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Beyond the Pale Cow [MultiFormat]
eBook by George W. J. Laidlaw

eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller/Alternate History
eBook Description: Hate manifests itself in many forms. For the Irish and those linked to the IRA, hate seeps from every pore and it is directed to the British who have humiliated Ireland. Patrick O'Connor released with hundreds of other IRA prisoners still has a burning desire to harm the enemy of Ireland and he takes his plot to England to the very symbol of Britain's greatest engineering feat, the umbilical cord that links Britain to the Europe, the Chunnel and against Andrew McCain, a police officer who killed his brother. Peggy Jordan is a pathologist discovers the recent unexplained death of a teenager is a harbinger of a catastrophe in the British food industry and she become involved in issues of security to the health of the nation and oddly enough with the security of the Chunnel. Andrew McCain, a retired Scotland Yard police detective is now head of security for the Chunnel and he finds himself involved with doctor who has discovered a terrible secret that endangers lives. The novel is a strange mixture of the discover of a form of madness not just in cattle, but in man and the action packed thriller culminates under the Channel where two protagonists fight to either successfully destroy the Chunnel or protect it.

eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, Published: DDP, 2004
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2004


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CHAPTER ONE: THE BEGINNINGS OF MADNESS

Nigel Thrombin had an insatiable hunger and every day of his teenage life he succumbed to his need. Hamburgers for him were a vital part of his make-up. Not only did it provide him energy and nutrients to allow him to grow, but also he knew he was making himself healthy and happy.

Why he found hamburgers so necessary was something he didn't understand. His mother and father had long since given up in trying to get him to change his gustatory desires. Hamburgers to him were what bread was to the masses; it was his staff of life.

But oddly enough he was finding himself forgetful and confused lately. His marks at school had plummeted yet for the life of him he had tried to do his duty. School was not abhorrent like for some of his classmates. Yet no matter how hard he tried sometimes he just couldn't do the math or finish his English assignments and now geography was becoming so confused he hardly could tell Brighton from Naples. That confusion was frightening. He had complained to the school nurse. She though he was just coming down with a cold. But he didn't think that was the case. No, something was just not working.

But not very far away from his small house where he shared it with two sisters and a brother something magnificent was working. Hundreds of years of dreams were culminating in one of the largest engineering projects that Britain let alone Europe had every seen. As one wag had said in the London paper 'Fog in Channel, Continent no longer cut off'. It was a parity of the isolationist and island attitude of the British in their small island. The thousands of years of history where a 22 mile Sleeve (La Manche) of sea kept Britain separated from the foreigners that were always causing trouble with their wars, revolutions and strange eating habits. The English Cannel has saved the English or maybe it had saved Europe from a nation, which had become a powerhouse in the 19th century. The sun never sets on the British Empire was true then. That claim was no longer valid and another nation across a far wider expanse of ocean had taken that claim. So this final thin connection was rather and after thought. The Chunnel was a remarkable engineering feat never the less and those that had accomplished it could well be proud. It was a series of three interconnected tunnels bored through the famous Dover Chalk from Folkestone, England to Coquelles, France, 31 miles under the channel at an average depth of 150 feet.

No longer would a passenger get sea sick in the temperamental channel. No longer would the fog shroud and imprison. But the whole concept of the Chunnel was still even after its completion still causing acrimony and heated discussions. Back to the time of Napoleon, the puffed up corporal, plans had been made to link France to England. For those with a keen sense of history it was the Channel had had kept the British pure. On only two occasions not counting the Viking invasions and they had cheated and had come across the North Sea had foreigners been successful in invading. Julius Caesar in 54 BC and William the Conqueror in 1066. Others had tried; the Spanish armada in 1588 and even Hitler, the other corporal with his war machine that had beaten Europe to its knees had failed to traverse the narrow gap between Europe and the Isolationist Island of Great Britain.

Oh there had been plans dating back to 1802 when Napoleon had supported the underground approach to conquering the superior British. Without their protective wooden walls of the British navy England could be defeated. Twenty-eight schemes had come and gone but only with the building of the Chunnel had it became a reality.

What did is mean? A 90 minute ferry ride changed over night to 35 minutes. A trip to Paris from London only took three hours. Effectively as had other events of the 20th century, the world had become a smaller place. The Chunnel was another form of drawing Britain to where she belong despite the predictions of being sucked up and destroyed by the Germans and snail eating French. Joining the European Common Market and was the final straw. Now they were committed to Europe and for some that still left a sour taste.

The Eurotunnel was not a small operation and in the seven and a half years of construction, the cost reached up to $4.5 million a day and the final amount topped $13 billion. Strangely enough the 26 nations and 220 banks that came together to fund the project and promote the Chunnel in stock offerings found that more than four times as many stocks were sold in France than in Britain. At one stage over 15,000 people were employed.

One of the earliest employees was an engineer in training but his duties were not in the construction but rather in the maintenance of what had been constructed. Anything this big was a magnet for hot heads, isolationists or any other group who thought they might prove a point by bombing the tunnels. The thousands of people and their cars and trucks and cargoes of commerce were susceptible to any man that could carry on a bomb or plant a bomb in a cargo on one of their double Decker train cars or bus carrying rail cars. Already there was a team of over 150 security people keeping their noses to the ground in hopes of smelling out danger. Some of these noses were attached to four-footed hounds and other canine breeds. Their noses were much more sensitive to smell of explosives than their handlers.

Andrew McCain walked from the headquarters of the English component of the Eurotunnel. Once a week he met with the executives and his counterparts in France. Occasionally he took the train to Paris to discuss projects, plans and countermeasures. For Andrew McCain was in charge of security. It was up to him and his teams to stop any attempt to seal the tunnel. Britain could not afford once again to be isolated and have the continent cut off from Britain. Oh he knew that Chunnelphobia had eased after the successful opening and the months of normality in its daily operation. Every 20 minutes a train from each of the stations began its 35-minute journey under the English Channel. But at any moment something might happen. He had worked closely with the engineers and construction workers and knew every detail of construction. In his office he had a TBM (tunnel boring machine) model sitting on his desk. That machine in actual size was the length of two football fields and was one of eleven used to bore out the three tunnels. Those machines were the state of the art and cost 90 million dollars that chews with their 30-foot mouth through 15 feet of chalk an hour and took back the spoils to waiting cars. Over 10 million cubic yards were removed which he knew was enough to overfill the Wimbledon Stadium 20 times or more. So Andrew knew the ins and outs of the project. He had to because whether in the service tunnel or air pressure equalizers or drain pipe a bomb could be laid and with a timer being set to destroy seven years of labor.

The latest was the rumor that the IRA wanted to show the world that they had not been beaten and outmaneuvered by the British. The Chunnel would be a good example of the effectiveness of the Irish struggle for independence. That's all he needed. You didn't underestimate the powers of the IRA. They had come with a few inches of wiping out the whole British cabinet and Prime minister in of their bombings. No, he felt himself tense. The IRA was a formidable force, deranged and hardly relevant to anything now that Ireland was fast becoming an economic center of high tech. But hundreds of years of hate were not easily ignored.

Andrew had come to this position as chief of security had been a detective in Scotland Yard for seven years but had been injured in the Brighton bombing. Maybe more people would have been killed if it weren't for his efforts, but those efforts resulted in severe wounds to his legs when the building collapsed under him. So he was given an opportunity with the Eurorail enterprise. They wanted someone that was closely attached to the police establishment. Had the education to understand what was happening from an engineering point of view and was recognized as one that could work independent of all the political intrigue and ass kissing that many of the boarder members had to practice to ensure proper and continued funding. He had not regretted it. Well at least on some days. It was exciting to see a project develop from just an idea that was discussed for centuries to some thing that was concrete and real. Eight years was a long time but at 36 he had no regrets.

His relationship with an Irish Colleen had foundered when he was in hospital having his legs rebuilt. He often wondered if Maureen had used him. Had she been the information source that allowed the IRA to get close, too close to the PM? He had never discovered if there was a link or not. She had just become more distant and visited the hospital less frequently until finally she said that she couldn't stand coming to see all those ill and dying people. It might have been a convenient excuse, but she hadn't returned. When he did get out of hospital his apartment where once she had shared with him was cold and not a speck of her remained to indicate the year they had shared a life together. At first he had shrugged it off, some women weren't the nurturing types. To have a man that was restricted to crutches or a wheelchair until her learned to walk again would have been a pain. But after he was angry and wondered if she had just used that as an excuse.

He had never from that point on tried to have any long-term relationship. Oh occasionally when the girl was a willing partner they'd shared a night or two, but nothing that sounded of permanency. No now over the last many years his hours of work varied and meant he'd be called out at a moment's notice at any time of the day or night. That didn't improve the necessary care and time it needed to work an attraction into a more firm understanding.

Copyright © 2004 George W. J. Laidlaw


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