Escape Room – The Second Case of the HAND
On 2021-07-14 | 0 Comments

Fragment translated by the author

Prologue

He could have killed for Grandma. With a capital G: Grandma. She used to say the same: ‘I could kill for my grandchildren’. And this wasn’t an empty phrase. Grandma would indeed have been able to kill. He now had the evidence in front of him. It wasn’t conclusive, it wasn’t black-and-white, but it was more than a vague possibility. It was Grandma’s life squeezed into a folder. And now he was entrusted with this life. Him alone.

The chances that anybody would find the letters of complaint were remote, and that they would make a big deal out of it after forty years were even smaller. However, the blogging world was prospering and amateur researchers and self-appointed journos were hunting down those who could be vilified for everything that had happened during the forty years of state socialism. And he couldn’t allow Grandma’s history to be accessed by a simple click. He could still prevent others from passing judgement on her.

She had sat on the committee and decided about people’s lives. About whole families. She might have been bribed, she might have blackmailed some of them. In those years it couldn’t have happened otherwise. Was she asked to fulfil this role? Did she accept voluntarily or was she designated and forced to do it? Nobody would ever know. And even if they did, would it change the facts? Grandma had been part of the regime and she had never denied it. Maybe she would have talked about it, if he had asked. But who would have thought that she had taken part in such things?

Who should decide if Grandma was a good person? Good enough to be cared for by society in her old age? By that society in whose improvement she had believed and believed absolutely. He had learned from her that what counted was not the individual but the community. Sometimes this truth was painful. That’s why he had asked her so many times: if this was the case, did it matter that Grandma’s grandchildren were them, not somebody else, not everybody? Grandma’s reply was always the same:

Blood ties do not count. You’re my grandchildren because I wanted you.’

The knowledge of having been chosen had helped him through so many low moments. Only romantic passion chooses with such assurance, but that fades away after a couple of months or years. But Grandma’s love had never faded. He was her Grandchild and he could have killed for her love.

1.

A member of the Hungarian aristocracy was found dead in his kitchen,’ Detective Chief Inspector Telki-Nagy said. ‘The SOCOs has been and gone, if I am not mistaken,’ she managed a weak smile.

The detectives from Team C from the Special Division of Crime Against the Person gathered around the body of the nobleman. A long carving knife was sticking out from his chest.

I wonder what was he doing in the kitchen if he was an aristocrat?’ DS Köteles asked lifting his eyebrows.

Plus, he was a man,’ said Data who was the informatician in Team C but thanks to DCI Telki-Nagy, she was allowed to take part in meetings and even in the investigative work.

He was celebrating International Women’s Day, I bet,’ DI Vasvári guffawed and Köteles joined him. ‘You get it, don’t you?’ he said, slapping the back of the young DS.

Köteles blushed. His wife Réka would kill him if she heard him laughing at this joke with the old man. To make up for it, he tried to show willingness.

Maybe he wanted to talk to the staff.’

In the middle of the night?’ Data asked and lowered her ample body down onto the bench alongside the wall. She didn’t think the kitchen stool looked sturdy enough.

They all looked at the narrow bed. Above it, a small cross and a young soldier’s picture was hanging on the wall, probably a portrait of the maid’s fiancé.

Maybe he wanted to talk about tomorrow’s menu, change it or add something,’ Köteles made another effort to show some enthusiasm.

That must have been the wife’s job,’ Data replied, slipping her feet forward until the toe of her shoe touched the edge of the pool of blood.

Then why did he come into the kitchen in the middle of the night?’ Telki-Nagy asked again.

Perhaps for a glass of water?’ Köteles wondered aloud.

Involuntarily, Telki-Nagy exchanged a look with Data. Köteles’s innocence sometimes verged on stupidity. The Chief Inspector had regularly asked herself whether the DS would ever become a good detective. At the same time, she thought that his naïve approach to the world made it possible for him to have a fresh view on events. And more than once, this had proved very useful.

Not for a glass water, my son, but for the maid’s favours!’ Vasvári was laughing again. In the name of male solidarity, he took young Köteles under his wing from time to time. And more often than not, his good intentions were disappointed.

He was killed by the drawer,’ Data rumbled, grasping the knife shaped handle of the kitchen cabinet.

Vasvári dropped onto a stool and took out a flask from his pocket.

I hate being confined. My brain just doesn’t work.’

I’m glad to see you have something to oil the wheels,’ Telki-Nagy snapped at him, because she had resolved to never let his drinking habits pass without comment. ‘Come on, people, let’s get to work!’ she clapped her hands half-heartedly.

Everybody looked at her gobsmacked. The Chief Inspector never clapped, and this sort of exhortation was definitely not like her. Teambuilding brings out the worst in everybody, Data thought, and looked despairingly around in the escape room.