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       Next, p.1

           Michael Crichton
 
Next


  MICHAEL CRICHTON

  NEXT

  A Novel

  This novel is fiction,

  except for the parts that aren’t.

  The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.

  —STEVEN WEINBERG

  The word “cause” is an altar to an unknown god.

  —WILLIAM JAMES

  What is not possible is not to choose.

  —JEAN-PAUL SARTRE

  Contents

  Epigraph

  Prologue

  Vasco Borden, forty-nine, tugged at the lapels of his suit…

  CH001

  Division 48 of Los Angeles Superior Court was a wood-paneled…

  CH002

  Alex had been watching the jury all during the latest…

  CH003

  Barry Sindler, divorce lawyer to the stars, shifted in his…

  CH004

  Beneath the high canopy of trees, the jungle floor was…

  CH005

  Get this,” Charlie Huggins said, looking at the television in…

  CH006

  BioGen Research Inc. was housed in a titanium-skinned cube in…

  CH007

  At noon, Alex Burnet left her office in her Century…

  CH008

  In the BioGen animal lab, Tom Weller was going down…

  CH009

  Kevin McCormick, chief administrator of Long Beach Memorial, looked up…

  CH010

  At the Radial Genomics lab in La Jolla, Charlie Huggins…

  CH011

  Barry Sindler was bored. The woman before him yammered on.

  CH012

  Josh Winkler closed the door to his office and started…

  CH013

  The coffin rose into sunlight. It looked the same as…

  CH014

  Marty Roberts was sweating by the time he got back…

  CH015

  At sunset, the titanium cube that housed BioGen Research shimmered…

  CH016

  The jungle was completely silent. Not a buzzing cicada, not…

  CH017

  Rick Diehl of BioGen was changing in the locker room…

  CH018

  It was just his way of relaxing, Brad Gordon knew,…

  CH019

  Marilee Hunter, the pedantic director of the Long Beach Memorial…

  CH020

  Finally!

  CH021

  At the Congressional Biotechnology Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Dr. Robert Bellarmino…

  CH022

  It was a bad day for Marty Roberts, made much…

  CH023

  Josh Winkler was staring out his office window that overlooked…

  CH024

  Brad Gordon frowned unhappily at the toilet in his jail…

  CH025

  Henry Kendall parked in the Long Beach Memorial parking lot,…

  CH026

  We’re talking submarines,” the patent attorney said to Josh Winkler.

  CH027

  Rick Diehl approached the whole thing like a research project.

  CH028

  Bail was set at half a million dollars. Brad Gordon’s…

  CH029

  In the corner of the office, the TV showed Sheldon…

  CH030

  In a glass-walled conference room on Madison Avenue, the marketing…

  CH031

  The fact-finding hearing of the Bioethics Review Panel at the…

  CH032

  Madame Bond,” the first-grade teacher said, “your son is a…

  CH033

  Brad Gordon clicked off the TV and yelled, “It’s open.

  CH034

  Henry Kendall’s wife, Lynn, designed web sites for a living,…

  CH035

  Henry Kendall left Dulles Airport and drove north on 267,…

  CH036

  What are you talking about?” Lynn Kendall said, staring at…

  CH037

  There were fifty reporters in the conference room of Shanghai’s…

  CH038

  The memory haunted Mark Sanger—the image burned in his mind…

  CH039

  Josh Winkler hurried into the animal facility to see what…

  CH040

  Speaking in Washington at a noon briefing for congressmen, Professor William Garfield…

  CH041

  Dave’s first few days in the Kendall household went surprisingly…

  CH042

  Ellis,” Mrs. Levine said, “what is that tube?”

  CH043

  Things were not going well, Rick Diehl thought, as he…

  CH044

  Gail Bond fell into a routine. She would spend the…

  CH045

  Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult…

  CH046

  The lights dimmed smoothly in the plush presentation room at…

  CH047

  There was no moon and no sound, except the booming…

  CH048

  Josh.” It was his mother, on the phone.

  CH049

  Gail Bond’s husband, Richard, the investment banker, often worked late…

  CH050

  Rob Bellarmino smiled reassuringly. “Just ignore the cameras,” he said…

  CH051

  It had been raining all day in southern Sumatra. The…

  CH052

  Six attorneys sat at the long table, all shuffling through…

  CH053

  Vasco Borden faced the mirror and reviewed his appearance with…

  CH054

  Brad Gordon had a bad feeling as he walked into…

  CH055

  Lynn Kendall ran into the La Jolla school, arriving out…

  CH056

  Alex Burnet jumped out of the cab and ran toward…

  CH057

  Georgia Bellarmino would never have known, if it hadn’t been…

  CH058

  Barton Williams’s Boeing 737 rolled to a stop at the…

  CH059

  The warehouse was located near the airport in Medan. It…

  CH060

  Georgia Bellarmino opened the door to her daughter’s bedroom and…

  CH061

  In the Chicago offices of Dr. Martin Bennett, the intercom was…

  CH062

  The desk officer at the Rockville Police Station was an…

  CH063

  Riding the underground tram from the Senate Office Building to…

  CH064

  Not again!

  CH065

  This is on, man!

  CH066

  Stan Milgram had begun the long trip to see his…

  CH067

  Lynn sat on the edge of the tub and used…

  CH068

  Traffic crawled. The 405 Freeway was a river of red…

  CH069

  There were two more gunshots as Lynn ran into the…

  CH070

  Alex took her son to an In-N-Out drive-in, and they…

  CH071

  Stan Milgram was lost in endless darkness. The road ahead…

  CH072

  Ellis sat down across from his brother Aaron, in Aaron’s…

  CH073

  When Brad Gordon started the bar fight at the Lucky…

  CH074

  The self-proclaimed environmental artist Mark Sanger, recently returned from a…

  CH075

  Still lost, now driving through very hilly terrain, Stan Milgram…

  CH076

  The Robinson R44 helicopter descended in a cloud of dust,…

  CH077

  Gerard watched the dark shapes approach.

  CH078

  Sleeping in the front seat of her car, Alex Burnet…

  CH
079

  In Congressional Hearing Room 443, while waiting for proceedings to…

  CH080

  The ambulance sped south on the freeway. Sitting in the…

  CH081

  Bob,” Alex said, holding her phone to her ear.

  CH082

  It’s the last thing we need, Henry Kendall thought. Visitors!

  CH083

  The Hummer pulled up behind the ambulance, and Vasco got…

  CH084

  Gerard was tired. He had been flying for an hour…

  CH085

  Okay, we got action,” Vasco said. Two young kids were…

  CH086

  The Oxnard courtroom was small and so cold Bob Koch…

  CH087

  The Kendalls were screaming as the Hummer raced forward, but…

  CH088

  Adam Winkler lay in the hospital bed, frail and weak.

  CH089

  The Oxnard judge coughed in the chilly air as he…

  CH090

  Rick Diehl was trying to keep it together, but everything…

  CH091

  Frank Burnet walked into the starkly modern offices of venture…

  CH092

  Brad Gordon followed the crowds that swarmed toward Mighty Kong,…

  CH093

  At the fall meeting of the Organization of University Technology…

  CH094

  The overhead lights came on in the autopsy room, bank…

  CH095

  Henry Kendall was surprised that Gerard could help Dave with…

  E-BOOK EXTRAS

  A Conversation with Michael Crichton,Author of NEXT

  Michael Crichton NEXT Audio Interview Transcript

  This Essay Breaks the Law

  Author’s Note

  Bibliography

  About the Author

  Other Books by Michael Crichton

  Credits

  Copyright

  About the Publisher

  Prologue

  Vasco Borden,forty-nine, tugged at the lapels of his suit and straightened his tie as he walked down the plush carpeted hallway. He wasn’t used to wearing a suit, though he had had this one, in navy, specially tailored to minimize the muscular bulk of his body. Borden was big, six-four, two-forty, an ex–football player who worked as a private investigator and fugitive-recovery specialist. And right now, Vasco was following his man, a thirty-year-old balding postdoc, a fugitive from MicroProteonomics of Cambridge, Mass., as he headed right for the main room of the conference.

  The BioChange 2006 Conference, enthusiastically entitled “Make It Happen Now!” was being held at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. The two thousand attendees represented all sorts of biotech workers, including investors, HR officers who hired scientists, technology transfer officers, CEOs, and intellectual property attorneys. In one way or another, nearly every biotech company in America was represented here.

  It was the perfect place for the fugitive to meet his contact. The fugitive looked like a dink; he had an innocent face and a little soul patch on his chin; he slouched when he walked and gave the impression of timidity and ineptitude. But the fact was, he’d made off with twelve transgenic embryos in a cryogenic dewar and transported them across country to this conference, where he intended to turn them over to whomever he was working for.

  It wouldn’t be the first time a postdoc got tired of working on salary. Or the last.

  The fugitive went over to the check-in table to get his conference card to drape around his neck. Vasco hung by the entrance, slipping his own card over his head. He’d come prepared for this. He pretended to look at the event roster.

  The big speeches were all in the main ballroom. Seminars were scheduled for such topics as “Fine-Tune Your Recruiting Process,” and “Winning Strategies to Keep Research Talent,” “Executive and Equity Compensation,” “Corporate Governance and the SEC,” “Patent Office Trends,” and “Investor Angels: Boon or Curse?” and, finally, “Trade Secrets Piracy: Protect Yourself Now!”

  Much of Vasco’s work involved high-tech firms. He had been to these conferences before. Either they were about science or business. This one was business.

  The fugitive, whose name was Eddie Tolman, walked past him into the ballroom. Vasco followed. Tolman went down a few rows and dropped into a seat with no one nearby. Vasco slipped into the row behind and sat a little to one side. The Tolman kid checked his cell phone for text messages, then seemed to relax, and looked up to listen to the speech.

  Vasco wondered why.

  The manat the podium was one of the most famous venture capitalists in California, a legend in high-tech investment, Jack B. Watson. Watson’s face was blown up large on the screen behind him, his trademark suntan and striking good looks magnified to fill the room. Watson was a young-looking fifty-two, and assiduously cultivated his reputation as a capitalist with a conscience. That appellation had carried him through a succession of ruthless business deals: all the media ever showed were his appearances at charter schools, or handing out scholarships for underprivileged kids.

  But in this room, Vasco knew, Watson’s reputation for tough deal making would be foremost in everyone’s mind. He wondered if Watson was ruthless enough to acquire a dozen transgenic embryos by illicit means. He probably was.

  However, at the moment, Watson was cheerleading: “Biotechnology is booming. We are poised to see the greatest growth of any industry since computers thirty years ago. The largest biotech company, Amgen, in Los Angeles, employs seven thousand people. Federal grants to universities exceed four billion a year on campuses from New York to San Francisco, Boston to Miami. Venture capitalists invest in biotech companies at a rate of five billion a year. The lure of magnificent cures made possible by stem cells, cytokines, and proteonomics are drawing the brightest talent to the field. And with a global population growing older by the minute, our future is brighter than ever. And that’s not all!

  “We’ve reached the point where we can stick it to Big Pharma—and we will. Those massive, bloated companies need us and they know it. They need genes, they need technology. They’re the past. We’re the future. We’re where the money is!”

  That drew huge applause. Vasco shifted his bulk in his seat. The audience was applauding, even though they knew that this son of a bitch would cut their company to pieces in a second if it suited his bottom line.

  “Of course, we face obstacles to our progress. Some people—however well intentioned theythink they are—choose to stand in the way of human betterment. They don’t want the paralyzed to walk, the cancer patient to thrive, the sick child to live and play. These people have their reasons for objecting. Religious, ethical, or even ‘practical.’ But whatever their reasons, they are on the side of death. And they will not triumph!”

  More thunderous applause. Vasco glanced at the fugitive, Tolman. The kid was checking his phone again. Evidently waiting for a message. And waiting impatiently.

  Did that mean the contact was late?

  That was sure to make Tolman nervous. Because somewhere, Vasco knew, this kid had stashed a stainless steel thermos of liquid nitrogen that held the embryos. It wasn’t in the kid’s room. Vasco had already searched it. And five days had passed since Tolman left Cambridge. The coolant wouldn’t last forever. And if the embryos thawed, they would be worthless. So unless Tolman had a way to top up hisLN 2, by now he must be anxious to retrieve his container, and hand it over to his buyer.

 
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