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Ch. 20. Terrorist.

Author: johnmedler Total hits: 3799 User hits: 11 Date: 03-03-2014

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Chapter 20. Terrorist

Present day. Kigoma, Tanzania.

Guido Macchione was alone with his thoughts as the minivan rumbled along the beat up rocky road to the Kigoma Missionary Baptist Hospital. He was very nervous. He had never seen a hot Level 4 in the field before. He was engaged, and his wife back in Rome was expecting. He did not want to die without seeing his child. He kept telling himself that his orange RACAL suit and his multiple layers of clothes would protect him, but part of his brain warned him to get the hell out of this minivan right now and run for it. He checked the duct tape on his wrists and ankles again and looked over his space suit for rips. Graciano could see the anxiety on his subordinate's face.

"Guido, as long as you follow the procedures with your suit, nothing can hurt you," assured Graciano. "I already checked out your suit. You do not have any tears."

"Yeah, I know, but this thing really scares the hell out of me."

"It is perfectly natural to be scared, but let's not forget we are here to do a job."

"Sure, boss. I will be okay."

"Can't you turn on some AC in this bucket? I am melting in here!" yelled Antonio Paciello to their driver. With his long hair and glasses, Paciello was suffocating in the RACAL suit and the one hundred degree Tanzanian heat. Their driver, a small dark-skinned man with several gold teeth, motioned to the men in the back seat.

"I am sorry, the van does not have air conditioning," said the driver.

"Antonio, relax," said Graciano, "We are almost there." Graciano looked at his map. The hospital should be about a mile away.

"OK, now we are going to go to oxygen in about one minute. You know the hand signals. Let's check the tanks now."

Graciano instructed the driver to wait a block away until they were finished. The three investigators made a few checks of their oxygen tanks, and they all seemed to be working. They instructed the driver to pull them around the back of the hospital so as not to attract attention. Graciano slipped on his helmet. He slid up his oiled chest-zipper, sealing his body inside. The oxygen tank went on immediately. They would have about three hours on the tank.

11:00 a.m. Mexico City, Mexico.

Hector Ramón had the best job in the world. He was the only employee of the Corporación Diversificada Colosal on the Eleventh Floor of this suburban office building. He had answered an online advertisement a year ago. He had no idea how or why he had been hired. His only two previous jobs were as a maintenance man, and he had been fired from both of those, once for sleeping on the job and once when his porn collection was found in the janitor's closet. His only job here at the company was to check the mail every day and if anything came, to notify his boss with an e-mail. Nothing interesting other than junk mail ever came to this office, so the job was easy. And for some reason, no one had de-activated the porn-searching feature of his company laptop, so his days were spent researching such interesting sites as "," "," and "" Occasionally, if he was in the mood, he would play Call of Duty. Yet, for some reason, he got a 5,500 peso paycheck every week, signed by a mysterious "Jerome Brown," probably an American. He had no idea what the company did or who Jerome Brown was. He had never met the man. Hector had once tried to research the company on the Internet but quickly became bored. Who cares what the company did? It was none of his business. Five thousand, five hundred pesos for sitting here eight hours a day in these swanky offices, watching porn, and answering the mail? Life was good. Hector was a lazy man, with curly, uncombed black hair, unkept, grizzly hairs on his chin, and slitty eyes. He was short and stocky, and his gigantic beer gut hung over his jeans like a fleshy beach ball. He was clearly not qualified for many jobs. How he had landed this one was anyone's guess.

Moments ago, FedEx had delivered a large package to the office, which he signed for. He looked at the marking on the outside of the package. "Tanzania?" Where was Tanzania? He searched his memory for any reference, and all he could come up with was that brown cartoon guy on Bugs Bunny that spun around in a tornado and growled at people. Wasn't he called the Tanzanian Devil? Or was it Tasmanian? He couldn't remember. He laughed for a minute, thinking of the cartoon. He looked at the box. It looked like a cooler of some kind. What could be in there, a dead head or something? He laughed at himself again. He sure thought he was funny. Well, he better call this one in. It was probably important. He plopped the cooler on top of his small desk and sent an e-mail to Jerome Brown, advising him of the arrival of the cooler from Tanzania. An hour later, Hector Ramón was dead of a gunshot wound to the forehead and the cooler was gone.

10:00 a.m. Kigoma, Tanzania.

When they arrived at the hospital, Graciano, geared up in his space suit like Neil Armstrong on the moon, greeted Dr. Beladar and his nurse at the door of the hospital. Graciano handed them each a sheet of pre-written instructions, advising them to remain in the quarantined room of the hospital. By writing on a legal pad and questioning Dr. Beladar, he was able to confirm that Dr. Beladar had sent over a dozen blood and tissue samples to Mexico City yesterday afternoon. Graciano's two assistants then proceeded to the main ward of the hospital, going bed to bed taking blood and tissue samples from the patients. The patients were terrified when they saw the two men in the space suits, but the Kigoma medical staff was able to assure the patients that these men were just here as a precautionary measure. While the assistants were in the main ward, Graciano remained with Dr. Beladar and his nurse in the quarantined room, where he answered some of the doctor's questions about the AVI drug. After a few minutes, the young head of Italy's Level 4 Pathogen Research Lab left the quarantined room and walked down the steps into the basement of the hospital, looking for the furnace room. Shining a flashlight, and brushing away the cobwebs in the dark utility room, Graciano traced the natural gas service line where it entered into the building and ended at the furnace. He checked the furnace pilot light. It was not lit. That was good. Taking a hacksaw from his duffelbag, Graciano sawed through the service line, making sure he did not nick his space suit. Once he got almost all the way through, he yanked on the service line with his hand, pulling it apart, and allowing the natural gas to pour freely into the room. He was not asphyxiated by the odorless natural gas because his HAZMAT suit had a self-contained oxygen tank. Graciano next took a thermos out of his duffelbag which was filled with gasoline. He laid a trail of gasoline from an area just below the sawed-off natural gas line, down the floor, and up the steps to the floor of the hospital above him. The trail led all the way to the front door. Then Graciano went back into the main ward of the hospital, helping his subordinates take blood samples from the other patients.

During the next hour, the natural gas levels built up in the basement of the hospital. Every five minutes, Graciano walked out in the hall away from the two other scientists and pulled out of his pocket a yellow gas-to-air meter that he had brought with him. When the meter read that the levels of natural gas were approaching the lower limit of flammability, Graciano went into the doctor's staff room. Kigoma Missionary Baptist Hospital had one other doctor on staff. This attractive young, black doctor was about the same height and weight as Graciano. Graciano looked at the doctor's name tag.

Graciano wrote on a legal pad: "Dr. Haane, may I have a word with you in private please?" Graciano picked up his blue duffelbag and led the doctor out of the hospital. Once he was outside the hospital, Graciano took off his space helmet.

"Let's go to the other side of the street where we can talk." Once they were safely on the opposite side of the street, Graciano turned to the young doctor.

"Doctor, no one has been giving your team much information, so I wanted to take a minute to level with you to tell you what we are dealing with here. We have a Level 4 Hemorrhagic Fever Virus, similar to Ebola Zaire, in your hospital."

"Seriously?" The doctor looked terrified. "Are we exposed?"

"It does not appear that any of your staff other than Dr. Beladar and his nurse were exposed to the virus. We have quarantined the patients who are suspected to be infected in the quarantine room. But we have one problem. All of your patients have agreed to submit blood samples except for one. You have a patient in there in Bed 17 who refuses to submit to a blood test until you tell him that it is OK. He is your patient. I want you to go in there, but frankly, I am concerned for your safety, so I thought I would pull you out here, give you the facts and see what you want to do. I have one extra HAZMAT suit in my bag here. It is very easy to operate. If you want, we could suit you up, you could go in the ward, and assure your patient that it is OK to give us a sample. What do you think?"

"Can I just write something down for you to take to him?"

"No, he is insisting on speaking with you in person."

"Is there any danger if I am in the suit?"

"None at all, as long as you do not cut your suit. And even if you did cut your suit, I do not think you need to worry. You have been around the patients in that ward earlier this week and you do not have any symptoms yet. I do not think this thing is airborne. Ebola is traditionally not an airborne virus, so the likelihood of you being exposed is very slim."

The young doctor thought for a moment, but his sense of duty to his patient won out.

"OK, I guess so, if you can show me how to get into this thing."

"Great," said Graciano.

Graciano showed the doctor how to get into the space suit, zipped him up and led him back into the hospital. Graciano pointed to the ward and gave the doctor the thumb's up. With some trepidation, the doctor in the orange space suit entered the ward of the hospital toward Bed 17. As soon as that occurred, Graciano grabbed his blue duffelbag, walked out the front door of the hospital, closed the double doors, and inserted a tire iron through the two door handles. Then he took out a second thermos, and poured a trail of gasoline fifty feet down the street. Graciano ducked around a corner, took off his space suit, throwing it into his duffelbag. Then he took out a cigarette lighter, lighted the trail of gas, and ran as fast as he could away from the hospital. The flame quickly sprinted in a line down the sidewalk and into the front door of the hospital. Five seconds later, the line of flame reached the natural gas in the hospital basement, and the entire hospital exploded, leveling the entire block. When the very unskilled Kigoma Fire Department later investigated the explosion, they would conclude that there had been a gas leak, which killed the three nice investigators from Rome.

Matteo Graciano got a quick taxi to the airport, where, with a fake passport, he would get a flight to Morocco. From there, he would spend two weeks on a freighter vessel bound for Mexico, where his new life as a biological terrorist would begin. Also riding on that freighter, in a small cage, was one very important bat.

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