Chapter 5 -- The Plot


The two o'clock meeting could not arrive soon enough to please me. As I walked into the conference room ten minutes early, Boss was already on the podium and twelve Doubles were already seated. Now, there was only one vacant chair between any two agents and I noticed everyone had shifted down toward the front of the room. A new sense of camaraderie was already exhibiting itself.

The meeting began at exactly 2 p.m. as Boss spoke, "Comrades, you have had several hours of reflection, thought, and questions, I'm sure. Is their anyone present who cannot commit themselves totally to this project?"

The older agent who had asked the only question in the morning rose slowly from his chair. "I must ask permission to sit this one out. I'm just not up to this adventure. Generally speaking, I agree with the new concept of peaceful coexistence and have enjoyed the last ten years which you younger agents considered boring."

"You do not need permission to bow out, C11. This project is entirely voluntary and I appreciate your honesty. Anyone else desire to leave?" After a sufficient waiting period in which no other agent responded, Boss asked the man we now knew as C11 to step forward for what apparently was going to be the first Double retirement ceremony. After a brief speech praising C11's great work for his country, Boss reached out his right hand and C11 reciprocated by extending his. As Boss clasped C11's hand in both of his, a wide eyed look of shock appeared on C11's face as he raised his free left hand over his mouth and turned his head to cough his lungs up. Boss released his hand as C11 fell to his knees. A second tremendous cough sent forth a bright red mixture of blood and fine lung particles exploding from his mouth and nose. He then fell face forward into the mess he had created on the floor -- dead. The entire horrific scene required less than eight seconds.

That cinched it for me, it had to be gray matter. The last person I saw collapse and die like that was wearing prison clothing.

After a brief period of consternation and concern everyone settled down as Boss continued. "Comrades," as he raised his hand and pointed to a short one centimeter long pin which had been soldered to the back of a ring he was wearing, "I introduce you to what we are calling 'gray matter.' I hope you appreciate the fact that for the security of each individual present, we could not let C11 leave with his knowledge of our project. Death was from natural causes, pneumonia. He will be found dead in his apartment Monday morning. Gray matter is totally undetectable by any known analytical test." He then proceeded to inform the gathering about gray matter and how it was the only benefit to come out of the Soyuz 11 tragedy, and that all known gray matter was now in his possession.

Following his hour long presentation a small bar was unveiled and we took a short break. Desiring to keep my mind and senses clear, I poured myself a weak vodka and tonic. We also took this opportunity to remove the body of C11 to a hiding place and clean up the floor, as both had become a distraction. Everyone quickly served him or herself and sat down -- eager to continue.

"Everyone seems interested," mused Boss, bringing a chuckle from the group. "Comrades, our chemical and biological warfare experts at the Biopreparat with their thousands of scientists and unlimited budgets do not have a substance with properties equal to our gray matter. We have an undetectable material which causes death by pneumonia if, and only if, it gets into the blood system. Otherwise, it is harmless. At full strength, it overwhelms the body and causes instant death -- as illustrated by C11. Although we do not totally understand the biological processes involved with lower doses, over a period of time the material appears to weaken the body's immune system. The body is then susceptible to any and all diseases. However, the cause of death is always a form of pneumonia.

"A few of you have unknowingly been developing this project for four years. Regrettably, one of our dedicated comrades has already given his life in support of the project. While performing human experimentation, he was stuck with a hypodermic needle while scuffling with a resisting test subject. The test subject died of pneumonia as expected about five weeks after receiving the injection. Initially, we thought the agent had escaped harm. However, two months later he became ill, developed sores, had massive weight loss, and eventually died of pneumonia. The agent contacted the virus through an accidental stick with a hypodermic needle containing a one part per million solution. This is how deadly our gray matter is.

"Our scientific leader, J66, has determined that a 10cc injection of one part per million in a human being will produce untreatable pneumonia and death within four to six weeks. The illness will appear to be a severe cold or case of viral influenza.

"Our belief is that if death occurs within six weeks, the virus will not spread outside of our intended victims. They should not have time to spread the virus to others through normal day-to-day contact. It should be contained within the United States.

"Although only a few of you will be directly exposed to the gray matter during the latter stages of the project, all of you should be very aware of its extreme danger."

As he recognized the efforts of J66, he nodded towards one of the two agents I had worked with during the Cuban missile crisis. J66, J66, J66, I repeated over and over in my mind as I fixed an identification to his face. Maybe that will be useful information in the future.

Taking a drink, Boss continued, "Comrades, excuse me now as I will continue from my notes. Much of this information regarding the 1918 Spanish Flu virus is historical and I do not want to omit any information which you need to know." With that said, he pulled several sheets of paper from his briefcase and began reading from his notes:

"The only historical event which compares with the world wars for taking human life is the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. Comrades, influenza may be sporadic or epidemic. Epidemics occur every one to four years following minor mutations in a virus which renders some people who are immune to the disease susceptible again. Approximately every ten years, a virus undergoes a major mutation and these strains usually become epidemic throughout the world, or pandemic. So a local or isolated outbreak of a disease which attacks many people is an epidemic. If it spreads throughout the world it is a pandemic. The influenza of 1918-1919 became pandemic, or worldwide.

"The influenza first appeared in the United States in March, 1918. Epidemic stage was reached in France by April. It was credited by General Eric von Ludendorff for halting Germany's last World War I offensive in July. The number of cases in Spain was so great the new disease was nicknamed the "Spanish Flu." In an age before common air travel, the Spanish Flu had circled the globe within five months. This marked the end of the first wave. Two more waves of epidemic proportions followed with the second episode being the most deadly.

"By the spring of 1919, the third wave of the pandemic had run its course everywhere except in the most remote areas. Over half a million Americans died in the 1918 pandemic with deaths being caused by pneumonia. The dollar cost of the 1918-1919 pandemic was estimated to be over one hundred billion dollars. The Spanish Flu virus declined in the 1920's and ceased to circulate among humans by the end of that year. However, serological evidence indicates it has been living ever since in pigs in the areas of high swine population in the Midwestern United States.

"The great pandemic of 1918-1919 occurred while the science of Microbiology was in its infant stages. Although the germ theory of disease transmittal was generally accepted, microorganisms such as viruses were too small to either be seen with existing microscopes or trapped by existing filters. Because of the existing state of the art, the virus that caused the 1918-1919 pandemic was never identified or captured.

"Decades later, after sufficient technology for virus isolation had been developed, the United States Government exhumed Spanish Flu victims in an effort to identify the virus. These efforts were unsuccessful.

"Only indirectly could they obtain identifiable characteristics about the virus. By studying blood samples from citizens who had developed the flu and survived, the United States government was able to characterize the virus. They discovered that the virus was unknown in humans except for antigens in the blood of survivors of the 1918 pandemic. Since 1920, the virus has been discovered in only one other living animal -- the swine. It was hypothesized that the swine influenza virus might be the father of the killer strain which occurred in 1918. Having lost its ability to spread from human to human, it now resided in swine until it might once again erupt upon the human race."

Having finished with his notes, Boss reached into his pocket and brought out a cigarette lighter, flicked the lighter on, held the note papers out with his left hand and brought the lighter under them. With a bright flash they were gone. They were obviously written on our new treated security papers.

"Let me summarize briefly," Boss continued. "In 1918-1919 the greatest influenza epidemic in world history originated in the United States. It killed 500,000 citizens of the United States and 20-30 million people worldwide by pneumonia. The virus was not identified at the time because the science of Microbiology was in its infancy. Only indirectly through antigens developed by survivors of the flu was the virus characterized years later. The human body develops antigens as a defense against the return of a virus. After being characterized, the virus was later discovered to reside in pigs in the Midwestern United States.

"Now, thanks to the Soyuz 11 tragedy, we have an undetectable material probably from outside our solar system which will cause pneumonia and death within four to six weeks if 10cc's are injected into the human body in a one part per million solution. We estimate that with a massive inoculation program, the United States could vaccinate every citizen within a month. By the time of the first death, it would be too late. Everyone will already have been vaccinated, and there is no known cure or way to reverse the effects of gray matter."

Boss now introduced Double K22, who had been performing preliminary work in the United States. K22 was one of the three female agents.

"Thank you, Z99," she began. "As stated, I have been on assignment in the United States for the past four years and it is now rewarding to know what my work was toward. We purchased a pig farm in the Midwestern United States and began trying to isolate what is known as the swine flu virus. I am happy to report we have been successful and could release the virus at various locations around the United States to simulate a new outbreak of the 1918-1919 flu. What I'm hearing is a brilliantly conceived plan. The American public believes there is a magic pill or shot to cure any illness. The instant security hoped for by a vaccination will be widely sought after.

"Let me remind you of another characteristic of the American people. They mainly live for today and quickly forget about the past. Very few, if any, will have ever heard of the 1918-1919 pandemic. After all, that event occurred over fifty years ago. We will have to refresh their memory by placing stories about the pandemic on television, radio, and in newspapers. We must refresh their memory and convince them it is happening again.

"Remember that the Spanish Flu pandemic began in the United States and spread from there to kill 20-30 million people worldwide. These are important facts to consider. After we initiate outbreaks of the virus in the United States, I suggest we encourage other countries to bring international pressure upon the United States to contain the virus within their boundaries. Other nations should pressure the United States to inoculate its citizens in an effort to contain the virus and prevent a pandemic.

"A possible technical problem is timing. Timing will be critical. Mass production of the killed influenza type vaccine requires a lead time of approximately six months. We must initiate our "outbreak" seven to ten months before the flu season begins.

"Vaccine production and sale is another possible problem. This is a relatively unprofitable business for the pharmaceutical manufacturers who can make more money producing drugs. Of course, the capitalist American companies' main purpose is to make money, not save lives. Therefore, we might need legislation to force them to produce the vaccine. Another scenario is that they might want to vaccinate only persons considered as high risk. That is, the very young and the elderly. This would defeat our purpose. This is another reason we need legislation to force all United States citizens to be vaccinated. We could compel this legislation by causing small, local outbreaks in various areas of the country. I would recommend a military base be the first target. That way the government is forced to become involved."

After a short pause, she turned toward Boss who was sitting on a chair behind her on the platform and continued, "I believe that's all I have, Sir."

"Thank you, very well done," Boss exclaimed as he walked to the podium. After a long pause he continued, "As part of your training each of you have witnessed the US Strategic Air Command practice nuclear attacks against our country. I ask you to always remember that part of your training. Remember how you felt, wondering if this time was for real or simply another drill. The only reason it has not been for real is because of our retaliatory force of nuclear weapons. Trust me, they would annihilate us if they could get away with it, or even escape with minor losses.

"We have an opportunity to do the same to them within a four to six week period by undetectable, natural causes if we work together as a team.

"In conclusion, 1976 will be an election year in the United States. We will set that as our target date. Political favors and votes will be widely available for sale due to the vast sums of money required to win reelection. We will be there to participate in the American political system and have our needed legislation passed. This is very important to the success of our project. Without the required legislation we are doomed to failure.

"In addition, 1976 will be the Bicentennial Celebration in the United States. This will divert much of their time and effort. I suggest to you that we give them one hell of a birthday present. Two hundred years of swine is enough!

"I like the sound of that. Two hundred years of swine is enough," he repeated. "We will use a virus from the swine in our plan to eradicate the human swine. Yes, that will be our motto for this project -- Two hundred years of swine is enough. Each of you will be contacted personally before leaving to discuss individual assignments."

Of course, I would tell no one but I did not agree with his assessment. The B52 was designed so we could see it coming on our radar. His logic about the United States performing a first strike somehow eluded me.

Later that night he came into my room and we had a nice twenty minute talk. He finally left, saying he had several other agents to talk with. He made me chief of security on this project stating I had never failed him, had carried out every order without question, and had killed when required. Also, being completely Americanized, in the U.S. they could not even tell I was Russian. Thanks to my studies of the American way of life and my college years in the United States, I was the agent best trained for operating inside the USA.

As chief of security, I thought it would be safe to inquire as to how high up the ladder this project was known and approved. However, in my mind I already knew the answer so why make him suspicious. It stopped with him! Boredom and contempt for the present administration had created a megalomaniac rogue elephant.

Obviously, he had killed the two doctors and falsified the report I delivered to him regarding the Soyuz 11 tragedy. Now he was plotting to fabricate a false reoccurrence of swine flu in the United States to scare them into vaccinating the entire population with vaccine which he planned to contaminate with the extremely poisonous and undetectable "gray matter."

His timing was well thought out. One year to the date of execution of the plan. Not much time for us to really consider the consequences. He had already planned the events, we were only to implement his plan.

When I took my oath I swore to do everything "for the good of Russia." But I did not believe this was for the good of Russia. If they knew they were all dying, the United States might push the nuclear button if they hate us so much -- as he believes. I couldn't go to the Premier as Boss would find out and I would be dead. Anyway, Brezhnev doesn't have much faith in the Doubles and probably would not even believe me.

What was I going to do?


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