Ichiro heard that now-familiar whoosh. A long moment later, he at last regained control over his body. Until that point, paralyzed by fear, he’d barely been able to move a muscle.
Ichiro ran into the house and told his father what had happened. Yoshio had just come over and Kitamura-san was in the neighborhood, so they all listened to Ichiro’s story. For the time being, they didn’t say anything to Yurika so as not to make her sick with worry.
Yoshio immediately phoned Detective Akechi and related what was going on. Some forty minutes after that came the sound of a car braking to a halt out front. Detective Akechi and Inspector Nakamura from the Metropolitan Police Department bustled up the front walk, along with five plainclothes police officers.
Flashlights in hand, Yoshio and Ichiro led Detective Akechi to the yard where Ichiro had spotted the space alien. Directing the beams from their own flashlights into every nook and cranny, the police officers examined the grounds from the outside wall of Yurika’s room to the back of the yard to the grove of trees. They didn’t find a single footprint or revealing clue.
Inspector Nakamura ordered the five officers to keep a close watch around the perimeter of the house. Then he and Detective Akechi stepped into the living room and spoke with Ichiro’s father and Kitamura-san.
“Since the culprit can take to the air at will, there’s not much more we can do at this point,” said Inspector Nakamura. He added in a reassuring manner, “I’ll post five of my men outside the house in shifts day and night, and I can add more at any time if the facts on the ground call for it. Ten or twenty, if need be.”
Ichiro’s father said, his face pale, his voice trembling, “Wouldn’t it be better to move Yurika to a more secure location? I can’t help feeling that, one way or another, this miscreant won’t let up until it gets its hands on her.”
“I will give it serious consideration,” Inspector Nakamura said, doing his best to answer these concerns. “However, with your daughter in a windowless room in the middle of the house, surrounded on all sides, I see no possibility of them breaking through the roof to get inside, no matter the number of accomplices. You needn’t worry too much. My men are on guard around the house. They are armed. If they spot the suspect, they have permission to use deadly force.”
Kitamura-san broke into the conversation at this point. “Detective Akechi, I’ve been thinking along the following lines.”
Kitamura-san had been detained by the space alien inside the flying saucer for the better part of a month. Perhaps he, more than anyone, had an intense interest in the disposition of the case.
“If this creature can kidnap the director of a museum and cage him in a zoo on another planet, then we should do the same in return. Grab it first and lock it up in Ueno Zoo. All we need is a trap that’s large enough and strong enough. Something like a steel net. A standard kind of net or snare trap, only a hundred times bigger.”
Kitamura-san’s ideas were certainly extreme. But upon closer thought, all those present realized that short of taking such drastic measures, this mutant cross between a bat and a lizard would be impossible to catch.
“We can’t interrogate the creature if it gets shot and killed. More importantly, capturing it alive would help us figure out where it is from and what its objectives are. Having detained it, we can inquire about the animal and plant life on its planet, the advanced state of its science and technology. Such information could contribute greatly to the store of human knowledge on this planet. Capturing it alive is our only viable option.”
Detective Akechi glanced at Inspector Nakamura and said thoughtfully, “We have also discussed various options. A giant trap is indeed an intriguing possibility. But given that this creature is from another planet, and surely possesses degrees of intelligence and power that we cannot imagine, it may well slip through any trap we set.”
However, Kitamura-san’s proposal held sway with the police. They set about getting ready a mouse trap for a creature a hundred times bigger than a mouse. Not a trap made from a steel net but something more robust and practical.
The conversation had proceeded to this point when a scream rang out from a room at the other side of the house. They all reflexively looked at each other. Ichiro’s father said, “That was Yurika’s voice. Something happened to her!” and flew out of the room.
Less than a minute after that, his frantic voice echoed out again, “Everyone, get here as fast as you can! Yurika! Yurika!”
A short time before, without giving her an explanation, her mother took Yurika by the hand and said, “We’re going to spend the night in one of the other rooms.” A room that didn’t face the yard.
Yurika demurely did as she was told and went with her mother. But then she remembered she’d left her precious violin perched on her desk. She slipped away and hurried back to her room.
So as not to upset her, no one had told Yurika about the space alien hovering outside her window. When the alien spoke to Ichiro, the curtains were drawn and Yurika had been absorbed in her violin practice. She didn’t notice what was going on in the yard.
Back in her room, Yurika put the violin in its case and set the case on the bookcase. That was when she was overcome by a strange feeling, the creepy sensation of being stared at. She turned her gaze slowly around the room. Nobody else was there. No shadows hovered beyond the open door.
Yurika’s eyes were drawn to the curtains. “Ah, somebody outside the house must be looking through the window at me. I’m sure of it.”
Her heart beat a little faster. But she was no shrinking violet. She wasn’t about to turn and run. She stepped without hesitation to the window and threw open the curtains.
Outside the window was the dark night. Within the pitch darkness bobbed a strange blob of white, like a thick smear of chalk on a blackboard. But, no, it wasn’t white. It glittered—with silver light.
Two black holes for the eyes, the crescent moon of a mouth turned up at both corners. The space alien. Forty or fifty minutes before, it had flown into the sky, leaving behind only a gust of wind. Now the monster had returned.
The silver face drew closer to the window and touched it, raising a crisp rattle.
Yurika faced the silver mask on the other side of the pane, a curious smile rising unconsciously to her face. For a long moment they stared at each other.
Then Yurika screamed and collapsed to the floor. Hearing the cry, her father came running. Detective Akechi and Inspector Nakamura followed on his heels. Confirming there was nothing suspicious in the hallway or room, Detective Akechi strode to the window and flung open the sash.
Again, nothing was there. The silver mask had disappeared into thin air.
Inspector Nakamura leaned out of the window and called to his officers. From the deep shadows on the far side of the yard came a rustling sound. Then two officers approached the window.
The Inspector brusquely queried, “The young lady just saw something strange from her bedroom window and fainted. Did either of you notice anything suspicious entering the yard?”
Neither of them had. “We concealed ourselves in that grove of trees with a clear view of the house. We haven’t seen a thing out of the ordinary.”
Behind them, Yurika’s father spoke up, his voice loud and hoarse. “Detective Akechi, Yurika has regained consciousness. She says she saw a silver mask outside the window. It couldn’t have had enough time to flee. Search the area!”
Inspector Nakamura barked, “Get everyone together and canvass the yard!
One of the officers blew his whistle. His colleagues patrolling the yard and along the wall around it came running. The five of them split up. Scanning the grounds with their flashlights, they made a thorough search. But they found nothing suspicious in the slightest.
It was all quite strange. Less than a minute had passed between the time Yurika screamed and everyone rushed to her side. Moreover, two police officers were keeping watch over the yard. If the alien ran away or flew into the sky, they surely would have seen it.
Perhaps Yurika had seen a phantom or apparition. But that was out of the question. She was too grounded a girl to go around seeing things that couldn’t be seen.
Then how to explain what was going on? This alien from another planet must have a knowledge of “magic” that the people of Earth could not comprehend, technology that could render itself invisible in an instant.
That night, Yurika slept in the innermost room in the house. Her mother, father, Ichiro and Yoshio kept watch, and made sure nobody left the room unaccompanied. The five police officers manned their posts and kept their eyes peeled.
Detective Akechi and Inspector Nakamura and Kitamura-san returned to the living room and continued their discussion, with Kitamura-san insisting that his idea for a trap was the best way to proceed.
Inspector Nakamura shook his head. “I don’t see us building a big steel mousetrap that could snare this space alien. Might there be a better approach?”
Kitamura-san wasn’t about to be deterred. “How about concrete instead of steel? A concrete trap.”
Inspector Nakamura still wasn’t convinced. “Hmm. Concrete. No worries about it getting away in that case. On the other hand, the trap is not likely to deceive the creature either. A trap that doesn’t disguise itself is no good as a trap.”
“No, I’ve thought of a way around that too. There are plenty of concrete storehouses around here. Empty one of them and bring in tables and chairs. Furnish it like a normal apartment and have Yurika live there for a while.”
“I see. You do come up with some creative ideas. What you’re saying is, turn the whole storehouse into the trap.”
Visibly impressed at the plan Kitamura-san had come up with, Inspector Nakamura looked at him and nodded.
Well, well, Gentle Reader, what sort of trap do you imagine Kitamura-san intends to devise? If the Metropolitan Police Department approves of this approach, when the time comes, will it be enough to capture the space alien?
So a contest of brain power begins between Kitamura-san and the Lizard Man. The circumstances of our little drama grow all the stranger. Be that as it may, what must Detective Kogoro Akechi be thinking? Up to now, as far as we can tell, he has taken no action, only observed. There surely must be a reason for this.