3rd Rail Press_Kujira’s Lament_Chapter 3_17Dec2019

Kujira’s Lament©
An Original Work of Fiction
By David G. Yurth

Draft: Nov. 18, 2012
© 2012 David G. Yurth
All Rights Reserved Holladay, Utah USA

Three

The conference room was filled with people. It was a war room of sorts with digital projectors mounted on the ceiling aimed at half a dozen long white marker boards that hung on the walls surrounding the table. The arrangement made it possible for everyone in the room to see the same images and video clips at the same time. Representatives from NATO, Interpol, the American CIA, British MI-5 and the Danish Security and Intelligence Service PET were seated around the 18’ long conference table. Behind them personal staff and aides de camp were seated against the wall. In front of each seat at the conference table was a red manila folder bound around its girth by a one-inch wide white ribbon. In the center of the folder on the front the ends of the ribbon were welded together by a large flat glob of red wax that had been melted and stamped with the NATO seal.

“Antiquated, perhaps,” said Eric Rollande, the hardened veteran of NATO’s Supreme Allied Command Directorate for Intelligence and Security Services. He sat at the head of the table with the conference comm system situated just in front of his right hand. “However, if you will take note, there is absolutely no way in hell that ribbon can be removed without breaking the seal. It may be old fashioned, but it is still very effective, particularly in matters such as this where we are operating on very short notice.”

Rollande picked up the file in front of him and lifted it into the air. “Please sign the ribbon with the felt tipped pen that has been supplied to you. When you have done that, break the seal and hand the signed ribbon to Ms. Fessler.” A brief flurry of activity was followed by a profound silence.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate your being here at this time of night. I know many of you have traveled for several hours to join us. Before you open the file, I will bring you up to speed on what we know about yesterday’s bizarre events in the Faroe Island village of Sküvoy.”

He turned slightly to his right and lifted his right hand, pointing his index finger at the ceiling. Almost immediately the lights dimmed and all the screens mounted on the surrounding walls came to life. A large map of the Faroe Islands appeared with the names of all the towns and villages clearly displayed. As Rollande progressed through his presentation the images on the screens followed him precisely.

“For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, approximately halfway between Norway and Iceland. Total estimated population of the islands is less than 50,000 people.”

“At 6:47 AM yesterday morning the Faroe Island Emergency Management Center’s search and rescue dispatcher in Türshavn picked up a transmission in the form of a Mayday call from Bogi Anderrson, a local fisherman and skinn-maester for the village of Sküvoy, situated here on the southern island of Sküvoy. Total population of the village is 154 people, not including dogs, cats, sheep and goats.”

A hand went up at the back of the room. “What’s a skinn-maester?”

“The skinn-maester is the village elder who apportions parcels of whale meat to each family after a grind.” He smiled broadly as several other hands went up. “Don’t ask. A grind is an event that involves herding a pod of pilot whales up onto the beach, where they are hooked in the blow hole and hauled up onto the beach, where they are killed and slaughtered. It’s a word derived from the old Norse word ‘grindarap’ which refers to the killing of sea creatures.

As Rollande talked, the screens shifted to display a succession of images that showed a recent grind in progress. “Courtesy of our friends at Greenpeace,” he said. At the end of the sequence, the picture of an exhausted, mud-spattered old man appeared on the screen.

“This is Bogi Anderrson. When he awoke at 5:53, Mr. Anderrson apparently got dressed and walked out onto the town square, which is about 50 feet from his front door. As he did so, he found this…”

A slow video recording panned across the village square where 19 bodies were lying side by side, naked, bound, and apparently dead. A soft gasp echoed from around the room.

“The first emergency rescue team arrived in Sküvoy at 7:14 AM, an hour or so after Anderrson first discovered the bodies and 27 minutes after he called for help.”

The lights came back up and the screens went vacant.

“You may open your file folders now,” he directed. “As you will see, several things distinguish this event from anything else we have ever seen before.” He opened his own file and extracted the cover sheet.

“This is a Q-level security document, code named ‘Kujira’. Kujira is the Japanese word for whale. This is an eyes-only file and may not be removed from this room. You are not to discuss its contents with anyone who is not present in this room. Are we all clear about that?” Heads bobbed around the room.

A voice from the other end of the table asked, “Eric, what is so special about this case? I mean, we’ve all seen photos of dead whales and people before…”

“Several unusual aspects of this event make it very special indeed. If you will go to page three, you will see that I have provided a bullet list of the features that concern us most.” As the attendees pulled page three out of the file folder, Eric drank from the water glass that sat in front of him.

“Holy hell!” someone said. “Who knows how to do this?”

“Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? For one thing, we don’t know how this was done. For another, we have absolutely no idea who did it. So, let’s go through this situation one step at a time and see if we can sort this out.”

The lights dimmed again, and the screens lit up.

“Follow me closely, if you will. Speak up if you have any thoughts about these images as we go along.”

The image of the bodies again came on the screens.

“We discovered that the people shown in this image were not dead. None of them. After being evacuated to hospital in Türshavn by helicopter, each of them was thoroughly evaluated and subsequently debriefed at length. Urinalysis and blood tests reveal that each victim had somehow been infused with a dose of a serum containing the venom of an adder found only in Tanzania, known as the TanBIF adder, along with a small amount of Gentiana curare, a very rare species indeed. To that was apparently added the venom of a tarantula-like spider found in East Africa known as the Pelinobius muticus, whose venom causes strong hallucinations.”

“Damn!” someone whispered.

“The net effect of these three toxins when administered together is that the victims were rendered totally unconscious but devoid of any physical sensations and capable of no voluntary muscle control. The heart rate when they were found was reduced to between 12 and 15 beats per minute, which was just enough to barely keep them alive.”

A stir across the table caught everyone’s attention. A small dark-skinned woman, who was elegantly dressed in brightly colored African batik silks, sarong and head scarf, spoke softly.

“The concoction you are describing has been used in various forms over the centuries by the Masaai Tribe of Tanzania. It is used in a ritual referred to as the Sikuku by native tribes-people.” She drank a sip from her water glass and continued. “The Sikuku ritual is traditionally reserved to celebrate the life and death of great warriors and Masaai royalty. In the ritual, villagers from miles around come together to celebrate the life of a man whose bravery and honor merit special consideration. After three days of singing, dancing, feasting, and carousing, the mixture is administered by mouth using a sacred cup that has been handed down by the Shamans since time before time. Within 15-20 minutes the man becomes totally paralyzed but remains completely conscious, aware of everything going on around him. He is placed on a stretcher made of specially woven cloth and long branches, and carried on the shoulders of the village warriors out to the grasslands perhaps a mile away from the village.” She paused, drank again and then continued. Except for the sound of her voice the room was completely silent.

“A long procession follows the stretcher out to a place where the man is laid on the ground. Each person comes to him, embraces him, kisses him and wishes him well on his journey to the realm of the grandfathers. When everyone has bid him farewell, the villagers sing one final song then walk in procession back to the village. Within minutes after leaving him alone on the ground, the hyenas devour him. He is completely conscious of what is happening but feels no pain of any kind. In this way his body is recycled so his spirit can be liberated to rejoin the ancestors. The act of Sikuku completes the cycle of life in the Great Chain of Being.”

Murmurs echoed around the room. Someone coughed and another blew his nose.

“Right,” said Eric. “Thank you, Charlotte. For those of you who do not know her, this is Dr. Charlotte Makepeace, Director of the Center for African Cultural Studies at the Sorbonne and recently retired Chief of Station in Angola.” He paused for a moment, studied the faces of the people in the room, and asked, “Any ideas?”

“Well, whoever did this knows all about the ritual, knows the recipe for the potion, and created an opportunity to administer it to 19 innocent people.”

Another voice, a man in a well tailored Saville Row pinstriped suit on the other side of the table, spoke in English but with a distinct Dutch accent. “This scenario suggests that whoever did this could have killed these people but chose for some reason not to. Instead, they went to elaborate lengths to demonstrate forbearance. What I can’t figure out is why.”

“Maybe they didn’t want to kill them at all,” said a man at the back of the room. “Maybe they wanted to send a message, to tell us they could have killed them but chose not to.”

“But why?” someone else asked. “Why go to all this trouble? Why not just kill them and be done with it?”

Private conversations erupted all around the room. Eric gently slapped his hand against the top of the table. “Focus, people. Let’s stay focused. One voice at a time.”

The tall balding man at Eric’s right elbow spoke. “There is real artistry in this event,” he said. “Think about it. The mix of people who were drugged, bound and left in a very specific pattern presents us with a carefully crafted message. While violence was certainly done to them, no one was seriously injured. What does that tell us?”

The man from MI-5 finally chimed in. “Look at the way they are laid out. Look at the rectangle that was so carefully drawn on each person’s belly. Look at the line drawn at the base of the skull. The way they are lined up parallel to each other, rolled onto their right side.”

“Let’s see the images of the whales again,” someone said. Eric nodded and the images of the grind began scaling slowly across the screens.

“Hold it,” he said. “That’s the one.”

The image showed the 19 whales were laid next to each other on the beach. The video stopped moving.

“Can you bring up the image of the bodies at the same time, please?”

As the two images were paired next to each other on the screens, silence fell on the room. The message became perfectly clear.

“After viewing the debriefing notes from the victim interviews, we know that each of them participated in the grind two days earlier. Even the children,” Eric said.

“If you can kill whales, we can kill you, right?” said the man in the Saville Row suit.

Eric pulled another sheet from the red folder. “Page four lists the issues we haven’t yet sorted out,” he said. “Anyone care to comment?”

The printed sheet bore the legend TOP SECRET – LEVEL “Q” at the bottom of the page and contained a series of bullet points.

* Cell Tower: IC circuits destroyed. Case not damaged. * Villagers: Rendered unconscious, including all animals * Access & Egress: No extrinsic evidence * Toxins: No detectable injection sites * Witnesses; None * Suspects: Unknown

“What we have here is a demonstration of technologies and techniques that we have not seen employed before. As far as we are aware at the moment, similar weapons systems do not exist in the arsenal of any of the industrialized nations. Let’s take these one by one and see what we can come up with, shall we?”