Hercules Detective Agency Case Files are Copyrighted with the U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)

Hercules was on his way into town, headed for the marketplace. He needed something for dinner and a new pair of sandals. He planned also to stop by the barbershop to catch up on gossip and to see if there might be any job opportunities for the Hercules Detective Agency. He had a busy morning planned for himself.

He was whistling as he walked. Whistling was a new skill he was trying to learn. You never knew when a good whistle might come in handy.

Not paying much attention, as he had traveled this road many times before, Herc focused on his whistling and nearly walked into a baby goat. It was standing in the middle of the road.

"What are you doing out of your pasture, little goat? You're much too young to be out here alone." Herc looked around. Where was the goat herder?

Herc put his fingers on either side of his mouth and whistled loudly, intending to catch the goat herder's attention. But all his whistle attracted was a rather large stream of goats who leaped nimbly through a hole in the wall that divided the pasture from the road.

Goats, as you probably know, can be quite loving. They can also be quite protective. Fortunately for Herc, these goats were playful. It was very strange to find a herd of goats without a goat herder.

Even more strange was the hole in the wall. It was rather large hole where a hole should not be. For their own protection, Herc chased the goats back into their field, and fixed the wall with some nearby rocks. It was not a permanent fix, but it would keep the goats safe from wandering off. When he turned around, he noticed the goats leaping through yet another hole directly opposite the big hole he had just fixed. There was a trench of plowed up earth between the two.

"How very odd," Herc said aloud. It was most unusual.

Herc approached the second hole. When he squatted down and peered through the hole, he saw another hole beyond it, in a direct line. And further on, another. He also saw the goat herder some distance away to his left, surrounded by happy goats. Good. Herc waved. One problem solved.

His curiosity peaked, Herc forgot about his plans to go to town, and instead followed the trail of trenches, climbing through hole after hole.

Finally, Herc noticed a country villa in the distance, with a hole in its wall in line with all the rest. As he got closer, he recognized the villa. It was where Daedalus lived. Daedalus was a world famous inventor. Daedalus had probably invented more inventions than any other inventor in the entire world. Most of the time, his inventions worked quite well. Herc suspected this was not one of those times.

"Daedalus," Herc shouted as he came closer.

Daedalus looked up, obviously pleased to see him. "Hi, Herc. I'm inventing a new weapon for Sparta. It's a mechanical battering ram. It will knock down walls! See that wall?" Daedalus pointed. "It went right though it! I think I've outdone myself. They're going to be so pleased with me!" Daedalus beamed.

Herc took a deep breath. "I have seen the results of your work. I followed it here." Herc sighed. "You have invented a most dangerous machine. It has caused a great deal of damage."

"It's supposed to cause damage," Daedalus said in confusion. "It's a mechanical battering ram. It goes though a wall. That's what it's supposed to do."

"Not one wall, Daedalus. It moves though many walls. It's making a terrible mess. You need to stop it."

The inventor asked, his face flushed with worry, "Are you telling me my machine is not on the other side of my courtyard wall?" Daedalus ran to the hole in his wall to take a look for himself. "It kept going?" he asked, his voice trailing off.

Herc already had a plan. "Rope, I need rope," Herc told the inventor urgently.

"Rope. Sure. I have nets, too. Over here."

Herc scooped up the rope and the nets and began to run.

Herc ran as fast as he could, leaping back the way he had come, through hole after hole. He crossed the road and kept going. There were more holes on the other side of the road. He finally passed the machine and got ahead of it. Herc dug a deep hole. The machine fell neatly into it where it started knocking against the ground, creating tremors like an earthquake. Hercules tossed the net over the machine to tangle it and slow it down. Then he leaped into the hole and quickly bound the machine tightly up in the rope he had carried. He lifted the machine on his shoulder, jumped out of the hole, and sped to Mount Olympus. Herc headed for the workshop of Aphrodite's husband, the great builder, Hephaestus.

"Herc, Herc!" Hephaestus' talking tools greeted Herc with noisy excitement. Herc was one of their favorites. Thanks to Herc, they lived quite happily with the god, Hephaestus.

Hephaestus was happy to see Herc as well. "Hey, Herc! What have you brought me?"

"A problem," Herc responded. "A Daedalus invention that worked too well. It needs to be destroyed." Herc told him what had happened.

Hephaestus was so intrigued that he immediately began to take the machine apart to see how it worked.

"Tool abuse!" the tools began shouting. "Tool abuse!"

"Hush," Hephaestus told them automatically.

"Tool abuse! Tool abuse," they repeated, a bit softer perhaps, but not by much.

"I mean it," Hephaestus told the tools more sternly.

In whispers now, Herc could hear the tools muttering, "Tool abuse, tool abuse."

"Hush," Hephaestus repeated absentmindedly. He was so focused on taking the machine apart that he forgot Hercules was there.

Herc did not mind. He was glad to know the machine was in safe hands.

"I can't stay, but I will visit soon," he told Hephaestus, who did not hear him as he was already at work at his forge, taking the machine apart.

Hercules returned to the inventor's courtyard. On the way, he filled the hole he had made to catch the machine. Then he filled all the holes made by the machine. It took quite a while as there were a great many holes. Herc was met by a worried face.

"Done," Herc said. "Destroyed. And all the holes plugged."

"Thank goodness!" Daedalus exclaimed in relief.

"You owe me," Herc added. "You owe me big time."

"Thank you, Hercules. Tell me what and when, and it's done."

"Deal," Herc smiled. With future payment assured, Herc decided to continue on to town and run his errands.

Later that evening, Herc thought about what he would name this case. He thought about naming it "The Hopeless Inventor", but that was not fair. Some of Daedalus' inventions worked very well. Just not this one. Then he had it. He would name this case "The Case of the Mad Machine". He made a note on the case file that Daedalus now owed him two inventions, as Daedalus had not yet paid his fee for a prior case. Herc filed this case away with the other case files from The Hercules Detective Agency and sat back to admire his new sandals.