Officer Kurns found him standing in the doorway to a little room just off the study, looking deep in thought. “Detective? What are you-?” she began and drew up short when she saw what lay beyond him.

The room was unfurnished, except for an oak desk, the surface of which was austerely bare, holding only a single item.

“Is that what I think it is?” Kurns asked. The detective nodded.

“A telephone. Yes. Bell invents the damn thing over a century ago, the military lays exclusive claim to the patent, anyone caught using one immediately disappears — and we stumble upon one at a murder scene,” the detective mused. “Not my best day ever.”

Kurns nodded at the device, speaking in hushed, almost guilty tones. “Who do you suppose is at the other end?”

The detective shrugged. “Don’t know. Don’t really care. It’s dangerous just knowing it’s here.” He sighed. “If we’re smart, we’ll seal this room up tight and pretend we never saw it.”

He took her elbow to leave the room — and that was when the phone started ringing.

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