The well cared for pool was empty, except for the half eaten apple floating around in the middle. Detective Daniels walked around, checking out the pool furniture and smooth stone floor. "Miss Zimmer, you said your husband called and asked you to come home to talk to him right away. And refused to say anything more. Did he sound frightened? Or upset?"
"No, but he was extremely excited, which was not like him at all. I rushed home to see what could have made him so happy."
Detective Daniels peered at a book which was sitting on the floor next to a pool chair. "The Da Vinci Code... And it looks brand new. Mrs. Zimmer, does this book belong to you or your husband?"
"Not that I know of. It's not mine, and Mark rarely reads anything unless it has to do with his research.
Snap! The detective donned rubber gloves and carefully looked through the book. There were no apparent clues, so he placed it in a plastic bag.
"That apple doesn't belong to us either. He hates the taste of apples, and that one is not mine. I bought oranges instead this week. There wasn't an apple in the house."
"What does he study?"
"Physics. I'm not sure of the specifics of his current project, whenever he starts to talk about work, my eyes get heavy."
"Does he have any enemies?"
"Oh no, Mark rarely socializes. And everyone who has ever known him will say that he is the most agreeable man on Earth - unless you want to debate theories about physics."
"How is your relationship with him?"
"We love each other and have since childhood."
"Could he have left to go somewhere voluntarily? Perhaps he had a phone call, or decided to visit a friend or colleague?"
"That is very unlikely, I was home within fifteen minutes, and he was quite insistent on telling me something."
"It hasn't been 24 hours yet, but I fully understand your concern. Mr. Zimmer's phone is not working, and his sudden disappearance is disturbing. I will put out an APB as soon as we finish here."
"Thank you, Detective. I would like to offer a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to his safe return."
"No problem, ma'am. I will alert the media about the story and reward, and let you know as soon as I hear anything. I'll need to take the apple and the book in, as evidence."
"Of course, Detective."
"Also, please provide me with some samples of Mr. Zimmer's hair, fingerprints, and if possible saliva. And try to keep this area exactly as it is, don't let anyone in, even the pool cleaner. If Mr. Zimmer isn't back within 24 hours I will have a CSI team here tomorrow."
Mrs. Zimmer's eyes began to fill with tears, but she held it in. She collected the requested items from the house in the form of her husband's comb, toothbrush, and a glass still showing some drops of milk in the bottom.
She then escorted the Detective back to his car. "Please let me know as soon as you hear anything?"
"Of course, Mrs. Zimmer. And you must promise to do the same." He then handed her a card.
"I will, no matter what the hour is. Thank you again for your help."
He put the Ziploc bags containing the items in his car, then drove away.
Meanwhile, in a very disreputable looking part of town, a homeless man is awakened by the slam of a car door.
He listened, curious. Very few people with enough money for a car would even consider visiting the area.
"Wake up Zimmer, it's time to go for a little walk!" said a man in a gruff voice.
The homeless man looks around the corner of the dumpster which is hiding his cardboard box, and sees two men enter an abandoned warehouse via a small door in the alley. One was nicely dressed, and the other was hunched and had on a bulky sport jacket, large hat, and sunglasses.
"Miss Stewart, please process this evidence?"
"Of course, Detective Daniels."
Detective Daniels then had a brief but productive meeting with Reginald Rogers, a reporter and longtime friend.
After the meeting, he called Mrs. Zimmer, and confirmed that her husband was still missing. He also told her that the story and reward offer would be front page news.
He then went to the local rumor mill, aka the pub. He asked around, showing Mark Zimmer's photograph. Nobody had ever seen or heard of him. Not surprising, but it had been worth a shot.
It was getting late, so he called the lab to see if they had found anything. "Hello Miss Stewart. Do you have any news about the Zimmer case?"
"Yes Detective Daniels, there was a strand of hair in the book, on page 99. It was a perfect match for the sample given of Mr. Zimmer. The apple is still being analyzed by my assistant."
The next morning, Detective Daniels called Mrs. Zimmer. Mr. Zimmer was still missing. He then called the lab. The apple contained DNA where it had been bitten. The saliva was a perfect match for Mr. Zimmer!
He quickly called Mrs. Zimmer, and asked her if there was any chance he might bite into an apple.
"No, he can't even stand the smell of them!" The detective then thanked her for her time, and hung up, perplexed. Maybe Mr. Zimmer had been threatened, but why? He then called the lab again.
"Miss Stewart, were there traces of anything on that apple? Poison, sedative, or anything else unusual?"
"Nothing except the DNA, Detective. It was just a half eaten apple."
He was at a loss, unless only part of the apple had been tampered with. What a strange way to kill or knock out a victim!
The same homeless man found a discarded newspaper, which looked clean and dry. Celebrating his luck at finding such good insulation for his thin jacket, he smoothed it out. To his shock, he saw the nicely dressed man who had entered the warehouse the other day.
He eagerly read the article, and at the end of it became very excited. There was a $10,000 reward for information leading to his safe return!
He then walked to the nearest police station, where they promptly called Detective Daniels. He interviewed the man, who gladly gave him every detail.
Soon after this he was guided to the warehouse by the homeless man. The warehouse was empty, but had some footprints in the dry dusty interior. He called the CSI team, and gave them the address.
"Would you be willing to stay in a shelter, Sir? It would help me to be able to locate you should you qualify for the $10,000 reward."
If you can get me an opening yes, competition is mighty fierce for beds!"
"You will have a bed every night."
The next morning, Mrs. Zimmer called Detective Daniels. "Mark is home, and safe!!!"
"Where was he?"
"He won't say, but made it clear that no crime was committed. He thanks you for everything you have done."
Curious, Detective Daniels drives over to the Zimmer home. He could get no more out of Mr. Zimmer than his wife could. While polite, he firmly refused to give any details.
Detective Daniels told them about the witness, what he had seen, and his current situation. Mr. Zimmer didn't deny being there, but said no more.
Both agreed that the homeless man deserved the reward. They promised to have a fund made for him. The $10,000 was his, to be administered by a professional financial advisor.
He was to select a modest place to live, and would be provided with enough for essentials. Rent would be paid monthly from the fund, as well as a small amount for expenses. They would also arrange job training and then employment
Detective Daniels left, still not satisfied but unable to get the answers he wanted. He noticed that his gas tank needed filling, so headed to the closest self serve gas station.
Upon going in to pay the bill, he saw a man in a bulky jacket. Very unusual for such a warm day. He waited around, pretending to be interested in the magazines.
The man had a package of apple cinnamon cookies, and a quart of milk. And he looked like an older version of Mark Zimmer!
Unable to detain the man for any crime, all he could do was take a quick picture of him with his phone. Detective Daniels then drove back to the Zimmer residence, wanting answers.
A curious detective and an even more curious wife looking at him intently, Mark Zimmer began his story.
"What I am about to say can never leave this room."
Detective Daniels nods. "Unless it interferes with my duties, you have my word."
Mrs. Zimmer just touches his arm and nods.
"It all started about three years ago, when I discovered a process that could potentially allow us to travel at the speed of light. The day I disappeared, I had finally put the final pieces of the puzzle together. I rushed home to tell my wife the news, but she was out. So I went out to the pool, to work off some of my excitement with a swim.
Just as I began my second lap, a man looking a lot like me, but older unlocked the gate."
"We've met." said the detective with a grin.
"I asked him who he was, and why did he have a key to the backyard. He sat down, and took out a book and an apple. He told me to get dressed, then he would explain everything. He began eating that apple, and reading his book. I swam to the other side of the pool, so I wouldn't have to smell that apple of his."
"I told you he would never eat an apple." said Mrs. Zimmer.
"I went into the house and got dressed. Then as I started towards him, he threw the apple to me, saying some nonsense about it keeping the doctor away. I threw it into the pool, and he laughed.
I then demand to know how he got the key, and he said he had been keeping it for a long time. This was ridiculous, because it was a new lock.
He gets up and asks me to come with him. For some reason I trust him. Not just because he resembles me, but something more.
We got into his car, and drove for hours. He explained that he is from the future, and told many things about my life and family, both past and future.
He then told me that I must destroy my research. Otherwise the world would become a miserable place to live in. The technology would first be used to explore deep space, in search of other habitable planets to settle.
We found one, but it was already taken. Its inhabitants acted friendly and followed the vessel back to Earth. Once they discovered that we had some elements that were extremely rare and highly prized on their planet, they began to scheme. Not much different from us, eh?
Long story short, the extraction of the resources caused massive ecological damage. They left soon after they got what they wanted, but unfortunately the damage was already done.The oceans died. The atmosphere smelled foul. And the world's crops failed.
I asked why we shouldn't just avoid the one world. He said he tried and failed many times. Each result was similar.
I believed him, but needed proof. As he drove, I became sleepy. When he woke me up, we were at the warehouse your witness told you about, Detective.
My future self had stored some technology there, including his method of time travel. He first took me to see the devastation my discovery would cause. Then to dispel any doubt - and perhaps as a reward for the both of us, he took me back to our old family farm, where Grandma and Grandpa were hosting an old fashioned Fourth of July picnic.
We quickly changed our appearance a little, because of family resemblance. Then we sat down to the best meal I can ever remember. Steak, mashed potatoes, corn, watermelon, and of course Grandma's apple pie!
I hadn't eaten anything with apple in it since she died. But after having a taste of her pie, I just can't stop thinking how good they taste.
So here I am. I'm sorry for wasting your time, Detective. And I am very sorry for making you worry so, Lucy. Unfortunately the time travel device is only accurate within a week, and I could not return until we were very sure that I had already left. Don't ask, the answer would only give you a headache."
This is a 100% power up post!
Any suggestions would be much appreciated :) I posted the original version on a now dead platform many months ago. I edited it yesterday when I came across it, just to see if I could make it better. I would love to polish it even further ❤️