This writing challenge was born out of the abstract of a computer science paper on the topic of theorem provers, one of my muses is working on. I read it and immediately had this crime story idea. That says a lot about me and my brain, I guess… (and how it can find murder in every corner of the world) 🤫
Agent Prudence Rover had nerves made out of steal. She had handled her stagefright back in Kindergarten and no room – not matter with how many people in it – could made her feel the slightest bit nervous to speak up. That was the reason, why she was the one, who got briefed first, because she was the one, who briefed all the other agents. “We have a lot of police out there, officers, that go by the usual protocol. We have a lot of agents out there, who hunt the killer down by our own protocols. But your assignment will differ from the one of your collegues.” She spoke very clear and loud enough to reach every ear. “You are about to be briefed to a different search approach. Maybe the old techniques will find the culprit first, maybe you will find the culprit first. It doesn’t matter. We need to find the killer. This is no race against each other. This is a hunt for the murderer of Professor Saturn Basington.”
She let that set for a few seconds. “There is not much, that we know in this moment about the killer. All we have is, that we are looking for a man and this man uses the name Claus or Klaus or maybe even Clause. Others will hunt for DNA-traces and video-glimpses. Others will try to find witnesses. The approach of this group: You will detail check every man with the name of Claus – first name or family name. We have to find the right Claus. The one, that killed Professor Basington.”
She let a pause for short mumbling and sighing. “We will not make a list in some kind of alphabetical system. We will not rank the Clauses after their address. No, we will have a new approach. An approach developed in the logic-laboratory of a computer science university.” Someone dared to interrupt: “So what is this system based on?” Agent P. Rover didn’t miss a beat. “You will look at the personal history of all the people named Claus. You will use your personal experience in profiling people and pre-sort them for the next group. Of course you will start with Clauses, who had a connection to the professor. But the professor had a lot of connections! He worked in the parliament, in the university, had connections to the Mafia and the Yakuza, the Boy Scouts, the leading world-organisation of Gregorian Choral-singers, the Rugby-Associations of Scotland and Australia, the Freemasons and different kinds of british based sausage-clubs. And private mens’ clubs. So there will be a lot of Clauses! This group will not look into, which Claus was in New York at the right time for the crime – this group will look at the age and weight, personal history and the history of the ancestors of all Clauses and you will rank them. We then will combine our approach with the one of another group and then a third group will work through all the Clauses, till we find one, who brings himself into a contradiction about his alibi… or something similar happens. Questions?”
A hand rose up. “How many queues of Clauses can we build?” Agent Rover liked this clever question. “Well at least two, but more is better. Your group will be group I. The group, who interrogates the selected Clauses is group K. So you can build as many queues as K has agents. And don’t forget to sometimes put in a not so promising looking Claus. Because they still have a chance of being a contradicting bastard – pardon my language.” Agent Heffercock – the leading agent in the room – saw this little fauxpas as a chance to jump in with a: “Let’s find the motherfucker and kick his ass!” Agent P. Rover rolled her eyes. The agents in this room were especially selected for their abilities as a profiler. They were not in the game to kick ass at all. But what would Agent Heffercock know about that. He had made a career out of his stupidity, got promoted for his courage again and again, but Agent Rover had read his files. His “courage” was the result of a lack of the ability to correctly identify and rank the magnitude of danger.
“Let’s get to work”, she said and dismissed the agents. Now, she felt the glimpse of a nervous reaction. How very exciting! Or maybe it was just curiosity. Would this new approach prove ready under this circumstances? Would it really speed up the process of finding the right Claus? No, it wouldn’t. Of course, it wouldn’t. But that was not the fault of this system. It could not find the right Claus, because there never was a Claus. But only Agent Rover knew that. Only she and – well Professor Saturn Basington. But he only found it out very briefly. He found it out and in the next moment, he was dead. So he was not a good witness anymore. And so only Agent Rover knew the real reason, why they never found the right Claus…