Atlantic Bridge – 12 –
The River Tarn, Southern France
Ben could see the incredible silhouette of the Millau Viaduct looming up ahead. Atop each of its soaring pillars, a red light, blinking in the blackness.
Wisps of cloud caressed the structure, lending it an otherworldly quality.
He ordered the men to quieten the oars. He raised his night-sight skywards. Two sentries, walking from each end. He assumed there were two on the other side as well. As they approached, the viaduct seemed to grow above them. Two and a half kilometres long, it took the sentries some minutes before their paths crossed. A small flare of light illuminated their faces for brief seconds in the night. They were sharing a cigarette…damn! Thought Ben. He immediately turned to his men; “Oars inward! Heads down, No-one speaks until I give the order!”
The two craft floated silently along the surface. High above, the two fundamentalist guards shared a joke, passing the sharp Turkish cigarette between them. After the second guard took a final draw, he flicked the butt out into the night, and watched it trace a lazy arc, gravity taking hold and pulling it down towards the water. The moon held it in its thrall, and the Arab tried to keep it in view as it silently entered the Tarn, mere seconds after Ben and his men had gone beyond the line of sight and under the great bridge.
The guards called across the highway to their counterparts. “Only another three hours brothers!” The guards on the far side exchanged some good-natured insults before all four began pacing as before, up and down the length of the Viaduct. Enough time for the two craft to drift, unobserved out from beneath it, and into the welcoming shadows beyond.
Sir Robert Westing’s Office, U.C.E. Building, London
Sir Robert was scribbling furiously on the pad in front of him. He had the phone clamped to his ear, waiting to be connected with Bert Dwyer in the U.S. He’d never gone in for all that videophone nonsense, besides, when he was doing deals, he didn’t feel like adopting a Poker face every time he didn’t want to show his hand.
A beep on the line indicated Bert was at the other end.
“Dwyer, top of the morning to you.” Announced Sir Robert theatrically.
“It might be dawn’s early light where you are, Westing, but if you’re thinking of catching me bright eyed and bushy tailed, forget it! It’s 10pm stateside, and I’m heading home for a Single Malt and a good night’s sleep.
Waddaya want?” barked Dwyer.
“Really? Good gracious” replied Sir Robert, innocence personified. “The thing is old chap, I’ve been doing some rough calculations in my head, and, well, not to put too finer point on it, I don’t think we can get these spans manufactured in the allotted time frame.”
There was a chuckle at the other end of the line.
“Westing, there’s your problem, right there.” Answered Dwyer, cryptically.
“I don’t follow you Bert…”
“Well, we don’t got no manufacturing to do.”
Sir Robert winced at Dwyer’s strangulated syntax.
“Y’see” Dwyer continued, “We’re growin’ the suckers.” He deliberately left a pregnant pause, enjoying the moment, as realisation dawned on U.C.E’s Chief Executive.
“My God, Bert, they’re Biomolecular!”
“Give that guy a Hershey bar!” laughed Dwyer, clearly having a whale of a time. “We have an entire farm of two kilometre long culture sheds, it’s incredible how fast the matrix replicates to the pattern we impose. It will save years of conventional manufacture, which is essential, given the amount we are going to need. Now we’ve got the lacquer problem solved, we’re beginning growth production within the week.”
“Bert,” said Sir Robert, almost reverentially. “Go enjoy your Single Malt, you’ve earned it.”
Sir Robert replaced the receiver, shaking his head in disbelief.
“Trust the Americans to come up with something as wacky as that” He said to the cartoon Snoopy that stared back at him from his pad.
© Kev Moore 2008 All Rights Reserved
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