Crystal Deception

Crystal Deception by Doug J. Cooper

Book: Crystal Deception by Doug J. Cooper Read Free Book Online
Authors: Doug J. Cooper
lifted his hand and Sheldon yelped. “Yes. Yes! I’ll
answer!”
    Sheldon heard a whirring noise to his left. He shifted his
eyes and saw a disheveled man adjusting the spinning blade of a handheld
cutting tool. He was about to learn of the tag-team interrogation strategy
called “bad cop, brutal cop.”
    “My friend likes to play with toys, Dr. Sheldon.”
    The wild man with the cutter turned in their direction and held
up the tool. The cutting blade spun up with a high-pitched whine.
    Sheldon cried in terror. “Oh, God. What’s he going to do?”
    “Unfortunately,” said Sid. “We’ll feel most confident in
your answers only after you truly appreciate that the consequence of dishonesty
is horrible, disfiguring pain.”
    “Please, I’ll tell you everything. I’ll say anything,” he
whimpered. “Please tell me what you want me to say.”
    “Dr. Sheldon,” said Sid, shaking his head, “that was a big
mistake.” He squatted down and took off Sheldon’s shoes. “By telling me you’ll
say anything, you’re telling me you’re willing to lie.” He pulled off his
socks. “Is that really what you want to say to me right now?”
    “What are you doing?” screamed Sheldon in panic. He couldn’t
see past his knees, but he could feel the cool rush of air on his now-exposed
feet.
    “I’m going to ask you some questions. You will tell me the
complete and precise truth.” The wild man spun up his blade, and the menacing
whine filled the room. “Let’s start with some easy ones.” Sid was still the bad
cop. “And I’ll warn you once: I know the answers to these questions. So I’ll
know when you lie. First question. Did the Kardish provide you with plans for
manufacturing the crystals?”
    “What’re you asking?” Sheldon was indignant. “I started
studying artificial intelligence twenty-five years ago. I earned a doctorate
for that work. Nobody gave me that degree.”
    A throaty hiss burst from where the man with the cutter
stood. It filled the air. Sheldon looked over to see him examining the flame of
a small blowtorch. The flame was bright blue and came to a perfect point with
intense energy. The man viewed the flame from several angles and he flashed a
maniacal grin.
    “Sheldon, I’m tired already, and that was only the first
question. You’re going to be a burned and bloody mess before we get to question
five. You cannot imagine how all-consuming real pain can be. I thought you were
smart.”
    “Okay, look.” He gulped, coming to accept though not fully understand
his situation. “As I was starting my career, I got a message containing some curious
information. I didn’t know where it came from. It was the beginning of a
roadmap to take my work in a whole new direction. I followed it, okay? I
wondered where it came from at the time, but my attention was more captivated
by the revolutionary ideas. I followed the path laid out for me. It was
intriguing and exciting. How could that be a crime? It was more like a stroke
of luck.”
    “Was the Kardish vessel here in orbit at that time?” asked
Sid.
    “Yeah,” he said quietly. “They’d been here about a year at
that point.”
    “When did you know it was them giving you this information?”
    “I guessed it was them after maybe six months. That’s when I
got my first update to the roadmap. The plans had a style that was different
from anything I’d ever seen. But it probably took me a couple of years to finally
admit to myself that the Kardish were the ones behind it all.”
    “So you’ve been working for the Kardish for, what, eighteen
or nineteen years?”
    “You know,” Sheldon said, fresh bravado amping his voice.
“I’ve had enough of this. Do you know the legal penalty for kidnapping?”
    Sid picked up the gag, grabbed Sheldon’s head by a handful
of hair, and stuffed the ball back in his mouth. The crazy man walked over to
him with his hand tool. The shrill whine of the spinning blade filled the room.
He crouched down at

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