Monday, 14 June 2010

Chapter Twelve

Jobe and Serima drove down to the Ensler psychiatric-unit as rain spattered the windscreen, both of them smoking silently. The site was a virtual theme park of blue police lights against the night. Dozens of uniformed officers were swarming the scene. Jobe slowed the Escort to a crawl as they watched from the windows.
“My God,” Serima whispered at the sight of it. At the end of Dascus Road many police cars were blocking the left turning.
A uniformed officer approached the car and Jobe stopped, rolling down his window. The guy was no older than Jobe, with a boyish face, looking a little ridiculous in his policeman’s outfit. “I’m sorry, mate, you’ll have to turn; this road’s been closed because of what’s happened.”
“I need to speak with someone,” Jobe said quickly. “Our mother was one of the patients. We’ve been calling the number but-”
The young officer raised his hand, “Okay, you still can’t be allowed on site. But if you step out of the car I’ll take your details…”
Jobe glanced at his sister and got out. Through the iron railings behind the officer, he stared at the swarm of police; stalking about in the blue lights, utterly surreal, like he’d stepped onto a horribly overblown movie-set. The officer took Jobe’s details and asked to see his driver’s licence. He took Maya Kistori’s name and patient number.
“Please, I need to know if she’s all right, I need – she was in the hopkins wing…for violent patients. They said this man was in the same wing. I need to speak to a doctor or a nurse…”
The officer squinted at the notepad in his hand and then stared at him. “Look, mate, I can imagine what you must be feeling, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I can forward this info to someone-”
“No,” Jobe interjected, “they said that two patients were killed and I need to know if-” The young policeman gripped his shoulder compassionately.
“We’ve already had fifty or so other families turning up here and I’ve got to tell you what I told them; I’ll forward this information, but right now this place is a mess…it’s going to be at least tomorrow, maybe even a few days before you’ll know anything about your mum.”
He wanted to lunge at the officer, or at least make him understand.
“I’m sorry,” the policeman told him, and looked like he meant it. “I’ll forward this personally. Here…” He scribbled down something on the pad, tore it off and handed it to Jobe. “Ask for James Cullen, okay? He’s a big-shot psychologist with CID, I think he’ll help you if he can.”
Jobe stared pleadingly. “Do you at least know where the hopkins patients were taken?”
“Cullen might know. Contact him after five tomorrow. You can keep trying the emergency hotline. You might get through eventually.”
Jobe nodded in resignation and got back in the car. His sister was staring at him. He started the engine and drove to the end of the road, ushered right by more police. They glanced at the reflection of the hospital in the rear-view, trimmed with the blue lights of silent sirens.
“She’s not dead,” Serima intoned, half-closing her eyes like she was drunk, “I refuse to believe she’s dead.”

***

The ISAX bay at Locus Point was almost silent, illuminated by banks of cutting-edge computer technology. An internally-cooled mainframe was housed in titanium casing on the ceiling; a grotesque metallic spider that generated the Integrated Network. It hung there, lit by the glow of the many screens beneath it, and she knew that C-SOL engineers designed the mainframe to evoke an arachnid presence.
Wesley Morgan was at the other end of the room, talking with a software programmer. Katherine Reece watched him.
The bearded technician at the terminal beside her glanced up. She could see fear in his eyes. Due to the compartmentalized security none of the ISAX staff understood what it was they were attempting to track, but Katherine knew the rumour-mill was always turning.
“Dr Reece, this should be impossible…”
“But essentially you can locate it?”
“Yes, but it’s not a natural source. Whoever designed this thing is a genius, and a very dangerous person. It’s giving off frequencies that it shouldn’t – radio waves, microwave bursts, gamma radiation, and stuff I’ve never read about before.” He glanced at her again, excited and disturbed. “This thing is messing with television and mobile phone signals, and it’s refracting sub-orbital satellite links back out into space. What the hell is it?”
The tech knew well enough that he wouldn’t get an answer. He looked her full in the face then, searchingly. He leaned in and said, “This is some kind of mobile particle accelerator, isn’t it?”
She stared back and said nothing.
“Isn’t it? Or something connected to Black-Light Weapons Research? If this thing is a bomb, a cold nuke of some kind…then I’ll hand in my notice tomorrow. Stuff like this should be fifty years away, at least, even in Black-Light. If this thing goes critical I don’t know what will happen. Nothing good, I’m sure.” He laughed.
“Black-Light doesn’t exist,” Katherine chimmed dutifully, slick as Wesley himself. “It’s a myth to entertain tech-freaks like yourself who wish they were James Bond. And this thing is not a weapon. Not yet anyway.”
“If you say so, doctor, but I’d bet my bank balance on it. Not much else that could account for these readings, you know. Apart from an act of God.”
Katherine stared at him and watched him turn away, horrified at the expression he’d seen on her face.
“Okay…whatever,” he murmured, “But aside from saying this thing is somewhere in north London…there’s not much else we can tell you. Okay, doctor?”
She nodded and glanced again across the dark room at Wesley. He was watching her. Katherine got up and left the ISAX bay, moving swiftly through the glass-panelled corridor. She felt sick. She felt like a fool who had pretended she was a tigress amongst wild lions. Scheming lions. Kings of the political jungle.
She stepped into the elevator, expecting to see Wesley shadowing her footfalls but he wasn’t. The doors shut and her eyes closed immediately. She let out a fairly tremulous sigh.
“Shit,” she muttered to herself and slid to the floor of the carriage.
Deacon knows…he knows. I can’t do this.
The doors opened again and Wesley was there, looming. He glanced down at her on the floor. An expression of pity or disgust passed across his dark, handsome face.
“Look, get up. I figure at least I owe you some facts.”
“Fuck yourself, Wes.”
“Get up, Kath.”
She looked up at him. “Aren’t you ashamed? I mean, Wesley, baby, you’re a Negro…your people were slaves. Aren’t you even a little ashamed? Where’s your balls? Where’s your pride?”
He laughed, and then his face became icily intense. “You won’t come out too well in this, the way Deacon tells it. They won’t kill you, I don’t think, but you won’t have much of a life left. They doubt she can be controlled, you know. I think that’s true, from what I hear on those private recordings you did.”
Katherine flared with anger and climbed carefully to her feet. “You heard those? How the hell did that come about?”
“I have copies.”
“How?”
“Lack of trust,” Wesley muttered. “Listen. Tomorrow this gets turned over to Interregnum. They have duplicates of all the official data, but…I think they have a file of their own on Rebecca Cole. They’ve been deep inside Intelligence for over fifty years, since the end of the Second World War. You knew that, Kath, so don’t try to act mortified by all this.”
“Black-Light research,” said Katherine, staring him in the face.
“Yeah. For them I think data on the girl is almost as valuable as the girl herself. Like I said, they don’t really expect to successfully control her.”
Katherine’s throat closed with disgust. “You gave C-SOL copies, didn’t you?”
“It was a decision and I made it.” He looked at her, silently for a few moments. “I know you think you were protecting her, but that’s of no consequence to me. As far as Interregnum’s concerned she’s raw material now.” He stepped towards her. “They’re going to strip you of your silver, your doctorate, your nice Battersea flat…I’m telling you, they’re going to leave you with nothing.”
She shook her head and asked quietly, “So what do you suggest I do?”
“That’s not my problem.”
She grinned, stepping up close to him. “You’re a piece of work, Wes. I let you inside me, but thank God I never trusted you. I might’ve ended up with a knife in my back, you know?”
“If you really had a knife in your back you’d be dead, Kath. So don’t talk shit to me. You’d do me far worse, if I was where you are right now.”
The grin faded from Katherine’s face. “Bullshit…I’m not made of stone like you. I care about things. I care about other people. Even if it doesn’t serve my best interests. You don’t have any friends do you, baby?”
“No I don’t. Not in this business.”
“You pathetic mercenary bastard…”
“Survival of the fittest, Kath, the most diligent.”
“Fine!” barked Katherine, shoving past him and back into the corridor, “Then you know what I’ll do? I’ll sit back with a glass of piss, and watch as she carves her way through our fair city. I’ll watch you all try to stop her.” She looked back at him. “And you can’t, you know. You can’t stop her. I’m going to laugh my head off, believe it.”
She walked away, leaving him standing alone at the elevator.

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