Friday, October 5, 2018

Stub 6.4: Hockey pucks

Hunter’s twice-a-week status report to Croyle generated a flurry of directives.

Croyle informed Hunter that the project funding was going to be reviewed in two weeks.

Croyle advised Hunter to abandon the DNA avenue and concentrate on using mass-selection to increase the resistance of the most promising line, the one with resistance to two antibiotics, to the third antibiotic.

Hunter complied.

In twelve days he was able to increase the resistance of the most promising line to 10% of the “bogey” for the third antibiotic. He was helped by the fact that some of the resistance was due to changes in the cell walls that made it more resistant to penetration. Unfortunately for Hunter, the third antibiotic had smaller, more mobile molecules.

It never occurred to Hunter to lie or fudge the data. After receiving Hunter’s report on Day 12, Croyle advised Hunter to let his cultures drift into the spore formation stage of growth pending further developments.

On Day 15, Croyle thanked Hunter for his assistance and promised a bonus check. Hunter was directed to “wash” the samples by centrifuging and ten changes of water. Then Hunter was to stabilize the resulting slurry of spores by adding dry Plaster of Paris to form hockey-pucks to be shipped to a post office box in Wisconsin.

Hunter complied. He also destroyed all samples, as directed, in a bonfire, save one that he secreted behind a brick he mortared back into the chimney.

Hunter shipped 24 “hockey pucks” of weapons-grade Clostridium botulinum to the post office box. Croyle sent Hunter ten pre-paid credit cards totaling $30,000. Total cost to Croyle was approximately $65,000. Croyle burned all the cell phones and anonymous ftp paths used in the transactions.

One of the hockey pucks went to Mexico. It was pulverized and mixed with alcohol. Croyle hired a job-lot firm to dip biopsy needles into the alcohol and to repackage them. Croyle’s cover story was that the needles had been exposed to pathogens and needed to be sterilized before being used. The boss of the job-shop did not care. All he cared about was getting paid.

One of the hockey pucks went to a small cosmetics firm. It was pulverized and packaged into “sample size” deodorizer aerosols. Croyle hired a different small firm to place the aerosol containers into custom bags with literature and to deliver them to employees-of-record of Azreal Industries by hanging the bags on their door knobs. The aerosol was “guaranteed” to eliminate all traces and smells of tobacco and cannabis smoke. Croyle was betting that some of the Azreal employees would not be able to resist smoking in the restrooms.

The remaining 22 hockey pucks were delivered to a mole that Croyle had been able to place in one of the Azrael production facilities, the one that produced 99% of the triple-antibiotic ointment in the Western Hemisphere.

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