Friday, July 31, 2009

Season One, Episode Twenty-Seven: To Hell With Public Health

A hotel room bathtub filled with water.
The professor was leaning over it as if he was about to vomit. Sweat on his forehead. He peered into the tub, then leaned back and turned around.
Beneath the mirror, an array of cups, bottles and test tubes was lined up as if for an exhibition.
The professor took a tube out of his lab coat pocket. It was filled with an orange dust. He took a blue plastic cup, scooped up water from the tub and added some dust from the tube before setting the cup back in its original place. Then he again leaned over the water, watching it smooth over.
He almost fell in when he heard the buzz from behind. His cell phone, vibrating next to the cup of water with the orange dust. The phone was pushing against the cup.
The professor grabbed the phone and looked at its screen, letting it buzz five times before it went dead. With one look over his shoulder at the tub, he walked out of the bathroom and into a non-descript hotel room. Television set, desk, bed. The desk was covered in documents, which he swept together in a file. He put the file into the attaché case he pulled from behind the TV.
The professor walked back into the bathroom, holding the cell phone in his left hand. As he was about to cross the threshold, the phone buzzed again. This time, after checking the number on the screen again, he took the call.
‘He’s giving me two months,’ he said without introduction.
He listened to the reply.
‘Immediately? I’m in the middle of a test,’ he said, throwing a look into the bathroom.’
‘Pack your bags and be outta there right now. Disappear,’ the man’s voice on the other side said.
‘What do you know that I don’t know?’ the professor asked.
‘A lot of bad stuff. Get your test tubes or whatever you’re using, stuff them in a bag and run. And I mean run,’ the man said.
The professor shut the cell down and rushed into the bathroom, knocking over a few empty test tubes and plastic bottles. He pulled the curtain shut to hide the bathtub from view and took the cup with the water and the orange powder. It still looked the same. He looked around holding the cup, swore and emptied its content into the sink.
‘To hell with safety and public health.’
The professor ran out of the bathroom, pulled a bag from under the bed, and headed for the door carrying both the bag and the attaché case. Just as he was about to open the door, the phone rang. Not his cell phone, but the hotel phone. The professor stared for a second and ripped the door open. Out he went.

Two bulky men and a sturdy woman were crowding the hotel elevator.
‘Room 713,’ the woman said. Nobody replied. The trio was all wearing dark clothes, a bit too heavy for the time of year.
‘This is the seventh,’ the woman said.
They ran straight out of the elevator to look at a list of the hotel room numbers.
‘713 is to the left,’ one of the men said. To the left they ran.

‘Don’t touch that stuff,’ the woman told one of the man as he ripped the curtain aside and saw the tub filled with water.
‘Do we need to analyze it?’
‘They’ll come here to do the dirty work,’ she said.
The woman rushed back into the main room to make a call.
‘The professor has gone, but he left a bathtub full of water,’ she said into the phone.

The tall guy was standing on a rooftop, watching the professor boarding a cab five floors down.
‘Don’t touch anything, I’ll have the water analyzed. We’ll get the professor later,’ the man said into his cell phone.
He pocketed the phone and grinned at the cab driving away from the hotel across the street.
‘Two months, dear professor,’ Inspector Mondeo said with a grin.

‘The Garden of Truth,’ Markus repeated.
He leaned forward while keeping one hand on the box they had dug up inside the Garden of Temerity.
‘What is the truth and can I count on you to tell it?’ he asked.
‘We are your friends,’ Riot said while steering the ute on to the main road.
‘Who is we?’
‘I am we,’ Charlo’ said.
Both Markus and Riot turned their heads toward her.
‘I accompanied you to Taiwan because he told me to do so,’ she said, pointing at Riot. ‘He wanted me to guard you, to watch over your safety.’
‘I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that story. You came with me to spy on me and to make sure I got the key,’ Markus said. ‘I never saw you as a traitor, by the way.’
‘I am not a traitor. I helped you, remember.’
‘So that’s how Riot knew he could phone Trick’s house and find me there.’
‘I told you, Bentley, we are the good guys,’ Riot said.
‘How do you two know each other?’
‘Riot is one of the investors in my shooting range,’ Charlo’ said.
‘Your appearance at the night club that first night was not a coincidence,’ Markus said.
‘Nothing ever is, Markus,’ Riot said.
‘Who are you working for, Riot? Why did you kill my sister?’
‘I didn’t kill your sister. You killed the Russians who did that, remember?’
‘Stop the car,’ Markus said.

NEXT: Markus Bentley tries to find a way out in Episode Twenty-Eight before August 16.

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