The Colossus And His Quest
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Phnom Penh, office of commissioner Vaan.

A man knocked on the door. One more. Today, the complaints were endless… But it was a part of the job, whether you like it or not. But it was like all the misery of the world had come to his office today : robberies, road accidents, brawls… The commissioner sighed. Yes, one more miserable man for one more miserable day…

A neutral face, his beard well cut, he remained at the door, waiting for a sign from the civil servant.


"Please, come in, sit down.

- Thank you, commissioner."


Much larger than the national standard, slightly sturdy, the man had a monstrous build. Well dressed, wearing a tight black jacket, he closed the door behind him and grabbed the chair in front of him to sit.


"Well, what can I do for you?

- I was told that you were the only one here with the authority to grant my request..

- Very well. And this request, what is it?

- I need the body of "Virak Sam", who died on the night of the 25th to the 26th of a heart attack, now holded by your services for autopsy..

- Are you from her familly ?

- No.

- A lover ?

- No, either..

- A friend ? A coworker ?

- Still no. Don't try to find one, I have no relationship with the victim. But I need to get her body back."


The tone was inquisitorial, the voice sure and that was never a good sign. Few people can afford this attitude towards a commissioner and apart from his hierarchy, Vaan did not used to let other impose it to him. The request was singular, the justification non-existent.

The commissioner looked at the man from top to bottom, hoping to find some clues.

The jacket was luxurious, the appearance neat, a tattoo’s beginning was visible under his left sleeve. This kind of things was generally never a good sign too, but the overall look was far too clean for a simple thief. A state official, even the most crooked, would have already pulled out his card or tried a higher piston. A doctor maybe? Nothing was less certain…. This man, in the eyes of the professional that he was, remained a mystery. Probably not a good one by the way.

The commissioner smiles, by courtesy.


"My apologies, but even for the close family, it would have been difficult for me to do anything, and it cannot be said that you help me with your answers.

- I know that. And yet, I am asking you again.

- That's not how it works.

- I know. But I trust you.

- To … ?

- To give me the body.

- … Why do you want it anyway ?

- I could tell you, but that will not help you.

- Help me to … ?

- To give me the body."


The commissioner sighed.


"Let's look at it another way: let's imagine that you learn that the local police give the body of anyone just because someone asked them nicely to do so, wouldn't you think they're freaking bad at their work ?

- Of course.

- Do you think I’m a bad cop ?

- No.

- So why would I give it yo you !

- Because I’m asking you, nicely.

- Well, that’s “no”."


The man remained stoic. The civil servant would have preferred even a smirk from him, but the individual's face remained cold. The hardest part was despite this surrealist dialogue and this senseless request, he still had no way be sure that the man he had in front of him was not entirely serious in his demands. Even now, he stared at the commissioner with a heavy gaze, obviously expecting something other than this simple answer. The policeman straightened himself up in his chair, to give himself a little more height, cleared his throat and spoke :


"I don't know what you've heard about Cambodia, but not everything here is for sale. If you think you can buy a body here, or the integrity of a state official to get it, you are terribly mistaken. If you have nothing more to say, I'll ask you to stop wasting your time here, and mine with it. The door is behind you."


The man sighed.


"Don't get me wrong, commissioner, I didn't come here to insult you. I have come to ask you for a service, because you are able to do it for me. And if I think you're obviously going to do it, it's not for any bribe. In fact, you will note that I have never mentioned any kind of compensation for this help.

- Then why do you think I'll accept it then?

- Simply because I always get what I want.


The commissioner raised an eyebrow, half annoyed, half amused by the wording.


"No contact to run, not in the mob, not in the government. No baksheesh. It's just a fact, I always get what I want.

- Is this some kind of joke?

- Absolutely not. But since people tend to doubt, I like to give them a little demonstration."


The man bending over the desk with his full stature, finally stopping on an empty cup, serving as a pen holder. He looked at the commissioner, wanting to avoid any diplomatic missteps and in front of his lack of reaction, grabbed the two pens and placed them delicately, aligned, on the edge of the desk. He then grabbed the cup and placed it in its center, turned over. He put his back in his chair, arms crossed.


"There we are. I want now, in addition to the body, this cup here. It is up to you to go my way, or to try another one. I'm alone, unarmed, phone off. You have a whole police station with you. You are now free to choose your own path."


The commissioner sighed. A simple madman, after all? He put his hand on the flipped cup, placed it back in its original position and grabbed the pencils placed by the man.


"Look, this is ridiculous, you really should…"


The pens hit his desk. He looked down. The cup was no longer there and had returned to the place where the man had placed it. He then looked at the man, still as stoic as ever.


"A magic trick, to convince me? Really? You think I'm a…

- I still want that cup here, and the young woman's body. Try to go against that again if you want. I have all the time in the world,"


The policeman took the cup back, inspected it quickly and put it back in its right place. He kept his hand firmly on it, before looking at the man again. He didn't have time to open his lips that a sensation froze him.

The cup wanted to move.

He pressed harder on the cup, but nothing to do: an unknown force pushed the cup in the direction desired by the man, more and more pressing. Soon, the policeman could no longer even hold on and the cup returned to its position. He let go and contemplated it for a few moments, helpless.


"I want this cup here and the girl's body," repeated the man."


The commissioner was beginning to feel worse and worse, as his suspicion grew. A beginning of fear too. There was something about that cup, but there was no way to think about what. There had to be something, but what was it? He should find out later. This reflection disrupted his reasoning. He knew that in this exchange, he no longer had the ascendancy and the first thing to do when you started losing at this kind of game, was to cut it short quickly. In any case, all he could do here was to be influenced or waste his time. In both cases, there is nothing to be won. Sometimes there's no shame in being a bad loser…


"Get out. Now.

- I want that cup here and the girl's body.

- Get out.

- I want this cup here, and the girl's body.

- GET OUT!"


Out of anger, the commissioner tore the cup off the table, throwing it violently against the wall. The cup did not have time to touch it, as a wave of energy hit the whole room with its full force, in the opposite direction of the launch, throwing the policeman and half of the objects passing by on the ground. Quickly recovering his mind, he saw the man, still sitting, arms crossed, looking at the desk still up.

No time to be rational, to understand.

Act before fear paralyzes you.

We would investigate after the manner, but there was assault on the agent. Probably. Pretty sure. The man was not in a combat position, he had a good window of action. He got up as quickly as he could to throw himself on his desk, looking for his weapon in a drawer. He hoped he didn't need it, but it's always an advantage to have a weapon in this kind of context. He wanted to say a few words to warn his colleagues when something else distracted his mind: the drawer half-opened under his action, before closing suddenly, also pushed by an unknown force.


"I want this cup here, the girl's body and no crap commissioner," announced the man, impassive."


He pulled more beautifully on the drawer, without any real success. Terrified, he shouted, but no sound came out of his mouth. He put one knee down, as if something had suddenly emptied his lungs.

He leaned on the desk to catch his breath and tried to get up as quickly as possible, without much success. In the rush, his knee hit the corner of the desk, making it tremble. The commissioner now saw the cup shaking helplessly, only to fall to the side and roll under the desk.

Like the calm before the storm, a second passed.

And like the storm during the storm, hell broke loose. The policeman threw himself to the ground before he was forced to do so and curled up, while any unrestrained object was now flying into the room, carried by some unknown forces. The whole place was shaking. He felt his own chair hitting his ribs and finally taking off for good, his stapler running into his shoulder. The commissioner was trembling in fear, as all the loose sheets in his office were now swirling in the air.

As suddenly as the storm started, the calm suddenly returned. Only the sound of a few leaves still flying to the ground disturbed the atmosphere. The commissioner did not move until a hand came to tap his shoulder. The man was always there, impassive. He was holding the chair in one hand, which he had probably caught while it was flying (the commissioner had not heard it falling) and was offering him the other hand to help him get up. He helped the policeman sit down and even picked up some objects, giving him time to think a little. The commissioner's eyes, full of misunderstanding, could not now take their eyes off the cup, the only thing left standing on his desk.


"I want that cup here and the girl's body. You have already gone against this statement six times," he says, leaving a few collected leaves on the desk. It is up to you to judge how the thing has evolved, to your advantage, or mine. I repeat, I always get what I want."


The commissioner tried to answer with a few words, but faced with his difficulty in finding them, the man continued:


"In other words, I don't think you or I want to see what happens on the seventh. Regarding the service I am asking you for, I am ready to pretend to be the person you want: change her name or even mine, hers is already fake anyways. I'll pick up the body tomorrow night, 9:00 p. m., outside the morgue. I'd have the equipment to carry it. Is that okay to you?"


The officer didn't even have the presence of mind to answer. The man shrugged his shoulders.


"Anyway, you still have time to think. Just take care of yourself."


The man approached the office and picked up the cup, put it back where it had originally been taken.


"Remember, even if I don't want that cup here anymore, I still want the body… I'm sure I'll see you tomorrow, commissioner."


He left the room, as the commissioner watched with concern the objects in his office returning to their places, in turn, carried by a mysterious force. He then remained groggy for a few minutes, before taking another look at his family's photograph on his desk. The glass had broken in the battle. More alarming, the faces of his wife and son were both missing, now erased by two burn marks, each the size of a thumbprint. Was it the man who picked it up? Or what was the thing with him? He couldn't have said it.

The only thing Vaan realized now was he was neither prepared nor sufficiently paid for it. He took the telephone handset from his desk, obviously intact, and called the morgue. Later, he was asked what the noise was in his office.

He replied that was nothing.

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