Thursday, June 30, 2016

Whistleblower by David Smith Part Eleven

Whistleblower by David Smith
Part Eleven

‘Tell me what’s happening Captain Dreyfuss,’ says Noone, ‘What can you see?’
The mist starts to clear. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m describing aloud everything I see. I’m in a map room. Major Harvey Keen and I are being given a briefing. There are satellite pictures spread across a table in front of us. The man giving the briefing isn’t army, he’s CIA. He taps at the photographs, aerial pictures of a remote part of the Iraqi desert. The pictures have been taken at night in the infra red spectrum and he is showing us an anomaly, a hot spot in the middle of nowhere. There is no explanation for this and we are ordered to take a platoon to the location and check it out.
Then we are in a helicopter, a CH47 Chinook. It’s pitch dark outside. There are sixteen of us, Harvey Keen, me and a bunch of grunts. There’s a Humvee squeezed at the back of the chopper with all our kit inside and we’re all tightly packed in. The terrain is pool table flat other than a few dried up river beds, so the pilot has to drop us over the horizon from our target spot. He puts the Chinook down in a cloud of dust and in minutes we’re off and watching it disappear into the night, the whap-whap of its blades fading to a faint echo in the still of a moonless, cloudless desert night. Harvey and I agree to move the Humvee to within a couple of miles of the target spot. There’s a ridge in the dried up river bed that will screen it from sight if the target spot is occupied. It takes about fifteen minutes of slow driving, no lights, night vision goggles on. The river bed is perfect. We make camp for the night after putting four men on lookout at the top of the ridge, and wait for dawn.
Daylight brings nothing but a flat, featureless desert as far as the eye can see. The only thing distinguishing the target site from the rest of this nothingness is a derelict barn. It’s half collapsed on two sides and has no roof. It’s dilapidated and looks like it was abandoned decades ago. Also it’s about a half mile from the hot spot. Harvey wants to call for a drone low level fly-by to take some daytime aerial photos. These could be wired to the printer in the Humvee. I think it’s a bad idea, and after a bit of argy-bargy he agrees not to. I know the place looks derelict but if it isn’t, a low flying drone would alert whoever might be over there that we’re taking a look.
There are three logical choices. Go over to the barn under cover of darkness and check it out, hunker down to wait and watch for a few days, or call off the mission because there’s nothing suspicious. We agree to wait till dark then take a look.
It’s about an hour from sunset. We’re having some chow in the back of the Humvee when one of the lookouts scrambles down from the ridge. He’s seen dust being kicked up coming from the horizon. He thinks it’s a vehicle of some sort and it’s traveling fast straight towards us. Harvey and I lie side by side at the top of the ridge watching a plume of dust coming towards us. The men are dressed to receive visitors, fully armed and all locked and loaded. Harvey gets the first clear view.
‘It’s a stretched Limo!’ he says, half laughing, ‘What the fuck! What’s a Limo doing out here?’
We track the Limo’s progress. It looks like it’s heading straight towards us but it passed by the ridge about five hundred yards away. We can see the occupants clearly; a driver and a thick set guy in the front, both in Iraqi army uniform, and a guy in a suit sat in the back. We have a camera with a telescopic lens and high speed shutter, and we take a shed load of snaps as the Limo flashes past us.
The Limo heads straight for the deserted barn and rolls to a halt just short of it. It waits, engine ticking over. Then it moves slowly into the derelict barn out of our sight. We watch till it’s past dark but the car doesn’t come back out and there’s no signs of life.
Under cover of darkness and wearing our night goggles the platoon moves stealthily towards the barn. In the cold desert air we can make out something unusual through our goggles. About half a mile past the derelict barn an acre or so of the desert’s surface is glowing with a greenish white light. Something is generating heat underground below that patch. It takes a while but we sneak up to the barn undetected, spreading out around the barn. I’m the first to swing my gun round and look inside. My adrenaline’s pumping hard because I’m expecting the two Iraqi soldiers to be stood there with AK47s. But what I find instead is nothing, no soldiers, no Limo, just desert dirt. I know straight away we’ve discovered something big.
I signal for the men to withdraw, and we regroup a couple of hundred yards back towards the ridge. The derelict barn is an entrance, but to what? We leave the men there and Harvey and I go back to check out the building more thoroughly. I figure if it’s got cameras and sensors we’d fair better without all those boots clomping around. We move slowly and carefully. After an hour we’re pretty confident there’s no security outside, no cameras, trip wires or alarms. They must have figured they were so well hidden they didn’t need all that crap. One little find I make is that the floor of the barn is constructed from steel sheets, thinly covered with a layer of sand and small rocks so it didn’t show up in aerial photos. It’s hinged at the entrance to the barn. I figure that the whole floor is a ramp, dropping away at the far end to the entrance to allow vehicle access. When we’re confident there’s nothing more to learn about the place we withdraw, taking the rest of the platoon with us back to our camp. We put two men on lookout duty and rest till sunrise.
I’m sitting in the driver’s seat of the Humvee, dressed in combats. Outside it’s blowing a hoolie, with sand and bugs battering against the windshield. I feel thirsty. I’ve been working with the men under my command outside in the desert. I open my flask and take a long pull on the warm water inside then screw the cap back on. Then suddenly I’m looking at a photograph fresh from the printer in the Humvee. It’s a head shot of the guy in the back of the Limo we took as it drove past. Harvey is sitting next to me. I look up from the photo into his face. He puts his hand on my shoulder and shakes it as if he and I are best buddies.
‘Only you and me know about this, Red,’ he says, his face deadly serious, ‘…only you and me.’
‘You’re not gonna call it in, are you?’
‘Nope, so keep your mouth shut.’
The man in the photo is on our most wanted list. His name is Dr Tariq Ahmed Sedani Aziz. He is described in our briefing notes as Doctor Death. He is the man responsible for Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction programme. Our orders are that under no circumstances is this man to be harmed, and to take him alive at all costs. No doubt the CIA would love to pick his brains.
We’re pretty sure we’ve stumbled upon an underground weapons manufacturing and storage facility, and Harvey intends to destroy it with everybody still inside. I think this is crazy. Fuck knows what we might let out into the atmosphere if it’s a chemical or biological weapons storage site. If it’s a contaminant with durability such as toxic radio isotopes with a half life of thousands of years the planet would be uninhabitable for homesteaders. Krillik would go nuts. The whole of Grow’s investment, the entire project fucked, and I could have prevented it. My life wouldn’t be worth a bucket of warm spit.
It’s hard work but eventually I persuade Harvey to let us try and get inside first to find out what we can. If it is just laboratories and there aren’t stores of Anthrax, Botulism or whatever shit Saddam has had made to save his hide, then we can torch the place and kill whoever’s in there. We can easily call it in afterwards as a hidden food dump gone rotten. That would explain the IR heat and justify us blasting the site. Harvey reluctantly agrees to try to gain entry after dark that night. We sit out the rest of the day in the Humvee, battered by the storm.
At about midnight we set off for the barn. The storm has gone and it’s a crystal clear, freezing cold night. We surround the barn then hunker down to bide our time and try to figure out a way to get inside. But we don’t have to wait long. The floor of the barn suddenly starts to move, the end furthest from the entrance dropping down to reveal a tunnel. I can hear a car approaching from deep inside. I whisper to two of my men to let it get a hundred yards from the barn then blow its tyres out and take prisoner anyone in the vehicle if they can. Seconds later the Limo appears, rolling up the ramp, the same three guys inside. As soon as it clears the ramp I signal for us to swing down into the tunnel before the ramp closes. It starts to move almost as soon as the Limo is off it but we all manage to get inside safely, except for the two guys left above to take care of the Limo.
Inside there is a long, straight tunnel wide enough for one vehicle only. It’s lit by strip light, one about very ten yards. The ramp snaps shut with a clang that echoes the length of the tunnel. Harvey and I look at each other and back at the ramp closed tightly above our heads.
‘What the fuck do we do now?’ he says.
As he speaks we hear a burst of automatic gunfire from above us outside, then a short exchange ending in one long burst. I worry this will have been heard by any guards. It’s a long, smooth sided tunnel with nowhere to take cover. If there are soldiers down here we’re sitting ducks. Harvey tells the men to spread out, lie flat and expect incoming, but nothing happens. About a minute later the ramp starts to lower again. When it’s down I see both my men standing there with Dr Aziz in between them, his hands behind his head, thumbs snap-wired together.
‘He’s got a remote,’ shouts one of my men, ‘Like a fucking garage door.’ My guy holds up a bunch of keys in the air. They walk down the ramp half pushing Dr Aziz in front of them.
‘Where’s his driver and bodyguard?’ I ask.
‘Still in the car. They won’t bother us,’ says one of the men.
Aziz is agitated, babbling away in Arabic. I know what he’s saying but I’ve never revealed that I can speak every language on Earth fluently. So, I act dumb and call up the grunt that is our interpreter. Aziz is claiming his innocence and knows nothing about the place. Then he admits it’s a weapons storage facility but he doesn’t have anything to do with it. He was just a passenger in the car. Then his story changes again. He’s an important man wanted by the American government. He’s on the run from Saddam and claims to be seeking asylum. The story is embellished. Saddam has forced him to use his extensive knowledge of biochemical weapons production to enhance Saddam’s evil weapons programme. Saddam is his enemy. Aziz is a peace loving man forced to do evil things by Saddam on pain of death for him and all his family if he fails in his tasks. He’s all over the place like a mad woman’s shit.
I slap him hard. It’s against the Geneva Convention but who’s going to snitch? I put my gun against his head and we start to get a version I can just about believe so I cut through the snap-wire tying his thumbs together and release his hands from behind his head. By the time he’s finished telling his story through the interpreter he’s practically pulling at my sleeve to get me to look at what’s at the end of the tunnel. So we go.
This story is that the place is a chemical and biological weapons development laboratory, production unit and storage facility. It’s built on one level about fifty feet underground. When we get there we pass a huge diesel fuel storage tank and a bank of power generators and refrigeration compressors. Then we reach the facility. It’s different to all the others I’ve seen in briefings. It’s small, mostly offices. It’s contained in a sealed, airtight reinforced glass capsule with airlock doors. He swears on his life it’s safe to go inside, and I believe him. So, the doors swish open and we all go inside. The place is deserted. There are technical drawing and design sections that must have once been busy but now lay unused and bare. He’s keen to show us something and takes us through the office section at the front towards the small laboratories at the back of the room. These are double air locked and tightly encased in a steel framed reinforced glass cube. Whatever is in there is beyond dangerous. He points at a glass rectangular display case on a plinth in the centre of the laboratory. Again Aziz is agitated but this time there’s an element of pride in his protestations. Inside the glass case is the body of a naked man, long dead, His skin is black and severely puck marked as if every inch of his skin has formed boils, and these have erupted. His body is twisted into an inhuman shape. The poor bastard must have died in agony.
Aziz turns to me and says in perfect English, ‘A subject of our tests. This one lasted an hour.’
He presses a button on the console outside the laboratory and to my surprise the inside of the glass rectangle bursts into flames. In a few moments the incineration is over and virtually nothing is left of the poor bastard in the case.
Aziz smiles and says, ‘Fire is the only thing that kills them. If just one single spore of what was in that case ever escaped into the air outside it would mean the death of every human being on the entire planet. I’m sure your president will want to know what it is and how to protect yourselves. Take me to safety please and I will help you.’


The de-briefing of Aziz takes place in the laboratory. Harvey is in no mood for fun and games and gives Aziz a hard time. After about two hours we’ve knocked the cockiness out of him literally, and he’s convinced we’re going to kill him there. So, he opens up a little more. He tells us about the Revelation project, the spores and what they can do. He fires up a computer and shows us a database with everything the ordinary Joe would want to know about making biological weapons. This includes the Revelation production process, and vaccine production.
‘There is no vaccine,’ he says to me, ‘We have tested the spores on over two thousand subjects but none have survived longer than an hour. Without the antibodies from a survivor there is no starting point for the vaccine.’
For ‘safety’ Harvey copies all the files onto a data disk, and puts it into the front pocket of his combats in case the computers are all linked back to Saddam’s base. If he discovers we’ve found the place and have his top guy in captivity he might be able to remotely trash the hard drives.
Aziz is agitated again. He wants to show us something. He opens the laboratory doors and goes into the airlock. We don’t feel comfortable with him going in there alone so we send the grunts back outside the laboratory, back up top to stand guard. Meanwhile we suit up alongside Aziz, head to toe protection, chemically scrubbed before we enter. The door hisses closed behind us. He takes us through another air lock at the far side of the laboratory. Inside is a steel safe with a digital lock and retina recognition security system. He presses the window of his face mask against the scanner and the safe opens. Inside the safe is empty apart from a rack that contains ten sealed glass vials. He turns and looks at me bursting with pride.
‘The Revelation spores,’ he says, hardly containing his joy at being beside enough biochemical horror to destroy every living person on the Earth several billion times over.
‘Amazing,’ says Harvey, picking one of the vials up in his hand and holding it up to the light, ‘The man that has this has the world by its balls.’
‘Better put it back then,’ I say, taking the vial delicately from Harvey and turning towards the safe. Then I feel a stinging blow to the back of my head and everything goes dark.
I have no idea how long I’ve been out of the game but when I regain consciousness my protective suit has been ripped and my head shielding removed. I feel like death. I’m lying flat on my back on the laboratory floor. I can hardly breathe. My head is pounding and my blood feels like glue running through my veins. I’m drenched in sweat, ice cold and desperately need to vomit. With all my effort I manage to roll on my side just as I start projectile vomiting, retching till there’s nothing more to lose, and then some. Lying beside me on the floor is the body of Dr Aziz, his protective clothing ripped and headgear removed. He is in the same sorry state as the dead guy in the glass case, his body twisted all out of shape and his head and exposed skin puck marked with tiny black volcanoes. Apart from us the room is empty, no sign of Harvey. I turn my head towards the safe. The door is wide open. I can see eight vials. Harvey must have taken one then burst another on the laboratory floor just before he left through the airlock and decontamination unit.
‘Count them again,’ says Noone.
‘Yes, eight remaining, I’m sure.’
‘Go on,’ he says.
‘I don’t have the strength to move for what must be a couple of days. I just lie there battling the infection, clinging to life. But gradually I start to recover, slowly but definitely getting stronger. Eventually I have enough strength to get to my feet. I go over to the safe and pick up the remaining vials, then make my way to the airlock. I strip naked and step into it carrying the vials. The chemical scrub tears at my flesh and it is excruciating agony for several minutes, and I think I’m going to collapse. Eventually the ice cold rinsing process kicks in and is a merciful release. The airlock hisses closed behind me sealing in the spores that had been released by Harvey. I stagger through the office and head towards the ramp. As I pass the diesel storage tank I position the eight vials directly beneath it.’
‘When I reach the ramp it’s daylight. I drag myself up the ramp, and once outside head towards the Limo. The two dead Iraqi soldiers are lying in the front seats, their bodies starting to rot and stink. The driver has been shot in the head, but the passenger, the bodyguard, is riddled with bullet holes. He’s the one who has what I want, an AK47. I pull it out of his hands and head back down the ramp just far enough so I can see the diesel tank. I send a burst of gunfire into the tank and skedaddle as quickly as my pain racked body can carry me.’
‘I’m just clear of the ramp when an enormous eruption occurs sending me flying backwards as a huge sheet of flame belches out of the tunnel. The heat is searing and the underground fire burns the rest of the day and into the night. When I feel strong enough again I go back to the Limo and strip the dead driver of his clothes and put them on. I make my way back to the ridge where I find the dead bodies of the remainder of my platoon, all except one. Harvey is missing, as is the Humvee. The grunts have all been shot. Harvey must have opened up on them when they were off their guard, gathered around the fire eating. I sit down on the sand exhausted.’
‘Who are you now?’ asks Noone.
I don’t know! I strain hard to remember but it’s all a fog. I start to feel panic and the scenes in my head swirl away from me in a grey mist. Suddenly I’m back in that room, in that chair. My head is splitting wide open with pain. I scream, long and hard, my body shaking uncontrollably.
‘He’s coming out!’
Patel steps over and starts pulling my lids up and looking closely into my eyes with a pen torch.
‘Do something,’ says Noone from behind me, ‘If he dies…well, I hardly dare think about the consequences.’
The doctor works fast to pump more of the drugs cocktail into my wrist and in moments the pain eases and I’m back in the desert.
It’s night time. I’m determined to survive. I’ve put together sufficient kit stolen from my dead compatriots, sufficient to last a couple of weeks, and I’m on foot heading in the direction of the first rays of the dawn.’
‘Who are you?’ asks Noone, his voice out of nowhere in my head as I march.
There is no hesitation before I say, ‘Sergeant Jake Redwood, 3rd Infantry division…and I don’t know where the fuck I am or what the fuck I’m doing here.’
‘That’s good enough. Bring him round, please Dr Patel,’ says Noone, and the doctor starts to work his magic.
In minutes I’m back in the room with the three of them. I feel utterly exhausted and nauseous. My head is spinning and I have the taste of sweat and blood on my lips from the nightmare I’ve just been through. Jane wipes my face with a cold, damp cloth as Patel starts to remove the needle from my arm, then the bands around my wrists and legs. Noone eases the skull cap off my head and unclips the metal band from across my forehead. Jane and the good doctor take off their masks and gowns and lay them across the tray of instruments, as Noone switches off all the electrical crap he has set up on his desk.
‘You survived, Jek,’ he says almost jovially as he turns his attention back to me and busies himself cleaning up the cuts on my head where the metal band had dug in, ‘You survived because your body is different to that of a human, only slightly, but just enough. Our resistance to infection is greater than that of the human body. You didn’t escape Scott free though. You paid a penalty. The attack on your defensive system caused you to invert to protect your brain from damage. The side effect from this is that you lost all recollection of being one of us, burying all the memories of who you really are deep inside your brain. You’re back with us now, I hope, Jek.’
When my head is once again free to move I turn it towards him and say, ‘Who the fuck is Jek?’
It’s just as I speak that the cell door is suddenly snatched open and the first grenade rolls into the room.


The shock from the stun grenade knocks the air out of my lungs and rattles my brain inside my head and I switch off like a light. When I come round I’m out of the chair and flat on the floor on my stomach with my hands cuffed behind my back. A heavyweight FBI agent in full Ninja kit is kneeling on my spine, and four of his buddies are pinning my shoulders, head and legs to the floor. As my head clears I can see Jane, Noone and poor bewildered looking Dr Patel have been given the same convivial treatment. There are at least twenty Ninjas cramming into the room all cussing and shouting, and threatening that terrible things will befall us all if we dare to move even an eyebrow. A suit is watching from the doorway. He’s wearing a grin right across his smug face, a grin that says mission accomplished, I’ve got the bad guys. This day is just getting better and better.
The Ninjas drag Noone to his feet, guns trained on him at every stage. I’m sure he was as surprised as the rest of us when a few stun grenades suddenly rolled into our little torture chamber, but his eyes look clear enough now. So why doesn’t he plant a vision in their heads and walk right out of here? When he looks at me I can see he knows what I’m thinking.
‘It’s an express ride straight to Krillik,’ he says above the cursing and threats, ‘Let’s see what happens next.’


The Ninjas bundle the four of us upstairs and out the front door. There’s more Fibbies than can fit into a phone box outside, hundreds of them. There’s even a small tank parked on the lawn. Hovering above fighting each other for air space must be at least six choppers, most of them from news channels. There’s a media circus behind a line of cops at the end of this exclusive tree lined suburban street. Camera crews and pretty ladies with microphones jostle for position as the suit goes over to tell them and the rest of the world what a smart guy he is.
Meantime we’re bundled towards a meat wagon parked up just outside, but well within range of the cameras. Patel is siphoned off separately and won’t be joining us. They know he’s CIA so they’ll be taking him straight to them for debriefing. The Ninjas act tough and jostle us along but slow enough so the news guys get decent pictures and they each get their brown envelopes later that month.
Inside the wagon there are two long benches that run the length of the vehicle. We’re invited to sit, two Ninjas pushing us down hard onto the seats then sitting either side. Me and my two minders are sat next to Jane with Noone and his two goons directly opposite. As soon as we’re sat down the wagon fires up and we’re off to our new destination, wherever the hell that is. There are no windows in the wagon. So away we go at speed, rattling through the suburbs, a snake of vehicles in front and behind all with their sirens wailing and lights flashing, screaming for the road ahead to be cleared.
‘It’s okay.’ says Noone to me, ‘We can speak freely. The men in here all believe they are listening to their favorite music through headphones at full volume.’
‘What the hell just happened?’ I say.
Jane gives a little laugh.
‘What?’ I say, turning to look at her.
‘Are you a detective or what? Think it through.’
Noone jumps in, ‘We expected this to happen, Jek,’
The bastard is still calling me Jek!
It’s Jane’s turn, ‘Why do you think we sent the guy that owns the house back there to deliver the bomb then go strolling off down the street with a suitcase in his hand?’
Then it’s as clear as day to me. The bomb in the RV goes off and it kills Krillik. Game over. But what if it didn’t kill him? What if he survived? The FBI would come looking for the perpetrators, and the starting point would be the sucker that drove the RV. He would be picked up on security cameras all over the place. It wouldn’t take the Fibbies long to identify the guy, find out where he lives and send in a SWAT team. But why? Why hang around for Krillik to catch up with you? Noone is looking me in the eyes and can see I’m struggling with the whole mess. He seems to know exactly what I’m thinking.
‘If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, Jek,’ he says, ‘… it’s time for a showdown.’


The meat wagon rolls to a stop and I can hear activity outside, a lot of shouting and barking as the goons get things ready to off load their precious cargo. After a couple of minutes the rear doors open and there stands the suit, the same guy that was back at the house. He’s still wearing the smug, self satisfied grin on his face as he steps inside the wagon and says, ‘Welcome to your new home, ladies and gentlemen.’
The Ninjas pull us to our feet and bundle us towards the back doors of the wagon. There are three steps down to a concrete floor that’s all polished, like lino. We have a welcoming committee, a ring of Ninjas surrounding the wagon. All are in macho poses, lying flat, kneeling or standing, all pointing nasty looking weapons straight at us. When we’re all off the wagon the fussing starts. The suit wants a photo for his album, ‘the day I caught the meanest guys on the planet’ snapshot, one for the Grandkids. The guy’s a moron. A few of the Ninjas want to play so we stand there all trussed up while these goons make memories.
I look around. We’re in a vast, echoing aircraft hanger. The floor is streaked with black tyre tracks, and I suspect the hanger was recently packed full with aeroplanes of some sort. I reckon the place has been cleared out especially for us. Right at the centre of the hangar is what looks like some sort of temporary building made from three metal shipping containers all butted up against each other. There are power cables and other wires leading across the floor to the little complex. When the ego fun time stops the suit turns to me and whispers in my ear.
‘Welcome to Joint Base Andrews, you murdering bastard. This’ll be your new home for a while. Boy, have we got a nice surprise waiting for you.’

End Of Part Eleven

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Whistleblower by David Smith Part Ten

Whistleblower by David Smith
Part Ten

There is pandemonium back down by the graveside. People are running around like headless chickens, the good and the great scurrying away squealing in case it’s their turn next. The Fibbies are tearing about with their guns pointing at anything that moves, squawking frantically into the hidden mikes pinned to their lapels. But it’s all a sideshow to me. The last episode in my life is about to happen up here in this muddy thicket.
I roll over onto my back on the grass and look up at the two Dreeks. I still have the Lapua Magnum in my hand and think about swinging it round towards them but it’s a no-go. The Dreeks would easily see it coming and would pop me before I could get the rifle’s barrel a foot off the ground. This is it, the end of the Jake Redwood story, lying here on my back in the mud after failing to do the one thing that might have saved the whole of mankind. I deserve what’s coming next.
I stare into the eyes of one of the Dreeks and he smiles at me.
‘Krillik sends his regards,’ he says, cocking his gun.
There is a sort of silence, but it’s deafness. I don’t hear anything at all as my two assassins suddenly fly away from me into the tangled mess of scrub behind me, their clothes, skin, everything suddenly ripped to shreds. I was lying on my back at the crest of a small ridge. So the shock wave and shrapnel from the explosion hardly affects me but tears the two Dreeks apart. A cascade of debris follows in the wake of the blast wave and I’m suddenly covered in detritus from the explosion. I scrape off the crap and spin over onto my stomach and look at the scene below.
The deafness is replaced by a ringing in my ears and distant sounds, dull, like I’m listening to them underwater. It’s people screaming. I look down on what should have been the memorial service for Harvey Keen, peaceful, beautiful flowers, the good and the great paying their last respects and bidding their farewells. Now the ground is scorched, headstones flattened right across the cemetery. There are people lying on the ground, still, lifeless, their bodies at grotesque inhuman angles and I know they are dead. I see body parts scattered around. It’s a scene of pure, vile carnage. Survivors are lying injured, some hardly moving, some moaning, rolling from side to side, too damaged to cry out. Others are screaming, running around blood soaked and scorched, desperately seeking help.
I see a huge crater, the source of the blast. It’s in the car park at the far side of the cemetery. I see the remains of what once was a beat up old RV. All that’s left now is a twisted mass of white hot metal with a huge column of smoke rising from it into the crystal blue sky.
I feel someone pulling at my arm, trying to flip me over and get me on my feet. The noise is now a mix of ringing in my head and muffled words, like I’m listening through a door.
‘Get up! We need to get out of here!’
When I turn I see Jane standing over me. She looks angry with me, furious, her eyes burning with rage.
‘For God’s sake, move your ass! The place’ll be crawling with Dreeks and Fibbies any minute now!’ she screams at me, tugging hard on my arm.
I can’t say I’m pleased to see her again but under the circumstances right now I’m happy to be told what to do, especially if it’ll save my hide. I scramble to my feet and she half drags me down a path through the scrub to a clearing near the highway close by. She practically pushes me over the slip road barrier and moments later I’m sliding on my ass down the slippery grass embankment towards a saloon car stood on the hard shoulder with its engine running.
‘Get in,’ she shouts as we reach the car.
I scramble into the back, Jane into the front next to the driver. We’re on the move before I slam my door. Guess who’s driving? My old pal Noone. We drive in silence for a while, Noone trying not to drive conspicuously but in a real hurry.
Then Jane turns round and barks, ‘Well you screwed that up good and proper!’
‘What the hell!’ I snap back, ‘I had a clean shot at Krillik back there, nearly nailed the sucker too.’
‘Ah, so you know that’s Krillik,’ says Noone almost to himself.
‘Brilliant!’ says Jane but not in a nice way, ‘You blow his head off, then what?’
‘Then it all goes away, doesn’t it?’ I say, but I’m pretty sure Jane’ll have a smart come back.
‘Oh really? Do you think so? The top man in the US Air Force, the man that’s actually in charge of the biggest nuclear arsenal on the planet, gets assassinated in broad daylight. What then? Everybody forgets about it and then gets on with their lives. You’re such a dumb ass.’
‘Mr. Redwood,’ pipes in Noone, ‘Why do you think Krillik has secretly worked his way into that particular position?’
I don’t waste time thinking about it. To me it’s fucking obvious.
‘So he can control the nuclear arsenal.’
‘Okay,’ says Noone, like a teacher to a dumb student, ‘Why would he want to do that?’
‘So he can fire the suckers,’ I say, ‘If his plan to kill off mankind goes tits up he can always set off a few nukes.’
Jane laughs out loud at this.
‘Well?’ I say, seeking enlightenment from these two smug bastards.
‘It’s the exact opposite, Mr. Redwood,’ says Noone, ‘It’s so they never get used.’
Jane jumps in, ‘Haven’t you believed a word we’ve been telling you, or are you just too dumb to get it? This whole fucking business is about the real estate, the land, the buildings, the businesses and goods, the things man has made that Grow want to harvest. What’s the first thing that happens when a nuclear bomb goes off?’
I don’t answer. Let her state the obvious for me.
‘Yeah, things get broken. What’s worse is there aren’t many people left around to fix them again afterwards, dumb ass!’
‘The planet would be uninhabitable, Mr. Redwood,’ adds Noone, ‘Radiation, nuclear winters, no uncontaminated land to grow food or raise animals, the rivers and seas polluted and poisonous…no, that would never do. A ten thousand year project, and all that investment made by Grow would be, to use one of your Americanisms, flushed down the can.’
‘The one thing you humans can thank Krillik and his cohorts for is that they’ve stopped you all from blowing the planet to pieces on more than one occasion,’ says Jane, ‘He’s had to stop your ego crazed politicians from going too far in order to protect Grow’s investment.’
‘Krillik…the voice of reason in an international crisis,’ adds Noone as he takes the slip road off the highway and heads for the outskirts of the city.
‘Where the hell are we going?’ I ask.
‘A quiet place where we’ll be safe,’ says Noone, ‘We need to have a little chat.’


We drive for about an hour. The last part of the journey is through the suburbs, smart tree lined avenues, expensive houses. We slow outside what looks like a nice place, the sort of property it’d take me all my pay packet for the next hundred years to afford the ground floor alone. There’s a drive leading to an underground garage. The doors to the garage lift upwards as we approach. Noone slides the car right inside till it touches the far wall as the doors close behind us.
‘Nice house you’ve got here,’ I say.
‘The owner recently decided to take a long vacation and lent it to me to look after,’ says Noone.
‘When exactly did you tell him to decide that?’
‘This morning, just after he loaded the RV with high explosives,’ says Noone.
‘…and what did he think he was doing, loading up toys for a children’s party?’
‘Something like that,’ says Noone, ‘He’s extended this property substantially underground, Mr. Redwood. The man is ex military. He has a morbid fear that one day America will be on the receiving end of a nuclear attack. So, as a precaution, he built the shelter I’m about to show you.’
‘Has? You mean he’s still alive?’
‘Of course,’ says Noone, ‘He drove the RV to the cemetery then walked to the nearest bus stop. He’s probably half way to Hawaii by now, safe and sound.’
They both open their car doors and start to get out but I stay put. Noone sits back down, Jane stands by the car listening.
‘Now I do hope you’re not going to be truculent, Mr. Redwood. We have an awful lot to do.’
‘You amaze me Noone,’ I say, barely holding on to my temper, ‘I took a risk back there. I knew there was a probability Krillik would attend Harvey’s funeral, so I took a shot at him. Okay, I missed but the only collateral damage was one of Krillik’s guys, probably a Torp, and seeing as the guy was head of the FBI and on my tail I sure don’t feel bad about it. You slaughtered dozens of innocent people in cold blood at that graveside. You showed no mercy then and show no remorse for your actions now. You’re a low life, Noone, a complete and utter bastard.’
My little outburst doesn’t amuse Jane. She goes for me like an Alsatian for a burglar’s ass.
‘You fucked up back there Jake, big style. We figured Krillik would be there too, but we weren’t dumb enough to try and take a shot at him. No one will ever get him like that. Jeez! You were the last person on Earth that should have tried that stupid trick. We had it all worked out, a massive explosion at eleven o’clock when they’d all be heads bowed stood in prayer. So what if it is indiscriminate? Krillik would never have picked up on the bomb like he would on a sniper. So what if a couple of dozen innocent people are sacrificed. Hell, if we don’t stop Krillik they’ll all be dead in three weeks anyway.’
‘What?’ I say. This is big news. She goes quiet as if she’s spoken out of turn.
After a few awkward moments, when it’s clear I want an answer but neither wants to break the bad news to me, Noone speaks.
‘We have a lot to tell you, Mr. Redwood. Why don’t we go inside and talk.’


Noone is right. The freak that built this place must have been expecting Armageddon, and wanted to see out his last few months in comfort. It’s like a luxury apartment in the guy’s basement, three bedrooms, two lounges, an office with all the communications and high tech gear you could think of, a kitchen with store rooms stocked to bursting, air and water recycling systems, the whole ball of wax. Noone tells me the whole place is lead lined to protect the area from radiation.
While Noone shows me the layout Jane makes us all coffee. At the end of the tour we all settle in armchairs in the lounge and Noone starts with his fairy story. I keep a hard face till he’s finished.
‘Firstly,’ he says in that droning voice of his, ‘Let me tell you what Jane found on the data seeds.’
I remember there were actually two, the one Harvey pushed into my eye and the one taken from the fake traffic cop when Jane took the reader from his ear.
‘Amongst the information discovered on the seed taken from the Torp we found Krillik’s evacuation plans. It’s gold, Mr. Redwood, pure gold. It gives the location of every shuttle portal on the planet, identifies every Dreek, every Torp and where they could have been found.’
‘Could have been?’ I say.
‘Of course. It’s an evacuation plan,’ he tells me as if I’m too dumb to make the link, ‘They’re all on the move, heading towards their nearest portal. As you know they can only be sent off world one person or one item at a time. It’s a very slow process considering there’s a couple of hundred thousand of them scattered across the globe. It’ll take a week at least to get them to their destinations.’
‘And where exactly are they going?’ I ask.
‘Here and there,’ he says enigmatically, ‘He’s spreading them around small planets, not the main galactic centers of civilization. Forgive me for telling you what you already know but there aren’t that many habitable planets out there that can support the human DNA templated life forms. There are about ten thousand. To make it harder for Krillik most are more than eighteen light years away. About eighty of the nearer planets are large enough and developed enough for each to absorb a percentage of his people without drawing attention to the sudden influx. He’s being very clever. He can retrospectively justify the sudden evacuation of his resources by manipulating the project log so that the evacuation dates tally with the catastrophe. There’ll be no one left alive to put the record straight.’
‘Hold up,’ I say, ‘there’s a hell of a lot to talk about right there. First, what do you mean, forgive me for telling you what you already know? How the fuck could I know there are any human life sustaining planets out there, let alone how many?’
‘We’ll come to that,’ he says, tapping the ends of his fingers together like a patient father. I glare at him but carry on.
‘Krillik is evacuating his crew? Then why aren’t we blasting the fuck out of the portals so he’s stuck down here, seeing as we now know where they all are?’
‘I know that’s what you would do, in fact did, but that won’t save us from the catastrophe. Krillik isn’t a benevolent employer, Mr. Redwood. Anyone who signs up to one of his projects will know his life is expendable if the contract is in jeopardy. If Krillik loses every man-Jack of them, so what? The galaxy is chock-a-block with Dreeks willing to take the risks for a huge bonus. Also, Krillik himself will not be harmed. He has his own portal shuttle. He carries it with him at all times. He can go home any time he likes.’
So, I get to the big question, ‘What catastrophe?’
He takes a moment to answer, ‘Now we come to the second data seed, the one Harvey Keen pushed behind your eyeball.’
‘What was on it?’
‘Don’t you know?’
‘Quit fucking around,’ I snap.
‘You’ve undoubtedly seen it all. Documents, plans, formulae, all written in Arabic. Doesn’t it ring a bell, stir a memory?’
I suddenly feel uncomfortable, a little sweaty and nauseous, but I take a long pull on my coffee and fight it down.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
‘Then let me refresh your memory,’ he says, tapping his fingers together again, ‘You did two tours of Iraq, right? You took ill on the second tour and were invalided back home. What was the illness? Can you remember?’
‘What’s that got to do with any of this?’
‘Indulge me for a few minutes,’ he says.
‘I don’t remember…some sort of flu bug from an insect bite. I was on an exercise in the desert checking out a hot spot and caught it. I was pulled out in a chopper and flown to Balad air base, then, after they’d done all they could, I was put on a transport plane back home to recuperate.’
It was a long time ago and I struggle to remember clearly. As hard as I try the facts don’t come back to me. I’m chasing memories again. I don’t know why but it’s really uncomfortable. I start to feel hot and sweaty, and tight across my chest. I suck in air hard and have to work hard to stop from vomiting.
‘Take a minute, Jake,’ says Jane. She can see I’m distressed.
I breathe deeply and put my head between my knees. It takes a few minutes before I feel capable of carrying on.
‘I think something happened to you out there in the desert,’ says Noone, seeing my reaction to his questioning and sensing he’s hit upon something very important, ‘…something very bad, perhaps. I believe you were possibly so ill you should by rights have died. But you didn’t. By some miracle you survived. But we both know that you’re slightly different to the other men, don’t we? Your physiology…is unique. I know you find it hard to accept but your survival may have been because you’re not human…because you’re one of us, Mr. Redwood, and alien to this planet.’
This is wild guesswork, an extrapolation from next to no facts because I’ve come over sick all of a sudden. I’d like to shout right in his face, ‘Alien? Like hell I am!’
But I can’t. I find it unbelievable that there’s even the remotest possibility that I’m not human. I know who I am. I’m Jake Redwood, born and bred in Polk. I have unshakeable memories of my childhood, my parents, my friends, and my enemies.
Yet why can’t I shrug off the feeling that there’s something not right here? I can easily dismiss what they say about me being able to bring about the air strike on the farm as nonsense. But how could I have been so sure the man in the picture, General Terence Riddell, was beyond a doubt Krillik? Can I trust any of my memories?
So I say, ‘Let’s play s’pposing.’
‘Go on,’ he says, leaning back in his chair and looking as if he’s made some sort of break through.
‘Supposing I am one of you. Supposing I am an alien. Then what am I doing here and why can’t I remember anything about it?’
‘Let me answer the second question first,’ he says, ‘You can’t remember anything about who you really are because something happened to you, something that was so frightening that it caused you to invert.’
‘What the hell does that mean?’
Jane answers, ‘Inversion for us is when the brain closes off a section of itself and shuts it down. It’s a protection mechanism. It does this to lock in something that’s too important or too overwhelming for the subject to cope with.’
‘Do you want to know the truth, Mr. Redwood?’
‘Yourself. Who you really are and why you’re here.’
‘I’m all ears,’ I say and sit back to prepare for the wave of bullshit that’s about to break over my head.
‘Your real name isn’t Jake, it’s Jek,’ says Noone, ‘You are, or more accurately were a point man for Krillik. He had high expectations of you. You were to eventually take the highest office, General of the armies in the United States. You arrived on this planet twenty years ago…’
‘Let me finish. You arrived twenty years ago, enlisted in the army with a nice little pedigree and the path cleared for you to move smoothly through the ranks to high office. It’s how Krillik works. With you in place, and another of his Torps in the Naval top position, and other point men placed in similar high office in all the other countries with nuclear or biochemical arsenals, he could safeguard the project from potential human interference.’
‘Guff. I have vivid and comprehensive memories of my childhood,’ I say as confidently as I can.
‘Memory implants, part of your cover. You have at least three different histories. It’s a protection mechanism, part of your camouflage. If one persona fails, you disappear and re-emerge as a completely different person, a new history complete to the last detail. Another difference between us and humans is our ability to control our facial muscles. When you change persona you change your facial features, only slightly but enough to become unrecognizable as your old persona. You can’t alter your body frame but that’s not as important as far as camouflaging yourself is concerned. These persona, disguises if you like, were put in you before you left home twenty years and eighteen light years ago. Did you know when you were in the army you weren’t Jake Redwood, you were Jake Dreyfuss?’
‘I don’t believe you.’
‘Of course you don’t. That’s part of the inversion mechanism there to protect you, but I assure you buried deep inside your brain is the alien, Jek, and a whole different reality to the one you’re clinging to so desperately. The big question, though, isn’t am I Jek, it’s why am I not Jek?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘What happened to you, Mr. Redwood? What event was so terrifying, traumatic or dangerous that it caused you to abandon Jake Dreyfuss, your objectives, Krillik’s project and the plans he had for you, and go AWOL? You simply shut down the Jek part of your brain and disappeared.’
‘I’m sorry,’ I say, smiling at him as if he’s a salesman that’s just failed to make a decent pitch, ‘It’s just not believable.’
‘Really,’ he says, and as if playing his ace says, ‘Then how do you explain what happened at the cemetery today? You had Krillik in your sights. All you had to do was pull the trigger.’
I have no answer. I’ve killed people before, shot them down from a distance. They were the enemy and it was my job to neutralize as many of them as I could. That was war and I was a soldier. It’s what I was paid to do, and I earned my pay. So, squeezing the trigger on Krillik should have been a synch. But I screwed up, and I don’t know what went wrong.
‘Let me guess the sequence of events,’ he says when he sees I have no come back, ‘Krillik steps out of the car and suddenly you’re looking at him, the man you’ve been running from for all this time, there in front of you in the flesh. You feel a searing pain in your skull. Krillik looks straight at you. You’re well hidden but somehow he knows not only exactly where you are, but also that you’re a danger to him. He stares into your eyes and points straight at you. The Dreeks protecting him are dispatched to kill you. Now explain that Mr. Redwood.’
‘I don’t know…he got lucky.’
‘No, Mr. Redwood. When you and he were that close for the first time in so long your body had an overwhelming need to send out its pulse, to rejoin the group, let your leader know you were there. It’s instinct, built into your DNA. The searing pain was the battle within your brain to suppress the pulse, a battle you could never win.’
‘Go on’
‘Then there’s Krillik. He has the ability to recognize the pulse from every individual in his crew. It’s like a face with a fingerprint to him, every pulse unique. Suddenly, after all this time and out of nowhere he receives the pulse from Jek, the traitor, the man he’s been desperately trying to find then kill crying out across the cemetery to him, I’m here! I’m here!’
I lean forward and say, ‘Okay, it’s a good story, but I’m Jake Redwood, not some alien. I know it deep down. So a few facts fit your story but that doesn’t change who I am.’
‘Are you prepared to put what you believe to the test?’ says Jane.
‘What? Like a lie detector or something?’
‘No, that would be pointless. If we hooked you up to one of those your body would just manage the outcome to protect itself. We have an alternative,’ says Noone.
‘Not interested,’ I say, making sure he can tell from my expression that’s the biggest no he’ll ever see in his life.
‘We need to talk about other things,’ says Jane.
‘The information on Harvey Keen’s data seed,’ says Noone, ‘You’ve seen it before, I’m positive.’
‘What’s on it?’
‘It’s a biochemical production process,’ says Jane, ‘formulae, equipment, the biochemistry and technical methodology, all written in Arabic.’
‘Written in Arabic?’
‘Yes,’ says Noone.
I stifle a laugh and say, ‘I can’t speak a word of Arabic, and I know squat about biochemical engineering. If I have seen anything like this in the past I wouldn’t have known what it was.’
‘Jake Redwood wouldn’t but Jek would,’ says Noone.
For no reason I can figure, Jane gets up out of her seat and walks to a place behind me, so close I can feel her breath on my neck.
‘Take a look at this,’ says Noone.
As he speaks I feel Jane tap her finger against my right ear lobe. Instantly I feel something warm and wet running into my ear. It makes a crackling noise as it flows deep inside the ear, like static. It’s not painful but not exactly pleasant.
‘What the hell!’ I shout as I jump out of my chair.
I blink hard for a few seconds, involuntary, a reaction to whatever has just crawled into my head. When I stop I can still see everything around me, Noone, Jane, the room, all of it as plain as day. But it’s like there’s a whole different world there as well, like I’m inside a video, an observer, there but not part of everything I can see.
I’m in a laboratory, small, glass walls. I’m being shown around by a man, a middle aged Iraqi. I recognize him. I know him. Deep inside my memory I know I’ve met this man before but I can’t remember who he is or when and where we met.
We are walking together through the laboratory and he is explaining what we see. He is talking in Arabic. I don’t know how but I understand every word, even the technical jargon. A set of glass doors slide open and we go into a small room. There is a window at the far side and we walk over to it.
Through the window we’re looking at what must be a super-high risk biochemical unit. I notice something that doesn’t seem right. I look at our reflections in the glass. I look closer at the reflection of the man next to me, then the one of me. There is somebody else there, someone in the distance behind us. The reflection I see is a man, and I recognize him. It’s Harvey Keen. He’s the man standing there behind us in that laboratory.
‘Do you remember that place,’ says Noone, and I’m right back with them in the lounge of the underground bunker. I look at Jane.
‘In future I’d prefer it if you asked before you put something like that inside my head. Anyway, I thought you told me I couldn’t use a seed reader. It would blow my mind.’
‘So I lied,’ she says, no remorse, ‘I needed to play safe and see what was on the data seeds before you did.’
‘To save time,’ says Noone, ‘Let me summaries what’s on that data seed. There are literally tens of thousands of documents all pertaining to the production of a specific biochemical substance. It details the equipment and raw materials needed, the process and storage methods, and how the final product should be used.’
‘So, what is it?’
‘Have you ever heard the word Revelation?’ says Noone.
‘Yeah, in the biblical sense I have. It’s in the New Testament, the book of Revelation.’
‘The book that predicts the end of the world, seven headed beasts, winged creatures, plagues, locusts, death and destruction, the end of mankind. Let’s focus on the seven headed beast. It exists, but it’s not a giant creature ravaging the land…quite the opposite.’
‘What is it then?’
‘It’s a spore. It’s a microscopic piece of dust no bigger than half a micron wide. The spore has seven hooks on it, the seven headed beast. That’s why Saddam named it the Revelation spore. If this tiny organism comes into contact with human cells, even the toughest epidermal skin, it will hook onto the cell’s surface, chemically bind tightly then split open. A fluid comes out that contains the nucleus of the spore. This burns its way through the cell’s surface and penetrates the cell. It then replaces the cell’s nucleus with it’s own in a matter of minutes. It then splits into dozens of new nuclei. These then invade every adjacent cell until it has taken over every living cell in the host’s body. The process takes about an hour, during which the host goes violently insane before the vital organs collapse and the host dies in excruciating agony.
But this isn’t the end of the story. The Revelation spore still has another little trick up its sleeve. As the body starts to decompose the individual cells burst open and scatter billions more spores into the atmosphere. These spores are virtually indestructible in normal environmental conditions.’
‘Crap!...all crap.’
‘Oh, this spore exists, Mr. Redwood. It’s a biochemical weapon, man made and human species specific. No other living thing is affected. It’s deadly and if a single spore is ever released into the atmosphere it would mean the end of mankind in about three weeks.’
I look at Noone incredulously. If his story is true then this biochemical weapon is useless. Whoever released it would sign his own death warrant.
‘Who would create a pointless thing like that? It’s a doomsday weapon. The person deploying it would be committing suicide.’
‘Very perceptive of you, and of course you’d be right where it not for circumstances where the weapon would serve the purpose of the person deploying it.’
‘What? Guaranteeing their death and the death of their loved ones, their followers, everyone on their side?’
‘…and what would those circumstances be?’
‘Getting into heaven quicker, Mr. Redwood. The weapon was created by the man you saw on the data seed. His name was Dr Aziz. He headed up the development of chemical and biological weapons for Saddam Hussein. His instructions were to develop the Revelation spore alongside a vaccine. If Saddam had both the spore and the vaccine it was as good as a nuclear arsenal. The balance of power would shift from west to east. Saddam gave him all the resources he needed. Dr Aziz was a very clever man. The Revelation spore was developed and produced, then put into storage in a secret location in Iraq. But Aziz never produced the vaccine.
‘Why not?’
‘Principally because he never intended to. What Saddam didn’t know about Aziz was that secretly he was a rabid Jihadi. He believed that his soul could be fast tracked into heaven if he killed non believers, and the more he killed the more he would please his God and be exulted in heaven.’
‘That’s crazy. Surely it would cause the deaths of believers as well as non believers.’
‘Right, but wouldn’t they want to die anyway? That was Aziz’s thinking. He was helping them into paradise a little ahead of their schedule, that’s all. He had Saddam completely fooled. He developed a very plausible plan for the production of the vaccine. It was designed to perfection right down to the last detail. The plans are on that little data seed in your head. There’s only one detail missing.’
‘The raw material needed, the starter culture. It’s a material Aziz believed was impossible to obtain.’
‘…and what would that be?’
‘A blood sample from someone infected with the spore that survived.’
‘Harvey had copies of all these plans,’ says Jane, ‘That’s the deal we think he did with Krillik, the Revelation spore and the vaccine manufacturing method in exchange for him, his wife and their Zyg to be taken to a safe place. The spore would be released into the atmosphere and in less than a month everyone on Earth would be dead. It’s a magic bullet, see? Only humans killed with no damage or destruction to the precious things Grow want to harvest. No doubt Krillik promised Harvey that at some time he and his little family would be brought back to the planet where they could have whatever they wanted as a gift from Krillik. It would never have happened.’
‘But Krillik would be just as incapable of producing the vaccine,’ I say.
‘Ours is a society that has developed very advanced nano technology. Producing the vaccine would be much easier for us. It’s a matter of time, that’s all, and Krillik has plenty. By the time homesteaders start arriving here there’ll be a vaccine to protect them built into their shuttle portal reconstruction code.’
‘The threat to Krillik’s plan,’ says Jane, ‘is that humans develop a vaccine in time to save enough people to resist the invasion of the homesteaders. Remember, we’re not a warring people. We don’t have the weaponry humans have.’
Jane goes over to the small bar in the corner of the room and picks up a bottle of Jack Daniels and three shot glasses. She brings them over to the coffee table and lines them up. She pours three shots and puts one in front of each of us.
‘Here,’ she says, picking her shot up, ‘It must be a hell of a lot for you to take in. You’ll need one of these, I think.’
I do. My head aches. What they’re asking me to believe is overwhelming. I pick up the glass and down the drink in one gulp. The bourbon burns its way down my throat and starts to relax me. Jane refills my glass.
‘You are right at the centre of all that’s going on, Mr. Redwood, and we need to know more from you,’ says Noone.
‘What do you want to know?’
‘What happened in Iraq? What happened to Jake Dreyfuss and why did that persona disappear?’
‘I can tell you everything I remember about my time in Iraq,’ I say, ‘But I’m Jake Redwood.’
‘Yes, and I’m sure you’ll be able to give a very good account of your time there but it’ll all be lies. It’s time for you to take that test I mentioned earlier.’
‘I told you I’m not taking any damned test!’ I shout.
He’s really pissing me off now. I’ve listened patiently but I’ve had just about all I can take of these two and their fairy stories. I decide enough is enough. I’d let them bring me here because I thought I’d be safe for a while, and I might learn more about what the hell’s going on. But it’s all bullshit, nonsense, too far fetched to believe. I figure I’ll be better off on my own.
Noone nods to Jane and she leaves the room.
‘I promise we’ll do as much as we can to keep you safe,’ says Noone, ‘but it’s time.’
He stands up and steps over to where I’m sitting, leaning in real close. He’s looking into my eyes. Suddenly he slaps me across the face, hard and sharp. I want to punch the bastard’s lights out and I take a swing. But nothing happens! I can’t move my arms. I can’t move any muscle in my body! I’m awake, fully conscious but paralyzed.
‘What the fuck!’
‘Yes, you can still talk. That’s good,’ says Noone.
It’s then I notice neither Jane nor Noone has taken their drink. I’m terrified. I can’t move a muscle. I’m completely incapable of protecting myself.
‘What the fuck have you done?’ I say, my voice sounding strangled.
‘It’s a derivative of Rohypnol, Mr. Redwood. You can speak but can’t move. It won’t last long. It’s just until we can safely put the other drugs into you. We don’t want you thrashing around and hurting yourself.’
Jane appears again. She’s dressed in surgical scrubs, hat, mask and gown, and she’s pushing a wheelchair. I watch on helpless, terrified as the two of them bundle me into the chair and push me out of the lounge. We go into the kitchen, At the end of the kitchen area is a double cupboard, floor to ceiling doors. Noone opens both doors. It isn’t a cupboard at all. It’s a concealed door. Jane pushes me in the chair through the door into a room. To my horror I recognize the room straight away. It’s the room from my visions, rough cinderblock built walls, a single bulb clipped on a cable to the ceiling. There’s a chair set in the middle of the room. It’s like a dentist’s chair only with metal restraining bands for the head, wrists and legs. A tray is laid up next to the chair. On it are needles, vials of chemicals and all the paraphernalia needed to anaesthetize someone. Behind the chair is a small desk with a monitor screen set up on it. There is a head set, like a skull cap, with wires leading from it to the monitor.
There’s a man dressed in operating theatre garb like Jane has on. He is sitting in a chair in the corner of the room and appears to be asleep. Jane and Noone lift me out of the wheelchair and put me onto the dentist’s chair. They strap me in tightly with the metal bands. Jane squeezes spots of a cold gel onto my forehead before tightening the metal band to my head. She then slips the skull cap onto my head. Noone walks behind me where I can’t see him. I hear the chair at the desk scrape back as he sits down. He talks to me as the other two go about their work.
‘The gentleman asleep here is Dr Patel. He’s very skilled and very experienced. I have every confidence in him. He works for the CIA and has helped them tremendously with their interrogation of suspected Daesh terrorists. That’s what he believes he’s doing here. Dr Patel?’
‘The man is instantly awake, as if he’d never been asleep. Like an automaton he picks up the equipment he needs from the tray and sets about inserting a tube into the back of my wrist. His head hits the bulb as he goes about the task but he doesn’t notice. The bulb swings backwards and forwards exactly as it did in my visions. I know what’s going to happen next and I am terrified.
‘The data reader in your head is a marvelous little thing,’ says Noone, ‘It’s recording everything you see through your eyes and in your mind. I can see what it’s recording on this monitor. I may ask you to describe things in more detail if I see something of interest. I trust you don’t mind.’
I feel the rush as the chemical cocktail hits my bloodstream, ice cold, a thundering noise in my head. In a moment my vision is blurred. Everything seems shadowy and in a darkening swirling mist. It’s as if I’m falling endlessly through a thick fog. I can hear Noone talking to me as I drift out of this reality into a world of memories hidden deep inside my brain.

End Of Part Ten