In the early days of America’s growing involvement in the conflict in Vietnam, a secret government project funded and operated by the newly formed Defense Intelligence Agency recruited Ellen Parker, M.D., Phd., a Virologist, to create the perfect viral defoliant. Agent Orange was known to be highly toxic and marginally effective, and its application exposed aircrews to enemy groundfire. A new defoliant is engineered from a common plant virus.
Concurrently and in ultra secret, the DIA recovers a viable sample of the 1918 Influenza virus at Brevig Mission in Northern Alaska, and intends to develop it into a bioweapon in combination with the defoliant. No one working on the defoliant knows about the flu virus until one of the researchers pieces things together and confronts the DIA director. Days later, she is dead of Saxitoxin poisoning from tainted seafood. Her virologist friend knows this can’t be true--she was violently allergic to shellfish and never would have eaten any.
Aware that all the people working on the defoliant project are at risk, an elegant and convolute plan is created by the virologist and her fiancé to disappear forever without a trace. Only in that way can they be safe.
Dan and Ellen’s plan is to disappear on a flight to Punta Palmilla, Baja California, on the way to their wedding. Dan Herzog is a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, the darling of Hollywood celebrities, and a facial re-designer for the Mafia. He flies his own Beechcraft Bonanza, hangared at Santa Monica Airport.
They will proceed as if flying to their wedding at Punta Palmilla, a lavish resort on the Southern Baja tip. They reason that although it will disappoint and traumatize their families, it will lend credibility to their disappearance.
They will slip out of the plane at a fuel stop at Guerro Negro, near Puerto Venustiano Carranza, where Sally Munson, Ellen’s Pediatrician friend will be waiting with her sailboat to take them to Vancouver, B.C., and the plane will be flown by a Hollywood stunt man whose face Dan reconstructed after a serious accident. He will set the autopilot and bail out, flying his ram air foil parachute to a rendezvous in the Mexican desert as the plane flies South on autopilot, eventually suffering fuel starvation and crashing in rugged terrain. The luggage, including the wedding dress and other personal effects, and some carefully chosen cadaver parts, minus skulls and hands, will establish that Dan Herzog and Ellen Parker were victims of the crash.
Flight times and fuel quantities are calculated to make sure sufficient fuel is on board to thoroughly char the remains and the desolate and remote crash site.
With new identities, degrees and certificates acquired through Dan’s Mafia connections, Dan and Ellen will escape to Vancouver with the help of Sally and her sailboat, leaving no paper trail, and traverse Canada by car, to settle in Montreal in a place provided by the Mafia, where they will speak only French and work in fields unrelated to their past. The people helping them are carefully chosen to respect the need for complete secrecy.
The voyage to Vancouver is beset early-on by a rogue Pacific hurricane that nearly sinks the boat and blows it far off course. Over a harrowing day and a half they work to keep the boat from swamping in the towering storm-driven waves, lashed by lifelines to the boat. Falling overboard in the storm would be a death sentence. Finally, the storm subsides, giving way to calming seas and people who are grateful to be alive. The now pleasant trip to Vancouver is in stark contrast to the first day and -a-half.
Staying in a rented house in Vancouver for a month, Dan Herzog and Ellen Parker have new identities, and are speaking only French. They have brought their dogs, Ellen’s Norwegian Elkhound, Ragenheid, and McGinty, a Scottish terrier that had belonged to Vicky Mueller, assassinated by the DIA. They had prepared things to make it appear that the dogs had escaped Dan’s ya
About Phil Hanson
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Published January 31, 2012
Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction.