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Chapter Twenty Eight

While Colt drove home with his ears ringing, Markus entered one of the university parking structures in his PT Cruiser. It was early evening and the structure was half-empty. He parked head-in against a cement wall, on the lowest level.

The pain in his tailbone was unrelenting. He looked through the windshield at the gray wall moving before his eyes. He tried to focus his eyes and align his thumb with a large crack in the concrete. His thumb shook and the crack moved without moving. Markus felt dizzy. He was nauseated and thought he might throw up. He leaned forward and rested his head against the steering wheel to take the pressure off his spine.

The cement wall disappeared.

For two hours, the hard plastic rim of the steering wheel pressed against Markus’ forehead while he slept. When he opened his eyes, he saw the winged Chrysler logo in the center of his steering wheel. He sat up, rolled down his window and inhaled the stale garage air. He rubbed his forehead and felt the impression from the steering wheel.

Too much Percocet!

Markus didn’t know how much was too much, but it didn’t matter. He needed something to get him through the evening. He took two more blue tablets from his shirt pocket, collected his saliva on his tongue and swallowed them. Once he paid off Alexei, there would be plenty of time to see a doctor to find out what was wrong with his back, stop the meds and get a life overhaul. First, he had some important business in a third floor laboratory.

Markus rolled up his window and got out of his car. He took the duffel from the rear seat. As he wobbled over to the parking structure elevator, he regretted the extra weight of the foot, the bags of frozen peas and the ice.

Markus exited the parking structure at ground level and slowly made his way to the Nano Center where he sat down on a bench near the entrance. He tried to concentrate on the evening’s mission. He opened his bag and checked everything. The blood collection tubes and the bottle of ether were intact; nothing had broken when he dropped the pack into the alley. Syringes, tubing, washcloth—everything he needed was there.

A tall man wearing a white lab jacket approached the entrance to the building and Markus recognized him as one of the nano scientists. Markus grabbed his duffel and followed the man inside without registering his presence with his own ID. Once in the lobby, he ignored the security guard office and concentrated on walking a slow, straight line to the elevator. He didn’t stop to look at the brass plaque with the quote from Francis Crick.

On LL2, the silent elevator doors opened and Markus walked, sliding one hand along the wall to steady himself. Once inside his office, he slumped down at the desk nearest to the door.

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