A Lack of Evidence

From the Log Files of Karl Nash

Karl Nash, Joe Fortson, Kara, and the Historian were already seated in community building’s office conference room, coffee cups in hand, the next morning when Reye arrived. The storms had stopped and most of the colonists were busy picking up the pieces, what ever they could find, and in many cases little enough of their scattered possessions. Only about twenty lost souls, still too shell shocked to move or do anything useful, were still inside the larger portion of the buildings meeting area.

“Sorry I’m late,” Reye said, “I got waylaid a half a dozen times while I was out getting a better look at the damages. I wish Connor and Mariana were here but this is about the rape and not a council meeting so no problems there. And about the flood, any idea how often that is gonna happen?” He shuddered while saying that last part..

The Historian spoke up first, “I wish we could talk to Bart about it because as I am sure you’re all aware he was the closest thing to an astronomer and meteorologist we have with us, but the shuttle is still out of touch. For that matter, so is the Mayflower.”

Fortson, putting down his cup spoke up, “And speaking of Bart and Janie I am beginning to get concerned. They should be in touch by now, nothing the storm caused could have affected them and the shuttle was hardened against the solar flare.”

“Another problem to deal with,” Reye said, “I’ll ask Sabbu to keep trying, but for now the reason we’re here is the Osborne rape investigation. Karl, what have you found?”

“Well we know that Osborne isn’t faking it and something did happen to her but aside from that not much more than when we talked last night. No additional direct physical evidence but Kara did a search through the robot data files based on timing and came up with some imagery of two figures, not one but two, entering just before Osborne went in. They came back outside about five minutes later and waited for her to leave.

“Now remember this is long range stuff from a couple of different bots, and with the storm and darkness, mostly infrared enhanced so it’s impossible to make out any kind of facial identification or do a clothing match. We can tell that Osborne left the area staggering and very unsteady. The two figures went back inside for a couple of minutes, Joe and I figure that they were doing a site cleanup to insure there would be no DNA traces, and then they left. But we have no imagery beyond them stepping back outside and have no idea in what direction they went afterwards. And that’s all we got. What we need to get us passed this stage is a motive.”

“Or maybe an informer,” Kara said, “If more than one person knows anything it’s no longer a secret.”

“Now there’s a thought,” Fortson said.

“Have you talked to Kathy yet?” Reye asked.

“We saw her about an hour ago but didn’t learn anything that we didn’t get from listening to the tape Mariana provided.” Nash looked to Kara and said, “Kara could you go over and talk to her? It’s possible she’ll tell it differently or remember something when talking to a woman.”

“Sure, I’ll see her as soon as we’re done.”

“Thanks. Right now though I am open for suggestions on a motive. Any thoughts?”

One by one the others shook their heads in negation, Karl grimaced and said, “To paraphrase the greatest detective ever, ‘If you eliminate the impossible what is left…’ well I am sure you get the point. Kara after you talk to Osborne, using every scrap of certain information, either corroborated by the robots or in some other technical manner, try and figure who couldn’t have been at the crime scene at the time of the attack. I wish we could eliminate all of the female colonists from consideration at this point, but since this was something made to look like the usual rape, and was something else in fact, we can’t do that for now. At least we can narrow down the list of possibles and then Joe or I will have to talk to each and ever one of them. And please, keep thinking about a motive.”

“Thank you all for helping out here,” Reye said, “I’ll pass on what I can to everyone else in the colony as rumor control, but I think it best we leave out the lack of DNA evidence for now but mention we are analyzing robot imagery taken while the crime was in progress, that might cause someone to worry or get nervous or let something drop or slip out that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Heck Kara, it might even turn up an informer, one can always hope. For now though I need to go talk to Jules Parker and make arraignments for a few more funerals.”

As they left the community building Fortson turned to Nash and said, “I’m glad I’m not in Lester’s shoes. I’ll check back with you in a bit but I gotta go talk to Sabbu because I am getting really worried about Bart.”

“Sure thing Joe, do that and I’ll see you later. I should go and talk to my wife and check on our personal situation but I think I‘m going to go and look up Buchanan first, I haven‘t seen him for a while and I think it’s time we had a talk.”

I tracked down Burt Buchanan by the lower bridge. It wasn’t much of a bridge anymore, half the planking was missing and most of what was left was twisted off the beams or splintered and askew hanging from only one bolt and even one of the iron beams had slipped from its foundation.. I don’t think he heard me come up from behind but even still he didn’t even start when I said, “Not much to look at is she.“

“Guess not Karl.” he said without turning, recognizing me by my voice I thought. “We can get it back in place pretty quick once we get new planking. What’s the status on the lumber mills?”

I told him I had just left Fortson and that Joe had said that the smaller one was buried at the foot of windmill hill but the other and the parts brought down from the Mayflower had been on high ground well away from the river and were in good shape.”

“So to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” he asked.

“I’m sure you’ve heard about Kathy Osborne.” His expression stayed totally noncommittal as I continued. “We don’t have a lot to go on, so what I am doing now is talking to everyone, and I do mean everyone, trying to find out where they were when it happened and if they had seen anything that could help in finding the guilty parties.”

“Guilty parties?” he replied with just a hint of inflection.

“Yeah,” I said. “Didn’t mean to let that slip out but we got some robot generated imagery taken while the rape was being commited and we’re working on it now trying to bring out more detail.”

“Well you can count me out of your suspects. I was at the First Inn the whole evening and lots of people will vouch.”

“Nothing personal in this Burt, like I said I have to talk to everyone. How about a list of everyone you are sure was at the Inn with you say from seven to seven thirty last night. If they were there but you aren’t absolutely certain they were there the whole time let me know that too.”

It took him only moments to rattle off a list of names and the list he gave contained only names I was already aware of and was pretty sure had spent the entire period of time at Hanna’s.

“Did anyone come in and act in a suspicious or unusual manner?”

“Karl,” he said, “Everyone either of us saw last night was acting in a an unusual if not suspicious manner.”

He had a point, and after asking him to let me know if he remembered anything else that could help I left; intending to talk to a few more people on my list. For the time being though I was going to stay away from Jack the Blade, let that one build up a little steam. I did turn round once after leaving and saw Buchanan still standing and staring out at the bridge and the waters below.

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
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Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.