Monday, October 8
It was almost two weeks earlier that Parry first began to seriously suspect that something sinister was going on. At first, it was just little things; important files that were unaccountably missing; members of staff who suddenly disappeared without any explanation; meetings shrouded in secrecy he was not invited to; that sort of thing. However, similar things have happened at other companies he has worked for, so he mentally shrugged it all off thinking that if it didn’t involve him or his role it didn’t matter. If he put it down to anything, it would have been to inefficiency or even incompetence on the part of management. After all, scientists are notoriously disorganised, and at HAARP most people are scientists of one sort or another.
But then things began to get even stranger when there was a brief torrential rainfall from a cobalt blue sky one day. That might, in itself, not be that unusual except that the rain was green, and everyone was issued with a mask. There was no official explanation afterwards either. Then, just days later, there was a weird cyclone that came from nowhere and vanished just as quickly.
Finally, around a week ago, while Parry was in the toilet block, his colleague Murdoch whispered; ‘I need to talk to you.’ Parry was about to answer when Murdoch put his finger to his lips and mouths: ‘The car park, 1 pm.’
At first, Parry was vaguely amused by Murdoch’s melodramatics and intrigued by what could be so secretive that it must be discussed in the car park. So, at 1 pm he headed there, all bulked up ready for the minus 20 outside. He looked around when he reached the doorway and spotted Murdoch in his car not far from the door.
He climbed inside; the engine was running and the heating on. ‘What is so secret that we have to come out here to discuss it,’ Parry demanded.
‘Because I spotted a microphone in the canteen,’ Murdoch replied. He stared outside, rubbing his chin. ‘And then when I begin searching, I spot another in my office behind a picture. You are almost certainly bugged too. If they are prepared to go to those lengths, the chances are the entire plant is bugged.’
‘But why?’ protested Parry.
Murdoch gave an impatient snort: ‘You must have noticed odd things happening lately? The green rain, weird cyclones, files vanishing; people vanishing too; confidential meetings we were not invited to, research we know nothing about?’
‘Well yes, I have, but I just put it down to carelessness or mismanagement. I didn’t think the strange weather had anything to do with us. We are conducting research into the upper atmosphere, not anything that could cause something like that.’ He hesitated and then said: ‘But if something secret is going on why haven’t we been re-assigned somewhere else?’
‘Because we are the only two physicists here, that’s why. They need our expertise. Everyone else is a climatologist.’
‘It still doesn’t point to anything sinister going on,’ Parry said, wondering where all this was heading.
‘Oh, but this does,’ said Murdoch reaching into an inside pocket and producing a tiny memory card.
Parry stares at it uncomprehending. ‘What’s that Keri?’
‘Well, obviously, it’s a memory card. But it’s what is on it that will surprise you.’ He thrusts it into Parry’s hand. Take a look, but only on your personal laptop. Under no circumstances look at it on a network terminal.’ He stares hard at Parry. ‘I mean it, George. If they find out what is on that card, we will both be going to jail.’
Later that day in his private quarters Parry plugged in the memory card, and there was listed some dozen or so files which he opened one-by-one and read the formulas and equations and the notes accompanying them with growing astonishment and unease.
Half an hour later, when he had finished, Parry stared at his laptop screen, the colour having drained from his face. Now he understood. Now he knew why Murdoch had been so secretive. Now he realised why a mantle of secrecy had descended over HAARP.
Later that day Murdoch suggested meeting up at Meier’s Lake Roadhouse, a short drive away from HAARP. It is one of only four remaining roadhouses on the Richardson Highway located 15 miles south of the Denali Highway connection. It is also open 24/7 all year round and is the only stop for fuel for 150 miles.
When Murdoch arrived, Parry was already there sitting at the bar, with a beer in front of him. He was unshaven and looked ill.
Before Murdoch could say anything, Parry held up a hand, leaned over the table and said quietly. ‘I am going to quit. I cannot stay in this place any longer.’ He looked around the bar seeing if any of the diners are listening.
Outside, it was becoming dark in the late afternoon, the snowfall from the previous day still mostly fresh and the streets lights glittering in the frosty air.
He turned back and stared at his beer.
‘Are you serious?’ says Murdoch, concerned.
‘Have you seen what they do to animals? Do you realise what they are planning? Do you really want to be part of Armageddon? Make no mistake Keri, that is what they are developing. The American military are behind this and I want no part of it.’
‘Not sure I do either. It frightens me.’
George Parry is in his late 40s with thinning ginger hair whose tired eyes betray sleepless nights despite on the surface appearing unperturbed. Ever since he read the files and understood their significance he has been wrestling with his conscience.
He is British with a physics degree from Liverpool University in the UK, which is also his hometown. He took the job in Alaska after a failed marriage persuaded him to move to somewhere remote and inaccessible. The prospect of researching into the upper atmosphere was also an attraction.
Keri Murdoch is older, in his late 40s with black hair and the beginnings of a beard. He hails from New York with a physics degree from MIT. Both have been at Gakona from the beginning when they believed the HAARP installation would be of some benefit to humanity.
‘What we have to decide is what we do about it,’ said Murdoch. ‘I think we should just leave. We should just walk. What do you think?’
‘I’m going to take some leave. I’ll tell them I need to visit my folks. My father is sick, and I need to see him.’
‘Where do they live?’
‘In Liverpool in the UK. That’s where I come from,’ he says by way of explanation.
Murdoch looks thoughtful. ‘I could come with you. Let me run this past you. Once we are in the UK, we can take it to the newspapers or even better, the BBC.’
Parry looked uncertain. ‘Won’t they come after us once they find out files have been leaked?
Murdoch shook his head impatiently. ‘I daresay they will but we will be long gone by then.’
‘OK, let’s do it. It’s the end of the week so we will just tell them we will be on leave from this weekend. Let’s leave on Friday.
Eleven days ago
After driving through security without incident they continue down the Tok Cut-off highway heading for the Richardson highway which will take them all the way to Anchorage. It is unlit and runs alongside the Copper River. A full moon glistens overhead showering silvery shafts of light on the river, producing stygian shadows at both sides of the road.
They drive in silence for twenty minutes, both lost in thought about the magnitude of what they are planning. Finally, Murdoch stares at Parry and says: ‘Can you hear that? There’s a faint throbbing sound back there.’ He nods behind him.
Parry opens his window letting in an icy blast and listens. In the distance is the unmistakable thrump, thrump, thrump, sound of a helicopter. ‘They can’t be after us can they surely? Not so soon. When did you copy the files?’
Murdoch grimaces. ‘The day before I gave the memory card to you. I would have expected somebody to ask me why I copied them before they alerted security. Stop. Let me drive. If they are after us, I know these roads better than you. I might be able to give them the slip. It’s pitch black out there and visibility is even worse for a helicopter.’ They change places and the 4×4 hurtles down the icy road. The thrump, thrump, thrump of the chopper is loud now and is not far behind them. Murdoch weaves from side-to side and then switches the headlights off as they approach the point where the Copper River runs alongside the road. Suddenly the moon is covered by storm clouds and everywhere is plunged into impenetrable blackness. The 4×4 crashes into bushes as Murdoch attempts to follow the road. Suddenly, torrential hail and freezing rain lashes down driven by a vicious gale, reducing visibility to almost zero and making the road even more treacherous. The chopper falls back and climbs to a safe altitude, but Murdoch just accelerates.
‘For God’s Keri, slow down will you,’ shouts Parry. ‘The chopper is going away. We are going to crash. I can’t see anything out there. How can you see where we’re going?
‘Let’s hope it is just as difficult for them,’ growls Murdoch as the 4×4 bounces off more bushes, narrowly missing a tree and kidding onto the left carriageway. Suddenly, Murdoch loses control and the 4×4 mounts an embankment and hurtles down the other side careering into the Copper river.
Parry bangs his head as the 4×4 hits the water. Murdoch is slumped over the steering wheel as the water rushes in quickly filling the 4×4. There is blood on his chest and his eyes are closed but the icy water revives him, and he mouths something to Parry, holding out his hand and dropping something into Parry’s hand.
Parry manages to force the door open and tries to pull Murdoch out, but he is slumped over the wheel and its airbag. Parry swims to the other side but cannot open the door.
The Copper River has a strong tide and now the partly submerged 4×4 is in its grip and is swept downstream by storm water. Parry struggles to find his footing and scrambles up the bank.
There is no sign of the helicopter. He lies on the bank and opens the palm of his left hand. Inside is a small memory card.
The rain stops as suddenly as it had started. Parry gets unsteadily to his feet and sees in the distance a hut used as a refuge during heavy snowfalls. He trudges towards it shivering as the cold seeps through his soaking clothes. He is hoping he will be able to start a fire and dry out his clothes. At the very least it will be somewhere to spend the night.
He puts memory card in his wallet.