by Brian K. Asbury
Jayaguati, a small island in the Caribbean:
Dr. Richard Bremmer scanned the computer readout with pride. “Perfect,” he said. “All parameters at optimum. It looks as though we’ve got it right this time.”
His colleague Davina Osborne smiled. “So it will work?”
“I’m sure of it. Of course, we’ll need a test subject, but I’m sure your compatriots can suggest any number of likely candidates.”
The smile turned to a frown. “That’s the part I’m not happy with, Richard. Using human beings as test subjects, when we haven’t even tested it on animals. I’m not sure this is quite ethical.”
Bremmer moved closer to his colleague and put his arm around her affectionately. “Davina, we can hardly test something like this on animals, can we?” He grinned. “Where in the world, after all, could we find animals as dangerous as the people this is designed for? Don’t worry — everything will be fine. We’ll be making the world a safer place. And also,” he added, “we’ll be giving hope to people like my niece.”
Davina looked up at him. “Yes. You seem to have been highly driven over the past two weeks, since we heard about her accident. How is she now?”
“Bearing up, so far as I can tell. Their finding a way to stabilize her odd condition has helped a great deal, I suppose, but at the back of her mind she must always know that it hasn’t gone away. That’s why I’ve been working day and night to get this project finished. And now…”
He was interrupted by a man entering the room. “Yes, Mr. Grey? Is there a security problem?”
The uniformed man known as Mr. Grey gave a curious half-smile. “You could say that.” He drew his gun. “The problem is me. In you come, boys.”
“What? This is an outrage!” Bremmer blustered as six more men in the uniforms of security guards came in and moved up to the project, all brandishing power tools.
“That’s it, boys. Take it all apart. Just like we rehearsed.”
“What the hell is going on?” demanded Davina. “You can’t take that equipment apart! Have you any idea what it is?”
“Of course I have, Dr. Osborne,” said Grey. “And my employer has been waiting for a long time for you to complete it to his satisfaction.”
“Your employer? You are employed by the government, man!” shouted Bremmer.
“Which government, Dr. Bremmer? Your British one? Dr. Osborne’s American one? Certainly not the local one. I doubt that the Jayaguati authorities have any idea what you’ve been doing here.”
Suddenly, an alarm sounded at his wrist. He pressed a stud on the large watch he wore. “Grey.”
“How much longer are you going to be, Grey? The real security guards are already on to what you’re doing. They’ll be through that locked door in minutes.”
“In that case,” said Davina, “give it up. You’ll never get away with this.”
Grey smirked. A sign from one of his men confirmed they were ready. “Ah, but getting away is what my employer specializes in. OK, boss, you can come in. Everybody stand away from the center of the room.”
Seconds later, the reason for that last command became clear as an enormous drilling bit shattered the floor, heralding the arrival of a bizarre-looking cylindrical vehicle. Grey’s men, carrying the sections of the project machine, plus the computers and all storage disks, piled into it through a hatch, followed by Grey himself. The hatch then closed, and the vehicle reversed back through the floor.
Bremmer and Davina could only stare in astonishment at the ruined floor as the real guards burst in. None of them witnessed, five minutes later, the equally strange sight of the vehicle bursting from the sea, sprouting wings, and flying away.