Ashley parked the car inside the garage, then shut the door behind her. Once it was completely closed Logan, who was watching from the utility area’s doorway, walked into the garage pulling a baggage cart behind him.
“Anything happen?” Logan asked.
“No, it all went as planned,” Ashley said.
Logan didn’t seem fully satisfied by that answer, as if he pictured something displeasing happening along the way, but didn’t say anything about that. He just helped Ashley move the unconscious Mackelvore onto the cart, and then position him so that they could get him through the door. It was through the utility area then, out its other door, into the mostly “open plan” ground floor, the foyer that flowed into a living room that directly to their left flowed into a dining area, the far end of which flowed into a sitting area beyond it. They didn’t go there but instead cut diagonally across the living room to the farther corner, which led into a corridor lined by doors to a small ground-floor bedroom, a pair of walk-in closets, and at its far end, a bathroom.
They took Mackelvore into the larger of those two closets. Windowless, it was lit by a single ceiling light, and just big enough to accommodate a desk-and-chair set, and a second chair positioned in front of it, which they were using because it was sturdy enough and heavy enough that someone bound to it couldn’t drag it very far, or easily smash it against a wall.
The two of them moved Mackelvore into the second chair, then searched him a second time to make sure there was nothing on him he could use to make trouble. (They had no reason to expect that he would become a resourceful movie hero when he came to, but it paid to be thorough.) Then when they were satisfied Ashley slipped his hands beneath the arms of his chair to meet behind the chair’s back, where they flexi-cuffed his wrists, restraining his arms and keeping him in the seat.
Right in front of that seat, concealed on the wall facing him from behind the desk, was a camera with a wireless connection to Logan’s computer, which would be out of Mackelvore’s sight in the bedroom across the hall, and on which they would record the entire interrogation. (Ashley hated that word, but it was the only one that accurately described the kind of talk they were about to have.) As Ashley questioned Mackelvore, Logan would also monitor the dialogue, and reference the material they had accumulated as appropriate, keeping Ashley informed about what he found over an earpiece cell she would wear, hidden from Mackelvore’s view beneath the fall of her hair.
Logan ran checks of the equipment then as Ashley changed out of her evening dress, into a jumpsuit she thought more appropriate to the occasion, then reentered the room where they were keeping Mackelvore and locked the door behind her. She looked closely at the prisoner, saw that he was still unconscious, then started the digital voice recorder in her pocket (to make a second copy of the conversation, in case Logan’s equipment failed) before using smelling salts to try and rouse him.
The salts seemed to have their effect, after which Mackelvore’s behavior was pretty much what Ashley expected. First he looked startled at seeing himself in an unfamiliar place. Reflexively he moved, and found he was restrained. Tried to fight the restraints, saw they wouldn’t give, and became visibly alarmed—apparently realizing that there was nothing he could do, that he was firmly in the power of the woman in front of him. And then recognition came into his eyes as he remembered what he’d been doing just before everything went dark.
“What the fuck did you do to me?” Mackelvore demanded.
He sounded like a foul-mouthed fourth-grader.
“You worked for the Thomas Galt Memorial Fund,” Ashley said. “Two years.” She recited the dates of his hiring and later “resignation” from the employ of the Fund.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Mackelvore asked, sounding genuinely bewildered. But was that because his head still wasn’t clear, or because he was lamely playing games?
“We are interested in one particular project you were involved with there, overseen by Dr. Sebastian de Ruyter, Professor Emeritus at Jefferson University,” Ashley said.
“I don’t know that name,” Mackelvore said automatically.
“Yes, you do,” Ashley said. “And so here’s how this is going to go. You’re going to tell us what we want to know, all of it, and then we will let you go and get on with the rest of your life like this never happened.”
“No, I won’t,” Mackelvore said, the words coming out in the same automatic fashion as his last statement. “If I talk to you or anyone else about these things there will be consequences. For me, maybe even my family.”
“That’s only if your employers find out, which they won’t,” Ashley said. “We can make sure of that, if you cooperate with us. On the other hand, if you don’t cooperate, we can inject you with another drug that will make you tell us what we want to know anyway.”
Ashley displayed the syringe containing the substance to dramatize the threat, one she imagined carried that much more weight because of what she’d injected him with the last time he was lucid.
“Then we can see to it that your employers find out that we did have a little talk, without mentioning that drug we injected you with,” Ashley added. “We can even make it seem as if everything we know about them, you gave to us. Voluntarily.
“And even if you do talk your way out of trouble with them, there’s still the matter of your wife Whitney. Does she know about your account at Emily Madewell?”
Mackelvore didn’t answer, just looked away.
“We can also see to it that she knows about this whole life you’ve been keeping from her,” Ashley said. “About how it’s put her in danger. And Todd Jr. and Margot in danger. Do you think she’d appreciate that?”
Mackelvore looked like his head was spinning.
“Your work with de Ruyter, was that regular foundation business?” Ashley asked quickly. “Yes or no?”
Mackelvore didn’t say anything, just looked around, as if he was afraid of being seen talking to her.
Ashley took him by the chin, made him look at her.
“Yes or no?” she repeated.
“No,” Mackelvore said finally.
“But it wasn’t all your idea, was it?” Ashley asked. “Your money, going into the project with de Ruyter?”
“No,” Mackelvore said a little more easily.
“So where’d the money come from?” Ashley asked.
“It was foundation money,” Mackelvore said.
“So the foundation’s spending its money on other people’s projects?” Ashley asked. “Clear this up for me.”
“They got a donation.”
“How big a donation?” Ashley asked.
“Seven figures,” Mackelvore said.
Just like the donation they’d correlated with his arrival at the foundation.
Ashley put the syringe in its case and slipped it into a pocket, such dramatics no longer necessary.
“Because the Fund was looking for money, to finance this specific project?” Ashley asked. “You’re contradicting yourself. And that’s not going to be good for you.”
“There were strings attached. To the money.”
“There usually is,” Ashley said. “What were those strings?”
“That they give most of the money to de Ruyter. And I supervise it,” Mackelvore said. “Can I have some water?”
Ashley poured him a cup and raised it to his lips to let him have a drink. He gulped down half the water, after which Ashley pulled the cup away.
“Who put up the money?” Ashley asked him. “Gave the terms?”
“I don’t know,” Mackelvore said.
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“I never actually dealt with them.”
“Then how did you end up at Tom Galt?” Ashley asked. “Participating in this project?”
“There was this guy, Lawrence . . .”
“I’m looking up Lawrence now,” Logan said over Ashley’s earpiece. “There’s a Lawrence repeatedly mentioned in the file,” he added.
“What did this Lawrence do?” Ashley asked.
“He showed up one day, back when I was at Lister Parks. Said I was going to get a job offer, and that I should accept it. Said it’d be worth my while.”
“Just like that? Out of the blue? You’d never met him, never heard of him before?”
“No.” It seemed as if he was going to say something more and then caught himself. “No,” he said again simply. “Never.”
“Okay, so this complete stranger, when he told you about this job, you said?”
“‘What’s this all about?’ is what I said. He said I’d have to sign on to find out.”
“The offer came, just a regular job dealing with grants. But then I saw the salary, signed on the dotted line. Then Lawrence came back and explained how it was all going to go. I’d look like just a regular employee, but it’d be cover for my real work, with de Ruyter.”
“Was he part of the foundation?”
“And he didn’t put up the money either?”
Mackelvore scoffed. “No, he was not the donor. Just worked for them.”
“So after you got hired, he was still around?”
“We passed our reports back through him. He passed orders down to us.”
“Was he the only one who did that? Gave you orders and so on?”
“And he never talked about anyone else, dropped any of their names?” Ashley asked.
“Not even off-handedly?” Ashley asked. “Griping about his boss, or trying to impress you with the urgency of some particular order, nothing like that?”
“He always called them ‘the Company.’ That’s all.”
“Running a search on ‘the Company’ too,” Logan said.
“Who was the Company supposed to be?”
“I don’t know,” Mackelvore said.
“And you never wondered?”
“I know better than to poke around in things like that,” Mackelvore said.
“Because you knew it was the kind of job where if you talk about what you do, you or your family might be in danger?” Ashley asked. “Just like you told me now?”
Mackelvore didn’t say anything, which seemed as good as a yes.
“You mentioned the salary earlier,” she said. “What were you getting for your silence?”
“Two hundred k a year, as long as the project lasted. A fifty k severance payment, and placement in a job where I would be guaranteed at least sixty percent of my previous salary for four years.”
“The job you have now at Sloan Kittredge?” Ashley asked.
“Yes,” Mackelvore said.
“What were you making back at Lister Parks?”
Again Mackelvore looked away. “Eighty k,” he said.
It was a big salary hike. A quick calculation told Ashley that this added up to a half million dollars more than he would have made if he’d stuck with Lister Parks.
The money, the secrecy, probably made him feel important, too, this man who hadn’t experienced that much. That wasn’t a thing to be underestimated, either. Maybe he’d even hoped that he’d get to stay with the Company afterward, move up, be a player instead of get kicked to the curb. Like he was going to impress them enough for that.
“You’ve got bigger problems than your pride now,” Ashley said. “Tell me about the work you did with de Ruyter. Was there anyone else involved?”
“There was a staff.”
“Were they at Galt, too?” Ashley asked.
“No, they were not on the payroll, and they never came to the foundation,” Mackelvore said. “Most of the time we just stayed in touch by e-mail, because they were usually all over the place, running errands. But just like everything else, their salaries were paid with the money I administered at Galt.”
“What were their names?” Ashley asked.
“Fischer, Cheung, Turner,” Mackelvore said.
“I’m on it,” Logan said.
“So it was you, Fischer, Cheung, Turner,” Ashley said. “And de Ruyter.”
“Real names? Fischer, Cheung, Turner?” Ashley asked.
“As far as I know.”
“And what do you know about these people?”
“Not much. I didn’t hire them. I guess Lawrence or someone else at the Company did. I didn’t even see all that much of them in person.”
“But you did talk to them, see their work,” Ashley said. “Were they scientists, or just administrators?”
“They did administrative work.”
“So Professor de Ruyter handled the science, the staff the administrative stuff, with you officially in authority over all of them. Except Lawrence.”
“And how often did you see Lawrence?” Ashley asked.
“After we got things up and running, we met about once a month.”
“And what happened during those meetings?”
“He’d pick up the progress report. In hard copy.”
“It was always just the two of you at these meetings? Or were the others present?”
“Usually just us two,” Mackelvore asked. “He talked to others in the group himself sometimes, though.”
“And no one else ever tagged along with him?”
“Yes or no?” Ashley demanded.
“There was just the one time.”
“What ‘one time?’” Ashley asked. “Tell me about it.”
Mackelvore seemed to be making an effort to remember. “This man, Dr. Vieira.”
“I’ve got a Vieira right here,” Logan said. “An Anthony Vieira.”
And Ashley felt like they were finally starting to get somewhere.
“So you know him only by one name too?” Ashley asked Mackelvore.
“It was all they gave me.”
“So why did Vieira come this time?”
“Vieira wanted to ask de Ruyter and me some questions,” Mackelvore said. “So the four of us were together.”
“Vieira’s another neuroscientist,” Logan said to Ashley. “Pretty respectable career, too.”
“What business did Vieira have, doing all that?” Ashley asked. “I mean, this was your and Vieira’s show, right?”
“They didn’t tell us.”
“Did Lawrence ever seem to defer to Vieira?” Ashley asked. “Like he was someone more senior in ‘the Company?’”
“I didn’t notice anything like that,” Mackelvore said. “Equals seems more like it.”
Someone not over Lawrence then. But still someone working for the higher-ups, perhaps. Like an outside consultant, giving them an opinion about the science?
“Do you remember the questions he asked?” Ashley asked Mackelvore.
“Just boring administrative stuff.”
“That’d be the questions to you. But what about de Ruyter?”
“Remember any of it.”
“It was four years ago, and it was all pretty well over my head,” Mackelvore said.
“You trained as a doctor,” Ashley said. “You were closely involved with the project for a long time. You must have picked up something.”
“Yes, but . . .”
Mackelvore paused, and Ashley wondered if he was going to confess what a misfire his attempt at a medical career had been.
“This stuff was so cutting-edge,” he said a few seconds later.
“Then tell me what you do know about the work,” Ashley said. “What you actually watched de Ruyter’s people do.”
“It started with making the equipment,” Mackelvore said. “The ‘field generator’ de Ruyter called it.”
Field generator. It sounded like something out of a comic book, even if Ashley supposed it was descriptive.
“The equipment,” Ashley said. “Describe it for me. Its appearance.”
“The thing just looked like a white box.”
Ashley remembered the rig on the ceiling in the photos on Blake’s blog—and in her dream.
“What did this white box actually do?”
“It generated the electromagnetic fields de Ruyter needed for the experiments. Seeing if these could alter brain activity the way he thought they could.”
“And what ways were those?” Ashley asked.
“Modifying human behavior. Passivity, aggression, things like that.”
“Mind control?” Ashley asked.
“He made this device from scratch?” Ashley asked. “By himself? Without any facilities?”
“No. We had a warehouse converted into a lab. And technicians.”
“Who provided them?”
“Again, Lawrence brought them in.”
Company-vetted people most likely.
“Where’d the design come from?” Ashley asked.
“Someone built something like it before,” Mackelvore said. “I knew that because we had the old version in the lab. But the old device didn’t work very well, and de Ruyter and the workers spent a lot of time tweaking it.”
Maybe de Ruyter had been involved with an earlier attempt to produce such a device, seen the project shelved, then come up with some new ideas for making it work more satisfactorily.
“How long did all that take?”
“About three months,” Mackelvore said. “Then we ran some experiments with it, made sure it worked?”
“At the lab?”
“No, there was a separate research center we brought subjects to. That went on for another three months.”
“Then what happened?” Ashley asked.
“‘Scaling up.’ The idea was to make more of the generators, and use them in series’ of experiments in other places. Research programs which were already working in the area of brain imaging.
“Lawrence had the generators made. He also gave us a list of likely scientists, people with the expertise and the facilities to run the smaller programs.
“The staffers went down the list, contacting them, meeting them. The ones who signed up, we flew in so that they could talk to de Ruyter, who’d discuss the project with them in more detail, personally train them to use the gear. Then when all that was done, we dismantled the lab in Philadelphia, while distributing the generators to the sub-programs.”