‘Ever heard of Schrödinger’s cat, Inspector?’ Shiva asked gently, stressing each syllable. A man was sat opposite him, hands tied behind his back. A look of sheer malevolence hung like a poisonous fog upon his countenance.
‘Where is my wife, you psycho?’ He spat.
‘I’m getting to that, Inspector’, Shiva murmured. ‘But first, answer my question.’
The Inspector didn’t react. He tugged hard against his bond and winced when a sharp pain stung his skin.
‘I wouldn’t do it if I were you, Inspector. Those are heavy duty zip ties. The more you struggle against them, the more they tear into your skin. Wouldn’t you say they are somewhat similar to you? You restrain the free will of the innocent. When we do dare struggle to free ourselves, you tear into us. How apropos!’ Shiva rummaged through his rucksack and fished out a tiny hour glass. He considered the contraption with fascination.
‘You are finished, nutcase. Once my hands are free, I’m going to kill you’, the Inspector snarled. ‘I’m going to take my time and enjoy killing you. Now tell me where my wife is.’
‘You cannot kill me, Inspector. And I will untie you when I see fit. Now, tell me, Schrödinger’s cat.’
‘What the hell is that? I don’t know what cat you are talking about.’
Shiva smiled, ‘Inspector, let me give you a lesson in physics before one in life. Schrödinger was an Austrian physicist who proposed a thought experiment. Do you know what a thought experiment is? No? I figured as much.’
‘I’ve had enough, you bastard. Let me go and tell me where my wife is. I’ll grant you a quick death.’
‘Do not interrupt me until I finish, Inspector’, Shiva snarled. ‘Who knows, you might learn a thing or two. Oh! This has a direct connection to your wife’s life.’
The fight drained from the Inspector and his head dropped.
‘The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics…It’s ok if you don’t understand this part. But as a teacher, it’s my duty to cover the basics. It says that a particle exists in all states until it is observed. To counter that, Schrödinger proposed that a cat be kept inside a sealed box along with a minuscule radioactive sample, a Geiger counter and a bottle of poison. If the Geiger counter detects that the radioactive material has decayed, it will activate a small hammer breaking open the cyanide bottle. Do you follow?’
‘In this situation, the Copenhagen interpretation says that the cat is both alive and dead at the same time until the box is opened and verified.’
‘What does it have to do anything with my wife?’
‘She is the Schrödinger’s cat in my experiment, Inspector.’ Shiva placed the hourglass on the table. ‘She has one hour.’
‘You bastard! I will…’
‘…do nothing, Inspector.’ Shiva relieved a syringe from his rucksack. The Inspector’s eyes went round with sheer terror.
‘This is not for you.’ Shiva plunged the needle into his veins, pumping its contents into his system. He cut open the plastic ties with a knife.
With a roar, the Inspector fell on Shiva and started pummeling him with his fists.
‘I’ll kill you…’
Shiva coughed out blood, ‘I’m already dying Inspector. I have injected myself with poison. Once I die, your wife will die as well. Now get off me.’
The inspector complied. ‘What do you want?’
‘Your confession, Inspector.’ Shiva placed a video camera on the table. ‘And then, your life.’ He added a 9 mm pistol to the contents of the table.
‘Why did you involve my wife, Professor?’
‘The equation is always to be balanced, Inspector. You killed my family. It’s only logical to bring yours into our little issue.’
‘What should I do?’
‘Record your confession. Then shoot yourself. There are heart-rate monitors hardwired to the both of us. Once our hearts stop beating, they will send a signal that will unlock the door to your wife’s chamber. Until then she is Schrödinger’s cat. Don’t even dream about finding a way to trick the device. It’s foolproof’
‘I do! In fact, we are all like Schrödinger’s cat, inside the sealed box called life, controlled by unscrupulous politicians and officers like you. We are alive and dead at the same time. I have no desire to live anymore. I’m off to spend the final moments of my life near my loved ones’ graves.’
Shiva picked up his rucksack and walked away.
‘Your move, Inspector.’