of complex machinery, full of calculating pistons, magnetic operators, and other such things. There's no room for even a bug. We could ask Ove's assistants for a more thorough explanation of course."

There was nothing else to see at the bottom of the shaft. Slv took some basic observational notes. They walked around the titanic array of metal that faintly hummed.

"Did Ove use the offices above us?"

They went back up the elevator, the sudden quiet was heavy in the static moment of ascension. Slv&Elin were thinking the same things, there was no need for them to relay anything through body language or conspicuous raised eyebrows or facial expressions. They were thinking they would need to file a special report with the Chief Inspector about this case. They believed the worst, that Ove had not vanished due to stress, or a mistress, or the usual things, but that it was possible, even likely, that he'd been taken. It was early thinking, but they could not discount the uncomfortable conjoining of conditions—a highly important project, a man who engineered it, a tightly operated security procedure apparently flummoxed.

Back on the main floor of the lab the Director opened both of the offices. They noted he unlocked each with a different key. He turned on the lights.

"And the keys to these offices? Who has these?" Slv&Elin asked.

The Director coughed. "Myself. Ove. The first office the assistants have keys to as well. This one, just Ove and myself. This is Ove's office. They're built in glass like this because the projects at the complex require constant interaction and visibility. This office has the file cabinets with schematics and formulae, which is really why it has a different lock."

The office was bare and tidy, except for the desk which had some paper clutter. The back wall was full of reference material and scholarly works. There was a calendar on the desk. Slv looked through the calendar, she saw the day of the meeting with the Director marked, matching what the Director had told them. She saw other work related events, and several large blocks of time marked with the word "COMPILE".

"What would these large periods of time labeled 'COMPILE' indicate?" She asked the Director.

"Those would be scheduled times to run the Master Compiler. Being interrupted or having to attend meetings would be out of the question during those experiments," he replied.

Slv made notes of dates and names. Meanwhile Elin looked through the other papers on Ove's desk. She noticed the Director had tensed up and shifted his weight around awkwardly.

"Is there any problem with me looking through these papers?" Elin asked.

"We don't need to remind you that Inspectors are allowed unfettered access during an open case," Slv added.

"Ah. Of course. No. It's not that," the Director said, "simply that the work was... the work is sensitive. It involves the future of the greatest institution we have, and no doubt there are formulae there which are advanced, and secret." The Director crossed his arms, he was projecting signs of impending confrontation. "I know that Inspectors are sworn not to reveal the details of an ongoing investigation—so I trust you to look at those papers—I would only ask... and I know this might appear paranoid... If you would avoid writing down any of the technical specifics, schematics, things like that. If, for instance, your notes were stolen or lost at a later date, if they somehow fell into the wrong hands, this would be... distressing. These are the same things we asked of any of the project leaders or team members for basic security purposes. In fact, these papers should've been filed already, they should not be sitting out on the desk," he said, clearly restraining himself from grabbing the sheets.

"Would that be a normal part of Ove's routine?" Elin asked.

"To file papers at the end of the day?" Slv said.

"Yes, it should be, yes. I don't know if he did this consistently, you'd have to ask Pietr and Jon, his assistants, but he should've been doing it," the Director said.

"Can you do me a favor and look over these papers and tell us if they are new or old?" Slv&Elin asked.

"Yes." The Director leaned over and began scanning the papers, looking them over, flipping between one and another, then back. The Director's forehead was damp with a slight sheen of sweat. "I believe they are mostly new. Again, I am by profession a bureaucrat, not an engineer, but I can grasp a few of the concepts here that he's told me about. I think they are new. If you really want to know, Pietr and Jon would know."

"Would Ove have any papers like these at his home?"

"He shouldn't. Really should not. It was made clear that it was extremely important he should not have papers at home," The Director stated.

"You have our word that we won't record anything technical in our notes other than a general description of the work." Elin said.

"Since we're able to almost certainly rule out an accident here, I don't think it would be necessary anyway." Slv added, knowing this was untrue. They would seal the lab, they would be able to find out more without the Director's oversight.

They saw the Director decompress a little, but then his brow furrowed slightly.

"Any ideas what might have happened to Ove?" he asked. "As you say, if there wasn't an accident here, then what could've happened to him?"

"Over the next few days we'll know more. You should make yourself available for questions we might have. That would be helpful. Also, we need all contact information for anyone associated with the project, team members, consultants, anyone else," Elin said.

"We make it a practice not to be intrusive unless necessary. However there are a number of things we need to follow up on, surely you understand. We will need to seal the lab, everything should be turned off and all work stopped." Slv said.

Blood drained from the Director's face, his voice was distant, "Yes, yes. You can contact me at any time. I'll walk you out when you're ready."

As they were turning to leave the office Slv saw a lab coat folded neatly on top of a filing cabinet next to a pair of glasses.

"Are these scientist Ove's glasses?" Slv asked. She did not touch them.

"Why yes, I think they are. I recall that shell pattern of the frames. They are his," the Director said.

Slv looked at Elin, Elin looked at Slv.

At the entrance to the laboratory Slv took out a fat piece of soft, white chalk and adeptly drew a circle containing a hare onto the door, the tall skinny ears of the quick drawing nearly touching the inside of the circle, the circle itself spanning both laboratory doors. They had chosen the hare as their symbol, all Inspectors chose something when they were activated. This mark was the seal of an Inspector, it could not be violated.

"This place is hereby sealed," Slv said.

"It's a necessary procedure. Nothing here can be moved or touched," Elin said.

The Director tensed again, staring at the image of the hare. "I understand the importance of following procedures more than anyone, but I wonder, if Ove isn't here and there are no signs of an accident, why can't we continue the work in the lab—admittedly not at full capacity without Ove's help, but this is a very important project, there are things that need to be done..."

"We understand the work is important. But until certain potentials are eliminated, aspects cleared up, we need to make sure everything stays as it is," Elin said.

"This should only be a few days. A week at most. No matter what the outcome of Ove's disappearance, you should be able to continue soon," Slv used a tone that was unequivocal but in no way confrontational.

The Director quietly huffed. He had no possible argument—it was a well known, legal right of Inspectors to take possession or otherwise control anything related to an open case. The Director said very little as he walked them to the front desk. They reminded him they would be in touch, Elin gently underscoring that he should be available and reachable. "I'll be here," he said.

"If anything occurs to you, in the meantime, about Ove's behavior, or if you hear from him, or anything related to Ove develops, contact us immediately."

"The sooner you do, the sooner the investigation will end."

Slv&Elin signed out of the building. On the way to their carriage they were in agreement about the next steps.

"Ask the wife how many pairs of glasses he owns."

"Interview Compiler Hedvin."

"But first we need to tell the Chief Inspector–"

"–that there a lot of possibilities in this case."