WILL SEE – THE PARTY
Manhattan Island, New York City
November 30, 1999
‘That’s thirty eight dollars, sir.’
Mike McFarlane handed his last cabby fifty dollars in mixed bills. ‘Hmm, thanks,’ the New York City cabby responded surprised after quickly flicking through the notes. They got out of the taxi. ‘It’s OK, I’ll get them, I would rather be the one to break the china!’ said McFarlane, before the driver could start lifting his luggage from the trunk.
As the cab sped off, McFarlane threw the backpack over one shoulder, grabbed the suitcase and stared up in awe at the never ending levels of the towering apartment building right in front of him. He approached the entry system and pressed the buzzer for apartment 923.
‘Hello?’ came a crackly male voice through the intercom.
‘This is Mike, I have some cigars for you.’
‘Super!’. At the clunk sound, McFarlane pushed open the wood framed glass door and wandered into the lobby. Used to the bright pastels of Miami architecture, he was impressed by the solid art deco look of this building that had a somewhat inviting feel to it. After a few minutes, the ding of the elevator arrival bell alerted him. His eyes caught the yellowish glow of the triangular up arrow lamp, and he walked over to the appropriate door, entered and pressed the glowing opaque circular 9 button. The smell in the elevator was old, whatever that meant. A blend of slightly dank carpet, old wood and metallic.
At the 9th floor, the elevator slowed smoothly, the doors quietly opened, and McFarlane stepped out. He dragged the suitcase behind him quickly to avoid it getting stuck in the door as it closed to go pickup another passenger. After glancing at the bronze lettered room number guide on the wall directly opposite the elevator, he turned right and paused outside room 923 to compose himself.
McFarlane knew full well that whatever the radioactive contents of his backpack were for, it must be something big, and he wanted a piece of the action. Perhaps he would relocate to New York! He loved the art deco architecture. What he would have to pay an interior decorator in Miami for would come as standard here.
He knocked on the door that opened nearly immediately to reveal a thin slightly gray bearded man in his mid 40s. ‘Come in Mike.’ the man nervously gestured, closing the door quickly before locking it with the inside latch. McFarlane stepped into a large room, leaving his suitcase near the door, and letting the backpack slide off his shoulder into his right hand. The walls of the room where mainly covered in dark wood effect paneling with vertical strips of orange cloth in some areas. Obviously, this room had not seen an interior decorator in a while. On the sofas and chairs situated around the faded orange wall-to-wall carpet sat an assortment of conversing people of various nationalities aged between mid-20s to late 70s. They glanced up at McFarlane as he walked passed, some raising a hand and saying ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’, while others just smiled, or looked at him suspiciously.
‘I’ll be back in a few minutes folks, just going to discuss something in private with Mike here.’
‘So, can we conclude our business, Mr. uhm?’ asked McFarlane.
‘Call me Frederick. Can I offer you a drink? Coffee, iced tea, scotch?’
‘Business first ‘Frederick’.’
OK, can you get the package you were asked to bring me and let’s go into the bedroom.’
‘It’s right here.’ replied McFarlane, pointing to his backpack. They walked into the apartment’s master bedroom.
‘I’m not a traitor to my country Frederick, and I’m happy to admit I’m not that smart a guy, but this stuff is radioactive, so if this is for the Iraqi’s, I don’t want to know about it. I normally stick to drugs. Just check the goods are legit, pay me, and I’ll be out of here.’
‘It’s not for the Iraqi’s Mike. I’m conducting some not quite legally approved experiments on humans using a type of high-grade uranium. The people out there are some of my somewhat over faithful research scientists. If the FDA find out, we would all be jailed or fined considerably. But if we prove our theory, we’ll be rich, famous and save a lot of leukemia victims their lives.’
‘I wish you luck. So how did you get to me, Frederick?’
‘Oh, I donned a nice suit, learned to swagger and spoke to some pushers on the street — somewhat of a change from my previous occupation – as you can imagine. Anyway, they said you were reliable and that you didn’t ask too many questions. I needed something highly illegal gotten into and across the country as covertly as possible, and it looks like you have lived up to your reputation, although I will feel happier when I know you have bought exactly what I need. Please get the package from your backpack and unwrap it on the bed.’
‘It’s radioactive, won’t I get effected if I get close to it again?’
‘No, it is insulated and doesn’t emit that much. I needed you to do the test in Florida because it is a lot more radiation than emitted by everyday items — cigars included!’ Frederick joked, looking up at McFarlane.
‘I had to be sure the my equally disillusioned contact in Russia didn’t send me a piece of worthless rock. I didn’t pay her, she’s in it for the ideal — not the deal.’
McFarlane opened his backpack, released the cord at the top and pulled the blanket wrapped cigar box out.
‘Here you are, now check it’s what you wanted, or I’ll be forced to use this,’ McFarlane threatened, pulling his handgun from an inside jacket pocket.
‘Mr. McFarlane, I am a scientist who is about to pay you $100,000 in used bank notes. You don’t need to use a gun with me.’
Frederick ignored the gun and began to use a screwdriver to lever the lid off the cigar box to reveal another wooden box inside. He peeled away the second wooden top in the same manner. The interior box had thicker sides that were well padded. Inside, through an opaque block of ice like substance, both men could see a spherical metallic object optically distorted by the two or three inches of surrounding material. ‘Oh thank you Natali. Thank you,’ exclaimed Frederick in disconnected gratitude.
‘I want two hundred thousand.’ demanded McFarlane, his eyes staring in disbelief.
‘We agreed on one hundred.’ said Frederick, as he picked up the block of glass, carried it across the room and carefully put it on the floor of a closet.
‘We did not agree I would have to kill an innocent Cuban who thought he was bringing in cigars for the President. I’m not exactly Jesus, but I don’t kill people outside of my circle of work. Understand? And I didn’t know it was some radioactive shit until your second message. I do drugs!’
‘What do you mean you killed someone?’ asked Frederick, surprised.
‘I couldn’t risk anyone who saw my face simply walking away! What do you think?, I was going to just let him go!’
Frederick put his hand on his forehead. ‘OK OK, I didn’t intend you to kill anyone. I figured you would have been a little smarter. You could have jeopardized this whole operation. What if the police find the body?’
‘We hid the body in a condemned house by the beach that had been trashed by a hurricane. Be a long while. And I did as you ordered and covered my steps. I spent over seven hundred bucks on taxis to get here you know?’
‘Hmm, we think alike.’, replied Frederick.
‘I’ll pay you one hundred and fifty thousand’
‘I want one seventy five or you are a dead man Frederick. I practiced last night. I specialize in foreheads.’
‘One seventy five it is. Now will you share in a drink? I sold my holiday home in California to fund this little diversion of mine, so I need to drown my sorrows. First of all, let me give you your money.’
Frederick opened a flight bag shaped attaché case. He placed his hand inside and extracted a pile of used bank notes.
‘Here’s the one hundred k already counted. Excuse me while I count the rest.’
He proceeded to count out the balance on a table.
After he had finished, he handed a large pile of notes to McFarlane who finally put his gun back in his jacked pocket.
‘While you’re checking it’s all there, I’ll go make us a drink. What would you like?’
‘I’ll have a bourbon with ice, not too much bourbon, I’ve been up for a while.’
‘A bourbon on the rocks it is. Nothing else with it?’
‘As it comes.’ McFarlane replied.
Frederick left the room and returned pretty quickly with a bourbon and what McFarlane assumed to be a vodka something for himself. Frederick looked like a vodka drinker. He was also sweating slightly.
‘Yes yes, fine. Well, no, not exactly.’ He looked up at McFarlane.
‘I just spent seventy five k extra and am beginning to regret it. Anyway, here you are,’ Frederick said as he handed the glass of bourbon to McFarlane. His hand shaking slightly.
‘Cheers Mike. Thank you. Sorry for the unexpected.’
‘Cheers, and thanks for the business.’ With that, McFarlane paused, looked at the drink and looked up at Frederick again, who was already walking out of the room to get another drink.
‘Hm,’ uttered McFarlane to himself. He took another look at the drink, sniffed it, and checking Frederick was out of the room, took a sip before tipping his head back and finishing the glass off. ‘Aachhh’, that was good’ he said just as Frederick returned with another whatever he was drinking.
‘Oh it should be. I made it myself.’
‘So, I best be going. I need to… Hmm… That’s strong stuff. ..need to check into a hotel. Woe, yoooo bastard. No!…’
McFarlane flopped back into a seating position on the bed, an expression of delirious confusion appearing across his face. Frederick grabbed the glass from McFarlane’s hand before retreating quickly to the en-suite bathroom. McFarlane stared in terror at Frederick’s face as it peered back equally terrified from behind the bathroom door — like a child watching a late night horror movie. McFarlane fell back onto the bed convulsing, saliva seeping from his mouth. Frederick slammed the bathroom door shut, and braced his hands across the sink. Looking in the mirror, he was sweating and terrified. He took a series of deep breaths, washed his face with cold water, toweled it dry and waited a few seconds before reopening the door.
McFarlane lay on his back on the bed motionless, his face ashen white and eyes wide open. Frederick wrapped the body in the bedclothes, pausing every so often to get his breath back and regain his composure. He repositioned the body to make it look like it was sleeping, and partially covered the face with a sheet.
Frederick went back into the bathroom to wash his hands and face and recompose himself again. He walked back into the room and finished his drink. Ignoring McFarlane’s body, Frederick left the bedroom and headed towards the people on the seating. They were still talking amongst themselves. ‘Hi Frederick! Who was that? — Was it Mike?’, came a woman’s voice, ‘Yeah, he was exhausted from his trip, so I let him crash on my bed. He should be with us in a few hours if that’s OK. His contribution won’t be needed until later anyway.’ ———-
Frederick sat down on the floor amongst his assembled flock.
‘Well, first of all, I appreciate you all coming, some from half way around the world. I hope you found the apartment quickly, and that your journey here was a pleasant one. As this is the first time most of us have met each other face to face, I think formal introductions are due. Let’s use our online aliases or screen names only, I’ll start. My name is Frederick99, and for the last few years, I have been attending various clubs and meetings across America as well as scanning the Internet newsgroups, chat rooms and hundreds of web sites for people who think like me, or along similar lines. Whether it be out in the real world or online, in order to ascertain your trust and my complete belief that you were committed to the cause, I have used various disguises and aliases to converse with you and many others – who I have subsequently rejected. When online, I would appear as several different aliases. Some of you may remember HenryThe9th, Stu100, ElectroMan and others.’
A few surprised laughs came from the crowd.
‘OK, in clockwise order, from you sir,’ Frederick gestured towards a respectable looking elderly man on his left. Perhaps you can tell us about why you came here?’
‘I am PouliB, probably the oldest here at 74. I was until 1991 very heavily involved in the French nuclear program, in particular the specialty of timers. I have been witness to the demise of one or two empires in my time. Most deserved their demise, but today, it pains me to witness the slow disintegration of world culture. From my angle, France is being ‘infiltrated’ if I may use that word, by crass American imports, such as Disney, McDonald’s and MTV. I watch in horror as our children become greedy, fat and confused because they have no respectable higher authority to emulate. When France did give the Statue Of Liberty to the United States, America was on the right track, but since then, we have witnessed a moral decline of their culture which is a threat to common decency in the world. I want to stop it for the sake of my grand children and others around the world, before so many of us are stricken that there will be no moral high ground in the interaction between the people of the world. I have assisted in the construction of the timer mechanism, which should be accurate greatly.’
‘My name is GoJulie, and I am 32. I study history in China, and also like athletics and hiking. My family is from China, and I have spent half my life there, and the rest in Chicago, which is where I live now. I like America, despite a little racism from some of our neighbors, and enjoyed my trip to Europe in the 1980s, which is even more racist. I am worried that the West is not showing enough sensitivity and understanding to Asian cultures that go back thousands of years. My family is worried that we must retain our values and that China will become like America and use up too many of the world’s resources. I like hiking, and I really do worry that by turning China into a consumer society, we will create even more pollution. I very much like to work on some ideas for mixing Western capitalism with eastern philosophy. We should not kill anyone when we make our plan unless things seem to fail. Thank you. Thank you.’, she sat down.
‘Hello, I am StarGazer17. I am a trusted officer with MI5 in London, so they will not be tracking me right now–you can relax. I enjoy astronomy as a hobby. I am also disillusioned with Western foreign policy, in particular that of my own country, and the good old United States. I feel we are both hiding behind the cloak of democracy in order to achieve our goals worldwide, picking and choosing our friends and enemies to suit our latest motives, rather than doing what is the right thing, which I understand is the way US national policy is implemented, and why North America is so stable internally. Before the Gulf war, we were told Iraqi soldiers were raping Kuwaiti civilians. Those of us with less common sense and intuition (most of the population) were misled to believe that we were helping a country in need, and while we all suspected oil was involved somewhere, each of us in my country went along with the story, and we fought a war for what we could have purchased elsewhere. That doesn’t really make us the good guys does it? I have not exactly felt comfortable in my job.
I am too young to speak for my Grandparents, but they fought a just war, the second world war. A war opposed to tyranny and fascism. More recently, I think we are pursuing wars to obtain resources and force-feed our culture down the throats of others. I don’t object to market forces because by the nature of the concept, people will choose what they desire. But to use war as a method of increasing the size of my market is nothing short of corporate manslaughter by proxy. Sorry if I sound so leftist, I have worked for MI5 for the last 16 years, and have been loyal to my country, but enough is enough. So, I decided to use my knowledge and experience wisely and have assisted you in our mutual cause by advising Frederick how to cause as much disruption to the Western economy as I can, without triggering a third world war. That is all I have to say.’
‘Interesting. I never thought I would hear that from an educated Englishman! I am truly surprised and elated! I am FreeRadical — originally from Iran as you probably guessed, although I bet some of you thought I am from Iraq, Iran or Israel or Kuwait. I studied at Oxford before moving back to Iran to try and get involved in politics. I was involved in the embassy siege, but more on a supportive level. I was too young to do much else. Today, things are difficult right now in Iran. People do not know whether they are coming or going and where their loyalties lie. I left Iran again last year, and am working temporarily in a deli right here in New York while studying part time at The University Of New York. I believe in and respect Eastern ideals and am keen to see the dignity of the ancient cultures of my country and it’s surroundings preserved. Today, I witness some of my people being humiliated by sexually explicit media. I hope I can provide some moral support and of course help in the drawing up of our, uhm, new world constitution. Thank you.’
‘I am Jim33 from near Calgary in Canada, and the only person here who is a prior friend of Fredericks — I don’t think the rest of you have known him personally. My motives are pretty simple. Unlike most of you, I am an ardent conservative who thinks the West has become detached from understanding why it exists in the first place, and is close to creating the type of visionless big brother monster that it claims to be diametrically opposed to in the first place. With huge corporations merging, and others already in control of our media, we receive the same finely crafted lies the people of a communist nation get to hear when they switch on their radios and televisions every day. From what I understand, General Electric, one of the world’s largest military contractors owns one of America’s largest television networks. This is insane, and makes any level of honest reporting impossible. So, I feel insulted every time I switch on my own television.’
‘What do you do Jim33?’, someone asked.
‘Oh yes, sorry. My field is nuclear micro-engineering. Frederick had been working for Lawrence Livermore Laboratories and had devised a way to design a high yield nuclear device that could be constructed using far less components and in less space than before. Furthermore, although the initial radiation will be harmful, it will dissipate over ten times faster than previous devices, and not have time to spread to other areas. I had confirmed his idea was feasible, but both of us met with skepticism from the increasingly liberal defense policy of certain NATO countries. So, this is going to be our proof of concept. I understand from Frederick that significant electromagnetic pulse from this device will seriously disrupt consumer and business telecommunications across several thousand square miles for several months, throwing the world’s economic infrastructure into chaos and giving you the chance to begin your second Western cultural revolution, if I may put it bluntly. Anyway, with my expertise, I believe we have constructed the world’s smallest and most powerful nuclear device. Where it is, and what you plan on doing with it, I do not know. Frederick likes to keep things quiet.’
‘Right, can we move on to the next person.’, suggested Frederick in a serious tone, having disliked Jim’s sarcasm.
‘Hmm. This is interesting. I am Ghekko, a professor of History and Economics from Harvard University. Born and bred in the US, I am to be working — perhaps in conjunction with you all — in the completion of our Third Millennium Constitution, the correct term Jim.’, he said, looking Jim directly in the eyes. ‘I understand that fairly soon, we will build a small bomb, sail it out into the Atlantic and detonate it within sight of the US coastline as evidence of our sincerity. We’ll then issue demands that our new constitution be adopted in full within X months by the United States, the EEU, Japan, Russia, China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan et al. Our leverage of course that we will threaten to detonate what we claim to be a much larger pre-armed bomb already located in a major US population center, and then while the people riot and loot worldwide, we’ll use word of mouth to organize a worldwide uprising to implement our Constitution. However, like I said while chatting with Frederick on the Internet, I’m not keen on bloodshed, and hope that people will see common sense in implementing our ideals worldwide as soon as possible without us needing to harm a single individual.’
‘Well, Mr. Ghekko, my friend, I certainly hope none of us is with the FBI, because you just let a big cat out of the bag before I could. Anyway, for me to wax egotistical at this time would be somewhat hypocritical in view of our cause.’, responded Frederick.
‘Sorry Frederick, but I am both incredibly excited, and also somewhat skeptical about all this, so I was being a little sarcastic too. I cannot actually believe all this is happening’, said Ghekko.
‘Understood, I’m a bit nervous too, as you have probably noticed’, said Frederick, still sweating.
‘Right!’, exclaimed Frederick, a little more confidently as he stood facing the bemused individuals on the floor, with his hands behind his back, ‘To celebrate and initiate our getting together here, I would like to invite you all into the smaller bedroom where I have prepared a small celebratory meal. I’ll just go and see if Mike is ready to join us. Perhaps you would like to proceed into the small bedroom at the end of the passageway and seat yourselves around the table I have setup inside. I’ll be there in a second.’
Frederick walked into the master bedroom, closing the door quietly behind him. ‘Oh shhh..,’ he exclaimed, noticing he had left the backpack full of money on the floor in plain view. He hurriedly put it into one of the closets and slid the door shut. He reluctantly glanced over at McFarlane’s body, just to make sure, although he knew that McFarlane would never awake in this world. Frederick once again took a deep breath and left the bedroom. He again intentionally closed the door quietly behind him and walked down the corridor to the smaller bedroom.
‘OK, well, Mike is out cold, so we’ll proceed without him. Please do sit down while I go get the appetizer. Jim, perhaps you can pour the wine? There is a selection of fruit juices for those who don’t want any alcohol.’
Frederick walked into the kitchen and after several beeps and hums of the microwave, returned with some Chinese supermarket prepared wonton soup.
‘Sorry this isn’t home made, but since my wife left me, I have been too lazy to cook.’
The people around the table began to eat quickly, hungry from their travels, although clearly tired. After most had completed their appetizers, Frederick went back to the kitchen and returned with some dim sum that had been heating in the oven. People began to help themselves from the selection of dishes.
Frederick turned in his seat and pressed the play button on the stereo behind him. Some upbeat jazz started from the speakers. He turned the volume down so it didn’t drown out conversation.
‘Well, I think it time we toasted each other, and later, we can offer another toast to our cause.’ Frederick raised the glass of vodka he had prepared earlier,
The guests proceeded to toast each other, and enjoyed their wine or fruit juice. As the wine took effect, some began to appear a little more relaxed and started to engage in less formal conversation.
After about fifteen minutes, Frederick stood up behind his chair, glass in one hand. A gradual silence came over the happy celebrants.
‘Lady and gentlemen, we are about to sacrifice 10 million people in order to save nearly 6 billion others. Let the world’s shortest ever revolution begin!’ He began to walk out of the room to the puzzlement of those left around the table.
‘Well that was a short speech. When do we release our Constitution and issue our threat? I’m impatient to start editing the final document!,’ responded an excited FreeRadical.
‘We don’t. I’m sorry, but when embarking on a crusade as critical as this, you can’t take any chances, even with good friends,’ said Frederick, standing in the doorway looking quickly at Jim, who was starting to look worried.
‘Inside the clothes washing machine in the kitchen is a device that I have spent the last several years assembling, based on many of my theories, and of course input from some of you, for which I am grateful. In a few minutes, I will be setting the timer so that the bomb explodes when the world’s eyes will be on New York — assuming the thing works of course.’
Jim and PouliB got up.
‘What is this?’ Shouted PouliB, ‘You betrayed us! Ahhh. I cannot believe I was so stupid!’ And you drugged us?!’ He fell back to his seat, his head drooping. He tried to raise it again.
Jim walked towards Frederick,
‘Frederick, you cannot do this. We can’t kill all these people goddamit. Oh, I am so tired. You bastard, you idiot. I am going to stop you.’ Jim tried to walk, but fell to the floor in exhaustion.
‘I have already completed the Third Millennium Constitution, using the ideals we discussed over the years. I burned it onto CD-ROM and sent several copies to my attorney in California. He thinks it is my will, and on opening it, will of course have to release it to the authorities. I have also taken the liberty of posting the complete document on the Internet at an address given in the document and have programmed my PC to send out a mass e-mail seconds before the bomb detonates.
There is no other way Jim. We’re heading in the wrong direction, and the only way to change things is by destroying the center of corporate evil in this world. And New York is where it all starts. You know that. There is nothing you can do. I purchased this apartment many years ago, and no one knows any of us is here.’
‘What did you drug us with?’, asked GoJulie, who had remained silent until now, and was still energetic enough to talk.
‘Slow release poison in the wine and fruit juice. It won’t hurt, unlike the stuff I gave Mike.’
‘He’s dead?’ Shouted FreeRadical, who was seething in anger, and starting to throw items from the table towards Frederick.
‘Sorry. He wasn’t a good guy anyway. No one could know we were here or that we exist. He couldn’t leave.’ Frederick paused to drink some more vodka.
‘I am a coward. I didn’t even watch him die. I didn’t want to see you all die either. I have spent years planning all this making sure no evidence of my activities would raise the suspicion of the authorities. I even allowed one month for anything to go wrong, but it all worked out as planned.’
Frederick rambled on, on a final ego trip, as one by one, his terrified potential revolutionaries lapsed into their final sleep, each making a last minute plea for him to halt his misguided plan.
After refilling his glass with one more vodka and swallowing it in a single gulp, Frederick walked to the other bedroom, took the block of glass from the closet, carried it to the kitchen and put it on the table. He removed a pile of innocent looking dirty laundry from the top of the washing machine and opened the white metal top door to reveal his lethal masterpiece. In the center of the wires, circuit boards and metal plates was a hole, indicating a missing component. Frederick returned to the table, and using a hammer and chisel, split open the glass block along its lead seal. He speedily but carefully removed the gray metallic object and inserted it into the hole inside the former washing machine. It slid in with the reassuring clunk of tried and tested Russian engineering. He then activated a switch to provide power to the bomb’s electronics from a lead acid battery.
Already, Frederick began to feel nauseous from the now unshielded uranium 235b inches from his head. He leaned inside and glanced at the highly accurate makeshift timer PouliB had custom designed. Using his now shaking fingers, Frederick pressed the DATE button and using the Up/Down SET buttons adjusted the liquid crystal display to read 01:01:00. He pulled his head away from the machine, wiped the sweat from his forehead and reached once more inside, and fumbling this time, pressed the TIME button. Taking one last breath, Frederick fought hard to maintain his strength for just a few more seconds. Using his left hand to grip the cool metalic edge of the washing machine, he used his right index finger to punch the Up button until the detonation timer read 00:00:05, just enough time for people to die in the arms of someone they love.
His mind and body finally devoid of the stresses of responsibility, Professor Richard Anderson, inventor of the fast half-life, high-yield thermo nuclear bomb, and co-author of the Third Millennium Constitution, slowly slid to the floor in an unassuming apartment building just five blocks from Wall Street.
Continue to Author’s Notes
CHAPTER 4 OF 4 – THE PARTY