Warren Murphy: Waste Not, Want Not

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    Waste Not, Want Not
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Something's rotten in the garbage business -- and CURE is ready to take out the trash . . . IF IT LOOKS LIKE TROUBLE AND SMELLS LIKE TROUBLE . . . Mayana -- a South American country known only for a mass cult suicide -- is poised to become the salvation of a trash-choked globe. An ingenious new device called the Vaporizer can turn garbage into thin air and trash into cash for the beleaguered nation. And what could be a more beauteous sight for a global environmental summit than barges piled high with the world's smelly refuse parading through Mayana's harbor. Actually, Dr. Harold Smith smells trouble, and with the U.S. President headed for the summit, he dispatches Remo and Chiun to the scene, posing as garbage scientists. And not a moment too soon, since torpedoes are sinking garbage scows left and right, leaving a stinking mess and a huge crisis. It's clear that nobody -- including a Japanese industrialist, anex-Soviet premier turned peacenik environmental tree hugger, and the president of Mayana himself -- can be trusted, specially when the Destroyer uncovers a diabolical plot of global domination that promises to totally trash the free world . . .

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Destroyer 130: Waste Not, Want Not

By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir

PROLOGUE

She had lost faith in God even before the Almighty decided to slaughter his flock.

As she lay in the mud, she tried to remember when the loss of faith had happened. She supposed it came by degrees. She only remembered waking up in the jungles of South America one morning to the realization that the god she followed was a fraud. By then it was too late.

In the last few minutes before the bullet cracked her skull and pureed her brain, the thing that really vexed Jennifer Lonig's terrified mind was her own gullibility. He claimed to be God, for criminy's sake. Wasn't God supposed to be nice? Oh, sure, there was the occasional toad downpour or Mrs. Lot salt lick-but that was Old Testament God.

This was 1978. Smack-dab in the post-Watergate, free-loving, buy-the-world-a-Coke New Testament. All that everlasting-vengeance stuff had gone the way of burning bushes and Ozzie and Harriet. God was nice now. Everybody knew that. But it turned out the god Jennifer had chosen to worship was just a big old meanie.

"Check the ones at the back."

The voice came over the scratchy public-address system. The booming voice was calm, even as the world crashed down around his ears. The voice belonged to the man Jennifer now realized was not God.

Most of the others were already dead. They had lined up like good sheep at the big communal kettles. At their bad shepherd's command, the foolish righteous had dutifully drunk the tainted soft drink. As the first followers clutched bellies and throats, dropping lifeless to the muddy jungle floor, the rest continued to drink the poison.

They dared not defy God.

Jennifer had only pretended to drink. She found a nice spot in the mud and lay down, hoping-praying-to be lost in the crowd. Surely they wouldn't notice. There were hundreds of bodies-acres of dead.

Through barely open eyes she strained to see. Jennifer was face-to-face with a glassy-eyed corpse. What was the woman's name? Tammy something. From Denver?

Greenish stomach bile dribbled down Tammy-from-Denver's pale cheek.

"The devil rides in on wind of fire," the man who wasn't God announced. "The flock must perish to save the shepherd."

Someone was coming to the camp. Government troops. Maybe even American Marines. Their imminent arrival had sparked panic among the camp's leadership. But they were an eternity away yet.

They'll be here soon, she told herself. Soon.

Jennifer just needed to hold on until the cavalry arrived. And they couldn't possibly check every corpse. If she could stay still, she might just survive. The loud pop of a gunshot. Very nearby.

Jennifer almost jumped at the sound. By force of will she kept her body slack.

The gunshots had been coming sporadically over the past hour. It was clear that Jennifer was not the only one to fall from the faith. Others had refused the poisoned drink. Their eternal reward came at the end of a rifle barrel.

Another pop. Closer still.

Jennifer shivered in the humid afternoon sun. Shock numbed her senses. The world took on a hazy, unreal tone.

Tammy from Denver was smiling. Chin dripping black and green. Dead lips twisting over stained teeth.

Was she talking?

"He is not God, he is not God...."

The voice sounded familiar. But it couldn't be Tammy from Denver. Tammy was dead. See? There's a fly on her eyeball. Living people don't let flies land on their eyes. But if it wasn't Tammy speaking, who was it?

"He is not God."

Jennifer tried not to shiver.

The beatings, the forced labor, the stress and shock and horror. They had all taken their toll.

The sun was hot. So why was she so cold? And why wouldn't dead Tammy stop talking? Didn't she know? They would find her and kill her all over again if she didn't stop.

"Shh," Jennifer hissed. Her face was covered in a sheen of sweat.

A scuffling footstep. Somewhere nearby, a grunt. "He is not God, he is not God...."

Wait. That voice. It wasn't Tammy. It was Jennifer. Her own lips were moving. She could see them puckering through her own half-opened eyes. And something else.

A shadow. Blocking Tammy's dead and grinning face. A pair of boots. Very close.

"I got another one," a man's voice called impatiently.

"The world will not be spared the wrath of God," called the voice over the PA system almost simultaneously.

But that wasn't right. The man making the announcement was not God. Jennifer was sure of it. She almost said so yet again, but then she heard a sharp click behind her ear.

And then there was an explosion so loud and so close it was like the birth of the universe, but within the confines of her own skull.

The earthly Jennifer Lonig never even felt the bullet pierce her skull or the warm mud accept the twitching body that had been hers in life. The essence of what she was had already taken flight from her human shell.

She was swept up into the eternal hum of life that was something that had been beyond her understanding on Earth.

She saw brightness. Shadows of people that she knew in life but had lost. And something else. Something vast and warm and wondrous and everything else the man who had claimed to be God was not.

And in that moment of pure love and contentment, Jennifer Lonig was given a hint of something terrible. A vision of something that would not come to pass until two decades after her corpse had been flown back to the United States for burial. It was a glimpse of the vengeance that would be visited on those who had murdered her. A god from the East who wore the face of a man would visit the land of death. Where this man walked, the world would split, hurling blood and fire into the blazing sky.

And the false god of Earth who cowered in his path would tremble with fear.

Chapter 1

They wanted garbage. Mountains of it. Piled high and reeking. They wanted much more than they could possibly produce themselves. For the volume of garbage they wanted, they'd had to advertise.

The call was heard around the world.

Household or industrial waste, it didn't matter. Coffee grounds and paper plates were the same as asbestos-lined pipes and dioxin drums. All was welcome.

Industrial sludge was shipped by the barrelful, rolled off boats on pallets by men in protective space-age suits with special breathing masks. It found a temporary home next to buckets of old paint, used-car batteries, rotting rubber tires and stacks of bundled newspapers oozing toxic ink.

When Carlos Whitehall toured New Briton Harbor in the small South American country of Mayana and saw the first of the scows festering at the docks, he allowed a tight smile.

"Beautiful," he said softly.

Oh, not in the conventional sense, of course.

The scows were practically overflowing. Men in masks raked the refuse as it smoldered in the hot sun.

The many seagulls flapping around the junk on the boats brought a sense of vitality, of life, to the trash heaps.

That's what this was all about-life.

The country of Mayana was coming to life. Finally claiming its place in the sun. And it would do so by making itself indispensable to the modern world.

The trash was coming in by the boatload. Mounded in teetering piles, it was coming on slow-moving scows down through the Caribbean to Mayana. The first shipment had reached the port city capital of New Briton the previous evening. It was docked at pier 1.

As he walked, seagulls scattered and ran. Carlos Whitehall almost seemed pleased that the birds could share in his good fortune, in the good fortune of all Mayana.

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