Chapters 5 and 6
A Taste From My New Book
The saga continues as Christine learns exactly where her stolen CIA inventions have disappeared to....
To remind readers, the year is 1971, and Christine has just died in a plane crash...
“Kilo-Kilo Lima Five…do you copy? Kilo-Kilo, we show your azimuth guidance resolution. Do you copy?”
Christine listened to the radio jargon, utterly bemused, following Harry Moss – and the young Spanish woman - to a central atrium filled with electronic gear. She stopped short, looking up at the unfinished structure.
Christine had a deep interest in all types of modern engineering. From missiles and cameras, to automobiles, buildings and the human brain…perhaps the most complex design of all. Her mind absorbed everything, quickly calculating what was possible, and what needed to be rethought.
But what she saw now nearly defied what architects were capable of in this day and age.
Ladders, exposed I-beams and scaffolding littered the area. Christine could see the overall intended design of the structure, though. It was simply astonishing. When finished, the building would be forty stories or so, and circular – with work stations radiating out on each story around a central core.
In fact, the atrium appeared to be an incomplete air traffic control tower, although decades ahead of its time. She pushed her amazement aside and concentrated on the activity on the huge ground floor.
Monitors, computer equipment and heterodyne radar sets were stacked haphazardly on sturdy tables; and none of it looked permanent to her eye. Cables snaked everywhere; wires and telephone lines were draped through temporary eye-hooks and work-lights cast odd shadows.
Like Harry Moss, all of the other people wore suits and ties, minus the jackets. The women wore skirts instead of trousers, and had hairstyles covering the entire century. Coffee mugs and overflowing ashtrays filled every available space.
Everyone had gathered around a primary scan radar screen, where a black man with thick glasses and a skinny European kid hunched over a pulsing cathode-ray tube.
“Kilo-Kilo Lima Five…do you copy?” The black man said into his headset, clearly worried. “Kilo-Kilo Lima Five. Do you copy?”
Overhead speakers crackled with nothing but static.
“Kilo-Kilo Lima Five, we have you on the grid. Do you copy?”
The young Spanish woman looked back at Harry Moss. “Kilo-Kilo Lima went silent after the IPEX filter faulted.”
“The IPEX filters faulted again, Maria?”
“Yes. And we can’t raise Kilo-Kilo, nor will the system won’t reboot. His last report was of a male subject, approximately 35 years of age, armed with a K-Bar knife – and entering a KillBox with what seemed to be clear intent.”
“Was a KillBox ever declared?” Harry said.
Maria shook her head. “No…and nothing else since then.”
Harry turned to Christine. “Kilo-Kilo Lima Five is one of our agents. A new team of volunteers that work in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, watching things for us…thirteen operators so far have volunteered. They call themselves the Thirteen Specialists – or SPEC 13.”
Christine studied the radar transceiver sets and the nearby monitors. There was something vaguely familiar about the images being transmitted. More to the point, the images were directly from her line of work - sort of.
“Watching from space?” she asked. “Like a kind of….human spy satellite?”
“Nothing ‘kind of’ about it.” Harry said. “SPEC 13 agents bounce a signal back here from a geostationary orbit for my technicians to analyze. One day we hope to streamline the whole center into a 24-7 operation with shifts. Right now everyone in JHAD is terribly overworked.”
Christine was having her doubts about this being a dream. “I don’t understand. What does the Joint Human Analysis Directorate do?”
Maria pointed to one of the monitors. “Just watch.”
Christine’s vast experience in long-distance imagery took over instantly. The view was from an oblique angle in space with roughly 25 degrees of longitude, looking down on a moonlit park somewhere in Florida, by the shape of the coastal lights.
The SPEC 13 camera view zoomed - then began following a hooded man holding a military-style knife close to his leg….the man was clearly stalking a teen girl walking her dog in the dark public area - a girl completely oblivious to the stalker’s presence.
Christine glanced at the stamp on the screen, realizing in horror that this was a real-time image taken from either near space…or the upper edge of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Her mouth dropped open.
“That guy is going to kill that kid!”
Harry shook his head sadly. “And now you understand what we do here.”
“JHAD tracks murderers for God.”
Harry Moss stepped between the two primary controllers and put on a headset as Christine watched, biting her lip.
“Kilo-Kilo Lima Five. Do you copy?”
Christine looked around frantically, hoping someone would explain what was going on. Two dozen people shook their heads, seeming as helpless and immobilized as she was.
“Kilo-Kilo, this is Harry, son.” Harry said into his microphone. “Do you read me?”
Everyone in the atrium was silent, listening as the overhead speakers crackled with no response whatsoever.
“Kilo-Kilo…do you copy me, son? We’re kind of worried about you here, Kilo. Give me a radio check.”
Christine, out of her element, listened to the fear in Harry’s voice, desperately trying to take in all of information being thrown her way…the massive amounts of raw data presented in an entirely new way. This was something she actually was very good at, normally....but then she was struck by a thunderbolt.
“This…this is mine.” Christine stared at the monitors, hit by the awe-inspiring revelation – everything on the screens was the result of her hard work. “You’re the…people that stole my cameras….aren’t you?”
Several technicians looked at her and smiled uncertainly.
Harry turned in her direction. “Yes, Christine, we borrowed your Long Tom cameras for this phase of the operation.”
“Borrowed, right.” Christine huffed. “That’s what this agent guy Kilo-Kilo has right now? One of my Long Tom cameras?”
“Why isn’t he answering?”
“We don’t know.” Harry said, appearing worn. “Occasionally our staff gets burned out watching killers in action. See the stalker on the screen up there? His name is Adam Belliche. Kilo-Kilo Lima Five has already tracked him during a few other murders down in Florida.”
Christine was skeptical. “A few others?”
The African-American controller looked up from the radar set. “Belliche lives in Tampa, and he specializes in killing young girls after stalking them for a few weeks. If he goes through with the kill tonight, it will be number eight.”
“Eight?” Christine was aghast. “The guy is a friggin’ serial killer! No wonder your specialist is burned out. But…you don’t know if Belliche will strike tonight?”
“The IPEX filter usually gives us some kind of warning.”
Christine was confused. “IPEX?”
“Our super-genius says the sensitivity filters aren’t set to the right bandwidth.” Harry patted the European kid’s shoulder. “Christine, meet Awair Overjohn. Awair is our tech guy.”
Christine sighed to herself, recognizing the kid – or, at least, his type - immediately. Awair was a sweetheart…one of those rare teens that excelled at the science fair, but nowhere else. She’d walked in his shoes during her own formative years.
The boy raised a hand. “Hi. I built the IPEX to measure changes in blood flow to certain parts of the murderer’s brain – and to show spikes in dopamine and noradrenaline.”
Christine smiled at the kid. “That’s smart thinking. Abnormal glucose levels can sometimes indicate dysfunctional impulses.”
“Exactly!” Awair replied, then rolled his eyes. “What these guys don’t get is that it doesn’t work 100 percent of the time. You can sometimes see the same chemical reactions in the CEO of Chrysler.”
The black radar operator snorted. “Yeah, Awair is such a genius that he walked in front of a bus back in ’57…..didn’t understand the concept of looking both ways.”
Quite a few people snickered, causing Awair to blush bright red. Christine didn’t care for the teasing, mainly because she’d been on the wrong end of it as a teenager. She placed a hand on Awair’s shoulder.
“Learn to ignore them, Awair. If you can scrounge up another monitor, I can show you what my Long Tom camera can really do.”
Awair Overjohn looked at her shyly. “You got it.”
A few moments later he wheeled in a cart as Christine adjusted the modulation meters on the electronic equipment and donned a headset. The cart contained a large dark rectangle only a few inches thick.
Harry frowned at Awair. “I thought you were bringing a TV monitor.”
Awair untangled a few cables and plugged the set in. “This is my latest invention. I call it a high-definition flat screen.”
“Nice try, kid. Don’t think it’ll ever catch on, though.”
Christine tapped the microphone control button. “Kilo-Kilo Lima Five. This is Christine Taylor, and I need your help.”
This is Kilo-Kilo Lima Five. Go ahead
Harry and his team breathed a sigh of relief and hand-slapped one another. Christine shushed them, then pressed her mic button.
“Heard you’re having a bad night, Kilo-Kilo. And since I just arrived in this tripped-out wonderland, I totally get that.”
Yeah? Welcome to my world. I…don’t wanna do this anymore, ma’am
“What’s the malfunction, Kilo-Kilo?”
Tired of this shit, Ms. Taylor. This guy just keeps offing kids…and getting away with it
“I think, Kilo-Kilo, that you are absolutely right.” Christine thought fast. “I need some data, though….really important data. Can you hold it together for one more mission? What do you say?”
Affirmative to your last transmission, ma’am
Christine smiled broadly, and studied the transceiver input feed panel for a moment, adjusting the frequency slightly, then calculated the reduction needed for the thermal and flicker noise. It wasn’t spot-on or scientific, just a feel for the bandwidth. It also made her a geek, but that was all right, considering her company.
“Excellent, Kilo-Kilo, we are going to try something completely new tonight.”
Copy that. What do you need from me?
“Open the main relay panel on your camera, Kilo. I need you to shut off the master power select on the bus box. Then open the internal control panel.”
“I want you to select ‘Hunt and Scour’, then adjust the ‘Recce’ setting for 400 frames-per-second, with the Hycon Acton selector at full stop. When the camera powers back up, watch the battery meter, make sure the drain rate isn’t above eighteen kilowatts.”
I understand. What are we doing here exactly?
Christine keyed the mic. “Kilo-Kilo…this asshat has been killing girls after stalking them, right?”
Affirmative, ma’am. But we can’t tell a dry run from an actual intent to kill
Christine glanced at Harry, drawing a deep breath.
“Well, you’re about to, Kilo. We are going to give this douchebag an MRI.”
How are you liking the story so far?