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Episode 1 - The Box
When a interrogation goes wrong, very wrong.
This is the first episode of my serial story about Prof. Benjamin Hawking and Edwana.
It was an hour past midnight when Professor Hawking broke into my room. And when I say Professor Hawking, I don’t refer to your favourite wheel-chair bound physicist, I refer to the criminologist Prof. Benjamin Hawking. I was sleeping and it was dark, I didn’t.
It recognize that it was my professor.
“We are solving a case , Edwana!” He shouted.
‘Did I forget to lock my door again?’ I asked myself. ‘It must be Vincent Van Goghs, Alexander the Greats and Buzz Aldrins of our college ’
“Wake up for Science’s sake! Jus’ get up.” He yelled. ‘Huh. Am I in some drunk science episode?’ My brain wondered.
“Get out of here you creep!” I cried. Then I realised it was my professor. He had worn a black tight track and a simple white shirt. A shirt not a t-shirt, that as well, a tight one, at this night! He just looked too weird with all his curly uncombed hair being all messy, especially even more strange since he was my professor and was in my bedroom this late at night.
“The case needs your help!” He announced.
“You need my help way more than the case does.” I closed the door and opened the lights.
“Professor, What did you drink?” I asked him. “Nothing just swallowed my pride along with my dissolved ego.” He explained. “And an old bottle of Vodka.”
“And what would be the purpose behind your actions?”
“There was a case. I was not getting it. Alas even Sherlocks and Poirot's retire. So I gave it to you students as an assignment and...”
“AND?” I asked, trying my best to act stern.
“And you were better than me. I always knew someone would come along who would be smarter than me but...”
“BUT?” I again tried to act stern.
“But I expected it to be a cyborg from the future who travelled back in time to seek revenge for his grandfather” He said, falling on my bed. Then he started to snore. I was not sleeping next to my drunk and sad teacher.
I locked him inside and walked into the hallways, dark and dull walled. I knocked on room 666, Don’t worry, it's not Lucifer’s room. Although both of them do have a silver tongue…..
Natasa Wiontroskil, my best friend and sleep savior, for now, was in night shorts and a sleeveless loose top. Right now, it felt as if it was a great decision to make her my best friend.
“Can I bunk here?” I asked. She let me in.
“Why are you bunking here, Btw?” Natasa asked once I settled in my half of the bed.
“Lets just say someone else is there”
“Ooh my girl got naughty! Who is it?”
“It's nothing like that. It’s just a drunk sad professor Hawkings”
“His ego got destroyed. Don’t worry, the destruction of ego leads to the creation of character.”
“Literature.” I said before dozing off.
“I need to borrow Edwana Sampson.” Professor Hawking shouted, interrupting my law class.
“Prof. Hawking, We are in the middle of studying the preamble here. Can you wait for a while?” The proxy law teacher asked.
“We have an unwritten constitution. Nothing you can teach her about. I need her right now.” He replied.
The teacher was almost in tears. She signaled at me to leave the class.
“That was mean!” I said.
“Mean is when people kill each other. Me just telling a teacher how disposable and unnecessary their subject is, that doesn’t bother me.” He replied. “Also locking people in rooms is very mean. Needless to say, it's a crime.”
“How did you get out?”
“I have above fifteen Phd’s, You don’t think that I could pick a lock?”
“No, but what I can do is calculate the perfect trajectory and force for a pencil to break glass ” He said.
” You just climbed out of the window, didn’t you?”
“Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Now back to the topic. I need help with a case.”
“What if I say I am not interested?”
“It is neither my pleasure nor my honour to tell you that you are forced to help me as if you decide not to, I’ll be forced to make hair grow on your body until you have as many as a chimpanzee..”
“You’ll be forced to... do absolutely nothing?” I was confused.
“Not exactly. I’ll have to inflate a molecule in your body until it’s the largest naturally occurring one.”
“That still means you’ll do absolutely nothing.”
“Are you helping me or not?” Professor Hawking shouted aggressively.
“Ok.” I flinched.
While we walked to his office, we both were silent. His office door was full of scratch marks from the pen. As expected, his office was very chaotic. All of his books were just scattered on his work desk as if they were thrown out of temper. The walls were dull and dusty. And aha, the floor was not made for walking, but for his belongings to rest, as if there was no cupboard.
I commented almost in a whisper, just for him to hear, “Professor, why don’t you show your office to all your fellow students, they’ll love to get motivated by your pretty workplace, how charming it is! I can hardly stand, ugh!”
“So let me recap everything about this case.” Professor Hawking said. “Jenifer Wilson, 23 female was found dead in her office cubicle, Cause of Death: Poisoning by Ersine. Her body was face towards the floor and had a spool of thread around her neck. The spool had a diamond ring inside it. The floor was painted red, surprisingly it was not blood but oil based paint. Not a very merry Christmas”
“We can profile our killer. An artist who should have access to the cubicles.” I said. “There is a probability that the strength is above average, most probably either some janitor or a high member of the corporate hierarchy.”
“And here I thought you were smarter than me. The murderer should have acess to medical shop and knowledge of poisens.”
“Or have glaucoma. Ersine based eye drops are commonly used to treat glaucoma.”
“He painted a blood spill. Do you think he could have done this with a vision like the background of a portrait?,” Professor Hawking laughed. “We have a pretty workable profile. I’ll just pull out a list of employees and then we’ll cut them down to suspects. And then we’ll interrogate them.”
“Um, Professor, I have my classes.”
“Stop living in the past; you can’t change it”
“Thanos is better than Shakespeare. At least he let half the population live.”
“Can you stop being mean?”
“It's psychological.” He said in a tone dismissing further argument.
We then went to somewhere which looked like an apartment, having a hall, a kitchen and rooms. It was very tidy and clean unlike professor’s office.
“Why have we broken into an apartment?” I asked.
“To get a confession.” Professor Hawking replied. “Julias Bradford, aka the murderer. He is one of the directors of the company with a love of painting. He practised as an ophthalmologist for five years. Night before the body was found he came to the office holding red paint.”
“What do we have on him?”
“Clear motive, fits the profile and a nonexistent alibi, but the police won't bring in the charges because they think it's all circumstantial. If we want to bring this guy down, we have to get him to confess right here, right now. DO YOU GET IT, EDWANA?” He yelled.
“How long do we have?”
“Till he realises we have no right to interrogate him”
“So it's a ticking clock. What strategy are we using?” I asked.
“Strategy is for pussies. Real men improv. However, If you want we can use ``Good guy, bad guy.” He then added, “Obviously you will be bad, because real life parallels.”
We both go and get seated on the dining table. Soon enough the doors clonked open and that cauncusian-skinned bald man entered.
“Who are you both?”
“We are here to interrogate you.” Prof. Hawking replied.
“Get seated, wherever you feel comfortable, it's your house after all.” Professor Hawking ignored the suspect's question.
He might have assumed that we were police, so he quietly sat down in his guest room. The guest room was plain, with coloured walls, coffee-round table and 4 chairs. No other furniture, it felt strange to be in such a plain room.
A few minutes later, Professor Hawking walked in. I tottered alongside him. “See, I need you to tell us everything about the night your employee, Ms. Wilson was killed.”
“I want my lawyer.” He replied.
I replayed the advice of my drama teacher in my head. I shouted, “See I told you, Benjamin. This guy is a damn murderer. That's why he needs a lawyer.”
“I have no role in the tragedy that took place.” He calmly replied.
I believe you.” Professor was as cool as a cucumber, “Why don’t you tell us about the day this all happened. Last week, Tuesday.”
“I had to come to the office late at night as a forigein investor had come. He had an early morning flight so we had to lock a deal at that late hour. After a while, once he was happy with the deal, he signed it and left. I was in my office...”
“So no witnesses? You lucky...”
“It wasn't lucky because there was nothing to witness.” He was slightly instigated.
“What were you painting, with only red paint?” I accusingly asked.
“A rose. Pure in its form and with beauty oozing from its every petal. It was what I did all night before leaving.” He was smiling now.
“Lie!” I shouted, “About the meeting and the painting.”
“You can check my office, the painting is there.” He replied.
“Why don’t you go out and check, huh?” Professor said,
I left the room. I called Natasa, she could go to the office and check for the painting. I sat outside for a while, overhearing professor and Julius.
“See, she is angrier than a minotaur and meaner than Medusa. She is gonna come here and then she is gonna rip you to shreds, even if you’ve done the deed or not. It would be much better if you just told me the TRUTH.” He emphasised on the truth bit. He is a good actor, however, I was a little too offended to take notice then.
I entered the room shortly after.
“Hawking, Can you come out please?” I asked.
He came out. “What the hell were you doing in there?” I asked.
“I know, and I apologise, but I'm executing a strategy.” He said.
“Oh, really, and what strategy might that be? Make Edwana feel like a bad person, or make her feel self-conscious about how she carries herself?”
“No, I want Julies to fear you and lay faith in me. You’ll scare him down while making me seem like the best person in the world. Once Julias dismisses me as a threat, You’ll leave me alone with him, and he'll let his guard down.”
“So you were serious about the Good guy, Bad Guy strategy?”
“All I am serious about is bringing this guy down.”
“Same here. What do you want me to do?”
“Just act like the ‘TV cops’. Shouting, Scaring, Threatening. You can even shoot him with finger guns”
“You are roasting some of my favourite shows but I got it.” I jumped back into charecter, “Lets destroy this hell damned murderer.”
“What sort of relationship did you have with Jenifer?” professor asked.
“Nothing. We both liked each other. We both went out a few times, nothing serious.”
“Obviously there was nothing serious, Thats why this pillock murdered a young ambitious woman.” I shouted. I then pulled out my phone and swiped to a photo Natasa had sent. “Look here! This is your office. Where is the rose painting?”
He zoomed to a canvas which had a very funny and abstract rose painted on it.
“Well, Thank the few good deeds you may have done! Or Else we might have got you, you arschgeige.”
“I am sorry for my partner's immature actions.” professor sighed. “However, Why were the offices thoroughly sanitised?”
“Cause he needed to hide a dead woman!!” I shouted.
“Since covid hit, we need to keep the place clean by law. It's for employee protection.”
“Where was your phone when you left the house?” professor asked.
“I forgot it at home. It was in the hurry of the meet.”
“YOU FORGOT YOUR PHONE!! That's a dead giveaway. A business guy without a phone, that's not possible!” I exclaimed, “DID YOU KILL JENIFER WILSON?”
“No!” He replied.
“Another lie!” I kicked the table. I acted as furiously as possible, well, guys, I’m not bad with drama, I deserve a round of applause.
“Drink a glass of water. Also bring one for me and another for this gentleman.” Profesor calmly said. I left the room, smiling.
The guy was now gonna confess. At Least that's what we thought.
“A nice ring you got there.”
“Oh that was my grandfathers ring”
“Mind telling me what it is doing on a spool?”
“Waiting for me to propose to someone”
“Oh my god are you proposing to me! Yes yes and yes. Only one condition; you have to confess.”
“Nice try, I ain't confessing.”
“You can confess now or we can be at loggerheads all day, either way we’ve got you.”
“We haven’t got him.” Professor shouted upon his exit. His tactics didn’t work.
“But you just said we did.” I was disappointed, “I checked all on this guy. No one could have done this but him. However...”
“He has a painting in his office, the ring is purchased from his grand-dad’s shop but the record books show a un-related entity who is not contactable.”
“He doesn’t know that. He's rattled right now. We say that the entity is traced back to him and he will confess.”
“You are gonna lie?”
“Why not? I am doing it for the greater good. You just have to stand back and say ‘Bloody brilliant!’”
Wow, I thought, for the greater good, as if I am here to do the greater bad. How philosophical, professor, and you say the other subjects are useless
“I am not saying that.” I replied, “With all due respect, professor, you're guessing what happened that night. But what if Julius didn’t do it, maybe it's all coincidental?”
“He killed Jenifer.” Professor had lost the cool he had had a few minutes earlier, “I know it. I can feel it in my gut.”
“But suppose the lie doesn’t work out. There goes the case. Its a bad idea, not at all tactical.”
“Ok, What if we taser him to assert dominance. Or throw and break a glass of water on the wall.”
“NO” I shouted.
“What do you want?”
“Let's get all up in his personal space. Make him feel uncomfortable.”
We both walked in. While I sat on the chair opposite Julius, professor sat in front of him, on the table. I was anxious with anxiety, wow, what a phrase!
“When did the investor leave?”
“When did you leave?”
“Did you go to the washroom?”
“Why does that matter?”
“No, but it does look like…
We both came out.”Not only he didn’t confess but Now I have to go to an Eye Doctor? and buy new glasses??” professor shouted.
“This doctor talk gives me an idea.”
I enter the room and sit casually.
“It's funny when people call opthamologists ‘doctor.’”
“We are doctors. We specialise in eyes.”
“Yeah, but you only specialise in eyes. They are like a singular ship in the vast ocean that is the body”
''But we learn about the entire body.”
“But if you had a heart attack, you wouldn't call an opthamologist.”
“You know what, it doesn’t matter. Only some of the best are able to take ophthalmology.”
“ That's Because most people want to become actual doctors.”
“That's ridiculous. It's not like we're college professors calling ourselves ‘doctors’”
“Not the same thing, my friend.” I was becoming more and more hostile.
“Well, sure it is. When someone has a heart attack on a plane, do they yell out, "Yo, does anybody here have a Maths PhD?”
At this point professor jumped in. “A PhD is a doctorate. It's literally describing a doctor.”
“Oh yeah? Maybe you should work in the hospitals instead of the real doctors.”
“The term doctor is derived from the word doctorate so, in fact, calling medical practitioners doctors is a misconception.”
“Let's refocus a bit.” I said.
“SHUT UP” they both yelled back.
“No! The problem is that all medical practitioners have co opted the word ‘doctor.’”
“Okay, professor...” I was literally dragging professor outside. Just before the door closed he yelled, “I know we live in a world where anything can mean anything, and nobody even cares about etymolo...”
“Apparently, That triggered me,”professor said, gulping in his blood pressure pills.
“Yeah it did.”
“Should we go for the lying plan now?”
“No, But you know what often works? Plans in Disney movies.”
I walked into the room and started singing. I continued singing while Julius didn’t speak a word.
I walked out of the room. “Why did I try that in the first place?”
“Tell us about your relationship with Jenifer.” professor asked.
“We’ve been over this a hundred times in the last eight hours. We both worked together, she was my employee, I had some feelings, she had some feelings.”
“So you never fought?” I asked.
“Sometimes. We didn’t always look eye to eye but we had a good partnership. I never, for instance, had to have her skip her studies so that she could help me do my job.”
“How does that come in here?” Professor asked.
“That's what's happening here, right? That's why the girl has been wearing a bag all day long.”
“It was a lecture or two, not the entire day.”
“Also they were forgotten History and unecessary Literature.”
“I like those subjects by the way.” I responded.
“I thought we were together?” He asked.
“We are.” I replied.
“All good.” He asked.
“We are.” I replied.
“You don’t think that him having you here is his way of showing his superiority over you?” Julias asked.
“We trust each other.” I sternly answered.
“Why did he make you the bad guy then?”
“It was mutual”
“And a strategy.” professor added to my reply.
“Right, but why wasn’t he the bad guy?”
“Because I have interest in drama and-”
“Am more believable as a bad person?” Julias asked.
“SHUT UP!” professor furiously casted the glass on the table to a wall and continued “We are the ones interrogating you.”
“Who all had access to the cubicles?” I asked.
“The cubicles aren’t locked.”
“So anyone could be there?”
“Ofcourse, I trust people with responsibility, unlike...”
“Edwana is here on her wish. She can leave anytime she feels like it.” professor shouted.
“So she is not in charge here?”
“Not a chance. I am the only one in charge.”
“So all these stupid gimicks were your ideas?”
“Except the disney singing plan” I butted in.
“You allowed that?”
“Um..” First time in my life, I had seen Professor Benjamin Hawking speechless and confused.
“This is so very sad.”
“Shut up.” I shouted.
“I just feel sorry for you...”
“I said shut up.”
“Your professor thinks that you are incompetent; that can't feel good.”
“All right, listen, you douche bag,” I lost all cool. “You think you're the smartest guy in this room than us? You think you've gotten away with it? You have not. We're gonna find something. And you are gonna speand the rest of life away, rotting in jail for the murder of Jenifer Wilson.”
We stormed out.
“Don’t you dare feel like we lost the upper hand because in my calculations it's still a fair flip.”
“I told you throwing the glass would make matters worse.” I shouted at my professor.
“Well, your brilliant ideas haven't gotten us anywhere.” He coldly said. “I'm telling you, the only thing that's gonna work is lying.”
“That would be a huge mistake. It will backfire and jeopardise the entire case.”
“Oh, so Julias is right. And you think I can’t even prove an open and shut case.”
“Stop it!” I shouted in the highest voice. “You're one of the best criminologists in the world.”
“So let me do this my way.”
“That's not gonna work. Can’t you just see what's going on here!” I had finally lost my temper. I took a deep breath. “I'm sorry, professor”
“I know you're frustrated, Edwana. But fact to fact, we don't have enough. We may not get a confession. Some cases just don’t get resolved.” He was trying to show that he felt similarly but he’s not. I didn’t know that then.
“It's just that this guy has gone under my skin.”
“I’ll go for a walk, maybe it will give me a new perspective.” I said.
As soon as I left for the door, professor ran inside the room; I ran back in.
“Guess what, you depp? I just got the intel that the person whom you got to buy the ring, She snitched on you.”
“Oh, no.” I thought.
“Mrs Harriet Watson, she just confirmed that you had her buy the ring and send it to you. She has ID’d your registered address, aka here.” professor triumphantly said.
“Interesting. But, I am pretty sure that Harriet Watson didn’t snitch.”
“Oh, really? Because you disposed of her?”
“Because she died in a car crash three years ago.”
Julias pulled out his phone and dialled his lawyer.
“Well, It looks to me like you tried to frame my client by lying to him.” The proxy law teacher was the guy's lawyer.
“Well, even if I lied about having information...”
“Which you clearly did, professor Benjamin Hawking.” She interrupted.
“We can say anything during an interrogation.” I butted.
“But that doesn’t work so well in the courtroom. You screwed up, and my client's leaving.
“No! He can't leave until I dismiss him.” professor shouted.
“You both have had him for ten hours and 45 minutes. 15 more and we are the one filing charges.”
“Great, So I’ll have him here for 14 mins.”
“To be childish?” She asked.
Professor was honestly as frustrated as me, at least, he looked like and so, he left the room with his prevailing habit of banging things, like doors. And then, I am surely taking my exasperation out on him.
“Got what you wanted?” My blood was boiling. “I told you not to lie.”
“I thought it would work, and I wanted to be the one who gets him behind.”
“It's not always about you, professor. It's not!” I shouted. “I don’t give a damn that you are an egoist, egotist, cynical, narcissistic sociopath. But why do you want to show that all the time?”
“It's not all the time.” professor innocently said, “About what happened last night, I just wanted to redeem myself to um.. myself. Still be the smartest person I know.” There was an awkward silence.
“Diaspasi!” He shouted. professor ran inside.
“He is not answering any questions.” The law proxy said.
“I don’t have questions, I am about to monologue, Shakespeare style.” He announced.
“Let me paint a picture, I am Julias Bradford, the director of a major medical brand who is dating his employee. She is smart and is running in the race to the CEO position. I even proposed to her but she rejected me because she was cheating me for another man, one of less calibre. I would be super sympathetic to those who have been cheated, but you killed a 23 year old.”
“What is the point of this?”
“I’ll get to it.” professor dismissed Julias.
“So one day, I am working late and Jenifer surprise visits my office. She sees that I am changing up the finances, to embezzle money. She decides to report me to HR. I convince her to join me for a cup of coffee. During the coffee, while she looks away I add ersine to her coffee. She consumes it and then dies. It would be a huge issue if she died in my office, but luckily the ersine takes effect in her cubicle.” professor had clearly gotten hold of something. “Look at this picture, one is from Google reviews and another from recent times. Notice a difference?”
“We are not answering that.” The law teacher said.
“One cup is missing. Julias discarded the cup, to prevent suspicion. While leaving the office after a lucky late night meeting with an investor, who thanks to God didn’t notice that body. You finally had an alibi.” professor explained. “You then realise that anybody could figure it was you if the death was by Ersine, so you decide to disguise it. You looked around found a spool of thread, you wrapped it around Jenifers neck and just to draw suspicion to her boyfriend, added a ring.”
“That's not what happened.” Julias said.
Professor paid no heed. “However, You would have been caught in minutes but thank god the ring was bought on a card that belonged to your aunt, who was dead. After all this, it was still possible that you would get caught. So you decide to paint a blood spill, It's a miracle that you had the exact paint. It would all be done if another office employee came that night but they didn’t.” professor paused.
“You were the luckiest son of a gun.”
“It wasn’t luck.”
“It was. You got lucky on every single turn.”
“NO!” Julias shouted. “I knew exactly what I was doing, The office was empty on purpose, The investor was there by design and I didn’t poison her coffee and throw the cup away which any incompetant fool could see was missing.” Julias was now standing. He came close to professor’s face and said, “I emptied her Insulin bottle and replaced the contents with Ersine. She herself injected it into her system and threw those things in the biowaste. All proof is already molten, old man.”
Oh my god! We bloody won! Julius was still in wonders of victory before he realised he confessed. All this while I was on the top of the world, on cloud nine, and whatever other idioms could be used.
“Bloody Brilliant!” I couldn’t control myself.
“I take my bow.” Professor said walking out.
Both of us had worked way too long, I had missed classes, in fact. So now it was time to congratulate each other.
“How did you know that would work after everything else we did came coming up our face?” I asked.
“Because while talking to you, I realised that he had committed the perfect crime. I don’t know how I missed that he was an egoistic narcissist.” professor replied.
“It would kill him that we would think he was just some dummy that got lucky.”
“Right. He had committed the perfect crime.”
“And it killed him when you said he was plain lucky. He needed us to know how smart he was.” I added.
“This is similar to someone else I know.”
“Yup. Natasa.” professor replied.
“It was a good one, professor.”
“Thank you, dear. Now let's go get some sleep, for Sanity’s sake.”
Written by: Arjun Agarwal, Kush Agrawal, Rishita Kinra
Based on Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s The Box written by Luke Del Tredici and directed by Claire Scanlon.
Images have been taken from multiple sources. The first image is called Ravenclaw Common Room by Brittnie. She also sells art prints of the same images, at affordable rates on Inprint, Do check it out. The next photo was detective’s office by artecnl via Pinterest. The living room was featured in Country Living Magzine.
The end credit header was made by me in Krita.
Thanks for reading,