Sabotage/mystery I wrote for English class. Go ahe
Mystery & Fiction
Mr. Oldham, Per. 4
The Last Fall
It was a typical late July night. I had just gotten back from a sports bar where I watched a Giantsame and slammed down a few beers with my buddies. I walked the few blocks to my apartment in the Not Beach district of San Francisco. Though it was midnight, it was still a nice night out, maybe sixy egrees. I got to my apartment and, not feeling tired, walked over to my new computer. I had becom qute addicted to it. I'd originally bought it so I could check police and F.B.I. records without lavin the house and for typing reports, cases, notes, etc. I had gotten bored with this and started o expriment with my modem. I hooked up to the Internet, rationalizing that I could communicate withother rivate investigators and my clients. I clicked the icon for signing on. I saw that I had new -mail ad clicked my way to it. I was becoming a pro at this. I surfed through the junk mail and leters frommy female aquaintances until I got to this:
Subj: My friend's been murdered! I need your help!
Numb: 10425 of 10466 Date: 07/16/95 21:00
Conf: Internet E-mail Private: YES
Please help me! I just got back from a climbing trip to Yosemite. My friend was killed when his ropbroke. I think it was murder and that the rope was sabotaged. It was my rope though, so I'm afraid ht it was aimed towards me! I need your help figuring this out. If we don't act now, they may strik aain. I'll give you the story as best I remember it, while it's still fresh in my mind. When you gt tis, page me at (510)555-5845 and we can set up a time to meet and discuss this further. Thanks alot!Please hurry! Here's my narration for you.
It started like any other trip to the crags. An early start to beat the crowds and heat, the drive twisty mountain roads, short approach to the rock, stretch out, gear up for the climb, check harnesbuckles and rope tie-ins, chalk up hands, and finally the signals between the belayer and the climerto make sure each is ready.
I was belaying. That means I was controlling the safety rope, keeping the slack out of the system sif Steve fell, he'd get caught by the rope, anchors, and me. The rope is dynamic, which means it's tetchy, so when he falls the force is taken up by the rope and not his spine. He was doing well. Ths as his first time trying this particular route. I had done it before, so I was screaming beta, sory,climbing term, advice at him. I knew it was above his level of ability, so I wasn't afraid of pisinghim off by ruining his onsight flash. I knew he'd fall numerous times by the time the day was dne. H clipped a fixed bolt for protection, the sixth of the route's thirteen and stared at the cruxbeforehim. I told him about the huge hold above the lip of the overhang, but he couldn't reach it. e had to choices, to try to use the marginal sloper for his right hand, or to dyno, sorry, jump forthe buckt. He, being Steve, of course, chose the latter. He always was a show-off.
"I'm gonna dyno for it man, watch me!" he commanded me.
"Go for it, dude!" I encouraged him. I paid out enough rope for him to reach the jug and braced mysf to lock off the rope, putting friction in the system to stop his fall if he didn't make it. He pupd up and down on the holds he was on, psyching himself up for the jump. He had done moves like thi al the time on the training wall. I saw him push off with all his might, fly through the air, and atc onto the hold at the apogee of his jump.
"Got it!" he exclaimed.
"Just like in the climbing videos, man!" I replied. "Ok, the next bolt is up a few feet to your rig. There's a good rest hold to clip from."
"I don't see it, man!" he yelled, now forty-five feet from me.
"To the left of the undercling, man."
"All I see is a little hole."
"Man, someone must have removed it. That sucks!"
"Tell me about it. I guess I gotta run it out to the next bolt." he sighed. "The last one was a rus 1/4 incher too. I hope it's still strong."
"Ok, watch out for the dicey foot smear." I advised. I walked back from the rock so I could see himbove the overhang. I saw him place his left sticky-rubber shoe on the sloped, polished foothold. Hi ight hand went up to a two-finger pocket. As he stepped up on the smear, going for the edge with hs ight foot, his left foot slipped off the smear. He was hanging by his hands, bicycling at the wal wih his feet, trying to regain his footing.
"Falling!!" he yelled.
I instinctively locked off the rope and braced to catch the fall. What happened next was very scaryHe was about ten feet above the last bolt, so he fell about twenty feet, plus the stretch in the roe What happened next is all a blur, it happened so fast. The rusty bolt pulled out, dropping Steve ixmore feet to the last one. At this time, something I've never seen in ten years of climbing happeed.The rope SNAPPED in two! Now climbing ropes don't break under normal circumstances like this. Thy ca get cut or abraded in half, but they don't break! This rope was fairly new, and we'd only falln on t a few times. This was by no means a hard fall. When it broke, Steve fell the remaining distace to he ground, landing on his back on some sharp rocks. I unclipped from the anchor I was attache to andran to his side. He wasn't breathing. I felt for his pulse but didn't feel anything. I looke at his hest, and saw that it was violently contorted. It appeared as if he had broken his back. Atthis poin two climbers came up to us.
"Is he alive?" the brown haired one asked.
I shook my head, barely believing it myself.
"Stuff like that don't happen, dude! That was messed up." whispered the one with the shaved head.
"I've got my cellular phone in the side pocket of my pack. I'll go call for help." offered the browhaired fellow.
"I don't think this was an accident. I think your rope was sabotaged. I'll go get it and put it in garbage bag. I'm sure you'll need it for evidence. Who's rope was it anyways?"
"It was mine." I replied. "Whoa, you think that was meant for me?"
"I wouldn't doubt it. You got any enemies?"
"Several. Oh man."
"Well here come some rangers with Keith. Oh yeah, I'm Jessie."
"Brandon. Sucks we have to meet this way."
"Good call." he replied.
The rangers and Keith arrived, carrying a litter. "We'll take it from here." one said.
They took down our personal information and promised to call me when they figured out what they wergoing to do. I gathered my gear and followed them to the parking lot. I drove straight to Steve's hue. I spent the evening there, comforting his parents and sister, then headed home. I didn't feel cmfrtable telling anyone else, since they were expecting me to still be in Yosemite and I knew that ne f the people I wanted to call was the saboteur. I figured it was smarter to stay low and contactyou irst. Please page me now and I'll call you when I find a secluded place.
End of Message
I read this again, still in disbelief and trying to memorize the facts. I hit the button to print t message and picked up my phone. I dialed the digits and waited.
As the page spat out of the printer, the silence was pierced by the ringing phone. I nervously pick it up. "Hello?"
"It's me." the other party said.
"Yeah. Thanks for responding. I just knew you would help me. So will you meet me soon? I want to geaway from my house. You're in the City, right? Let's meet at Pier 39 in front of the arcade, OK?"
"Now or in the morning?" I inquired.
"Now. I'll be there in forty-five minutes, OK?"
"I don't have much choice. OK. Make sure you aren't followed."
"Alright. See you then."
"Bye." The reciever went dead with a click. I pondered the little predicament I'd gotten into. It'sertainly not the first. My watch said 12:15.
I decided to spend a half-hour getting some information on climbing gear. I surfed to my Web Browseand searched for climbing-related pages. I found one for a rope manufacturer and downloaded the docmnts about rope strength and breakage. I educated myself on climbing physics, finding that ropes cano break from the force of a fall unless it's an old rope, cut, abraded, or burned by chemicals. I eada file on the basics of climbing to assist in my understanding of our conversations. I felt I wa wel enough prepared, so I shut down my computer.
After freshening up a little and grabbing a jacket, I headed downstairs. I picked up a MUNI bus outde and traveled the few miles to Pier 39. I wondered how I would know it was him, after all, there il still many tourists cruising about. Then while looking around I saw a twentyish guy nervously pain about in a yellow Gore-Tex jacket. A climbing backpack was slung over his shoulder. I knew he wa myman. I approached him. "Brandon?"
"Wha? Oh hi. You must be Mr. Jenkins. Thanks for coming."
"Please, call me Johnny. Lets walk." I led him down Fisherman's Wharf. "So who do you think may wanto kill you?"
"There are a few possibilities. My ex-girlfriend because I dumped her after four years, my former rmmate because I told his parents about his, uh, sexual activity, my old co-worker, because I causedhm to lose his job and reputation by revealing his illegal dealings, my old climbing buddy, becauseI ropped him once and broke his hip, leaving him unable to climb. That's about it."
"Hmm. Grim cases all around. I'm not sure where to start. Do you have the rope?"
"Yeah, it's in my pack. Want to see it?"
"No, lets take it down to forensics and let them check it out. I don't want to mess it up."
"Can it be done tonight?"
"Yes, after that we'll go to my office. I'd like to get some more information from you on file."
"Nice office." Brandon mutters sarcasticly. I silently agree. It's just my appartment with a desk, d, the usual.
I took some notes and stories down from him. I eliminated his ex-girlfriend from the suspect list, nce they are still friendly. The others I'm stumped about. I stared at the monitor on my desk, deepi thought. The file about rope breakage came back to me.
He woke up from his snooze. "What's up?"
"About the rope. Was it cut by rock or anything?"
"Nope, I fell on it pretty hard the weekend before and it was fine then. It didn't get cut yesterdaby anything as far as I can tell."
"It was a newish rope, right? So it wouldn't get weakened by Ultraviolet rays. You were on an overhg so it didn't abrade on the rock. How recently had you washed it?"
"Three weeks ago, after we got home from Joshua Tree."
"So it wasn't abraded internally by dirt. You hadn't fallen on it much, so it had plenty of strengtleft. You didn't loan it to anyone who might have messed it up?"
"No way! That's like the stupidest thing you can do! You never know what they've done to it."
"You don't store it near gasoline, battery acid, or any other harsh chemicals?"
"Of course not, I hang it in my closet out of the sun and away from all that stuff."
"Wait, it is accessible to anyone who has access to your appartment?"
"Yeah, I guess. Whoa, you think someone sabotaged my rope when I was away?"
"It's entirely possible. Probable even. Who would know where you keep it?"
"Anyone who's been to my appartment."
"You always keep it there, including the week before the trip to Yosemite?"
"Yep, with all my other gear."
"Is that the same place you shared with Dante?"
"Yes, it is. I've been there ever since I graduated from High School."
"So your ex-girlfriend has been there?"
"Oh yes. All the time."
"Did she have a key?"
"Yes, but she gave it back when she picked up all her stuff after we broke up."
"Dante obviously had a key."
"Yes, he knew where the hidden key was too."
"So he had acess to your place after he moved out."
"I never thought to change the locks..."
"What about Mike?"
"We never met outside of work."
"The old climbing partner?"
"The only abode we shared was a tent."
"What does Dante do?"
"He got a Chemical Engineering degree at Cal Berkeley and was working at Clorox when he left."
My thoughts were interrupted by the phone. "Hello?"
"Jenkins? This is Russell down at the station."
"You finished the forensic analysis already?"
"Yeah. We think the rope was injected with concentrated Sodium Hypochlorite."
"Oh that really helps. Is there any layman's term for it?"
"It's the active ingredient in bleach."
"Bleach, eh? Thanks a lot Russell."
"Anything for an old friend."
"Bye." I hung up the reciever.
"Johnny, I think we've got our man."
"I'm pretty sure we do. Motive, weapon..."
"There's no way he can account for all the time I was out of the house at school and work."
"We better let the police handle this. Dante sounds like a wacko."
"I don't want to let him know I'm alive until he's behind bars."
"Let's go down to the station and fill them in."
"Ok, Jenkins. Great work this time. You made our job real easy. All we had to do was bust in while was sleeping and arrest him. I'll need your buddy Brandon here to testify to all this in court."
"No problem at all, Officer Russell. That could've just as easily been me as Steve."
"He'll get life, right?" I inquired.
"Steve's parent's lawyer is one of the best. You have a really solid case against this Dante characr too. Good luck."
"Thanks for all your help, Officer Russell."
"Well, Brandon, you'd make a good gumshoe."
"You're the one that deserves all the credit. I owe you my life."
"Nah, just $3,000."
"Steve's parents and I will get that to you. I'm going to move in with them for awhile while I get er this. Thanks again."
"But the true question is, are you ever going to climb again?"
"Once I get a new rope, of course I will! Nothing else will help me move on in life."
"Do you have another partner?"
"Not yet. Say, you're pretty athleticly built. Want me to show you the ropes sometime?"
"Bad pun, but sure."
"Sounds like a deal."X-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-X
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