A suicide opened up a whole new mystery.
December 14, 2013
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
Skeeter’s arm had been twisted. Within two and a half hours, Angus and Skeeter were rattling over The Republic of the Congo in the ancient aircraft. They seemed to be in some type of cargo plane. About eight additional seats had been bolted into the floor behind the pilot’s seat and they were sitting in two of them.
There was one other person on board, besides Nigel. His name was Buziba Bapoto, and as Nigel explained, he served as a navigator/emergency specialist. He did not have a pilot’s license, but Nigel had trained him to land the plane if he, himself, became incapacitated.
Angus could tell that this bit of information probably did not make Skeeter feel one bit better about their flight, and he did not know if it eased his own anxiety, either, but if they wanted to crack this case it was a necessity.
Skeeter was plastered to the nearest window trying to catch glimpses of exotic animals, such as she had seen on National Geographic and Discovery film clips in overhead shots. She gazed down on short, green peaks and snaky rivers. With a map in hand, she attached names to them. The Lomami and Lualaba rivers were coming into view. If they went on a direct path, she would be able to see Lake Victoria soon.
Angus was more interested in trying to pick up bits and pieces of conversation between the pilot and the navigator, but occasionally he looked out the window when Skeeter was excited to point something out to him.
This man, Buziba Bapoto, may know someone we can use as a liaison. Angus made a mental note to quiz Buziba about such possibilities before they split up for good. Nigel might even know someone that was trustworthy, near Garissa. It would be better than taking a chance on a total unknown.
The Unknown. “X,” the unknown. Angus mulled this over as he dredged up theorems from high school algebra. He searched in his shoulder bag for a rolled-up newspaper he had gotten at the airport. He was lucky to find one when he did.
Angus had decided that the best route to follow, would be to make one or two good English-speaking contacts and to have them first learn what artifacts were sold to outsiders and what would those be. Maybe the Masai didn’t sell them at all. Maybe someone was stealing them from them, and they were impotent to do anything about it. When all of this was figured out, the contacts could then keep a watchful eye on what looked like transactions, or thefts. If they could find out who was getting them, and how many they were getting, it would go a long way in figuring out who was using them to transport the deadly organisms. Angus and Skeeter would pay their contacts a good wage for their spying abilities and purchase a cell phone for phoning in reports to Austin.
“Skeeter?” Angus interrupted her hypnotic stare out the window.
“I can’t remember if I told you or not, what I recently found out about the FBI.”
“I don’t remember anything in particular. What did you find out?”
“Well, as you know, we are dealing with an evil scientific genius, as you so aptly put it. The FBI has also figured this out and they are going over masses of data to try to learn if there are any brilliant scientists in the world who have their noses out of joint about something.”
“There are probably quite a few.”
“Yes, but they have to be very careful. A few years back, they were convinced a disgruntled scientist was putting anthrax in letters and mailing them to the unaware. They thought they had built an airtight case around him, with all kinds of evidence. It was all circumstantial and he had nothing to do with any of it. They based their whole hypothesis on a personality profile they had made of him, and on the fact that he could get his hands on some anthrax if he wanted to. There was nothing to any of it. They now think the real culprit committed suicide opening up a whole new mystery.”
“Yes, I remember that strange case. And they opened the federal government up to years of lawsuits, didn’t they?”
“Yes, and they will go real far out of the way to avoid a repeat of that,” Angus agreed.
“I think when they have a list of their disgruntled scientists, it will still take quite some time for them to narrow it down and nail them. Especially if they don’t want a repeat of the anthrax incident. We may be on the right track, after all, Angus.”
“Okay, get back to you rhinoceros-watching. I won’t interrupt you anymore,” Angus said with a grin.
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.