Warren Murphy: Market Force

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  • Название:
    Market Force
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    Детективная фантастика / на английском языке
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    Английский
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Market Force: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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STAY TUNED FOR MORE DEATH AND DESTRUCTION Somebody is using television as a mind control vehicle, sending subliminal messages to hollow-eyed  viewers, and turning ordinary couch potatoes into raging mobs programmed to kill. A secret enemy dares to take over the world - by controlling it's greatest natural resource: the boob tube. Worse, it's soon clear that whoever is behind the conspiracy knows about CURE and plans to preempt its mission to protect the world. Will Remo and Chiun kill each other...or just change the channel? Will Harold Smith discover his new assistant is a traitor...or just a victim of bad programming. Will the Destroyer be cancelled by a certain network bigwig...or will the most fiendish plot ever to grip the airways become just another failure in the cutthroat world of big entertainment?

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Destroyer 127: Market Force

By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir

PROLOGUE

The blood was everywhere. On the floor, on the bed. It had even splattered into the hallway outside the hospital room. God, it looked as if someone had stomped on a blood-filled balloon.

Given the condition of the two bodies discovered so far, the fact that the blood had shot out as far as the hall didn't surprise Detective Ronald Davic. Not with the inhuman force that had been employed against the poor dead doctor.

"Damn, what a mess," Detective Davic muttered as he circled around the far side of the corpse.

This was definitely one for the books.

The body was hanging from the wall. Actually hanging, like a cow on a slaughterhouse hook. That was a twist Detective Davic had never seen before. And it wasn't as if he was new to this sort of thing. Before coming to town, he'd spent fifteen years working homicide in New York City.

Fused. The back of the dead doctor's head had been fused with the wall. There was no other way to describe it.

The body hung in defiance of gravity. The dangling toes brushed the floor. The skull had hit so hard it had split at the back, creating suction that was proving difficult to pop. The police were through examining the body. At the moment, the coroner's boys were trying to pry the head loose. They were hoping the body would drop once the head popped free.

It was all too much. When he'd first stepped into the hospital room, Davic was forced to walk on tiptoes to avoid the grisly puddles of sticky blood. The floor, the far wall, the nightstand, the bed. God, it was everywhere.

Like nothing he'd ever seen before.

"Jesus, what could have done this?" Davic muttered as the men from the coroner's office worked around the doctor's suction-stuck skull.

"Some of these crazies have strength like you wouldn't believe. Like superstrength or something. This is one for the books, though. At least it's new to me."

Detective Fred Wayne was trying to put on a nonchalant front. Davic ignored his partner.

The kid didn't really need to point out that this was beyond his police experience. Even if Davic didn't already know it to be true, he could have figured it out by the way Wayne blew his lunch out in the hallway the moment he'd gotten his first glimpse inside the room.

Wayne was trying to mask his earlier loss of control with phony bluster. It wasn't working. He still looked green around the gills. The younger detective was looking everywhere but at the body as he talked. "Uniform is searching the grounds," Wayne said.

"Jackson and Javez are keeping an eye on them. Making sure they don't make too big a mess."

"The guy who runs the place back yet?"

"Not yet," Detective Wayne replied. "He phoned his secretary yesterday to say he was on his way. Some kind of business trip. But that was long before all this. She said she has no way to reach him. Guy doesn't even know what he's coming back to."

"What about the assistant? He was supposed to be at work, right? He turn up yet?"

Wayne shook his head. "We're still searching inside. He could have left the building for something, maybe didn't tell anyone. Or he could be another victim. I guess we won't know until he turns up."

"If, " Davic muttered to himself.

A sucking crack came from the rear wall.

The coroner's men had managed to unstick the body from the wall. They tried to catch it, but it lurched forward, falling facedown in a heap on the floor. The blossomed head cavity yawned up at the cold fluorescent ceiling lights.

Detective Wayne immediately grabbed his mouth and ran out the door. The sound of dry-heaving came from the hall.

Detective Ronald Davic decided the kid might have a good idea. He needed some fresh air.

Leaving the men in the room to load the doctor's body onto a stretcher, Davic stepped into the hallway. Another coroner's crew was at the end of the hall rolling a gurney with the second body-this on a nurse-through the fire doors.

"Hold up," Davic called.

A man in white held the door for him, and Davic slipped into another short hallway.

They rolled the gurney past a few windows that looked out over water. A left from this hall and they were in the main basement corridor. At the end were fire doors. Once through them, they carted the stretcher up the stairwell to the first-floor landing.

Davic scooted ahead. He held the door for the men as they rolled the stretcher out into daylight.

A silent ambulance was parked at the side of the building, its back door open.

The men loaded the sheet-draped body of the unlucky nurse inside. As they strapped it in, Detective Davic tapped a cigarette from the pack in his pocket.

He had misplaced his lighter days ago and hadn't yet picked up a new one. Davic was afraid for a minute that he had lost the book of matches he'd scrounged from the back of a kitchen cupboard. He found them in his raincoat pocket.

As the men were closing the door on the dead nurse, Detective Davic lit up. He pulled in a deep, thoughtful lungful of smoke as he watched them move to the front of the ambulance.

The ambulance drove slowly from the side parking lot. Davic walked along behind it. He stepped into full daylight when he rounded the front of the building.

There were three other ambulances there, as well as two fire trucks, five police cruisers and a handful of unmarked cars.

Davic wondered why it was that men in official cars always seemed to park where they'd cause maximum inconvenience for everyone else. Probably just because they could.

The ambulance had a hard time threading its way through the traffic jam of parked cars. The driver bumped the right tires through the snow of the front yard to get around the landscaped rotary. It was clear sailing after that.

Lights off, the ambulance with the dead nurse drove down the great gravel driveway and passed through the wrought-iron gates. Siren silent, it drove slowly away.

Back up the driveway, Detective Davic dropped his cigarette. The wind whipped his thinning hair. He ground out the butt under his toe. Cursing the habit and the job that had forced it on him, he turned back.

The building loomed high above him. On one of the windows, someone had taped a cardboard angel, ringed with holly. A pathetic attempt to welcome in the season.

Alone in the main driveway, the police detective shook his head. "Merry Christmas," Ronald Davic grumbled.

His words were blown away in a swirl of winter wind.

With a deep frown on his doughy face, the Rye, New York, police detective trudged slowly up the broad front steps of Folcroft Sanitarium.

Chapter 1

When the plane touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, the tired passenger at the very back of the coach section released a silent sigh of relief.

With weary eyes the bland man in the gray suit watched the tarmac speed by. When the glass-encased terminal building rolled up to meet the plane, he exhaled once more.

Dr. Harold W. Smith was grateful to be home. When the plane had fully stopped and the passengers were given permission to deplane, Smith stayed in his seat. Not wanting to fight the crowd or draw attention to himself, he let others grab for their bags and cram the aisles. Only when the crowd had thinned did Smith get wearily to his feet.

Smith had been pressing a battered briefcase between his ankles for most of the flight from South America. Picking it up, he set it onto his seat. Reaching up, he unfastened the overhead compartment. He pulled out a small black suitcase.

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