Author: Alastair Millar

You know how sometimes you enter a room after a while, and you just know that someone’s been in there? It’s not your imagination. It could be an aroma so slight that you don’t consciously notice it. Maybe something’s not quite in the same place it was before. Perhaps the dust has been disturbed so subliminally that you wouldn’t normally realise. But something triggers you, and you don’t know what. Eventually, people a lot smarter than me came up with tech that could detect the smells and identify where dust had moved, and give us all some peace of mind. That’s what the OmniSniff (“The Nose that Knows!”) does. So I took the company’s courses, splashed out on the kit, and set up as a freelancer, consulting to PI’s and police departments. Never thought I’d be pinned as an accessory to murder, though.

The first OmniSniff was a great success, but you still didn’t know who’d been in your hypothetical room – only what lotion or perfume they’d put on, or where’d they stood. People demanded more. So the geeks went back to the drawing board, and OmniSniff 2.0 is not only smaller and faster, but it sucks up DNA strands from the ambient air, too. It’s been a revolution in forensics – I mean, if the husband’s twists are the only fresh ones around, odds are that it was him that did the wife in, whatever his alibi, am I right? The company got a lot of publicity from that, and I got more competitors.

Since then the criminal underworld’s come up with countermeasures, of course: from expensive helix-killing sprays (which are now detectable) to cheaper material collections designed to just overwhelm and slow down the detectives. I did more courses, but they’re a lot more expensive now, and you have to keep requalifying to keep up. My net income’s gone down, not up.

So when a guy in the bar who said he was a sensie scriptwriter researching a new show offered me a big credit transfer for a couple of hours just talking about my job over some coffee, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t?

And yeah, okay, it was me that told him that really, the only way for a criminal to beat the OmniSniff is not to leave any DNA at all. But so what? I mean, unless you’re wearing a space suit (kind of conspicuous), that’s next to impossible, right? And that’s all I said, I swear!

How was I to know that he’d go back home, wait a week, and then hack his household butler unit, programming it to smash his wife’s brains out? I mean okay, it kind of makes sense, robots don’t leave DNA, but seriously? Of course he was caught. It took the cops maybe 10 minutes to check the thing and find out there was no mechanical fault or memory glitch. He’ll do thirty to life, and serves him right. Idiot.

But now they’re trying to say it’s partly my fault? That I gave him the idea? That’s just unfair. I tell you, I need a new career – it’s not just the OmniSniff that sucks.