As expected, the ghost was no help. The ghost only served as a reminder of crimes the detective solved and crimes he committed. Before Krator was pushed onto the stage he was forcibly dressed in a clown suit. He was told he had to appeal to a public that graded the trial on its’ entertainment value. Guilt or innocence had nothing to do with “legal” precedents. Krator withdrew his complaints and submitted to the costume and make-up. He was kicked onto the stage of the Police Kebab Reality Show. He stumbled and fell to his knees. Krator barely crawled to the witness stand, gasping for air. The inmates who served as the live audience roared with laughter. Krator was unintentionally earning points of approval for buffoonery. People watching the show on the Net lit the switchboard with positive & negative responses. Totals were compiled at the end of the show to determine punishment or release of the defendant. The police interrogators, Slap Happy and Arthur Freud, also laughed at Krator’s stumble-footed appearance. “This guy really knows how to make an entrance — he must be in show biz. That’ll earn him some points,” Slap Happy confided to the audience. Arthur Freud looked solemn and mumbled something unintelligible just for the effect.
“Let the games begin,” the voice of Jovial, the mainframe computer rumbled to a cascade of flashing neon lights. The studio audience was forcibly shut down by police with batons while the Interrogators slipped on their Masks of Solemn Rectitude in order to begin the trial.
The crime occurred outside a theater on Stolemock Street in the Red City, but it really started years earlier in the dark labyrinthine rooms inside the faded movie palace. Shadow people lived in the aisles between the rows of seats, setting up make-shift beds and storage compartments for food. They paid a stipend to the owner of the movie house in order to stay in the building. In fact it was Carmine Stolemock, the scientist and inventor of arcane devices, who set up the arrangement. He needed a place to hide the results of his botched experiments, the sad creatures who managed to survive. The scientist built a dimensional doorway in his lab that fed into the labyrinth of shadows inside the cinema. Customers paid to sit within the shadows and watch salacious pictures on the giant movie screen. They paid for a chance liaison that could only take place in the dark. The man wearing a bowler hat was a regular customer. The boy he met and groomed was drawn to the malformed shadows that lingered in the back rows. The scientist, Stolemock, watched from his laboratory using the eyes of a clattering movie projector. He watched and devised new, vicious experiments he could perform on the denizens of the labyrinth. Adamine Krator had a decisive role to play from the beginning, but something went terribly wrong and now he had to pay for the crime that was dropped in his lap. Slap Happy and Arthur Freud directed Krator to mime the actual events that led up to the crime in order to defend himself. Krator was caught off guard. He wanted to show his recent paintings which could explain everything, but art was not admissible evidence. A pantomime would have to suffice. (to be continued in A Trial With No End)