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COVID 666: Shipment to China, Part 6

by | Nov 15, 2023 | Professor, Public Health, Technology | 0 comments

It was late when agents Red and Gray arrived at their airport destination. They piled into a waiting cab and the driver took them straight to their apartments without so much as a word spoken between them.

The two emerged from the vehicle, grabbed their luggage, and proceeded to their designated units with a grunt and a “see you in the morning.” Once inside, they both collapsed into bed and fell asleep.

Rap, rap, rap echoed from behind Woodrow Cade’s bedroom door. The agent rolled over from a deep sleep and sat up, uncertain if he had heard a knock or was dreaming?

“Mr. Cade, are you okay?” a voice sounded through the door following the pounding. “Are you up yet?”

“Who’s there?” the agent called out.

“It’s Angel, the cleaning lady,” came the answer.

Woodrow quickly slipped into a robe and made his way to the door. After opening it he asked, “Angel, what are you doing here at this hour?”

“This hour happens to be 8:30 a.m. Shouldn’t you be somewhere?” Angel responded. “8:30!? I have my watch set for 5:30 and it hasn’t alerted me yet,” the drowsy agent replied with a quizzical expression.

“Then you best get it fixed,” Angel informed. “Dr. JJ has already left for the meeting. Here, let me see your watch,” she requested, reaching through the doorway for the instrument.

Agent Red slipped it from his wrist and handed it to the housekeeper. Angel pushed a button, tapped the watch, and then rolled her finger over the face of it. The alarm sounded with a loud “ding.”

“There, the time should now be correct and, if you’ll notice, you are late,” the woman scolded. “Thanks,” Cade responded, grabbing the watch from her. He did an about face and headed for the bathroom. He slammed the door and soon the flow of a shower could be heard. Angel quietly closed the bedroom door and went into the kitchen to prepare some coffee.

After a quick shave, sip of coffee, and descent into the parking garage, Agent Red slipped behind the wheel of his sportscar and peeled out of the apartment complex. When reaching the downtown area, he wheeled his M40i into an open lot.

Cade hopped out of the car and tossed his keys to the attendant, who emerged from a small booth guarding the entrance.

“Thank you, sir. Have a great day,” the attendant called out as the agent strode swiftly in the direction of a large hotel.

“Fat chance,” Woodrow shot back.

The agent approached an elevator and slammed the “up” button with the side of his fist. He scanned the light panel indicating the floor where the elevator was in service. He tapped his foot impatiently. Following an interminable wait of less than a minute, the elevator doors parted.

Cade lurched forward and then halted as a woman in a gray flannel suit disembarked and brushed by him. He turned to survey her departure as the lift doors bumped into his sides and then sprang open again.

Slightly embarrassed, the agent backed into the elevator and grunted to the lift operator, “Top floor.” Once in the hallway of the upper level, Cade lengthened his stride to reach a large door at the end of the elegantly carpeted hall. The agent pushed open the heavy door and entered a small waiting room.

“I thought you weren’t going to make it,” the attractive receptionist commented, as she pushed a button on her desk.

“I came only because I heard you would be on duty,” Cade responded with a wide smile.

“I came only because I heard Dr. JJ would be here,” the receptionist said with a wink and a laugh. “Very funny,” Agent Red remarked, swiftly advancing to a door behind the receptionist’s desk and boldly walking through, with the woman’s laughter still audible.

Atoz said nothing but shot daggers with a glaring stare.

“Atoz, it’s these damn watches you issued,” Cade barked, pointing to the watch on his extended wrist. “I set it to give me more than enough time to get here, but it didn’t work.”

“That’s funny,” Atoz countered, glancing in JJ’s direction. “Agent Gray’s seemed to work okay. I took the liberty of calling your apartment and Angel said she set the watch for you.”

“Awe, she just got lucky,” Cade grumbled. “Have a seat and we’ll fill you in on what we’ve been discussing without you,” Atoz chided. “We have a doctorate student here from Major University who has something interesting to say … student?” Atoz concluded, gesturing at the doctoral candidate.

“I’ve had the privilege to work with doctors Raphael Bates and Thomas Shanahan in the virology department at UM,” the student began. “We were working on ways to combat the SARS coronavirus funded by a grant from the government. We were making, what I thought, was excellent progress until one day I showed up and was told I could not enter the lab. In fact, I was ushered out of the building.”

“Stink bomb!? Woodrow said with a laugh. “Typical student prank, right?”

“Please refrain from banal interruptions,” Atoz said, glaring at Cade. “You may continue,” Atoz added, nodding to the student.

“The security was way too tight to suit me,” said the student. “Nothing I was aware of would have required that, so I hung around the building to see if I could get some information on what was going on. I was almost ready to give up when I saw Bates and Shanahan, dressed in full-body protective gear, carrying a locked metal container marked as if it were radioactive. It was placed in the back of a van, which promptly drove away.”

“So, they were building an atomic bomb?” Cade cut in. “I’m not surprised, considering what takes place on campus these days.”

“I don’t know what it was,” the student interjected. “But later, I learned from one of the other grad students that, whatever it was, it was being shipped to China.”

“Surely there has to be a lab report that would tell us what it was,” Dr. JJ interjected.

“I’m afraid that information has been sealed, along with all the reports we generated,” said the student. “To my knowledge, those were turned over to the Chinese, as well.”

“It’s important we find out what it was Major University shipped to the Chi Coms and where in China it ended up,” Atoz related to his two agents while placing a briefcase on the table. “I have your passports and ID’s in this valise, along with two airline tickets to Hong Kong. Agent Blue will meet you there with an update and then put you both on a plane to Beijing.”

“What about my watch?” Cade said matter-of-factly.

“In anticipation of your excuse,” Atoz began, “there is another watch in the valise for you. The correct time is permanently locked in and will automatically update whenever you enter a new time zone. It also has a feature where I can reach you whenever I need.”

“Of course it does,” Cade grumbled. “What if it gets stolen? That could happen, you know.”

“The watch will explode,” Atoz said, leaning back in his chair and folding his hands on his chest.

“Hopefully well out of range from me,” Woodrow clucked.

“That we don’t know, for sure,” Atoz said with a grin. “I suggest you take very good care of it.

“Once in Beijing,” Atoz concluded, “you will be given the site of where to go next. Good luck.”