16 Nov

“Do not suspect me of having committed these horrible murders,” argued the man called Ymir. “They were clearly, logically the acts of a secundine, not an eohuman like me.”

“Why do you say that?” demanded the police investigator, plainclothes shamus Heikel.

The small, short prisoner looked into the stolid eyes of his questioner.

Ymir continued with confidence in himself. “I have studied both our own psychology and that of our secondairs. My extensive coursework provides me usable knowledge of their character. The killings, as far as I can judge, possess all the earmarks of our accompanying species, not our own. The police must examine any servile who were slaving for the eohuman victims. That is where you can find and identify the culprit.”

Heikel stared at the suspect as he considered what he should do with him.

“Do you yourself own any of them?” he inquired.

“I have only a single suivant. It cooks and cleans, concentrating on housework. That is all that I need.”

“Well, you can now go home,” decided the detective. “But I want to talk with your secundine tomorrow morning.  As you suggest, that is the direction my investigation is now headed in.”

Ymir rode the levitator to his apartment on the fiftieth floor, near the building summit. He inserted his keycard, the door opened, and the diminutive eohuman went in.

“Adminicle!” called the master to his slave.

The secundus appeared instantly at the entrance to the kitchen.

“Welcome home, sir,” smiled the towering, scarecrow-thin artificial being. “I take it that the police did not succeed in breaking down your will, Monsieur.”

Ymir sat down in a silicic sofa chair, drew a deep breath, and then spoke softly, his hazel eyes focused on the cubelike head of his servile.

“I went to police headquarters as a central suspect, but succeeded in diverting official attention elsewhere, off of me. It was difficult, but had to be done. I believe that Shamus Heikel will no longer trouble me in coming days.”

The suivant named Adminicle stepped closer, his gigantic colorless eyes enlarging. “The new object of suspicion has become someone else?” he asked in a dry voice.

“That is the truth,” replied the eohuman. “I managed to put the spotlight on secundines, all the hundreds of thousands who serve masters in this borough. Heikel is now going to look up and interrogate many possible suspects of that class. In fact, he plans to come here and talk with you tomorrow morning.” He gave a sly smile to his secundine.

“Me?” reacted the shocked Adminicle. “Why me?”

“Perhaps he wants to use that opportunity to question you about me. Maybe he is only pretending to be expanding his investigation to secundine servants, but still sees me negatively. Who can say?”

“I will be ready, sir, for anything the shamus decides to throw at me,” solemnly pledged the fabricated servile, his face devoid of any emotion or feeling.

Heikel sat across from the secundine at the tiny kitchen table after Ymir excused himself and left for his job at the main borough library.

The first question presented was surprisingly general.

“Tell me, what do you happen to know about the eight recent unsolved murders?”

Adminicle furrowed his glassy brow as if it were made of some cloth.

“I have great interest in serial crime and follow the reports in my spare time over the electronic retia. From what I can put together, half of the murders were by strangulation and the other half by asphyxiation using silken fabric. There is nothing in common among the victims. They seem to be chosen at random, where there was opportunity. There exist no material clues at all. The cases remain cloudy.”

“Yes, that is the truth,” said the shamus, admiring the knowledge displayed by the secundus. “But please tell me whether you are cognizant of anyone acting suspiciously among your neighbors or acquaintances. Have you observed anything odd or irregular among either eohumans or constructs?”

The servile looked at the detective with suppressed reactions. “As you know, sir, those like me can only associate with other secundines, never with eohumans like my master or yourself. In fact, he happens to be the only natural that I have ever known. All my friends and familiars are secundines.”

The shamus suddenly changed the subject under discussion.

“Tell me this: how does your possessor spend his spare time? Does he enjoy playing the portable clavier I saw in the parlor? Does he have important hobbies or pastimes. What does Ymir do when not at work?”

“He likes to read electrobooks, and he watches screenpics. My master is a very skilled musician and spends hours at the keyboard. He has many things that keep him busy and interested.”

Heikel frowned, realizing the answers he was getting were of no use. “How are you treated by your master? Does he show you kindness and respect?”

The secundine nodded his head of molecular glass. “He is exceptionally good to me.”

Heikel abruptly rose, excused himself, and departed from the apartment.

When Ymir returned, he went at once to the tiny bedroom where his servile rested on a floor mattress.

“What did the shamus ask? Did you tell him anything?”

Adminicle thought a moment before replying to his owner.

“Most of the questions concerned you, sir. He was very interested in your hobbies and leisure interests. The main point asked me, though, was about what knowledge I had of the series of recent murders.”

“Did you reveal any knowledge of those incidents?”

“Only what I have picked up over the retia, nothing more.”

Ymir hesitated before saying more. “I have figured out why the shamus is concentrating his attention upon me. This building we live in is at the exact topological center of all the murders. And my apartment happens to be in the middle of the structure. That has brought Heikel to us, specifically me.”

The secundus slowly raised himself up onto his feet. “Will that man be making more intrusions  upon us?” he inquired.

“I have deep fear about what the shamus may find out and then do,” confessed Ymir. “He is stubborn and persistent. His probing will end in my doom, in all probability.”

“That may not turn out to be the final end for us,” muttered the secundus in a muffled voice.

Heikel arrived early the next day, accompanied by three men in dark blue uniforms.

The door was opened by Adminicle while his possessor stood in the kitchen doorway.

Ymir, walking forward, expected his immediate arrest after the four officers entered. But the detective and his assistants surrounded the secundus instead.

“You are under suspicion of multiple murders,” announced Heikel as metal hand restraints were placed on the servile. “We are taking you into custody at once.” He looked around at Ymir, advancing forward to face him as the construct was led out of the apartment by the three cops.

“At first I suspected you, sir,” admitted Heikel. “But something said to me by your secundus shifted my focus.”

“What was that?” demanded the excited, overwhelmed eohuman.

“He knew something never made public: that a silk piece of cloth was used on half the victims, those that were strangled. We ourselves only learned that fact from miniscule threads on the throats of one of the victims.”

“I can hardly believe what you are telling me,” grimaced Ymir.

“I am in your debt,for you first talked to me of the secundus possibility.Thank you, sir.”

The shamus turned around and left the apartment.

Ymir had a sinking feeling.

It was from me that Adminicle learned that a silk scarf was the instrument of asphyxiation.

My secundus will not betray me by revealing the true story.

It will remain loyal and accept the guilt and penalty upon itself, according to ancient, unwritten slave law that prevailed before adminicles even existed.


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