Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ The Drain ( Chapter 92 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
The Detective Prince
Chapter 92
The Drain

They drove for several blocks more. The increase in traffic could clearly be seen as it picked up with each passing minute. The lot was empty upon their arrival, quite the opposite of what it had been on their previous visit. He found an empty space near the front entrance before locking it all down

« And here we are. » Rick said with the detachment of his seat belt.

« There’s no other vehicles here besides us, » Heiji said. « You’re sure there’s someone waiting inside for us? »

« They probably parked around back somewhere, » Rick said unlocking the door to his side. « Come on, the sooner we handle business here the sooner we can head to the next location. »

Not wanting to cause a further delay he did the same in response.

« What a clear view it is, » Rick said looking up at the sky after exiting. « It’s looking to be another good one. »

« It appeares that way. » Heiji said being the first of the two to head toward the front doors.

He observed a display of life sized statues beside the building wall as he walked, something he hadn’t seen on their last visit.

« They’ve  clearly brought in new merchandise, » Heiji thought. « If this is truly the place where our first victim was killed, one can only hope the scene hasn’t been too altered since then. »

They closed in on the entrance with each step taken, both caught by surprise with the open of the doors before reaching it.

« You must be Mrs. Baker, » Rick greeted. « We spoke over the phone, if I’m correct. »

« Detective Gates? »

« One and only around here. »

« Then you’ve come to the right place, » She said with a welcoming smile. « I had no idea the two of you would arrive so soon after contact. »

« I was already on the road when I called, » Rick informed. « I thought it’d be best if we handled this matter before opening hours. »

« I can’t disagree with that, » Mrs. Baker said in agreement. « Right this way, I’ll take you to where our mushroom samples are held. »

« Jumping right on in I see. » Rick said following after her.

He trailed from behind, having a good idea on where they were headed from the last time they had come.

« Mrs. Baker, » Heiji spoke out. « Can I ask you something? »

« Ann, call me Ann. »

« Alright then, Ann, » Heiji said. « About the mushrooms here at Living Green, what type are they? »

« Well let’s see, » Ann said giving it some thought. « We carry high quantities of cremmini, morels, enokitake, and even have a sustainable amount of maitake’s. »

« Poisonous, » Heiji said shortening the field. « Are any of the mushrooms in stock here poisonous? »

« Not at all, » Ann replied. « All mushrooms sold here are edible and non harmful. »

« That’s all I needed to know. »

They continued to walk along the left wall, which lead them to the back corner where a large steel door could be found.

« Is this the door we were told leads to the outside facility? » Rick asked.

« You guessed right. »

« You first. » Rick said opening the door.

They looked directly ahead to see a smaller structure surrounded by several yards of empty land. The growing products were very apparent at first glance, from the bushes nearby to the tall trees afar.

« And are we to assume that is where the mushrooms are held? » Rick asked.

« Some, but most of it grown throughout the fields, » Ann pointed. « We have added business with our export of certain products. »

« Why don’t we start with the out house. » Rick suggested.

« Your call, » Ann said. « Right this way. »

She lead him across the field to where the smaller structure was located, fiddling with a set of keys as they neared.

« Here we are. » Ann said grabbing hold of the correct one.

« That’s quite a bit of keys you have there, » Rick commented. « Are they all used for this facility? »

« Partially, » Ann replied. « Between here and the other Living Green facility. »

« Another Living Green, » Rick questioned. « I thought this to be the only one. »

« The other is only about a seven mile drive from here. » Ann informed with the turn of the key.

She unlocked the door, allowing for him to walk in. The glass cieling from above made for a clear view of all contents throughout the room. He cited many different materials stocked on each side, scouring the room from one end to the other with the rotation of his head.

« I don’t see them, » Rick declared turning back to face her. « Where do you usually stall the mushrooms? »

« There, in the far right corner, » Ann pointed. « I’ll show you to them. »

« Right after you. »

It was then that he noticed, looking behind to see he was nowhere to be found.

« No sign of Hattori, » Rick thought to himself. « I wonder what could have caused his sudden disappearance. »

He then looked ahead, carefully stepping around a vase of flowers as they headed deeper into the room. They reached the back corner shortly there after, arriving to come upon a large shelf filled with merchandise of many brands.

« Here they are, » Ann said. « The mushrooms we have in stock are on the bottom shelf. »

« I really appreciate this. » Rick said taking to a knee.

« And what of your other friend, » Ann said looking around. « It appearers he’s taken off. »

« I’m sure it’s something of importance, » Rick said. « He’s usually not one to walk off without saying something first. »

He laid his eyes to the different packaged mushrooms, grabbing a dose of each before standing back to his feet.

« This should about do it, » Rick said keeping a grasp to each. « If you don’t mind I’d like to purchase these. »

« Your intent is well understood. » Ann said turning back to where they had come.

« Every lead will be checked, speaking of which, » Rick said. « Why don’t you tell me a little bit about the other facility close to here? »

« What would you like to know? »

« Do they carry a sum of mushrooms as they do here? »

« Since a large portion of what we put on the shelves comes from the fields here, all mushrooms found there would have been here at some point or another, » Ann replied. « That’s not to say we don’t mange business overseas. »

« And this other facility doesn’t have a field of its own to output sales? »

« Afraid not, » Ann replied. « This here is the heart of all production. »

They arrived back to the door they had entered through shortly after. It was then that he saw him standing in the distance out in the field, seeing an enclosed ziplock bag in his hand.

« What’s he doing out there? »

What he had stashed away inside was another mystery in itself. He could hear the lock of the door from behind, turning just in time to have her rejoin his side.

« I see you’ve spotted your friend, » Ann said. « It seems something has caught his attention. »

« That might explain why he didn’t follow us in. »

« Any idea what it could be? »

« Only one way to find out. »

Before either knew it he was trotting back into their direction, a look of a satisfacation more than apparent.

« What were you doing over there? » Rick called out as he neared.

Nothing was said in return, only coming to a stop after reaching the two.

« What’s that you’ve got your arms wrapped around? » Heiji asked taking note of the packaged items in his possession.

« Mushrooms that were located in the out house here, » Rick pointed. « I’m going to run these back to the lab to have Harold take a look, that way we can have him compare the mushroom residue found on the body in comparison with these. »

« And you belive whatever happened might have taken place here? » Ann asked.

« Like I said, we’re checking all possibilities. » Rick replied.

« Here, why don’t you let me take take a load off, » Ann said reaching for the sealed packages. « I’ll go ahead and ring these up for you at the counter. »

« Thanks, that would be great. » Rick said handing them over.

She took lead once again as the three headed back for the main building. The sound of several vehicles roaring past from the other side fell clear to their ears as they moved on. He couldn’t help but look down at the bag still in his hand, more than curious to know what was inside.

« Is something wrong? » Heiji asked after noticing this.

« What do you have locked away inside there, » Rick asked. « Does it have something to do with what you were just doing? »

« Just a little something for Mr. Jones to examine, » Heiji replied. « Let’s not forget there were other compounds found on the victims backside besides mushroom residue, such as minerals found in dirt. »

« Good point, » Rick said. « So you gathered some samples from the field? »

« Not just any plain old samples, » Heiji confirmed. « But that from the vicinity of where mushrooms were present. »

« Nice going, » Rick complimented. « That’s not something that didn’t cross my mind. »

« That’s why we’re here to help one another. »

« No way can we go wrong there. » Rick said as they came upon the door.

They made their way back in shortly there after, with the snapping close of the door from behind.

« Making minimal progress is better than none, but we still have one more stop to take before heading back to the lab, » Heiji thought. « Libits, the only other known location to have mushroom production in this city. »

The collaboration between the two was next to none, both keeping to themselves while working over the riddles. He had been at this since the moment he’d awoken, feeling they were no further along than the previous day.

« We’ve checked all companies associated with Starlest, but none are hosting or involved with anything that the riddle could be referring to, » Conan thought to himself. « It might be in our best interest to look at this whole thing from another perspective.

He kept that in mind as he moved forward with his analysis.

(X) the prosper of growth isn’t fostered within the past or present, for the Diamonds eye is for all to see. »

Feeling the need to crack the code was now greater than before, knowing the time to do so was gradually slipping away. It seemed with each passing minute the temperature pushed to new heights, feeling the drain of his focus fall south as he leaned back in the chair.

« Why are things so heated all of a sudden… I feel like I’ve just stepped out from a running lane. »

A skid of sweat slouched down the back side of his neck, following with a sudden exhaustion that sprang throughout.

« That’s what happens when you spend all night working on a single matter such as this. » Damian said from his position on the other side of the table.

« I got six hours of sleep, » Conan said in response. « I hardly see that as a large lack of rest. »

« Or maybe it’s the fact you’ve spent too much time on this, » Damian said. « Why don’t you take a back seat and let me take over for a couple of hours. »

« Can I ask you something? »

« About? »

« This case, what is your interest in it? »

« Does that even require a response? »

« From the time this incident became known to us you didn’t show any interest in it, » Conan said. « Let alone any detective work since I arrived, why the sudden change? »

« Maybe because I’m tired of this night show running free, » Damian said stepping down from his seat. « And make no mistake, the plug to their little operation is soon to be discharged. »

Nothing further needed to be said in his mind, keeping his sights set forward as he made his way for the door. This left him alone, feeling the silence that seemed to be looming large.. patiently waiting to be revealed.

« He seems determined.. but determination doesn’t equal cause, » Conan thought. « There must be a reason for his shift involving the matter, then again.. I could be wrong. »

He brushed off what had just conspired in the wake of it all, knowing his importance lied with decoding the true message of the riddles.

They cruised along the road at normal speeds, feeling their findings would have them in position to solving where it all had occurred. He stashed the sealed bag into the depths of his jacket before pulling out another that resembled it in comparison.

« I see you have another zip lock bag, » Rick said. « Planning on collecting another sample? »

« That’s the plan, » Heiji replied. « So tell me, what do you know about this Libits? »

« Not much, haven’t been there myself, » Rick replied. « Though unlike Living Green, Libits is a researches based company. »

« Research huh, what kind of research? »

« In the medical field, » Rick answered. « That’s about as much as I know regarding the matter. »

« Guess we’ll find out the full story when we arrive. »

« Which won’t take long, » Rick said as a structure located at the end of the block slowly came into view. « We’re here. »

« That didn’t take long at all. »

« That’s due to the short cut we took, I know these parts inside out like the contents in the rule book. »

« What rule book. »

« That’s a story for another time. »

They reached the front of the building soon after, driving in to find a much smaller parking lot than the one they had previously visited. The two stepped out of the car once parked, looking ahead to see a well aged structure standing in the wait. The derailment of the paint surrounding the walls was most evident. Once a bright white, only now milked down to a damp brown from erosion that occurred over time. They finally began their path toward the front entrance after a short time of observing the place. It didn’t take long for either to notice an electric sign pinned against the right wall as they walked, glimpsing up as it sparked a small current of electricity from its field.

« Libits, » Rick said reading the sign. « This is defiantly the place. »

« What a difference this is from the last site we visited. »

« That’s an understatement. »

They reached the door soon after. It showed ware just as the rest of the building. The handle was rough and rigid, listening to the whispers that cracked free as he pulled the door open. They stared into a dark room, what to do next was unclear to both.

« Think we should come back, » Rick questioned. « Doesn’t look like anyone is here. »

« Yet the door is unlocked, » Heiji said. « Someone must be here. »

He stepped in with nothing further said. The window aside the door was the only source that allowed for a lighted path into the room. He followed the strand of light to the left side which brought him to a desk. It took moments for his eyes to adjust to what was laid out across the table, which turned out to be a; pile of papers, jar of pens, and what appeared to be a mini bell.

« Hey, what do you say we come back, » Rick said restating his claim. « I really don’t think anyone is here, that or they’re not open for business at this given time. »

« It might appear that way, but why don’t I give this a try first. »

« Give what a try? »

It was too dark for him to see what he was reaching for, only hearing the sound of a bell ring to his ears in the following seconds.

« You’re not serious are you? »

« Hey, maybe this is the method used by customers for service. » Heiji said placing the bell back onto the desk.

Nothing happened in the moments that passed.

« Maybe you’re right, it doesn’t appear anyone is currently here. »

« We could take what we have back to the lab, and then drive back in about an hour. » Rick suggested.

« I don’t see the problem in that. » Heiji said looking back his way.

Just as the two were to leave a faint light came to view, carrying through the hall from behind the desk.

« Looks like we spoke too soon. » Heiji said.

The sound of someone pacing in their direction could clearly be made out. The light that fumed throughout brightened with each second that past.

« That’s strange, are they carrying a flash light of some kind? »

His suspicions were soon answered with the appearance of a man from the back room who held a lit lantern in hand. He flashed his eyes from the fogged glasses, studying each with a quick glance. The only thing to be made out was the dusted top hat upon his head, along with the rugged sweater he wore.

« Who are you people? »

« I was prompted to ask you the same, » Rick said in response. « Are you an employee here? »

« One of four, yes. » He replied resting the lantern to the desk. « And who might you folks be? »

« We’re investigating a murder, » Rick said holding out his ID. « Detectives. »

« I see, » He said with a pause. « And how is it that I may be of assistance to you.. detective? »

The way he spoke raised an alert, giving both a shady impression.

« Your name would be a start. »

« Sal, » He replied. « You can call me Sal. »

« Don’t know if you have a thing for lanterns, » Heiji remarked. « But what’s with the electricity in this place, don’t you have any lights? »

« Very few, » Sal replied. « A lot of the specimens we’re working with are very reactive to lighted areas. »

« Specimens? »

« You mentioned you were here in regards to a murder, » Sal said. « What relation does that have with Libits? »

« We were told you have access to a margin of mushrooms, is that true? » Rick asked.

« Several, » Sal confirmed. « Is there a type in particular you had in mind? »

« Undetermined at this time, » Heiji replied. « But if you would be so kind to take us to where you keep them, that would be most appreciated. »

« Is there an option? »

« Either that, or we can go and fetch a warrant if you’d prefer. » Rick said in response.

« That won’t be necessary, » Sal said reaching back for the lantern. « I have nothing to hide, but please do tell me what this is all about. »

« And we will, but first lead us to where the mushrooms are stalled. »

« Of course, » Sal replied signaling for the two of them to walk around the desk. « Watch your step, I’ve got some.. accessories sitting around. »

« Thanks for the heads up. » Rick said doing as told.

« Which direction to the spot? » Heiji asked.

« We take a left. »

They stepped around the desk, following his every move from there. Laying next to one another near the wall was a set of boxes. They made sure not to touch anything, carefully making their way around all contents that sat on the ground. The hall they entered was darker than the room they had left, only the light of the lantern providing for visibility.

« So there’s no lights for even the non working areas. » Rick asked as they continued on.

« There are a few exceptions. »

« You said a lot of the subjects you’re working with take an affect to light, » Heiji said. « What kind of specimens did you mean? »

« That all depends on the complexity of your question. »

« What do you mean? »

« Are we talking plants, or animals? »

« So this is basically a holding facility for the night life? » Rick questioned

« I wouldn’t necessarily put it that way, » Sal replied. « It just so happens that a majority of our subjects in testing are in favor of the dark. »

« We were told this was a medical researchers facility, » Rick said. « What exactly is being researched here? »

« Depends on who you ask, » Sal replied. « The four of us are all focused in on our own outline of work. »

« Sounds like a lot to handle, wouldn’t it be easier if you all focused in on one goal at a time? »

« We’re all experienced in this line of work, we can bare the weight of our own assignments, » Sal replied. « Of course collaboration is immanent in certain situations. »

They followed him for a little over a minute which brought them to a closed off  door with a large lock hanging from the door.

« Here we are. »

He reached down for a stash of keys hanging from the side of his belt, almost instantly sighting the correct one. He took little time in unlocking the door, stepping off to the side after doing so.

« Do you usually keep all rooms locked at this place? »

« Only when the danger level exceeds that of level three, » Sal replied. « A system we’ve set up here at Libits. »

« And what percentage of the rooms do you have on high alert? »

« Six, including this one. »

« That’s quite a bit if, » Heiji said. « Especially for a public place like this. »

« We rarely ever have the luxury of having a visitor, let alone two, » Sal said clamping the keys back into place. « Your presence here today marks the fifth visitor we’ve had in the past seven months. »

« You’re not serious? » Rick asked.

« Besides us who work here, only those who have interest in our progress care to drop in occasionally. »

« Progress..? »

« Anything we should know before entering? » Rick asked.

« I’d advice not to touch anything, at least not before checking with me first, » Sal replied. « A majority of what is behind these doors can cause harm. »

« So what are we waiting for, I’m ready to see what’s inside. »

« As you wish. »

He reached for the handle, pulling the door open which allowed them to peak inside. It was nearly pitch dark, but something could be seen from the tips of their eyes, something sitting deep within the room. Neither could tell what it was at first glance, casually moving in to get a closer look.

« What is that back there, » Rick asked. « It looks as if something is lighting up. »

« You said you wanted to see the mushrooms, correct? »

« You don’t mean? »

« Mycena chlorophos, one of the few types of mushrooms that have the capability to glow. » Sal said stepping into the dark room.

He reached to his left, pushing upward on a switch to flash on the dimmest of lights. What they saw left them in a bit of a surprise. Rather than coming to find a room compiled with common lab materials, they looked on to see what appeared to be an inside garden of sorts. The ground was nothing but grass, surrounded by the several plants on each side of the room. Small amounts of water found its way down the right wall from a pipe above, scaling in velocity on its descension downward.

« Come, and be sure to step only to the stones. » Sal said looking back to the two before advancing further.

He shut off the lantern in the moments that followed, leaving only the shallow lighting from above the only means for a clear path throughout the room.. They did as instructed, following the stones set in place. He took note of anything that came to sight, from the layout of the room to everything that clothed it. The most notable that came to view was the mushrooms, accounting for at least six different brands sprouting from the grounds. He finally came to a halt after reaching the center of the room, a grin dropping to his face as he turned to face the two.

« Well, I’m not sure what you’re hoping to find but this is it. »

« These mushrooms, » Heiji said. « Are any of them poisonous? »

« A few of them are, yes, » Sal replied. « We have Amanitas for example, which all contain amanitin. »

« Amanitin.., » Rick said giving it a seconds thought. « I’ve heard of that somewhere. »

« Amanitin is an extremely poisonus amatoxin, » Heiji informed. « One which can be found throughout nature in many places. »

« Very good detective, I see you’re familiar with the material. » Sal commented.

« If it’s alright with you, I’d like a list of all the mushrooms that have poisonus roots. »

« I’ll see to it, » Sal said in compliance. « Give me a moment to go and fetch you a copy of the data list. »

« I’d really appreciate that, thanks. »

« I’d advice for the both of you to stay put in my brief absence, we wouldn’t want for an unplanned.. accident now would we? »

« You have our word we won’t move until your return. »

« I’ll be no more than a minute. »

The lights above flickered as he made his way out, both holding true to their word as they waited in place.

« So what do you think? » Rick asked after Sal fell out of view.

« What do you mean? »

« Do you think this could be the place where our mystery victim engaged in the scuffle before their death, » Rick asked. « After all, there’s plenty of mushrooms and dirt surrounding this room that could account for the residue found on the victims back side. »

« I’ve already sealed samples away collected from this room, » Heiji informed. « It’ll be up to Mr. Jones to make a diagnosis of what has been collected from both scenes to draw a conclusion. »

« One thing that I thought I should point out, » Rick said looking to the right. « The walls are built of brick in this room, yet different in the rest of the building. »

« They’re steel enforced. »

« How do you know that? »

« If you look to the pipeline you’ll see a clear path leading to the inner wall, or second layer of it. »

« Nice find, I guess that puts that suspicion to rest. »

« It’s not the walls I’m concerned with, » Heiji said. « If there’s anything to worry about, it’s our tour guide. »

« I had a feeling you’d say that. »

« It’s not just Sal that leaves me deeply disgruntled, » Heiji thought to himself. « This place… there’s just something about it that doesn’t quite feel right, but what? »

To Be Continued
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