Ray Sullivan publishes science based fiction adventures on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, WH Smith and other good eBook retailers as e-books. Additionally all of his books are available in paperback on Amazon. He also muses on technology, posts comedic books in serial format and discusses the world of self publishing.
Books written by Ray Sullivan
Friday, 15 March 2013
Parallel Lives chapter 71
Simon stood with his back to the briefing room wall, a part
of the projected image strewn across his face, a dot depicting Cheltenham
forming an oval on his cheek. The team he had put together filed into the room,
a collection of men and women he trusted, culled from the willing and the
available. He waited until the group had entered and found seats before
starting. As the last person sat down Simon nodded to Gerald to dim the main
lights, just leaving the projected image illuminating his end of the room.
'Okay, listen in,' he began, pausing while the assembled
crew stopped talking and started listening. 'Some of you know the first part of
this briefing, so I apologise to you now, however there is information here
that is new to all of you,' he continued, satisfied that he now had assured
their attention. Pressing the wireless mouse left hand button he re-started the
presentation he had been reviewing prior to the arrival of the team. A slide
showing Joseph Braumweld flashed up.
'I expect this face is familiar to all of you, the now
infamous Israeli suicide bomber, the man that allegedly re-wrote the Middle
East rule book. Certainly that's what the newspapers would have us believe.
'London born, a family man, Joseph was a respected member
of the Israeli civil service, and it was his high level security grading that
allowed him to get close enough to the Arab contingent that he destroyed.
'It's no secret in this building that his oldest son's head
was found at his home, delivered by one of the major courier services the day
before the attack, along with another package now believed to have been the
explosives. What some of you may not know is that the torso of his son was
found in his brother's house in Wiltshire, where he was supposed to be staying,
along with the rest of the family in preparation for a close relative's
wedding. So far none of the other family members have been found.' One of the
officers in the front row raised his hand.
'Do we know for certain it was Braumweld?'
'We're certain.' replied Simon, 'the Israeli Government
takes DNA samples of all official personnel, military, civil service, you name
it. They have confirmed beyond doubt that the bomber was Braumweld and that a
related DNA was involved in the construction of the explosives.' Another hand
'Braumweld's father is believed to be a fervent
anti-Islamist. Was Braumweld part of that?' Simon shook his head.
'I doubt it, despite the hard line attitude of the Israeli
Government over the last, what, thirty years their diplomatic corps have been
assiduous in their approach to international relations. It's highly unlikely
that any member of the department harbours extreme views. We know they knew
about his father's views and they would have checked him out thoroughly. He
would have been a known quantity, prepared to see all sides, to talk up the
Israeli perspective when required. The antithesis of your typical suicide
bomber,' he said.
Noting the silence, Simon advanced the presentation,
revealing Joseph Braumweld's brother, Peter.
'Peter Braumweld, one of the family members we have been
unable to locate. Ostensibly one of us, a Government scientist working on
weapon delivery systems. Managed to exploit his top level access to
successfully walk out of Porton Down the day before the bombing in Tel Aviv
with enough mutated bird flu virus to wipe out a small city.' Simon waited as
the facts were absorbed. Sarah, one of his regular team, raised her arm.
'Mutated bird flu?' she asked. Simon walked forward,
approaching the group, leaving the remote control on the side table at the
'A natural mutation of the bird flu that killed several
hundred Asians last year. In its natural state it is only contagious to humans
if they come into contact with an infected bird. Towards the end of the
outbreak British scientists working with the international team set up to
devise effective treatments isolated a variant which piggy-backed onto water
borne bacteria. Luckily enough it hadn't infected any water supplies used by
sizeable populations, hence its impact on the crisis was minimised. It was,
however, clear that the mutated form retained its danger to humans.
'Two issues were therefore identified. The first was that
this variant may survive the outbreak and could present a danger to the public
in its natural state. The second issue was the way it piggy-backed onto
bacteria. This is a major biological warfare threat as it stands. If the
mutation was capable of being adapted for other, more deadly agents, then the
threat is obvious. Porton Down were studying the mutation with a view to both
creating an effective solution to the specific virus and the general
mutation-stroke-piggy-back syndrome. Consequently they had cultivated large
quantities of the virus, amounts now unaccounted for.
'So you see, what we have is a fucking nightmare,' Simon
appealed to his expanded team. 'If we follow the line the newspapers are
suggesting, that it was a disgruntled Israeli official scuppering the peace
process then the next target should be a town with a large Arab population. In
this country it might be Wolverhampton or Bradford. My view, though, is that
this is a typical Al Qaeda operation, and the target is probably London
somewhere, there's plenty of Jewish enclaves in the Capital,' he suggested. A
hand was raised in the back of the room.
'Sir, isn't there always a prevalent threat to our water
supplies? I thought we had beefed up the security on them,' the voice belonging
to the hand pointed out.
'Its not as easy as you would imagine, poisoning the water
supply,' replied Simon, 'the boffins reckon that its really quite difficult to
get good results. You can't just pour some poisonous material into the supply.
The stuff will be watered down by a random amount and generally to put enough
of the usual toxins in to affect a meaningful population would result in
severely discoloured and smelly water. It would be so obviously tainted that
most of the target audience wouldn't touch it. That's if any reaches the taps
at all, the flow calculations, temperature over density graphs, you name it
there are problems. Believe me, I've just lived and breathed this problem for
the past few days, and from what the scientists tell me I'm surprised water
gets through, let alone contaminants,' he finished, to a ripple of amusement.
Walking back to the front Simon picked up the remote control and advanced the
presentation another frame.
'John Staples, probably a friendly,' he said. 'Staple's may
know something about the target for this stuff. Unfortunately, he doesn't
actually know he knows, and the last report we had on him, he wasn't too good.'
Before Simon could advance on to the next piece of information one his normal
team asked a question several were hoping to pose.
'Is this the guy that Loftus lost?' he asked. Martin's
failure to hang on to a prisoner had started to circle the offices, becoming
embellished and exaggerated at most retellings. Another voice entered the fray
before Simon could respond.
‘Is it true Loftus’ ambition is to become ept,’ the voice
wagged to a few chuckles. Simon waved palms down to gain control of the
'Martin Loftus has been involved in this, and it is true
that Staples was being looked after by him before he was abducted. Listen guys,
Martin has made a few mistakes on this one but to be fair he wasn't well
supported by the department and he made a few judgement calls that went wrong,'
said Simon generously. When they had assessed the events they had decided that
Martin had overstepped his authority, but had done so in part because his calls
for assistance had been largely unheeded. Neither side had realised they were
working on the same problem. Simon moved on.
'Jack Howells,' he announced, 'probably not a friendly.
Working with his wife Karen and a local Civil Servant, he appears to have been
instrumental in the abduction of Staples. It’s clear he was aware of Staples'
knowledge and our best guess is he's trying to sell the man to the Americans or
the Russians. Either way, we would prefer we stopped them.' Jack felt the need
to drink water, his throat drying with all the talking.
'Howells is ex-army, left before his term, no immediate pension.
Served in the Falklands conflict, the second one, as a REME engineer. According
to his discharge questionnaire he cites that conflict as his main reason for
leaving the Army. Certainly he lost a number of his close acquaintances during
the main push into Stanley.
'We know he has worked in engineering ever since leaving
the Army. Currently the engineering manager for a mid sized consumer product
factory in Manchester he is earning a reasonable wage, but does have a high
mortgage and probably would like a cash boost.
'His wife is probably along for the ride, we haven't any
intel on her at any rate. Of more interest is this guy,' he said, flicking an
image of Alan onto the screen. 'Early fifties, career officer with the Health
and Safety Executive. Low to mid flyer, probably could have done better for
himself if he had been less of a rebel. Now we all know how well paid Civil
Servants are,' said Simon, drawing smiles around the room. ‘This is probably
his best chance at improving his pension fund.
'And finally,' said Simon, pressing the remote one more
time, 'Michael Watson, DTRU scientist working on a project that involves the
information Staples has. He is working with Howells and co. We're unsure of his
motives, but he doesn't need the cash. We think he may be acting out of a
misguided sense of concern for Staples. He may be trying to help the guy but
isn't aware of how important it is we speak to him.'
'Sir, where are they?' asked a voice from the front. Simon
pressed the remote control one last time, bringing up a map of the West
'We've had a stroke of luck. Howell's mother, who lives in
a home in Bristol, has helpfully provided us with the phone number of the motel
Sam Watson is staying in, presumably with Staples. We believe the other three
are headed there now,' Simon replied. The voice from the front pitched in
'Are we getting the civils to pick them up, or do we have
people on the spot?'
'It's a bit tricky, this one,' said Simon a little
reluctantly, 'we've already stretched our credibility with the civils once
today and the big man upstairs is reluctant to push our luck. The problem is
that we've not exactly worked inside the framework of the law regarding Staples
and we're probably going to keep on stretching the boundaries a little longer.
Involving the civvy police is likely to raise too many uncomfortable questions
so we need to keep this in-house. We've got two of our people headed that way
'Gerald has drawn up one of his famous action plans, so all
please listen to what he now has to say,' he said, waving his opposite number
to the front.