The Darkest of Matters

A flash fiction story by Brian Robinson.

What you see is not what there is: what there is is not what you see.

The Vice-Chancellor clearly has a problem with being questioned detective Hardacre thought. Well, tough shit! Four people are dead, they were all found on the Cambridge campus, and that means questions have to be answered.

“Okay, just so we’re clear, you’re telling me you have no information whatsoever regarding the deaths of these individuals. Your professor, two of his students, and a cleaner are all dead and this is a complete mystery to you.

“Look, I’ve already told you. The police were called as soon as the bodies were found. I wasn’t here at the university at the time, and since then I’ve had no opportunity to talk to anyone.”

“Right, so what I need from you is a list of the names and contact details of everyone who were closely connected with these people.”

“Very well, I’ll contact the students and arrange an appointment with the head of science.”

“That’s not how this works sir. You supply the information: I’ll do the contacting.”

Kings College Cambridge

“I’m detective Hardacre, please sit down sir. You’re the head of science so I presume you knew the professor well. Tell me about him. What was he like? Exactly what did he do here? Was anything going on in the background which might shed light on this?”

“Professor Wrigley was a theoretical physicist.”

“Enlighten me. What does that mean in layman’s terms?”

“Well, basically, it means he uses mathematical models to try and understand how the universe works. He’s not someone you would find in a laboratory. He’s not an experimental physicist.”

“What has maths got to do with the universe?”

“Some people believe it has everything to do with it. They argue that the cosmos is a mathematical construct. That it has no substance in real terms.

You see there is only so much information we can gather through experimentation. But on the other hand, mathematics is the telescope which will allow us to see way beyond the outer reaches of the universe: it is the microscope which will allow us to peer deep into the quantum world.”

Einstein’s now famous equation

“Very Interesting! But what can you tell me about the man?”

“He wasn’t at the top of his field: he was way ahead of it. It wouldn’t be stretching things too far to say he was the modern day Einstein.”

“So what was he up to? Was he treading on anyone’s toes? I don’t know much about the scientific world, but I know it can be competitive.”

“He definitely wasn’t treading on any scientific toes. The professor has published papers which have turned our knowledge of the universe upside down. Everyone else is still trying to catch up. For example, he was the first to put forward an explanation as to the nature of the Big Bang. We now believe that this universe came about as the result of the death of a previous universe. When they die, universes do not move towards a gradual Big Crunch: they implode in a process of self-annihilation. This happens in an instant. Once a universe can no longer crunch, it explodes into a new universe. Professor Wrigley was the first to come up with this idea: and he was the first to provide the mathematical proof.”

“Yes but you haven’t really answered my question. What was he up to now?”

“His current research focused on Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Those make up 97% of the universe. As I’ve said, the professor believed that every universe can be explained mathematically. And he believed he had found the equation which perfectly explains the nature of this universe. He was currently working on the mathematical proof of that with the two students who were found dead. This was actually a point of contention between us.

This may not sound very scientific, but I believe there are certain things which we should not try to understand and the fundamental nature of the universe equation is one of them. I’m not a Many Worlds theorist, so I believe there is only one universe and the cosmos is God given. We have to be careful how far we poke our nose into God’s business. There is a tightrope to walk between science and religion.”

Religion and science do not always see eye to eye

“I take it you’re a religious man first and a scientist second then?”

“Yes, I am a devout Christian: Professor Wrigley was a devout atheist.”

“What do you make of the way the bodies were found? They were all petrified in some form of action. The cleaning lady was found frozen upright doing her hoovering. And one of the students was found sat at his desk in the process of writing.”

“I believe the life was sucked out of them. It wasn’t murder. It wasn’t suicide. Their deaths had a supernatural cause.”

“You’ll have to explain that.”

“This is my theory: I believe that all these people have seen the equation that explains the precise nature of the universe. This is something that is completely unacceptable to the Creator.”

“Now that really does sound strange coming from a scientist. What about the cleaner? How do you explain her death?”

“The cleaner looks after the rooms in the halls of residence. I think she must somehow have caught sight of that equation while cleaning one of the student’s rooms. That’s the only thing that makes sense.”

“And that was enough to kill her?”

“You come up with a better explanation. I guarantee you won’t find any answers when the post-postmortems are carried out. These were deaths were carried out by the Holy Spirit.”

Petrified body at Pompeii

“I’m assuming then that you personally have not seen this so called ‘universe equation’?”

“I’m not a fool detective. In fact I’ve been working for some time with the Vice-Chancellor to try and cut back the nature of the Professor’s research.”

“Okay, well I think I’m going to have to get to know his research a bit better. I’m afraid I belong to the Professor Wrigley school of thought. I think the idea of someone dying because they glanced at a set of numbers is quite ridiculous. You will make that information available won’t you?”

“That’s not possible. All his computer data has been destroyed and any remaining documentation has been locked away in the university vault. I’m afraid I can’t give that to anyone outside of the university. Can you imagine what would happen if this equation ever got published? The consequences would be apocalyptic.”

“What rubbish!”

Two weeks later. Detective Hardacre sat down to read the post mortem reports and the professor’s only surviving documentation.

“Right! We’ve got the post mortem results, and we’ve managed to prise Professor Wrigley’s research papers from the university’s vault. A court order works wonders.

SUNDS, (Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome)? That’s bullshit. That’s just another way of saying you don’t know how they died.

Now let’s have a look at his research papers. I’m no scientist, but I know an equation when I see one. Ah, here we are:

Pi, multiplied by Dark, Energy plus…

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