Three large men sat inside a shiny new silver Toyota family van and watched the entrance to The Reserve Vault building. Two listening devices gave them audio. One, which had been placed in screwed up paper and left in the trash. Another, sewn into the jacket of the impersonator. If he needed to, Mr Green could give instructions to his man inside to make sure all went as he had planned.
The worth of the viral data was measurable by the great amount of money that he could generate from its use and sale. It would easily restore the Gorbenko family name.
The plain American name of Simon Green was a necessity to run a prosperous business and have relationships with investors and clients. The prejudice toward his Russian homeland was not all forgotten. It never would be. The Soviet Union may have failed in many areas, but a communist community could once again show it’s true worth. Not that capitalism didn’t have it’s uses, especially when he wished to manipulate a company.
His man entered the building in a neatly trimmed suit carrying a briefcase. His face had been shaved smooth and he had the musk of a man who had recently showered. His after shave gave off just enough scent so he smelled pleasant, not overwhelming.
Someone greeted his man. He replied in kind. The security guard, Mr Green assumed. The glare on the front glass windows made it difficult to see inside. The binoculars barely helping. He squinted and saw his man move further into the bank unmolested. A touch of a smile grew on Mr Green’s mouth.
He stood at the front desk. The surrounding talk came through the speaker, a fraction muffled.
He gave his name.
Soon he would be inside the actual vault.
Someone inside raised their voice. Lots of people yelling. Screaming. Voices echoed and jumbled into each other making it hard for Mr Green to understand what was happening.
Another robbery happening at the same time?
Mr Green cursed himself for not having the foresight to organise a miniature camera so he could see what the problem was, and make this nyeumnyĭ chelovek* do what he was told.
“What’s happening?” Mr Green exploded into the mouthpiece.
SOG officers poured into the foyer of the bank from a side door with weapons drawn. Each wearing a bullet proof vest, helmet, goggles and dark blue protective uniforms. Four men surrounded the suspect while two others drove him to the ground. The remaining police covered the only exit and kept their eyes on the remaining people in the foyer.
The police bound and raised the man who had identified himself as Larry Emerson. Senior Sergeant Malroy and the manager of The Reserve Vault walked from a back room to stand before the suspect.
His pants had darkened around the crotch.
“Larry Emerson?” The sergeant asked.
“Yes, I am,” he said, stuttering. His face a ghost.
“I apologize for frightening you. This is only a precautionary measure. Detective Bradbury, phoned me yesterday after speaking with you and wanted us to be here in case someone arrived claiming to be, Larry Emerson”
For a moment the impersonator stopped shaking and nodded. “My signature is there. You can check it. My hand scan will prove that I am me.”
“You’re nervous. My fault for having my men approach you as they did.” The Sergeant looked down at the man’s pants and then the puddle on the floor. He retrieved a piece of paper from his pocket, unfolded it to its full A4 size and held it up next to the suspect’s face. On the piece of paper was a photocopy of Larry Emerson’s driver’s license with his name, address and date of brith, as well as a picture clearly displaying his portrait.
The suspects eye twitched. He spoke but the words came out jumbled together.
The sergeant said, “You are not, Larry Emerson.”
The suspect’s lip trembled.
“I guess we’ll get you down to the station to sort out exactly who you are. What’s that in your ear? Damnit, he’s got others working with him. You two, get outside. The rest of you close off the building. No one leaves.”
Mr Green pounded his fist against the window of the van and swore in Russian. His two bodyguards sat and said nothing They watched as their boss rubbed his sore fist and kicked at the seat in front of him like a child.
Mr Green went to punch the window again but stopped, not wanting a broken sliced up hand as another annoyance. Larry Emerson had somehow lived. Then ruined a very expensive and well laid out plan. That man needed to die. And soon.
Detective Bradbury stapled together the five pages of the report sent to him from Queensland police department. After the initial alert from his colleague, Sergeant Ron David, it had taken half of the day for the report to be written up and emailed through.
He pounded his palm on the stapler again. He had never been an easy one to fool and Emerson had appeared less than savvy at deception. Initially it surprised him that Emerson had asked for a signature as a witness for something as trivial as changing passwords for a deposit box holding. Parent’s heirlooms, Emerson had said.
At the time he had wondered if the man was losing his mind thinking on things so frivolous considering his brother’s life was slipping away. Then later, while thinking on it further, he realized Emerson had to have something else on going on. He would not be thinking of heirlooms. Also, if his amnesia was as bad as he had claimed then how could he remember something so mundane. No...
Sergeant David was a good and long time friend. It had not taken long to convince him to set up surveillance for the next few days. Bradbury did not know how the Reserve Vault was linked to Sincorp and the viruses, but he did have an idea. And when Mr Emerson eventually showed up, he would make sure he found out.
Larry Checked the time on his phone not really knowing why and not even remembering what time it had displayed.
Earlier that morning he had received a call from the Reserve Vault explaining that someone claiming to be him had tried to access his lockers. The manager had been clear: Brisbane police in conjunction with Victorian police had initiated the sting. The suspect was now in custody and being questioned.
Bradbury would have figured it out, Larry had just not expected the detective to make the connection so quickly. He need not have sent the police, the reason for seeking out Bradbury’s signature had been to add another level of security. A PIN. The impersonator would not have made it into the vault.
Simon Green and his two satellites of men may therefore be watching the building if Simon was behind this. With all the people on the street as witnesses, and the level of security within the vault, all they would be able to do is continue to watch.
“$42.75,” the taxi driver said.
The two men stared at each other for a moment before Larry realized he had not paid the man. The driver scrolled through pickup addresses on his device connected to the dash while he waited. Larry paid and collected his day bag from the backseat, extended the handle and wheeled the bag along the footpath and through the front doors of the building.
“Hello, Mr Emerson, we were very happy to help you and your detective friend capture the criminal who attempted to access your deposit boxes today,” a man said extending his hand. “Where are my manners? I am the manager of this facility. Donald Fruehauf, at your service.”
“Thank you, Mr Fruehauf,” Larry said attempting to roll the surname correctly off his tongue. He eyed the cameras above the main desk and dotted throughout the foyer.
“Facial recognition technology added to your security system could stop this from happening in the future. It’s not as if someone can just cut off one of your customer’s heads and walk into your vault to gain access,” Larry said with a wink.
“Err yes, a good idea,” the manager said and creased his brow. “Something I can bring up at the next security meeting.”
A moment later, police appeared from hiding.
“So you’re, Larry Emerson,” an officer said and walked toward Larry. “After the first robbery attempt, we made your photo available to the staff so they were sure of who you were. Since you are obviously you, then I guess I’m just an errand boy for, Detective Bradbury. His message is: Call me immediately! Have a nice day.”
Larry opened the first deposit box and put the vials within a flask to keep the living viruses at a constant temperature, then placed the small flash drives into his day bag, which would also travel with him on to the US. The viruses would only survive 36 hours within the flasks until the chemical cooling agent warmed. Each one small enough to keep in his pocket while going through security.
He also needed a back up plan in case the viruses were somehow stolen from him. He needed a second place to store the viruses, somewhere they would survive without being frozen. He realized then what needed to be done.
Larry injected the first virus.
Tests with this particular virus had delivered some remarkable success in repairing and enhancing sensory input. The most success was with partially blind and deaf people, although when tests were conducted on completely healthy subjects they had also shown signs of improvement with all senses.
The improved senses, when developed with practice, tied in together to give a noticeable improvement in hand-eye coordination. Something the military had expressed interest in after the information had leaked out.
The next injection agitated the subjects commonly used muscle groups. Originally intended to be used on patients going through rehabilitation after sports injuries, car accidents and in particular spinal injuries. The military had expressed interest in this area as well. The virus agitated the muscles to keep them active when significant nerve or ligament damage prevented the subject from doing this themselves. Muscle mass would increase throughout the body, but in a condensed form giving the person additional strength but with very little bulk.
Each of the samples could infect just a single host, manipulated so they couldn’t become contagious. Once the virus came in contact with a particular person’s DNA, it could only ever bond with that host’s cells. However, Sincorp’s tests had not been run over any extended amount of time. Further testing was still warranted.
Today’s viruses continue to mutate after being transmitted from host to host, and can pass from species to species, or person to person. However the ancient viruses did not appear to mutate, although they did continue to evolve.
A monumental change in history warped the viruses, possibly when humanity switched from hunter-gatherer, to farmer. Poor farming practices allowed disease to plague the animals and transfer to humans. Measles, small pox, influenza, Tuberculosis, all came from these sick domesticated animals.
Larry’s arms and legs shook as the viruses took affect on his body. He sat bent over his knees, his stomach gurgling and his face dripping with sweat. His ears rang and his eyes hurt. Test subjects in the past had spoken of similar symptoms.
His eyes drooped. He caught himself before falling over twice. The viruses were working a lot quicker than he thought they could. Their replication had already begun taking nutrients from his body to be used as fuel. Once there were enough they would alter his DNA and force his cells to take on new tasks.
As quickly as the nausea and discomfort began, it stopped.
During initial trials, Larry and his team had worried about introducing multiple viruses all at once in case a sort of viral war began in the body, each organism believing that the other was foreign and trying to destroy it. To his surprise not a single virus had conflicted with another.
He recalled one instance where many viruses were mistakenly administered all at once. The young university student had been injected with every virus that they had ready for testing after signing in under numerous names—which also would allow him to receive more money as a test patient. Which is all he had been thinking about at the time.
Eventually the viruses ran their course and were expelled from his body. He then returned to normal, as the viruses had been designed to work that way. His eating habits during the multiple virus injections had made him ravenous, yet he continued to lose weight until the viruses were gone. The patient, however, was more concerned that he would only be paid for a single test.
Larry stood from his chair, although held onto the arm rest for a few minutes while he tried to blink the black blurry spots from his eyes. His curtained area had given him privacy while a guard stood not far from the exit, another guard sat in an office looking over screens and writing on sheets of paper.
Larry pushed away from the chair then gripped the table when the room slanted. He waited a few more seconds. Finally he managed to stand without aid and packed everything into his day bag. He pulled the curtain across and looked over to the security guard escort and nodded while wiping sweaty hair away from his forehead. They walked to the elevator and Larry’s bag rolled along behind.
His hunger grew as the elevator climbed. A growl came from his stomach and the guard looked back at Larry, his eyebrows raised.
“Any good places to grab a quick bite around here?” Larry asked the guard.
The guard frowned. “Bakery to the left down the street.” He turned back to the doors. “I grab my lunch there myself most days. Today my eight year old daughter helped my wife make my lunch. I really have no idea what’s going to be in there.”
The manager called out, goodbye, as Larry exited the elevator. Larry dipped his head in the direction of the manager and went through the automated doors. The volume rose and the heat pushed back against him. Cars honked. People spoke over each other and laughed or yelled. A scream came from a child holding her father’s hand. Exhaust fumes tingled his nostrils. His stomach groaned. All his senses were already brimming with sensitivity, either that or he had developed schizophrenia.
Larry wiped the saliva gathering at the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand. The smell from the bakery, still a half block away, made his head spin.
He ducked around a charcoal suited woman and a boy in white shirt, talking about a large sum of money being exchanged to pay for a small business. He shuffled around a large group of tourists that pointed and took photos of the city street. Then, as he thought he would pass out from starvation, he reached the open air bakery.
A woman in a grey cardigan stood stooped over the front of the counter, and pointed to the bread she was thinking of purchasing. Her spidery hair blew in the muggy wind.
Larry danced in small jerky movements on the spot while she continued to decide on if she would prefer the poppy seed or a sesame seed loaf.
‘...I should have remembered if it was sesame seed my son’s wife is allergic to. Hmm, I better have the poppy seed loaf,’ the old woman said and reached into her handbag to retrieve her purse.
Larry sniffed at the strong pastry smells, but caught another smell as well, urine and strong perfume. Both coming from the old woman. From what he could recall from trials, he would eventually be able to control his increased sense of smell—as well as other senses—and wouldn’t be so compelled to be sick every time he breathed in. He let his breath out as she walked away, but something even stronger assailed him. Something not sweet, nor bitter or foul. Instead something that made his face flush and his body ache.
‘Hi, what can I get you?’ the young woman said leaning over the counter.
Larry gulped and put his hand through his greying hair. It came back damp.
He gritted his teeth and concentrated on the smell and flavour of the food. The oil, the meat, the pastry. This, rather than the pheromones pouring from her body. They enhanced her red lips, long neck, curved body, and—
“I’ll have the Mexican pizza bun and the greek pizza bun, please. Also, two of the steak and onion pies, please,” Larry said, and went back to clenching his teeth, while trying not to think about the young woman, even though her smile was more full than any—.
“It’s hot out, isn’t it?” she said.
Larry nodded and wiped his forehead. She handed over the pizza buns first, wrapped in white paper. Larry took a bite while the young lady went to retrieve his hot pies. He managed to eat a portion of the paper bag as he did, although did not stop to notice.
She wrapped the pies in another bag and turned to catch Larry eating the last portion of the second pizza bun.
“You may want to chew on that,” the girl said, smiling and began hitting keys on the cash register
Larry smiled back, although with a mouth full of food.
“Would you like some sauce?”
A price was totalled and Larry paid. He forced a thank you around his full mouth and she handed him his change. Larry chewed the last piece of bun and gulped it down. He took a large bite from the pie. Mince meat and pastry stuck to his lips and covered his cheeks, but he did not care. He could not help himself but eat as quickly as he could.
He unwrapped his second pie.
A car beeped at a van that swerved across two lanes to stop out the front of the bakery. Larry hesitated, his mouth open, the pie halfway to his tongue. The van windows had such a dark tint that he could not see inside.
The doors opened and two familiar men leapt out. Both had heads down and came at a sprint, fists bunched up into white knuckled boulders.
Larry dodged the first large attacker then pushed the burning hot pie into the face of the second. The man didn’t scream or even grunt.
With a double fist, Larry punched into the back of the first attacker’s ribs, then bashed his fist into the second. Both times he felt bones break within the men with a hard wet snap.
Larry stopped. His newly found energy flowed through his body like electricity. His skin tingled. He felt each individual hair on his body stand upright. He stared at his own fists as if just now acquiring them, and was amazed at what he had just done. Through the open door of the van sat a lump of a man, black hair, eyes wide, staring back at Larry. The Russian smiled. Larry sprinted at him and leapt through the open doors.
A stinging vibrating sensation entered Larry’s body as if he had gripped bare wires. He slumped mid-leap and fell a little over halfway into the van. His knee cracked against the gutter. The stinging electricity came again and bit into his chest. His heart hurt. Two wires trailed back to the fat man, a taser in his hand.
A hand gripped Larry’s left arm then the other and the two men, who he thought he had incapacitated, hauled him into the van. The door closed with a thud. Pain shot up Larry’s leg. The one who had tried to close the door grabbed Larry’s leg and pushed him inside properly. The door then closed and a lock clicked.
He felt a prick to his neck and his muscles went limp. He could still feel everything and see everything, he just could not move.