All it took was a flash of her badge for Jill Knight to be let through the crime scene barrier and into the scene itself. She shivered as she crossed the threshold; something about this museum freaked her out.
As she pushed through the revolving doors, she immediately spotted a familiar face talking to the director of the museum a little way off. His neat black hair had been trimmed since she'd last seen him but there was no mistaking that face.
He caught sight of her as she approached and broke off his conversation to say, "Hey, Jill. Thanks for coming on such short notice."
"No problem, Derrick. I never have any plans on a Friday night."
Derrick Deluca scrutinised her. "I can never tell when you're kidding. Anyway, this is Fiona Woodgate, the director of the museum. She says one of her staff witnessed something weird and unexplainable."
The woman next to him-who almost looked like she could be related to him-had a worried expression on her face. "Yes, it was our apprentice nightguard, Gareth Hamilton. He… He saw…" She paused, her lips pressed so tightly together that they almost disappeared. "Well, I'll let him tell you himself. He's just being questioned by the police right now so why don't I take you to the site?"
Jill nodded. "That would be great, thanks."
Fiona led Jill and Derrick down the hall to their right. On the way, Jill glanced up at Derrick and found him staring directly ahead of them. "So how's Claire?"
"Huh?" Derrick blinked, shot Jill a look, then turned away. "Oh, she's fine."
"Any morning sickness?" inquired Jill when Derrick didn't elaborate.
"Um… how far along is she now?"
Jill gave a tired sigh. "Okay, what's wrong? Do you hate me all of a sudden? Why are you being so sharp with me?"
Derrick finally made eye contact with her, albeit very briefly. "I'm sorry, Jill, I'm just not feeling great right now. Shasta was arrested yesterday."
Jill's eyebrows rose in shock. "What? What for?"
"Speeding," Derrick sighed. "She was going seventy in a forty zone."
"Oh, Jesus. Why?"
"I wish I knew. She refused to see me and when Claire went to talk to her, apparently she told her to "eff off". And I'm not allowed to investigate at all because Shasta's my daughter so there's a clear conflict of interest. One of my colleagues did tell me that there was evidence of someone else in the car with her but she won't tell anyone anything about that. I just wish she wasn't so careless with her life, Jill. It's like she doesn't care about anything, not even herself."
"Have you tried talking to her?" Jill asked. "Not after she was arrested; in general, I mean."
Derrick slowly shook his head. "I've tried but she doesn't give me anything. She goes to school like normal but she doesn't tell me anything about her day or her work, and she shuts herself in her room almost as soon as she gets home. When I knock on the door, she doesn't even reply. I'm just so worried about her."
"Does she go to counselling?"
"She does, yeah. She started going about two months ago but again, she doesn't mention anything to me about it so I have no idea whether she actually talks to her therapist or if she just sits there in silence for an hour. But as long as there's a glimmer of hope that it might actually be helping, I'll keep paying for it."
There were a hundred things Jill wished she could say to reassure him. But the truth was that she just didn't know how to help. She'd never had children herself and didn't have much experience with them, especially not teenagers. She didn't even have a younger sibling. How could she possibly help?
Thankfully, ahead of them, Fiona stopped in front of a doorway and beckoned them over. "Just through here."
Jill gratefully trotted ahead of Derrick and followed Fiona into the next room. She found herself facing a rather large stone statue of a muscled man with its arms raised above its head in a victory pose. The first thing that really struck Jill was the dimly glowing purple aura around it, but it was gone almost as soon as she lay eyes on it. With hindsight, that was her first clue.
"This is a statue of the Ancient Greek figure Atlas," Fiona explained. "According to the myths, as a punishment for fighting against the Olympians in the Titanomachy, Atlas was condemned to hold up the sky on his shoulders for eternity. This statue was donated to the museum four years ago when I was curator and I personally oversaw its installation in this room."
She unclipped a piece of paper from her clipboard and handed it to Jill. "This is a photo of what the statue used to look like."
"Used to…?" Jill frowned and turned her attention to the image in her hands. To her shock, the photo depicted the very same statue in a completely different pose. As Fiona had described, it looked as if this man was holding up the sky: the statue was on one knee, head bent, with his arms lifted only slightly to hold the burden of the sky.
Jill glanced up at the real statue, then back down at the picture. There was no doubt that it was the same statue, but how was it possible for it to have changed position like that?
Derrick peered at the photo over Jill's shoulder. "I'm starting to see what you mean. Is it possible for the culprit to have made an exact replica of this statue and replaced the real one with it in the night?"
Fiona shook her head. "Not at all possible. Both forms of this statue are too big to fit through any doorways."
"Then how did you get it in here in the first place?" Jill asked.
Fiona pointed skywards. Jill followed her finger and saw a large glass dome covering the room, through which the night sky was visible.
"We had to take the whole roof off," said Fiona. "With a giant crane. That's why we chose this room to display it in; there was nowhere else that had a way for us to get the statue in. All in all, the process took several hours. There's no way anyone had enough time to do that tonight. And I have a witness to prove it."
But Jill had already figured it out. "That man you mentioned earlier. Gareth something?"
Fiona nodded. "Gareth Hamilton, that's right. He's the apprentice nightguard here so he was doing the rounds at the time this happened."
"I'll go see if my colleagues have finished with him," said Derrick.