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Petrified...

(written by k3nny) Sunday 22 April 07
01:22 Sydney, Australia

Emma was on her nightly stroll across the park near her home. The sky was clear with stars twinkling like a vast field where fireflies were stuck here and there. As usual, she could meet some of the regulars, who like her, came to breathe some fresh air. The seventeen-year old girl was just on her way home when suddenly…

“Ahhh!!!”

Emma was stunned by the sharp voice that was filled with fear and despair. Plucking her courage, she cautiously walked towards the direction of the noise. “It was near here…” she thought. “It must be someone who is in trouble…” The trees were moving their branches as if to stop her from approaching nearer. The teenager scanned the surroundings to see if there was anyone near she could ask for help but could see no one. Nearly tip-toeing, she arrived to a clearing with a telescope in the middle of it; beside laid the corpse of a man.

Saturday 21 April 07
23:22 Manila, Philippines

In the cosy town of Manila, Alexandra was busy chatting on the internet with her friends. It was quite late but she was accustomed to this kind of lifestyle. While she was commenting on the numerous stories she found on her favourite website, she spent hours teaching her friend Kenny, Filipino. Suddenly, her mobile phone rang with a whistling tune from Kill Bill… It was ‘Pikachu’, one of her friends, calling from his home.

“Hello?”

Nobody replied; Alexandra felt a freaky cold going down her spine…

“Hello? Stop playing games with me! I know that it’s you!”

Instead of a reply, she heard a dreadful plaintive voice that was almost expressing fear and despair… There was a loud thud and everything went silent again. Alexandra quickly ended the connection, and decided to call Pikachu again. She fell on a busy line.

Alexandra felt suddenly cold. She glanced at the window and went to close it. Outside, the sky was unusually bright. The young woman silently looked at the stars and hoped her friend was alright.

**********************************************************

“This is the seventh death we have been informed of. No sign of murder, no apparent sign of any illnesses; but each victim has been discovered alone and petrified. It’s as if their body has hardened suddenly,” started Doctor Matthews, “What’s most intriguing is that each of them seemed to have died at the exact moment.”

“You mean?” Agent Sephir Roost looked aghast.

“Well, these people were from different parts of the world: Philippines, Australia, England, Canada, China, England and USA. But even then, they died at about the same instant, each at different local times, but if you take into account the time zones, they died at the same moment. For example, the girl from Philippines claimed her friend died at 23:22, local time... that is, at the same time as the death of the man from Sydney.”

“How is it possible?”

“Actual science cannot explain this too, but using the various notebooks you brought me, they all seemed to be interested in stars. The telescope was turned towards the sky; the guy from Canada was doing research on stars... What’s interesting again is that a particular star was mentioned in most of their researches: The Algol, or the Demon star. And do you know what struck me more here? According to some beliefs, the Algol represents the eye of the Gorgon Medusa, a demon that kills by petrifying them. But of course, this is just occult; nothing to do with our own investigations.”

Sephir looked at the obviously exhausted criminal investigator. All what he just said, were still churning around in his mind.

“Thanks Matthews…” he said as he rushed out of the office. This case was one of the most difficult he had encountered; but he was determined to resolve it. The thirty year old agent was still concentrated in his thoughts.

“Either these people were part of a sect, or they were some crazy fellows or the legend is true.” He thought.

He searched in his pockets for his mobile phone and called his assistant. “Find me all you can on the Algol, the persons who discovered it and find what’s special about it… I’ll be there soon”

After hanging up, he went back to the FBI headquarters in his car. The trip took him only half an hour, but it seemed an eternity he had been in that traffic jam. Arrived in his office, his secretary was waiting for him. “Here are the files you asked for sir”, she said before taking her leave. Sephir looked at the clock. It was 19:03. He took a deep breath before he went through the pages as fast as he could.

“The name Algol means "demon star," (from Arabic, "the ghoul") which was probably given due to its peculiar behavior. In the constellation Perseus, it represents the eye of the Gorgon Medusa….
one of the best known eclipsing binaries… a binary star in which the orbit plane of the two stars lies so nearly in the line of sight of the observer that the components undergo mutual eclipses….
Algol's magnitude is usually near-constant at 2.1, but regularly dips to 3.4 during the several hour long eclipses which occur every 2 days, 20 hours and 49 minutes.
… Last time when the Algol’s magnitude was 3.4 was about 11.22 am Saturday 21 April 2007 (local time)…”

Sephir paused for a moment. 11:22 am… It was the exact time of death of all the victims… A sudden feeling of horror formed in his head: “what if it’s not just a myth?” He continued his reading…

“The Professor Dungsten, the discoverer of the Algol, dies in mysterious circumstances along with his assistant…
… Occult fanatics claim the Demon Star kills all those who are too curious about it…”

Agent Sephir Roost stopped reading. He remained still on his chair. His brain seemed heavy… as if it was near to exploding. He had a sudden fear. “Would he die now?” He just hoped he had not yet crossed the border of no-return. He looked at the clock again. It was now 20:00. It has been exactly 2 days 20 hours and 38 minutes since the deaths. He would soon know what he dreaded. As the clocked ticked away, he gulped several times.

He had to get this thing away from his life. He took the files scattered over his desk and threw them in the dustbin and put fire to them. With each passing minute, Sephir felt fear invading his body little by little. He so much hoped nothing would happen. Even if he was a qualified FBI agent and had come across many deaths, he did not want his time to arrive at that moment… Not now!

It was now 20:10. Sephir was gasping for more air. It was as if he was choking. His hands and legs were starting to become uncontrollable. The martyr gave out the most terrifying cry he had ever know before he collapsed on the floor.

****************************************************************

Tuesday 23 April
06:07 FBI Headquarters

“So, this is how you discovered him?”

“Yes, I was just coming in to do some cleaning when I found him dead there.”

“Did you notice anything strange in the room?”

“No Ma'am” replied the maid.

“This puts the death toll to nine then,” Agent Tonya Parker said, holding the fax announcing Doctor Matthews’ death in her hands…
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