Questions of Reality Part 1 16 November 2024 Bellington Vale The city of Bellington Vale was quiet, it being just before dawn. However, some events were to occur to disturb the peace. Indeed, a horrific discovery was made in Victoria Park as the sun began to peek above the horizon. However, on the opposite side of the city from Victoria Park, Amanda Leigh Parker awoke. Or was it, Kellynn Robin Langford, Erica Brown or Wendy Samuels? With that confusion on her still tired mind, the young woman slipped back to sleep. 3088. That number was important. Detective Inspector Wilhelm Irving could see multiple instances of it at various places around the crime scene. 3088. Did it refer to a locality? An asteroid? Or was there some other significance? He shook his head. “Any information on the Vic?” he asked his assistant. “Roberta Langford. 27, part time pharmacy assistant. Single. No other information at present.” Irving looked again, the victim looked like just any other woman who would be in the park early in the morning. “Time of death?” he asked. “Approximately 7 PM last night,” the Medical Examiner, India Ericson, answered. “I'll be able narrow it down, once I get her back to the lab.” “Noted,” Irving stated. “Any idea what that number means. Is it a reference to anything?” “Net searches are drowned out in postal code results,” his assistant, Officer James Clarence, answered. “It will take a while to narrow it down.” 7:02 AM. Amanda Leigh awoke again. (She was sure she wasn't Mary Roberts, Bella May Hungerford, Zarabeth Bateson or Quincy Samuels. Some of those names were of characters she had played in Simzania, but she wasn't sure why she was confused as she woke up.) She turned on the radio. “Breaking news, in from here in Bellington Vale, a young woman has been found dead in suspicious circumstances in Victoria Park. Details are still forthcoming. Police sources haven't yet released information on the victims identity to the media as of this report.” 'That's not good news,' Amanda Leigh thought, as she grabbed a small book from her bedside table. Having read a passage from the book, she started going about her morning routine. Yet again, she was awoken by the sound the television in the living room, like her housemate wasn't yet used to there being more than one person in the house. Grumbling, Wendy Bateson climbed out of bed. Breakfast, it was the most important meal of the day. Amanda Leigh made sure she never missed it. As she poured her cereal she heard a door slam. Wendy was up. 'Right on schedule,' she thought. “You realise that Saturday is supposed to be sleep- in day, right?” Wendy asked. “Of course, Wends,” her housemate said. Wendy sighed. She wondered why she had told her that nickname when she moved in. 'Double names are annoying,' she thought. Her housemate was always 'Amanda Leigh'. “And I need my sleep in,” She added. “AL.” Amanda Leigh glared at Wendy. “You can wash up,” she said. Amanda Leigh dodged the apple which Wendy had thrown in annoyance. She didn't like being called 'AL'. (Only family members really got away with giving her any nicknames.) She picked it up and sliced it. Suddenly, she heard the incoming message tone on her tablet phone. She tensed, there were very few people who would contact her this early in the morning. She looked at the message. There was just a number: 5737. She looked at it again. Why did it have to be today? She had to get ready quicker. “What's wrong?” Wendy asked. “Nothing,” Amanda Leigh said as she turned off the phone's screen. “Seems like something,” Wendy prodded. “Like some friends and I were planning something. One of them decided to do something to do with it today.” “I see,” Wendy said. Ten minutes later, Wendy saw Amanda Leigh finish getting ready, and dash out of the house. She had found it odd that she had left without putting even a minimal amount of make-up on. 'But then I've only known her for a month,' she thought as she began making her own breakfast. Coffee first, as she was still tired from the previous night out. 5737. Daniel Jameson didn't like receiving codes early in the morning. Just as well he already had breakfast. 'Maybe she has got it too,' he thought. He then pressed on the call list and called the contact at the top of the list. Amanda Leigh was close to the bus stop when the phone rang. “Hello?” “Hi, Amanda Leigh. Daniel, here.” “Hi, you got it too?” “Yes,” Daniel answered. “Very annoying.” “I agree, but at least we both got it.” “I was going to see you tomorrow,” Amanda Leigh said, sweetly. “Of course,” Daniel said. Irving and Clarence were still at the crime scene. “We have another reference for the number, sir,” Clarence said. “Out with it,” Irving said. “3088 refers to the numerical portion of the identification code of 'Timmy' in the Robot Dreams streaming series,” Clarence reading from his phone. “How popular is this streaming series?” Irving asked. He certainly hadn't heard of it. But then he was too busy to be watching television. “Quite popular sir. The second season premiere had over 5 million watchings.” “And this 'Timmy'? What significance could he have to Ms. Langford's death?” “No idea at present. Robot Dreams is about Artificial Intelligences attempting to gain civil rights. There are thematic parallels to real life civil rights movements.” “Could that be the answer, some fascist looking to make an example?” Irving wondered. However, he knew that jumping to conclusions wasn't a good idea. Not until test results came back. “There are still other references to parse, Sir,” Clarence said. “Of course,” Irving said. He looked at the corpse again. While Langford had been of mixed ethnic ancestry, he hoped that wasn't the motive behind her murder. The political situation was still rather tense. Elsewhere in the city, Kit Farrington arrived at the Priory Street Cafe. He could see his girlfriend Karen Holden there. But something was wrong. She was weeping, and her hair was in disarray. He rushed in. “Kit!” she called. “Karen? What's wrong?” he asked as he sat next to her. “It's my friend, Roberta. I think something has happened to her.” She paused, and let out a sob. “Go on,” Kit said. “There's been a murder in Victoria Park, and she usually jogs there in the evenings after dinner,” Another sob. “And she hasn't answered my texts, which she usually does.” Kit moved closer and embraced her in a comforting hug. Amanda Leigh and Daniel met outside a newsagent on the edge of Bellington Vale's Central Business District. “There's no one else here,” Amanda Leigh said. “That just means that we're the first to arrive,” Daniel said. “Yeah.” “Wait,” Daniel said. “I can hear Tamlyn's car.” Amanda Leigh looked at Daniel incredulously. “You know what her car sounds like?” “I've heard it often enough,” he said, a little defensively. “Right...” Amanda Leigh said playfully. Tamlyn pulled up in one of the parking spaces in front of the newsagent, and quickly got out of the car. Amanda Leigh could see that she was dressed in her usual slightly 'gothic' way, with dark make-up and her dark brown hair tied back in two buns above and behind her ears. She self consciously ran her hand through her own loose hair. “Daniel!” Tamlyn called out as she came up to the two. They hugged briefly. “Amanda Leigh! You had a good week?” “It was a usual week,” Amanda Leigh replied. “I see you got it too?” “Yes. Do you have any idea why this is happening today?” “No idea,” Daniel said. “I knew it would happen before Christmas,” Amanda Leigh answered. “Of course!” Tamlyn said with a toss of her head. “But I suppose the surprise is part of the experience.” “Yeah,” Amanda Leigh considered. 'But what exactly are we doing, beside the obvious,' she wondered. She turned around. The newsagent was still closed. Back at Amanda Leigh's house, Wendy had left the television on. “...The murder victim has been identified as Roberta Langford, a part time pharmacy assistant here in Bellington Vale, no further information is forthcoming at this time.” 'Roberta Langford!' Wendy thought. She didn't really know her, having only met her a few times at university. But still, it hit rather close to home! She grabbed her tablet and ran a search for more on the story. ...Murder in Victoria Park : Bellington Vale Tribune … Murder in Bellington Vale … They only had to wait five minutes after Tamlyn had arrived. “Good Morning,” Laura Albertson said, as she walked up. Amanda Leigh saw that she continually held her left hand in her short hair as she usually did. 'I guess it hasn't helped,' she thought, before quashing the line of thought. But then she did have her own issues and quirks. '840! Like thinking that number as a distraction.' “So?” Tamlyn asked. “What is this, besides the obvious?” “1546,” Laura said. “Huh?” Amanda Leigh asked. “Sorry,” Laura said. “The app had a vocal password.” “Get on with it,” Daniel prompted. “Right. This is an Augmented Reality treasure hunt,” Laura said. “We already know that,” Tamlyn said with annoyance.