Direktlänk till inlägg 7 maj 2011

pain of the corns

Av lucyshanxu lucyshanxu - 7 maj 2011 03:40

KIT OXENFORD woke early, feeling eager and anxious at the same time. It was a strange sensation. Today he was going to rob Oxenford Medical. The idea filled him with excitement. It would be the greatest prank ever. It would be written up in books with titles like The Perfect Crime. Even better, it would be revenge on his father. The company would be destroyed, and Stanley Oxenford would be ruined financially. The fact that the old man would never know who had done this to him somehow made it better. It would be a secret gratification that Kit could hug to himself for the rest of his life. But he was anxious, too. This was unusual. By nature, he was not a worrier. Whatever trouble he was in, he could generally talk his way out. He rarely planned anything. He had planned today. Perhaps that was his problem. He lay in bed with his eyes closed, thinking of the obstacles he had to overcome. First, there was the physical security around the Kremlin: the double row of fencing, the razor wire, the lights, the intruder alarms. Those alarms were protected by tamper switches, shock sensors, and end-of-line circuitry that would detect a short circuit. The alarms were directly connected to regional police headquarters at Inverburn via a phone line that was continuously checked by the system to verify that it was operational. None of that would protect the place against Kit and his collaborators. Then there were the guards, watching important areas on closed-circuit television cameras, patrolling the premises hourly. Their TV monitors were fitted with high-security biased switches that would detect equipment substitution, for example if the feed from a camera were replaced by a signal from a videotape player. Kit had thought of a way around that. Finally there was the elaborate scheme of access control: the plastic credit-card passes, each bearing a photo of the authorized user plus details of the user's fingerprint embedded in a chip. Defeating this system would be complicated, but Kit knew how to do it. His degree was in computer science, and he had been top of his class, but he had an even more important advantage. He had designed the software that controlled the entire security setup at the Kremlin. It was his baby. He had done a terrific job for his ungrateful father, and the system was virtually impenetrable to an outsider, but Kit knew its secrets. At around midnight tonight, he would walk into the holy of holies, the BSL4 laboratory, the most secure location in Scotland. With him would be his client, a quietly menacing Londoner called Nigel Buchanan, and two collaborators. Once there, Kit would open the refrigerated vault with a simple four-digit code. Then Nigel would steal samples of Stanley Oxenford's precious new antiviral drug. They would not keep the samples long. Nigel had a strict deadline. He had to hand over the samples by ten o'clock tomorrow morning, Christmas Day. Kit did not know the reason for the deadline. He did not know who the customer was, either, but he could guess. It had to be one of the pharmaceutical multinationals. Having a sample to analyze would save years of research. The company would be able to make its own version of the drug, instead of paying Oxenford millions in licensing fees. It was dishonest, of course, but men found excuses for dishonesty when the stakes were high. Kit could picture the company's distinguished chairman, with his silver hair and pin-striped suit, saying hypocritically, "Can you assure me categorically that no employee of our organization broke any laws in obtaining this sample?"

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She resolved to be calm, friendly, and businesslike. He got out of the car and came toward her. She said, "Please don't cross the line—I'll come out." She realized right away she had made an error of tact. He was the police officer and she was the civilian—he would feel that he should be giving orders to her, not the other way around. The frown that crossed his face showed her that he had felt the slight. Trying to be more friendly, she said, "How are you, Frank?" "What's going on here?" "A technician from the lab appears to have caught a virus. We've just taken him away in an isolation ambulance. Now we're decontaminating his house. Where's Jim Kincaid?" "He's on holiday." "Where?" Toni hoped Jim might be reached and brought back for this emergency. "Portugal. He and his wife have a wee time-share." A pity, Toni thought. Kincaid knew about biohazards, but Frank did not. Reading her mind, Frank said, "Don't worry." He had in his hand a photocopied document an inch thick. "I've got the protocol here." It was the plan Toni had agreed on with Kincaid. Frank had obviously been reading it while waiting. "My first duty is to secure the area." He looked around. Toni had already secured the area, but she said nothing. Frank needed to assert himself. He called out to the two uniformed officers in the patrol car. "You two! Move that car to the entrance of the driveway, and don't let anyone by without asking me." "Good idea," Toni said, though in truth it made no difference to anything. Nothing, I promise you. But everything in the house has to be decontaminated, either with disinfectant or by high-pressure steam. Both processes destroy papers and might well damage a computer." "I'm going to get this protocol changed. I wonder whether the chief constable knows what Kincaid has let you get away with." Toni felt weary. It was the middle of the night, she had a major crisis to deal with, and she was being forced to pussyfoot around the feelings of a resentful former lover. "Oh, Frank, for God's sake—you might be right, but this is what we've got, so could we try to forget the past and work as a team?" "Your idea of teamwork is everyone doing what you say." She laughed. "Fair enough. What do you think should be our next move?" "I'll inform the health board. They're the lead agency, according to the protocol. Once they've tracked down their designated biohazard consultant, he'll want to convene a meeting here first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, we should start contacting everyone who might have seen Michael Ross. I'll get a couple of detectives phoning every number in that address book. I suggest you question every employee at the Kremlin. It would be useful to have that done by the time we meet with the health board." "All right." Toni hesitated. She had something she had to ask Frank. His best friend was Carl Osborne, a local television reporter who valued sensation more than accuracy. If Carl got hold of this story, he would start a riot. She knew that the way to get something from Frank was to be matter-of-fact, not appearing either assertive or needy. "There's a paragraph in the protocol I've got to mention," she began. "It says that no statements should be made to the press without first being discussed by the main interested parties, including the police, the health board, and the company." "No problem." "The reason I mention it is that this doesn't need to become a major public scare. The chances are that no one is in danger." "Good." "We don't want to hold anything back, but the publicity should be calm and measured. No one needs to panic." Frank grinned. "You're frightened of tabloid stories about killer hamsters roaming the highlands." "You owe me, Frank. I hope you remember." His face darkened. "I owe you?" She lowered her voice, although there was no one nearby. "You remember Farmer Johnny Kirk." Kirk had been a big-time cocaine importer. Born in the rough Glasgow neighborhood of Garscube Road, he had never seen a farm in his life, but got the nickname from the oversize green rubber boots he wore to ease the pain of the corns on his feet. Frank had put together a case against Farmer Johnny. During the trial, by accident, Toni had come across evidence that would have helped the defense. She had told Frank, but Frank had not informed the court. lohnny was as guilty as sin, and Frank had got a conviction—but if the truth ever came out, Frank's career would be over. Now Frank said angrily, "Are you threatening to bring that up again if I don't do what you want?" "No, just reminding you of a time when you needed me to keep quiet about something, and I did." His attitude changed again. He had been frightened, for a moment, but now he was his old arrogant self. "We all bend the rules from time to time. That's life." "Yes. And I'm asking you not to leak this story to your friend Carl Osborne, or anyone else in the media." Frank grinned. "Why, Toni," he said in a tone of mock indignation, "1 never do things like that."


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