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Old 05-03-2010, 06:42 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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MobileRead Spring Contest – E-book readers and vouchers

With the sound of birds chirping and the Saturday morning rumble of our neighbor's lawn mower, we can say with almost absolute certainty that spring is upon us (*). Now – think beach chair, poolside or just a nice cool spot under a tree. Think spring reading. Think brand new e-book reader!

That's right folks, we thought we'd celebrate spring with you, our devoted readers, by launching our spring contest! The following prizes are up for grabs:

Two (2) PocketBook 302 devices
Win an e-book device from PocketBook, featuring a 6-inch E Ink-based touchscreen, 1 GB internal memory, enough battery to flip through thousands of pages, with bluetooth connectivity, and support for notes taking, dictionaries and MP3s.

Two (2) Astak EZ Pocket PRO devices
Win an e-book device from Astak, featuring a 5-inch E Ink display. It's compatible with a plethora of e-book formats, offers eight levels of greyscale, text-to-speech functionality, and a handy scroll wheel for smooth page-turning and PDF reflow. The device comes in winner’s choice of 6 colors, and includes the case and ear buds for the MP3 function.

Twenty (20) E-Book vouchers from Directebooks.com
Win an e-book voucher from Directebooks with a value of US $20. Directebooks offers over 170.000 titles with money back on every purchase!

Could you be one of the winners? Of course! Just keep reading...

How it works

Take a bit of an Agatha Christie mystery and combine it with your analytical uber-skills. The crime scene: a cold-blooded murder in the moderator suite. Your job: find out who the murderer is.

Super star detective Rock Lobster (principally unconventional, always broke) is going to present chapters of the crime story in this thread. Each day he'll add one chapter, for the following nine days. The first two chapters will be posted today, after the announcement. If you vigilantly follow his story to the end, you shall be able to identify the murderer. Get the murderer's name and mail it to us to springcontest@mobileread.com by May 16th. Make sure to also tell us your username!

Down to the details:
  • You may enter only once.
  • The contest begins today, May 3rd 2010, and ends on May 16th 2010, at 11:59 PM EDT.
  • Deadline to send us the solution (name of the murderer) is May 16th 2010, at 11:59 PM EDT.
  • You must send the solution including your username to springcontest@mobileread.com. Submissions to other mail addresses, and/or submissions by private message or visitor message can not be considered.
  • Amongst the eligible entries four winners will be randomly drawn for the grand prizes (e-book reader devices) and 20 winners will be randomly drawn for a US $20 e-book voucher each
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified via private message. Winners must respond within four days after being notified. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen.

Huge thanks to the great folks at PocketBook, Astak and Directebooks for providing the contest prizes!

Good luck everyone!

(As always, we're grateful if you link to us or tweet about this contest!!)


(*) For all of you living in the Southern Hemisphere, feel free to save this part for October reading.


MobileRead team members are not eligible to participate
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:12 AM   #2
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Good luck everyone and have fun!

As this thread will be for the story only, we started a separate discussion thread:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...659#post894659

Please go there to post comments, theories, questions etc. on the contest. Thank you!
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:00 AM   #3
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I sat in my office, trying to ignore the racket coming from Red's office down the hall, and looked through my ledger trying to come up with something to bill someone for. Rent is always needing to be paid, for some reason. I got nothing. Oh, well, it looked like another month of slipping in and out through the window to avoid Mr Turcic's outstretched hand. Something would turn up. It always does.

As I was getting my harness and rapelling gear out of the file cabinet, there came a merry jingle from the front office. I had had to let my secretary go a month ago, so I had to peek through the door to see if there was someone I really wanted to see. If it was Red coming to borrow some more rounds for his target practice, I was going to give him a piece of my mind about shooting off firearms in a closed building.

It turned out to be someone I did not recognize. A dame. Dressed in black from the beret on her head to the patent leather spike heeled boots. Interesting.

I opened the door fully and walked out. "Hello," I said, "My name's Lobster. Rock Lobster, PI. Mostly licensed and ready for action. Who might I be having the extreme pleasure of meeting?"

"Hello, Mr Lobster," she said in an outrageous French accent, "My name is... Pinwheel. Yes, Zelda Pinwheel."

One of those clients, I thought. "So, Miss 'Pinwheel,' how may I help you? Your old man putting it to the secretary and you need photos for the divorce?"

"Mais non! I am not married. I am looking for someone with discretion to solve a heinous crime!"

"Well, if you need discretion, you should go see Red down the hall."

"I need someone with discretion that does not include blowing up all the evidence afterward."

"He only uses Deb on the tricky cases."

"You come highly recommended and I will pay cash."

She had obviously had recommendations from one of my previous clients. "Go on, I'm interested."

"There has been a murder! In the Moderator's Suite. We need to get the case solved before there is panic."

"A murder case, eh? That's going to be expensive."

"$300 a day plus expenses."

"I'm your man. Where is the body?"

The dame rolled her eyes. "In the Moderator's Suite! Weren't you listening?"

"I was listening, I just wasn't paying attention. Let me grab my hat and take off my rapelling gear so we can get going." I put the fedora on my head adjusted it to a jaunty angle. You have to get the ambience right to be a PI.

As we tiptoed past Mr Turcic's door I began to wonder what the hubub was about. Why not just call the police? What was the big need for discretion? When would the check arrive? All the really important stuff that a gumshoe needs to know. This was going to make the day interesting.

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Old 05-03-2010, 09:02 AM   #4
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We climbed into "Pinwheel's" car and took off down the street. And several sidewalks. And at least one cafe.

"Where did you learn to drive? Italy?" I asked.

"I never did," came the reply.

"Pull over! Better yet, just stop! It's the horizontal pedal on the left!"

The car came screeching to a halt. Oddly enough, it was sideways on the street. I instructed my client to switch places with me and we started over. She gave me directions. Mostly, I followed them. We pulled up to a large buiding with a sign on the front that had a walkie talkie on a wheel. "MobileRead International Headquarters" it read.

"Who's the skateboarder?" I asked.

"We had a contest to name him once. No one won."

"Pinwheel" went in the front door. There was a gibbon at the security desk.

"Hullo, Adrian!" she said, "He's with me." The gibbon put away a piece that would have made Red shake in his boots.

"Anyone ever get past him?" I asked.

"Not intact." I nodded. This had to be an inside job, then. We wound our way through a maze of cubicles with non-descript workers slaving away. At the end of the corridors there was a posh door with gold inlay labelled "Moderators' Suite." There was a computer keyboard and screen to one side. "Pinwheel" went up and started to type madly on the board. This went on for quite some time.

Ocassionally she swore and hit the side of the box. "Damn IE6!" she muttered. I wasn't sure why a drop of blood on the k key was necessary, though. Eventually, the massive door swung open, revealing a plushly carpeted room. Soft music filled the air. I walked into the Inner Sanctum after Miss "Pinwheel" had gone through the security protocol.

The room was a mess. Against one wall there was a long table that seemed to go on for infinity. I noticed that there was a plate on the side that said, "Y le T". Standing around were a number of people wearing green hats. On the floor was a total mess.

"Who was that guy?" I asked.

"His name is pshrynk. Or was."

The corpse was not pretty. And what had happened to it was no less attractive. It looked like he'd lost a fight with several crowbars and at least two large gorillas.

"It's going to take some doing to get the stains out of that rug," I said.
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:41 AM   #5
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Enough with the preliminaries. I walked over to the stiff and looked around. There was a crowbar lying next to it.

"So, what happened?" I asked. The milling group of people in the back of the room wearing green hats all tried to look as if they had really important things to observe on the backs of their hands.

"We think someone hit him several times with a crowbar," said "Pinwheel."

"How very astute. Did anyone see what happened?"

"Well, pshrynk, of course. And probably the murderer. Otherwise, no."

I was beginning to wonder if this was going to be a long day. The crowbar was clean. Either it had been wiped off, or it wasn't the murder weapon. Strange. Under the stiff there was a black pouch. His hand was clenched around something. His face had an expression of extreme surprise. Probably because this wasn't how he'd expected to finish off his day.

I pulled out my HTC Hero and took some pictures. It's a handy little device. I haven't found a good reader program for it, yet, but it's Android. Stable and reliable.

"Who owns this joint?" I asked.

"Alex Turcic. Very big name in the industry."

"The same Turcic who charges me rent every month, whether I want him to or not?"

"He said that he would be happy to deduct your back rent from your pay."

It was going to be another slim month as far as eating went.

I looked around some more. Against a wall, there was a large red button with a sign under it that said, "Do not push this! We mean you, pshrynk!"

"What happenes when you push that button?" I asked.

"Strange things."

"Stranger than being killed by what may have been a crowbar?"

"Most of the time."

I shook my head. This was a bunch of odd ducks, all right. I pushed the body over with my foot and picked up the black pouch. Inside was one of those new readers I had been hearing about. At the top was printed, "Nook." Strange name. The glass was broken on the face. Down in the corner, barely legible was printed, "Moby Dick." I clicked a photo.

Prying the hand open, I found a yellowish star with a red letter "Q" printed on it. Another photo.

"Should you be disturbing the crime scene like this?" asked one of the Green Hats. He looked like a rather large bird with protruding eyes.

"If the CSI kids ever get here, they'll just collect what I do as a part of evidence and file it under 'abetting.' That or 'Lobster was at it again.' I've actually seen that file folder. And who might you be?"

"I'm Nate the Great."

"I'm sure you are."

Miss "Pinwheel" came up and said, "He's on Wikipedia, you know."

Looking at the group of Green Hats, I decided that they were my best pool of suspects so far. I needed to get them isolated so they couldn't talk any more than they already had. "Is there a way we can get this bunch into separate rooms so I can interview them?"

"No problem," she said. "Pinwheel" walked over to the red button and pushed it. The walls of the Moderators Suite started to unfold and envelop the Green Hats. Some looked startled. Others merely annoyed.

"That's some red button you have there, lady!"
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:48 AM   #6
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I took a moment to ponder my next move. It had looked like nine or so of the Green Hats had been at the end of the room. And "Pinwheel." Just because she'd hired me didn't mean she was off the hook. I'd been down that road before.

I looked at her and asked, "What are the names of these jokers?"

"Their names are on the doors."

Looking over, there were the previously mentioned Nate the Great, PilotBob, Verencat, Patricia, mtravellerh, NatCh, DaleDe, Nekokami, Ravenne, and Netseeker.

"Pretty strange names."

"They're all screen names. All except Nate. We're pretty certain his last name actually is 'Great'."

"Patricia?"

Again with the eye rolling. "How obvious is that?" she asked.

I pulled out my handy notebook and flipped past the sketches of depressed robots to a fresh page.

I decided to pick a room at random. Who knows? Maybe I would bag the murderer by chance and get home in time to watch NCIS.

I walked in the closest room and found a shifty looking character wearing a floppy hat. The door had said his name was Netseeker.

"You're Netseeker?"

"Jah!"

"German, eh?"

"Maybe."

"Oh, a character, eh? So why did you kill pshrynk?" It was worth a try.

"Because I thought he should be dead."

Who would of thought? Maybe tonight would be one with Ziva. "Why should he be dead?"

"Everyone dies... eventually."

I started having second thoughts. "So, how did you do it?"

"Poison. I always use poison. Best way, actually."

"So you've done this before?"

"All the time. Regular mass murderer, me. At least fifty to my credit. No I tell a lie, fifty three! You have to count that baker in Prague twice!"

I left the math of that confession for another day. This guy was obviously a nutcase confessor. "Did you have any help?"

"Well, maybe the guy who owned the Nook gave some assistance..."

"So that would actually be fifty two and a half, then?"

"Damn!"

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Old 05-05-2010, 08:48 AM   #7
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I left the chronic confessor detailing the fifty plus poisonings that he'd accomplished in his life and moved on to the next door. "Nekokami" it said on the label. I looked at "Pinwheel."

"She's very unlikely to have been the murderer. Pacifist by nature. Violently opposed to violence, in fact."

"Let's just see what she saw, then, shall we?" I pushed the door open and walked in. A cat that looked strangely porcelain-like sat on a couch, furiously typing on a laptop.

"Five page paper, my hairly tail! How can this professor expect us to come in with anything less than twenty pages!"

I coughed discreetly. Then loudly, since I'd been ignored.

"Yes? How may I help you? Did you want to buy a tee shirt?"

"Not today. I'm here to ask about the murdered guy in the next room. Where were you when it happened."

The cat looked around and blinked. "There was a murder?"

"About three hours ago. Fellow named pshrynk. Did you know him?"

"Well of course, everyone knows him. Bit of a hack writer and overcharges for everyday advice. $300 my bum! I'm pretty certain I would have gotten over it on my own!"

"Did he have any enemies?" I asked. I wrote down the bit about $300 with my LiveScribe pen. It was a lot handier now that they had hand sized notepads.

"Oh, I don't think that anyone really has any enemies. Just misunderstandings that haven't been resolved, yet."

I scratched my head at that. There were a few guys in prison whom I was pretty certain I had understood completely who would have liked to get a piece of my hide.

"Did you do it?" I asked again. Who knew, it might work once.

"Oh, heavens no! I am opposed to violence completely!" the cat started grooming herself nervously.

"Are you sure?"

"I'M A BLOODY QUAKER, YOU MORON! Oh what a giveaway!" The cat jumped down off the couch and put a paper bag over her head.

"Oh, now you've done it!" said "Pinwheel." "Now we'll all have to sing 'In Ancient Times'. Again."

I wrote down in my notebook that Nekokami probably wasn't the culprit. Although she did have some twine laying beside her couch that was similar to the weave of the jacket that the stiff had been wearing.
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Old 05-06-2010, 08:46 AM   #8
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I left the Nekokami room and looked around. The stiff was still stiff. The crowbar was still clean. I could see that I was going to have to do a lot of work to make this one make sense. Sort of like trying to figure out the subway schedule in New York.

The next room said, MTravelerH on it. I looked over at "Pinwheel" and arched an eyebrow. Having that skill comes in handy sometimes when grilling suspects. She rolled her eyes again. Between the two of us we were going to have the most in shape foreheads in the room.

"Would it be okay if I called you 'Zippy' so I can dispense with the quotation marks?" I asked.

"Fine by me," said Zippy.

"So who's this next character?"

"MTH. Not to be confused with M to the H, who is another story altogether."

"Confusion is my strong suit, sister," I replied. I opened the door and walked in. MTH was sitting in a chair in the exact center of the room, fiddling with a compass in his lap. It sort of reminded me of the fluffy white cat in the more cliched spy movies.

"How nice of you to come by, Mr Lobster," he said.

"Nice for you or nice for me?" I asked.

"Probably something of both. What do you say that you ask your little questions and I give my vague and misleading answers so I can get on with my day? I have a full schedule."

"Oh, yeah? Well let's start with where you were when the murder happened, then."

"I was right here. Or rather right there, wherever that was before Zelda hit the Red Button. It can become so tedious at times with all of this spatio-temporal transpositioning going on."

I'll admit that I had to scratch my head over that one. But I didn't let on that I was not in my comfort zone. "What were you doing here and or there?"

"Moderating. That's what we Green Hats do. We moderate." He looked peased with himself.

"Anything specific?"

"There is a new thread on a new reader that has been getting heated and I was keeping track of possible trolls."

"Did you see what happened to pshrynk?" This was getting no where fast, so I decided to get into the meat of the questions.

"Yes, I did. Ghastly stuff. I hope we can get that carpet cleaned up."

"Oh, so you're an eye witness, then? What happened?"

"Well, from the looks of it someone hit pshrynk with a crowbar."

I was starting to wish that I had Zippy's talent with the eye rolling. "I mean before the mess was made on the carpet. Did you see who did it?"

"Oh, I thought you meant did I see what had happened to pshrynk, poor man. No, I must state categorically that I did not at all see the person who did this horrible crime. I was busy with the new reader at the time."

"So you weren't looking at anything else?"

"Not at all."

"Hang on..."

"To what?"

I was getting tired of this guy. He wasn't much help at all. "Do you have anything helpful to add?"

"Well, I did see a penguin running toward that area of the suite just before all the hubub started."

"Thank you, you've been quite obstreporous."

"My pleasure." MTH turned back to his keyboard and started typing.

Looking around the room, I noticed that another piece of twine matching the coat pshrynk had been wearing was carelessly tossed in a corner.

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Old 05-07-2010, 09:04 AM   #9
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As we exited the room, I looked over at Zippy and said, "By the way, where were you when all this went on?"

"You couldn't possibly think that I had anything to do with this horrible crime?" She managed to look simultaneously offended and artistic. Must have been the beret.

"I can possibly think of anyone being the murderer, Doll. That's my job and I'm good at it. So cough up your excuse or alibi!"

She sniffed indignantly and said with an airy tone, "I was asleep, if you must know. I am in a different time zone that everyone else here."

"I can see that. So did you hear anything or see anything unusual?"

"More unusual than a dead body lying on the floor of the Suite?"

I was starting to get a little tired of the literal mindedness of this crowd. "Other than that, then."

"Well, pshrynk never wore a coat. He had more avatars than pretty much anyone, but a coat was not part of it."

I glanced down at the corpse. It wore a garish yellow and electric blue plaid sport coat. The tie was dull orange.

"Was he colorblind?"

"Most definitely. For him, this is toned down."

"Is there anyone who knew you were sleeping?"

She looked around, trying to avoid eye contact. "Everyone knows that I get to bed at the same time every night. Early to bed, early to rise and all that..."

"I see. So, tell me, why do you have that electric blue thread on your shoulder? It doesn't go with the all black motif."

She looked down and hastily brushed the string away. "What string?" she asked, looking up with innocent eyes.

"Yeah, right!" I said. I walked over to another wall. There were four readers encased in glass. Below each was a small hammer and a sign that read, "Break glass in case of emergency." One of the cases had cracks in the surface.

"What are these, then?" I asked, hoping to catch her off guard later.

"Those? Pfft! They are nothing!"

"An emergency supply of nothing, eh? This place is about as strange as any I've ever seen."
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Old 05-07-2010, 09:05 AM   #10
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I went a looked at the cases. Two of them had Astak EZ Reader Pro's and the other two had PocketBook 302's in them.

"So, these bits of nothing here... Why are they in the glass cases?"

"You'd have to ask Ravenne. It was her idea to put them there." Zippy was still sort of pouting, so I didn't press her on it.

I walked over to the door with Ravenne's name on it and walked in. The walls were covered with grafitti. Since they had only been formed a few minutes ago, I was impressed. A snow woman stood in the center of the room, holding a scruffy grey dog by the collar.

"Bad dog! No more stealing avatars!" The dog looked chastised and slunk out of the room. "We'll see how long that lasts," she said.

"Are you Ravenne?" I asked.

"Yes I am. And you might be..."

"Lobster. Rock Lobster, PI. Could you tell me about the murder? Like, did you do it?" I figured there could only be one kook confessor in the bunch, so maybe I'd get home for NCIS after all.

"No."

I waited a bit. When it was obvious that the answer was going to be short and unhelpful. "No, as in you can't tell me about the murder or no, as in you didn't do it?"

"No as in both. I was busy at the time trying to get the next contest set for the members. It takes up all my time deciding how to be devious and underhanded."

"Doesn't come natural for you , eh?"

"You would be amazed at how hard some people have to work at it to get it just right."

"What are the little reader dohickeys in the glass cases for out there?"

"They're the prizes for the contest."

"So why do they have hammers and signs?"

"If, quite by accident, one of the members should get the contest right, then we will have to break the glass and actually give one away. That's why it would be an emergency."

I scratched my chin for a while, thinking of the mind set of this Ravenne. "So, why are they in glass to begin with? Couldn't you just put them in a desk drawer until it's time to give them away?"

Ravenne shuddered at the mention of giving out the prizes. "No, because there are those around here who like to steal things. I'm talking to YOU, dog!"

The scruffy dog tucked its tail and scurried out of the room.

"One last question. Why is that blue string stuck to the bottom of your snowball?"

She looked down and tried shuffling the string off herself. "It's probably got to do with Nate's String Theory. You would have to ask him."

As I left, the snow woman picked up a can of spray paint and started in on the walls again.

Last edited by pshrynk; 05-07-2010 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 05-08-2010, 08:51 AM   #11
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In the main suite, I once again looked at the boxes on the wall. There was a slight indentation behind the one that had the cracked glass. I made a quick sketch in my notebook and moved on. The next room was labeled "Verencat."

After knocking for about two minutes, I pushed the door open on my own. In the center of the room was a large overstuffed chair. In the chair there was a cat. A boneless cat, apparently. She was on her back and seemed to be slowly oozing over the front of the chair.

"What?!" she said.

"You Verencat?" I asked.

"Sometimes."

"What are you other times?" These characters were beginning to make my eyes itch.

"Asleep."

"Could you tell me what went on with this pshrynk guy?"

"Yes."

I was starting to get the idea here. I toyed with the idea of asking one word questions but decided that that just wasn't my style.

"Who were the other people in the room when the doctor got his face rearranged?" Let's see her answer that one with one word.

"Moderators." Damn!

"Which ones?"

The cat looked up at the ceiling as if for inspiration. After a long pause, she said, "Dunno."

"Technically that's two words, you know." The cat got an embarrased look on her face and oozed a bit more toward the floor. "I'll make this one easy on you. How many moderators, not including the stiff, were there in the room when he got stiffed?"

"Ten." She looked pleased with herself.

"Did you see the murder?"

"No."

"Did anyone else see the murder?"

Pause. "Maybe." She clearly wasn't going back to the dunno conjunction.

"Who might have seen the murder?" I was starting to get fatigued by holding up both ends of a conversation.

"Penguin."

"A pet? Sort of like that dog?"

"Nah."

I was getting no where. I decided to wrap it up. "What can you tell me about the string that seems to be everywhere I look today?"

"String? Did you say string? Ohmygod! String! Gimme the string! Where's the string!? String! String! String! Gimme gimme gimme gimme!"

The cat formed bones all of a sudden and flew around the room, chasing a piece of electric blue string that had been clinging to her tail. I quickly pulled the door open and dove out before I got caught up in the string frenzy.

"That was strange," I said.

"You should see her with a laser," said Zippy.
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Old 05-09-2010, 07:47 AM   #12
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Next was the door marked "Patricia." I was wary of these people using real names, by now. This had to be some sort of set up. Knocking briskly, I walked in and looked around. In the center of the room sat a woman dressed in what had to be Classic Greek attire, typing furiously on a laptop. She was muttering to herself, "Keep up! Have to stay in front! He's catching up to me!"

"Pardon, me, ma'am," I said when I realized that Patricia wasn't going to notice me by herself.

She paused and looked up. "I do not have all day. What is it that you need?"

"Did you notice that there was a murder in the Moderators' Suite?" I figured that with this one, I should start with the basics. She seemed sort of distracted.

"Of course, I did! Ghastly business. It interrupted my getting three books formatted in Mobi. Downright inconsiderate of him."

"The killer or the stiff?"

"Both, actually. There cannot be a criminal in the absence of a victim. Elementary logic, that. Why, I had to move my chair from my favorits spot clear over here..." She looked around as if noticing her surroundings for the first time. "Did pshrynk push the Red Button? Again?"

"In the habit of doing that, was he?"

"It only happened once, and then we made Rule Seven: Do not touch this Red Button! We mean you, pshrynk!"

"It was actually Zippy who pushed the button."

"Zippy?"

"'Pinwheel,' like that's her real name..."

"Oh, Zelda. That's not possible! Zelda never touches the Red Button. She was too fast asleep when all of this happened."

"Asleep, eh? And what were you doing at the time?"

"I was puzzling out a particularly awkward PDF. I was quite too busy to notice anything."

"Yet you noticed that Zippy was asleep?"

"It's such a rare thing that it was hard to miss."

"One last thing. Why do you have a piece of electric blue string clinging to the hem of your, er, toga?"

She looked down and plucked it up. "I suppose that this has to do with Nate's String Theory..." She turned back to the laptop and I knew that I'd lost her. I walked back to the door and found Zippy.

"So, tell me about being asleep, Doll!" She gasped in surprise.
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Old 05-09-2010, 07:47 AM   #13
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Zippy stood there for a moment and started muttering to herself. I caught a phrase or two in French that I am sure my High School teacher never taught me. She looked up at me and said, "So I slept. No big deal. Everyone sleeps. It's not really a sign of weakness. Really. Not at all."

"If it's not a weakness, then why did you say that you sleep early and often, before?"

"I have my reputation to uphold!"

"If you were asleep, then you don't have any clue as to what happened, then?"

"I had some strange nightmares about a crowbar..."

Right then, there came a loud crash from one of the rooms. I ran over to see what had happened. On the door was written "NatCh." I eased the door open and peered around the frame.

"Never mind me," said the occupant, "I just broke my spleen. Lots more where that came from."

"Break it a lot, do you?" I looked around for the string. Right there in the shattered pieces of glass in the middle of the floor. i took out my notebook and started taking notes.

"Oh, it's a fragile thing. Around here, it breaks all the time. That's why I got the gross lot of replacements. From some place called Montsnamgs Enterpises. They were cheap, but I don't really understand the whole 'tenth part of your soul' clause..." NatCh looked worried for a moment.

"What can you tell me about the murder?" I was giving up on seeing NCIS tonight. I hoped it was a Kate and no McGee episode.

"Well, there was bad blood involved."

"Bad blood?" I asked. Hope took wing with a small quiver.

""Yeah. Once it leaks out of the body, you can't use it for anything except causing stains." And crashed to the ground in a fiery ball.

"Did anyone have it in for this pshrynk fellow?"

"Well, he seemed to have a lot of jealousy of people who had new toys. He was bugging Alex to change the rules of the contest so that moderators could be eligible to win if they were psychiatrists from a very cold state, as well."

"That didn't sit well with the people around here?"

"I don't think anyone really noticed all that much. He could be a pest at times."

I held back the urge to break the new spleen this moke was busy installing over his head. "So, was there anyone in particular who wanted to whack pshrynk over the head with a crowbar and then clean off said crowbar and leave a broken Nook behind?"

"Well, since you've been so specific, then, no. No one at all was in a situation to do all that."

These people played with language way too much for my tastes. I wrote down what he'd said and started to make little loops and squiggles in my notes to tie things together.
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:09 AM   #14
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By this time I was getting tired of all the bally hoo. What I had was a bunch of nuts with no squirrels. So far I hadn't heard anything about the yellow star with the Q on it and how the readers on the wall played in was a mystery. Of course, I get paid to solve mysteries, so I shouldn't complain.

The next door was labelled "DaleDe." I wondered what this guy was going to be like. After I opened the door, I saw a guy dressed in bluejeans and t-shirt holding a product scanner. He was scanning a bar code that was on the wall over and over again. The t-shirt said, "Well we did buy a llama for Neko."

"You DaleDe?" I asked.

"That's me! Hold still so I can take your picture for the wiki!" He produced a camera and flashed me in the eyes. As I was blinking around the purple spots, he took out a notebook and said, "Tell me your entire life story and include anything that you know about electronic readers."

"I'm asking the questions, here, mister!"

He wrote furiously in his notebook. "Hardcase hardboiled detective..." he muttered.

"Listen, pal, there was a murder in the Moderators Suite and I'm going to get to the bottom of it." I felt like I was losing gorund.

"Noir..." he murmered.

"What can you tell me about this yellow star with a Q on it?"

He looked up in the air as if reciting from memory. "The yellow star was first used in MobileRead by Ravenne, a moderator from Germany (verification needed) in the Winter Contest of 2009. Various stars and letters were scattered throughout the fora in a random fashion to entice members to look beyond their ususal areas of posting. The letters, when unscrambled, spelled out 'Oliver Twist,' which was the correct answer needed to be in the drawing for winning a prize. (Citation needed.) Many members were ready to riot after Ravenne superceded their many ways of searching for the posts with the stars. pshrynk atttempted to confuse the process by making his avatar of the day a yellow star with a Q on it. Members were not amused. (Verification needed.) The first member to correctly guess the answer was WetDogEared, who guessed it on the second letter. The moderators were frightened by this but the contest continues. It is assumed that WDE has alread guessed the answer to the current contest."

I was glad that I had the recording pen at that moment. "So, this pshrynk was a joker that way?" I was desperate to get a motive to pull this all together.

Again with the schoolboy recitation pose. "pshrynk is a moderator from Wisconsin, a state in the United States that apparently never has summer. (Citation needed.) He is known for his frequent changes of avatars and his less than memorable writing attempts that are tolerated only because he has the power to ban anyone that he sees as an 'unecessary critic.' He is believed to be the force behind VivaldiRules' frequent theft of avatars. (Verification needed.) He is also the employer of a wildly popular member, named psockpuppet, whom he works mercilessly and with no compensation. See also Laddy at the Door, outrageous billing levels, and Friday's Qestion of the Week."

I was beginning to have head spins from the information overload. "Okay, in an answer of one sentence or less, why do you think someone would kill pshrynk?"

"I think jealousy had something to do with it. Now if you don't mind, I have a history of Karma in MobliRead to write and post in the wiki." He turned back to his scanning and I knew that I had lost him.

Going back out the door, I saw Zippy absentmindedly wiping dust off the cases on the wall. NetSeeker ahd somehow escaped his personal looney bin and was regaling her with the details of all the heinous crimes he had committed, mostly by poison, but occasionally by clean crowbar, since the evidence pointed that direction.
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Old 05-11-2010, 08:56 AM   #15
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I shook my head and walked to the next door. It was labelled, "Nate the Great." Below that there was a hand printed sign that said, "Hello. I'm not taking your visit right now, but you can imprint your presence into the holocube at the tone and I'll ignore it at my leisure. Beep."

"He always this friendly?" I asked Zippy.

"Only when he's in a good mood. We try not to bother him when he gets a new gadget that doesn't meet his expectations."

I looked around for a cube, but only found a small pile of string with a yellow sticky that had "holocube" written on it. I arched my eyebrow at Zippy.

"Holocubes were a definite no-go on his list."

I opened the door and immediately felt like I had been transported to the set of one of those Star Thingie (TM) movies. The ones with the robots. The place was crammed full of electronic equipment. Centered in the mass of hissing and zapping metal and plastic was the large eyed bird I'd seen earlier. He was busy pulling on the end of a long string.

"You Nate?" I asked

"Yes. Here hold this," he said handing me the string. He went to a panel and punched buttons furiously. I dropped the string just in time to avoid the surge of electricity that I coud actually see coming from the ball it was being pulled from. "Good reflexes. What can I do for you?"

Wiping my hand on my trousers, I asked him, "Do you know anything about the murder that happened earlier today?"

"I understand that pshrynk took one on the head. Nasty business. But then, he didn't know that much about electronics." The bird shrugged, which was quite the sight to behold.

"You wouldn't happen to know who did it, would you?"

"Well he was a psychiatrist. Odds are that it was a suicide. The statistics are quite high in that regard. Here, hold this keyboard while I look them up."

I avoided touching the proffered weapon and said, "I'll take your word on it. So you think that someone would bean themselves with a crow bar to shuffle off this mortal sphere?"

"He's done stranger things. Have you read his stories?"

"Recursive tales aren't my thing. What about the string that's lying around all over the place. Everyone tells me that you can tell me what it's all about."

"That would be my 'String Theory.'" The bird managed to look proud, in spite of the eyes.

"String theory?"

"No, String Theory. You have to capitalize it."

"Right. So what's this String Theory you have?"

"Everything is held together by string."

"And?" I have to admit that my head was feeling like it could use a bit of string attached to keep it from spinning at this point.

"That's it. It holds everything together. Any more complex and it becomes too easy to disprove. I would point to my 'Big Bang With a Few Extra Flower Detonations Just to Make things More Interesting and the Occasional Trailing Sparkly Theory.' That one just went right down the tubes faster than anything, let me tell you."

"It must be comforting that you have that theory nailed down, so to speak."

The bird rolled his eyes, which was a definite sight to behold.

"So aside from pshrynk possibly killing himself, is there anyone else who might have been involved?"

"That guy who carries around the compass all the time and the penguin were in the room, too. Now, if you don't mind, I need to start working on my Relatives Theory. Which reminds me, do you have anyone related to you who is in a time warp at this time?"

Behind me, Zippy gasped. Again.

Last edited by Rock Lobster; 05-11-2010 at 08:59 AM.
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