Warren Murphy: Unnatural Selection

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    Unnatural Selection
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A hungry enemy comes back for seconds . . . Man Eater Sexy scientist Dr. Judith White, who first attempted to repopulate the earth with mutant, man-eating tiger people, has bounced back from extinction with a new and improved plan for world domination. She's putting her formula into a popular brand of bottled spring water that's making its way straight into the boardrooms and cocktail parties of Manhattan, where savagery is getting into full swing. Remo and Chiun hit the Big Apple to check out the maulings. But even the cops have gone carnivorous and it literally   a jungle out there. Only one wild, wicked woman is capable of turning ordinary humans into slavering, slobbering jaws of death -- an old nemesis, the delectable but totally insane Dr. White. And when CURE's own wonder boy Mark Howard falls prey to her diabolical scheme, his top secrets may give the indestructible White the extra bite she needs to eat the Destroyer for lunch.

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Destroyer 131: Unnatural Selection

By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir

Chapter 1

In the last hour Burt Solare's intestines still worked; while his heart still pumped blood, his lungs and other organs toiled in concert-while all that comprised the inner workings of Burt Solare remained hidden inside his delicate flesh shell, as nature had intended-Burt Solare found he had a problem somewhere along the miles of compressed tubing that was his intestinal tract.

"Dammit, this ulcer's gonna kill me." Check that. Make it two problems.

"Helen? Dammit, Helen, where the hell's the Maalox?"

At 220 pounds, five foot six inches and standing on tiptoes on a fragile rattan chair, Burt was a looming figure pawing through the cabinets in the upstairs bathroom of his Lubec, Maine, home. Given his size and disposition, he looked like a hungry bear rummaging for food in an abandoned vacation cabin.

"What's with all the hollering?" Helen Solare said as she stomped into the big room, the pink fur fringe of her satin dressing gown swirling around her thick ankles. She stopped dead near the Jacuzzi.

A mouth surrounded by too much Purple Sunset lipstick dropped open in horror the instant her eyes, decorated with Mediterranean Midnight Blue, saw the boxes of spare toothpaste and Gold Bond powder that had been dumped on the floor near the buckling legs of Burt's chair. A flung box of cotton swabs nearly struck her midpermanent.

"What the hell are you looking for, you maniac?" Helen demanded, ducking below the box. It struck the aqua ceramic tile behind her, exploding on impact. Q-tips flew everywhere.

"The Maalox! The goddamn Maalox, Helen. Where the hell did you hide it this time?"

Burt flung a fistful of unused toothbrushes over his shoulder. They clattered into the porcelain basin. "Stop it!" Helen screeched, flinging up her hands. "Just stop where you are!"

On his chair Burt wheeled on his wife. His eyes were bloodshot and black-rimmed. In his right hand was a jar of blemish cream. In his left, a can of hairspray-one of dozens Helen went through every month.

"Where?" he barked.

Sandals flapping angrily against her pumiced heels, Helen marched over to the medicine cabinet. Ripping open the door, she stuck a handful of Lee Press-Ons inside. They reappeared clutching a familiar blue bottle.

"Next time try looking under your nose," she snapped.

"Give it here." Burt scurried down to the floor, snatching the bottle from Helen's hand.

He popped the lid and dumped the Maalox down his throat. His Adam's apple bobbed gratefully as the chalky liquid rolled down into his burning belly. "You could ask before you throw one of your fits," Helen complained as she surveyed the bathroom. It looked as if a hurricane had blown through the cupboards.

"I wouldn't have to ask if you left the damn stuff where it belonged," Burt panted between swigs.

As he gulped, Helen stooped to pick up a toothbrush. Halfway to the floor, she changed her mind. Straightening, she planted two fists on her ample hips. "No. I am not picking this up."

"Big surprise," Burt grunted. Burping, he capped the bottle. Wiping blue gunk from his lips with the sleeve of his shirt, he headed out the door.

"I'm not kidding," Helen warned, storming into their bedroom after him. "You made that mess. You can pick it up."

"Have Mrs. Parkasian do it."

Burt dropped onto the edge of their queen-size bed. He began pulling on a pair of white athletic socks. "Oh, no. I'm not letting that old bat see that mess. She'll tell everyone in town I'm a slob. That's all I need. They already look at me like I'm goddamned Zsa-Zsa."

"What do you care, Helen?" Burt said as he stuffed his feet into his sneakers. The antacid wasn't working. His belly still burned. "In a month you'll never see anyone in this town again."

Helen dropped into the chair at her dressing table. "You're still going through with this?" she asked morosely.

"Yes," Burt said firmly.

"Only an idiot runs away from a million-dollar business," she suggested.

"Then sue me, Helen. I'm an idiot."

Burt pushed himself from the bed. On heavy feet he trudged across the room. At the door he stopped. One hand rested on the doorknob as the other gripped his potbelly.

"Geez, it feels like something's eating my guts for lunch."

"Why don't you get medication for that thing?" Helen said impatiently. "They've got stuff that'll get rid of ulcers now."

"They'd put me on pills or something." Burt winced. "It's not natural."

"Oh, and I suppose it's natural to bail out of a million-dollar business?" Helen hollered as he headed out the door. "Is that natural, Burt? Tell me, because I'm dying to know."

And rather than argue with the cause of fifty percent of his ulcer, Burt Solare quietly shut the door.

ALTHOUGH BRISK, there was finally a tiny hint of warmer weather in the Northeast. Burt left his jacket unzipped as he headed down his front walk. Damp pine needles stained the slate.

He was on his way to visit the cause of the other fifty percent of his ulcer for what would be the last time.

The air was refreshing. Beyond the gate he took a few deep breaths into the pit of his ailing stomach. A sudden cold breeze tipped the tall pine trees.

Burt cut across the driveway and struck off down the rutted dirt road.

The surrounding forest made him feel as if he were the only man on Earth. As he walked along, he concentrated on the solitude, trying to will his flaming ulcer to heal. After all, that was part of the reason he had moved here in the first place.

Burt hated cities. Despised crowds. Detested the thought of those teeming masses of humanity pressing against him, smothering him. It was a phobia that had nearly paralyzed him in his younger days. The worst thing back then was how his own life had trapped him. His living was made off those same teeming masses he so abhorred.

Burt had run a successful ad agency in New York for more than ten years. In those days he had been driven. His goal was to make enough money by the time he was forty to leave the squalid city of his misspent youth forever. The greatest day of his life was when he finally achieved his goal.

When he came home to his humble Bronx apartment with the news more than ten years before, Helen had been livid.

"Are you out of your mind!" she snapped.

"Helen, I've been talking about this for fifteen years."

"Talking, shmalking. I figured that was all it was with you. Talk. I'm not going."

"Fine. Stay."

Helen was surprised by his indifference.

Although she pretended nothing was changing the entire time he was selling his agency and transferring funds to Maine, three weeks after his announcement she could stand it no more. She finally asked a question.

"So where are we moving? Not that I don't think you should be moving to the rubber room, you're acting so crazy."

"A beautiful small town called Lubec."

"I hate it."

"Did you ever hear of it?"

"No, but I hate it."

"Don't come."

There it was again. Such firm indifference. Burt had never acted that way toward her before. Not only that, he looked different.

"Are you feeling okay?" Helen asked, a hint of genuine wifely concern in her shrill voice.

"Never better," Burt insisted.

"You look funny. Not as pale. And you're standing different. Straighter."

"My ulcer's almost gone. A month in Maine and I'll be a new man."

"I'll say. You'll be a schmuck who gave away a million-dollar business."

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