Undercover secrets, p.10
Undercover Secrets, page 10
She clicked on to the icon and waited while the screen dissolved and reappeared. Then there was another menu. Under the main title of ‘Records’ were several subheadings: personnel, suppliers, purchase orders, work schedules, accounts, lab results.
Lab results — that was the one she wanted. She clicked on to it and waited again, her heartbeat beginning to quicken. The screen turned blue and flashed a warning: ‘The MS Institute of Research. Confidential Lab Records. Authorised Access Only. Do you want to proceed?’
She almost laughed out loud. A question like that, to an investigative journalist, was like a red rag to a bull. She took the Yes option.
‘Shit,’ she hissed, as the computer asked for the password. In the centre of the screen were two words, one beginning with M, the other with S. After the M, three empty spaces winked intermittently. There were six after the S.
A buzz of nervous energy made her hand shake slightly. If her hunch was right, then there was a very small, almost infinitesimal chance that she could guess this password correctly. But it was still an infinitesimal chance. And, if she was wrong, she would probably freeze the computer, and leave herself with a lot of explaining to do.
Gulping down her fear, she carefully typed in her guess. The screen did nothing. She pressed the escape button; the screen still didn’t react. ‘Christ,’ she whispered, trying to stay calm. She had got it wrong, and the computer was not going to let her get away with it.
That’s it, she thought. It’s all over. Simon will come back in and find me snooping. I’ll be marched to Peter’s office, then expelled from the Institute. Mike will be furious, and my career will be over before it’s begun.
Get out now, her instincts screamed at her. Go now, before Simon gets back. Get into your car and go. Her palms began to prickle with sweat. She felt her body rush with adrenalin. Her muscles tensed as she got ready to run.
Then, just as she was about to go, the disk drive whirred and its tiny green light flickered on and off. Seconds later, the screen changed again. She was in.
Anna didn’t waste time congratulating herself, although she could have jumped up on to the table, danced with joy, and given herself a huge pat on the back for being so ingenious. Instead, she glanced again at Simon’s notes, just for appearances, before diving into the records.
The heat of satisfaction quickly turned cold. As Anna searched through the list of experiments, she found that there were few with any obvious benefits. There were details of studies into various allergies and into several hereditary diseases. These made sense. But the majority of the research that had been conducted at the Institute did not. Her worst suspicions had been confirmed and even exceeded. An icy shiver rippled down her neck as she realised that her hunch had been right.
Faint footsteps squeaked down the corridor outside. Calmly, Anna exited the Institute’s records and returned to the page she had been working on when Simon had left. Without missing a beat, she picked up her typing where she’d left off, just as the lab door opened. She finished the sentence before glancing up at Simon.
He smiled as he came towards her. Anna smiled back. An extraordinary feeling encased her body; it was almost like the intense, impenetrable calm after the rush of orgasm. Anna felt completely safe, completely in control. The old maxim ‘Knowledge is power’ flashed across her brain and she realised how true it was. The knowledge she had about the Institute could be enough to close the place down for ever.
‘Did you miss me?’ Simon asked, standing at her side.
‘I’m supposed to be working, aren’t I? Not thinking about you.’ She laughed gently, pretending to be flattered by his attention.
‘I’ve been thinking about you,’ he said. ‘I’ve been thinking about what you were asking me, before.’
Anna was taken aback by his sudden seriousness. ‘You…you have?’
Simon’s eyes darted around shiftily. When he spoke again, his voice was lower and quieter. ‘Anna, I’ve never said this to anyone. But those eye-colour experiments… They’ve been puzzling me, too. I lied when I said I’d found the gene by accident. Peter asked me to locate it, but he wouldn’t tell me why.’
Anna didn’t know what to say. This was almost too good to be true — a discovery and an accomplice coming forward, all in one day. ‘What are you trying to tell me, Simon?’
‘I’m not sure. Until you came along, I hadn’t really thought much about it. I suppose that’s one of the pitfalls of enjoying your job so much — you can lose sight of what’s going on in front of your eyes. But what you said before was right. Some of the studies I’ve done… Well, there’s no reason for them I can think of.’
Anna tried to play it cool. She needed to find out what Simon knew, but he mustn’t know why she was so interested. Not yet. ‘I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for everything.’
‘Maybe. Maybe not.’ He glanced up nervously as someone walked past the lab’s windows. ‘Look, we can’t discuss it now. Will you come to my room, tonight?’ His brown eyes filled with worry. ‘I need to talk this through with someone.’
Anna almost felt sorry for him. Whatever was going on, it had obviously been playing on Simon’s mind for some time. ‘Sure, I’ll come,’ she said. ‘What time?’
‘Late,’ he said. ‘I don’t want anyone to see us together.’
‘Ashamed to be seen with me?’ she joked, trying to soothe his tension.
His smile returned. ‘Anna, no one in their right mind would be ashamed to be seen with you. You’re lovely. You know that I want you. I think I made that pretty obvious in the lecture theatre.’
He raised his hand and gently touched his fingertips to her cheek. The tension dissolved from his face as he watched his touch move up her cheekbone, down her face, and over the edge of her jaw to her neck.
‘I… I’d better get on with my work,’ Anna said reluctantly, even though work was the last thing she wanted to do. But there were people walking past the lab all the time, and what if Peter walked past? She didn’t want to jeopardise the relationship she was building up with him.
‘Don’t let me stop you,’ Simon said. ‘Go on,’ he urged, nodding towards the computer. ‘Back to work. Just ignore me.’
Perching on the edge of her desk, he grabbed the back of her chair and swivelled her round until she faced the screen again. Anna poised her fingers over the keyboard and looked at the notes she was working from. But Simon’s fingers were back at her throat, distracting her, and she never saw a word. Suspended in soothing pleasure, and still intoxicated by the thought of the breakthrough she’d made, she sat completely still as Simon’s fingertips drifted downwards. With a touch as light as an insect’s wing, he discovered the gentle curves of her cleavage.
Anna looked up at him. She wanted to bathe in the soft, caressing heat of his desire as his eyes fluttered down into her cleavage. Moving over the collar of her dress, he slid his hand on to the swell of her breast. Anna felt her chest rising and falling as her breathing deepened. She rested her hand on top of Simon’s and pressed his palm into the yielding softness of her flesh, wishing the white cotton of her dress would dissolve, so she could feel his skin on hers.
‘Get on with your work,’ he whispered.
Anna took her hand away. She raised her chin determinedly and focused on the screen. But it was no use. The words and figures seemed to blur as Simon moulded and squeezed her breast. Her flesh was so pliable in his fingers; her nipple so hard as he pinched its tip beneath the material.
‘Oh,’ she breathed, as the faint pain twitched through her body. The next thing she knew, Simon had deftly flicked open the top button of her dress, and with the back of his hand he pushed aside the collar. Anna saw him blink slowly, sleepily, as he took in the beauty of her breast. She had on a glossy, sheer bra which held her in a natural shape. Her nipple was dark and obvious beneath the pale, translucent fabric. Simon sighed with appreciation, and lightly scratched her engorged areola.
Moving through a dream, Simon sl
‘Oh God, Anna,’ he gasped, dipping his head. He kissed the deep furrow of her cleavage, and the inner slopes of her breasts. Easing his fingers beneath the edges of her bra, he pulled the cups over her mounds and freed her swollen breasts. Anna looked down at their tips as they turned from pink to brown and pointed at Simon. Her lips parted and faint sounds of pleasure came out as Simon’s mouth fixed to an areola. Anna arched her upper back slightly, pushing her breasts up to his face. She held the back of his head and felt his soft, sandy hair move over her fingers. Her head tilted and her pussy clenched as Simon tenderly nibbled and sucked at her. Simon’s head rolled from side to side as he switched his attention from left to right. His tongue — that wonderful tongue — hungrily licked all over her: in the creases beneath her breasts, around her nipples, up along the inner arcs of her cleavage. His hair brushed her skin, awakening every pore to pleasure.
‘Oh God,’ he said again, pausing as he sat back on his heels to admire her. ‘You taste so good,’ he said breathlessly. ‘I want to taste every inch of you. I want to eat you up.’
You can do what you want, Anna thought. Your tongue is heaven. Eat me.
He heard her thoughts and lunged for the remaining buttons. He pulled her dress open, then her thighs. Leaning into her quivering body, he kissed a path from her cleavage to the taut curve of her belly. Then he reached the edge of her panties, and he kissed all over her hidden mound and nipped at the material with his teeth. His gentle biting caught her labia, and she shuddered.
He pressed his tongue over her pussy, making the dampness of her tiny panties even damper. Anna cried out quietly, tortured with frustration and desperate to feel his warm mouth on the warm mouth of her sex. Reaching down, sliding her hand against his face, she roughly pulled her knickers aside in invitation, straining the flimsy material to breaking point at her hip.
Her muscles twitched. Ecstasy rose in her throat. She threw her head back in a soundless scream, a plea for mercy; but she didn’t want mercy. She didn’t want this to ever stop: his tongue inside her, his lips pulling on her clit, his eagerness, her thighs spread wide open for him, her body imploding with depraved delight. Out of the corner of her eye, she was vaguely aware of shapes passing the window: doctors on their way to other labs. They would glance in casually as they passed, and they would see her as they’d seen her in the lecture theatre — wantonly exposed, lost in sensual delight. Not only did she no longer care, but she actually wanted them to see. She wanted to show them her body, splayed wide with lust. For now, thoughts of knowledge and power and incriminating evidence were swallowed up along with her honey. For now, there was no investigation, no programme, no Peter or Mike. There was just Simon, his tongue, and her pleasure, spiralling out of control.
Anna squirmed impatiently in the car seat as she waited for Mike to pick up his phone. ‘Come on,’ she muttered. She had so much she was dying to tell him, she’d burst in a minute if he didn’t hurry up.
At last, the ringing stopped. ‘Hello?’
‘Mike. Thank God you’re at home. I tried the office, but you’d already left.’
‘What is it? Are you all right?’
She rolled her eyes, irritated by his concern. ‘Of course I am. I’ve just got a lot to tell you, that’s all. I thought for a moment you’d got yourself a life and gone out for a drink, or something normal like that.’
‘I was about to go out. But I always keep my mobile switched on. You remember the number, don’t you?’
‘Yes, of course I do.’
‘What is it, then? Repeat it to me, Anna, just to be sure.’
Sighing, she told him his mobile number. ‘Happy now? Can I tell you my news?’
‘Are you sitting down?’ She paused dramatically. ‘I’ve had the most amazing week. I was sent to work in one of the labs with one of the Institute’s best young scientists.’
‘You were?’ Mike butted in, worry tingeing the edges of his gruff voice. ‘Why?’
‘Simon’s assistant sprained her wrist and she couldn’t type up his notes. Anyway, listen. This guy was telling me all about the experiments he’s been doing. It’s incredible stuff, all very noble. He’s been looking into ways of engineering people’s genes to cure asthma.’
Mike whistled. ‘Is that possible?’
‘Apparently it will be, soon. So, Simon’s telling me all about how they aim to wipe out diseases and allergies for ever, and I’m thinking, wow, this is wonderful!’
‘Sounds too good to be true,’ Mike grumbled. ‘If that is what they’re really involved in, why keep it a secret? That would be the biggest medical breakthrough of the century.’
‘Exactly what I was thinking,’ she said. Her pulse was tripping over itself. Her words wouldn’t move quickly enough from her brain on to her tongue. ‘And then, this afternoon, I was given a file full of notes on another experiment to type up.’ She hesitated, her blood rushing noisily in her ears as she wondered whether Mike would jump to the same conclusion she had. ‘An experiment to find and copy the gene for eye colour.’
Mike was silent for a moment, as Anna had been when she’d first seen the words on paper. ‘Eye colour,’ he repeated to himself. ‘What on earth would they want to do that for?’ He spoke quietly and steadily, and Anna could hear his brain following the path she was laying for him.
‘I asked Simon, but he wouldn’t tell me. I had a suspicion, but to be honest I thought it was a bit farfetched. I needed to find out some more about the other research they’d been doing. And, luckily, I was left alone for about five minutes. I managed to break into the computer records.’
‘You’re kidding me. Anna, please be careful.’
Anna huffed frustratedly. ‘Mike, I thought you said I was the best person for this job? How come, all of a sudden, you’ve no faith in me? Credit me with a little intelligence. I wouldn’t have done it if it was a risk.’ She winced slightly at the sound of her lie. It had been an enormous risk, hacking into the computer. She could have jeopardised the whole investigation. But at the same time, Mike was going to have to let her get on with her job. He was going to have to trust her.
‘Anna, the only reason I’m worried about you is that I found out some information about “Dr” Galloway. He isn’t a doctor, for a start.’
A chill crept stealthily over Anna’s skin as Mike told her what he’d learnt. Slouching down in her seat, she hugged herself, trying to eke a little warmth out of the familiar comfort of her arms.
‘Now do you see why I’m concerned?’ Mike asked, when Anna didn’t react to his revelation. ‘For all I know, Galloway could still be experimenting with people’s minds — with your mind.’
‘Actually, I think he’s moved on to something even more sinister than drugs,’ Anna said. ‘When I went back into the lab records, I found out that research into hereditary diseases and allergies only forms a tiny part of their work. Most of the experiments they do are pointless. Pointless, that is, unless the Institute’s staff are involved in something which would raise the biggest ethical and moral questions of our time.’
‘What sort of experiments?’
Anna tried to keep her voice steady. She wanted to scream with the exhilaration of her discovery. ‘Mike, they’ve done research into the genes that control eye colour, hair colour, hair loss, height, weight, gender, sexual orientation, behavioural patterns, intelligence, athletic prowess, aggression, genital size… the list goes on and on. Now, why would they need that information, Mike? What could they possibly need it for?’
There was barely restrained excitement in Mike’s deep voice. ‘You think… you think they’re trying to —’
‘They’re trying to clone humans. It’s been done with sheep, and G
The pragmatist in Mike — the part of him that sniffed out potentially expensive libel cases — elbowed its way to the fore. ‘Now hang on a minute, Anna. I’m convinced that Galloway’s up to no good, but… cloning? That’s one hell of an accusation.’
‘What else would he be compiling all this genetic research for?’
‘Just because they’ve done these studies doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to use them.’
‘So why is the Institute named after Mary Shelley?’
‘The MS Institute of Research. The “MS” stands for Mary Shelley.’
Mike paused. Anna could sense his thoughts colliding. ‘As in… the woman who wrote Frankenstein?’
Anna smiled at the incredulity in his voice. ‘I had to guess what the initials stood for to get into the records. I guessed right.’
Mike’s breath wooshed noisily down the phone line. ‘Jesus, Anna. That’s eerie.’
‘I’ve got a gut feeling about this, Mike. Galloway’s trying to compile all the information he needs to clone a human. And I’ll get the evidence to prove it. The man’s obviously mad. He’s got to be stopped.’
Mike was quiet for a while, probably already thinking — as Anna was — of what a coup this was going to be for the programme. When he spoke again he was abrupt and businesslike, using a tone of voice Anna had heard so many times before as he’d paced around the office. ‘Right. I’ll carry on doing all I can at this end, checking out anyone who’s ever worked with Galloway. I’ll see if I can find out what he was up to before he set up the Institute. And I’ll try and talk to the detectives who investigated the LSD case. What’s your next move?’
by Zoe Le Verdier have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes