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Short story: Murder in Metaverse



By Aleena Usmani

It was a fine Sunday afternoon. Everyone was enjoying their holiday at home. But not Jim.

He stood in front of a house taped with yellow seals on which was written in bold capital letters: ‘CRIME INVESTIGATION. DO NOT ENTER.’ Surrounded by police cars and officers, a man walked up to the house. He said, “Good morning Detective Bernard.” “Good morning Officer Wu.”, came the reply. Then he asked, “Shall we go in?”

 Jim was a detective, one who the Commissioner of Portland Police Department had trusted for the past 10 years. With his immaculate skills, there was no case Jim hadn’t been able to solve. “The body was found in the morning at 6. The victim is a 17-year-old school boy and his name was Daniel Philip”, informed Officer Wu as they both entered the victim’s room. Jim asked, “Where is the mother?” “Downstairs in the living room. She will tell you everything.” Jim nodded and went downstairs to meet Daniel’s mother.

 “Good morning Mrs. Philip.”, said Jim as he sat down in front of her. “I am very sorry about your son. I promise that I will find his murderer as soon as possible. But for that, I will need your help. Are you ready to tell me everything?” Mrs. Philip nodded. “Alright! So you told the officer that you are a nurse at a nearby hospital. You found your son’s body after returning from your shift at 6 in the morning.” The mother kept nodding. “Okay. You also told the officer that when you arrived, you saw the home-screen of Metaverse open on your son’s PC.” She agreed. “Did you see anyone inside the room? Or anything suspicious since the officers have not found any murder weapon.” She shook her head in denial and said, “All I found was my son’s dead body on the chair. At first, I thought he was sleeping because there were no marks on his body. But when I tried to wake him up…”

With this, the mother broke into tears. “It’s alright. I will find the person who killed your son.” With that, Jim left the room and met Officer Wu again. He said, “Send the body to autopsy and tell me what the reports reveal.” Wu nodded and left.

Jim was about to leave when Mrs. Philip interrupted him, “I want to tell you something. Around two ago, James Griffin, a member of Daniel’s school football team visited me. He asked me a lot of questions about Daniel. For instance, what he does at home, what social media he uses and even about his girlfriend, Carol Richardson.” Jim carefully noted down all the points. “Do you know where this James Griffin lives?” “Yes, he lives in Yellow Creek. His house is on the next block, third lane, 52/B.” “Thank you very much, Mrs. Philip,” he replied.

It was now James Griffin’s turn to be interrogated. He sat face to face with Jim. “So. James Griffin, you must’ve got to know about Daniel Philip by now. I heard you were his teammate?” James affirmed. “When was the last time you met Daniel?” “Two days ago.”

“According to Mrs. Philip, you have been visiting her for the past few weeks. Why?” “I first went there to return Daniel’s book. But it was nice talking to his mother. She was like a friend, so I started visiting her daily.” Jim raised an eyebrow at James and said, “So you were missing out on school every day for the past two weeks just so you could talk to Mrs. Philip because she was like a FRIEND?”

James held his head low and nodded. “Well….Mrs. Philip told me you would ask her about Daniel’s personal life, including his girlfriend.” “That’s…true…truth is, I like Carol a lot. Almost every guy at Creek High does. She is a very talented girl and-” he was interrupted by Jim.

“Alright, I got it. Anyway, she also told me that you would ask her about Daniel’s social media. What about that?” “You see, Daniel has been my teammate and the captain of our team for a very long time. As a partner, I’ve always admired him a lot. I wanted to be friends with him but never had the courage to speak. So, I decided to at least add him on my social media.” The detective constantly kept noting down everything. Then, he took leave from Griffin’s house.

The next morning Jim woke up, he received a text from officer Wu. He stared at his phone for a while and quickly left for the police station. There he met Wu. They shook hands and Wu said, “The autopsy reports are out. There are no marks on the body and the victim had a brain stroke and died. But what’s weird is to die from a brain stroke at such a young age.” Jim agreed and requested to see the body.

Then, they both went to see the body. “Hey Wu. Remember what Mrs. Philip said about when she found the body? She said that she found the home screen of Metaverse open on his PC. Which means that there is a possibility that the brain damage received was from the body sensors linked to his Metaverse account.” Officer Wu disagreed.

He said, “But Jim, the Metaverse body sensors are especially designed to lower the pain.” Wu was right. Jim thought for a while and said, “But Wu, what if someone messed with Daniel’s body sensors? Sneaked behind his back so that Daniel wouldn’t receive the reduced impact.” Wu understood. “But who would do such a thing? And what was Daniel doing to receive such a high impact on his brain?” asked Wu. “That’s the whole point of this investigation Wu,” replied Jim with a smirk on his face.

After three weeks of investigation, Jim went to the Philips’ house. He and Mrs. Philip conversed over tea. He told her, “Mrs. Philip, we have finally found the murderer of your son.” She gasped in shock and happiness. “Really? Tell me detective, who is it?” “It’s James Griffin. Your son’s teammate.” “Wait, really? How? Please tell me” “Well, when you said that you found the home screen open on your son’s PC, I thought that it was possible that someone might have changed the Metaverse’s body-sensors.”

“Body sensors? What body sensors?” “You see, to give the users of Metaverse a more realistic experience, the creators designed a suit with numerous body sensors. This gives the user an avatar. However, the sensors have an impact on the body. If someone messes with it, the user will face its consequences. When the sensor suit was sent to our IT department, it was found that instead of passing on the reduced pain, the sensors were giving Daniel increased impact. Hence, more damage to his brain. This resulted in a brain stroke. To find out what Daniel was doing, we went to his Metaverse account to see his activity history. It was found that your son hung out with James Griffin and Griffin jokingly hit Daniel’s head with his backpack.

But, the question was, what was inside the backpack which resulted in such a huge impact on Daniel’s brain? Griffin had bought an iron brick and had hid it inside his bag to make it look like they were just having fun. He hit your son with that backpack.”

Mrs. Philips sat quietly, unable to speak. The fact that her son’s own teammate killed him was too shocking for her. She asked the detective, “But…why would…why would James do such a thing?” Jim replied, “Jealousy. James was jealous of Daniel. Daniel was the captain of their team and popular among the students and teachers. James also confessed that he liked Daniel’s girlfriend, Carol. It was all jealousy, Mrs. Philip. But don’t worry, Griffin is now behind the bars.”