Chapter 23

I will kill both of them in the lab.

I wish there were another way. I am not a killer. I do not enjoy it.

I loathe it. I fear it. And yet what choice do I have?


My hands can't stop shaking. Everything has gone so awry. My plan should have been simple and precise. But I got fancy. I went overboard. Getting Michael involved was necessary, but I should have seen the possible problems. Now I have my back against the wall and there is only one thing I can do.

Kill again.

I feel nauseous, but I know what must be done. There is no turning back now. I have to go on. Two more lives the lives of a doctor and a beautiful woman must be sacrificed too. Then everything will settle down. Everything will fall back into place.

I must remain focused. I must remember why I am doing this. I must rid myself of sentimentality. It is hard, but I will have to perform these deeds myself. There is no George Camron to do the work for me this time. On my own hands will be the blood of the innocent man, the innocent woman, and the child within her womb.

Stop it!

I must think of the positive, of my goal, of my dream. And for Sara Lowell it may be for the best. Once Sara Lowell is dead, she mil know no more pain. I can take some solace in that. Sara Lowell is strong and has overcome obstacles before. But she has never faced an agony like the one that awaits her.

You see, I never wanted to kill any innocent people. But look at the list of names:

Bruce Grey... Janice Matley... Michael Silverman... And now I have to add two more names.

When they get to the lab.

Sara knocked.

"Come in," Harvey called out.

Sara opened the door and stepped into the office. Again, she was greeted with Harvey's tired smile.

"Hi, Sara. Hear anything from Lieutenant Bernstein?"

"Not yet. I got your message on my machine."


"I guess you were calling about Bruce's package."

He nodded.

"Jen told you about it?"

"I spoke to her an hour ago," she replied.

"Did you get it yet?"

"It came in this morning."


Harvey took a deep breath.

"I don't know yet, Sara. I've been going through the files for hours now and I still don't know what to think."

"Can I take a look?"

"Be my guest." He handed her a stack of files from the top of his desk.

"These are all the files from Bruce's package. Six of them."

"The six cured patients?"

He nodded.

"There were also six styrofoam containers, each containing two vials of a patient's blood. One vial was labeled A, the other B."

Her eyes scanned Trian's file and then Whitherson's.

"What's this last entry mean?"

"You mean that

"DNA. A vs. B'? I found that puzzling too."

She flipped to the back of all six files.

"It's the last entry in all six files."

"I know. I am not sure of the significance. It is all very strange.

I assume the A and B stand for the blood vials. But I canft imagine what DNA has to do with them."

Sara sat back and closed her eyes. DNA. A memory came to her like a deep, hard punch. She sprang forward suddenly, nearly shouting.

"Do you remember the Betsy Jackson murder case a couple of years ago?"

"The one where the husband murdered his wife with the butcher knife?"

She nodded.

"The case drew nationwide attention because of its use of DNA testing.

B negative blood was found at the scene the same blood type as Betsy Jackson's husband, Kevin.

But Kevin Jackson's attorneys claimed that many people had B negative blood and thus the evidence meant nothing." "I remember it now," Harvey said.

"Didn't the DNA test prove that the blood found at the scene was a perfect match with Kevin Jackson's?"

"Yes. When Jackson's attorney tried to question the validity of the test, the prosecution came back with evidence that proved DNA testing was 99.7 percent accurate."

"So what does this have to do with Bruce Grey?"

"Suppose," she continued, "that Bruce wanted to compare the two blood samples from the same patient and see if they matched."

"Why?" "I don't know," she said.

"Maybe he had some reason to believe that the blood in the vials labeled A would not match the blood in the vials labeled B. Maybe he thought that someone had tampered "

"Whoa, slow down a minute, Sara. I explained to you and Lieutenant Bernstein that there were always two of us handling the blood. It would be impossible to tamper with the blood samples."

"But there is something else to consider," Sara said.

"Eric took blood from Michael without your knowledge."


"So he could have done it other times. Bruce could have done it too."

"To what end?"

"I'm not sure, but there has to be a connection here somehow.

First, Bruce sends himself blood samples with instructions about DNA testing. Then Eric takes a blood sample from Michael in direct defrance of your rules."

"So? You're not suggesting that Eric is somehow involved in all of this, are you?"

"I am not suggesting anything," Sara said.

"The only way to know for sure is to run a DNA test on the blood samples. Where are they now?"

"The blood specimens? They're in the lab."

"Doesn't Eric have a key to the lab?"

"Of course."

Sara felt something cold prick at the base of her neck. Her voice sounded distant, hollow.

"Is Eric at the clinic right now?"


"You saw him?"

"A little while ago. Why?"

She swallowed.

"Did you ask him why he took Michael's blood without your authority?"

"He said he needed it for treatment verification, that's all."

"And you believed him?"

Harvey looked at her.

"Why shouldn't I?"

"Has Eric ever done anything like this before?"


"No," Harvey said slowly.


She stood.

"We have to get to the lab."


"Eric could be in there destroying the evidence."

"Evidence? Sara, what are you talking about?"

"The blood samples," she urged.

"Why would Bruce have mailed them out hours before he was killed unless they were important? Harvey, listen to me: somebody murdered Bruce to get that package."

Harvey opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it.

"Damn!" He stood and ran toward the door.

"What is it?" she asked.

Harvey stopped, turned, and told her the awful truth.

"Eric is in the lab right now."

Ralph Edmund was standing over a corpse, biting down on a souvlaki, when Max stumbled into the morgue.

"Willie said you wanted to speak with me?"

Ralph looked up. The juices from the souvlaki spilled out of the pita bread, down his gloved hands and onto his arms.

"Hand me a napkin, will ya, Twitch?"

"Where are they?"

He signaled with his elbow, trying to hold back the gushing souvlaki.

"Over there. Bottom drawer. Hurry before this shit falls into this guy's intestines."

Max fetched the napkins and brought them to Ralph, his eyes averted from the still form on the table. Max was not good with corpses, and down here a casual glance was always an unpleasant surprise. An accident victim with no face. A homeless man found gnawed on by rats.

An infant who had fallen from a fourth floor window.

"Here, hold this."

Ralph Edmund handed the souvlaki to Max and took hold of the napkins.

"Look, Ralph-"

"Hold up a sec." Ralph wiped his hands and forearms, changed gloves, and took back the souvlaki.

"There, thanks."

Still fighting off the desire to look down at the corpse, Max said, "Willie told me you had the test results for Riccardo Martino?"

Ralph took another bite and nodded.

"When you first asked me to run the tests, I didn't understand the relevance. It was clear that Martino did not die of something AIDS-related."

"I know."

"I mean, AIDS had absolutely nothing to do with the cause of death. But then I saw that report on TV the other night the one that said Martino and a couple of other guys with AIDS had become HIV negative and I got to thinking: Twitch is up to something."

"Ralph, I don't have the time. Was Martino HIV negative, yes or no?"

Ralph smiled.


"Are you sure?"

"As positive as Martino's HIV test. I ran two Western blots and two ELISAs just to be certain. If Martino had been cured of AIDS, his tests had a funny way of showing it. I also ran a test on his T cells and the count was dangerously low."

"Then you're saying "

"Riccardo Martino had AIDS."

Max felt his legs go weak.

"Where's the phone?"

"Over there."

Max sprinted, picked up the receiver, dialed the safehouse, and waited for Doctor Zry to answer.

Zry answered.


"You get those HIV test results on Krutzer, Leander, and Singer yet?" Max asked.

"Yeah, they check out."

"All three of the patients are cured."

"Yep. HIV negative."

"You surer

"Of course, I'm sure. Krutzer, Leander, and Singer have all been cured of AIDS. It's a miracle, Twitch."

"How do they look to you?"

"Healthy as can be. Just a few side effects from the SRI."

Max hung up, his mind spinning. Fragments flew about his head, but for the first time Max was able to reach out, grab them, sift through them, and piece the important ones together. The first three cured patients.

The blood work. Grey's patients. Hiker's patients. Eric. Sanders.

Sara's father. The Senator. Markey. The blood work, the damn blood work. Martino HIV positive. Krutzer, Leander, Singer HIV negative.

The blood work.

Max reviewed the medical histories. Then he took out the chart he had made on board the plane:

Patient Original Blood Work Later Blood Work Trian, S. Grey Riker Whitherson, W. Grey Riker Martino, R. Grey Riker Krutzer, Riker Grey Leander, P. Riker Grey Singer, A. Riker Grey Patients who were admitted after Eric Blake joined.

Max put down the chart. He felt like he was trying to read a record while it spun on a turntable Michael as Markey's guinea pig. The night Michael was kidnapped. Sara and Reece seeing Eric Blake. Sara going upstairs. Taking something for Eric. Almost ruining everything for George and his employer. And George Camron said his payments came late, that he had finally been paid within the past few days..."Oh no."

Cold, dark fear rushed over him in high, crashing waves.

Ralph took another bite.

"This Gay Slasher thing keeps getting crazier and crazier, huh, Twitch?"

Max shook his head slowly.

"No, Ralph," he began.

"For the first time, things are beginning to make sense."

Ralph stuffed the rest of the souvlaki in his mouth and licked his fingertips.

"Do you know who killed these guys, Twitch?"

Max nodded and ran for the door.

"I do now."

Sara's leg throbbed as she tried to hobble quickly after Harvey.

Her heart fluttered wildly, as if a bird were trapped in her chest, but the fluttering was more from fear than exertion. She glanced sideways at Harvey. His face was set, his eyes straight and unwavering, his lips thin, his fists and jaw clenched.

"Did you tell Eric about the package?" she asked.

Harvey hesitated, then nodded.

"He's supposed to be setting up some tests right now."

With his words they both increased their speed. Sara struggled to keep up with him, changing her steady limp into an awkward sort of one-step hop.

Harvey stopped in front of the lab door.

"Are you okay?" he asked.


He nodded and reached for the knob. He tried to turn it.

"Locked," he said.

"Is that normal?"

"Not if Eric is in the lab it's not."

Harvey reached for his key, found it, and placed it in the lock.

A moment later the door swung open with an unhappy creak.

"Eric?" Harvey called out.

No answer. The shades were pulled down, and the lights were out. The lab was blanketed in darkness.

Harvey flipped the light switch. The room was immediately illuminated with bright fluorescent lights. He stepped toward a table in the corner.


"What is it?"

"The blood samples are gone. I left them right on the table."

He checked under the counter and in the nearby vicinity. Nothing.

"Check the refrigeration room in the corner," he said.

"I'm going to look in Eric's private file cabinet." "I thought the private files were locked."

"They are. I'm going to bust the damn thing open."

Sara hobbled past several lab tables, past Bunsen burners, past test tubes, past the large periodic chart on the wall, past tables and adjustable stools, past countless charts and scraps of paper.

The lab looked more like an eighth-grade science classroom than an ultramodern research center. Still, it had the feel of professionalism. Everything was spotlessly clean. The microscopes and other assorted gadgets looked high-tech and expensive.

When she reached the door to the refrigeration room, she turned around for a brief moment. Harvey had found a metal ruler and was working on the top drawer of Eric's file cabinet.

She could hear him grunting from the effort. She turned back toward the door. She hoped the blood samples were in the refrigeration room.

She hoped that her suspicions about Eric were wrong, that he had not done anything wrong, that he was still their friend... The door handle was cold. She gripped it with her fingers and pulled back. The suction gave way and Sara was immediately greeted with a frosty breeze.

Little pricks of terror began to rise on the base of her spine. She pulled the door all the way back, stepped into the doorway, and peered inside.

Sara inhaled sharply but could not move.

A scream built inside her throat, but only a strange, unrecognizable sound a grunt of some kind managed to push its way through her lips.

She stared forward, her eyes wide and fixed.

Eric Blake's bloody corpse lay twisted on the floor in front of her.

Almost a full minute passed before she turned away from the dead body and looked toward Harvey. He looked back, pointing a gun at her. There was no surprise or panic in his face, just a look of exhaustion, aggravation, defeat the look of a man whose car had just blown a tire on his way to work. Harvey sighed heavily, closed the lab door behind him, and tried to smile.

"I haven't had a chance to move him," he said by way of explanation.