Case: 3021 -Fitzgerald's revenge-

All well…

The successful criminal lawyer, Thomas Fitzgerald, is finally done with the case that kept him very busy, also on a personal level. After all, he was friends with the victim who died in it. Billionaire Romain Gilles and his wife were brutally murdered. Gilles was a philanthropist who found satisfaction in helping the underprivileged of our world, he will be sorely missed. Fitzgerald looks at the newspaper that describes everything again in detail.

"Fitzgerald's revenge." headlines the article, "… Gilles and his wife hung upside down in their villa... slaughtered like beasts... suspect and bitcoin maximalist Hector H. convicted... gets two life sentences and seven hundred years in prison... Hector H. commits suicide in his cell…"

He puts the newspaper away and gazes outside, where a setting sun of soft orange finally draws his attention away from the horrendous case of the past nine months; serenity demands its share.

—Months later. Fitzgerald is working behind his laptop in his home. The bed creaks in one of the bedrooms and footsteps can be heard. Thomas' laptop crashes, as if it's an old American car, he hits it on the side. His cursing camouflages the strategically taken footsteps behind him. On his screen several letters appear, when they form a sentence Thomas reads out loud: “Greetings from Hell, son of a bitch!”
In the reflection of the screen, Fitzgerald sees a shadow looming behind him. He’s terrified and tries to get up, but two hands push him back into his seat. The intruder squeezes Thomas' throat. The lawyer pushes with his legs against his desk and falls backwards along with the attacker who keeps a firm grip on his neck. In a panic he tries to break free, scratches his assailant's hands open, but it's too late. The world rapidly fades before his eyes as life escapes him.

Bertens and Omar

Danny Bertens is a middle-aged detective. Together with his younger colleague Omar Porth they fight crime, side by side. The two detectives walk down the street. They're on their way to the murdered lawyer's address. Bertens is enjoying a croquette sandwich.
“How can you eat that croquette, Bertens? Do you even know what's in that?”
“Yes! Sheep’s eyes, among other things, I’ve heard!” Bertens' replies, as he removes a piece of meat from his teeth with his tongue, “But, that aspartame in your gum is not exactly healthy either,” he holds up his thumb and index finger, “rats get tumors from it, the size of golf balls!”
Annoyed, Omar immediately spits his gum into the gutter.
Bertens laughs out loud: “Manners, Omar, where are your manners?”

—Thomas Fitzgerald's family wants to catch the killer at all costs, but has no idea who could have wanted to kill the lawyer and national hero. There are just no leads, at all. The criminal investigation team, despite their good reputation, is under a lot of pressure in the daily press.

The two reach the estate of the murdered lawyer.
Omar looks around on ground level while Bertens examines the upper floor. After an hour or so, Omar comes upstairs. Bertens is crouched and looks into nothing: “No fingerprints, no traces of burglary and no one wanted the man dead. All we have is the rubber under Fitzgerald's fingernails.”
“The perpetrator was wearing gloves, a professional.” Omar adds.
“So it seems, but why take the risk of a struggle?”
Omar replies to the rhetorical question: “The killer wanted him to suffer.”

Omar gets a call and fills Bertens in on the latest: “Fitzgerald has send millions worth of bitcoin to thousands of addresses on the blockchain.”
“I thought his computer crashed and broke during the fight?”
“It did, but our forensic pathologist has found a chip in Fitzgerald’s head.”
Bertens looks puzzled: “A chip, in his head? I’m getting to old for this.”
“Yeah, I wont argue that. All of his passwords were stored in his head. His notary just gave us the seed phrases.”
“You think he gave all his bitcoin away voluntarily, Omar?”
“I doubt that. The perpetrator must have found a way to get it out of him.”
“Can’t we just reclaim the bitcoin?”

Omar looks at Bertens like a child looks at his grandfather: “No, it's all been approved by the smart contracts on the chip in his head. There's no telling if he was alive during the approval, but according to the company that built the chip, it’s unhackable.”
“So, there’s some happy campers out there?”
“Our IT guys are trying to trace back who these addresses belong to.”
“Hmm, did you find anything downstairs?”
Omar nods and puts a picture of a very good looking lady in his colleague’s hands.

“Ah,” the noise coming from Bertens’ mouth sounds unusually sultry, “this is Mandy Merel, a prostitute well-loved in high circles, Omar, and well worth a visit.”

Oh, Mandy

Mandy Merel lives in a mansion on the Amsterdam canal. The two drive to Amsterdam, and an hour later they are in front of the beautiful, monumental building.
Omar rings the bell. A blonde opens the door, dressed in a pink jogging suit: “So, you’re cops, I can see that a mile away! What do you want from me?”
Bertens talks about the photo found in Fitzgerald's house. Mandy reluctantly lets the two in. She tells that Thomas was her best client and that she would like to know herself who killed him. When Bertens asks if there was anything strange or unusual about Thomas, Mandy replies that nothing comes to mind.

The only unusual thing she can think of is that Thomas has had a threesome with her more than once. “A ménage à trois?” Bertens asks, as he slowly leans forward. Mandy continues: “Well, they weren't really threesomes with another, but, eh.” Bertens encourages her: “Tell us.”
“Well, it won't help you, but Thomas had a sex doll.”
“An inflatable doll?” Omar asks.
“No, more like a Real doll, but a very advanced one, it can talk and move. I'd never seen one before, I always found it a little creepy. Well, like I said, it's not going to help you.”

After half an hour the two walk out empty-handed. Omar takes a taxi home. Bertens walks back to his car. There is a man in a black suit, black sunglasses, his hair combed back, leaning against his car: “Detective Bertens?”
Bertens nods briefly.
“I'm Special Agent Steven Smith. You just talked to the whore, did you discover anything new?”
Bertens doesn’t trust this man for a penny and formally replies that the police investigation is ongoing, and that all questions can be directed to the relevant spokesman. Smith lowers his glasses and looks into Bertens' eyes: “If you discover anything new, will you to contact me?” The detective doesn't want to know anything about this, gets in his car and drives home.

The hunch

The evening sets in, it's dark early. Bertens is on his way home and going through the case in his head—no traces of burglary, rubber under the nails, no fingerprints.
He slams on the brakes, drives straight to Fitzgerald's villa, opens the door and walks in. He turns on the light. While he is halfway up the stairs the light goes out everywhere. Feelings of unease and adrenaline take over—this is where I need to be tonight.
Intuitively, he continues in the darkness while grabbing his flashlight. He walks Into Fitzgerald's bedroom. With the flashlight he shines on the walls and along the curtains. He touches everything until he feels an unevenness in the wall.

He puts the flashlight in his mouth and with two hands he pushes against the wall in different places until it gives way and reveals a secret cabinet. Slowly he shines inside, but the closet is completely empty.

Out of nowhere he is attacked from behind and he feels two hands squeezing his neck. He loses his flashlight and fights for his life. The two fall on the bed and Bertens manages to wrap a sheet around his assailant's head. After a short struggle and a few punches the attacker stops and remains still. In the villa the light spontaneously pops on. Bertens removes the sheet. As he expected, he sees that the attacker is a real-life doll. Slowly, the doll begins to move again. With his revolver pointed at its head Bertens demands answers.

The doll opens its eyes and spits everything out: “Detective Bertens, I am Hector Hoogmoed. When I was sentenced to two life sentences and seven hundred years in prison a year ago, I couldn't live with that and I committed suicide in my cell. Fitzgerald, through his connections, stole my body, and he uploaded my brain to a hard drive. So I could still serve my sentence in the cell of his computer simulation program. Nobody knows that I used to be kind of a computer geek, so, I managed to hack my way out of there. I uploaded myself into this doll, then I killed Fitzgerald. During that fight, the doll’s interface broke, and now I'm stuck inside this doll.”

Bertens needs a second to process everything before he replies: “Well, how did you manage to get Fitzgerald to give away all his bitcoin?”
Hector smiles: “He didn’t give it away, I did.”
Bertens slaps Hector in the face: “Impossible, that chip is unhackable!”
“I admit it was hard, but it becomes a lot easier, detective, when you yourself become the numbers, letters and characters.”

It all sounds too bizarre for Bertens, but then again he is talking to a sex doll. He wants to take Hector in, but Hector wants to make a deal. He will provide information about a global plot against humanity. In return Bertens must destroy the doll's hard drive, so Hector can find peace. Bertens thinks about this for a minute and then agrees.

Detective Bertens takes out his phone and tapes Hector’s confession.
“You never told anyone why you killed Romain Gilles and his wife.”
“I didn’t want to kill them, I wanted to rob him. While I was inside his computer I stumbled upon files, secret files. I read them. Gilles, with his vaccination program willingly killed and paralyzed thousands of children. Also, with the power he had, he wanted to outlaw bitcoin and force the world to use his digital currency. So, the people once again would become slaves of a centralized system which he would own, but there’s more…”
Out of nowhere, there's a loud bang in the room. The doll's head blows up and falls on the ground.

A startled Bertens looks at the door. There's Special Agent Smith with a gun drawn, from which a plume of smoke evaporates. Smith points at Bertens: “Your phone!”
Smith confiscates the phone and leaves the premises.
While detective Bertens is trying to catch his breath, there is a beeping sound coming from another room.
Bertens, slowly shuffles to the other room. There's a printer and a whole bunch of secret documents get printed out. On the last page it says: “Success from the afterlife! Salute, Hector.”
Bertens, with the documents in his hands, walks back to the bedroom where the doll still twitches a little, until Bertens shoots its hard drive to pieces and Hector passes away for good.

An hour later, Bertens walks into the building of the largest newspaper in the country. He takes the elevator to the 12th floor. He's met by crime reporter Jonah Tehar.
Bertens shakes his hand and hands over the secret documents: “My task ends here.” Jonah thanks him and accompanies Bertens to the elevator.

On the way back to his workplace, Jonah goes to the bathroom. He walks to the last door and knocks three times slow, then twice fast. The door opens and Special Agent Smith comes out. Jonah hands over the secret documents, Smith hands Jonah a picture of his daughter: “She’s a lovely girl, Jonah. You must be so proud?”
Smith washes his hands, checks the mirror for a second, before he calmly walks out and disappears with the documents.

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Vincent van Zandvoort
Vincent van Zandvoort

Vincent van Zandvoort is a writer of poetry, prose & short fiction. Science fiction - fantasy - supernatural - thriller, drama.

Science fiction, supernatural, mystery, thriller,
Science fiction, supernatural, mystery, thriller,

I write short fictional stories about ordinary people that find themselves in extraordinary situations, caught up in areas that we normally never encounter in our lifetime. Some are victims of progression and/or unusual circumstances, and some might just thrive, simply because they're ahead of their time or easily fit into their new realm. Will they get out, or are they supposed to stay in their "New Normal"? Find out for yourself...

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