Here is the Prologue of my new novel to whet your appetite…
London, England April 8, 2021
Sohail woke up with a start, but when he opened his eyes he saw nothing. Was he blind? There wasn’t even the tiniest spark of light, and the air around him was warm, stale, and oxygen-deprived. Where was he? Panic pumped adrenaline into his system, and his heart rate rose precipitously.
Then he remembered. He’d been smuggled into the Regain Your Youth clinic inside a laundry bin…and he had a mission.
He disciplined himself to control his breathing. Obediently, his heartbeat slowed. He pressed the backlight button on his watch. At first the light blinded him, and he squinted until his eyes adjusted sufficiently to make out the time. Then he blinked a few times to make sure that he was seeing correctly, because his watch read 6:45 a.m. It was time!
He pushed up to move the layer of towels above the cavity that had been his womb-like home for the last thirteen hours. He heard the lid of the laundry bin fall to the floor with a dull thud.
It hurt to move. Lying on his back, he fought through the pain to straighten his legs, raising them over the edge of the laundry bin one at a time. When the pain subsided a little, he brought his feet back down so that he was in a squatting position, holding on to the edge of the laundry bin. The towels under him shifted.
He looked around. He was in a small closet. There was plenty of light. The source was a blindingly bright strip of light flooding under the door of the closet.
After a minute or so he felt ready to stand—or, more accurately, stoop—holding onto the edges of the laundry bin, praying that he wouldn’t lose his balance and topple the bin. After another few minutes, he felt ready to remove his hands and straighten to a standing position.
Teetering on the unstable platform of folded towels, he half stepped, half jumped out of the laundry bin. More pain rewarded him as he landed in a crouched position and then gradually straightened to a full standing position.
He looked down at the white uniform he was wearing and attempted to smooth out some of the wrinkles. Then he checked that his security badge was pinned to his breast pocket. Lastly he patted his pants pocket to confirm that he had the inhaler in its Velcro pouch. Satisfied, Sohail devoted the next ten minutes to a series of stretching exercises. As he exercised, he thought about the article he had read in Scientific American about the Regain Your Youth clinic. The clinic’s name was a perfect fit for its remarkable services, which used a variety of nanobots, each programmed to seek out and repair damaged cells in a target organ. The end result was nothing short of miraculous, restoring octogenarian patients to the vigor of thirty year olds. He’d seen the “before and after” pictures, and the difference was amazing. The only problem was, because the nanobots were very expensive to manufacture, the treatment was available only to billionaires…like Jake Epstein.
At precisely 7:00 a.m. he opened the closet door a crack. Nobody was in sight. He stepped out into the corridor, blinking in the bright light, and checked in both directions. Nothing. He made an effort to straighten his back and walk casually—like somebody who had a right to be there.
Room 201 was just around the corner. There were no guards in sight. He entered the room. A man was sitting up in the hospital bed. A sprinkling of dark hairs stood out, incongruously, on his otherwise bald head.
“Good morning. I don’t remember you. You must be a new boy,” the man said, smiling.
“Yes, Mr. Epstein, I’m standing in for Jason. He’s sick. My name is Kareem.” Sohail returned the smile. He removed the inhaler from its Velcro pouch and attached the mask to the end of the breathing tube. His eyes had adjusted to the light now.
“More nanobots?” Epstein said as he eyed the inhaler with a frown. “Dr. Peterson told me I was finished with them…and I’m feeling great. Better than I’ve felt in thirty years, in fact. I was just doing some push-ups. This rejuvenation process is really working. Worth every penny…And I’ll tell you, Kareem, it was a lot of pennies.” Epstein gave Sohail an exaggerated wink.
“Dr. Peterson thinks your lung function can be improved. There’s no extra charge.” Sohail smiled again. “Open your mouth now.”
Epstein opened his mouth and allowed Sohail to place the mask over his nose. When asked to breathe normally, he cooperated. After about two minutes, Sohail withdrew the inhaler.
Epstein frowned. “What kind of name is Kareem?” he asked. “Is it Indian?”
“No, Mr. Epstein. It’s an Arab name.”
Epstein frowned again. “I think I want to talk to Dr. Peterson. I want to know exactly what these nanobots are doing.”
“I’m pretty sure Dr. Peterson will be coming to see you very soon, Mr. Epstein. But I have to leave you now. I have a tight schedule. Good-bye, Mr. Epstein.”
Jake Epstein frowned once more. Something wasn’t right. As Sohail left the room he felt a stabbing pain in his chest…
Sohail walked briskly down the corridor toward an exit sign. Just before he reached the door, he heard an electronic alarm sound. It was a continuous flat screech. Almost immediately he heard the sound of feet approaching, running. He opened the exit door quickly and descended as fast as he could.
At street level there was a sign warning that alarms would sound if he opened the door, but he didn’t hesitate. He opened the door and stepped out, blinking in the sunlight.
A van that had been parked about a hundred feet down the road moved quickly toward him and pulled up. As soon as he jumped in, the van accelerated down the street. When Sohail looked back, he saw the door he’d just used to leave the clinic swing open, but then he was flung sideways as the van swung around a corner with a screech of tires.
A few hundred yards later, the van made another sharp turn into a narrow alleyway that was blocked by a large truck with its rear doors open and a ramp down. The van raced up the ramp and braked sharply once it was inside the truck. The rear doors closed. Soon after, the truck backed out of the alley and headed east at a sedate pace toward the motorway leading to Heathrow Airport.
For anyone who would like to read more, I have an offer to make. I need test readers. Readers that will give honest, personal feedback… And their reward will be a free, signed copy of the The Nanobot Attack, with my thanks. To get an advance copy of Part 1 of The Nanobot Attack use the comment feature below.