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Arctic Heat by Martin Lesser

Arctic Heat by Martin Lesser


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Published by Martin Lesser
A romantic adventure novel about the exploitation of geothermal energy. The main location is in northern Sweden though the action moves from NY to Sweden to Switzerland and Finland. The main protagonist is a science journalist who is investigating some suspicious activity in the Arctic along with his female assistant. They quickly find themselves involved with some mysterious events, murder and a number of shady characters.
A romantic adventure novel about the exploitation of geothermal energy. The main location is in northern Sweden though the action moves from NY to Sweden to Switzerland and Finland. The main protagonist is a science journalist who is investigating some suspicious activity in the Arctic along with his female assistant. They quickly find themselves involved with some mysterious events, murder and a number of shady characters.

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Published by: Martin Lesser on Feb 03, 2009
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  • Old Friends
  • Simply a Job
  • Questions
  • Working Overtime
  • Night Visitors
  • The Morning After
  • Important Visitors
  • Welcome to the North
  • Anything Missing?
  • Talking it Over
  • With Best Intentions
  • Getaway
  • Tales from the Ice Triangle
  • A Trek In The Wilderness
  • Lake Geneva
  • Ripples
  • Extremophiles
  • A Surprise Awakening
  • Breaking Away
  • Yellowstone Dreams
  • Birds of a Feather
  • An Isolated Place?
  • A Life and Death Decision
  • A Not so Modest Proposal
  • Bar Talk
  • A Light in the Forest
  • Night Work
  • Undesired Hospitality
  • Back Tracking
  • Rescue
  • Anger Management
  • Other Arrangements
  • A Little Medicine
  • Making Friends
  • Agreement Among Enemies
  • Worst Case Scenario
  • Persuasion
  • Friend or Foe?
  • Reunion
  • Allies
  • Reindeer
  • A Woman Scorned
  • Escape
  • Big Trouble
  • A Complex Problem
  • A Search is Organized
  • Plan B
  • Flight
  • An Unlikely Team
  • Another Threat
  • A Minor Problem
  • Great Minds Think Alike
  • Hard Work
  • A Quiet Village
  • Unexpected Visitors
  • Pursuit
  • Waiting for Help
  • A Nice Surprise
  • Hell Ride
  • Independence
  • New York Bound
  • Normalcy

Arctic Heat

Martin Lesser
Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008
May be copied or further distributed Only with the permission of
Martin Lesser marty@lessers.net
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 1

Old Friends 5
Simply a Job 12
Questions 15
Working Overtime 20
Night Visitors 26
The Morning After 33
Important Visitors 40
Welcome to the North 44
Anything Missing? 49
Talking it Over 52
With Best Intentions 57
Getaway 68
Tales from the Ice Triangle 75
A Trek In The Wilderness 85
Lake Geneva 91
Ripples 99
Extremophiles 108
A Surprise Awakening 123
Who"s The Boss? 128
Breaking Away 132
Yellowstone Dreams 137
Tea and Conversation 143
Birds of a Feather 152
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 2

An Isolated Place? 158
Christmas Shopping 162
A Life and Death Decision 168
A Not so Modest Proposal 172
Bar Talk 177
A Light in the Forest 183
Between a Hot and a Cold Place 186
Night Work 190
Undesired Hospitality 194
Back Tracking 198
Rescue 201
Anger Management 209
Other Arrangements 214
A Little Medicine 224
Making Friends 234
Agreement Among Enemies 238
Worst Case Scenario 242
Persuasion 252
Friend or Foe? 255
Here"s my Plan 262
Freedom 267
Reunion 273
Allies 278
Reindeer 283
A Woman Scorned 287
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 3

Escape 290
Big Trouble 297
Friend or Foe? 302
A Complex Problem 305
A Search is Organized 310
Plan B 314
Flight 317
An Unlikely Team 323
Another Threat 325
A Minor Problem 328
Great Minds Think Alike 330
Hard Work 334
A Quiet Village 337
Unexpected Visitors 341
Pursuit 346
Waiting for Help 347
A Nice Surprise 349
Hell Ride 353
Independence 358
New York Bound 361
Normalcy 366
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 4

Old Friends
The elevator trip to the fiftieth floor of the Empire State
Building tries Henry’s patience, his fidgeting clearly an annoyance
to the other passengers. The remnants of a nights partying doesn’t
help matters. Not that any visit to his supposed literary agent,
Walter Copley, had been free of pain lately. It wasn’t always like
that, in the early days of their association Walter had appeared
like an angel. A mentor and promoter of his work. Now that he knew
more about their real relationship, the bliss of ignorance was no
more. Walter’s early morning call had come as an unpleasant reminder
of that relationship.
All too soon he finds himself entering Walter’s ultra modern do-
main. As usual the man is all smiles, greeting Henry like a long
lost son. Henry has to admire the paternal act, Walter is very good
at making himself likable, at least until you get to know him as
well as Henry did.
“Henry, how good of you to come. It does an old agent’s heart
good to see one of his most successful clients.” Henry endures the
hearty hand shake and sits down in the trendy but uncomfortable
chair facing Walter’s desk. Another one of the man’s one-upmanship
props, Henry thinks. Walter addresses the svelte secretary standing
by his side and tells her to bring them some cookies and espresso.
He turns to Henry and says, “You don’t come by often Henry, I miss
seeing you.” The old guilt ploy, Henry observes. On the surface,
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 5

this man had done everything to help Henry, from recruiting him when
he was studying physics at Cornell, to teaching him how to be a sci-
ence journalist. It had taken years for Henry to begin to unravel
Walter’s motives. That job is still far from complete. Against his
better judgment Henry now adopts a sardonic stance, just short of
being confrontational.
“I love you too Walter, after all you never let me forget how
much I’m in your debt.” Walter, a suitably hurt expression on his
face, now replies, “You know my boy, your interests are always in
the forefront of my mind. Is it too much to occasionally ask a
friend whom one has helped for a little favor?”
Henry replies, in as surly tone as he can manage, “How about
when the favor almost has me end up with a twenty five year sentence
to a Mexican prison?”
Walter laughs, further irritating Henry, and says “Henry, Henry,
you’re here now enjoying the pleasures of New York with plenty of
money in your pocket, and even some modest amount of fame. I
wouldn’t say that was so bad.”
The trouble with this answer is that Walter is right. Henry
loves the money and the fame. Without Walter he would hardly have
reached the success he has attained. How would he know that anyway?
He never had a chance to try. But face it, Walter has an uncanny
ability to peddle anything he writes, in that sense he’s an author’s
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 6

“Okay, Walter, I admit it, I owe you a lot, but you ask a lot.
When you first found me, an aspiring writer studying physics, I was
overwhelmed with what you did for me.”
Again Walter bestows him with a fatherly smile. “Don’t mention
it my boy, it was a pleasure to develop your talent.”
As usual in his confrontations with Walter, Henry finds himself
on the defensive. If he has any self respect he should just walk out
of the office. In the beginning he had the excuse of ignorance and
naivety, but those days were long past. He well knows that Walter is
powerful in the publishing field. Walking out on Walter would be the
end of his career. Maybe even worse. Some of Walter’s veiled pro-
nouncements had an uncanny threatening quality. Deep down he knows
that he is going to do another job for the man. He could always con-
vince himself that this would give him more time to devise a means
of escaping Walter’s grasp. So almost reflexively he hears himself
say, “Okay Walter, I appreciate all you’ve done for me, so what do
you want now.”
“Come, come my boy, that hang dog expression doesn’t suit you.
You know that I just want to promote your career. All I ask is that
you now and then provide me with some information, why that’s not
too much to ask, is it?”
Henry, listening to this feels himself shaking. Despite his best
efforts to remain calm he realizes he is now shouting at Walter, “A
little information, like sneaking into the office of a major chemi-
cal firm in Mexico and copying their plans for the next years prod-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 7

uct development. I got the picture Walter, I think it’s called in-
dustrial spying.”
Unfazed, Walter smiles, further irritating Henry. “Calm down
Henry, no need to use such language. Let’s just say our important
literary activities are supported by friends that appreciate a lit-
tle information now and then.”
Henry takes a deep breath and clenches his hands as Walter con-
tinues, “A well known science journalist like yourself is welcome in
many places, so it is a small thing for you to supply interesting
information. After all, isn’t that your job?”
Henry slowly lets the air out of his lungs and thinks, what’s
the use, losing his temper with Walter never led anywhere. From the
look on Walter’s face he could see that he even enjoyed Henry’s an-
ger. No doubt he took satisfaction in watching Henry try to wriggle
out of the trap he found himself in.
Now throwing up his hands in a gesture of surrender, Henry says,
“Enough Walter, just tell me what you want.”
Sitting back in his chair and exuding benevolence, Walter con-
tinues, “Henry, I believe that I have a most interesting assignment
for you. I doubt that it will take any more than a month, if that
As Henry knows from past experience, the apparent assignment
would be something plausible for a science journal to work on. He
just hopes it will be more comfortable than his recent fiasco south
of the border. To emphasize this Henry says, “Okay, but I’m not go-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 8

ing back to some third world country where I can end up sweating my
life away in a jail cell without plumbing.”
Walter laughs, “I don’t think you need worry, from what I have
heard Sweden’s jails are quite comfortable.”
Henry is quite familiar with Europe, but has only a passing ac-
quaintance with Sweden. As far as he knew it is a pleasant place
that has avoided trouble by keeping a low profile. Aside from watch-
ing their King give out Noble Prizes he couldn’t think of any reason
a science journalist would go there.
“What’s interesting in Sweden?”
“Though it’s a small country they are quite advanced in methods
of energy conservation. To cut down on oil imports they have been
experimenting with the extraction of geothermal energy, specifically
on the use of heat pumps to warm homes and factories.”
Henry is not impressed, he knows Walter has something else in
mind and says, “That’s news to me. I don’t see that heat pumps are
all that exciting, it’s an old technology and very prosaic. Off hand
I don’t see much interest in this.”
“Have faith in yourself, I’m sure you’ll find an angle, some-
thing connected with overcoming the world oil shortage perhaps?”
Henry scratches his chin, an old habit that gives him time to
think. “I guess, but it’s not going to be easy. Now tell me the real
reason for this assignment.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 9

Walter laughs and says, “Somehow I thought you would ask me
that. I wish I could, I know very little and that’s why someone with
your abilities is needed. A friend of mine has heard rumors that
someone in Sweden is playing with a new technology that can obtain
enormous amounts of energy from geothermal sources. I want you to
see if those rumors are true. If they are I want to know the techni-
cal details.”
After some more chin scratching Henry replies, “I scarcely know
where to begin, I thought all the exciting developments in energy
production were connected with fusion devices.”
“So did I, but my friend is very sure that something very impor-
tant is happening that is quite different. He said it could provide
energy for centuries to come.”
Despite his reservations, Henry is intrigued. He well knows that
the word ‘friend’ is a code word. The so called friend is either
Walter’s boss, or a customer. He wished he knew which. It didn’t
take a genius to know that an effectively unlimited source of energy
lay underfoot. Hundreds of kilometers down the earth is molten,
heated by internal radioactivity. This was the energy driving the
motion of tectonic plates and volcanos. It is certainly enormous,
but also inaccessible. No known methods could penetrate to the
depths needed. But Walter’s so called friends usually had privy to
information denied most people. Something interesting could indeed
be happening.
“Okay Walter, you’ve got my attention. But if I find something
important I want to write about it.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 10

“That’s no problem Henry, but of course you must give my friend
time to enjoy the use of what you find, then it’s yours to write
Henry realizes once again that he will do Walter’s bidding. Off-
hand he doesn’t see any risks, he never does. The rest of their con-
versation covers the details of Henry’s assignment, travel and liv-
ing arrangements and the hiring of any local research help he would
need. As he didn’t speak or read Swedish, he would need such assis-
Leaving the office, Henry is surprised to note that his head
feels clear, the headache gone. It would be fun to get out of New
York for a while. The women in Sweden have a reputation for beauty,
not an undesirable attribute in any assistant he might recruit. The
idea of having some long legged Swedish blond working for him also
had its attractions. Frequent travel and the secretiveness of the
work he was doing for Walter was a poor recipe for a lasting rela-
tionship. Ten years ago, when he had started working with what he
thought was Walter’s literary agency, a lasting relationship was far
from his mind. But lately he has become more aware of age and a per-
haps irrational desire for a family life. He wonders, does Walter
have a family life? Oddly, despite their long acquaintance he knew
remarkably little about Walter. The man was uncannily effective in
avoiding the revelation of anything about his personal life. Henry
just hopes that at the very least Walter is working for and not
against the US government. Somehow he had to slip out of the man’s
grasp. For a moment he imagines himself as a political refugee in
Stockholm. Is there an extradition treaty between the US and Sweden?
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 11

He recalls that a number of deserters from the US army fled to Swe-
den in the Vietnam era. He would soon find out. First a quick trip
to his Manhattan apartment to pack and to fetch his passport, then
off to Newark airport to catch the evening flight to Stockholm. One
thing about Walter, he didn’t waste time.
Simply a Job
Greta takes a last long look at her makeup and straightens her
blouse and skirt before pushing the door signal. She has nothing to
worry about she tells herself. She had more than enough qualifica-
tions for the job, and while she doesn’t like to think her appear-
ance should be a factor, being realistic she knows that she can
score points in that department. Normally she wears jeans, but maybe
today a short skirt would help clench the job. Still interviews make
her nervous, and she wants this job. Connecting with a well known
journalist could be just the edge she needs. Even so she hates to
be judged, especially by prospective male employers. Her father was
always quick to correct her language or deportment. He said that’s
the only way you can improve. The door swung open and a moderately
handsome youngish man, only slightly taller than herself, motions
for her to enter. In a pleasantly deep voice he says with a slight
frown, “Miss Simon?” Greta nods in the affirmative and replies, “I’m
here to see Mr. Brenner about a possible assistant’s job.” The man,
a frown on his face, says, “I’m Henry Brenner and you’re late.”
Greta knows this is true, due to a delay on the Stockholm under-
ground or T-Bana. She decides not to give any excuse, if she doesn’t
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 12

get this job she would find some other edge. Her father said, “Never
excuse yourself, it’s a sign of weakness.” Why was she always think-
ing about what her father said? Wasn’t that a sign of weakness?
“Sorry,” she says, “It couldn’t be helped.” Brenner responds,
“If you’re going to work for me you should know that I demand
promptness, anyway please call be Henry, I hate the Mr. Brenner
stuff.” Greta doesn’t know if this is a positive sign or not. So far
she is far from pleased with this prospective employer. Maybe she
should just turn around and go. He’s rude, but he doesn’t look too
bad. Does he notice her short skirt? She should’ve worn jeans.
Greta follows Brenner, or Henry, into the living room. She no-
tices that the apartment’s furnishing matches its posh location on
Strandvagen, across from Stockholm’s Grand Hotel. Henry observes her
look and says, “Don’t be too impressed with this place, I only have
it on short term rental and it goes on my expense account.” The
frown was now gone from Henry’s face and Greta was beginning to feel
more comfortable as she plunked down into a softly padded chair. Her
father was right, act confident and half the battle is won. And now
she is sure Henry is studying her legs, though he’s trying not to be
too obvious. She should get this job on her merits not her legs.
Henry picks up the folder containing her resume and leafs
through it while she sits there, trying to look cool and composed.
Finally he looks up and says, “Your qualifications are impressive,
perhaps too impressive for the job. You do understand that it is a
short term position?”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 13

She had expected this so she replies, “Yes, the advertisement
said you needed an assistant for three months to help in your re-
search, and that the applicant should be fluent in Swedish and Eng-
lish.” Henry nods and says, “Correct. I will probably be here for a
month, but I will need you for follow up activities for another two
Greta notes the use of “you” directed at her and wonders if this
means she has the job, and now she is sure Henry is looking care-
fully at her legs. Henry continues, “I still want to know why some-
one with your qualifications wants this job?” Greta composes herself
and says, “My recent doctoral degree is in international relations
but I’m very interested in both science and journalism and hope to
pursue a career that involves all three of these disciplines.”
Henry strokes his chin and replies, “And how does my work fit
into this?” Greta takes a breath and answers, “You are a respected
journalist that specializes in science, which covers two out of
three of my interests. I have read several of your books and I feel
I could learn a lot by working with you.”
Henry once more strokes his chin, and Greta was now sure she
didn’t have a chance for the job, despite her legs. Then she hears,
“That’s good enough for me, Greta, your hired.” For a moment she
thinks it’s a dismissal before the word hired impacts her. Then she
smiles and says, “When do I start?” Henry replies, “Very good,
that’s the sort of answer I wanted to hear. How about right now,
I’ve already wasted enough time interviewing.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 14

Exiting the T-Bana at the Tekniska Högskola station, Henry casts
his eyes over his new assistant. To his surprise he had not hired
what he thought of as a typical Swedish looking woman. Her eyes are
blue and her hair more brown than blonde. In the end he had opted
for competence, and despite her deviations from the Swedish norm,
Greta was missing nothing in the looks department. Most of the Swed-
ish women dressed very casually for work and slacks or even jeans
seemed to be the norm. It was a pleasant surprise when Greta turned
up for the interview, the first to be wearing a skirt. As they
walked up the hill toward the campus he turns to her and asks, “Did
this professor Grenqvist tell you how to find his office?” Greta
laughs, he likes that.
“I took some of my science courses here and can certainly find
my way around. It’s a ten minute walk to the mining science building
so we have plenty of time.”
Henry pulls his coat collar up against the chilly autumn weather
and sets himself to following her quick pace. She certainly is in
good condition, he thinks, finding himself working to keep up her
pace. “It’s a pretty dreary place, this Royal Institute of Technol-
ogy,” he remarks. He expected anything with Royal in the title to be
a little more upbeat looking. Greta again laughs and replies, “We
Swedes are a somber and serious people. What do you expect of an en-
gineering school?” Henry decides to change the subject, “Since you
attended courses here, do you know anything about this Grenqvist?”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 15

“I never heard of him, mining science was not one of my inter-
ests. I don’t think it’s a very popular subject these days.” Henry
in his thoughts agrees with this but continues, “From what I’ve read
about Sweden, a lot of it’s wealth came from mining. Of course that
was in the past.” Greta shakes her head in affirmation and says,
“There’s still a lot going on, mostly iron mining in the far north
near Kiruna.”
The mining science building looks deserted, but they easily lo-
cate Grenqvist’s office after negotiating the empty corridors.
Grenqvist, an older man with an almost Max von Sydow look, greets
them cordially. For a moment Henry feels like he’s inside an older
Ingemar Bergman film. From the musty feel of the office any visitor
must be a treat to this old style professor from another age.
After some quick introductions and polite chatter, Grenqvist of-
fers them both coffee from a thermos by his desk. Greta readily ac-
cepts, so Henry follows suit. Without cream or sugar Henry finds the
black brew awful and with some effort he forces down a few sips.
Grenqvist now turns his grey bearded face toward Henry and says,
“I’m flattered to be visited by such a well known journalist as
yourself Mr. Brenner, however I’m at a loss. I can’t imagine what
you want to talk to about. My field is not exactly in the glamourous
Henry can’t agree more. The man is most likely long past the
point of doing cutting edge technical work, and Henry doesn’t expect
much from this interview. However the file Walter had given him in-
dicated that Brenner might have information that would lead him to
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 16

the mysterious new energy source. Henry, as usual in his interviews,
decides to take an indirect approach. “Your work may be more inter-
esting to the public than you realize Professor Grenqvist.”
The man smiled as if Henry had made a bad joke, “Really, well
maybe you should tell that to the ministry of education. I retire in
two months and they have decided not to replace me. Mining science
is moving to a school in the far north.”
Thinking of the empty building, Henry could see the reason for
this, but he is here to get information not to express his opinions,
so he replies, “I’m sure that eventually they will see their mis-
take. With the coming oil shortage the country will need people who
understand mining, rock drilling and tunneling.”
Grenqvist, looking pleased, nods in agreement and replies, “They
will learn, but alas much will be lost in the process. But what do
you want from me?” Henry glances at Greta, who is absorbed in taking
notes as he had instructed her. He had found that an assistant tak-
ing notes was much less intrusive in an interview than pulling out a
recorder. Of course Greta also carried a hidden recorder in her
purse, but subjects tended not to suspect that a note taking assis-
tant would be recording their conversation. Henry pulls his atten-
tion back to Grenqvist’s question and replies, “I’m interested in
the applications of your work to heat pump technology. I understand
that recently you have consulted on improving the heat pump instal-
lation process.” Henry’s plan was to use this uninteresting work as
a ploy to put Grenqvist at his ease. After a suitable time listening
to the man hold forth Henry decides to pursue his real interest.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 17

“I understand that you used to work in Switzerland. I didn’t
know that mining was an important industry there?” Grenqvist nods
and says, “Your right, it’s not. The most worthwhile ores are in the
bank vaults, and the Swiss don’t like you drilling into them.” Henry
forces himself to laugh at the joke and says, “My readers like to
know about the people side of science so it would be helpful to have
some information about your past. So aside from mining bank vaults
what were you doing there?”
Grenqvist seems hesitant to answer and there is a long silence
while he and Greta look inquiringly at the man. Finally he says, “I
don’t mean to sound overly dramatic Mr.Brenner, but as an American
I’m sure you understand that both companies and states have their
secrets.” This was not going to be easy, Henry ponders, as he tries
to think of a way to get Grenqvist to talk. Composing his thoughts
Henry says, “I don’t need specific information Professor, only a
general idea of what you were there for.” Grenqvist now replies, “I
don’t suppose it would do any harm to give you a general idea, but I
must insist that you show me anything you write about this before
publication.” Henry adopts his most serious expression and says, “Of
course, I wouldn’t think of doing otherwise.” Grenqvist accepts this
and replies, “A Swedish company in the Wahlenberg group was inter-
ested in developing novel methods of drilling. I wish I could tell
you more but I’m contracted to secrecy on the details.” Henry now
interrupts, “Why Switzerland and not Sweden?”
“The group has several companies in Switzerland, it’s easier to
attract scientists and engineers to that country with its more sen-
sible tax policy and central European location.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 18

“Of course,” Henry agrees, knowing that Sweden has the highest
tax rate in Europe. Grenqvist continues, “The new methods they are
developing are extraordinary, I hardly believe them myself. When
they become known I’m sure you will want to write a book just about
The conversation continues on cordial terms, and Henry attempts
every interviewing trick he knows to extract more information, but
Grenqvist remains cautious and doesn’t give him anything concrete.
Finally Grenqvist glances at his watch and tells Henry and Greta
that he is sorry to end the meeting but that he has another appoint-
ment. Henry finds this hard to believe. He is now convinced that
Grenqvist knows something important to his investigation. Still, he
can’t call the man a liar, so the best policy is to go along with
him and seek other ways of obtaining the important information.
Greta packs away her notebook and the two of them leave the office.
As they exit the building they see two men, clad in leather coats,
enter. Henry hears them exchanging words in what he is sure is Rus-
sian, though he can’t make out the details of what they are talking
about. So Grenqvist did have another appointment, Henry thinks,
maybe the Russians have more use for mining science than the Swedes.
Walking back toward the T-Bana stop, Greta turns to Henry and
asks, “What was that all about?” Henry grins and says, “What do you
mean by that?” This Greta, he thinks, might be too smart, he wanted
an assistant, not a coconspirator. She replies, “Oh come on, you’re
not the slightest bit interested in mining science or heat pumps,
you want to know what Grenqvist was doing in Switzerland, right?”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 19

Henry hopes that Professor Grenqvist isn’t as astute an observer as
his new assistant.
“Okay, you got me, so what do you think?” She delay, seeming to
be lost in thought before she replies, “I think that man is scared
of something. He wanted to tell you more, but he’s afraid to.”
“Of course he’s afraid to say too much, he’s under financial
contract.” Greta frowns, “No, it’s more than that, the man is really
scared, scared for his life.” Henry laughs, “Your too dramatic, your
reading much too much into this.” Greta, looks annoyed, and doesn’t
say anything further. In silence they enter the station, Henry
thinking over what Greta had said. Despite his laughter he takes it
seriously. Reviewing the conversation in his mind he realizes that,
in his attention to getting information from the Professor, he had
missed the indications of fear that Greta had noticed. Good, he
thinks, I’m on the right track. Walter will be pleased, bless his
wicked heart.
Working Overtime
Greta is confused. Her understanding was that Henry’s research
was about the use of alternative energy sources in Sweden, but the
interview with Grenqvist had focused on something going on in Swit-
zerland. And the man was scared. Henry must have noticed this, it
was so obvious. Why had he brushed off her comment about this? There
is more to this than he had told her. Aside from that, she finds
herself enjoying Henry’s company. He is proving to be a more inter-
esting person than she had counted on. Even so she is not happy with
some of the things he has asked her to do. She thought that hiding a
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 20

recorder in her purse while pretending that she was taking notes was
borderline ethics at best.
Henry had gone off on some errand or other, he was not specific,
so she is alone in his apartment. Typing up the notes and transcript
from the interview goes by quickly. Henry had indicated that he had
some need of her services so she doesn’t want to leave before he re-
turns. As she walks out to the kitchen to fetch a drink of water she
notices just how bare the place is of anything personal. Typical of
a temporary residence, even in such a high class part of the city.
The door to Henry’s bedroom is ajar. There’s nothing wrong in taking
a look inside, she tells herself. To her surprise the room is a
mess. Somehow she thought Henry would be neat and tidy, probably be-
cause he is careful about his appearance. Should she tidy it up? Af-
ter all she is his assistant, and Henry had said nothing about
avoiding the room. Just then she hears the front door open and turns
to see Henry looking at her, a boyish grin on his face. Against her
will she blushes, realizing how she looks standing in the doorway to
his bedroom. Without a word Henry walks over to her, closes the bed-
room door and nods his head in a no, no gesture. He says, “Mustn’t
look in your employer’s bed.” Greta composes herself as best she
can and replies, “Just checking to see how many women you had in
there.” Henry, still grinning, says, “I only have one woman at a
time, and usually after my assistant has gone home.” Greta, now com-
posed, replies, “I’m relieved, now I don’t have to check up as of-
ten.” Henry, looking more serious says, “The fact is Greta, I’m glad
to see you are curious enough about me to consider looking over my
personal effects. By all means feel free to do so.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 21

Greta doesn’t know how to react to this, she really doesn’t
think she would have searched through his possessions, though the
thought of doing so occurred to her. She would understand if Henry
is very annoyed and even if he fires her on the spot. After all most
people don’t want the hired help in their personal business. But
Henry seems glad that she considered intruding on his business.
Henry now looks at his watch and says, “It’s late, how about me
treating you to some dinner?” At first Greta thinks this weird
enough and she should excuse herself and go home, then thinks better
of it. “I’d love that,” she says. Henry asks, “You’re the expert on
this city, where would you like to eat? I’m on expense account so
don’t worry about the cost.” Greta says, “Let me think about it.
What kind of food would you like?” In what she now sees is a charac-
teristic gesture, Henry strokes his chin and says, “Something typi-
cally Swedish.” Greta smiles and says, “Then it’s easy. We can go to
one of Gamla stan’s cellar restaurants like Gyllene Freden.”
“Sounds great, call up and make the reservations. And I hope you
don’t mind talking business over dinner.” Greta reaches for her cell
phone, “You’re the boss, and as you said, it’s on the expense ac-
“You weren’t kidding when you called this place a cellar,” Henry
tells Greta as they descend into the white walled cave of Gyllene
Freden. Henry notes that she looks delighted by his response to her
choice of restaurant. “I thought you’d like it. It’s a fitting loca-
tion for a writer.” Henry is puzzled by this, “Why, do you think
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 22

writers should be chained to the walls of deep cellars?” Greta
laughs and replies, “Probably not a bad idea, but that’s not what I
As they sit down in a cozy corner in the restaurant’s depths,
Greta explains that it is also the meeting place of the Swedish
Academy of Literature. Now Henry laughs, “I’m not too likely a can-
didate for any such august body, writing popular science books.”
With a mischievous look Greta replies, “I don’t know about that,
some might think you were writing fiction.” Henry frowns, thinking
that in some ways she is correct.
“That was very cruel. How long have you been working for me
now?” Greta assuming a grave expression says, “Please don’t fire me
master, I need the money for my poor mother.”
Henry likes her irreverent attitude, so the conversation flows
easily throughout dinner. He learns that her father came to Sweden
as a child before the Second World War, his Jewish parents lost in
the holocaust. That explains her non Swedish sounding name of Simon,
he thinks. In turn he relates how he was brought up in Manhattan,
the only child of bookish parents. When she asks why he has taken up
science writing, he explains how a research career in physics seemed
too dull to him. He edits out how Walter had sought him out at Cor-
nell and convinced him to consider a writing career. Meanwhile the
food and wine flows freely and Henry finds himself feeling relaxed
with someone for the first time in years. As they drink their cof-
fee, Greta says, “I’ve really enjoyed the evening, despite the fact
that we were supposed to talk about business.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 23

With a start, Henry realizes that he has entirely forgotten his
purpose in taking her out to eat. Feeling a bit guilty he says, “I
was having too good a time, but you are right, I do have some busi-
ness to discuss with you. I assume you entered the notes on
Grenqvist into the computer?” Greta replies, “I had just finished
when you came in and caught me staring into your bedroom.” Henry now
lowers his voice and says, “Tell me what you thought about the in-
terview.” Greta replies also in a hushed done, “Why are we talking
like this?” Henry smiles and says, “Because ears are everywhere and
I’m a paranoid.”
“Okay, I can believe that. I told you before, the man was
frightened. I don’t think he wanted to talk about his time in Swit-
zerland.” Henry nods in agreement, “That’s my conclusion also, he’s
hiding something.” Henry is surprised to see that this last state-
ment brings him an angry glance from Greta, who says, “So why did
you laugh it off when I said he was scared this afternoon?”
“Sorry, but now that I’ve given more thought to the interview I
can see you were right. He’s hiding something and we have to find
out what it is.”
Greta, now looking more puzzled than angry, asks, “Henry, I
thought you were researching energy conservation, so what does it
matter what he did in Switzerland?”
Henry thinks, I hardly know her, and I’m going to ask her to do
something criminal. Hell, I’ve no choice. Continuing he says, “I’m
convinced there is some strong connection with what he did in Swit-
zerland and something in Sweden, but there is one sure way of find-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 24

ing out.” After a pause to sip his coffee Henry continues, “We have
to know what he’s hiding.”
Now Greta speaks, “And how are we going to do that?” Henry notes
she has adopted “we”, which encourages him. “Greta, we are going to
visit his office at the Royal Institute and look over his papers.” G
“He won’t let you see his unedited papers Henry, and I don’t
think even you can convince him.” Henry grins, “You’re right, that’s
why we will pay our visit tonight.”
Henry is not surprised to see Greta’s reaction to this. Leaning
forward, tension evident in her posture, she whispers, “You can’t be
serious Henry, you’re not going to break in to the man’s office?”
Henry smiles, “That’s exactly what I’m going to do and I want you to
go with me.” Henry can’t read her response to this proposition. She
just stays silent while Henry worries he might have underestimated
the appeal of adventure to her. Then she says, “Is this part of sci-
entific journalism?”
He breaths an inner sigh of relief, I’ve got her, he tells him-
self. “If you want to be successful in journalism you have to go
where the story is, and sometimes that involves risk and even break-
ing a few laws, so the answer is yes.” Though Greta looks doubtful
he is sure he has hooked her interest. She says, “What if we get
caught? I have my career in Sweden to think of.”
Henry gives her a broad grin, “We won’t get caught, you’d be
surprised how good I’m at this sort of thing.” Greta doesn’t look
convinced but she asks, “Why do you need me?”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 25

Henry takes her hand in his and says, “I need someone to hold my
hand when I break the law, besides I don’t understand Swedish and
you do. I need you to help read any documents we find.”
Greta seems to mull this over before she replies, “I’m still not
sure I can do such a thing.”
Henry decides it’s time to take a new approach. “Greta, you said
yourself that the man was scared. If so he needs help. If we find
out what’s frightening him, well you see what I mean.” Greta now
nods in agreement and says, “We might be able to help him.” Henry
replies, “Exactly”. Now he thinks, I’ve really got her, the old ap-
peal to altruism. To his amazement he also knows that he doesn’t
want any harm to come to her. It’s just a simple break in to an aca-
demics office, child’s play for him. She’ll be quite safe. She’ll
enjoy the adventure. Henry now looks at his watch and says, “I think
it’s late enough to pay a return visit to the mining science build-
ing, the architecture I suspect is better viewed in the dark.”
Night Visitors
Greta doesn’t know if she is impressed or horrified at how rap-
idly Henry manages to overcome the alarm system. Within a minute
they are inside the dark and empty mining science building. Henry
motions to her to remain quiet and whispers, “They probably have a
night watchman, so be as silent as you can.”
Greta nods, already feeling butterflies in her stomach. How had
this guy talked her into this? All she needs is a police record.
Henry produces a small flashlight and they make their way to
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 26

Grenqvist’s office. Henry could earn a good living as a burglar, he
certainly is equipped for it. The excitement is exhilarating, some-
thing she had not expected. At the same time the thought of how her
elderly parents would react if she got caught nags at her.
“Here we are,” Henry whispers. “Strange,” he says, “The door is
open.” Greta can see that the door to Grenqvist’s office is slightly
ajar. For the first time since they entered the building, Henry has
a concerned look on his face. What if Grenqvist is sleeping in the
office? Gingerly, Henry pushes open the door and sweeps the beam of
his flashlight around the room. Greta sees that the place is a jun-
gle of books and papers.
She also sees that despite the cold there are now beads of sweat
on Henry’s face as he says, “It looks like we’re not the first to be
curious about the doings of the Professor.”
In her opinion, this would be a good time to abandon the pro-
ject. Whoever did this might be watching them now. A run in with the
law is one thing, meeting fellow law violators has no appeal for
her. Henry, still sweating visibly himself, says, “Don’t panic.”
Holding her by the arm he pushes his way into the cluttered office.
As they approach Grenqvist’s desk Henry turns, grabs Greta and
presses a hand tightly over her mouth. Her natural reaction is to
fight back, is the man assaulting her? Then she notices the body.
The form of a man is lying on the floor behind the desk. Henry says,
“Don’t scream, I think it’s Grenqvist.” Greta clamps down on her
emotions. Suppressing the urge to scream she pulls Henry’s hand from
her mouth.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 27

There is a pool of blood near the head on the floor. It clearly
is Grenqvist. The grey beard is now red, stained with blood flowing
from an ugly head wound. Greta, once more has to suppress an urge to
scream. One of Grenqvist’s eye’s has been gouged out of it’s socket.
the eyeball is hanging loosely from the corpse’s head. She has never
seen a dead person, much less one in such a grisly condition. Henry
points to a nearby statue lying on the floor. It looks like some
sort of award that academic societies present to honor the accom-
plishments of their members. Henry says, “My guess is that whoever
did this also tortured the old boy, they wanted something from him
pretty badly. When they were finished with him they used that statue
to finish him off.”
Greta now clasps her own hand over her mouth. She tries to stop
herself from shaking even as she notices that Henry is not even
sweating any more. In a tremulous voice she says, “Let’s get out of
Henry is exuding a confidence that she finds both annoying and
comforting. He answers, “Not before we search for whatever might
have been missed by whoever did this. Grenqvist’s knowledge was im-
portant to somebody, so it’s important to us.”
She wants to get out of the room and away from the sight of
Grenqvist’s deformed face, but her interest and her pride is
aroused. She is not going to allow herself to break apart in front
of Henry. She’ll find a way to deal with her involvement in this
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 28

Henry pulls two pair of latex gloves out of a pocket and hands a
set to Greta. The way he is acting she can see that this is not the
first time he has done something like this.
He says, “With luck we may find something that whoever did this
missed. She reluctantly agrees and casts her eye’s about the chaos
of books and papers. Henry seems to be doing the same as he speaks
to her, “The best way to hide something is to make it look ordinary
and out in the open, so look for the obvious and the mundane.”
Henry grabs some papers off the desk, looks at them and asks her
to interpret the Swedish. There are also some items in Russian, but
he doesn’t ask her help with these. After about fifteen minutes of
this she still feels her heart beating, and is sure she will soon be
explaining to the police and her mother that she is not a murderer.
Then she notices something strange about an atlas lying on the
floor. The book is closed but the alignment of the pages doesn’t
look right. She opens the book to the misaligned pages and sees that
they aren’t maps. The maps are gone, replaced by carefully inserted
sheets of paper. She nudges Henry and points to the open book. A
look of delight flashes across his face and he squeezes her around
the waist.
Despite the tension of the situation she feels herself respond-
ing to this gesture of affection. I must be crazy, she tells her-
self, this is not the time to think about sex.
Excitedly Henry begins to examine the material she had uncov-
ered. Just then she hears a dog bark, and Henry exclaims, “Night
watchman, we have to get out of here. Now!” He grabs the entire at-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 29

las and pulls her into the empty corridor. The dog’s barking in-
creases, both in loudness and frequency, as they flee. Approaching
the exit Henry holds her back. “We have to find another way out,” he
says. Before she can ask why she notices the dark shape of a dog
near what must be a prone figure of a man. “We don’t want to hassle
with that animal now,” Henry whispers. “My guess is that the previ-
ous visitor encountered the watchman and his dog, which means he may
also still be around.”
Greta, who is now beginning to shake, is amazed by Henry’s cool-
ness. He must be made of ice. After a few minutes of searching Henry
finds another exit. Again he performs some magic on the alarm sys-
tem. She doesn’t know if her trembling is due to the cold night air
or her reaction to what’s just happened. It is a minor relief to her
that she sees no other person in the street. Henry pushes her into
shadow as they make their way to the T-Bana station. Greta wants to
say something, but somehow can’t bring herself to speak. The adrena-
lin rush of breaking into Grenqvist’s office is wearing off and the
enormity of what had just happened sinks in. Excitement gaves way to
doubt. Why had she gotten involved in this? Is in awe of Henry and
his fame? At the same time she is practical enough to appreciate the
implications of what had just happened. Not only had they been in-
volved in a criminal break in, they had fled the scene of a murder.
Why they could even be accused of being the murderers? Greta reviews
her actions, did she touch the statue that had bashed in Grenqvist’s
head? Suddenly she realized she is still wearing the latex gloves
Henry had given her in the office. She wants to sob as she pulls
them from her hands. This morning she was looking forward to a bril-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 30

liant career, and now she is on the verge of becoming a murder sus-
pect. Irrationally she clutches Henry tighter.
Once again Walter has gotten him into a mess. Henry had read
enough spy novels to know how ordinary people are converted into
agents, the dupes of the spy game. Ordinary people who are preyed
upon by people like Walter. First they make friends with you, in-
dulge you, listen to your troubles, probe for your weaknesses. Then
they ask you to do small favors, maybe take some minor chances on
their behalf. Like a trained animal you are rewarded, sometimes ma-
terially and sometimes emotionally. You began to depend on the per-
son, to feel grateful for their attention and sympathy. Walter had
played him like a fish on a thin line. Sure, the rewards are great,
at least if you don’t get caught. He loved the life Walter had given
him. Could he have done it on his own? Walter had nurtured him as an
author and science journalist. Every path had been smoothed for him.
He knew plenty of talented people, maybe more so than he, who had
not made it. He is all to aware of how easy it had been for him. So
here he is, breaking into buildings like a pro, hell he is a pro,
Walter had seen to that. Not only is he doing Walter’s dirty work,
he is involving other innocents in the web of intrigue and danger.
He could feel Greta hanging on to his arm, shaking. What had she
done to deserve this? Simple, she was working for him, Mr. Bad News.
She hasn’t said a word since they boarded the train. Now in the
elevator, carrying them to the elegant apartment, she clung tightly
to him. She must be scared out of her wits. A break in, a deformed
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 31

corps, and the sight of the night watchman on the floor near his dog
was reason enough. I hope that whatever is in this book is worth it.
Worth it, what was he thinking? He hasn’t the slightest idea who
Walter works for. Here he is, risking his and Greta’s life, for
what? Some monster company that wanted information about God knows
what? The CIA?
At last he closes the door to the apartment. Safe? Maybe. Who-
ever ransacked the office and murdered Grenqvist was still around
when they left. If he and Greta had been seen, they could be in im-
minent danger. He places the atlas on a coffee table and pours two
glasses of scotch. He hates scotch, but the bottle is handy, left as
a gift by the apartment manager.
Seating himself and Greta on a plush sofa he holds the glass to
her full lips and trickles some of the whiskey into her mouth. She
coughs, but manages to get a measurable amount down. He takes a big
gulp of the whiskey himself. Normally he the taste would bother him
but at the moment he doesn’t even notice it. “Greta,” he says, hop-
ing that the sound of her name will calm her down. Holding her, she
feels warm and helpless. Despite the gravity of their situation,
Henry feels himself becoming aroused. With her long dark brown hair,
greenish eyes and long legs, Henry thinks, it would be odd not to
feel some attraction. He recalls how much he had enjoyed talking to
her in the restaurant, staring into those eyes. He certainly hadn’t
begun the evening with any idea of seducing her, but now she was
clinging to him, obviously in some distress from the evening’s expe-
rience. She is now as involved as he. He can’t just send her home
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 32

after what has happened. After all, the murderer may be waiting out-
side the building. No, she has to stay here tonight.
Suddenly he feels Greta tugging at his tie, drawing him closer
to her. Without any conscious intention he finds his lips meeting
hers. For the moment his nagging thoughts leave him. He picks her up
from the sofa, kicks open the door to the apartment’s well appointed
bedroom, and softly lays her on the bed. Greta is now moaning softly
and pulling at his belt. They are now both in a frenzy, discarding
their clothes and ripping aside the bed’s covers. Henry is now fo-
cused on Greta’s beautiful form as she pulls him tightly against
her, stroking his back. The cares of the world fade, at least for
the moment.
The Morning After
As the sunlight falls across her closed eyelids, Greta becomes
aware of the dawning day. At first she feels peaceful and content.
Then the memories of the previous night rush in on her. She turns to
see Henry’s sleeping form lying next to her. Two days working for
the guy and I’m sleeping with him, she thinks. I must be nuts. I am
nuts. What kind of person am I involved with? Greta recalls how cool
Henry seemed when they discovered the mutilated body of the dead
professor. How he had easily overcome locks and alarm systems. These
were the skills of a master criminal or some kind of spy. No more
did she believe this man was simply an author. She has no idea what
he is after, but whatever it is, dangerous and ruthless people are
involved. She was so upset last night, she had ended up in Henry’s
bed, clinging to him like a life raft. Sure she admired the guy,
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 33

maybe, but last night she had acted like a ninny. Imagine sleeping
with someone because you’re scared. It just didn’t fit her image.
Henry stirred beside her. Soon he would be awake. Should she
get dressed and flee the apartment, and Henry? No, that would really
be the act of a ninny. Besides her curiosity has been aroused, and
for better or worse she has to satisfy it. Why had someone taken the
trouble to murder an old retiring professor? Worse, why had they
tortured him? What could he possibly have known that would lead to
such an horrendous act? She is a sucker for mystery. Also she
doesn’t want Henry to think she’s a scared mouse. She has to recover
her dignity, starting now.
She shakes Henry, “Get up Mr. Lazy,” she says. Henry groans and
turns over. She shakes him some more and finally he opens his eyes.
She can see the memories of the night returning as he suddenly sits
up and looks at her. “Feeling better,” she says. She is determined
to act tough and courageous, after all that’s how she really is, or
at least she was before last night.
He grasps her arm tightly and says, “What happened between us
last night, I’m sorry, you know, I didn’t mean to do anything im-
At first she is astonished by this, after all that has happened
and he is worried about them sleeping together. This is absurd. She
laughs and says, “You Americans are such prudes, all we did was
sleep together. No big deal here.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 34

Henry looks first confused than slightly annoyed. “You seemed
very upset and one thing led to another, you know.”
Greta knows it was as much her doing as his, why is he acting so
guilty? Yesterday he was so cool and calculating and now he is
apologetic over nothing. “Henry, you’re a handsome man and I needed
a little comfort last night. I’m not used to prowling around corpses
and picking up bloody eyeballs.” She watches as Henry strokes his
chin, he must be a rotten poker player with a tell like that. After
a few moments of this he finally speaks.
“You look very composed at the moment, I was worried about you,
believe me I was.”
Again Greta laughs and says, “Was, past tense, you mean you’re
not worried about me now?”
Henry laughs, “I guess not, you seem to recover quickly.”
Greta jumps out of bed as Henry reaches for her, evading him and
throwing on Henry’s white toweled robe. “You’re the host,” she says,
“I’m going to take a shower while you make breakfast.”
Henry pulls various unfamiliar Swedish breakfast delicacies such
as thick sour milk and a metallic tube of something called caviar
from the fridge, though to him the red grainy paste looks more like
mustard than caviar. He knows he should be thinking about what hap-
pened to Grenqvist and why. Instead his mind is fixated on his new
assistant. He is definitely getting too close to her. Last night she
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 35

had seemed so vulnerable, now suddenly she’s all business. In his
experience it was he who called the shots in any relationship. But
this Greta is different. He still feels guilty about drawing her
into Walter’s web of intrigue, but he has to protect himself. His
problems with Walter are complex enough so he better keep some dis-
tance from this woman. Why is he even thinking about this. He only
has known her for one day. Whatever had passed between them was
probably due to the stress of what had happened. She was awfully
casual about there sleeping together.
Looking up from his efforts to use the unfamiliar coffee machine
he sees her entering the kitchen. She is adorned in one of his
shirts which reveal the lines of her body in an all too tantalizing
a manner. She comes over pushes him away from the machine.
“Let me,” she says, “brilliant as you’re, you don’t know how to
use one of these.”
Soon they are seated and Henry watches her digging into the un-
familiar foods with gusto. The so-called caviar is far too salty for
Henry’s taste. Swedish breakfast food didn’t come up to his normal
hot buttered croissant followed by a cup of espresso. Henry gulps
down a whole glass of orange juice to wash away the taste. Looking
up he sees Greta grinning at him. Then they both laugh.
“So, boss, what’s next?” Greta says, her voice garbled by a
mouth full of thick sour milk. Henry knocks himself on the head, he
is really getting stupid and has completely forgotten about the book
sitting on the living room coffee table. All that trouble to get it
and he forgets about it.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 36

“We have to study the papers you discovered in that atlas, soon
as we finish breakfast.”
With the salty taste of the caviar still in his mouth Henry
takes a sip from the cup of coffee Greta has set in front of him.
Without exception it’s the worst coffee he has ever tasted. Trying
to avoid a grimace, he puts the cup down and says, “On second
thought let’s get to it right away.”
Greta sits down next to him as he opens the doctored atlas to
the inserted pages. This consists of some crudely drawn maps, and a
lot of notes in Swedish. Even if he could understand Swedish the il-
legible handwriting presents its own obstacle. He can see Greta
squint as she struggles with interpreting the squiggles. Impatiently
Henry watches. “Well, what does it say?”
Greta looks up and rubs her eyes. “It’s not easy to read, it al-
most looks like whoever wrote it didn’t want anyone to read it.”
Henry grabs the book from her and looks at the map. He can see
a number of marked positions. Their relative placements are clearly
noted. Henry can also make out the something in English, which after
a few moments he can read. The group of marks have the label, “Pri-
mary Injection Sites.” What does that mean? Injection of what? For
all he knows this stuff has nothing to do with what he is looking
Finally Greta grabs his hand and points out some of the words
she has been looking at. “As far as I can make out this is something
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 37

about an experiment carried out in Northern Sweden, above the polar
Henry doesn’t hide his disappointment. “Is that all you can get
from this?” he asks.
“No,” she replies, “their is more, something about heat and en-
ergy.” Heat is energy, Henry thinks, but he doesn’t mention this to
Greta. Right now he is not concerned with the fine points of phys-
ics. “Anything else?” he asks.
“It’s really hard to read, given time I might be able to get
something more out of it. I think there is something about the town
of Luleå, but I can’t be sure.” Henry repeats, “Luleå, I never heard
of it. What do you know about the place?”
“It’s way up north, but below the arctic circle. I’ve never been
north of Uppsala, sixty kilometers north of here, so I don’t have
any personal experience with the place.”
Henry is now fully occupied by the puzzle of unraveling what’s
in the book. He forgets about his attraction to Greta, who morphs
into someone he’s hired to do a job and no more, and he is not in-
terested in a tourist lecture on Sweden, so with undisguised impa-
tience he asks, “Just tell me what you know and we’ll take it from
Greta, suddenly looking surly in Henry’s opinion, takes some
time to put her thoughts in order before replying. “Luleå is up on
the Gulf of Bothnia, a thousand kilometers north of Stockholm. It’s
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 38

the largest city in Norbotten, the province that covers most of the
northern part of Sweden.”
“So,” Henry says, “the maps probably refer to the north of the
Greta doesn’t reply to this but continues, “I believe the popu-
lation is about 60,000. There is also a University with a fairly
large engineering school.”
Henry ponders this last bit of information. If they have an en-
gineering school, given that mining is or was important in Sweden,
Grenqvist must have colleagues there.
“Greta, I think it’s time I see more of this country. It’s also
about time for you to see the northern part of your own land.”
He sees her looking at him, a puzzled expression on her face.
She’s not used to me yet, he thinks, finding this somehow pleasant.
“I mean we are going to pay a visit to this northern metropolis.”
Some metropolis he thinks. Where he grew up in New York there were
60,000 people in his immediate neighborhood.
“I want you to find out if Grenqvist had any colleagues, people
he may have worked with, at the University in Luleå. Contact the
most likely one and make an appointment for as soon as possible.
Then get us some flight reservations.” Greta gives him a surprised
look and says, “You want me to come along?” Henry answers, “For sev-
eral reasons, not only do I need your knowledge of Swedish, given
what’s happened I’m not leaving you alone here.” After saying this
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 39

he is pleased to see that the surly look is now gone from Greta’s
face. She’s even smiling.
“I’m touched, you want to take care of poor helpless little me.”
He likes the smile but doesn’t like being teased. Doesn’t she
realize that she is in danger? We are in danger. Being in danger
isn’t his idea of fun. “This is no TV drama, you and I are in real
trouble. Anyway get busy, I’m going to get dressed and I expect some
results soon, and that’s an order.”
Important Visitors
John is still shivering as he enters his office in the Geology
building. On mornings like this he questions his sanity. English
climate is bad enough, but not for him, no, he has to locate himself
in northern part of Sweden. Until he started his doctoral research
at Cambridge he had never heard of Luleå. Now here he is, a Profes-
sor, literally on ice. Life had its twists. The academic job market
was tight in both England and the States, so Sweden seemed like a
civilized alternative. Somehow he had not counted on a place where
snow was on the ground eight months of the year, along with nearly
complete darkness in the fall and winter. Still, he is proud of how
well he has adjusted. After only a few years here, his Swedish was
serviceable, though he continues to teach his classes in English.
There is a knock on the door and Göran Hedberg his graduate student
walks in without waiting. Manners are different here than at Cam-
bridge, a constant annoyance that he is still not adjusted to. He
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knows that the first word out of Göran’s mouth will be John’s chris-
tian name. At Cambridge it would have been Professor Pritchard, but
in modern socialist Sweden first names are the rule.
“John,” Göran says at once, “I need some help with the water
cannon, the packet velocities are not consistent with the driving
pressure.” Typical, John thinks, right down to business, no wasted
“how are you?” or the like.
“And how are you this morning Göran?” John asks with a grin.
Göran returns the grin and replies, “Sorry John, I’ve begun to think
of you as a fellow Swede, How are you John?” Mischievously John re-
plies, “Enough of the small talk, we can iron out the problems with
the water cannon later, we have another problem to deal with first.”
Göran looks mystified as John continues, “Did you ever hear the name
Henry Brenner?”
“Of course, he writes books and articles on popular science.
I’ve just read one of his pieces in Scientific American, something
about extremophiles I think.”
John recalls the article. Though his major interest was in min-
ing science and geology the article’s discussion of how life, not
dependent on photosynthesis, could flourish in unusual ecological
niches fascinated him. “Yeah, I read it too, really crazy stuff.
Anyway we are about to be honored by a visit from Mr. Brenner and
his assistant.” John is slightly astonished at how pleased his nor-
mally taciturn graduate student looks. “He’s not a movie star Göran,
don’t go all mushy on me now.”
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Göran wipes the adoring expression from his face. “Got it boss.
But what does he want with us? He usually writes about things on the
research frontier, particle accelerators or something about DNA.”
John nods in agreement, whatever Göran’s deficiencies in the
manners department he made up for with his quick intelligence, “Ex-
actly my thought, that’s why I’m surprised. I’ve no clue as to why
he wants to interview me. When I asked his assistant, all she said
he was writing a book about energy problems in Sweden. Practical,
not his usual flashy stuff.”
While saying this John can’t help thinking that this might be
his big opportunity. To be mentioned in one of Brenner’s books would
put him in the scientific big time. Maybe even lead to more research
money or a position back at Cambridge. It’s best not to think like
that, he told himself. Just do the job and enjoy the moment. If only
he could, but face it, he is ambitious and worries about being stuck
here in Luleå. Despite his professional life being fairly interest-
ing if not earth shattering, there is the question of his social
life. Bluntly he’s a single guy and there are not a lot of easy to
meet females in this town.
Pulling himself back to the moment he says, “I’d appreciate it
if you would prepare the lab for a visit, set up the water canon for
some impressive demonstration and make sure there are a few under-
graduates around. I want the place to look busy.”
Göran doesn’t react to this, still looking at John like he is
waiting for him to say something. “What is it Göran? Go and fix up
the lab.”
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“John, don’t you recall that Kirstin is supposed to take Magnus
to the hospital today, she wanted me to go along for support. I told
you about it at lunch yesterday.”
As usual John realizes his insensitivity to current Swedish cul-
ture. He doesn’t understand why both Göran and his wife are needed
to take the kid to the hospital. “Göran, this is important to us,
Brenner’s visit could mean more research money, even international
recognition. Just this once can’t Kirstin handle a hospital visit
He sees that Göran is looking at him like a whipped dog; come on
man, John thinks, your profession is important. John continues to
stare at his graduate student in silence, watching him work out some
compromise. Finally Göran replies, “I’ll try to work something our,
maybe my mom can go with Kirstin.”
The door slams shut, just a bit too hard as Göran leaves the of-
fice. John, now alone, reflects on how different it was at Cam-
bridge. If his advisor asked anything he jumped, no excuses. But he
admires Göran’s devotion to family, or is it subservience to his
wife? Not the time to figure out the Swedes, anyway John knows that
personal relations are not his cup of tea.
His thoughts return to thinking about Brenner’s upcoming visit.
John imagines seeing his own picture in Scientific American, or bet-
ter in Nature. Then, catching a glimpse of little clock on his com-
puter monitor he realizes that it’s later than he realized. He had
told Ms. Simon, Brenner’s assistant, that he would meet them at the
airport. Their plane was due in soon, and this would give him the
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chance to have lunch with Brenner. The expensive Saab he had re-
cently indulged himself in better start. He never could be sure; it
is so damn cold, he thinks. Not that it had been warm in Cambridge
during the winter. It would be nice to get back to Cambridge.
Welcome to the North
Following John into the garishly colored geology building, Henry
shakes the snow off his shoes. Considering the general whiteness in
the snow laden landscape, he could understand why someone would
paint a building a bright yellow. And I thought it was cold in
Stockholm, he thinks. The walk from the terminal building to John’s
Saab was enough to cause him to reconsider his dislike of New York’s
warm sticky summer. Anything would be preferable to this cold
place. One o’clock and already the sun is setting. No wonder so few
people lived in the Swedish north. He is already bored with John’s
monolog on the history and culture of the region. Leave it to an
Englishman to go on about such things. Greta’s constant encourage-
ments to John are almost more annoying than John himself. He has to
keep reminding himself that he is enduring this place to get the in-
formation he needs and he must suppress his natural tendency to be
Henry is at least pleased to be in the warm building and to hear
John say, “The lunchroom is still open, I suggest we get something
to eat and then I can show you around the labs.”
At last a good idea from this guy.
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Greta says, “Do we need our coats?” Henry observes John with his
serious English expression explaining that there’s an underground
passage to the cafeteria. Now, forgetting all else, Henry ponders as
to what kind of horrible new Swedish delicacy he is going to have to
pretend to like.
After negotiating the self service cafeteria line they arrange
themselve around a table in the back of the room. Soon they are
joined at their table by a tall blond Swede in his early thirties.
John says, “I’d like you to meet my best graduate student, Göran
Henry is immediately impressed by Göran’s command of English. He
can hardly detect an accent as Göran explains, with an engaging
smile, that he is John’s only current graduate student. At the same
time he notes an annoyingly pleased look on Greta’s face when she
shakes hands with the newcomer. Why should that annoy him, just be-
cause he spent one night with the woman; is he getting possessive?
John is now gushing on how flattered he is to have Henry interested
in his work. If he only knew, Henry thinks, how little interest in
it I have. He is just waiting to bring up the subject of Grenqvist
when Greta beats him to it.
“Terrible what happened to the mining science professor at the
Royal Institute, did you know him?” John hesitates, redirecting his
train of thought from impressing Henry, and says, “I knew him fairly
well, he was one of the reasons I decided to take the position here
in Luleå.”
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Göran adds, “He was quite interested in my thesis topic and
spent a lot of time visiting us. For a southerner he knew a lot
about this part of the country.”
Good for Greta, Henry thinks, at last we are getting down to
business. John now starts to talk about Göran’s work and Henry gives
an inner groan as he plunges another fork full of reindeer meat into
his mouth. To his surprise the food is to his liking, though he had
never thought of reindeer meat as something people ate. At least he
can enjoy the food while John continues with a boring monolog about
a pressure driven gun that can shoot water packets at kilometer per
second speeds. He wishes Greta would stop prompting the man with
questions and that they could get back to Grenqvist.
After awhile Henry loses patience and interrupts John. “Do you
think Grenqvist’s murder has anything to do with this research? If
so you could also be in danger?”
The idea that he might be in danger because of his research
visibly startles John. “I don’t see why, we’re just looking at inno-
vative ways of tunneling with high speed water jets instead of drill
Aware that he has rattled John pleases Henry and he presses on
his point. “There must be competitors who think they might profit by
knowing what you’re up to.” At last Henry thinks he has halted
John’s monolog.
“What do you know about Grenqvist? Henry asks. He notices that
John now casts a quick glance at Göran before making a reply.
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“Göran knew him better than I, he did his Master degree work un-
der Grenqvist’s supervision.”
This is better luck than Henry had anticipated. He turns to
Göran and says “Why do you think he was killed?”
Göran looks upset as he frames an answer to this. “The papers
say it was a burglary gone wrong. They probably didn’t expect to
find the professor in his office that late at night.”
“Do you agree?”, Henry asks.
“To be honest, I don’t. Normally theives break into schools to
steal computer equipment, but my friends there tell me that only pa-
pers are missing.”
John, giving a cough to get their attention, says, “Now that the
subject comes up, Grenqvist was pretty mysterious about some project
he was consulting for. He told me that soon even water jets would be
an old fashioned way of tunneling and mining, but he wouldn’t go
into detail.”
Now this is getting interesting, Henry thinks as he replies, di-
recting his remarks to Göran, “Have you any idea who he was working
with on this project?”
“When I was working on my Masters, Grengvist made a lot of trips
to Switzerland. Once he told me how beautiful it was in the Jura
mountains near the French border.”
Before Henry can comment he hears John say in a surprised voice,
“I didn’t know he was going to Switzerland. Years ago he worked at
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some lab, run by a Swedish company, in Lausanne. But as I recall
that place closed down years ago.”
Henry wonders if this is the most useful information I’m going
to get today? He suspects so, but politeness requires we stay here
longer. He sighs inwardly as John leads them to his lab, once more
in his professorial monolog mode.
Greta’s continues encouragement to this grates on his nerves.
Does she like this boring man? Who knows? Maybe the Swedes sent se-
cret attraction signals to one another. He itches to get back to his
laptop and into the many data bases he has access to. What kind of
company in the Jura mountains could be of interest to Grenqvist?
Henry is familiar with Switzerland having vacationed there several
times. Some years ago he had written a book about CERN, the interna-
tional laboratory in Geneva, which ran high energy particle accel-
erators. He had never heard about a research lab in the Jura. If
such existed it should be easy to find. While musing on this as they
are walking through the underground passage to the geology building,
Henry blinked when two young men, speaking Russian, brushed past
him. He could swear they were the two men he and Greta had seen when
they visited Grenqvist. Could they be students, visiting John from
Stockholm? Interrupting John’s description of how the world would
profit from his research, Henry asks, “Those two guys we just
passed, do you know them?” John looking peeved at the interruption,
shakes his head and says, “Never saw them before, why do you ask?”
Henry replies, “I think I saw them in the mining science building in
Stockholm. They were entering the building. We saw them after Greta
and I had finished the interview with Grenqvist.”
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Greta shakes her head in agreement, “Yes, I remember seeing them
Henry is thinking that he doesn’t like the look and feel of all
this. He turns to John and says, “I need to go back to your office
before seeing the lab. I left my camera there.” John readily agrees.
No surprise, Henry thinks, this pompous Englishman wants his picture
in Henry’s next book.
Anything Missing?
Leading the way back to his office, John is puzzled by Henry’s
attitude. The way the man keeps rubbing his chin while John talks is
unnerving. There was also something annoying in the way Henry kept
looking at him, it reminded him of some of his snide upper-class
fellow undergraduates at Cambridge. Most of all he is sure Henry was
not concentrating on most of what he said at Lunch. He has the dis-
tinct impression that Henry wants to talk more about Old Lars
Grenqvist than about John’s research. But if Henry isn’t interested
in John, why come to Luleå in the first place. In sharp contrast,
Brenner’s pretty assistant, Greta, had shown real interest in his
work. She was the sort of person he missed. Maybe he meet with her
on one of his many trips to Stockholm? She looks the type that like
the outdoors; he could invite her to go skiing with him. He would
have a chance to talk more with her while Henry fetched the camera.
He wondered if she and Henry have something beside a working rela-
tion? He doubts that, they seem so different.
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Looking down the corridor at his office, John is surprised to
see an open door. He is certain he closed it when they left. Henry
suddenly holds his hands up in a gesture for the rest to stop walk-
ing and be silent. John then follows Henry, who carefully peeks into
the room and says, “It’s what I expected.”
John is horrified to see the piles of books and papers scattered
all over the floor. At first he thinks that something like an explo-
sion near the office is responsible. It then homes in on him that
he’s the victim of a full scale burglary. He turns to Henry and
asks, “What do you mean it’s what you expected?”
“Those two men that ran past us, the ones that we saw after
leaving Grenqvist, I think they’re the ones that killed him and ran-
sacked his office. Whatever they were looking for they didn’t find
it there, and since you had dealings with Grenqvist, well put two
and two together for yourself professor.”
Hearing this, John protests, “I don’t know anything about any
secret work he was doing. It’s crazy to think I did.”
Henry grimaces and says, “I believe you, but clearly whoever
broke into here has a different opinion.”
Greta shakes her head in agreement and says, “Henry is right,
remember they killed two people at the Royal Institute. You may be
in great danger.” John, in spite of the circumstances, experiences a
glow from being the focus of Greta’s interest. This, however is
quickly tempered by his inner rage at what has happened. The very
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idea of being in danger from criminals is so unnatural as to be lu-
While he’s pondering this, he sees that Göran is starting to
gather up papers from the floor of his office. Henry puts his hand
on Göran’s shoulder and says, “Don’t touch anything! The police will
be treating this as a crime scene.”
John notices that Greta gives Henry a sardonic glance upon hear-
ing him say this. This is crazy, he thinks. I’m more interested in
Greta than in what happened in my office. Göran appears to be more
in touch with reality. I’m the professor and he’s the graduate stu-
dent but he’s already on the phone calling the police. After Göran
hangs up he says, “The police are on the way, which means they’ll be
here in a day or so.” Henry gives Göran an astounded look and says,
“You must be joking.”
Greta laughs and says, “You’re still not very used to Sweden
Henry, office and house break ins are not considered a serious crime
here. You’re not in New York.” John again registers Henry’s smirk of
superiority upon hearing this. He likes Henry’s work, but the man
himself is another matter.
Holding back an irrational urge to punch Henry in the stomach,
he instead shouts at him. “This has gone too far, until you showed
up we have had a peaceful life here. Now, out of the blue, my office
is vandalized and you claim to know why. I think I’m entitled to
some explanations.”
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Henry’s blank stare, and continued silence set John to clenching
his teeth. Finally the awkward silence is broken by Greta, who says,
“John, Henry and I are as mystified by these events as you.”
Göran adds, “I think she’s right John. This would’ve probably
happened even if Henry and Greta had not come here.” John realizes
that this is probably the case, but he still feels annoyed at Henry
and he still has the feeling that one way or another Henry is re-
sponsible for the burglary.
Greta breaks the impasse, saying “Is there some place we can go
where we can sit and talk?”
John suggests they retire to the laboratory, at least they’ll
have some privacy there. Because the lock on the office door is bro-
ken, he pastes a ‘do not disturb’ over the keyhole.
As they walk toward the lab he thinks, I’ve got to find out why
Henry came here and how it’s connected to the break-in. I’ll just
play his game, at least until I know what he’s after.
Talking it Over
Much to her surprise, Greta finds John’s lab comforting in a
cold utilitarian way. For her the stark metal and glass apparatus
and the banks of electronic equipment add an aura of productivity
and usefulness. She likes the way John fits into the atmosphere and
the way he seems to glow with enthusiasm about his work. She can’t
help but compare this with Henry’s laconic attitude. In contrast to
John, Henry is guarded and secretive. She doesn’t understand Henry’s
cool attitude toward John. The English are supposed to be the cold
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 52

and withdrawn types; the Americans friendly and overly outgoing. If
she were to judge by stereotypes John should be the American and
Henry the Englishmen. Come to think of it, John’s Cambridge accent
gives him an air of delightful erudition in comparison to Henry’s
New York twang. Also she couldn’t understand why Henry is acting so
rudely to John. She is losing track of the number of times she has
interceded in an effort to mask Henry’s unpleasantness to the man.
Yet she feels drawn to Henry. Is it because of his fame, or the cool
and efficient way he deals with emergencies?
John return with a tray of coffee cups and some cookies, inter-
rupts her musings. The cups make a trembling sound as he sets the
tray down on the table in the corner of the lab where the other
three are seated. She can see that he looks a little shaken, proba-
bly from realizing the implications of the raid on his office.
He casts a quick glance in her direction and then, looking at
Henry, he says, “I think it’s about time for the two of you to tell
me what’s really going on.”
Greta flushes at the angry look on Henry’s face. It’s just plain
embarrassing the way he is acting. Her embarrassment is not allevi-
ated by Henry’s words.
“I’m not sure what you mean by that. I came here to interview
you for my new book, that’s all.”
Greta watches as John pours milk into his coffee, taking an in-
ordinate amount of time before answering Henry. She is tempted to
interrupt but thinks better of it. Unlike Henry, who responds imme-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 53

diately to just about anything, John remains silent, evidently pon-
dering exactly what to say. Greta suspects that one reason for
Henry’s unfriendly attitude toward John is this very different
After some twenty seconds, a subjective hour for Greta, John re-
sponds, “I’m afraid I find that hard to believe. Instead of ques-
tioning me on my research you’ve consistently directed your inquires
toward my relation with the late Professor Grenqvist.”
Though it is clear to Greta that John has more he wishes to say,
Henry in his typical New York style interrupts him.
“I’m writing a book about energy and the environment, not about
mining. Grenqvist was working with heat pump technology, which as
you know involves drilling a hole deep enough to take advantage of
the increased below surface temperature.”
Greta can’t help but smile as she admires Henry’s adroitness in
appealing to John’s scientific interests and thus deflecting his
question. She is not surprised to hear John responds, “Yes, I know
all about that, you use the pump to transfer the underground heat to
your house or factory. It’s a very efficient way of saving on heat-
ing costs.”
Henry continues, taking advantage of the shift in topic, “Ex-
actly, but the problem is the expense of the drilling. Grenqvist was
interested in reducing the installation costs.”
Now John responds without any hesitation, “So that’s why you are
interested in novel ways of drilling into rock.”
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Greta admires Henry’s quick thinking, but she is annoyed at how
successful he is in manipulating John. Why doesn’t John see it? Then
the thought occurs to her that Henry has also been manipulating her,
he is an expert at handling people, perhaps too much so for her
tastes. She knows she is working for Henry, but she is not pleased
at the thought of him treating her as a puppet.
Before she can stop herself she says, “Henry, why do you think
those men broke into John’s office? There’s nothing very mysterious
about heat pumps, surely nothing worth killing for.”
Henry flashes her a brief angry look but quickly covers it up
and says, “You’re right of course, something else is going on.”
In her concentration on Henry and John she has forgotten about
the presence of the graduate student, Göran. He looks a little old
for a graduate student. She suspects it’s due to extended military
service, common for Swedish males that take a commission.
Before Henry can say anything further Göran says, “The guys who
broke into John’s office are also interested in his connection with
Grenqvist. They must think that John has some papers that explain
Grenqvist’s connection with Switzerland.”
Greta can read the bitterness in John’s face as he continues, “I
agree, Henry and Greta came here just to find out what Grenqvist was
doing, not to learn about our research.”
With surprising speed, Henry throws up his hands in a gesture of
acceptance and smiles, saying, “Okay, guys, you got me. I admit that
was my purpose, but John, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciated your
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 55

work, which is very interesting to me.” Greta now observes how Henry
switches on the charm, and attempts to win John and Göran over to
his will. Henry continues, “I do want to write a book about energy
and it may involve novel methods of drilling to extract geothermal
energy. However my sources indicate that something very new is going
on somewhere in this country. Some method of extracting huge amounts
of energy.”
Greta bets that John’s focus will once more be shifted from
Henry to the scientific problem. And indeed, John replies, shaking
his head, “It can’t be anything to do with heat pumps. They might
save some money on heating, but you certainly can’t get huge amounts
of energy from them.”
The conversation continues taking on a more friendly tone. Greta
sees that John seems to have forgotten any slight he might have felt
about Henry’s motivation in coming to Luleå.
Göran again interrupts, saying, “You know, Northern Sweden would
be a good place to hide activity. The area is virtually without
population, and if any of the work has connections with the govern-
ment it would be easy to lose a fairly big operation here.”
Greta muses over this and adds, “I don’t even think you would
need government cooperation. Remember what happened to the American
airplane that crashed in the North during the war.”
Göran continues, “Yeah, some of the crew walked away from the
crash site and were rescued, but the wreckage wasn’t found until
forty five years later.” Greta saw both Henry and John’s surprise at
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this. John says, “This is the first I’ve heard of this. But come to
think of it, it can get pretty lonely beyond the arctic circle. I’ve
made a few hiking trips into the region and people are few and far
between.” Göran adds “Except for the reindeer, the Sami’s have lots
of reindeer.” Henry gives Greta a querying look and asks, “Who are
the Sami’s?”
“You probably know them as the Lapps. They don’t like that name,
it means something like a piece of cloth in their language. So in
today’s world of political correctness they are now the Sami.” At
this point John’s cellphone wrings. John answers it, and Greta notes
that his Swedish is very good, impressive, given the time he has
been in the country, though his English accent is very obvious. John
closes the phone and says, “The police are here and they want to
speak to us, I told them we would meet them at my office. I don’t
want them running all over the lab.”
As they make their way back to the office, Greta notes that
Henry is slightly possessive in his body language. He blocks her
from getting alongside John, who is leading the way and even puts
his hand on her arm. It can’t be, she thinks, he can’t be jealous.
She finds the idea very very pleasing. It’s just the flattery she
thinks, Henry is such a complex character, it would be foolhardy to
get too involved with him. Besides he’ll be going back to the States
in a month. What am I thinking? she tells herself.
With Best Intentions
Henry watches as Göran talks with the two police officers, a
man and a woman who is taller than her male partner. The both of
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them gave off an air of disinterest, just going through the motions
of filling out the proper forms for a burglary. They did not seem
the least bit interested in looking for evidence, even though Henry
had told them about the two men. He thought that when he mentioned
the murder of Grenqvist the two officers would show more initiative.
To Henry it was not an impressive showing of Swedish justice at
work. For once, he thinks, he and John are on the same wavelength.
From the look of frustration on John’s face, Henry could see a re-
flection of his own thoughts. In contrast, Greta seems to be unmoved
by the police’s lack of spark. Henry assumes she has been through
some similar experiences with lackadaisical crime fighting.
Finally the two officers leave and Henry says, “What was that
all about?” Göran laughs, “No one was hurt, so they just do enough
for the insurance people.”
Henry throws up his hands and says, “But I told them about the
murder in Stockholm.”
Greta shakes her head at both of them. “In Sweden we give very
little trust to eye witness identification. Your statement that the
two men were the same as you saw entering the building in Stockholm
doesn’t count at all.”
Henry strokes his chin and tries to control his sudden feeling
of outrage. To him these people are acting like emotionless robots.
Even Greta’s reaction seems overly tempered. Sweden seemed so like
the States in many ways, but here there was a distinct difference,
especially for a native New Yorker. Thinking it through, he decides
that maybe it’s better to avoid having the police involved. Cer-
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tainly Walter is more interested in information than in justice.
Carefully calculating his words, he says, “I understand that things
may be done differently here. I’m sure the Swedish police know what
they’re doing. Their attitude just took me by surprise.
John scowled at Henry, but kept his peace. More to the point
Greta looked pleased. This is a good time to make an exit.
“I’m afraid that Greta and I have to make the evening flight to
Looking at Greta, John says, “I’m sorry to see you go so soon. I
hope we can keep in contact.”
Henry, noticing the direction of John’s gaze, can’t see why
Greta should be polite to this jerk. It’s her business, she was
smart enough to be able to see through this guy. Anyway what do I
Then before Greta can reply, Henry says, “I’ll be getting in
touch as soon as I know anything that might be important to you.”
Even as he says the words he reflect that it’ll be him who decides
what is and what is not important for John.
John, in his uppity Cambridge accent, says, “Likewise, if I find
out anything of interest I’ll let you know. Do you have a number I
can reach?”
Henry hands him a card with his cellphone number and tells John
to call him day or night if anything pertinent comes up.
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In the taxi, on the way back to the airport Henry decides not to
ask Greta what her opinion of John was. They’re both silent until
they reach the terminal, barely 5 minutes before take off. They rush
to the boarding area but at the gate the attendant announces a de-
lay. The incoming plane is overdue from Stockholm. What a day, Henry
groans to himself.
Greta ponders Henry’s silence as the aircraft touches down at
Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm. What had appeared to be a
straightforward job, as assistant to a journalist, had taken on as-
pects of a spy thriller. Barely three days had passed since she
first met Henry and not only is she having a relationship with him,
but she has become involved in a break in, the discovery of a murder
and a search for some mysterious source of energy. Face it girl,
it’s exhilarating, she tells herself. Henry is another matter. Why
is he so moody all of a sudden? He had been so supportive, but dur-
ing the visit to Luleå his attitude toward her had changed. In her
opinion, she has played the role of the loyal assistant, taking up
the slack in dealing with John and his graduate student. She had ex-
pected that Henry would be telling her how well she had performed,
but instead he was silent and even sullen during the flight back to
Stockholm. He should be thanking her for how she had gotten John to
talk, despite Henry’s rudeness toward him. It had probably been a
mistake to go to bed with Henry. She should have kept it as an
employer-employee relationship. She had lost control after finding
Grenqvist’s body and Henry had been so take charge. Thinking about
it she feels humiliated. She has an image of herself as a strong
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person. In her mind, most of her relationships had been with men who
followed her lead. Now Henry is not only her boss, he is leading her
around like a trained dog on a leash.
At last, after boarding the express train from Arlanda to cen-
tral Stockholm, Henry breaks his long silence, and whispers, “I
can’t be certain, but I think we’re being followed.”
Greta, hearing this, senses an unpleasant tingling down her
back. One moment and her concern about Henry’s silence is forgotten.
“How can you tell?”
“It’s a matter of experience, a kind of extra sense.”
Greta wonders, what kind of experience is he talking about? She
says, “Aren’t you being a little paranoid?”
Henry shakes his head and says, “Was I being paranoid when I
thought John’s office had been broken into?”
“You had more reason then, you recognized the men who passed us
on the way to John’s lab.” Greta is determined to act rationally and
not to let Henry lead her around by the nose anymore. A sixth sense
for knowing your being followed sounds ridiculous. She continues, “I
think we will all think more clearly after a good nights sleep. I
for one look forward to getting back to my apartment and a more nor-
mal existence.”
Henry looks her in the eye and says, “You’re not going back to
your apartment, it’s far too dangerous.”
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“What’re you talking about? Why should my apartment be danger-
ous? You’re paranoid.”
“Let me remind you that there are ruthless people out there who
seem to want what I am looking for. It’s very likely they’re now
aware of us, and that means you. You need my protection.”
Hearing this Greta is just plain annoying. “You’re protection!
Just who do you think you are? If I’m in danger it’s because of you.
Who’re you to talk about protection?”
Henry raises a finger to his lips and says, “Lower your voice,
people are staring at us.”
“You’re paranoid. I’m going home and that’s that.” Greta thinks,
that should show him he can’t push her around.
Henry bites his lip and strokes his chin before he says, “Okay,
then I’ll follow you to your place. Maybe we can throw them off the
Greta doesn’t try to suppress the scowl on her face. “I don’t
recall inviting you to my apartment.”
Henry shakes his index finger at her, “Greta, be reasonable, I’m
worried about your safety.”
He’s treating me like a child. She replies, anger evident in her
voice, “I assure you I can take care of myself and you’re not my
Henry throws up his hands in a gesture of disgust. “Have it your
way. Go to your precious apartment. Don’t blame me if anything hap-
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pens. I tried to be reasonable.” Greta tells herself enough is
enough, she doesn’t want to lose her job with Henry, especially now
that it’s getting so interesting. She says, “Don’t worry, I will not
hold you responsible for my safety. What time will you need me to-
morrow?” In a resigned tone of voice, Henry says, “Come by as early
as you can. We have lot’s of work to do. And at least call me when
you get home. Consider it a favor for a friendly paranoid.”
Greta tries, but she is unable to restrain a smile. She says,
“Anything for a friendly paranoid.”
Opening the door to the empty apartment, Henry half expects to
find it overrun with intruders. Switching on the lights, he sees no
sign of any unwanted visitors. He’s still too wound up to sleep.
It’s not that late in New York, might as well give Walter a call. He
knows Walter is probably fuming at the lack of news. Henry was sup-
posed to call him as soon he settled in, but he had decided to put
it off until he had something concrete to report. Henry fetches his
lap top from it’s hiding place and inserts his identity key into the
USB port. If anyone tried to use the machine without the key the
hard disk would be scrambled. Talk about paranoia, Greta had no idea
what a real paranoid was like. Walter just assumed that spies were
everywhere. Maybe he had a point. The USB key also had an encryption
key built into it. He could now establish a point to point secure
comm link to Walter.
It’s before Walter’s quitting time in New York, so Henry is not
surprised to get an immediate response. Looking at Walter’s face on
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his laptop screen, Henry is amazed as always at the man’s ability to
control his facial expression. This time he was receiving the ‘how
much I missed hearing from you’ face as Walter says, “How nice to
see you my boy, I was getting worried about your safety.”
That’s a laugh, Henry thinks. Whatever Walter cares about, it’s
certainly not his safety. Henry bites his lip and says. “I’m okay
old-man.” That’s a nice reply to the ‘my boy’ crap Walter always
pushes at him. He continues, “If being okay means pursuit by thugs
and involvement with a murder.”
Walter smiles and replies, “Then I’m truly happy to hear you
have survived such terrible experiences. You know Henry, you must
keep more in touch. I need to know what you are doing if I am to
help you.”
“Sorry, it’s been a hectic few days. Usually it takes a few
weeks before your assignments get me into trouble. This one must be
hotter than most.”
Walter glances at something on his desk, then returns his atten-
tion to Henry. “I agree with you, hot is a good way to put it. It
would be wonderful Henry if you would be so kind as to fill me in on
your adventures.
Henry quickly sketches in the events of the last few days, leav-
ing out details such as his sleeping with his new assistant. Walter
shakes his head and says, “Your assistant, this woman Greta, sounds
like the adventurous sort. I trust you have refrained from giving
her too many unnecessary details.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 64

“Only that your my literary agent, nothing about your being the
spy master for God knows who. Speaking of which I am sick of putting
my precious bod on the line for these unknowns characters that you
work for.”
“Henry, that’s why the pay excellent. I assure you that you have
no need to know who pays the bills.”
Henry’s thoughts whirl around the many times he has heard simi-
lar drivel from this man. This time is different, he thinks, no more
am I risking my life for the guy. thinking about Greta he becomes
even more angry, why should she be put at risk? He says, “It’s not
just me, I’m having to put completely innocent people in danger and
they aren’t getting paid.”
Walter puts on his hurt expression and says, “That’s up to you
Henry, you’re the one hiring these people. Maybe you are getting too
close to this Greta.”
Henry clenches his jaw. He knows Walter is reading him like an
open book and he has just revealed his cards, but he can’t help it
as anger seethes through him. “Walter, either tell me more about who
is ordering this inquiry or find a new patsy.”
Walter casts aside the hurt look and assumes his ‘for your own
good’ pose. “Henry, this does not become you. You should know that
it might be very unfortunate for you if you knew too much about my
business. I’ve told you before that my clients are reputable busi-
ness people who need information about competitors and the like.
That should be enough.”
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Henry’s anger increases, however he is all too aware of Walter’s
power to take back all that has been given to him. So, despite his
feelings he decides to play along, at least until he can develop a
better strategy. So he is surprised to hear himself say, “If that’s
the way you want to play it, I quit.”
Walter drops the concerned look, and Henry sees a flash of pure
malice behind the mask. This quickly vanishes and in a calm voice
Walter says, “You have a lot to lose my boy. I should be careful
about offending the people who have helped you.”
Henry realizes he’s sweating and clenching his teeth. He makes
an effort to soften his facial expression before saying, “Are you
threatening me Walter?”
Walter shakes his head in the negative and says, “That’s a ter-
rible thing to say to the person who has nurtured your career as I.
You should be thankful to me. Not only have I promoted your career,
but I have given you valuable lessons in how the world of free en-
terprise functions.” Now Walter shakes his head and assumes his sad
and hurt look. He continues, “It would be terrible for a brilliant
writer like yourself not to have a market. I hope I can persuade you
to see the error of your intended actions.”
Henry realizes he is now sweating. Walter is holding all the
cards and what’s wrong with taking a few risks. After all no one has
been hurt. The experience is really an important benefit for Greta
he tells himself. Besides, she’s an adult, if she chooses to share
some risks with him, well that’s her choice. Henry notices that once
more Walter is beaming at him like a long lost uncle. Where’s my
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 66

pride? I don’t seem to have any. “Alright Walter, you win, I’ll keep
at it. But I need some help.”
With a broad smile Walter replies, “You make me proud, Henry,
all my efforts to train you as a journalist were worth it.”
Henry forces a neutral expression, though he knows that Walter
is well aware of how he angry he feels. He knows that Walter is en-
joying his humiliation. At least he can minimize the satisfaction he
is giving the bastard. The time will come when he can tell him off.
He has to keep a cool head and wait. “Let’s get on with business
then, what do you want me to do now?”
Walter rubs his hands together and says, “That’s my Henry, the
man of action.” Henry cringes at Walter’s evident satisfaction at
bringing him to heel.
Walter continues, “There is no point in interviewing anyone else
on the list I gave you. Grenqvist was pay dirt and I want you to
follow up the clues you got from the Englishman.”
Henry strokes his chin, now concentrating on the problem, “That
means a trip to Switzerland, but I need some help in finding who
Grenqvist was working for.”
“I’ll put some of my staff on that right away and get the infor-
mation back to you. Also I want you to take your assistant Greta
with you.”
Henry bites down on his anger and says, “Why, I don’t need some-
one who speaks Swedish in Switzerland?”
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“That’s not why I want you to take her with you. She knows too
much about the investigation and about you. You’ve been indiscrete
my boy, but youth is youth. Take her with you and keep an eye on
Henry mutters to himself, I don’t want to expose her to anymore
danger, but it might be helpful to have her along. She was intelli-
gent and alert to things he had missed. Aside from her being di-
verted by John she had proven very useful during the trip up north.
Besides, who could say what danger she might be in here in Stock-
holm. He had to take her along to protect her. He says, “I’ll try to
persuade her to come with me.”
“Do that, I expect a handsome lively chap shouldn’t have too
much trouble convincing a beautiful woman to accompany him. Tell her
it’s partly a vacation. And above all keep her in your sight.” Be-
fore Henry could say more, Walter broke the connection and he real-
izes the phone is ringing. He picks up the receiver and hears Greta
speaking in a frightened voice. “Henry you were right, I’m in trou-
Greta glances at her watch as she takes another sip of tea. The
cafe in Stockholm’s newest trendy section of SoFo, south of Folkun-
gergaten, is crowded even at this late hour. Henry told her at least
three times to pick a crowded public place to wait for him. The
place, filled with a noisy young crowd, certainly met that criteria.
She quickly eyed the two olive skinned men, dressed in leather jack-
ets. They’re seated on the other side of the room, their dress and
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attitude setting them off like an elephant in a concert hall. She’s
sure they’re the same pair that were standing around in front of her
apartment building. Then again, she couldn’t help but think that
hanging around Henry and the events of the past few days might be
causing her to overreact. She had accused Henry of acting paranoid,
now she wondered if she hadn’t been infected herself. The men might
simply have been waiting for a friend and have nothing to do with
her. But they have the same sort of look as the Russian speakers
that she and Henry had seen entering Grenqvist’s office. It’s hard
to tell fact from imagination. Calling Henry had been her first im-
pulse, even though she didn’t like the bossy way he acted before
they had parted. Now she’s not so sure that calling Henry was a good
idea. She doesn’t like it, being the prototype damsel in distress,
waiting for the knight in shining armor. Were the two in men in the
cafe even the same as the two that prompted her to make the call?
Maybe it would have been a better idea to contact the police? No,
how could she explain about seeing the men entering Grenqvist’s of-
fice building? She could just see herself saying, I saw them in the
afternoon, before we broke into the Professor’s office and discov-
ered his dead body. Could she have called her father? He had enough
trouble at the moment. The breakup between him and her mother was
still fresh. He had barely recovered from finding out about her
mother’s affair. She is so annoyed at her mother. The way she is
treating her father after so many years of marriage makes no sense
to her. Perhaps it would have been easier if she had some brothers
or sisters. One thing was sure, she was not going to call on her
mother for help. She doesn’t know how to explain about the break in
to Grenqvist’s office any any more to her friends and relatives than
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 69

to the police. The only reasonable thing to do was to call Henry,
after all her whole involvement is his fault.
She wants badly to see what the two men are up to but is afraid
to draw their attention. It takes an act of will to divert herself
from glancing in their direction. Are they looking at her? No, it’s
all her imagination. She doesn’t understand why she is acting like
this. Her heart is racing, and despite the warmth of the crowded
room and the hot cup of tea in her hands, she realizes that she is
shivering. Where the hell is Henry anyway? It seems like hours since
she called him. He had seemed so cool and precise in his instruc-
tions to her, telling her to go to the nearest crowded public place
and to wait for him there.
She should have been more careful in approaching her apartment.
Going up to the door in full view of the two men, then turning
around and walking away when she saw them was stupid. But she
couldn’t bring herself into going back alone into that empty, if it
was empty, apartment. It’s Henry’s fault, with all his talk of in-
trigue and telling her she was not safe. Face it, she tells herself,
your not as independent as you pretend. The two men must be noticing
how she keeps looking at them. Be cool. Perhaps she has read too
many crime stories. She is learning that it’s a lot more fun reading
them than playing a role in one.
Something must have happened to Henry? They might have been
waiting for him in front of his apartment. That’s why he is late.
She peeks at her watch again. It’s over half an hour since she
called him. She knows that fidgeting the way she keeps doing isn’t
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the best way to avoid attention. But she can’t stop. She should’ve
left the job with Henry as soon as he suggested breaking in to
Grenqvist’s office. What was she thinking? Just three days ago her
only concerns had been finding a decent job after graduate school
and dealing with the childishness of her mother’s behavior. The job
with Henry was supposed to have been a temporary way of earning some
needed extra money. She also thought that it might be a way of get-
ting into the world of journalism. If being on the run from shady
looking men in leather jackets was the world of journalism, she
could do without it.
Locked in her thoughts she hardly notices that someone is sit-
ting down at her table.
“Should I say I told you so?” Henry says with a smile as he sits
beside her.
Greta doesn’t know if she should sigh with relief or scream at
the man.
“What took you so long to get here?”
Henry, still smiling, shakes his head. “Now is that the way to
show gratitude? I was just about to go to bed when I get this dis-
tress call asking me to get up and leave my warm cozy apartment. It
seems that the person who called me should show some gratitude.”
In spite of his words, Greta’s relief at his arrival overcomes
her annoyance at his attitude.
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“Okay, you were right, I should’ve followed you home. But I
didn’t. Anyway look over to your right.”
Instead of turning his head, Henry picks up a shiny spoon and
uses it as a mirror to examine the area of the room over his right
shoulder. After a minute or so he says, “I see our two Russian
friends seated at a table. They actually look ridiculously out of
place. Either they don’t care or they are stupid. Probably both.”
Greta doesn’t know if she should feel relief or fear. At least
she is not imagining things, but maybe that would’ve been preferable
to being followed by two russian thugs.
“So what do we do now?” she asks.
Henry replies, “I for one would like a cup of tea and one of
those nice pastries. How do you stand living in this country? I
can’t seem to get warm.”
Greta tries unsuccessfully to keep a straight face. Henry’s cas-
ual manner does serve to calm her down. She asks herself, how does
he stay so calm?
When the waiter arrives with Henry’s order, Henry grabs him by
the arm and whispers something in his ear. He then hands the man a
note. Greta is almost sure that along with the note Henry slipped
several large denomination bills into the man’s hand. The waiter
looks at the note, shakes his head in affirmation and flashes Henry
a broad grin. Greta’s curiosity is now totally aroused.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 72

His mouth full of chocolate cake and whip cream, Henry mumbles,
“Get ready to run, but don’t look like it.”
“What are you talking about, and what was that scene with the
Henry smiles as he washes down the cake, slurping his tea nos-
ily, “Don’t be so nosey, just follow my lead.”
Greta notices now that the waiter is talking to the Russians.
She can even hear their gruff broken English. If you look at all
foreign these days, Swedes speak to you in English. The men are ar-
guing with the waiter. One of the men stands up and starts to shake
his hand at the waiter. He is now starting to yell, both in broken
English and Russian. The other man also gets up and seems to be
threatening the waiter. At this point Henry grabs her by the arm and
pulls her out of her chair. She follows him as he runs toward the
exit. When they reach the exit she looks back and sees one of the
Russians staring straight at her. Just before Henry pulls her out-
side she sees both men trying to get past the waiter, who is block-
ing their path.
Outside there is a taxi, its door open. She lets out a yell as
Henry pushes her into the back seat. He jumps into the front, next
to the driver. She is pressed back against the back of the seat as
the driver swiftly accelerates. Looking through the back window
Greta sees one of the Russians exiting the restaurant and shaking
his fist at the departing taxi. They are now heading north on the
road to the airport.
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Soon they are out of Stockholm. Realizing that she is once again
shaking she does her best to hide her distress. The last thing she
wants is to have Henry aware of how upset she is. There has been all
too much of that.
Henry turns to her and says, “We seem to have lost our new
friends, hope you don’t mind.”
Henry has some sort of plan, though she isn’t aware of what it
might be. She decides it’s time to make a few guesses so as to show
Henry she is not a complete dimwit.
“Okay, you arranged for the taxi to be waiting for us outside
the cafe, and you payed the waiter off to delay the Russians, but I
don’t understand what that note had to do with it. It really made
them mad.”
Henry laughs, and looking like a college kid he says, “Just an
old practical joke. The note said, in English, that the management
requests the two men to leave the premises quietly. I paid the
waiter off and told him it was a joke I wanted to play on the two
guys because I saw them eyeing my girlfriend.”
Greta laughs, feeling the tension drain out of her. The crazy
escape maneuver is just too ridiculous to take seriously. Henry’s
boyishness delights her.
Henry continues, “Yeah, I made the arrangements with the taxi
driver before I went into the cafe. I also booked a room at one of
the hotels near the airport.”
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Greta can guess that this means Henry is taking her with him,
probably to investigate the laboratory that John mentioned. Up to a
few hours ago she would not have accepted this as part of the job,
but considering what had just happened she felt safer traveling with
Henry than staying in Stockholm by herself. But she can’t just leave
the country. She doesn’t even have her passport with her and she has
to tell someone about where she is going. Mentioning this to Henry
only gets the reply that he would explain everything later.
Tales from the Ice Triangle
Looking down from his high altitude perch aboard the Boeing 707,
John, not for the first or last time, wonders about the circum-
stances that brought him to Luleå. On the positive side there is
cross country skiing. It is one of his favorite sports, for which
the long winters are an advantage. And the university fits his ca-
reer ambitions; his position as a professor providing access to the
Swedish mining industry. The proximity of Luleå to the various mine
sites made them easy to visit and provided lucrative consulting op-
portunities, so that even with high tax and his low professorial pay
he is doing quite well on the financial side. The iron mines in Ki-
runa, up above the Arctic circle are once again becoming important
now that the Chinese and other East Asian countries are hungry for
steel. Northern Sweden is a big and mostly empty part of the world.
After growing up in crowded Manchester he liked it that way. It’s
early November and the days are already short with the sun below but
close to the horizon most of the day. Instead of the total darkness
most people expect in the arctic, something more like twilight lit
the moon grazed world. The aircraft’s lunar shadow racing across the
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 75

snow covered landscape has a hypnotic effect on John. This vision is
completed by the fiery auroral display fleeting about the darkened
Also he has grown to enjoy the relative isolation from the popu-
lated part of the European continent. In a way it enhanced the rela-
tionships that had grown up between himself and the local people.
John laughed at himself, coming from the stuffy formality of Cam-
bridge, his present relationship with his graduate student was re-
markable. For one thing Göran was older than his English contempo-
raries. He even had a wife and child, something common here but
quite unusual for graduate students in the UK. He hardly thinks of
Göran as a graduate student any more. Partly because of his being
older than his U.K. contemporaries, and partly because John had
grown close to Göran’s family. With such a close relationship it was
not remarkable that they had discussed the recent events surrounding
the raid on John’s office. Göran had expressed some concern about
the potential of harm coming to his family. John had tried to calm
him, though he himself felt more than a little upset about what had
Brenner’s visit was not at all like what John had expected. Now
that it was past and he had time to think about it, John cringed at
how silly he had acted. Somehow he had convinced himself that Bren-
ner would rocket John to world fame in a riveting series of articles
about his fascinating research. He just couldn’t make himself see
the truth, that Brenner’s interests were elsewhere. To make matters
worse he had made a fool of himself in front of Brenner’s assistant.
His hunger for a relationship with a beautiful intelligent woman had
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 76

overrode his good sense. Face it, his concentration on his work and
the isolation of his present employment is painted on him like a
huge colored sign. Greta must have laughed all the way to the air-
port. There she was, working in a close relationship with the famous
Henry Brenner, watching him going on and on about his research in a
clownish attempt to impress them. In a way it was a relief when they
left. It was laughable the way he kept thinking about her. Why did
he keep imagining some fantasy with him rescuing her from a band of
brutish Russian thugs? He really needed to improve his social life
before he is reduced to living in internet chat rooms and sleazy
porn sites. With some relief, Johns thoughts are diverted by his re-
alization that the aircraft is starting to descend.
The plane now commences its landing run at Kiruna. With some ef-
fort he redirects his thoughts to the business at hand, which is to
consult on some plans for new tunnels in the northern cities vast
iron mines. In the 1980’s the Swedish government had invested heav-
ily in the mines infrastructure, hoping to attract workers to this
city north of the arctic circle. It was a disaster when in the
1980’s the bottom fell out of steel the market. Now in the twenty-
first century the world is again hungry for steel and the expertise
of people like John. Thoughts of break-ins and social relationships
vanish and soon he is eagerly looking forward to the day’s work at
the mines.
John fidgets, as he waits for Bruno to pick him up at the LKAB
reception desk. He has to keep reminding himself that the Swedish
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Mining Corporation is mostly government run and subject to all the
infirmities that implies. Bruno should have been waiting for him.
Maybe something unexpected had come up. That must be the reason he
is late. John liked to be on time and could not help feeling miffed
when others didn’t respect his own desire for promptness. Funny, he
thinks, the Scandinavians are always talking about their Protestant
Ethic, and how considerate they are about time. John’s experience in
the modern social welfare state doesn’t bare this out. It’s more
myth than fact, he thinks. Anyway the welfare part of the welfare
state is fast evaporating. This certainly was the case in his own
country since the reign of Thatcher. Where was Bruno anyway? Stand-
ing around and waiting John began to notice he has a sore throat.
Brenner’s visit and the ransacking of his office must have unnerved
his normally tranquil attitude and reduced the effectiveness of his
immune system. He hoped working with Bruno on the design of the new
tunnels would get his mind off hoodlums and beautiful women. Also
the consulting paid well, a nice supplement to the relatively meagre
Professor’s salary. Not that he had much to spend his salary on in a
place as isolated as Luleå. Then realizing that he has just gone
through all this on the plane he can’t help but laugh. He quickly
recovers his composure as he sees Bruno entering the reception area.
“Sorry I’m late John”, Bruno says with a slight scowl on his
face. He continues, “Trouble as usual with the working conditions
not being perfect enough. When I started in this business you had to
be tough to be a miner. Now half the miners are women. I’m probably
too old for this business.”
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John forces himself to look sympathetic. It’s hard to concen-
trate on Bruno’s problems, he has enough of his own. Being exposed
to too many women was not one of them. Ignoring his sore throat John
says, “I understand, people are spoilt by all this welfare talk, we
have the same problem with our students. Anyway it’s good to see you
again Bruno.”
Later, John looks at his watch noting that if he’s not going to
miss his flight home they have to wrap up their discussions. “It
looks good to me Bruno, I don’t see any problems with your plans.”
Looking relieved Bruno replies, “I assume that means you’re go-
ing to write a favorable report.”
“Of course, you have nothing to worry about from me.” John is
surprised at the tension in Bruno’s voice. As to himself the concen-
tration on the technical details of the afternoon’s work has abetted
his awareness of a problem with his throat. He isn’t sure it was
anything more than his imagination. At least he is feeling his old
self. Perhaps as a result he is a bit guilty about how he has been
acting with Bruno. The man probably had taken Johns tenseness as
some criticism of his own work. John decides to change the subject
to something he knew Bruno likes and says, “You should feel pleased
at what you’ve done here. Aside from that how did you do during the
hunting season?” John recalls that Bruno is an avid hunter. Last
year John had been the recipient of some snow grouse that Bruno had
bagged. The bird meat was a rare delicacy, very expensive when or-
dered in Stockholm’s finer restaurants. To his surprise Bruno looks
more distressed than ever as he speaks.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 79

“The worst hunting season I ever had, not only was the game
scarce but I lost Benny.”
John immediately understands the cause of Bruno’s distress. He
feels sorry for Bruno, but at the same time he feels a sense of re-
lief in that Brunos uncharacteristic dour behavior had nothing to do
with himself. He says, “You lost your hunting dog?”
Bruno, his eyes downcast nods his head in affirmation. In some
ways, John knew, Bruno was more attached to the dog than to his own
family. Not surprising as Bruno’s wife of thirty years had left him
after tiring of living in the far north. Bruno had brought the dog
up from puppy-hood, training him, in truth living with him. As hunt-
ing companions, John could imagine Bruno and Benny as one entity. He
asks, “How did it happen?”
Bruno replies “You know, here in Sweden we hunt in teams. Our
team generally hunts in a specific area several hundred kilometers
to the northeast of Kiruna.”
John recalls a long conversation he had with Bruno about this
and nods to show that he knows these basic facts.
Bruno continues, “This year there was an eerie quality about the
place. Somehow it was too quiet. At the same time I could sense but
not hear some kind of vibration, like something was happening deep
in the earth. We all felt it.”
John shakes his head to show Bruno he is listening sympatheti-
cally. “The dogs were especially spooked, but we couldn’t tell why.
If I could read a dog’s thoughts I would say that Benny was scared
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of something. In the seven years I have had him I never saw him act
like that. I just couldn’t calm him down. If we had any sense we
would have just given up and left the area. But you know how much I
love hunting and being out in the wilderness with Benny.”
Again John nods and says, “I know, I’ve been in the woods with
the two of you and watched the way you both enjoy the experience.”
Bruno shakes his head wistfully and says, “Well we were stupid
and just treated it as business as usual. I let Benny loose to flush
out some birds I though I had spotted. At first he acted like he
didn’t want to take off after them and I give him some encourage-
ment. I wasn’t even sure there were birds there, but the hunting had
been so bad I was growing desperate. Finally Benny took off, I could
here his yelps getting harder and harder to hear as he ran into the
forest. Finally I heard nothing and that was the last I saw of him.”
John could see how visibly shaken Bruno had become, just from
relating the experience. He really doesn’t know what to say and re-
mains awkwardly silent, thinking that Bruno must take him for a cold
hearted Englishman. Then he remembered that Bruno was from this
area, with its reputation for taciturn folks. Finally he says, “I’m
very sorry Bruno, I can’t find words to express it, but can guess
how much Benny meant to you.”
Bruno seems to appreciate John’s concern and says, “I wasn’t the
only one. When we got back to Kiruna I met up with some other hunt-
ing teams that had been in the same general area. We weren’t the
only ones to lose dogs. I tell you John there is something weird go-
ing on there.”
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John nods in agreement and says, “Have you talked to any of the
authorities about this?” Bruno emits a sarcastic grunt or laugh,
John is not sure which, and says, “That’s another weird part, not
only I but all the others I had knew with a similar experience re-
ported to the police. They seemed totally uninterested and politely
told us to get lost, as the Americans put it.”
John gestures with his hand and says “I guess dogs don’t rate as
valuable property?”
“Maybe, but our hunting dogs are considered to be very valuable
here in the North and those police who work here should know that.
Anyway, I and my buddies will stay away from that area next year
though I’m very tempted to go back to look for Benny. Did I tell
you? We have started to call the region the Ice Triangle, you know,
like the Bermuda Triangle.”
John laughs appreciatively and says, “That’s a great name for
it, maybe it will get the government on to whatever is happening
there. They don’t want a lot of sensationalistic journalists racing
about in the region. There is enough trouble with the Sami.”
John recalls what he knows about the Sami, sometimes called the
Lapps, a name the Sami hated. He had run across some of their summer
encampments in his hiking on the so called King’s trail. Indigenous
to the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and even Russia,
they tried to keep the semblance's of a traditional life style in
harmony with the modern technical world. John admired them and the
giant reindeer herds that provided many of them with a living.
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Bruno shrugs his shoulders and says, “That was another funny
thing, we ran into some Same reindeer herdsmen who claimed they had
lost a lot of animals in the region. They seemed to think the gov-
ernment had something to do with it, a new way of persecuting them.”
They had reason, John thinks of the constant pressure, from both
the Scandinavian states and the former Soviet Union, that had pushed
the Sami further and further into northern arctic.
Bruno, evidently noticing that John keeps looking at his watch,
says, “Too much talking, you’re going to miss the flight. Let me
drive you to the airport.”
John protests, but knows that Bruno will not give in. Finally
John indicates his acceptance for the favor knowing he is also going
to get more of the details about the visit to the now infamous ice
Later, sitting in the aircraft cabin on the flight to Luleå,
John thinks more about the strange occurrences related to him by
Bruno. He wonders if this has anything to do with Henry’s search for
some project involving geothermal energy? No particular reason it
should, but suppose something was going on out there, in the exten-
sive northern wilderness. Lots of room and few people, you could
hide an awful lot. Recently they had rediscovered a world war two
American plane, abandoned to the forest. Fifty six years had passed
since the crash. The pilot had walked away, but even with his infor-
mation it had taken over a half century to find it. With government
complicity you could do just about anything. Even a large number of
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 83

private citizens ran illegal whisky stills in the forest. Under-
standable, considering the high tax on alcohol taken by the State.
Seemingly out of nowhere a thought seeps into John’s conscience
mind. What if there is a connection between what Henry claims to be
looking for and what is going on in the ice triangle. He can’t help
thinking how much Greta would be impressed if he, John, found some
tie between them. Despite what Henry said, John was sure he had
given up on the north as a focus area for his research. Beside, dis-
covering something out of the ordinary in the ice triangle could
make John’s own reputation. He wasn’t experienced with dealing with
conditions in the arctic winter forest, but his graduate student,
Göran was. One reason for his relatively advanced age, for a gradu-
ate student, was the compulsory military service he had been sub-
jected to. The man had even opted for the further training that made
him a reserve officer. John would have a long talk with Göran as
soon as he got back.
As the aircraft banks, to begin its decent to Kalix airport near
Luleå, John feels better than he has in days. An adventure in the
winter wilderness could be both fun and profitable. Yes, Göran would
accompany him, after all John is the boss. Kirstin, would not like
it. Their son Magnus was only a year old and she had Göran on a
short leach. The way the man acted you would think he was the
mother. Again John thinks how different it is in Cambridge. If he
eventually married a Swedish women, he too would be turned into a
male mother. Then, imagining the prospect of his discoveries in the
ice triangle, he might soon be back in Cambridge, maybe as an ex-
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alted Professor. The landing jerked his thoughts back to reality. It
was all a daydream. He would never leave the University in Luleå.
A Trek In The Wilderness
Göran could hardly mask his annoyance at John for asking to see
him on such short notice. He had just gotten to sleep in the early
hours of the morning when the phone rang, waking both him and
Kirstin. The look on Kirstin’s face was enough to tell him it was
John. When he told her that John wanted to see him at once she
didn’t even argue, but the curt way she acted was enough to get the
John, of course being single and English, didn’t understand ei-
ther the problems of domestic life nor the Swedish culture. From
past experience he knew that it was pointless to explain to him that
he had been up most of the night attending to a sick child. Kirstin
had spent the previous night and day attending to Magnus and ex-
pected him to take his turn while she went to work. They had agreed,
even before Magnus was born, that they would alternate taking time
off from work to care for him if he was not able to attend the day
care center. Today it’s Göran’s turn, and she doesn’t like John’s
demand to see him taking precedence over their agreement. He thought
he could deal with having a child and continuing his studies, yet he
had to admit that sometimes he missed the simplicity of how life was
before Magnus. Oh well, things would improve, soon he would have
his Doctoral degree and could take it a bit easier. Generally he’s
probably lucky to have someone like John as a supervisor. Yet there
are problems. John is so English and not always understanding of the
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 85

way things are done in Sweden. On the technical side he is the best,
and that’s what is important. So here he is, hoping that whatever
John wanted to see him about would justify the trouble he’s in with
Approaching the door he recalls that John doesn’t like it when
you walk into his room without knocking. So Göran makes sure he per-
forms the appropriate rituals before entering. John’s greeting is a
little too chummy. Instead of being pleased, Göran thinks, he wants
me to do something I’m not going to like. Then he notices that the
desk is covered with Swedish geophysical survey maps of the far
north, an area well above the arctic circle. Maybe it has something
to do with John’s consulting job for LKAB in Kiruna?
“Sorry I’m late John, we had some trouble with Magnus this morn-
Göran half expected the usual sarcastic comment about his dedi-
cation to the domestic life, but this morning John is all smiles. He
even acts sympathetic, asking about Göran’s problems at home. Sud-
denly Göran is uncomfortable with the oddly solicitous John.
To his relief, John changes the subject and pointing to the maps
on his desk says, “I seem to recall you telling me you did a lot of
your military service in the far north. Maybe you can help me with
Göran’s thoughts shift as he recalls with some fondness the
years of his military service. At the time he hated it, but now he
realizes just how free he was. No worries about graduate study, no
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 86

small children at home. Besides he and his Dad had spent a lot of
time hunting, fishing and hiking in the huge northern wilderness.
Sweden is fortunate to have such a resource. So few people took ad-
vantage of it that it is still in pristine condition.
Göran is lost in reminiscing until John coughs. Pulling himself
back to the moment he says, “Sure John, glad to help if I can,
though I’m no expert on the mineral resources I know a little about
the geography.”
John looks pleased and points to a region north west of Luleå.
“What do you know about this area?”
Göran thinks for a moment before answering. “Never been there,
but I know it’s isolated. The Sami use it for their reindeer in the
summer and I think it is sometimes favored by hunters looking for
elk and game birds.”
John shakes his head, giving him the “I’ve heard this before
look,” and Göran tries to recall if they ever talked about hunting
elk or even hiking. Is John planning a hunting trip? Finally Göran
says “It’s a little late in the hunting season John, gets very cold
there this time of year, and if the lack of sunlight in Luleå both-
ers you, the sun won’t return to that place until late in the win-
John smiles and instead of acknowledging his comment says, “I
found out something interesting in Kiruna yesterday.” John now re-
lates Bruno’s story.
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Göran doesn’t understand where John is going with this. He
doesn’t want to say something that will get him involved in anything
but his thesis work. “I guess it’s a bit odd, those hunters really
know how to train their dogs and I’ve never heard of them losing one
much less three.”
John now relates his suspicions that Bruno’s experience is re-
lated to Henry and Greta’s quest.
“Seems far fetched to me,” Göran replies, hoping that John isn’t
going where he thinks he is with this. “If anything major is happen-
ing wouldn’t it be seen by satellite surveillance? The government is
pretty touchy about the military importance of the north. Also the
Sami don’t like intrusions in their territory.”
To Göran’s surprise his normally conservative advisor responds
by muttering, somewhat incoherently, about how you can’t trust gov-
Following this John says, “I doubt that the interests of the
Sami would be much of a concern if the government saw some way to
solve their energy problems.”
To his shame Göran agrees with this, the history was clear,
whenever there was enough gain for the Swedes the Sami concerns were
conveniently put aside. “You may have something there, but I don’t
see what concern of ours this is.”
Göran can immediately see that this comment was the wrong thing
to say. He could almost swear that John is going to start screaming
at him. He is upset and fascinated at the same time as John visibly
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struggles to control his temper. Then, in an oddly calm voice, John
says, “The most important attitudes a scientist must cultivate are
curiosity and skepticism. So far you have not mastered either.”
Göran, hearing this, is genuinely hurt. Doesn’t John realize
how hard he has been working and how difficult graduate work is for
him while having to worry about Magnus and Kirstin? Maybe it was a
mistake to hook up with an English advisor. He isn’t sure anymore
about what how to answer John. Of course he knows that curiosity and
skepticism are crucial for a scientist. If John is fair, he should
see that Göran is working very very hard.
Collecting himself he says, “Of course I’m curious John, but you
yourself told me my first priority is to get my thesis done, that I
should focus on this and only this until I finish.” There, that
should make him feel bad about browbeating me, Göran thinks. But he
can see that John does not look at all bothered by this reply.
Rather he says in a slightly pontifical tone, “A researcher has
to be ready to take advantage of new data. It’s true you must give
priority to your thesis, but you must be ready to shift your priori-
ties when the unexpected occurs.”
Göran is now certain that all this is leading toward something
he’s not going to like. The only thing unexpected that had happened
was the break in to John’s office.
John continues, pointing at the map, “My intuition tells me that
something very unusual is happening in this area, the place Bruno
and his friend are now calling the ice triangle.”
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Göran, hoping to divert the inevitable, interrupts, “Sorry John,
but I don’t see what that has to do with our research here.”
“That’s my point, we have to find out if it does. We have the
resources and the time to go take a look.”
Göran now has a notion as to what John intends. Probably he
wants to take our research van and survey this so called ice trian-
gle. It’s a crazy idea, yet, with some guilt in regard to his fam-
ily, the idea of getting away has it’s attractions.
As John continues talking, obviously excited by his plan to take
a look at the region, Göran’s mind is racing. How is he going to ex-
plain this all to Kirstin? But what can she say? She knows how de-
pendent he is on John’s good will. She even likes John personally.
She often spoke of how sad it was that John had no apparent girl-
friend and how she might find a suitable friend for him. If not for
Göran insisting that it was not a good idea to carry out matchmaking
for ones doctoral advisor, she would have long since pushed the man
into some relationship.
He would just tell her that John insisted on his going, which
had the advantage of being the truth. She would see the need, know-
ing that John had no experience dealing with arctic winter condi-
tions in the wilderness. There was no way he could make a survey of
the area without someone like Göran helping him. He didn’t have to
explain all the stuff about missing dogs to her. All he need say is
that John wanted to survey the area for mining and geological rea-
sons and that it was important for his thesis work.
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Soon Kirstin is forgotten and both he and John are into the
thick of planning the trip. As he expected, John is very naive about
what needs to be done and surprised by the cost of the supplies.
Lake Geneva
Watching Henry stow the luggage in the rented black BMW sedan,
Greta’s doubts about him once more bubble to the surface. Sure the
bold way he has managed their escape from the cafe impressed her,
but at the same time she finds him too glib, even too sneaky. After
all she is trusting her future, maybe even her life to the man.
Sure, he is a famous writer, but what does that mean? She knows
nothing about him as a person. So why is she letting him push her
around like this? They had spent a night together in the airport ho-
tel, but he had been almost too much the perfect gentleman. Should
she feel insulted or glad. Everything to do with the man was compli-
cated. Still, it’s exhilarating. They had exited Sweden on counter-
feit Swedish passports. She realizes that she must now be an inter-
national criminal. Henry had picked up a package containing false
papers and first class air tickets when they registered at he hotel.
She had protested loudly at using the phony documents. Why, she
asked him, do we need phony identities? Henry had replied that the
people chasing them were probably connected with some government and
would have the means to trace them. So she had gone along with it,
and now she is deeper than ever in Henry’s web. The fake documents
were superb. To her relief they had no trouble whatever, though she
must have lost two years of life while the woman at the Swiss immi-
gration desk was looking at her and the papers. Henry, of course,
was as cool as ever.
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Finally all the luggage is put away and they are on the road to
Lausanne, lake Geneva glistening in the fall afternoon sun to their
right. All that luggage, she thought, all new and all waiting for
them when they arrived last night. Henry, or whomever arranged the
purchases, had spared no expense. She had counted at least three
very elegant outfits, all a bit too elegant for her taste. Amazingly
they all fit very well, though she doesn’t like the high heeled
pumps and sandals, not exactly the style of a recent graduate stu-
dent. She just isn’t used to being wealthy.
She turns to Henry and says, “Isn’t about time you tell me ex-
actly why we’re here?”
Henry shakes his head and smiles. “And ruin the surprise, don’t
you trust me?”
Greta sends a playful punch to Henry’s shoulder and says, “To
tell the truth, no.” Feigning a sad expression, Henry replies, “Now
you have truly ruined my day.”
“Oh come on Henry, stop this, I’ve followed you here from Stock-
holm, accepted some phony identity and a false passport and now I
think I deserve to know what you’re planing.”
Henry now assumes a serious expression and says, “I just want
you to enjoy the evening.” Pointing his finger toward the view, he
continues, “Look to the eastern end of the lake, the setting sun is
being reflected by the Dent du Mide, if you have a soul you must
find that beautiful, even romantic.”
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Greta has to admit to herself that the view is indeed startling.
If she weren’t so concerned about what she was getting involved in
she would be gushing words of admiration. But she’s too upset by
what is going on to enjoy any view, no matter how beautiful. “Your
just changing the subject again, and it’s not going to work this
time. What are we doing here?”
Henry removes his right hand from the steering wheel and
scratches his chin, then replies, “We’re a happy couple, Stig and
Anna Larson, taking a well deserved working vacation in Switzerland.
We’re also wealthy investors in a Swedish organization that happens
to run a laboratory on the Swiss-French border in the Jura moun-
Greta now understands the reason for the rich wardrobe in the
expensive leather suitcases, though exactly what they are doing is
still a mystery.
Henry smiles and continues, “Tonight we are going to check into
one of the more classy Lausanne hotels and in the morning we’ll
drive out to visit the laboratories and discuss how our investments
are being spent.”
Greta soon sees that Henry’s description of the Château d’Ouchy
doesn’t do the hotel justice. The location, by the lake with its
magnificent view of the French Alps above Evian is quite breathtak-
ing and even with her concerns she can’t help but enjoy it.
Noting her reaction, Henry says, “Not bad, is it. But no time to
dawdle, we must get dressed for dinner.”
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Greta is almost on the point of enjoying herself, then she re-
calls that her family and friends don’t have any idea where she is.
Even worse, she is on the run from criminals with governmental con-
nections and resources. Also she’s traveling under a false identity
with a companion who seems immune to any guilt about breaking laws.
And once more she is in a hotel room and about to share a bed with
Him. Then her thoughts turn to the lack of sexual interest he had
shown towards her last night. Could he be gay? They had slept in the
same bed, a large bed, but still it was being shared, and he hadn’t
done anything besides sleeping.
The night after they had found Grenquist’s body he had been so
attentive. What had she done wrong since then. She thinks of herself
as attractive, but intellectual. The men she had been involved with
treated her as an equal, but also as a woman and she prided herself
as being a desirable bed companion. But Henry came from New York,
the world center of sophistication. Maybe she wasn’t up to his stan-
dards. That couldn’t be true. The Americans were no more, probably
much less sophisticated in love making than the Swedes. What’s wrong
with her? Nothing. He is probably gay. But being gay was no longer a
stigma. If he was gay why doesn’t he simply tell her? And there was
the night they had made love. What does she care anyway?
Henry’s first act when they are alone in the room is to close
the slotted window shades, what the Swiss and French call “store.”
He opens one of the leather cases, and Greta sees an array of elec-
tronic equipment. Henry proceeds to walk about the room holding a
black and silver box with an attached antenna. He mumbles something
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 94

and examines the lamps, telephone, television and even the beds. Fi-
nally he says, “It looks clean, but we have to be careful.”
Greta is getting more and more annoyed at these antics and is
letting Henry know it by the scowling expression she presents him
with. Henry flashes his infuriating smile at her.
He can’t be, gay she thinks and says, “I’m getting sick of this
James Bond style of yours. If you think I find this impressive you
are very much mistaking.” To her surprise Henry grabs her around the
waist and covers her mouth with his. Before she knows what’s happen-
ing she finds herself in the midst of a passionate kiss with Henry’s
tongue exploring her mouth. For a moment she enjoys it, but remem-
bering the circumstances she is in she pulls away and glares at
Grinning, Henry says, “Is that James Bond enough for you?”
Greta muses, If he is gay he hides it well. She wants to be mad,
but can’t control returning Henry’s comment with a smile. He once
more takes her by the waist and swings her around toward the suit-
cases, and says, “Get dressed, we’re going to be late for dinner.”
Glancing at the lights of Evian on the opposite side of the
lake, Henry wishes that they actually were a wealthy Swedish couple
vacationing in Lausanne. Then they could whisk across to the French
side and Evian’s gambling casino and he would have no worries about
carrying out Walter’s nefarious plans. Greta should only know how
uncomfortable he is about what they are doing. He had come very
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close to telling Walter to get lost when the man explained the plan
to investigate the Nova Institute. It had not taken long, given
John’s information about Grenqvist’s consulting, to trace the con-
nection to the Institute. Walter had then come up with the ridicu-
lous scheme that he and Greta were now engaged in. If Walter was not
working for or with some government agency, how in the world did he
obtain those phony passports. Henry’s heart had been about to burst
when they went through the Swiss passport control. It took a gargan-
tuan effort of control not to show his emotions. The guilty look on
Greta’s face hadn’t helped. The more he was around her the more he
regretted ensnaring her in this mess. He had tried to remain as emo-
tionally uninvolved with her as he could. Spending nights in the
same bed with a beautiful woman didn’t help. He also has the feeling
that this is also part of Walter’s plan. The man is so devious, it
is hard to separate what is deliberate from the pure accidental. How
could he, he knows all too well that Walter has a knock for taking
advantage of the accidental. Mostly he worried that if he quit Wal-
ter’s employ he would lose his position in the literary world. But
now it occurred to him that Walter must have a huge file detailing
all of the transgressions Henry had committed over the last ten
years, mostly for Walter. Also Walter had never threatened him, it
wasn’t the man’s way. Walter was smarter than that. He just had to
let Henry use his own imagination.
Henry is awakened from these thoughts by the sounds of Greta’s
voice. “Are you okay Henry? You seem lost in thought.”
Henry puts on his best smile and says, “Just thinking about how
much money we could make gambling away the evening across the lake.
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And by the way the name is Stig, my wife Anna doesn’t know about my
other identity as Henry.”
Greta frowns and replies, “I almost forgot,” and with added em-
phasis she continues, “Stig”.
Henry is sorry to have destroyed the atmosphere, but he worries
about maintaining their cover identities.
A flash of anger in her expression, Greta says, “I think it’s
about time you told me more about yourself. You may be well known as
an author, but even well known authors can’t produce phony travel
documents at the drop of a hat. I’m beginning to think you work for
the CIA or worse.”
Henry thinks that she may even be correct for all he really
knows. If she knew how little information he possesses about whom he
works for, she would think him a total idiot. Trying to keep his
cool as best he can, Henry replies, “Greta, I’m an investigative re-
porter. Sure, I specialize in science and technology, and the inves-
tigative part is not emphasized in what I normally write, but behind
the scenes it’s what I do.”
Greta continues to frown and says, “You’re not very good at
this you know, you just called me Greta, Stig.”
Henry can’t help laughing at this. “You’ve got me there, Anna,
I’m not very good at it. Now if I really worked for the CIA I would
be better trained. Maybe I should apply for a job with them.” At
least the atmosphere is lightning up, Henry thinks, though Greta
still looks annoyed if not angry as she says, “Stig, I realize I’m
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 97

now up to my ears in whatever is going on, and to tell the truth,
part of me is enjoying it. My mom and dad would have a fit if they
knew about what has been happening, but aside from that I feel like
a star in a spy movie.”
Henry wishes he had similar feelings, but the only emotion he
has is fear for his future, and even for Greta’s future. “Then enjoy
it and stop asking questions in public places.”
Greta now smiles and says, “I’ll try, but as soon as we’re alone
you are going to tell me more. If I’m going to be part of this I
want to know the reason.”
She’s right, Henry thinks, and says, “Tomorrow we’re taking a
ride out to the Jura mountains toward the French border to visit the
laboratory in which Stig and Anna are heavily invested.” He hopes
Walter has this part of the cover well taken care of. Whatever the
Nova Institute is engaged in they are not going to be happy about a
visit by an investigative reporter. He continues, “We should have
reasonable privacy during the ride and I’ll explain what I know.”
Greta gives him a look that Henry suspects she hopes will penetrate
his soul.
She then says, “I don’t know if I can believe whatever you say
at this point. But at least make it a good story.”
Considering what he actually knows, Henry thinks, she would
probably prefer a fictional account. “Sure,” he says, “But I won’t
tell you where my spacecraft is buried!”
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John grabs hold of the SUV’s front panel as he is lurched about.
He sees that Göran is negotiating another hairpin turn on the narrow
snow covered road. The expression on Göran’s face is one of sheer
delight. Wishing he had partaken of a more spartan breakfast, John
turns to his student and says, “I thought you Swedes claimed that
the roads up here could support jet fighter operations?”
Göran laughs, “Many of them do, this just isn’t one of them.
Anyway this is where you said you wanted to go, so don’t complain.”
“I wasn’t complaining, just making an observation. It’s no worse
than the Scottish Highlands.” John thinks, Now why did I say that,
it’s a hell of a lot worse. The digital thermometer on the dash
reads minus thirty and John swears that the last time he looked it
was minus twenty five. Even in his winter parka in the heated vehi-
cle he is chilled to the bone. He asks himself if this is not going
to be a fools errand, then recalls Bruno’s tale of the missing dogs.
There could be a thousand innocent explanations, none of them inter-
esting enough to justify this jaunt into this arctic ice box. Look-
ing at the GPS system readout, he sees that the road is coming to an
end. To continue their quest they will have to use the two snow mo-
biles stored in the trailer attached to the back of the SUV. He bet-
ter get used to being cold fast, the worst is yet to come. Göran had
stopped complaining about their little expedition as soon as they
were outside Luleå and heading north. John is certain that despite
Göran’s initial reticence he is enjoying himself. No wonder, John
thinks, considering Göran’s domestic life. If marrying a Swedish
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woman means the kind of slavery Göran is being subjected to, John
knows that it is a fate worth avoiding for himself. John isn’t so
sure of his own motivations. Was he doing this to impress Greta? Not
really. It’s far more likely that he might discover something impor-
tant enough to open a career path back to Cambridge or even the
States. Just as he begins to enjoy the thought of success his
thoughts are interrupted by a loud beeping.
“Wake up John, the GPS is signaling that we have reached the
last way-point on the road.”
Soon they are unpacking their supplies. Perhaps due to the twi-
light conditions of the arctic afternoon, this task takes longer
than John had expected. The garish yellow letters on the side of the
SUV announce that it belongs to the Department of Mining Science at
the University of Luleå. The vehicle had taken a big slice out of
his yearly budget, so now it’s satisfying to see it getting some use
in the field. He hates to leave it here, in the middle of nowhere
and unattended, but there is no other choice. There is no way they
can proceed into the off road terrain with the vehicle. He wishes he
had one of the newer ORV’s but his application for the funds had
been denied. The kind of off road vehicle needed for a job like this
was just too expensive, so they would have to take to the snow
scooters. He had little experience with the things. He had been told
that they were very popular with the Lapps. Very useful for herding
their reindeer. Better remember to call them Sami, not Lapps, which
is definitely not politically correct.
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John now realizes that Göran is shouting at him. The constant
shrill of the battering wind makes communication difficult. “All
ready to go John, better lock up the SUV.” John puts his thumbs up
to signal that he received the message. Thumbs up, he thinks as he
stares at his heavy mittens. Hardly looks like I have a thumb. They
had decided that Göran would take the lead with the small trailer
carrying their gear attached to his scooter. John kicks the start
lever on his mount and soon, to John’s dismay, both machines are
making enough noise to drown out the screaming wind. John reflects
that at least they aren’t going to surprise any bears or wolves.
Göran claimed that it was rare to come across either, but the
thought still nagged at him. The only place with such animals in the
UK were zoo’s. About the worst creature you met in the Highlands,
where he liked to vacation, were drunk Scotsman. Then again maybe
reasoning with a bear would be easier than with a Scotsman.
Both scooters are equipped with small GPS units, which had been
preprogrammed with the route information John had gleaned from
Bruno. Even so it was important to pay attention to the details of
the cross country terrain, so John is careful to follow Göran’s lead
as closely as he can manage. The required attention and the bumpy
ride are soon tiring John out. He considers himself to be in top
physical condition, but muscles he was not aware of are soon inform-
ing him of their displeasure at being awakened. After what seems
like hours of punishment he pulls his scooter as close as he can to
Göran and shouts as loud as he is able. “Göran, where the hell are
we?” He hopes he could be heard over the noise of the wind and the
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straining snowmobile engines. He is cold, tired and in about as foul
a mood as he has ever found himself.
With some difficulty he manages to make out Göran’s reply. “I
have no idea John, my GPS unit is not locking on to any satellites,
what does yours say?”
John shakes his head, and feeling the strain on his throat,
shouts back, “The storm is blocking a line of sight connection with
the satellites; I can’t get a sensible reading.”
In his present mood he is less than pleased to hear his stu-
dent’s shouted reply, “So much for your expensive equipment, the
Sami have found their way around here for centuries without the aid
of satellites!”
“I should’ve brought one of them along instead of you then.
Probably get his dissertation done faster too.” John is only half
jesting as he says this. Göran’s progress on his research was all
too leisurely. John was barely 24 when he had finished his own PHD
and Göran was now over thirty. However he’s probably better company
than one of the reindeer herdsman, even if he’s not as familiar with
the territory.
“Okay John, but you’re stuck with me for the moment. I suggest
we stop and construct a shelter before it gets really dark. In this
white out we’ll just end up going around in circles.”
John imagines a nice soft bed, a warm room and plenty of food,
then recalls that they have a skimpy small tent, dehydrated food and
sleeping bags. “I agree, here is as good a place as any, plenty of
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snow to melt for cooking, so we don’t have to be too fussy about a
With the blowing wind and snow it’s exhausting work to set up
the arctic tent. By the time they finish he thinks he’s even content
with the skimpy shelter, anything to get out of the cold. This is a
short lived satisfaction as there is hardly a noticible increase of
warmth inside the tent.
Göran’s continued look of pleasure, even in these miserable con-
ditions, doesn’t help John’s mood. He watches as a whistling Göran
sets the cooking stove going. To take his mind off his discomfort,
John concentrates on his map of the area. Using his compass and the
last reliable GPS data he is able to make a rough estimate of their
location. It looks like they are still outside the so called ice
triangle. He would like to have a more exact reading of their posi-
tion, but this will have to wait until the snow and overcast sky
“There is not much we can do until this damn storm blows over,”
John says, surprised to find himself shouting as much in the shelter
as out. If anything the sound of the wind is worse.
“One thing is for sure,” answers Göran, “If this storm keeps up
much longer we’re going to disappear under a mountain of snow, more
victims of the ice triangle.”
John fills his drinking cup with snow and watches it melt over
the fire. The snow turns to steaming water. What John now sees
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causes him to nudge Göran on the shoulder. “Notice something about
the water in the pot?”
“Nothing special, why do you ask?”
“Look again, and tell me what you see?” This time Göran takes
some time to reply. After a minute or so he does notice something
slightly odd. “There’re circular ripples forming on the surface.
It’s like that scene in Jurassic Park where the Tyrannosaurus is ap-
proaching the jeeps.”
“Yeah,” John replies. “But no sound, you don’t hear anything
strange do you?” Again Göran takes time to reply. “Hard to say with
all that wind noise, do you hear anything?”
“No, I don’t, but I do see the ripples. How do you explain it?”
“John, I’m beginning to feel I’m taking an examination! Hope I
pass. I would guess that the ground is vibrating as some very low
frequency, what you would call infra-sound. We don’t hear anything
because the frequency is so low. The reason we see the ripples is
because there is a resonance of some kind, in other words the fluid
mass in the pot is tuned to the vibration frequency of the surface.”
“Right on Göran, you pass! That’s my theory too. It may have
something to do with the reaction of the dogs and other animals.
It’s not my field, but I recall reading about animals being very
sensitive to infra-sound. It’s one of the suspected explanations for
why they seem to anticipate earthquakes and tsunamis.”
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“But what could make the earth move like that? You can’t be
thinking we’re going to have an earthquake? We’re nowhere near any
plate boundaries.”
“The worse earthquakes occur in the center of tectonic plates.
Who knows? Maybe the animals that disappeared were swallowed by the
earth when the ground opened up under them. Problem is we didn’t get
any indication of there being seismometer readings indicating an
earthquake of any significance. Micro-quakes are occurring all the
time, but any event that could have led to cracks big enough to
swallow dogs and reindeer would surely have made the news.”
Tired as he is, John sinks into his sleeping bag sure that he
will soon be dozing away. But to his dismay, John’s sleep is con-
stantly disturbed as the storm continues unabated throughout the
night. Göran’s loud snoring adds to John’s discomfort. Sensing the
mounting level of snow, he is sure their tent and the snow scooters
will be buried before dawn. He then realizes that there is no dawn
this time of year at the latitude of their camp.
Eventually John notices that the sound of the wind is reduced,
though the same can’t be said of his companions snoring. Looking at
his watch, he decides that it’s time to wake him up. Though there is
no daylight as such, there is enough refracted illumination coming
over the horizon to illuminate the snow covered ground. John shakes
Göran awake. Then with some difficulty, they manage to get free of
the snow bound tent.
Despite his lack of rest, John notes that the scene before them
has considerable beauty, the pristine white snow glittering like
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crystals of diamond in the sub zero near daybreak. That they had to
dig their way upward to appreciate it impresses John with the dan-
gerous reality of their situation. “Houston, we have a problem,”
John quips. “The scooters are buried under the snow. In fact all our
equipment is buried.” For the first time in the journey John notices
that Göran is not radiating happiness.
“Even if we dig them out, John, I’m not sure we can use them
over the new snow cover. Time to break out the skis.” John groans to
himself, the snow scooters were bad enough. John is a fan of down-
hill skiing, but the cross country variety of the sport has an ex-
hausting quality that he is not at all pleased with. He had been
told that this was the origin of skiing, the Lapps, excuse me, the
Sami, being its first practitioners. For them it was not a sport but
a way of life and the northern Swedes seemed to follow this prac-
With effort he can’t spare, they dig out the needed equipment
and skis from the snow trailer. To John the only good news is that
he’s finally able to get some decent GPS readings. “Were smack in
the middle of the ice triangle,” he informs Göran.
“Lucky us”, Göran says as he holds the flame of a gas torch to
the bottom of the skis. “Don’t like this part of cross country ski-
ing,” he grumbles to John.
“Is all the waxing really necessary, I thought the newer skis
used polymer coatings to eliminate the need for waxing?”
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“You still have to do it if you want decent efficiency”, Göran
responds as he carefully applied a wax suitable for the current sub-
zero temperature. “Without the wax the snow is going to clump on the
bottom of your skis, so it’s well worth the trouble.
John takes a number of GPS and compass readings, making certain
they can relocate the scooters. They decide to move out radially
from their current location, keeping their eyes open for anything of
interest. They would then circle about the site and return on an-
other radial line. Göran claims that thirty kilometers would be no
problem on the skis. John is not so sure of this, but he has his
pride. Wouldn’t do to seem unprepared in front of my graduate stu-
dent, he thinks.
An hour later John is beginning to have doubts about this proce-
dure. Göran who had practically grown up on skis is having no trou-
ble, but John, less accustomed to the sport is feeling exhausted.
They had not even finished the outward radial and already he could
feel the ache of strained muscles. Finally sense overcomes pride.
“Göran,” he gasps, “mercy, I need a rest stop.”
Göran doesn’t say anything but instead makes some hand motions
followed by a neatly executed stop with a turning motion of his
“Don’t want to stay still for too long John, at this temperature
it’s important to keep moving.”
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“I understand the theory”, replies John. “Problem is that if I
keep going like this I’ll collapse. Anyway as long as I have to stop
we can try an experiment.”
John pulls the small camping stove out of his back pack. After
lighting it he pours some snow into his drinking cup. As the snow
melts they can clearly see ripples on the water surface.
“What we saw last night was no coincidence,” John comments to
Göran. “There is some very unusual geological activity, and it’s
fairly wide spread.” In spite of his exhaustion and the bitter cold,
for the first time since the start of the trip John experiences a
sense of exhilaration. This is a new phenomena just begging for an
explanation. Visions of sitting by a warm fire in a Cambridge col-
lege, Greta by his side, fill his head. He shakes himself as he re-
alizes what he is thinking. What is Greta doing by his side?
Seated next to Henry in the speeding BMW sedan Greta stretches
contentedly. Henry’s explanations of what they are doing in Switzer-
land are, to say the least, incomplete. He must have learned more
than what they had found out from the papers they had removed ille-
gally from Grenqvist’s office. Yet, against her better judgement,
she is enjoying herself. All the same she has mixed feelings about
her companion. His secretiveness is still there, but his attentive-
ness of the evening had softened her attitude toward him. The beauty
of their surroundings is another factor that contributes to her ele-
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vated mood. They beauty of the low slung Jura mountains captivates
her eye. Not as impressive as the alps, the Jura’s rolling hills
have a more friendly and less threatening attraction. Her past vis-
its to the ski slopes in the German speaking part of the country had
left her with an altogether different impression of the place. The
air of mystery about her companion even contributes a certain amount
of the romance that now suffuses her thoughts and throws her off her
more customary guard. She knows very well that Henry can’t be
trusted, but emotionally she has began to rely on him. The scanty
information that he had provided her with at breakfast had further
peaked her interest. He had elaborated on the ruse that they were
rich investors in a Swedish company that partially sponsored the
Nova Institute. Their cover is that they are combining a vacation in
Switzerland and France with a tour of the Institute. What he had not
told her was how he had set up such an elaborate background for
them. This bespoke of some very unusual resources for a working
journalist and science writer. As she ponders this her distrust for
Henry reasserts itself. Why is her life so complicated? It would be
so nice for once to just follow along with her feelings. Growing up
under the influence of her father’s paranoia had instilled an auto-
matic suspicion of the world. Considering his background, the man
had good reason for his attitudes. It must have been awful enough,
being separated from his parents and sent to Sweden to escape the
Nazis. Growing up and knowing the fate of his parents certainly
tainted any tendency for optimism. It’s her misfortune that so much
of this had played a part in her own development. She knows intel-
lectually that her environment is vastly different than her fathers,
but still she is infected with his suspicion and distrust. So try as
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she may, she can’t ignore Henry’s actions that brand him as some-
thing more than a simple journalist.
Her thoughts are interrupted by the sound of Henry’s voice, “You
best start to get in the mood for our encounter. We’re near Ville
Orbe and the French border. The Nova Institute is located just out-
side the town.”
Greta’s paranoia increases as she recalls that they are now
traveling under false identities. She tries to assume an ironic tone
and says, “Right, you’re Stig Larson,” and feeling the expensive
wedding band and engagement ring Henry had provided her with she
continues, “and I’m your loving wife Anna.”
She is no expert on diamonds, so she wonders if the huge stone
on the engagement ring is indeed real. She laughs at the thought,
off course, like everything else she is discovering about her ersatz
husband, it is an excellent counterfeit. He has even become an er-
satz Swede. Stig Larson indeed. He doesn’t even speak Swedish. Henry
of course had a cover story for that, he had been brought up in
America by his rich Swedish parents who hated the high taxes imposed
by the socialist state. She would have laughed at this if she didn’t
know how many rich Swedes had taken up foreign residences and moved
assets outside of the country to avoid their obligations.
Henry points to an unobtrusive sign outside an elegant old Cha-
teau. In almost unreadable small letters it proclaimed that they are
entering the property of ‘Institute Nova SA.’ Greta responds by say-
ing, “That hardly looks like a state of the art scientific labora-
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Henry laughs and says, “Looks can be deceiving.”
How true, Greta mutters to herself thinking how well this ap-
plies to Henry himself.
Henry continues, “As you will see, the Nova Institute has some
of the aspects of an iceberg, much of it being underground. Also, I
should warn you that their work requires some unusual precautions,
so be prepared for some personal indignities.”
“Indignities?” Greta repeats questioningly. “Just go with the
flow, I assure you, there is no danger.” Greta recalls that the last
time Henry said something like this they had come upon the mangled
corpse of Professor Grenqvist. Anyway it’s too late to protest. It
is clearly part of Henry’s style to provide important information at
the last minute. This technique made it hard to back out of his
plans. The amazing part is that she has actually begun to like him!
Henry hopes that the cover Walter has worked out for them will
indeed work, though he has his doubts. The Swiss were very, very
tough on industrial spies. He wonders if the Swiss jails are more
comfortable than their Mexican counterparts. Greta appears so con-
fident, he thinks. She should only know how risky what they are do-
ing is. Over the past ten years he had become involved in so many of
Walter’s crazy operations he has grown expert in covering up his
emotions. Still he felt the sweat on his palms, which he surrepti-
tiously wiped on the side of his trousers. It wouldn’t do if someone
shaking his hand noticed such an indication of nervousness. The
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guards greeting them at the reception area are very businesslike and
he suppresses his tendency to make a joke. Joking is one of his
means of hiding his discomfort, but this is definitely not the place
for it. He wishes he could be as unaware as Greta of the position
they are in. Not for the first time he senses a knot in his stomach,
guilty about dragging Greta into danger. He signs the guest register
for both of them and hands one of the visitor badges to Greta.
Turning around, Henry sees a small attractive grey haired woman
holding her hand out to him. In a clear slightly accented English
she says, “Welcome to the Nova Institute Mr. Larson. Allow me to in-
troduce myself, Lisette Dupont.”
Henry takes the outstretched hand and says, “Of course, Dr. Du-
pont,” and turning to Greta, “Anna dear, this is Dr. Lisette Dupont,
the general director of Nova.”
Dupont smiles and says, “We are somewhat informal here so please
call me Lisette.”
Henry nods and replies, “It is my pleasure, and please, we are
Stig and Anna.” Following these pleasantries they follow Lisette
through a maze of corridors to a small but attractively furnished
office, where they take seats at a circular table. Lisette points to
an elegant coffee and tea service and a plate piled with croissants
and says, “Please help yourselves while we talk.”
While Henry pours the coffee for himself and Greta, she contin-
ues, “I was somewhat surprised to hear about your visit yesterday.
Mostly we interact with the directors of your company in Sweden. I
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don’t recall any direct visits by investors, so please pardon me if
I seem not aware of exactly what you expect from this visit.”
Henry breaths a sigh of relief, whatever Walter has done to ar-
range to cover their visit appears to have worked. Doing his best to
cover his remaining nervousness, he replies, “Anna and I decided on
the visit as an afterthought. Since we are vacationing here in Swit-
zerland, why not combine business with pleasure?”
Lisitte coughs slightly and responds, “I see, and I do hope we
can satisfy your curiosity. I’m also sorry to say that I was told
very little about you. I hope you don’t take it amiss if I ask you
to tell me a little about your scientific background.”
Henry laughs and says, “Of course, knowing something about what
we know can make communication more effective.” Looking knowingly at
Greta he continues, “We both have studied science at the University.
My wife Anna holds a Master Degree in Chemistry and I have a Doc2to-
ral Degree in Physics.” Watching Lissette’s pleased response to this
information, Henry further elaborates, spinning a tale of inherited
wealth and his families desire to support good scientific research
that can also enhance their fortunes. Continuing he says, “That’s
the reason my father insisted I study a hard science at the Univer-
sity to as high a level as I could. Of course the family also hoped
I would marry someone like Anna, who also is knowledgeable in a sci-
entific field.” As he says this Henry observes a slight scowl on
Greta’s face. He hopes this doesn’t give their show away, then real-
izes that Lisette is now fully occupied explaining what the Nova In-
stitute did. He already knew from Walter that they were engaged in
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front line research in biology and the new nano technology. What
they didn’t know was what Grenqvist had to do with the research. Re-
search that, at least at first glance, seemed very removed from his
specialty of mining science. Aside from not wanting to be too obvi-
ous about his interest in this, Henry found himself caught up in
Lisette’s narration. The science is indeed interesting. She de-
scribes how they hope to wed the purely biological with the purely
physical by combining nanotech device with cellular life. The medi-
cal applications alone are fairly staggering and Henry almost wishes
he actually had investments in the Institute. He suspects that Wal-
ter himself had such, that being one of the reasons they had gotten
beyond the doors so easily. The question is what, if anything, the
elegant Dr. Dupont is hiding. Henry’s intuition tells him she is
just a little too eager to please. The more she chatters on about
the wonders that Nova is discovering, the more Henry is sure she is
indeed hiding something.
Glancing at Greta, he notes that she has come under the spell of
Lisette’s monolog. He hopes she will remember their cover story. In
the meantime he has to find out how to get beyond whatever may be
hidden from them. Finally a scheme occurs to him and, as soon as he
politely can, he interrupts her. “It’s very useful for us to hear
your first hand account of these activities Lisette, but since we
are here on the scene it would be even more interesting to see some
of the work directly.”
Henry is not surprised by the long silence that greets this
seemingly simple request. Finally Lisette says, “Of course, the
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problem is that much of our research is carried out under somewhat
extreme conditions.”
Before Henry can ask what this means, she continues, “Many of
the techniques employed involve self reproductive systems, both bio-
logical and mechanical. The distinction is blurred in what we do
Ah, Henry thinks, they’re fooling around with reproducing nano
systems and they’re worried about contamination. The so called grey
goo problem of science fiction, where the world is converted into a
grey goo by the action of accidentally created self reproducing mi-
cro robots that convert everything into themselves. In effect, they
eat up the world. This thought in mind he replies, “Anna and I are
very flexible, if that means we have to don special clothing or un-
dergo some sort of decontamination procedure, there is no problem.”
Henry can see that Greta is puzzling over what Henry has just
said and he hopes she will continue to go along with his lead.
Lisette still looks concerned as she says, “You are correct, we
do carefully control the environment around our experiments. You may
find our methods very extreme and unsettling. Not only must you wear
special isolation garments but there are a number of, shall we say,
uncomfortable intrusions into various body cavities. These are part
of the decontamination.” Henry shakes his head in a gesture of as-
sent. “As investors both Anna and I understand the concerns and the
possibility of legal action against Nova if something should go
wrong. We are prepared to undergo whatever discomforts are re-
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Henry is pleased to hear Greta’s confirmation, though he also
detects a note of sarcasm, as she says, “Stig and I are used to un-
dergoing many discomforts in our activities, so just tell us what we
must do.”
Even forewarned Henry is surprised at the thoroughness of the
preparations. It takes over an hour to outfit both of them with the
complex isolation suits, which are garish indeed. The thought occurs
to him that they would make excellent props for a space travel
movie. Lisette was not kidding when she talked of personal intru-
sions and body cavities either. He hopes it will all be worth it as
the now almost unrecognizable figure of Lisette leads them down a
corridor of the old chateau. The analogy with a science fiction film
is further strengthened in Henry’s mind when they are ushered into a
futuristic metallic capsule, which Lisette explains is a high speed
elevator. The length of time it takes this high speed elevator to
descend to their destination tells Henry that they are now well be-
low the earth’s surface. The major operations and facilities of the
Nova Institute are, as he was informed, well out of sight. The ear-
piece in his isolation helmet crackles and he hears Lisette once
more reciting various statistics about what the Institute is doing
with their investment money. He thinks, given what is now before his
eyes, that huge sums of money must have been put into this opera-
tion. They are then led through a series of introductions to various
scientists who proceed to explain what their projects are about. The
demonstrations are very interesting and Henry can see the source of
many articles. He wishes he were visiting the institute as a jour-
nalist, but that would have been out of the question, these people
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aren’t giving their secrets away to any writers. Lisette made it a
point that herculean efforts had been made to keep the work out of
the press until useful applications had been found and appropriate
patents applied for. She had said, “We are in a very competitive
situation and we can’t afford leaks of information any more than of
materials from the experiments.” No, Walter had been quite right to
provide them with the disguise of investors rather than journalists.
After over two hours of this, Henry notices that Lisette has
avoided a series of rooms. As they walk from one project to another
it became more and more obvious that she is bypassing a specific
area of the laboratory. Finally Henry confronts her about this.
Again he is met by a long silence. Lisette is evidently having a
problem deciding what to tell Henry. He decides to prod her a little
and says, “It’s our money being spent here and we have a right to
know about everything that is going on.” As he says this, Henry
curses the isolation suits, which prevents him from seeing the ex-
pression on the director’s face.
After over a minute of rumination, Lisette answers, “Of course,
it’s just that the principle scientist working on this project is
“Gone,” Henry repeats, “What do you mean by gone? Is he dead?”
“No, nothing like that. At least I hope so. He has simply not
reported for work.”
“You must have tried to contact him?”
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“We have, but his ah, room mate, doesn’t know where he is ei-
ther, at least that’s what she says.” Henry thinks about this for a
moment. Even if the man is gone why has Lisette avoided showing them
his laboratory. Surely she could explained about the work that was
being carried out. It was all very odd, very suspicious. Henry asks,
“How long has this man been gone?”
Though he can’t directly see Lisette’s expression her embar-
rassed tone tells all as she says, “I believe it’s a little over two
Henry decides not to press the point about the length of the
man’s absence. Instead he says, “Anna and I would really like to see
this mystery man’s experiment. I don’t want to speculate further
about the case until I know what he was doing here.” With a gesture
of resignation, Lisette leads them into the area that she had, until
now, carefully avoided.
Henry sees a large transparent cubicle in the center of the
room. A complex array of hoses and mechanical fittings are connected
to the cubicle, and inside he can see several sets of robotic ma-
nipulator arms. What appears to be a large block of granite sits on
the bottom. Surrounding this enclosure is a large console with racks
of various instruments. Pretty standard stuff, computers and measur-
ing instruments as far as he can discern. While the cubicle is
transparent, it doesn’t have the look one would expect of glass, and
Henry isn’t sure what it is made of. He gives it a tap, noting that
Lisette visibly flinches when he does this. Not for the first time,
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he wishes he could see the expression on her face, but this is pre-
vented by the helmet of the biocontainment suit.
Henry expects her to say something like, don’t touch, but she
remains silent. He suspects that whatever the cubicle contains, it
scares her. At the same time she is probably confident that the
cube’s transparent surface is impervious to Henry’s best efforts. It
sure didn’t respond like he would have expected from glass.
He faces her hoping for an explanation. Instead she asks if they
have ever heard of extremophiles. Henry laughs to himself, she
doesn’t know it but he has written both a book and a series of arti-
cles about the subject. The book was a bestseller because of the
current interest in SETI or The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelli-
gence. The first extremophiles were found in the so called black
smokers, discovered by Alvin, the deep sea exploratory vehicle. In-
stead of living off photosynthesis and energy derived from sunlight,
the life around the black smokers live off the heat generated by
geophysical processes in the Earth’s interior. Lately scientists had
found bacteria living by actually ingesting rocks in the Earth’s
mantle. He listens, half amused, as Greta recites this information,
probably gleaned from his book. After all she claimed to have read
his work, and this was one of his most popular. Now she is telling
Lisette, “If there’re extremophiles on Earth, scientist’s have good
reason to expect them in the interior of other planets.”
Lisette, in a mildly surprised tone, congratulates them on being
so well informed. Henry again smiles to himself as he thinks that
like the typical scientific administrator, Dupont probably has only
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a thin understanding of the subject, and probably it comes from lis-
tening to her staff. Still she knows things he doesn’t so he best
keep his best keep his mouth shut until he found out more. The art
of interviewing is knowing when to keep silent.
Lisette continues, “Raphael Sanchez, the man who was running
this experiment, wanted to combine extremophiles that live on rock
as a nutrient with nanomechanical machines.” Then pausing to take a
breath she says, “This way he hoped it would be possible to drill
cheaply and inexpensively into rock” The problems of doing this are
formidable but Raphael is a very determined man. More my surprise at
his sudden disappearance. I don’t think he would have left the pro-
ject unfinished.
At last, Henry mutters to himself. This must be the connection
with Grenqvist and mining science. He must have advised them on
this project, helping them look for ways to replace traditional
drilling. What could be more non traditional than using extremophile
life forms to do your drilling for you. Henry tries to rub his chin,
but is prevented from doing so by the biosuit. He catches Greta
looking at him as he utters a hopefully low volume curse into his
suit’s mike, then says, “Wouldn’t using extremophile rock eaters be
very slow and impractical as a drilling device?”
“That’s why Rafael wanted to combine the extremophiles with a
nano machine. Perhaps you would like to see a demonstration?” Both
Greta and Henry nod in agreement. Henry decides that he must revise
his opinion of Lisette. Seeing how familiar she is with the compli-
cated looking equipment, she is no ordinary administrator. There is
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a low hum and the sound of pumps following her activity at the con-
trol bank.
She says, “I worked with Rafael for a while, before we had some
disagreements about what how to proceed.” The cube is now filling
with a gray mist, making it difficult to see the block of granite.
They watch for several minutes, but Henry sees nothing unusual hap-
pening. He doesn’t quite know what to expect, but he believed that
something more exciting than this would happen, considering the
buildup. Then, suddenly the entire block of granite collapses, leav-
ing a pile of gray dust on the floor of the cube. The grayish atmos-
phere had gathered around the region where the granite block had
stood and Henry could observe a number of vortices moving around.
Then the gray region explodes outward and fills the cube with a
dense, almost black fog. Lisette now throws another switch and a
cloud of white gas or vapor enters the cube. Within a minute the
black fog is gone, and the only sign that something unusual happened
is the pile of gray dust.
Greta exclaims, “What happened?”
Lisette turns to them both and says, “Impressive, if only we
could control it?”
Henry is astounded at the speed of the process. The combined ex-
tremophiles and nano machines have eaten the rock in an explosive
frenzy. They must have used the rocks material to reproduce them-
selves, explaining the blackening of the interior after the collapse
of the granite. He turns to Lisette and says, “That last business,
you pumped an acid gas into the cube to destroy the extremophiles.”
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“I’m impressed Stig, you seem to have figured out the process.
Unfortunately once the cellbots, that’s what Rafael calls them,
start to reproduce we lose control of them. For safety sake we have
to destroy them as soon as possible.” Henry replies, “So you’re far
from having a finished product here?”
“I’m afraid so, but we are working on it. Rafael is the expert,
he created the cellbots and knows more about them than anyone. I’m
afraid we have not seen eye to eye on safety issues involved with
the project. Rafael was very keen on a field test, which I believe
is premature.”
Henry still wants to know what Grenqvist was doing at the lab,
especially if he was working with Rafael. He decides to try a round-
about approach to the subject and asks, “Have you had any help or
discussion on how you could use these cellbots in an application?”
Lisette thinks a moment and replies, “Actually we have had some
discussions with a Professor Grenqvist from Stockholm. He may be one
of the reasons that Rafael left. The two didn’t get along at all.
Rafael considered him old fashioned and over cautious.”
Taking another tack Henry says, “I don’t understand why Rafael
would run off just when the experiment started to work. Aside from
his disagreements with you, did he have other enemies here at the
Lisette laughs and says, “You sound more like a detective than
an investor, Stig.”
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Henry notices that Greta flinches upon hearing Lisette. He an-
swers, trying to sound amused, “How right you are. An investor has
to also be his own detective in a way. It is a valuable survival in-
Henry now realizes that the key to discovering more about the
mystery of the new energy source, lies in this Rafael fellow. One
way or another he has to track down the man. “If it’s not too much
trouble I would like to see this Rafael’s employment portfolio.”
Lisette nods her helmet covered head in the affirmative and
says, “As soon as we arrive back a the office I’ll arrange it.”
A Surprise Awakening
Strange what one thinks about, John tells himself as he works
his cross country skis up a small rise. He’s tired, cold and ex-
hausted and on the trail of some fascinating mystery. Yet he keeps
recalling his first days at school. Mostly, how as a lad he had to
bare up under discomfort. Short pants and cold damp English mornings
flash through his mind. You had to be tough or the other kids and
the teachers would work you over. He was proud of his ability to
withstand discomfort, to put on a bloody good show. Göran, who in
John’s opinion is a coddled product of the Swedish Welfare State,
just keeos going, showing not the least sign of exhaustion. For
John, every push on his ski poles or negotiation of even slightly
rising terrain is agony. He knows that fairly soon he will have to
stop. Then there is the horrendous cold. He dare not look at the
temperature readout on his wrist band. He had thought that he could
withstand anything the climate could dish out to him. No longer.
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Mercifully Göran gestures for a stop and says, “I think this is
a good place to construct our shelter.”
John grunts his agreement as Göran hands him one of the small
shovels from the sledge. John tells himself that he can go on for at
least a little longer, anyway it would be unthinkable to let Göran
do all the work building the shelter. He follows his student, or for
the moment at least teacher, and soon the ice cave is completed.
Crawling inside they lay out their sleeping bags and Göran lights
the small stove to cook up some tea.
Again John notices the ripples on the surface of the water. The
place is permeated with low frequency infra sound, a discomforting
indication of geophysical activity. So far he has no idea as to the
cause of these disturbances.
After awhile John’s agony lessens, the tea and food providing
some slight surcease from the grueling environment. Movement is re-
stricted by the small size of the shelter, but John is quite happy
not having to build a larger one. Also the small size guarantees in-
creased warmth, and to John this is well worth almost any sacrifice.
Sleeping is difficult in the narrow confines of the darkened ice
cave. It’s difficult to move without prodding one another and John’s
mind keeps turning over with the events of the last few days. The
ground was vibrating, animals were spooked, he was spooked, and they
were isolated from the exterior world. At that moment Göran whis-
peres, “John, did you feel that?”
“Feel what, and why are you whispering?” John returns.
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“I think I felt a jolt and a shift in the wall near me, and I’m
whispering in case some one or some thing is outside.”
“Just what we need, bears you think?”
Before Göran can reply there is another sharper movement, and
John is aware that the shelter’s floor is shifting.
“I don’t think that’s any bear,” Göran gasps.
Again the shelter starts to shake, this time for a longer pe-
riod. Chunks of ice split off from the sides and fall upon the occu-
“John,” Göran now shouts, “I believe it’s time to get the hell
out of here.”
They both scramble and bump into one another as they squeeze
through the small opening to the ice cave. The night sky is lit with
a shifting auroral display. The beauty of this is wasted on the two
men as they scramble for safety. The ground movements became even
more pronounced and suddenly, a hundred meters in front of John a
jet of snow and ice erupts into the clear night air.
“My God,” John screams as a jet of steam rises high above them.
John hears himself screaming as he becomes aware of being hit by a
spray of hot liquid.
“John, are you okay?” Göran shouts.
“No, not at all!” John returns in an agonized tone of voice.
“I’ve just been sprayed with scalding steam. It’s penetrated the
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sleeve of my parka.” He realizes that Göran was shielded from the
spray, being on his left side.
The jet now subsides, along with the roaring noise that had ac-
companied it’s emergence.
“Let me get a look at your arm,” John hears as Göran peels away
the burnt material of his parka.
“I don’t think it’s too bad,” he says, “but you’re going to have
to take it easy with that arm.”
“It hurts like hell,” John winces as Göran touches his arm.
“What was that thing, it looked like a geyser.” Göran doesn’t answer
him, but fusses with the first aid kit. Finally he finds what he is
looking for and holds John’s injured arm steady as he applies some
burn ointment. John, despite his resolution to be stoic, screams as
soon as he is touched. Finally Göran finishes up by bandaging the
wound. Then responding to John’s question, he says, “I have lived in
this part of the world all my life, and I have never heard of there
being Geysers, or even hot springs. The only geysers I ever saw were
in Iceland.”
“Use your eyes, there’s a pool of slush and water around the
eruption zone. It sure wasn’t there when we dug the shelter!”
“I see it, but I don’t believe it,” Göran answers, now walking
toward the newly formed pool. “Phew, there’s a distinct smell of
sulfur, it smells like rotten eggs,” he shouts back. John watches as
Göran reaches down to touch the liquid. “Ouch!,” he exclaimes as he
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reflexively pulls his hand away, “That water is hot enough to cook
“I know from first hand, or should I say arm, experience,” John
replies somewhat bitterly. “Whatever is going on here is decidedly
odd,” John continues. “We have to get out of here and report this.
If what I now think is going on is really happening we may have a
major disaster in the making!”
“It’s not going to be easy, you’re in no condition to travel
with that arm the way it is. One armed crossed country skiing is a
game for experts.”
“And you think I’m no expert,” John replies with a forced grin.
“There’s another alternative Göran, you can ski out and get some
“Right, let’s split up like in an idiot plotted horror film. No
way I’m going to leave you alone. It’s too hard to find a new advi-
“You may have a point,” John returns, wincing with a painful
shrug of his shoulders. “At least we seem to have a source of heat,
as long as the sulfur smell doesn’t get too bad.”
Göran nods and says, “What ever is going on here, it must be
causing some seismic disturbance strong enough to attract lots of
attention. If we wait here there is a good chance someone will come
to investigate.”
“And if no one comes, then what?” John retorts.
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“I guess I’ll have to go for help while you stay here,” Göran
responds with a laugh. “But let’s give it a chance. This is going to
be quite a find, imagine a geothermal energy source right here in
Sweden. The Icelanders are living off geothermal and their economy
is booming.”
“Great, Göran, I just hope we aren’t going to be frozen or
cooked as part of this discovery. Beside it’s alien to Sweden’s ge-
ology as we know it. This has disaster written all over.”
At this point the ground once more starts to rumble. The shaking
is enough to knock them off their feet as a steaming jet once more
rises into the air, this time accompanied by what looks like molten
Who’s The Boss?
Returning to the Château d’Ouchy, Henry retrieves the copy of
the Rafael file from his briefcase. He can see that Greta is angry
and wants more of an explanation, but he is not ready to tell her
about his complex relation with Walter. Beside he doesn’t see how
this would help their investigation, and he has to admit he feels
somewhat the fool being caught up in Walter’s murky world. Anyway
she’ll get over it, there’s enough interesting developments to think
about. The demonstration they had witnessed at the Nova Institute
was mind boggling. He was at once excited by the implications and
frightened by the dangers he now perceived. This is the biggest de-
velopment he has ever been involved in. In a sense it could be more
important than the development of nuclear energy in the thirties and
forties of the last century. He wonders if Greta fully understands
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all the possibilities. If the world’s powers become aware of what
has been going on at the lab all hell could break loose. What they
had seen could change the whole politics of energy. Added to the
that is the potential to use the discovery as a weapon. Then the
thought occurs to him that this just might be what’s already happen-
ing. Whoever killed Grenqvist might be, probably was after this new
process, what Lisette Dupont had called cellbots. The unification of
the molecular biological with nano robotics. All this is the brain-
child of the missing Rafael Sanchez. He is certain this is the key
to Walter’s rumors of the discovery of a new energy source in Swe-
den. But the process had been discovered here in Switzerland, so why
had the rumors emerged about Sweden? Was the link Professor
Grenqvist? Had he been murdered because he knew too much?
His mind filled with these thoughts Henry is suddenly reminded
of Greta’s presence as she tries to grab the file out of his hands.
“Wait a second,” he tells her as he pulls the folder away from her.
“Oh, come on Henry, let me see it.”
He is tempted to tease her, but he quickly relents and opens it
up in front of both of them. The details of Rafael’s education and
professional life are very impressive but give no hint as to why he
may have fled the laboratory or any clue to his current whereabouts.
In the back of the folder Henry finds a psychological profile. “Very
intrusive stuff,” he mutters to Greta, “I wouldn’t want anyone put-
ting together something like this on me.” Then he recall his rela-
tion with Walter, God knows what that man has on him.
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They both silently read the dossier, which discusses such de-
tails as Rafael’s childhood in Spain as the only son of a mixed
Spanish and French marriage. Evidently this led to some problems in
his adolescence, so that today he was somewhat of a loner with very
limited sexual experience. There was some mention of a relationship
with a Claire Pogany, who also worked at the Nova Institute. Henry
thought it strange that Dupont had not mentioned this as she was the
person most likely to know what had happened to Rafael. Pogany’s
mother was Spanish, her father French, which might explain the at-
traction between them. The dossier contained no other information
about Pogany. Henry watches as Greta, without any prompting from
him, picks up the room phone and contacts the Swiss PTT information
service. He is a little envious of her excellent French accent as
she wiggles her way through layers of functionaries in an attempt to
glean some information about Pogany. Despite her best efforts she
meets with no success.
Henry smiles to himself as he thinks how much she will now ap-
preciate his own efforts to gather information. As she hangs up the
phone, Henry pulls out his cell phone and establishes a secure coded
contact with Walter’s office. He had intended to talk with one of
the secretaries, so is taken aback to see Walter’s face glaring at
him from the cell phone’s screen.
“It’s about time I heard from you Henry, what the hell are you
up to? I told you to contact me as soon as you arrived in Lausanne.”
Henry turns the small camera lens towards Greta, making certain that
Walter is aware that someone else is in the room.
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“Who are you with?” Walter shouts at them. “Walter, meet my as-
sistant Greta, or Anna while we are here in Switzerland.”
Walter gives a grunt of understanding and says, “Okay, now I re-
call you took someone with you. I hope she understands what a seri-
ous business this is.”
Greta, in as sour a tone as she can manage, says “I don’t know
who you are, but I can assure you I take this affair very seri-
Walter grunts and replies, “You better fill Greta in on what our
relation is and how delicate her position is, but right now I want
to know what’s happened since I talked with you in Stockholm.”
Henry now relates, in as few words as he can, the events of
their visit to the Nova institute and the discovery of Rafael’s ex-
periments. Only once does Walter interrupt with some comment about
Lisette Dupont’s lack of loyalty. Henry then relates what they have
learned from Rafael’s dossier and the problem of locating Pogany.
Walter smiles knowingly and says, “You’ll have the information
in a half hour. You can pick it up on your laptop.” Without a good-
bye Walter then cuts the connection.
Greta turns to Henry and says, “Who the hell was that?“
That’s my literary agent!” Henry smiles and continues, “Don’t be
put off by his brisk manner, he’s really a charmer at heart.”
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Greta, looking anything but mollified, continues, “What did he
mean about making sure I understood the seriousness of what is going
on? Is he threatening me?”
“No, of course not, it’s just his way of speaking.” Henry thinks
he should tell her all he knows about Walter, but he can’t bring
himself to revealing just how he had been roped into the man’s web.
Still looking angry she says, “I don’t understand, I thought an
agent worked for an author, but the way that man talked it sounded
like you were working for him.” Henry smiles, “I told you, it’s just
his way of talking. Of course I don’t work for him. He’s just help-
ing me out, that’s what an agent does.”
Greta doesn’t look convinced, so Henry decides it’s time to
change the subject. “I better get the old laptop fired up. Walter
will be sending the file on Pogany.”
Breaking Away
The chill penetrating to his very bones, Rafael wishes he were
back in the mediterranean climate of his youth. His steps quicken in
resonance with his eagerness to reach the warm confines of his Ho-
tel. Given his own predilections, Helsinki is about the most un-
likely location to find him in. That is all to the good, he thinks,
for the last thing he wants is to be found. He had just about enough
of those fools at the Nova Institute. The way they treated him it
was clear that they hadn’t a clue as to the importance of his work.
Now at last he is free of them and their ridiculous regulations.
Lisette Dupont was the worst fool of them all. That she had become
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director of the laboratory was pure insanity. Her overblown concerns
about safety and secrecy had been a constant hinderance to him. For-
tunately that was now at an end. They would soon deeply regret the
poor treatment that had been doled out to him. For an instant the
biting cold is forgotten as he imagines the distress of Dupont and
the others. They would have to answer to their masters when Rafael’s
work becomes world recognized. He sees himself standing before the
Swedish King at the Stockholm Concert Hall as he is handed his Nobel
Medal. It’s only a matter of time now that he can pursue his work
without Dupont constantly looking over his shoulder.
Switzerland itself of course had not been all bad. His Sunday
outings in Geneva had paid off well. He shivers, both from the cold
and the thought that he might have missed meeting Boris at that
pleasant lakeside cafe in Geneva. Those Sundays were precious to
him, a chance to escape the mental and physical confines of the Nova
Institute and its population of inferior minds. Generally he liked
to read a book and sip his coffee and cognac in the beautiful sur-
roundings of the lake and surrounding mountains. At first, when the
man at the next table commented on the book he was reading, “The
Discovery of Dynamics” by the Englishman Barbour, his reaction was
one of deep annoyance. He attempted to ignore the man’s comments,
but the fellow persisted. He soon realized that the man had not only
read the book but had clearly understood its premise and Barbour’s
research on Mach’s principle. So, against his better judgement, Ra-
fael had found himself drawn into conversation. The man introduced
himself as Boris Efremov, a former Soviet citizen. Efremov explained
that he had sought and gained asylum in Switzerland in the early
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1980’s before the fall of the communist empire. His interest in sci-
ence dated back to his studies at Moscow University, where he had
earned a PhD in Mathematics.
Before long Rafael found himself enjoying Efremov’s company de-
spite his natural reticence. They had agreed to meet again the fol-
lowing Sunday, and so began a long blossoming friendship. It was a
shame, Rafael had thought at the time, that Boris had left science
for the business world. Rafael generally had no interest in such
matters and found his attention wandering when Boris discussed this
part of his life. All he knew is that it had something to do with
energy and oil. After many more Sunday meetings they started to see
each other more often. Several times Boris had visited him at his
apartment in Ville Orb, and they even attended a number of theatri-
cal events together. He had grown to trust and respect the man, how-
ever he remained discrete about the work he was doing at the lab.
Then Dupont had been made director. They had worked together and
at first he took this as a good sign. The first sign of trouble was
all too soon in coming. For no gook reason she decided to reorganize
the Institute. It was then that she started nit picking about secu-
rity and safety. Probably because she had collaborated with him she
focused her unwanted attention on his work. Suddenly he was being
forced to defend what he was doing. She kept insisting that he fol-
low more and more tedious procedures and worse, she blocked him from
publishing his work. This was the last draw and he told her he was
going to leave. He cringed at the thought of that interview. She
only smiled and carefully explained to him that he had recently
signed a five year contract. She pointed out that under Swiss law
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this was binding and he could not legally leave. Of course this
didn’t bother him all that much. How could she stop him? And once
over the border the hell with Swiss law. So the following day it was
quite a shock to find that he could not access information or remove
materials without her express permission. He was even subjected to
the indignity of being searched both on entering and leaving the in-
stitute. That malicious French cow had no idea as to what lengths he
would go to escape from her grasp. It was then that he had started
to talk about his work with Boris. Before long he was even telling
him about the cellbots, his greatest invention. Of course Boris, be-
ing in the energy business and well aware of the problems involved
with drilling for oil, immediately saw the implications of Rafael’s
work. It was then that Rafael saw his chance of escape from Dupont
and her laboratory. He realized from their past conversations that
Boris must command resources and money. He still wasn’t sure which
one of them had raised the topic of starting their own operation
with Boris supplying the material resources and Rafael his expertise
and the cellbots. Rafael had a small inheritance of his own, which
could be used to produce the required cellbots. While he liked and
trusted Boris, his experience at Nova was enough to make him want to
keep the secret of the cellbots in his own hands. Dupont had no idea
how to control the cellbots and Rafael had carefully hidden his pro-
gress in this regard. So he and Boris carefully drew their plans for
Rafael’s escape. The biggest problem was to get his basic research
materials out of the lab. This included extensive information stored
on his computer as well as some sample cellbots. Dupont’s lackeys
were both thorough and enthusiastic in their daily searches of his
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Happily not all the staff were subject to this humiliation. Re-
cently another Spanish citizen, Clair Pogany, had joined the labora-
tory. It was natural for Rafael to make her acquaintance, though his
shyness made this difficult for him. Clair’s personality however was
the opposite of his own and she seemed to admire him for his intel-
lect as well as some shared cultural heritage. They both had a Span-
ish and a French parent and they both had grown up in Barcelona. He
occasionally ate lunch with her at the lab. Soon he decided it was
best if he kept his distance from her at work not wanting Dupont to
become suspicious about the budding friendship. Much to his own sur-
prise he soon realized that he was in one of the few genuine rela-
tionships of his life. Despite this he didn’t reveal his plans to
her and never introduced her to Boris, or even tell her that he in-
tended to leave the institute before the end of his contract. He did
make up a story that he liked to work at home in the evenings and
needed some of his research materials from the lab. With some hesi-
tation she had agreed to help him smuggle computer files and impor-
tant objects out of the institute. This took some courage. Most per-
sonal didn’t receive the humiliating daily search he was subject to,
but all were searched at random. But Claire was loyal to him and
took her chances, fortunately without being caught. To protect her
he had not even said goodbye on the day he left, and he felt terri-
ble about this.
Wrapped both in his winter parka and his thoughts, Rafael fi-
nally enters the warmth of his hotel. An envelope is waiting for him
at the reception desk when he picks up his keys.
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At last, he thinks, a message from Boris. It’s over two weeks
since he arrived in Helsinki and this is the first indication that
Boris is still in the loop. Boris had explained that the people be-
hind the Nova Institute had considerable influence and that for
safety reasons it would be best to keep out of contact until they
were sure Rafael’s whereabouts had not been compromised. In the pri-
vacy of his room, he rips open the envelope and sure enough it’s a
message from Boris. He is somewhat disconcerted to read that Boris
wants to meet him at what is apparently a strip joint in a less than
wholesome section of the city. He recalls that such places have a
reputation of being run by the Russian Mafia. Why would Boris have
anything to do with people like that? But of course, he thinks,
that’s why he wants to meet me there. It’s the last place Dupont’s
stooges would expect to find him. The next morning, before leaving
for this rendezvous he decides to allow himself the pleasure of a
call to Claire. Of course he won’t reveal where the call is coming
from. He smiles as he pulls out his cellphone.
Yellowstone Dreams
The pain from the scalding hot water of the geyser is intense.
John grits his teeth and swallows the pain killer pill that Göran
hands him. To John it felt like he had been digging through the
first aid kit for an hour, though he knew only minutes had passed.
He doesn’t like to complain and does his best to avoid wincing as he
moves his right arm.
He even appreciates that Göran is being solicitous when he says,
“I don’t see how you can continue on skis with that arm John.”
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He agrees with this assessment but is irked, even angry as he
listens to Göran stating the obvious. Controlling his feelings as
much as possible he still blurts out, “I can try, I’m not going to
let a little pain stop me.”
To prove his point he grabs one of his slender cross country
skis and starts to attach it to his boot. Despite his best efforts
he hears his own audible grunt of agony.
Göran now scowling says, “Stop kidding yourself John, there’s no
way you’re skiing back to the ORV in your condition.”
John smiles wanly, realizing that he can’t bluff his way through
this. Finally he nods his head in agreement. “I’m afraid you’re
right, looks like it’s up to you to ski back and get us some help.”
John is almost on the verge of admitting to himself that he is
terrified at the idea of staying here alone. He bites his lip, hop-
ing that Göran can’t see through him. Anyway he has seen how profi-
cient Göran is on skis. With any luck at all it should only take him
a few hours to reach the powerful radio transceiver in the SUV. It’s
going to be embarrassing. Being taken out by a rescue helicopter
doesn’t fit his self image. He comforts himself, thinking that the
discovery of the existence of the geyser in such an unexpected loca-
tion would more than make up for any temporary embarrassment. So be-
fore Göran can marshall any objections, he says using as strong a
tone as he can muster, “Well what are you waiting for, get going.”
For a moment Göran doesn’t respond. Finally he says in an exas-
perated tone, “I’m not going to leave you here alone. Surely the
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geyser will draw the attention of the authorities. The Space Range
people at Kiruna must have already seen it on satellite photos.”
John knew that Göran was speaking of the European Union’s space
research facilities. The EU had taken over the older research rocket
launching station that the Swedes had created mainly for studies of
the aurora.
“You may be right, but we can’t take the chance. It’s not only a
question of my well being Göran. This goes far beyond anything so
trivial.” John, observing the puzzled look on Göran’s face, contin-
ues, “Of course you know about the history Yellowstone’s missing
Göran shakes his head in the negative, saying, “Not really. Of
course I know about the famous national park, but I don’t see what
you are referring to in particular.”
“What is the park famous for?”
“For its geysers, and general beauty. Are you saying that this
area can become a tourist attraction? Why is that important to us
right now?”
John’s laugh is stifled by the pain in his arm. “Yes, I can see
this place becoming a tourist attraction, but I had something else
in mind.”
Göran stares at him impatiently as he waits for a comprehensible
explanation. “Stop playing games with me John, what in hell are you
talking about?”
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John, his attention drawn away from his injured arm, chuckles
and says “Fair enough. Ever since the first European explorers found
Yellowstone there was suspicion that there must be one or more vol-
canoes present, if not now then in the past.”
Göran nods and says, “I can believe that, after all Iceland has
lots of hot springs and volcanoes.”
“Exactly,” John replies. “They searched for signs of volcanism
in the park for years, but found nothing. The main thing they were
looking for was the caldera that marks a volcano, but not a one ex-
isted inside the park.” John now sees he has Göran’s interest and
continues, “Big puzzle, but the solution eventually came from an un-
expected source. NASA was carrying out a test of a surveillance sat-
ellite when one of their analysts saw something peculiar about Yel-
lowstone. They thought the park’s geophysical scientists might find
the results interesting and sent them the photos.”
Göran, now looking impatient says, “So what did they see?”
“The pictures showed that the entire park was the caldera. Yel-
lowstone is actually the caldera of a giant volcano, some have
called it a super volcano. It was found that several of these exist
and when one goes off, well it’s some show.”
“I haven’t heard about any super volcanoes going off recently.”
“That’s because the last eruption was nearly six hundred thou-
sand years ago. They figure that if Yellowstone erupted today it
would wipe out every trace of our civilization in a circular area of
over a thousand kilometers around the park, not to mention the dust,
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 140

which might block sunlight from the entire planet for a year or
“But what has that to do with us now?”
“What if we are witnessing the formation of a new super volcano
here in the north? As far as I understand the geology of this place
it’s not even possible to have a volcano here. So something quite
extraordinary is going on.”
Göran, looking skeptical, replies, “Even if that’s true, I don’t
see how it effects our present situation.”
The pain in his arm and having to convince Göran to go for help
is becoming almost too much for John to handle. Is Göran just play-
ing stupid because of some crazy idea that he can’t leave him alone?
Holding back his temper he says, “Are there people living in this
area of Sweden?”
“Of course, not many, but the Forest Sami among others live
here. The region is filled with their reindeer herds.”
“Okay, that’s why it is important, if this is some kind of
super-volcano those people will have to be evacuated.”
Göran laughs, “You don’t know much about Swedish politics here
in the north, do you John?”
“What do you mean by that?” John thinks that while he is no ex-
pert he has learnt quite a lot about local goings on in the Luleå
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Göran continues, “Simply that it would take a hell of a lot of
persuading to get the Sami to abandon their territory.”
“That’s exactly why it’s important to get news of this out fast.
We can’t depend on some analyst spotting it on a satellite photo.
You’ve got to get going. Don’t worry about me, I can take care of
Göran, looking like he needs more convincing says, “Okay, but
first I’m going to make damn sure you are comfortable and set up
For the next few hours Göran makes his preparations. Most of the
time is used to digg a new ice shelter. He makes sure that it’s much
further from the geyser than the previous one. At last, looking ex-
hausted from his labor, he places a loaded hunting rifle near John.
“Just in case, there are wolves and bears around this area. The
bears are probably hibernating already, but the wolves could be a
danger, especially if they sense you are wounded and alone.”
The thought of confronting a pack of hungry wolves is almost
funny to John, it’s too much like a bad horror movie. It’s so laugh-
able that he starts to relax. After some more fussing about, Göran
finally puts on his skis and, with renewed vigor and a wave of the
hand, sets off in the direction of their abandoned vehicle.
John watches as Göran skis off into the distance, an ever
smaller and smaller shrinking dot on the white and barren snow
scape. Wincing, John gulps down another pain killer pill, and won-
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ders if this was as wise a move as he had convinced himself. Then he
chuckles, Wolves indeed!
Tea and Conversation
Humming a tune from Oklahoma, Henry drinks in the sight of Lake
Geneva in the morning sunlight. With luck the mysterious Rafael will
soon be found. Maybe the corn isn’t as high as an elephant’s eye,
but for the first time since he left New York, his life is looking
up. Get this job done he tells himself, and then tell Walter to find
another fall guy. On a day like this it’s easy to fool himself. Hav-
ing Greta seated alongside him adds to his unusual sense of well be-
ing. And he had to admit, whatever his feelings about being someone
else’s lacky, the chase made for an exciting challenge.
Lost in his self encouraging speculations Henry is suddenly
brought back to reality by the sound of Greta’s voice.
“I think you made a wrong turn back there, we should have gone
Henry had turned off the annoying GPS navigation system with its
yapping verbal instructions. Listening to Greta’s instructions made
for a considerably pleasanter journey.
Swinging the sedan into a U-turn he says, “We’re still going to
be early, which is fine. I like to arrive early for an interview, it
throws the subject off balance, makes it easier to get information.”
Greta grins at him, nothing like a beautiful woman’s admiration
to improve ones mood. They had stayed up late last night after they
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got the Pogany file from Walter. Greta had continued to pester him,
wanting to know more about Walter, but Henry had managed to divert
her attention from Walter to the Pogany. Little effort was needed to
deduce that the woman’s research is more straightforward backup sci-
ence. There is no comparison with Rafael’s imaginative scheme to
penetrate the Earth’s surface. Her connection with the man had to be
purely social. This view was strengthened by reports of her occa-
sionally meeting with Rafael after working hours.
Reading this Greta had become incensed at the intrusiveness of
Nova into its employees lives. Henry didn’t attempt to argue about
this, why should he, he agrees with her. Then the thought occurs to
him that she is involved with him and hence Walter. Hell if she only
knew what kind of file Walter probably had on her she would really
be screaming. Henry imagined a huge file on Walter’s computer, de-
lineating her history from the time she entered elementary school to
the present. It would also contain a lot of material about her
friends and relationships. As soon as she had signed on as Henry’s
assistant she would have become grist for Walter’s information mill.
If Walter had found anything suspicious, that would have been the
end of Greta’s job, unless he had found some sneaky way to use her.
Henry’s great mood evaporates as they park next to the lakeside
apartment building where Claire Pogany hopefully dwells.
Greta looks admiringly at the building. With good reason, as it
faces a large marina, its terraced apartments affording the resi-
dents a breath catching view of the French Alps.
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Still Henry thinks he hears something less than admiration when
she says, “Not a bad way to live, maybe a bit dull but certainly
easy on the eyes.”
Henry smiles and says, “Nice place to retire in anyway, but I
don’t think it would be exciting enough for you. Maybe when you’re
old and worn out.”
Greta’s sharp glance causes Henry to recall that not all the
previous evening had been devoted to a careful study of the Pogany
file. Their business concluded, whatever their mutual reservations,
they had gone to bed but not to sleep. And this time Greta had not
fallen into his arms as the result of a stressful experience. Also,
perhaps to his shame, he forgot his concerns about drawing her into
Walter’s net of intrigue. So one thing followed another and Greta
had shown herself anything but being worn out.
“Pogany lives on the top floor,” Greta says as she reads the
apartment’s directory.
Henry reminds himself that he is once more representing himself
as himself, Henry Brenner, author and reporter, though sometimes
he’s not sure himself of who he really is. Greta had set up the Sat-
urday morning interview under the pretext that Pogany would be one
of the subjects of a series of articles to be written by Henry. This
had proven fortunate. Greta reported that she revealed considerable
familiarity with much of his work.
Before the elevator arrives at the top floor, Greta takes hold
of his hand and squeezes it tenderly. Then she whispers, “It’s a re-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 145

lief to have you being you and me being me. I found that Stig and
Anna bit slightly ridiculous.”
Henry agrees, but he doubts that Dupont would have shown them
the cellbot chamber if he had come as a journalist, but now is not
the time to discuss the matter.
The door to the apartment opens and they are greeted by a very
petite French looking woman in her mid thirties. Though not ex-
tremely beautiful, Henry could see a refreshing liveliness in her
quick mannerisms as she gestures them into the apartment. The furni-
ture is elegant rather than modern and he feels a little uncomfort-
able, like he might break something inadvertently. Pogany has pre-
pared some refreshments, which are placed on a large glass topped
table near a huge window with an impressive view of the lake and the
mountains beyond.
Henry is further discomforted listening to her exclaim, “I’m so
pleased to have the honor of being interviewed by you Monsieur Bren-
ner. I have read so much of what you have done, and you look just
like the pictures on the back of your books. Henry doubts this. The
pictures of him on dust jackets were deliberately poor. Walter took
pains to make sure that Henry wouldn’t be easily recognizable by his
readers. Even so he breaths an inner sigh of relief that he didn’t
run into Pogany during the visit to Nova. At the same time he is a
little annoyed that Lisette Dupont had not recognized him. All very
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Pogany continues, “I am also surprised that my work is of inter-
est to you. I enjoy what I do but I don’t consider myself to be in
the top rank of researchers.”
Henry replies with a slightly guilty conscience, “I wouldn’t be
so quick to judge if I were you Mademoiselle Pogany , and in any
case I have a strong interest in all the work being done at the Nova
Pogany smiles shyly at this, “I think it’s the Institute rather
than myself you are interested in. I should warn you that our work
there is very confidential and I can only speak in generalities.”
“That’s no problem for me, Mademoiselle. My main interest is in
the personalities and lives of the scientists. Especially those
working in biotechnology and nanomechanics.”
Pogany looks relieved. “That makes it much easier for me.” Pour-
ing tea for the three of them she continues, “So please, Mr. Bren-
ner, do ask your questions.
Henry asks if it is permissible for Greta to record the conver-
sation and to take a few pictures. He sees the look of surprise on
Greta’s face, after all the discussion about the immorality of sur-
reptitiously recording Grenqvist, he realizes why this is so. In
this case he would like Pogany to be somewhat nervous. He might get
more information from how she reacts than from what she says. The
next twenty minutes pass with Henry asking her about her past, her
education, what hobbies she enjoyed, all things that he already knew
from her file. Greta is starting to look bored.
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Gently he steers the interview to how she views her colleagues.
For a few minutes the questions are very general and not person spe-
cific. Then, when she is relaxed and used to talking to him he slips
Rafael’s name into the conversation. There is an immediate facial
reaction. She is very good at masking her inner feelings so this is
only a flash across her face. Henry has long trained himself in the
art and science of interpreting micro-expressions. It’s an indispen-
sable skill for someone in his business, both sides of his business.
Some years ago Walter had insisted that he study the work of the
Berkley psychologist Paul Ekman. The man had devised techniques for
training people to recognize the emergence of emotions as fleeting
expressions that pass across a subject’s face. So to Henry the wide
eyed open mouthed look of fear that flashed across Pogany’s face was
a dead giveaway. He doubts if Greta notices it at all. Seeing this
he quickly asks about several other people at the lab, then he con-
centrates on the director. This time he sees a flash of anger, so
Pogany doesn’t like Dupont. Hmm fear about Rafael, anger about Du-
Time to turn the screw tighter, “So,” he says, “Maybe you can
help me with something concerning your colleague Rafael Sanchez. He
seems to be extremely elusive. We have tried for several days to
find him at his apartment in Vill Orbe, but he seems to have van-
Now the look of fright on Pogany must be evident even to Greta,
who gives Henry a darting glance.
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Henry says, “Mademoiselle, are you distressed, I hope I have not
said something amiss.”
She nods her head in the negative, but is clearly having a prob-
lem. Finally she says, “I’m so worried about him. I have also tried
to reach him for days.” Greta retrieves a tissue from her purse and
hands it to Pogany, who uses it to dry her eyes.
In a sympathetic tone that Henry has not heard from her before,
she says, “Maybe we can help, Henry is very discrete and won’t pub-
lish anything that would disturb you.” As she says this she gives
Henry a look indicating that he better do as she says.
Ekman’s methods are not needed for him to interpret this. “Greta
is right, maybe we can be of help, you know as a journalist I am
quite experienced in finding people. It’s almost like being a detec-
Pogany once more breaks into tears but finally manages to con-
trol herself. She says, “Oh, I would be so grateful. I know it’s
silly, but I think Rafael is in terrible trouble. We were getting so
close. You know we have similar backgrounds. We each have a French
parent and we’re both brought up in Barcelona.”
Greta smiles, “I can imagine how that would bring you together,
it must be very lonely working in such a secretive place as the Nova
Pogany returns the smile, her eyes now dry as she says, “Yes, it
was wonderful to meet Rafael, he is so brilliant, I only wish I
could tell you about his work.”
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Then, once more realizing that Rafael may be in danger, she re-
sumes a look of deep sadness.
Henry presses on, “Have you any clue as to where he may be?”
Pogany reflects on this before replying, “I know he didn’t get
along to well with Lisette Dupont, the lab director. I never under-
stood this as I find her charming. I’ve talked to her several times
about Rafael, but she only tells me that he has gone somewhere to
carry out special experiments and that I should not worry.”
Henry rubs his chin and asks, “Do you believe what she says?”
Again, Pogany hesitates before replying, “I’d like to, but I
feel there is something not right. It may seem strange to you, but I
don’t think Rafael would leave without telling me at least that he
had to go somewhere.”
Just then the phone rings. Pogany stands up and excusing herself
leaves them. When she is gone Henry turns to Greta and says, “Well
what do you think?”
“I believe her, she doesn’t have a clue as to Rafael’s where-
abouts. She is no trained actor and those emotions are genuine.”
“Agreed,” Henry replies, taking a sip of his tea. A few moments
later a smiling and more composed Pogany returns. She says, “That
was Rafael, and he is safe. I knew he would let me know.”
Henry works hard to mask his reaction at this bit of luck. As
nonchalantly as he is able he says, “Where is he?”
Pogany looks disturbed at the question.
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“I’m sorry, I told him about you and he said in no circumstances
should I even tell you he called. I could see you were concerned
about his safety so I violated that confidence, but he would not
even tell me where he was or what he was doing.” At first Henry
feels both angry and frustrated and is about to start browbeating
Pogany for more information. Then he realizes that such a course of
action wouldn’t work and anyway he may need her good will in the fu-
He looks at Greta and says, “Mademoiselle Pogany has been very
helpful but I think we must leave if we are to catch our flight.”
Then turning to Pogany he says, “Thank you very much for your hospi-
tality, and I can assure you that Greta and I will be very discrete
with the information you have so kindly provided.” Pogany shows them
to the door. She hardly attempts to mask her relief at seeing them
Once more they are on the route de lac driving toward the air-
port. Greta gives him a friendly prod on the arm and says, “I was
surprised back there when you gave in so easily to Pogany. I was
sure you would not let up until you got more information out of her
about that call.”
Henry smiles and says, “Just shows you what a sweet and under-
standing guy I am. I would never upset a distressed woman.”
Greta guffaws at this, “I don’t know you very long, but sweet
you’re not!” Henry laughs, replying, “Okay, just think about what
just happened.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 151

“What do you mean by that?”
“Well what information do we now have?”
“We know that Rafael is alive and involved in something secre-
tive in some secret place, in other words, not much.”
Now Henry turns to her and says, “Wrong, we know a lot more. We
know her phone number and the fact that she received a call at a
specific time. Finally we have Walter, and that’s all the informa-
tion he needs to find out where that call came from, hence we know
where Rafael is. Want to make a bet?”
Greta looks a little stunned and says “I forgot the mysterious
and all powerful Walter. I’m getting just a little bit uncomfortable
about that man.”
Henry continues, “Don’t change the subject, do you want to bet
on where Rafael is?”
Birds of a Feather
Cigarette smoke burning his eyes, Rafael gazes into the murky
atmosphere of the strip club. It’s early in the day, yet the club is
nearly full. He had expected to see at least some naked dancers, as
proclaimed by the garish posters outside the club entrance. Evi-
dently it is too early for this and the gray faced men present are
focused on their alcoholic beverages and whatever they’re smoking.
Boris huddled in conversation with two surly looking men in the far
corner. Boris looks directly at him and waves his hand. The man
looks as elegant as Rafael remembers him from their last meeting in
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Geneva, however the same cannot be said for his companions. They are
dressed well enough, but they are each wearing several ornate rings
and have long black hair, which is drawn in short pony tail fashion
at the back of their heads. As Rafael gets closer he can even see
several tattoos on the backs of their hands. It’s puzzling to see
Boris in such company, clearly not the sort that would enjoy dis-
cussing the works of Tolstoy.
Boris pulls back a chair for Rafael and helps him take off the
heavy winter coat, which he hangs on a nearby hook. As Rafael takes
his seat a scantly clad waitress arrives with four cups of coffee
and some vareniki. To Rafael the heavy pastries filled with meat and
potatoes are repulsive. He finds it impossible to avoid showing his
disgust as he watches Boris’s two companions dig into them with
Boris, noticing his distaste, and laughs heartily. Then he
loudly exchanges comments in Russian with the other men, who join
him in laughter. Rafael suddenly wishes he could disappear from this
place. The nagging thought occurs to him that Boris’s behavior is
very uncharacteristic of what he remembers from their former meet-
ings. Boris finally stops laughing and addresses Rafael in English.
“I’m sorry my friend, the look of disgust at our breakfast fare
..., well it is rather amusing you must admit. After some time in
this cold climate you may change your mind about such things. Coffee
and light pastry just don’t provide the calories needed to keep
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Rafael nods, trying to mask his annoyance, he doesn’t have to
like what these people eat. He must remember why he is here. The im-
portant thing is the experiment. Anyway, Boris must have a good rea-
son for acting this way.
“Forgive me, I didn’t mean to insult you and your companions,
I’m sure you’re correct and that soon I will be accustomed to this
Glancing at the other men, Boris shakes his head in the affirma-
tive and says, “Enough of such unimportant matters Rafael, let me
introduce my friends, Alexander Kalinsky and Igor Markov.”
The man named Alexander gives Boris a friendly shove, then puts
out his hand to Rafael and says, “Just call me Sasha.”
Markov, with apparent effort, grunts, barely acknowledging the
Boris continues, “Sasha and Markov have just flown in from our
Swedish site. They have been leading the team that has placed the
materials you provided.”
Hearing this news, Rafael forgets the rude appearance of the two
men, his interest focusing on what Boris has said. Before leaving
Switzerland he had arranged for the manufacture of the injector de-
vices at a factory in the German speaking part of the country near
Zurich. He himself had provided the funds for this from his inheri-
tance, and had personally supervised the final preparation of the
devices using materials that Claire had helped him remove from the
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 154

Nova Institute. He now felt a surge of excitement at the news that
finally the plan that he and Boris had worked out was in motion.
Boris had wanted to know all the details involved in the manu-
facture of the cellbots, but Rafael had held backs. He was relieved
that Boris had not made an issue of this. Assuming the experiment
worked, he would have to share more information with Boris and his
backers, but by then he would know more about the consequences.
Boris now proceeds to unfold a map showing a shaded triangular
shaped area in the north eastern part of Sweden. Rafael notes the
relative position of the various markings and nods in satisfaction.
Pointing at the map he says, “I assume you have activated the pri-
mary injectors.”
Both Sasha and Markov shake there heads in agreement. Markov
then says, “Our men buried the devices at the locations noted on the
map and activated the radio link over a month ago. We also con-
structed a campsite there.” As he says this, Markov points to a spot
marked by a cross on the map.
Sasha breaks into the conversation and says, “Since then a num-
ber of very odd things have been happening. The men are getting very
upset at some of these goings on. We all want to know what we are
Boris looks at Sasha and says, “They are not being payed to know
details, it is your job to keep them happy without giving away our
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Sasha mutters something in Russian then looking at Boris contin-
ues, “I can hardly give away the details considering how little
you’ve told me.”
Boris turns to Rafael and says, “Most of these men are veterans
from the Russian army, and though handy with weapons and able to
carry out orders, they are not all that bright.”
Sasha looks like he wants to respond to this but makes a visible
effort of restraint. Meanwhile Rafael’s attention fastens on what
Boris has just said. “Weapons, what do you mean about weapons.”
Boris shrugs and says, “Rafael, we are doing something for hu-
manity, but there're evil people that we must guard against. And
living in a capitalistic society, we must be sensible and protect
our own protect our interests. We are peaceful men, but unfortu-
nately we may have competitors that are not as honorable as our-
selves. It is only prudent to prepare to discourage interference.”
Rafael can see the point of this, though he is not quite sure
who are these competitors Boris is talking about. Boris had told him
that all necessary steps had been taken to insure privacy in his ne-
gotiations with the Swedes. Anyway, from their appearance, the sight
of Sasha and Markov would discourage attention, unwelcome or other-
As the discussion turns to the details of the operation Rafael
ceases to worry about Sasha and Markov. He only realizes that a fair
amount of time has passed when he sees Boris finish off what must be
his tenth cup of coffee. Putting down the cup, which was drained in
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one long gulp, Boris looks at him and says, “Are you ready to com-
plete the second phase of the project?”
Rafael has kept the details of this second phase to himself, and
as a result is somewhat reluctant to discuss it. Yet of course he
knows he must and replies, “I’ve stored the secondary injectors at
the Helsinki airport. You told me you would provide a plane to carry
them to Kiruna.”
“All arranged. However we will be leaving from another location,
one that’s more private. I assume you will want to travel with your
equipment so Markov and several of his men will help you transport
the material from the airport. We have arranged for a plane that
will leave from a private airstrip north of Helsinki and take you as
near as possible to our Swedish campsite. If all goes as planned you
should be there by tomorrow evening.”
Relieved that the meeting is over Rafael leaves the club. His
feelings about the whole affair are very mixed. The idea of spending
time with Sasha and Markov, who look more like thugs than scientists
is not at all appealing. The addition of a large number of former
Russian army troops into the plan is even more worrisome. Still it’s
all got to be worth it. When they announce their results he will at
last be recognized for his work. The shame of Dupont and the other
idiots at the Nova Institute will be an added bonus. Really he
should be pleased that Boris is taking no chances. The two Russian
henchmen would probably have very little to do besides guarding the
site. Anyway it is exciting to realize that after son many years of
work he soon would be at the experimental site. Boris could attend
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to the practical matters while he did the important work. After all,
he is the only one who knows how to manufacture the cellbots, and of
even more importance, how to control them. Boris must be acting the
way he had in the club, for the benefit of Sasha and Markov. It must
all just be an act. They were rough man and you needed to be tough
if you wanted their respect. Even so he is still concerned over Bo-
ris’s retreat from the urban behavior he had shown in Geneva.
An Isolated Place?
The cold air left a burning sensation in Rafael’s chest. Even
exiting the cessna caravan seemed to take extra effort. The cold of
Helsinki almost appeared tropical in contrast. Looking around he
could see that their turboprop plane had landed on a deserted sec-
tion of highway. During the landing approach, Noratsky the pilot had
explained that this was a positive artifact of the cold war. The
Swedes had constructed these sections of extra wide roads in the
middle of nowhere as emergency takeoff and landing sites for their
fighter aircraft. The advantage to them of the location is that
there’s such a small population it is very unlikely that they would
be disturbed. The more he saw of Markov’s men the more Rafael is
sure it wouldn’t go too well for anyone who did come across them.
The other two men that had accompanied him on this flight carried
wicked looking assault rifles, which they seemed quite willing to
put to use. Boris had explained that their security required these
precautions, though exactly why is still unclear to him. The impor-
tant thing now is to supervise the unloading of the crates contain-
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ing the secondary injector devices. He had seen no more of Markov or
Sasha and had been told they had left for the site earlier in the
day. While he certainly didn’t miss the two, at least he could com-
municate with them. Now Rafael worries that the rough handling of
his equipment by these men might damage his creations, so he watches
them carefully, occasionally cautioning them to be careful. All they
did was to reply in short Russian phrases and laugh when Rafael
looked displeased.
It is an uncomfortable chore and he finds the men very intimi-
dating. In spite of the extreme cold he notices that he is sweating
profusely. He wishes they could have found a more comfortable cli-
mate for the tests. Being well above the arctic circle, the lack of
daylight further plays upon his depressed feelings. He checks his
watch and sees that only thirty minutes have passed since touch
Then his thoughts are interrupted by the sound of an approaching
vehicle. The two armed Russians, also hearing this, reacted immedi-
ately, taking up defensive positions, their weapons at the ready.
Again Rafael is having some serious doubts about Boris. Why would a
businessman ex mathematician choose such gangster like associates?
Recalling the many meetings they had had in Geneva, he had been im-
pressed how Boris could converse intelligently in a wide area of
subjects, not only in science but in the arts and literature. Rafael
had also been pleased by how understanding the man had been in re-
gard to his own dreams and aspirations. No, Boris must know what he
is doing. If he had engaged these men to work for him, that is good
enough for Rafael.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 159

Lost in thought, he only now notices that a large ORV had
stopped only a few meters from where he’s standing. The driver, an-
other Russian, is being enthusiastically greeted by the two armed
men. Again, Rafael watches nervously as they load the equipment into
the rear of the vehicle. The driver greets him in Russian and he
soon realizes that the man doesn’t speak any English at all. Rafael
climbs into the back of the vehicle, deciding that he wants to be in
a position to protect the equipment. Having some distance from the
Russians added to the attraction of sitting on the hard floor. The
others pile into the front. Rafael can see the cessna take off as
they drive into the sparse forest heading north. The feeling of
power that he had upon leaving the Nova institute is now totally
gone. Lonely and isolated in the company of the three Russians, Ra-
fael has a fleeting wish to be back in the comforts of Switzerland.
Each bump of the ORV increases his fear that something will happen
to the secondary injectors. So much depends on them working cor-
rectly. Up to now he had not given any thought to anything damaging
them. Maybe he had been too confident. Certainly he had not fully
taken account of them being damaged in shipment. Up to now he had
only worked in the carefully controlled conditions of a laboratory.
Then, he reminds himself that Boris is fully aware of the delicacy
of the experiment. Along with his urban and cultured persona, Boris
did encourage a feeling of practicality. It would all work out for
the best. And even if it is cold and dark here, he is away from the
meddling and stupidity of Lisette Dupont. Thinking about Dupont and
the Nova Institute then reminds him of Claire. Sweet, understanding,
even beautiful, she is the only woman he found he could be comfort-
able with. How nice it would be to have her here with him. It had
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 160

been wonderful talking with her. Boris had told him not to contact
anyone, but seeing all the armed men around him and the secretive
landing they had just made convinced him that Boris’s only real
faults are a streak of paranoia and a poor choice of associates.
After several hours of bumping through the winter terrain of the
forest and listening to the jabbering of his Russian companions, Ra-
fael is relieved to see that they have arrived at the experimental
site. As soon as they come to a halt, he jumps out of the vehicle.
He had thought their landing site was cold, but once again he is
surprised by a new level of discomfort. Recovering his equilibrium,
he is almost pleased to find himself once more in the company of
Markov, who greets him in what now seems to be fluent English. Grab-
bing him by one arm, Markov leads him over to a kind of temporary
shelter. Soon they are inside, and Rafael breaths a sigh of relief
for the slight warmth the shelter affords.
Markov notes his distress and laughs. “Cheer up my friend, the
weather has warmed up to minus forty celsius.”
Markov hands him a glass of water, which Rafael, his throat dry
from the cold, gulps down in one swallow. Markov again laughs as he
breaks down in a fit of coughing. “You drink your Vodka too fast,
not a good idea for a Swiss.”
Still coughing, Rafael does not correct the mistake about his
nationality. To these people being a Swiss or Spaniard makes no dif-
ference anyway. Continuing to laugh, more at Rafael than with him,
Markov comments that one advantage of the cold is that they don’t
have to chill the Vodka. His coughing at last ceases, and Rafael ap-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 161

preciates the warm feeling generated by the drink. Smiling, he ac-
cepts another shot from Markov. This temporary bliss is interrupted
by a chilling breeze as the door opens and the other men drag in the
precious cargo. Tired as he is Rafael decides to open the crates and
inspect the state of the injectors. At least on superficial examina-
tion all is in order.
He than asks about the state of the primary injectors. Markov,
looking annoyed, explains that they have all been placed according
to Rafael’s wishes.
“It wasn’t easy, your demands for precision didn’t go well with
the men. They’re used to handling military, not scientific equip-
ment.” Markov continues, explaining all the troubles he had getting
the men to properly handle the injectors and to take all the precau-
tions demanded by Rafael in their placement.
Rafael replies, “If this experiment is going to be a fair test
of the process it has to be done right. If there are any mistakes we
can have a disaster on our hands.”
Markov doesn’t seem very impressed by this, yawning as Rafael
continues to explain the need for great precision. The vodka is now
wearing off and he once more feels the cold penetrating to his
bones. When Markov suggests they proceed to the dining area he
gladly agrees, wondering when Boris will arrive. At least he can ex-
plain his concerns to Boris and know the man understands what he is
talking about.
Christmas Shopping
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 162

Wending their way through Helsinki's crowded street, Greta lis-
tens to Henry’s commentary on the unsuitability of the city’s cli-
mate for human life. No stranger to the city, she has always consid-
ered it quite charming. She especially liked this time of year in a
city designed for winter. It lifted her spirits watching the Christ-
mas shoppers rushing about, the wind blowing glistening flakes of
snow along the crowded Esplanade.
They could have stayed in the comfort of their warm hotel room,
but Henry had insisted on a visit to Helsinki’s main department
store, Stockmans. The clothes they had brought with them from Swit-
zerland, she had to admit, were not all that effective in warding
off the chilling conditions they now faced. Henry had generously of-
fered to pay for a more suitable outfit, and who was she to refuse?
It’s not clear how long they will have to spend in Finland in the
quest to find Rafael Sanchez; she doesn’t even know how they will
start the search. Henry keeps coming up with surprising resources,
many of them connected with this Walter fellow. She is rapidly de-
veloping a deep distaste for that man. Her intuition tells her that
he’s not good for Henry and certainly no friend of hers. When Henry
talks about him it’s with ambivalence, almost like one talks about a
parent, an element of dependance and a desire for freedom. Not all
that dissimilar to her own complex family relationships. Not that
she wants to get her mind on that topic. Her mother has no idea
where she is, and Henry in his paranoia has convinced her not to
contact her. Could it really be true that contacting her mother
would put the woman in danger? She must be infected by Henry’s con-
stant chatter about them being followed. The Grenqvist murder and
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the robbery at John’s office certainly contributed to her feelings
of insecurity. Henry claimed a connection between these events. Af-
ter all they had found documents in Grenqvist’s office that the kil-
ler might have been searching for.
She shivers, not from the cold, but from the sudden suspicion
she feels for the crowds now surrounding them. With these thoughts
filling her, she gives a startled jerk when Henry grabs her by the
“Where are you?” he says, smiling. “You look lost in thought.”
She replies with a half smile of her own, still lost in her con-
cerns. She is annoyed at herself as she hears herself say, “I was
just thinking of what I want to buy here.” Why was she lying to him?
Why didn’t she just come out and say what she was really thinking,
that she was afraid of the situation she was in, and she is begin-
ning not to trust Henry’s judgement. A few days ago she had taken
what seemed like a straightforward job, and now she’s involved in
some weird intrigue, all because of him. Yet at the same time she
feels the excitement of it all, so different from her recent life as
a graduate student. Running about Europe in the pursuit of some mys-
terious person, murders and robberies and visits to secret laborato-
ries, so much more interesting than sitting in the research library
at Stockholm’s University. Along with fear, she is feeling very much
alive, her senses more awake than they had been since she had begun
the grueling period of study for a graduate degree. Often she won-
dered if the study was more for her achievement oriented parents
than for herself.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 164

Henry suggests that they separate for an hour, giving each of
them the time to search out appropriate gear. She agrees and heads
off to the women’s sportswear section, the credit card that Henry
handed her sitting securely in her purse. She turns to see Henry
heading for the escalator. Not far behind him she sees a man in a
leather coat who looks vaguely familiar. No, she tells herself, it’s
pure paranoia, yet she thinks of the man that brushed past her just
before the robbery at John’s office. I shouldn’t do this, she
thinks, but she changes her direction, following the leather clad
individual up the escalator to the men’s department. This is really
nuts, she thinks. Even if he is following Henry I have no experience
in this sort of thing. He’ll spot me right away. She tries to hang
back unseen, hoping that she has sufficient good luck in this en-
deavor to make up for her inexperience.
It being Christmas shopping time, the men’s department is filled
with women shoppers. Doing her best to blend in among the Finnish
women, she pretends to study a rack of garish ties. On impulse she
grabs one thinking, well why not surprise Henry with a gift. He
wears such conservative clothes, something a little colorful might
do him good. Out of the corner of her eye she sees Henry trying on
some heavy winter parkas. Where does he think he’s going, she won-
ders. The garment looks like something from a mount Everest expedi-
tion. Now she notices that the leather coated man is standing at a
rack of winter jackets, looking through them, and now she is sure,
his attention is directed at Henry. She pays for the tie, not with
Henry’s credit card, but with her own, wincing slightly at the ex-
travagant price. She is still not used to the Euro, with its value
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 165

being almost ten times that of the Swedish crown. Declining the
salesgirl’s offer to gift wrap the tie, she tries to look casual as
she gets closer to the man. He is now very near Henry, who doesn’t
seem to notice him at all.
Henry evidently has arrived at a choice of parka, and is start-
ing to walk toward one of the cashier stations on the floor. The man
stops fiddling with the jackets and turns to follow. There is no
doubt now in Greta’s mind that his attention is directed at Henry.
She follows, now very close behind the man, who she is sure has no
knowledge of her presence. How can Henry not notice him? He had
seemed so adept at this sort of thing, yet now it was she who was
paying attention. Henry stops by the cashier and reaches for his
wallet. As he does this the man pulls a metallic object from the
pocket of his long leather coat. Greta is not sure what it is, but
her first thought is that it must be a weapon of some sort. Without
realizing what she is doing she runs toward the man and with all her
force she pushes him to one side. As she does this she screams out
Henry’s name and notices the metallic object clutter to the floor.
Henry turns toward her, at first looking startled and then angry.
Meanwhile the man sweeps up the object, which she now sees looks
like a small digital camera. He says nothing, pushes her aside and
runs towards the escalator. To her surprise, Henry pulls her away
and instead of thanking her, angrily mumbles something about her in-
eptness. Suddenly, the adrenaline rush of her actions subsiding, she
feels incredibly stupid, and despite her best effort she senses the
wetness of some tears forming in her eyes. Not wanting Henry to see
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this, she brushes the sleeve of her coat past her eyes, surrepti-
tiously wiping them dry.
Meanwhile, Henry seems to have calmed down, the flash of anger
gone from his face. Once more he surprises her, thanking her for
trying to save his life. She hears him saying, “Thanks, I know what
you were trying to do. Sorry if I overreacted.” She finds herself
smiling once more as he continues, “You had no way of knowing how
often I’ve been followed in the last few years. I was well aware of
our Russian friends interest in me.”
He then explained that he also remembered the man from Luleå and
was just waiting to see what he might be up to. His guess was that
he wanted to get a picture of Henry to show somebody, which was good
news. “It means he doesn’t know who I am. Unfortunately he now knows
about both of us and probably also recalls you being with me and
Again Greta experiences a sinking sensation in her stomach. She
has really messed up. What is Henry going to think about her? Should
she even care? Confusion rained in her mind and she hardly hears
Henry say, “Well the damage is done, why don’t we go and get you
some good winter gear like mine.”
It was impossible not to laugh as Henry brandished the extrava-
gant winter garment he had just purchased. At least he would now
have no excuse to complain about the cold of Helsinki. Then she no-
ticed that Henry also has a large envelope, which he must have ac-
quired from the sales clerk. He certainly didn’t have it when they
had parted. She really is getting to be a suspicious person. It’s
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 167

probably only some advertising brochures. Still, the way he is hold-
ing on to it provokes her suspicions. For the moment she decides to
leave well enough alone and avoids making any comments about the en-
velope as she heads once more for the woman’s sportswear department.
Maybe she would follow Henry’s lead and purchase something really
arctic. After all he is paying for it and who knows where they would
end up next?
A Life and Death Decision

Göran curses as the wet snow swirls about him, clinging to his
clothes, and worse clumping on his skiis. I’ve been at this for as
least ten hours, he thinks. Where the hell is the damn land rover?
Soon after leaving John the weather had turned for the worst. A
chill north wind driving a constant rain of horizontal snow into his
rear were of minor assistance in speeding up his southward journey,
but decreased visibility and the loss of GPS satellite connectivity
amply cancelled the small advantage gained by this. The discomfort
conferred by the traitorous northern weather is bad enough, but he
has also to think of John. In many ways he is almost the stereotype
of the tough Englishman. John would not admit when he was in trou-
ble, only laugh it off. The injury to John’s arm is worse than John
had admitted, that’s for certain. Not that he has time to ponder
anything but his own situation. Lost in a storm like this, he has to
think of his own survival. He would not be the first experienced
person to succumb to these harsh conditions. Almost against his
will, he recalls stories from his army training, how overconfident
men had met untimely ends despite their experience. It was all too
easy to become disoriented, and here he is, his mind occupied with
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 168

John instead of paying constant attention to his environment. Too
many years lost in the abstractions of science and graduate study,
he thinks. Not the kind of stuff needed to survive in the harsh real
world of the arctic. Soon he would have to find or construct some
sort of shelter. Then, against his better judgement, the image of
John and his plight fills his thoughts. The wind is now swirling
randomely about him, its direction continually changing. This pro-
vides more of a hinderance than an advantage to his already slow
The wet snow continues to clump to his skiis, forcing him to
brush it off and worse to stop and apply the appropriate wax to the
now exposed surface. Even as he does this he feels immersed in the
swirling wind, buffeted from all sides by forcefull gusts of the
cold and now damp air. After several precious minutes he’s able to
reattach the skiis to his boot. Luckily the wax coat helps in fend-
ing off the tendency of the snow to adhere to his skis. Scientist
that he is, he thinks how ill understood the subjects of friction
and adhesion are. The use of waxes and other means of improving the
performance of cross country skiers is still more art than science.
Competition and the presence of cross country skiing in the Olympics
has provided funds and interest in studying the matter, but he
wishes he could be engaged for the moment in something less inter-
esting. He smiles to himself in spite of the difficulties of the mo-
ment as an image of his small son Magnus learning to ski pops into
his head. No time for such pleasant thoughts, he must give complete
attention to his surroundings. He has grown too used to the marvels
of GPS technology, and now he is thrown on more primitive tech-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 169

niques, as the overcast sky is blocking reception from the system of
geo-positioning satellites. The Sami had invented the technology of
the ski and had found their way about on them for centuries, all
without the advantages of modern electronics. He had been told over
and over that he must not allow himself to be dependent on the new
technology, and he thought he had learned the lesson. Worry about
John and the rush to return to their vehicle had nullified the
training, so here he is, lost. Not only is it dangerous, it’s em-
barassing. How can he explain to his friends that he had gotten him-
self lost like some tourist. A child of the subarctic, brought up on
skiis, such an admission would almost be worse than not surviving at
all. Damn, he is starting to think like John. This, contrary to the
mentality of the tourists, isn’t a sport, it’s a way of survival.
Once more forcing himself to concentrate on his surroundings he no-
tices a sudden change in the terrain. He is in an area cleared of
trees. This must be part of the path, it is too optimistic to call
it a road, that they had so recently negotiated in the OVR. The ve-
hicle had to on this road, but where. Having lost his bearings, he
isn’t sure if he should follow the path to the left or to the right.
With the sun hidden from view he could not even be sure that what he
thinks of as the Northern direction is really the Northern direc-
tion. No, he reasons, the first crossing of the pathway has to give
him the orientation in which he comes upon it. So all he needs is a
nice binary choice. Go right or left on the road. But how to choose,
a wrong choice could mean his death. Now, instead of being focused,
his warm house, filled with Kirstin and Magnus flashes into his head
as he attempts to marshall some of his reasoning powers. He now at-
tempts to recall how the road had been oriented. It had been going
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 170

north east when they parked the rover. If he had veered to the east
in his journey, that would imply a right turn. But he has been trav-
eling for a longer time. More than his original estimate of the
trip. He should have stayed with John, for both their sakes. The
wind had mostly been at his back, at least he thinks it was. Suppose
he had gone south of where the rover is located. He can reason it
out slowly and carefully. In that case the right choice was to go to
the left. God, what should he do? Doing nothing is probably, no it’s
definitely the worse choice. There is some possibility that whatever
direction he takes, he will run into someone in a vehicle. Travel
very sparse, but still there was a chance he might come across an-
other vehicle. So he has to have some confidence that he can make
the correct choice. Then, thinking about what has happened since the
robbery at John’s office and realizing the danger they are in, he
forces himself to think clearly. The most likely explanation is that
he is further south than his estimate. So what are the implication
of this. I am further south than the vehicle, he decides. Without
hesitation he now takes off on the snow covered path, and turns to
his right. In an act of betrayal, his own thoughts start to count
the many ways he could have made a false decision..
Traveling, after fifteen minutes he notices faint tracks in the
snow covering the road. It looks very much like they had been made
by a snowmobile, though they are now too forgone to tell, being
filled with the undesired fresh snow. He is beginning to regret the
decision to go right. Then a dim shape takes form ahead. Yes, it is
the vehicle, or at least some vehicle. . Thank heaven, he has suc-
ceeded. He can now see the headlines in his minds eye, Göran Hed-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 171

berg, graduate student, rescues his professor in a blinding northern
storm. The rover is now clearly visible, a very welcome sight. Göran
stops to remove his skis, then he fishes through the pocket of his
expensive parka for the keys.
As he inserts the key in the door he suddenly senses something
sharp sticking into his back. Then a commanding voice in heavily ac-
cented English, “Don’t move a finger or I’ll put a 9mm hole through
your heart!” Another voice utters something short and unpleasant in
what Göran is sure is Russian. Before he can react at all, his arms
are pulled behind him and he experiences the cold steel of metal
circle and bind his wrists to one another. My god, he suddenly
thinks, what’s going to happen to poor John?
A Not so Modest Proposal
Henry watches Greta admiring herself in the hotel room’s mirror.
“Your going to die of heat exhaustion if you don’t take that thing
off soon,” he says with a laugh. Greta ignores him and continues to
flex her body, enjoying the feel of her new fur trimmed parka. Henry
would prefer her in a bathing suit, even as he appreciates the sug-
gested curves, evident despite the heavy winter garment. He’s also
impressed by her restraint. Certainly she noticed the envelope he
had acquired at Stockmans. Unable to resist teasing her, he removes
the envelope from the bag of newly purchased clothes, fingering it
while continuing to chatter about how warm she must be in the heavy
winter clothing.
Finally she removes the coat and says, “Don’t be so cute, you
damn well know what I’m thinking.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 172

Henry can’t resist keeping up the act a bit longer. “Right, I’d
sure like you to strip off more than that coat.”
Without a word Greta leaps at him, making a grab for the enve-
lope. Henry, barely managing to avoid a successful completion of
this maneuver says, “Good try, I guess you want to know what’s in
the envelope.”
With a half feigned look of anger Greta replies, “Oh stop it al-
ready, of course I want to know what’s in the envelope. Isn’t it the
real reason we went on that shopping spree in Stockmans?”
Henry is surprised that she has figured that one out, because
it’s correct. He had arranged with Walter to obtain information re-
garding possible clues as to Rafael’s whereabouts in Helsinki. Fol-
lowing his usual secretive impulses, Walter had refused to simply
have the information sent to him at the hotel or via the internet,
but instead had arranged the surreptitious affair at the department
store. To play this out Henry had to purchase something in the men’s
department, where the clerk slipped the envelope into one of the
bags as he handed it to him. He doesn’t even know if the Clerk is on
Walter’s payroll or simply someone Walter’s local helpers had
bribed. It doesn’t really matter, what does matter is the person who
was on his tail. He doesn’t want to admit it, but he hadn’t spotted
the guy and Greta’s impetuous action could have saved his life. Cam-
eras, might not be quite what they looked like.
Greta, interrupting these thoughts, once more tries to pull the
envelope from his hands. He pulls the envelope away from her and
proceeds to open it, very slowly. Inside are several sheets of paper
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 173

with a list of restaurants and bars. “Well, well,” he says, “it
looks like we have a list of bars and entertainment sites in Hel-
From Greta’s expression as she looks over the list, he can see
that she has no idea as to what it means. Finally she says, “These
aren’t restaurants, they’re strip clubs.”
Henry replies, “Very good Mrs. Holmes, they’re indeed strip
“Okay, I’ll bite. What do you want a list of strip clubs for?”
“Actually I don’t, it was Walter’s idea.”
The expression on Greta is enough to tell Henry that she has de-
cided anything to do with Walter is bad news. He only wishes he had
had the same reaction from his first meeting with the man. Walter
had been intent on recruiting him, and Henry had fallen for his
charm and apparent likeness to himself. Techniques right out of the
manual for recruiting agents, as he now himself knew and used. Mimic
the actions and interests of your target! People love to see their
own reflection.
Now looking at Greta he continues, “Walter thinks that some way
or another our friend Rafael is mixed up with some Russian mobsters.
Now you may not know it but a lot of the more sleazy establishments
in this town are run by the so called Russian Mafia. This is a list
of night clubs and porn establishments which are owned or controlled
by the mob.”
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Saying this, Henry tries to decide on how to reveal the rest of
Walter’s plan. She is smart and would sooner or later figure out
what was going on. However what he was now going to ask her would
certainly get a strong reaction. He doesn’t know himself if Walter’s
plan, if one could call it that, made any sense. He wishes he could
come up with some better way to proceed. The idea of putting Greta
into a compromising situation is not at all attractive to him. The
other aspect of Walter’s scheme is also disturbing. Henry has to ad-
mit that he is starting to feel somewhat possessive about Greta, and
the thought occurs to him that Walter must know this. Maybe Walter
is more interested in driving a wedge between him and Greta then in
finding Rafael. No, Walter is too focused on his business to risque
losing track of Rafael for the purpose of controlling Henry. For one
of the few times in his life Henry feels at a loss for words. How is
he going to ask Greta to do what must be done?
“Greta, Walter and I have worked out a plan to locate Rafael. It
may be a bit dangerous for you, so if you don’t want to do it I un-
Greta doesn’t answer at once and Henry tries to puzzle out the
expression on her face. Is it surprise, anger or what? Finally she
says, “Everything we have been doing seems to be dangerous, so
what’s so special about this plan?”
Henry strokes his chin and replies, “It pretty much puts you on
the line, though I’ll be there to back you up.”
Now she looks vexed. “Oh for God’s sake Henry, tell me what you
want and stop talking in circles.”
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Henry tries to smile at this, than holding up the sheet of paper
he says, “We thought that you should apply for a job at each of
these clubs, they’re always looking for girls.”
Greta looks at him straight in the eye and says, “If you expect
me to apply to a Russian Mafia run joint to be a stripper you really
don’t know me.”
Henry puts out his hands, palms outward, and says, “No, of
course not, I wouldn’t ask you to do anything like that. The clubs
hire girls to circulate among the men, getting them to buy drinks
and such.”
Greta laughs, “Henry, you have to be kidding, I’m sure these
girls are expected to do a lot more than solicit drinks, and the em-
phasis is on the word solicit.”
“Of course, you’re right about that, but you don’t have to go
that far, I mean you will not go that far. Just think, it’s a per-
fect way to get information. Some of these guys will be drunk. It
shouldn’t be too hard to find out what they know.”
“And just what am I supposed to find out?”
“Simple,” Henry continues, “find out where we can find Rafael.”
Henry now removes a small picture from the envelope and says,
“Here is a picture of our missing savant. All you have to do is to
tell these guys you’re looking for your boyfriend, who owes you
money. Then flash this picture and ask if they have seen him. If any
of them get too close I’ll be there to back you up.”
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Again Greta laughs, but Henry can see it’s a humorless chuckle,
and says, “And just what are you going to do, call the cavalry and
John Wayne to defend my honor.”
Rubbing his chin, a habit Henry realizes he should get rid of,
it gives too much of his thinking away, Henry says, “Of course not,
I told you it was a dangerous idea. I just thought that you were
concerned about what we are doing to the environment. This may be a
chance to do something about it.” Now Henry decides it’s time to
shut up a while and give Greta a chance to ponder the issues. He is
pretty sure she is going to agree.
Bar Talk
Greta pushes her way towards the crowded bar, suppressing her-
self from coughing at the smoke and the stench of unwashed bodies.
The place is filled with men, drinking, laughing and occasionally
grabbing the almost naked girls dancing on a platform above the ta-
bles. She feels disgusted with herself for even being in such a
place. How did Henry talk her into this? It is her own fault, she
couldn’t stop herself from contradicting him, when he kept insisting
she wouldn’t be able to deal with the pressure. So here she is,
looking for work in Helsinki's most sleazy strip bars. What a use
for her PhD. She flinches, feeling someone pinching her ass and
hearing grunts of laughter. Finally she reaches the counter and is
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rewarded by the leering face of the barman. She explains in broken
English, as Henry had instructed, that she’s in need of a job.
The bartender grins, showing a particularly bad set of decayed
teeth, and says, “You don’t look like no stripper to me.”
The last thing she wants in life is to be a stripper, so she is
surprised to find herself annoyed at this comment. Before she can
say anything he continues, “That’s okay, we have too many strippers
working here.”
Greta starts to turn away, but he grabs her by the shoulder and
says, “Hey, don’t get all uppity. I need girls like you to jolly the
clientele up, get em to buy drinks and stuff.”
Greta responds with a thin smile, nodding her head in a sem-
blance of gratitude. “I really need a job, whatever you want,” she
The man looking pleased with himself, tells her to hang up her
coat and get to work. “And don’t try to get out of here without giv-
ing me my cut of what you get off these guys.”
Greta again shakes her head in agreement. All too soon she finds
herself dancing with one of the grubby looking denizens of the
place. After a while she’ll never get used to being fondled by the
drunken Finns and Russians. Though their is a surprising satisfac-
tion in steering them to the bar to buy phony drinks for her. As
Henry explained, most of the men speak some English, giving her a
chance to try out the story they had prepared back at the hotel. To
her surprise a lot of the men seemed genuinely upset at her tale of
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being beaten up and abused by her former Spanish boyfriend. They
even showed outrage when she explained how Rafael had cheated her
out of her money. So far, after going through this act for several
days, none of them recognized his name, nor the picture of Rafael
that Henry had given her. As the hours passed she despairs of ever
finding the man. This is her third night playing at this game. She
looks around to see if Henry is somewhere in the room. He had told
her he would be there for her if anything went wrong. What exactly
he could do for her in this crowd is not obvious. Not that she can
find him anyway. He had vanished on the other two nights also. It is
getting harder and harder for her to believe he is backing her up as
promised. When she had confronted him, he claimed it was just that
he blended in so well she couldn’t see him. She had grown to like
Henry, or so she thinks, but where is he now? Not that she was
scared, just nervous. Who wouldn’t be in this situation?
After finishing a dance with a particularly unwholesome charac-
ter, she sits down next to one of the better dressed bar clients.
The man, speaking in a foreign but precisely correct English accent,
offers her a cigarette, which she refuses, asking for a drink.
The man smiles knowingly and says, “Of course, you must work
Greta smiles back, genuinely impressed by the man’s style. “How
did you guess?”
The man shakes his head and says, “I’ve been watching you for
the last hour, and if the drinks you had consumed were real you
wouldn’t be talking to me now.”
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Greta can’t help but laugh at this. Soon she finds herself tell-
ing her story. Rolf, the name he had claimed for himself, looked
genuinely sympathetic. Looking at the picture of Rafael he says,
“Sure, I’ve seen him here several times. I noticed him because he
didn’t seem at all interested in the girls. Spent all his time talk-
ing to some very well dressed fellow. I wondered if he was gay or
something like that.”
Greta felt an inward sigh of relief, at last a payoff. It would
be a relief if she could drop this charade.
Rolf continued, “I was curious, so I watched the fellow when he
was here without your friend. Even talked to him. One thing is for
sure, he’s not gay, spends a lot of time with the ladies and not
just for conversation.”
As Rolf talked he got closer to Greta, touching and fondling
her. If he didn’t have information she needed she would have ex-
tracted herself from the situation, but she doesn’t have a choice,
so she accepts his unwelcome advances and continues to press him for
“I’m sure the guy is a Russky, when not making out with the
girls he joins a crowd of pretty rough looking characters. I think
one of them has some stake in this place, the way the help defers to
him. I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of some of those guys,
that I can tell you.”
Rolf nods his head in the direction of a table off to one side
of the room, where Greta sees a crowd of load talking men. From
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their look, she believes that Rolf’s assessment is correct. She con-
tinues to endure Rolf’s advances hoping to get more information, but
after awhile it is clear that he has no more to give. As smoothly as
she can she leaves him, under the pretext of having to visit the
rest room. After making a quick detour to the bar so as to leave a
percentage of her take for the evening, she slips out of the place
into the cold Helsinki night. She is almost surprised to find Henry
waiting for her with a Taxi and soon they are headed back to the
comfort of their hotel.
Back in the room, Henry seems gleeful at the news of finding
some trace of Rafael’s whereabouts. During the Taxi ride he had been
silent, simply listening to her relate the events of the evening and
the information she had gleaned from Rolf. Now he can’t seem to stop
talking. She feels dirty and tired; all she wants is to take a
shower and wash off the smell of the unpleasant strip bar and its
denizens. Finally she says, “Enough Henry, I need a shower more than
you could believe.”
In the bathroom, she starts the shower before getting into it.
She hates the sudden changes of temperature as the water starts to
flow, so she usually lets the water run for a minute before exposing
herself to the streaming jet of water. While waiting she gets an im-
pulse to open the door and peek into the room. She sees Henry, his
back to the door, sitting at the small vanity desk before his open
laptop. He’s talking into the machines inbuilt microphone in a very
low voice. It’s hard to hear what he’s saying with the shower going.
Concentrating as much as she can she begins to understand at least
some of what he’s saying, especially when she hears her own name
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mentioned. She also hears Walter’s name mentioned, and concludes
that he’s the person on the other end of the conversation. Why
didn’t Henry mention that he intended to call Walter? Every once in
awhile she is sure that Henry is talking not only in English but
also in Russian or some other slavic tongue. Henry had never said
anything about being fluent in Russian. Most disconcerting is the
continual mention of her name. On several times Henry laughs as if
at some joke. Because he is listening on earbuds she can’t hear the
other side of the conversation, or even be sure that it’s Walter he
is talking to. After several minutes of this she closes the door,
finally stepping under the shower. Normally she would feel elated
and refreshed by the warm water streaming over her body, but now all
she can think of is the strange conversation. Again she asks her-
self, why hadn’t Henry told her he was going to contact Walter? He
must have thought that with the shower running she wouldn’t be aware
of him talking, especially since he kept his voice so low. No, she
is being paranoid, he would tell her all about it when she emerged
from the bathroom. Maybe Walter had contacted him. But why was he
speaking Russian? It’s true that he had been acting oddly the last
few days. Had he ever acted otherwise? He had claimed to be near her
at all the strip clubs, but she had hardly seen him. Maybe he is up
to something she didn’t know about. It is all very confusing and up-
Finally after toweling herself off, Greta steps out of the bath-
room. Henry is already in the double bed, reading a magazine. She
decides not to say anything about hearing the conversation, but
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takes off her robe and slips into the bed beside him. He puts down
the magazine, she notes it is the English weekly, The Economist.
“Feeling better?” he asks.
“Yes, the shower was wonderful, I feel like a new woman.”
“Too bad, I kind of liked the old one.”
Greta forces herself to keep calm, thinking, when is he going to
say something about that conversation. With great effort she contin-
ues to wait, hoping to hear some mention of the mysterious conversa-
He pulls her closer to him and says, “I’d better find out if
this new woman is as good as the old model.”
At first Greta only half heartedly goes along with Henry’s ad-
vances, but soon she is caught up in the moment and despite her mis-
giving is enjoying herself. Even as she falls under the spell of
love making she hears her inner voice whispering, don’t trust this
man, he’s not what he seems to be.
A Light in the Forest
Placing the bullet shaped cylinder into the snow, Rafael winces
with annoyance. He doesn’t like the way Markov watches everything he
does. Like some sort of predator the man has a furtive quality that
causes Rafael’s hand to shake as he punches a series of numbers into
the recessed keypad and closes the cover.
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“We have a minute to get some distance from the activated injec-
tor,” he says curtly to Markov. He is rewarded by a stone faced ex-
pression as they both jog away from the cylinder.
I need these people, Rafael tells himself over and over.
“What does this thing do?” Markov asks, not for the first time.
After a pause, Rafael decided he has to tell a little about what’s
going on. He can’t afford to totally alienate these thugs.
“The injector will use a shaped charge explosive to essentially
melt a cylindrical hole in the ground.”
“That’s why we have to get out of its way?” Markov asks as they
come to a stop.
“Its part of the reason, the second stage action of the injector
will direct a jet of what I call cellbots into the opening. The
cellbots are a melding of cellular life, called extremophiles with
special molecular machines of my own design.”
Suddenly they feet a blast of hot air followed by a blinding
light. This is rapidly swallowed up by the surrounding forest. Once
more they’re again immersed in the eerie twilight of the the perpet-
ual arctic night.
“Is it safe to look at it now?” Markov inquires in a surpris-
ingly subdued tone.
“Yes,” Rafael gives as his only reply turning toward the spot
where the injector had been planted. Now there’s no sign of the in-
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jector capsule, and all that remains is a puddle of melted snow and
some steam.
Markov looking puzzled asks, “Why the fireworks? The fifty pri-
mary injectors you gave us just looked like large mechanical pencils
and didn’t make any noise or explosive flash. We just pushed them
into the snow.”
Rafael is now silent, his thoughts on what is happening beneath
the injector. The cellbots it released were much larger than what
the primary injectors contained. The extra size was needed for the
control circuitry that would direct and modify the primary cellbots.
Markov continues to pester him with question but they’re inter-
rupted by the sound of approaching snowmobiles. Rafael experiences a
surge of panic at the intrusion. His first thought is that someone
is coming to stop them? Evidently Markov notices his distress, for
he is again laughing, taking evident pleasure in his discomfort. Old
pains pass before him, someone laughing at him in this way is all
too familiar, bringing back to mind the childhood taunts of his con-
“Don’t worry my friend?” Markov says putting his meaty hand on
Rafael’s shoulder. “It’s just some of my men who were scouting the
area. You told us to keep intruders out.”
On one of the snowmobiles, in addition to the driver, there’s
another figure slung over the luggage carrier. Rafael can see that
it’s a largish man, strapped to the carrier in what must be a pain-
ful position.
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“What have we here Sasha?” Markov grunts to the man driving the
vehicle. “Some garbage we found on the road,” he replies with a
leer. “Shall we bury it for the wolves?”
“Not yet, I would like a few words with this visitor, then we
can decide.”
Rafael looks on this exchange with a sense of dread, My God how
did I get involved with these monsters, he thinks. Boris had not
mentioned anything about violence. “Don’t hurt this man!” he yells
impulsively. “No one must get hurt!”
“Don’t worry my friend,” Markov says with a broad grin, “We were
only joking, right Sasha.”
“Off course, we will make him feel at home and together we will
all have a few drinks,” Sasha replies with a wink aimed at Markov.
Rafael tells himself that the benefits of his work to mankind re-
quires some difficult decisions. If he could help the man, he would,
but the experiments is more important than any one person.
“Bring the fellow up to our nice clubroom and make him so com-
fortable he will not want to leave us!” Markov now commands. Rafael
watches as two heavy set armed men drag the inert body of the man
towards the portable shelter. He feels his hands shaking. What to
do? What to do? He must find Boris. Boris wouldn’t allow this man
Markov to act this way. Of course, if only he could talk to Boris.
Between a Hot and a Cold Place
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Awakening, John is startled by his surroundings. The white walls
of the ice cave provide little in the way of reference with which to
orient himself. He moves, suddenly reminded of what has happened by
the intense jolt of pain in his arm. He can’t tell if he is fever-
ish, not with the cold that penetrates his parka and sleeping bag.
How long had it been since Göran’s departure, days, hours? I have to
get up, move around, find out what is going on, he tells himself.
After a struggle he sheds the sleeping bag while trying to minimize
the pain in his arm. Gathering effort from some deep resource, he
manages to scramble out of the cave. Clearing his head and trying to
ignore the pain he is staggered by the strangeness of the scene that
greets him. The pool around the geyser has expanded, and heat from
some unknown source is steadily melting more and more of the snow.
Steam rises from the pool, and floating clouds of vapor drift out-
ward over the arctic waste. Walking toward the geyser area he senses
a substantial increase in the air temperature. The cold arctic air
gradually gives way to a sense of warmth. Advancing further he is
almost too warm in his cold weather clothing.
Looking down at the water he sees vapor bubbles rising to the
surface. At the edge of this bizarre pond the water gives way to
slushy ice. John realizes he has an almost unquenchable thirst. With
some effort and not a small amount of pain he manages to retrieve a
cup from his pack. Dipping it into the ice and water mixture near
the edge he scoops up enough liquid to nearly fill the cup. Eagerly
he swallows the ice water, relieving the stinging in his burning
throat. Not at all bad, he reflects, dipping for a second cupful. An
errant thought of a plate full of beacon and eggs taunts him. Then a
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miscalculated movement of his arm once more reminds him of his in-
jury. He retrieves yet another cupful of water to swig down a couple
of painkillers from the pack’s rapidly dwindling first aid kit. Then
he remembers that there are several chocolate bars in the pack. That
will keep him from starving. Göran is one of the most dependable
people he has ever encountered, he’ll get back here as soon as any-
one could. After a few minutes the pain subsides, thankfully the
pills seem to be doing some good.
Damn, Damn, he thinks, why did I let myself get sprayed like
that? The trip was supposed to be a simple reconnaissance of the
area. The last thing he was expecting was to get a bad burn from a
jet of hot water. Anyway Göran would soon get back, probably with
some help. Even if he is delayed, John has enough to survive. With
the heat from the geyser pool, the cold wouldn’t be a problem. He
could even take off some of his heavy outer clothing. His main dif-
ficulty at the moment was lack of food, except for the chocolate
bars. But what if his arm became worse. With his attention once more
on his injury, the effect of the pain pills seems to lessen.
Thinking about his arm he realizes that it might not be the best
idea to stay too close to the pool. The warmth was very welcome, but
he couldn’t afford to undergo another injury. Moving back from the
pool’s edge he almost laughs at his situation. Too close and he gets
burnt, too far and he gets frozen. Then the scientific observer in
him takes over, and he starts to examine the pool more carefully.
The ground that was recently covered with snow is now visible.
Using his left hand, he clears away the remaining snow cover with
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the small shovel from the pack. The ground has a very peculiar ap-
pearance. With his teeth he pulls the mitten off his left hand,
kneels down and runs his fingers over the surface. It is smooth with
an almost glassy texture and warm to the touch. In his minds eye he
visualizes pictures from some of the geology texts he studied in
Cambridge. If he was not mistaken, he is now standing on a lava
dome. The pressure of gases building up under such a dome were known
to be a cause of violent and sudden volcanic eruptions. No, it
wasn’t possible. An active volcano in Northern Sweden was against
all geological sense. There is simply no way there could be such a
formation here. Then, again becoming aware of the pain, he thinks,
geysers and earthquakes shouldn’t be here either. Recalling that
Yellowstone was found to be a super volcano he wonders, could this
ice triangle be something similar? And then the unbidden thought of
Göran’s whereabouts distracts him.
Maybe it had been a bad idea to send him off like he had. He
counts his supply of pain pills. How many had he taken? He was los-
ing track of them. Only three left. I’m too heroic, he thinks. I
don’t really want to end up as a frozen corpse, or bear meat. What
if something happened to Göran? This had been an exciting adventure,
something he enjoyed, but misery had overcome adventure. Must not
panic, he thinks. That’s the worse possible thing to do now. Smiling
he recalls the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy presentation he had
seen on TV. The main character, Arthur Dent, constantly got out of
trouble using the book with Don’t Panic written on its cover. John,
he keeps repeating, Don’t Panic, Don’t Panic!
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Trying to keep his mind off the pain John walks toward the edge
of the pool. Sniffing he senses the smell of rotten eggs, which re-
calls to him experiments with sulfur in his college chemistry lab.
The pool is bubbling and he can see vapors drifting upward and out-
ward from its surface. The smell is getting so strong that he also
feels a burning sensation in his nostrils. Covering his nose and
mouth with his left hand, he continues to walk along the waters
edge. The whole scene is alien and for that reason fascinating, like
nothing he would have expected to see in this part of the world. He
feels fatigued and despondent, with the pain from his arm and his
worry about Göran adding to his distress. The sulfur fumes are
stronger than ever and suddenly he is very dizzy. Vaguely he notices
that the ground his getting closer and the light turns to darkness
as he slumps into the snow covered ground.
Night Work
Greta coughs in the smoke filled atmosphere of the strip club.
She is repelled by the feel of the clubs floor under her high heeled
pumps. It’s slick with spilled drinks and other fluids she would
rather not think about. With considerable effort she tries to retain
a smiling face and to fit into the slimy atmosphere. It didn’t take
her long to learn that the russian mobsters that run the club are a
rotten lot of human beings. Also she’s just about at the limit of
being pawed by the drunks and low life that patronize the place.
Prancing about in her scanty costume, which increases her sense of
vulnerability, her thoughts turn to Henry. What is he really up to?
More to the point why doesn’t she just get on a plane and return to
her normal life in Stockholm? She considers herself smart and ra-
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tional but her current behavior doesn’t support this view. It just
keeps coming back to Henry. In spite of everything she is drawn to
him. “Ouch!” she mutters to herself. She almost vocalizes a “Piss
off you son of a bitch!”, to the drunken sod that had pinched her.
In the midst of her reaction, she sees a clean shaven and well
dressed, well dressed for this place anyway, man enter the room. De-
spite his careful attire there is something unpleasant about him.
The vision of a mustachioed villain from an old silent film, coming
to collect on the mortgage flashes through her mind. Someone in the
crowd calls out to the man in Russian, and in the midst of the unin-
telligible russian words she hears the name Boris.
At last! Greta thinks, all thoughts of her lack of rational
judgement evaporating. I’ve got to get near that bunch, find out if
that’s my guy.
She watches the man march arrogantly through the crowd to the
accompaniment of curses from the patrons that he unceremoniously
pushes out of his way. A space is cleared for him and as he sits
down he literally pulls a waitress over and whispers something into
her ear. Listening to the girl’s laughter, she doesn’t look more
than seventeen, Greta begins to work her way over to the table.
As she gets closer she can hear the table’s occupants shouting
at each other. Several of them, looking very angry, are banging on
the table. The man called Boris is waving his hands in a manner that
appears to be an attempt to calm things down, but with negligible
success. Greta, now alongside the table, feels a hand grabbing her.
Before she can do anything, she finds herself on the lap of one of
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the men next to Boris. To her horror she senses the gazes of the men
on her. They have stopped shouting at each other but are laughing
and making remarks. Though she doesn’t understand what they are say-
ing the intent is all too clear. She thinks it’s fortunate she
doesn’t understand the details.
Boris now speaks up in impeccable though accented English, “Gen-
tleman, can’t you see that the beautiful lady doesn’t understand
Russian? Where are you’re manners.”
“You understand English, no, beautiful lady?” says the grubby
man opposite Boris.
Greta marshals her resources and holding her mental nose re-
plies, “I understand English, what can I do for you?”
This is met with a roar of laughter. Boris grabs her hand and in
a low voice says, “You look too refined for my friends here. Would
you like to come sit with me?”
That this remark doesn’t meet with much approval from the others
is made evident by another exchange of angry Russian among the
crowd. Greta is silent for a few moments, thinking about what to
say. She realizes that she may be putting herself at more risk than
she and Henry had agreed upon, but this seemed too good an opportu-
nity to pass up.
She finally comes to a decision and turns to Boris, “It would be
nice to have a more intimate relationship.” Boris pulls her up, non
too gently, and pushed her in the direction of the exit.
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“Wait, I need my coat,” she exclaims, pulling her arm out of his
grasp. She is already regretting her decision and thinking of a way
out. Everything is happening much too fast. “I’ll meet you at the
door, just give me a minute”.
She runs toward the wardrobe area, hoping that Henry has been
observing what has happened. She is certainly not going to go off
with Boris without Henry knowing about it. When she reaches for her
coat she finally sees Henry standing beside the desk. For once he is
around when she needs him. For the last few days she has become in-
creasingly suspicious of Henry. The mysterious conversation that she
had partially overheard in the hotel had put her on guard, perhaps
too much so. While she is putting on her coat Henry brushes past her
in a movement that also causes her to drop the garment. Before she
can reach for it, Henry picks it up, and hands it to her with an
apologetic nod. As she slips the coat on she finds a squarish object
in one of the pockets. She is sure it had not been there when she
had left the coat at the wardrobe desk. Henry must have placed it in
the pocket when he picked up the coat. Looking at him she can see
his eyes shifting toward the pocket as if he is trying to tell her
With his lips almost closed he whispers, “tracking device.”
With a sense of relief she understands that if she goes off with
Boris, Henry will have the means to follow her. It’s still a tough
decision. Henry’s possession of such a device shows that he has
planned something like this all along. Why hadn’t he said something
about it before. For all she knew the object is not a tracking de-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 193

vice, but something more sinister, like an explosive mechanism. She
shakes her head, what is she thinking? Just a few days ago she
trusted Henry implicitly. He must know what he is doing. She’ll be
safe, she has to trust someone.
Boris is waiting at the door, looking irritated, an expression
which seems very natural on him. Outside the club he pulls her to-
ward a black, chauffeur driven, Mercedes. Greta notices that there
is another man sitting next to the chauffeur. The back of the Mer-
cedes is appointed in rich leather. Boris gently pushes her into the
vehicle. He says something to the men in the front. The partition
separating them from the driver closes, isolating them. Boris now
looks at her. She thinks that he seems like someone who is selecting
a cut of meat at a butcher shop.
“Well my pretty lady, we can now have our relationship!” As he
says this he reaches for the small but well stocked bar placed next
to the seat. Greta decides she must not really be here it’s all just
a dream, or a nightmare.
Undesired Hospitality
Göran stirs, sensing his inability to move. He is stretched out
on a cold floor and his head is hurting. If he could touch it he
knows he would find a large bump. The scene before him is slowly
coming into focus. The last thing he recalls is being knocked on the
head with a hard object. The two men that had attacked him, had must
have brought him to this place. Attempting to move he realizes he is
trussed up with rope and his hands are still cuffed behind him. What
a mess he thinks, how is he going to help John now? At least he is
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still alive, which is not all that much compensation, considering
the ruthlessness already demonstrated by his captors. Suddenly he
senses some one watching him. He can’t turn, but the face of an ol-
ive skinned man comes into view. The man has a worried expression
and lacks the hardness he expected of whoever had done this to him.
John starts to speak, but only emits a scratchy sound due to the
dryness of his mouth.
“Quiet!” the man whispers to him. “I don’t want the others to
know your awake! So whisper as low as you can.”
Göran’s hopes began to rise, maybe he has found a friend. “I
can’t speak, mouth and throat dry,” he croaks.
“I understand,” said the man in what to Göran, sounds like a
spanish accent. Thank God he wasn’t another bloody Russian. The man
leaves him, but returns in a few seconds with a cup of water. “Sip
it slowly.”
Göran takes the advice and at first just wets his mouth. “I can
talk now,” he whispers. What’s going on here, who are these people,
who are you?
“One question at a time my friend,” as he says this the man
looks around room, and Göran sees a flash of fear on his face. The
words that follow are not encouraging.
“You are in no immediate danger, I will see to that, but you
must not excite these men, they can be very unpleasant.”
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Göran, feeling the pain in his head, does not need to be told
this, he is all too aware of the unpleasant character of his hosts.
“Can you untie me?” he whispers.
The olive skinned man’s eyes open wide, eyebrows raised in a
fearful grimace, “I’m afraid that would not be wise, besides I don’t
have the keys to the handcuffs. You should pretend to be unconscious
for as long as possible while I try to arrange some things. I’m
sorry to say that my own relations with these people is not the
“Who are you anyway?”
“My name is not important. I’m a scientist and these men are as-
sisting in some of my research work.”
Göran finds this story strange if not totally implausible. He is
not in a good position to argue with his benefactor, meager as his
assistance had been. But he is also not the only one in trouble.
John is still out there, alive, he hoped. “I have a companion,” he
tells the man, “He is injured and alone and I was going to get help
for him. You have to do something to help him.”
The olive skinned man becomes even more upset at this news. No
not just upset, he seems to be confused or even conflicted, like he
is undergoing some inner struggle.
“I’m afraid I can’t help your friend, it is too bad,” he finally
replies. Just than Göran hears the sound of a door moving. The man
suddenly leaps back, holding the cup of water.
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Göran then hears a voice speaking with a deep russian accent,
“Ah there you are Rafael, we thought you may have gotten lost in the
“I’m fine, I just needed a drink of water Sasha.”
Sasha now turns and walks over to Göran. Without any warning he
kicks him in the stomach. Göran, taken by surprise, moans with pain.
The smile on Sasha’s face is not encouraging.
“Sleeping beauty is awake I see, just in time. Markov is anxious
to have a few words with him.”
On saying this Sasha emits a wicked sounding laugh, like he had
made a terrific joke.
Rafael replies, “This is my operation, and it is not my inten-
tion that anyone get hurt. I’m sure he will be cooperative and there
is no need for violence!”
Göran is not at all reassured by this conversation. He had to do
something, not only to free himself, but to help John. Somehow he
must escape from this bunch of maniacs, but how. The tightness of
his bonds sends him into a feeling of despair. He twists his body
around to get a better view of the room in which he is imprisoned.
It is some sort of portable structure filled with identical looking
crates. He doesn’t see any tools or other objects that might be of
help. His only recourse may be to enlist the help of Rafael, who
claims to be the boss but sure didn’t act like it. He must figure
out what’s the relationship between this Spanish character and the
Russian mobster types. The pairing looked so unlikely. There had to
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be a way he could make use of its evident weakness. Ideas start to
come to him, yes there might be a way out of this.
Back Tracking
Henry’s hands are still stiff, despite the warmth of the hotel
corridor. Even inserting the key card into the door lock takes con-
centration. Speed is important, so even before removing his coat he
fetches his laptop from its hiding place. Still stiff from the cold
he inserts the antenna module into one of the machine’s USB ports.
While the machine boots he throws his coat and gloves onto the bed.
Turning back to face the screen he catches a glimpse of his face in
the mirror over the vanity desk. The worried expression confirms his
inner feelings. Greta’s fate is now in his hands and a slip up could
have disastrous consequences.
He hardly understands how Walter had talked him into letting
Greta take such a risk. To his surprise Walter immediately realized
who this Boris character is, not that he shares much of this infor-
mation with Henry. What he does tell Henry only serves to increase
his anxiety. The man is involved in the branch of the Russian gov-
ernment that controls the oil cartels. He also has an advanced de-
gree in mathematics from Moscow University and a reputation for
ruthlessness. Evidently he had left the Mathematics profession, af-
ter the fall of the Soviet Empire, for more lucrative activities.
Henry gathers that Walter had had some run in with the man and had
not come out on top. Usually Walter was very impersonal about his
work, but the way he looks and talks about Boris is anything but im-
personal. He had told Henry of Boris’s liking for picking up women
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in sleazy bars and explained how they could use Greta to exploit the
situation. He claimed that Greta would act more naturally if she
didn’t know too much about Boris, hence his demand that Henry not
inform her of the details of their plan. Now it’s too late and he
realizes that this was a bad idea. Greta should’ve been warned of
the danger she was being exposed to. Henry is sure she would’ve gone
through with the plan but Walter was taking no chances. He had given
in all too easily and, as usual in his dealings with Walter, he
doesn’t quite understand why. If Greta finds out about this he is
going to have to do a lot of fast talking. But now is no time to
worry about such things, he has to devote his full concentration to
the laptop.
He brings up the program that Walter had sent him along with the
transmitter that he had slipped into Greta’s coat pocket. A map of
Helsinki appears on the screen, a bright dot at the center. The dot,
indicating Greta’s current position, remains fixed while the map
slowly drifts and turns about it. Henry can see that Greta is now
entering the more thinly populated outskirts of the city. He also
notes that his laptop is sending information to the internet, cer-
tainly to a computer at Walter’s office. Suddenly it occurs to him
that this may be part of a plan to eliminate Boris. What if the
transmitter was also a bomb? One click of a switch and Walter would
be rid of Boris. No, Walter wasn’t that crude. Besides he knows how
Henry feels about Greta, and that he would have to answer to Henry
for any harm that befell her. Still, the idea nagged at him. He
could break the connection of his laptop with the transmitter, but
at what cost? No, he had to assume that Walter was not going to do
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something that stupid. Realizing that his attention is wandering,
Henry redirects his attention to the screen. The map has stopped
moving about, meaning they have most likely arrived at their desti-
nation. Henry presses a key, and now the dot rather than the map
moves. The press of another key changes the scale. The dot moves
from what must be the car to what he assumes to be a house. After a
few moments the dot stops moving altogether, indicating that Greta
must have shed the coat. Time passes very slowly and Henry is pacing
up and down the hotel room, occasionally looking out at the lights
of nighttime Helsinki. Finally he perceives that the white dot has
started to move, first slowly, indicating that it’s progressing at
walking sped. After a few minutes the light picks up speed and moves
in the direction of the hotel. Thank God, Henry thinks, at last she
is on the way back. She must have told them to take her to the ho-
tel. Finally the light stops outside the hotel and the white dot
moves into the lobby area. A few more minutes and Henry can hear the
sound of foot steps outside his door. He gets up and runs to the
door, eager to embrace Greta and congratulate her on a job well
As he arrives at the door there is a knock. In his haste he
fails to check the security peephole to verify if it is indeed
Greta. The thought occurs to him to do so, but he ignores it. He
turns the lock and before he can do anything the door is flung open,
hitting him and propelling him backward. Two men enter the room and
grab both his arms before he can recover. They are both holding
Glock automatic pistols in a threatening manner. With a sinking
feeling in his gut, Henry realizes that their plan has gone terribly
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wrong. Somehow they found out that Greta wasn’t who she seemed to
be. Worse, they had located the tracking device and found out about
him and his whereabouts. His dread increases as he thinks about what
they must have done to extract information from Greta. Knowing her,
she wouldn’t have easily given up his location.
The taller of the two men now picked Henry’s coat off the bed
and handed it to him saying, “Good evening Mr. Brenner. We have the
honor of inviting you to visit with us.” He had no choice but to
comply, so he put the coat on and prepared himself to follow the men
into the night. Before leaving the room, the other man stepped over
to the laptop and smashed it with the butt of his weapon. As they
walked toward the elevator, Henry wishes he had been more diligent
in backing up the files for his recent writings. Then again, the way
things were going this might not be his main problem.
John is conscious of a hand lifting his head. He gags at the
smell of the hot liquid near his face. Then he opens his eyes and,
with more reflex than sense, drinks some of the broth. The last
thing he remembers is the overwhelming stench of sulfur fumes, which
still lingers in his nostrils and sends waves of nausea through his
body. As the fog lifts from his mind he sees that the man holding
the broth is attired in a bright blue costume trimmed in red.
“Take it slow,” the colorfully clad man exclaims with a slight
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“What happened, who are you?” John whispers, realizing that he
is having difficulty with his breathing.
“You had a close call,” the man says, now in a grave tone of
voice. “It’s very lucky for you that I came by this place. Can you
tell me, what’re you doing here in the Sapmi, and who you are?”
John, overcoming the terrible burning sensation in his throat
and chest, mutters his thanks for the rescue. Then he recognizes the
man’s costume as that of the Sami people of Northern Sweden. Many
still call them Lapps, but he recalls that to them the name is con-
sidered insulting. As briefly as he can John now relates his story,
pausing to sip more of the broth and to catch his breath. While the
smell of sulfur is reduced, it is still present and it almost over-
comes him. Whatever is going on, he feels terrible.
The man now introduces himself as Lars Magga, a reindeer herder
of the Forest Sami. He explains that he was investigating the area
where trouble had been reported by reindeer herders from his vil-
lage. He had seen the vapor stream from the geyser raising into the
air. John could see Lars’s snowmobile parked a few meters away.
“I saw you lying near the pool and thought you must be dead.
There were thick fumes all around you. I covered my face and got
close enough to see that you were alive but unconscious and managed
to pull you out of reach of the fumes.”
John reiterates his gratitude to the man for the rescue between
fits of coughing. Every breath of the cold air feels like he is in-
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haling fire. He can see that Lars is frowning deeply at him, as if
he, John, is responsible for what is happening here.
Lars continues, “I have never seen or heard of anything like
this. It almost looks like we are in Iceland rather than where I
thought I live.”
John tries hard to stop his coughing and finally manages to ex-
plain that he is as mystified as Lars at the strange happenings. “I
can only make guesses from what I see,” John finally says. He tells
Lars that he is a professor from the University at Luleå, but
doesn’t reveal that his main area of work is in mining engineering.
This seems prudent as he has heard that the Sami were very negative
about mining operations and their effect on the local environment
and their way of life. Even in his short time at Luleå he had become
aware of the difficult relations of the Sami, not only with the
Swedish government but even among themselves. The reindeer herders
were somewhat at odds with the non reindeer owning Sami over what
issues were of importance in negotiating with the government, and he
certainly doesn’t want to annoy his rescuer. Finally he says, “There
seems to be a major geological disaster in the making, but it goes
completely against what I know about the geology of Northern Swe-
He then explains, while continuing to cough, that he and his as-
sistant had come here to investigate the stories about disappearing
animals. It’s hard enough with his burning throat to convey the ba-
sic facts, so he doesn’t mention any connection with the visit he
had had from Henry and Greta. As he says this he wonders where Greta
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is now. He doesn’t know why this occurs to him just now, but the
thought of seeing her again suddenly feels important to him. Also
his breathing is becoming even more labored and he is aware that
Lars is looking at him with a concerned expression on his face.
Lars starts to pull him toward the snow-scooter saying, “I had
best get you back to our village, you need urgent medical atten-
tion!” Lars helps John, first by getting him to stand up and then by
steering him toward the snowmobile.
“Wait,” John utters, followed by more coughing, “I have to leave
a note for my student Göran, he was supposed to return here.”
Lars looks dubious and protests that they should get aid for
John as soon as possible. But John is insistent and so finally he
helps John to compose a message and place it under a pile of stones
that he quickly assembles.
“Your friend should notice the cairn,” Lars informs him, he also
adds to the note the GPS coordinates of his village.
For John, the trip to the village is interminable. Every breath
of air is torture and the bumping of the scooter over the humps of
snow sends shivers of pain down his bad arm. Several times he blanks
out, but even with intermittent periods of consciousness the three
hour trip takes an eternity. By the time they reach what Lars calls
the village, John is almost at the point of not caring if he is go-
ing to survive this.
Even in this sorry state, looking over the area he considers the
word village as somewhat of an exaggeration. He can count no more
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than eight or nine houses. At least they are houses and not the
teepee like traditional structures used by the Sami. Instead these
were modern prefab wooden structures that were very similar to the
newer houses in Luleå. Near this small collection of homes he sees
the pylons holding the cables that must supply electric power. The
most impressive sight is a fenced off area containing large numbers
of reindeer.
They come to a halt in front of one of the bigger buildings and
John can see a short stocky women emerging and walking toward them.
She and Lars exchange some words in what he guesses is one of the
Sami languages. Between the both of them they now manage to get him,
coughing and shivering, into the house. In a detached and almost un-
concerned way, he sees that he is coughing up a mixture of phlegm
and blood. Both Sami are looking at him with deep concern, which to
John is even more disturbing than the way he actually feels.
At last Lars says, “John, this is Susanne Turi. She is the near-
est we have to a doctor here.”
John weakly utters a greeting to Susanne, who with Lars help
proceeds to remove his outer clothing. He feels the cold metal of a
stethoscope on his bared chest as she takes his pulse and blood-
pressure. John only wants to close his eyes and escape the pain in
his arm and lungs. Susanne’s expression is grave, as she continues
to talk to Lars in the Sami tongue.
John is elsewhere, looking down on the scene and seeing himself
stretched out on the examining table. I have to get a message out,
he says to himself, but can’t quite decide what the message should
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be about. Göran keeps popping in to his mind, who’s Göran? he thinks
before a merciful blackness overwhelms him.
Lars, seeing that Göran is now unconscious, turns to Susanne and
inquires, “Do you know what’s wrong with him?”
“It would help if you told me the circumstances when you found
Lars proceeds to relate all he knew about the incident, includ-
ing John’s apparent reasons for being in their territory.
Susanne, looking exasperated, says, “I’m just a simple nurses
aid, not an expert on mysterious geysers and collapsed Englishman”.
“I know,” replies Lars, “But even I can see that this man is se-
riously ill. Also I told you the place reeked of a sulfurous odor.”
“That might explain some of what seems wrong. I believe his
lungs are damaged, and there’re what look like acid burns in his
mouth and nostrils. I saw some injuries like this when I was working
in the hospital. Cases where the patient had been exposed to indus-
trial chemicals.”
“Can you treat him?”
“To some extent, but he is going to need more professional
health assistance soon, I can only reduce pain and treat him with
some drugs to help him breath. The trip here on a snow-scooter
didn’t help!”
“There was no way to avoid that. I guess will have to call for a
medical helicopter to evacuate him to Umeå?”
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Susanne hesitates before replying, “I know how you hate to bring
the Swedish authorities into our business Lars, I’m afraid there’ll
be an investigation, but we have no choice.”
Lars looks glum as he ponders this. He is sure that whatever the
strange goings on, in what John had called the ice triangle, it’s
the sign of some new exploitation of their territory by the Swedes.
There was all too much history of them coming into this land to ex-
ploit the mineral wealth and to cut trees. Only a meager ten percent
of his people still could live anything close to the traditional
life, herding reindeer, hunting and fishing. More exploitation could
easily destroy what was left of this.
“Susanne,” he says, “We can not act alone on this, you and I
must notify Anders before calling in the emergency service.”
Susanne bites her lip before answering. Finally she says in an
emphatic tone, “If there is an investigation later on, they will
want to know why we delayed, if the man’s condition turns for the
worst we could find ourselves in serious trouble,” she pauses and
with a sardonic chuckle continues, “I guess it will be me who is in
“Don’t worry,” Lars replies as he picks up the phone, “If some-
thing goes wrong I’ll claim that I was the one who delayed bringing
him to you.”
Anders Somby is proud of his role as the informal leader of
their little village. For several years he had been a member of the
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Sami parliament, a relatively impotent body that the Swedish state
allowed them to maintain. To this day, despite their hypocritical
claims of justice for the Sami, the Swedes had failed to live up to
the obligations the UN required of States with native groups such as
they. Still, he had to admit, it was better than the situation had
been a century before. Anders is especially upset by the recent
granting of hunting and fishing rights to the general swedish popu-
lation in Sami territory. Now this strange individual shows up under
very odd circumstances. In Anders opinion it’s certainly a sign of
troubles to come.
Composing himself, he turns to Lars and says, “Tell me as com-
pletely as you are able the circumstances around your discover of
this man?”
He listens to Lars with patience, knowing that this is the sec-
ond time Lars is relating the details. Try as he may though he finds
it difficult to control his anger. Once more the Sami would suffer
at the hands of the outsiders.
Anders can’t help but interrupt, saying in an inappropriately
loud voice, “This geyser is no accident. The Swedes are up to no
good and as usual they have not told us anything,”
Lars, in his usual placid and reasoned manner that Anders finds
so annoying, says, “Anders, I believe that John told me the truth.
There may be some official involvement, I don’t know, but John is as
innocent a victim as us.”
“You are well meaning Lars, but naive. I know things you don’t.”
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“What may that be,” Lars replies, even showing little uncharac-
teristic emotion at Ander’s attitude.
“I was on a committee involving new appointments at the Techni-
cal University in Luleå. You’re friend is not as innocent as you
think. He evidently failed to inform you that his interest is not in
pure science. John Pritchard was recently appointed professor of
mining science!”
Lars surprise at this news is easily seen by Anders and Susanne.
John had lied to them, or at the very best told them half truths.
Still he is a sick human being and they had to help him.
“Okay Anders, you’re right, I’m naive, but we have to call in
the medical emergency people. If John dies it will only make things
worse for us. Beside, I still believe he had nothing to do with the
appearance of the geyser!”
Anders now looks down on the inert form of John. Susanne has
placed an respirator mask on his face, but his color is drawn and
pale. They clearly hear the sounds made by his breathing difficul-
ties. Anders knows that he had little time left to ponder in. A de-
cision must be made very soon or there would be no decision to make.
Anger Management
Göran cringes as he hears the sound of another slap to his face.
He’s tied to a chair, and looking into the unpleasant face of the
man they call Markov.
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“I told Sasha to be gentle, but he is an angry man, hard to rea-
son with,” Markov explains as if talking to a small child. “I don’t
want to hurt you, but we need to know what you know about us and if
you have any companions.”
Göran spits out some blood and makes a feeble effort at smiling.
Whoever these thugs are they’re not as intimidating as they seem to
consider themselves. Or perhaps it’s the bizarre sense that he’s not
really here, that he is merely a kind of observer and what’s happen-
ing is happening to someone else.
With what may be a foolish bravado he says, “I’m overwhelmed at
your concern for my welfare. Would you care to tell me what you’re
doing here or why you’ve kidnapped me?”
Markov continues to smile, looking at him as if he’s his best
friend. Shaking his head in mock despair he continues, “You are try-
ing my patience, my young friend. You’re in no position to do that
you know. Maybe you need a little time to think things over.”
Markov turns to Sasha and says, “We have other work to do, I’m
sure that our guest will become more reasonable with time.”
Watching the two walk out of the shed Göran is feeling miser-
able. Sasha’s knocking him around is the least of it. He’s worried
sick about John. Three or four days have passed since he left him,
and he could easily be dead. Also he has to think about the conse-
quences of his own situation. Keeping them guessing about what he
knew might be the only reason they had not already dispatched him.
The only bright spot was the very spastic Rafael. Whatever Rafael
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might think, it was Markov who was calling the shots. Rafael may
have developed some fantastic new technology, but that didn’t give
him control of what is happening here. Markov is tolerating him only
to use him and if he could make Rafael understand this he might get
the man to help him.
Göran appreciates that the technology developed by Rafael is
mind boggling. With it they are creating a geology similar to that
of Iceland in the forests of Northern Sweden. Iceland’s economy is
independent of oil because of the ready availability of geothermal
energy. No wonder these Russian mobsters want a slice of the pie.
Probably Rafael is in much if not more danger than himself. If
only he could make the man comprehend this. The trouble is that Ra-
fael belongs to the all too frequent personality type one finds in
extremely creative scientists. He is focused on his work to such an
extent that he has trouble realizing what is going on around him.
Maybe all creative scientists suffer from some limited degree of
autism. Sometimes Göran envied this singleness of purpose. Perhaps
if he had it himself he would have already finished his thesis, in
which case he would now be home with his family instead in the hands
of unknown Russian thugs.
He’s thoughts are interrupted as Rafael quietly slips into the
shelter and approaches him. In a whiney voice that grates on Göran’s
already sensitized nervous system he says, “I’m so sorry you’re be-
ing treated this way, If only I could do something about it.”
Göran’s first reaction is a desire to curse at the man. That’s
not too brilliant an idea. His best hope is to win Rafael over to
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his side, so instead he says in the most sympathetic tone he can
muster at the moment, “I know it’s not your fault, Rafael, I can see
you are a decent man, trying to do something for the world.”
Göran is disgusted as Rafael now takes on the aspect of a child
being handed a candy bar. At least I’m on the right track, Göran
thinks. With luck he might not only manage to escape but to take Ra-
fael and his technology with him. Overcoming his desire to start
screaming, he continues to butter Rafael up, saying, “I’m impressed
by what you are doing.”
Rafael responds by telling him how his work may lead to a sub-
stantial advance in solving the world’s energy problems by gaining
new access to geothermal sources. Watching the man, Göran realizes
with misgivings that his assessment of Rafael’s personality is all
too correct. He is totally consumed by his focus on the work and
it’s not going to be easy to make him see the deficiencies of his
Now Rafael is immersed in his technical explanations, the happy
look on his face is almost too much to look at. Göran interrupts
this monolog, saying, “I can see that you must give it priority, it
is so important.”
“Göran,” Rafael says as he feeds him a fresh drink of what
tastes like vodka followed by a morsel from a chocolate bar, “You
are a wise young man. I have spent years developing this technology,
only to be stopped by people of little vision and no intelligence.”
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“Why would anyone stop such a marvelous development?” Göran now
asks, choking slightly from the sting of the drink.
“They are nervous, they think I can’t control the cellbots!” an-
swered Rafael.
“I’m sorry Rafael, but what are these cellbots you keep talking
about? I’ve not heard the term before.”
Rafael resumes his monolog, looking happier than ever. He is
lost in himself as he relates his idea of using nano mechanisms to
enhance naturally occurring life. He tells Göran how the enhanced
extremophiles can rapidly dig into the earth, even below the mantel.
He says with evident pride, “The artificial enhancements also pro-
tect the extremophiles from the increasing heat. No drilling mecha-
nism had ever succeeded in penetrations of more than a few kilome-
ters, but there is no limit on what the cellbots can do.”
“What happens if they do get out of control?” Göran asks, hoping
not to spook Rafael with an obviously unwanted question.
“It’s not a problem, I have found a perfect way to control
them!” Rafael replies in an angry voice.
Not wanting to upset him further, Göran states, “I’m sorry Ra-
fael. I was just curious as to why people oppose such a great idea.”
Rafael visibly ruminates over this as he forms a response. “They
have no imagination, only fear,” he now declares, raising his voice
in spite of the danger of the Russians overhearing him. “They think
my cellbots could expose us to the Earth’s interior, that lava and
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magma would overrun us, destroying the surface. Nonsense, they don’t
even understand how the cellbots function.”
If these cellbots can do what he says, Rafael is more dangerous
than I first imagined. He doesn’t even realize the weaponp potential
of his invention. Göran can see all too many reasons not to trust
the man, the bruise on Göran’s face being one of them. And what do,
these mobsters know about Rafael’s plans. I doubt if they have any
idea of the forces they are playing with. If this lies behind what
he and John had experienced Rafael’s little cellbots could destroy
the environment in ways not previously dreamed of in the worst
nightmares. He had to do something about this. Even John’s plight
might pale in comparison to what could be at stake here. Suddenly he
hears the noise of someone opening and closing the door to the hut.
“So what’s going on here?” Sasha shouts at them as he enters.
Looking at the frightened expression on Rafael’s face, Göran’s
thoughts turn to the immediate problem of survival.
Other Arrangements
For some reason unknown to him Henry is not frightened even as
he is shoved unceremoniously into the back of the black BMW sedan.
This is not new, it has happened before when he has been in a tight
situation. A feeling of being an observer, watching, calculating and
looking for a way to turn the tables. His plan has definitively gone
very very wrong. It is a pity that Greta is involved but he didn’t
feel any guilt about that either. He knows that later, if there is a
later, he will feel terrible if anything happens to her. But for now
he is possessed by a strong sense of almost not being here. It is
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like he is working out some abstract problem. Sometimes he even won-
ders if he has a touch of autism in his personality.
A sudden overpowering of his assailants is only a dream of fic-
tion and adventure films. Admit it Henry, your frightened out of
your wits. Wits, what wits, he tells himself, still not experiencing
any fear. He does his best to follow the route taken by his captors,
but there’re just too many turns and too many parts of the city that
look alike. Soon he has to admit that he has failed to keep track of
where they are. Then again, whoever his abductors are they don’t
even seem to care if he knows where they are going or not. Not a
very encouraging sign.
All too soon they park in front of a nondescript residence in
some unknown Helsinki suburb. “Mr. Brenner, would you be so kind as
to step out of the vehicle?” the taller of his two abductors com-
mands more than asks.
Henry notices the precise English and sarcastic tone the man em-
ploys. He speaks with what Henry takes for a distinct Russian accent
and at the same time gives an impression of being educated. Entering
the house, despite the weapons so clearly displayed, he is treated
politely and asked for his coat. Once he is seated in a comfortable
chair he is even offered coffee.
Henry is now more concerned with his lack of concern than with
the fix he is apparently in. So far he has not volunteered anything
to these people, following the principle that once you open your
mouth in a situation like this, it’s hard to close it. Yet he must
face the reality that he is going to have to talk with these people.
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The only way he is going to escape is by his wits, and that requires
communication with his captors. He decides that a straightforward
approach is probably best. He wouldn’t be here if they did not con-
nect him and Greta together, so the first thing he says is, “Where
is the woman?”
In response to this the tall man looks him over with that damna-
ble sarcastic expression. Finally, he says “All in good time Mr.
Brenner, or may I call you Henry?”
Henry pauses, before replying, “Why not, it’s my name as you so
evidently know.”
The man’s smile reveals a set of decayed teeth, another sign of
his Soviet origins. “I’m sure our host wouldn’t mind if I tell you
that your friend, I believe her name is Greta, is unharmed. She has
been most cooperative.”
At that point the man that Henry knew as Boris enters the room,
carrying a tray with coffee and some cakes. “Ah, the famous Mr.
Brenner,” he says in a manner one normally assumes when greeting an
admired guest. “I thought I would join you in an early breakfast, it
is not often that I have the pleasure of the company of such an ac-
complished person as yourself.”
Henry decides that for the moment his best strategy is to play
along and act the part that Boris has assigned him. Therefore,
adopting an ironic note in his voice, he replies, “I am always
pleased to meet with my readers, though it is seldom I am offered
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such an overwhelming incentive to partake of their company. But how
come you’re so certain that I am indeed Henry Brenner?”
Boris’s laugh is unnerving, it’s insincerity all too obvious. “I
would be most distressed if you were not, as otherwise we would have
to dispose of you and your companion. You are so much more useful as
Henry Brenner, it would indeed be a pity if we made a mistake.”
Henry shakes his head and takes a sip of the coffee, then he
says, “Then it is indeed fortunate that I am Henry Brenner and of
course you’re the well known former mathematician from Moscow, Dr.
Boris Eframov.”
Boris again reveals his poor teeth before he says, “Well, that’s
better. It can be so useful to have one’s cards on the table. So Bo-
ris and Henry it is. I was so hoping we could work together Henry.”
In a pig’s ass, Henry thinks, but says, “You make refusal rather
difficult Boris. What exactly do you want of an author of populari-
zation’s of science?”
“Only to make you a rich man, I have reason to believe that
wealth is something you would not deny yourself. Also you do your-
self an injustice Henry. I am well aware of the not so well known
Walter Copley and his business interests. We have even had occasion
to work together in the past and I know how highly he values you.”
While Henry does his best to hide his surprise at this, he is
also sure that Boris is reading his micro-expressions with ease.
Walter hadn’t ever hinted at any arrangements with Boris when he had
filled him in on the man’s background. Boris is probably lying in
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 217

order to get Henry to cooperate. Then again it is not past Walter to
have a number of double deals going on. Henry had to admit that Bo-
ris is very convincing and he has left him very uncertain as to who
is on what side of what in this game. Whatever the case, his main
problem is to protect Greta and himself. After some silence he re-
plies, this time in Russian, “And what is it I have to do to become
rich, Boris?”
“Nothing very difficult for a person of your abilities and evi-
dent linguistic talents my friend. We only want you to charm an as-
sociate of ours. You see this person doesn’t trust us, as bizarre as
that might seem to you. My guess is that you know this person and
indeed have come here to Helsinki in an attempt to locate him.”
No use kidding myself, Henry thinks, this Boris is both smart
and ruthless. Most probably he intends to get rid of me and Greta as
soon as we cease to be of use, but in the meantime I must act as if
I trust him and am interested in an arrangement with him.
“What you ask sounds simple enough, but may I ask, how did you
find out about me?”
“Actually it was almost pure luck. I recognized you in the
club. When Greta fetched her coat I saw you carry out that cute in-
sertion of a homing device into her pocket.”
“So you had someone follow me back to my hotel?”
“That, and we also had some photos of you. You were purchasing
some clothes at Stockmans I believe. It didn’t take long to posi-
tively identify you once we had a chance to look at the pictures
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 218

more carefully. Why, I’m one of your fans, and I do hope you will
honor me with your signature in one of your books. And of course I
have heard Walter speak highly of your talents.”
“I’m flattered Boris, still I don’t know the details. I would
help to know what you want from me. Also I must see that Greta is
safe before we make any deals.”
“She is resting now, but as soon as she awakens we will arrange
a get together. I sorry to say she became emotionally distraught at
being questioned and was reluctant to reveal her identity and con-
nection with you.” Hearing this Henry momentarily loses control and
all his attempts at seeming cooperative with Boris are forgotten as
he screams at him, “If you hurt her, you son of a bitch I’ll have
your head!”
Boris looks at him, his expression blank and unreadable, unfazed
by the sudden change of tone. Quietly he replies, “Please Henry, re-
lax, I can assure you Greta is unharmed and if you will cooperate
with us the two of you will soon have a joyous reunion.”
Henry stomach is now in knots with anger. Despite the fact that
his intellect is telling him of his danger he still feels no fear.
Boris has all the cards and he has to keep control of himself. In a
way there is nothing new going on. He has been trapped from the
first day he had met Walter. The only difference was who had trapped
him. For years now he had played Walter’s game, not even knowing who
profited and what the damage his information might be responsible
for. After a moment to regain his calm he apologizes for the out
burst, saying that he is simply concerned with Greta’s safety and
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 219

meant no insult to Boris. Boris only shakes his head at this, and
replies, “As I said, our colleague badly needs a friend. His name is
Rafael and you certainly heard about him in your recent visit to the
Nova institute, which of course I am fully aware of.”
Henry decides that it is best if Boris is convinced that he can
win his cooperation by offering him money. Let him think that
Greta’s safety is important to him, but only as a secondary issue.
Convincing Boris that he is after financial reward shouldn’t be too
hard, after all that’s what he has been pursuing for his many years
with Walter.
“I know of him,” Henry replied. “I never met the man, but I know
he had trouble with Lisette Dupont, the labs director and had gone
“Now that’s more like it Henry, I can see you are being more
forthright with us already. Do you know what Rafael was working on?”
Henry can see no gain in keeping what he knew secret at this
point. He is bound to learn more from Boris than he had to give.
“I have some idea, but it’s vague. Rafael was experimenting with
adding nano-mechanical components to living cells. He was doing this
with so called extremophiles, life that survived in extreme environ-
“Did Dupont tell you just what kind of extremophiles Rafael was
working with?”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 220

“She mentioned something about organisms that broke down rock
for their nutrition.”
“Good, I assume that as a knowledgeable science journalist you
appreciate the implications.”
“My guess, and it’s only a guess, is geothermal energy. With
these devices you might be able to construct vents deep into the
Earth’s interior. Correctly and wisely applied such a technology of-
fers the possibility of solving our energy problems for any foresee-
able future.”
“Very good, Henry. Now I’m going to tell you about our interests
in this”.
Henry decides to show off a little, so as to convince them that
he could be a useful working partner.
“Let me guess, you represent some group of wealthy russians, say
ones who have made their money on exploitation of Russia’s oil re-
serves,” Henry paused giving Iqor a chance to reply.
“Go on Henry, I’m impressed, you have a knack for the obvious.”
Boris injects.
Annoyed by the comment, Henry continues, “Maybe these oil guys
are worried about keeping wealthy or maybe they are just looking for
new investments. It would not be too hard persuade a starving Rus-
sian research microbiologist to join the Nova institute. You might
even have got the idea from one of my books.”
“Right on the mark Henry, so go on.”
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“This associate of yours informs you about Rafael. You cook up
some kind of plan, maybe to get Rafael thrown out of the lab. You
befriend him and even offer to help him continue his work. Is that
“You’re reputation does not do you justice Henry. I really look
forward to having you as a colleague.”
Henry is not sure if he is being congratulated or mocked. Walter
is beginning to look very good in comparison to this character.“ I
still don’t know what you want me to do in regard to Rafael. After
all he is already working for you.”
“I’m afraid that’s the problem. Rafael is under the impression
that we are working for him. It was the easiest way we could get him
to work with us. I arranged what appeared to be an accidental meet-
ing with him and befriended him in his time of troubles with Dupont.
I offered him help with his experiments in return for payment. As he
is independently wealthy this seemed reasonable.”
“I still don’t see why you need me, surely you have control over
what he is doing.”
“To some extent,” Boris replies. However the devices Rafael
uses, he call them cellbots, are extremely intricate. It is doubtful
that we could replicate them without his active help.”
“Then why don’t you try to win him over? You have certainly been
persuasive with me!”
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“I must admit that it’s my fault. I made some bad choices in the
people I used to work with Rafael. You might say they are somewhat
heavy handed. You might have noticed some of them in the club, very
Henry laughs, hoping to annoy Boris at least a little. “So Ra-
fael doesn’t like having the Russian Mafia working for him. He has
decided not to trust you!”
Boris, rather than looking annoyed, returns the laughter,
“Henry, you are a genus and you are dead on if you don’t mind that
“I get it now, I befriend Rafael, say I tell him I want to write
a book about what he is doing for humanity, cheap energy and all
Boris looks delighted, “And you find out how his cellbots are
made and controlled. Yes, I think we can work well together.”
“How about Greta?”
“You seem to have some feelings for the lady, Henry. We have
some knowledge of her background and I’m afraid she has shown a ten-
dency to be an environmental zealot. If you wish to have a continued
relationship with her it will be your problem to keep her under con-
Boris doesn’t know Greta, keep her under control, not a chance,
Henry ponders. She’s not going to like the look of me cooperating
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 223

with Boris. If he is not careful with her, she could get them both
“There’s still somethings you must tell us Henry, otherwise I
will find it hard to trust you.”
“I’ve told you all I have found out about Rafael and the lab, so
what more do you want? Henry replied in a hurt voice.
“Please Henry, don’t underestimate me,” Boris replied.
“Okay, what do you want to know?”
“Henry, it is a mystery to us as to why you choose to come to
Sweden and why you pointed your inquiries the way you did? As far as
we know there was no reason for a science journalist to know about
our activities. Your sudden appearance was very troublesome to us
and even forced us to take unpleasant actions.”
“Can’t I be just a clever journalist with good sources?”
“Precisely, we want to know your source! We suspect that you and
Walter may be working for one of our competitors. They would do al-
most anything to discover what we were involved in.”
Christ! Henry cursed himself, He wants to know who Walter is
working for. Something he didn’t know himself. He would have to make
some clever guesses.
A Little Medicine
John doesn’t understand what he is doing on Trinity Street, or
is it Trinity Street? He doesn’t recall it being so shrouded in fog.
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The fog is so dense that he can’t even read the shop marquees signs.
I have to get to class, he thinks, but he can’t quite remember where
in Cambridge the class is being given. He stops, and looks around,
realizing he is now in front of Heffer’s bookshop. It’s closed, and
he needs to buy a book, something by the popular science author
Henry Brenner. But why he needs the book is not at all clear to him.
He thinks, if I don’t get the book I’m going to fail. Soon he is
banging on the store’s display window as hard as he can. He feels
the eyes of the passing crowd focusing on him, and screams out that
he only needs one book. Dizziness overcomes him and he falls to the
pavement. His vision obscured by blackness, but rapidly he senses
bright lights. Now he is seated in a chair, waiting for something to
happen. The room is filled with other students, seated and scrib-
bling furiously on the papers in before them. He also has a pencil
in his hand, but try as he will he can’t make it move. He has so
much to say, but when he focuses more on how to say it the thoughts
evaporate. He tries to write, but realizes that his arm is frozen
and unmovable. Worse, it’s also burning with excruciating pain. He
starts gasping for air, but now his chest feels like it’s on fire.
The pencil burns his fingers and it falls from his grasp. The room
starts to spin around him and the lights get brighter and brighter
causing him to blink.
He is in another place and memories come to him of a geyser and
clouds of sulfurous fumes. Shaking his head he once more becomes
aware of pain. Pain not only in his arm but in his throat and he
can’t seem to get enough air into his lungs. Then he realizes that
there are other people in the room with him. There’re bright lights
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above him and he is stretched out on a narrow table. The people, two
men and a short elderly woman, are arguing with one another in a
strange tongue. One of the men is wearing a bright blue costume with
red trimming. The others are in more conventional attire. He at-
tempts to speak, but his efforts only result in a croaking sound.
The woman turns toward him, and at the same time says something
loudly to the two men.
“Don’t try to talk,” she now softly says in a strangely accented
English. “Your throat and mouth are injured”. John’s thoughts now
race over the events of the last few days and finally he recalls how
one of the men, the one who called himself Lars, had found him and
taken him on his snow-scooter to the Sami village. He remembers
passing out on the examining table with the woman Susanne and Lars
looking at him. He doesn’t recognize the other man, though there’s
something familiar about him.
Susanne speaks, interrupting his thoughts, “We have to get you
to the hospital in Boden. You need expert medical care.”
John with some effort manages a throaty reply, “No, I need to be
here, I’m not feeling all that bad, just tired.”
Susanne continues to speak to him, now assuming the “I know
best” manner of a seasoned care giver, “We don’t really know what’s
wrong with your throat. Lars thinks you inhaled acidic fumes and
your lungs may be damaged. Also your right arm has been badly
“I don’t think it’s that bad, I seem to be breathing okay now.”
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The other man now speaks in a manner that John finds disturbing,
though he can’t pinpoint why, “If he is feeling better I think we
should wait before calling in the emergency service, certainly we
can at least wait a few hours.”
“Yes, just give me some time,” John replies, trying to express
himself in more than a raspy whisper.
Susanne turns to the unidentified man, a deep frown on her face.
John has the feeling that she doesn’t like the fellow very much.
She speaks more loudly than he would have expected and says,
“Are you just trying to avoid trouble for yourself Anders?”
When John hears the name Anders he becomes convinced that he has
come across the man before, though he can’t place the circumstances.
Anders now speaks up as he waves his hand in denial of Susanne’s ac-
cusation, “No, off course not, I just think we should be sensible,
if Professor Pritchard is feeling better we can avoid a lot of trou-
ble and inquiries into our affairs.”
Hearing Anders use of his title and last name further stirs
John’s memory. He knows this man, but from where? He has deliber-
ately avoided telling Lars about his exact occupation. John knows
the local attitude toward the mining activities in the north, and it
only seemed prudent to avoid connecting himself with them. He now
notices that Lars’s attention is directed toward him.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were involved in mining operations?”
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Deciding he has no options, John manages to painfully whisper an
answer, “I know how your people object to them, I’m in pain and I
didn’t think it was a good time to bring the matter up.”
Anders now walks closer to the examination table. He has the air
of an interrogator addressing a difficult prisoner.
“Professor Pritchard, Lars has told us about the strange goings
on, the geyser and the pool of warm water. Does this have something
to do with you? Are you people planning some new way to destroy our
John asks himself how he is going to convince this guy that he’s
an innocent bystander. He, himself has many doubts about the way the
environment has been abused. He also knows of the many injustices
the Sami been subjected to over the centuries of colonization of the
North by Norwegians, Finns, Swedes and Russians.
“Anders, I can hardly speak,” he whispers. “There is much I
would like to say, but I swear I had nothing to do with this! I’ve
worked to alleviate the environmental effects of mining.”
Anders doesn’t look convinced by this but he says, “For now I
give you the benefit of doubt, but we need to know any information
you have about what is happening?”
Susanne now interrupts, “Anders, enough! Let me treat the poor
man as best I can.”
Anders and Lars reluctantly leave the room. Susanne now starts
to apply some ointment to the burned area of his arm. The ointment
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must contain some kind of anesthetic because he soon senses the dis-
appearance of the stinging sensation that he has endured over the
last several days.
“Please open your mouth!” Susanne now directs him. John can’t
stop from gagging as she swabs his throat. “This should at least
take away some of the pain,” she explains in an authoritative
nurse’s voice. John has the impression that Susanne is better at
doctoring than she claims. She finishes her treatment and asks him
to breath in as deeply as he can as she holds an inhaler to his
“The cortical steroid should help your breathing for the moment,
but eventually you’re going to need a through lung examination Pro-
fessor Pritchard”.
“Please call me John.” He’s feeling much better, and wants to
improve his relations with these people.
“I would like to try getting up, Susanne.”
“Slowly John, no sudden movement.”
Sitting up is difficult and the room wants to spin around him.
Finally he manages to get to his feet. There’s a rubbery feeling to
his legs, but after a few steps he stops worrying about falling on
his face. He’s felt better but he is now confident that he can get
Walking into the next room he sees Lars and Anders. Lars appears
pleased to see him, but Anders still looks more annoyed than happy
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 229

and scowls at him. It is not going to be easy to win him over, John
He sits down next to the men, and being vague on what he had al-
ready told Lars, he relates what he has found out from the time
Henry and Greta had burst in on his life until Lars had found him
near the geyser. Anders, while not looking overly friendly, is at
least reacting to his tale sympathetically. He even chuckles at
John’s reference to the ice triangle.
“Maybe we can divert some tourists from the Caribbean to the
spooky charm of northern Scandinavia,” Anders adds, seeming to ap-
preciate his own humor.
John, watching the man, remembers why Anders seems so familiar.
The man had been involved in the appointment of professors to the
University in Luleå, and he had both critiqued and praised John’s
record in environmental matters. He must be making some progress
with Anders, who now starts to refer to him as John.
“As I told you,” he now addresses Anders, “my graduate student
Göran Hedberg was supposed to inform the authorities about our dis-
covery of the geyser pool and arrange a rescue for me. I fear some-
thing has happened to him as several days have passed with no sign
that he was successful.”
“John,” Anders replies, “I understand your worries about your
assistant, and I will see about notifying the authorities about him.
For the moment however I would like to leave the geyser out of it.”
“Why?” John inquires. “Surely they must be informed.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 230

“As you know John, the Sami have not always been well treated by
the government. For all we know this phenomena may be the work of
some official agency. I have also heard some odd rumors about this
Henry Brenner person you told us about.”
John is not at all sure that he could trust Anders, something
about the man still struck him as odd. However as he is a person of
influence among the Sami it is probably best to go along with his
wishes, at least for the moment.
“Okay, I can understand your position, but something has to be
done about Göran. A search must commence to find him and his wife
should be advised of what is happening.”
“I agree,” Anders quickly asserts. “You can call his wife and I
will inform the rescue service about Hedberg, but without the de-
tails. In addition, Lars and one or two others from the village can
look for your land rover. At least we’ll know if Hedberg reached it,
and if he did why he did not use its radio.”
“It may also a good idea to send some people to watch the geyser
sight. Göran may have returned there.”
Lars now injected, “I think I should go there, others can look
for the vehicle.”
“It could be dangerous Lars”, Anders replied. “Look what hap-
pened to John, and some of those responsible for its creation may be
lurking in the area.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 231

“I realize that,” Lars answers. “I’ll take some others with me
and keep a good distance from the geyser.”
John, at least partially convinced that something is being done
to help Göran, must now decide what to say to his wife. Kirsten had
never warmed up to him. He had the feeling that she blamed him for
taking up too much of Göran’s time. He imagined himself saying, “I
lost your husband in the arctic wilderness but don’t worry.” Nor-
mally professors aren’t supposed to lose their students. Also he is
very tired. His arm hurts and all the talking hasn’t helped his
voice and throat pain. Oh well, he would think of something.
Meanwhile it’s more serious that Anders is still an enigma to
him. In contrast to Lars, straight forward and friendly, Anders has
the mixture of charm and cunning that made for a successful politi-
cian. His support of Sami rights and nationalism is what one might
expect for someone in his position, but to John it seems a little
forced, like Anders is acting out a role. However, the steps they’re
taking are reasonable, though it’s a little odd that they’re not no-
tifying the government.
All these thought swimming through his addled brain, he follows
Anders out of the room. They enter what looks like Susanne’s office,
where Anders points to a telephone on a wooden desk. John sits down
at the desk and waits, expecting Anders to leave. After a while he
realizes that he’s not going to have privacy, and deciding not to
make an issue of it, John picks up the phone. Out of the corner of
his eye he sees Anders watching as he punches out Kirstin’s number.
What ever he says, Anders is going to hear it. Hearing the voice of
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 232

a young women, John tries to composes his thoughts. It’s hard enough
to know what to say without worrying what Anders’ game might be.
“John, is that you John?”
Still having no idea as to what to say, he remains silent until
Kirstin says in a louder voice, “What’s happened? Is Göran alright?
Tell me!”
Finally he manages to say, “I don’t know, something happened to
us and Göran went looking for help as I was injure. Some local peo-
ple found me and now they’re looking for him. I’m sure they’ll find
him soon.”
Now Kirstin remains silent for what seems like minutes, making
him more and more uncomfortable. He wants to tell her to go to the
police but if he does Anders will surely cut him off, making her
even more worried. Instead he says, “The people here know the terri-
tory very well, it’s just a matter of time for them to find him.”
At last Kirstin says, in a determined voice and not the least
sign of panic, “John, I hold you completely responsible for my hus-
band’s safety. If anything happens to him it will not go easy for
John, feeling very guilty about the whole incident, can only
agree with her, and tells her that he respects her feelings and will
do his best to make sure Göran is safe.
Anders motions to hand the phone over to him, so John tells her
that someone from the local authorities wants to speak with her.
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Taking the phone Anders proceeds to tell Kirstin some of the details
of the search, though he doesn’t mention the burnt out ORV. John is
somewhat surprised at the concilitory tone that Anders adopts and
the smooth way he talks. Well after all he is a politician John re-
Making Friends
Göran, his wrists and ankles numbed by his bonds, watches as Ra-
fael, turns to Sasha and says in an unnaturally high pitched voice,
“And what business is it of yours where I am? This is my project and
I control what is going on here!” Listening to this, Göran’s de-
spairs at the thought that he is pinning his hopes of escape on Ra-
Sasha now looks Rafael directly in the face and grins unpleas-
antly, deliberately showing his bad front teeth. His words are
hardly encouraging to Göran, “Our necks are on the line, if some-
thing goes wrong with your crazy experiment. This guy,” he said
pointing to Göran, “could get us all in very bad trouble.”
Hearing these words, Göran is can see that he doesn’t have much
time to convince Rafael to help him. Rafael’s responds to Sasha,
saying, “I am well aware of the problem and I don’t need you to tell
me. So go and do what I arranged with Boris.”
Sasha says nothing, simply continuing to stare at Rafael with
clear contempt. Göran suppresses a surge of panic, thinking he is
not going to get out of this. What an end to graduate study. His
prospects had been so bright, a year or two to complete his thesis
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 234

and he would be a PhD. It was all too crazy to believe. His life
might depend on the good will of someone whom he increasingly
thought of as brilliant but unstable if not outright mad.
Sasha directs his contemptuous gaze at him and growls, “You’d
better be getting ready to tell us what you know. Markov is not a
patient man.”
He then swaggers out of the hut, but not before giving Rafael a
nasty wink of his eye. As soon as the door shuts, Göran again takes
up his case with Rafael, who despite the cold seems to be sweating.
He tries to frame his words to fit his assessment of the man’s per-
“Rafael, I don’t understand how you’ve become mixed up with
these thugs. They should be the last people you’d trust with your
“I need them,” Rafael is practically crying. “This is my best
chance to show the world what I have done.”
“How can you be sure that they won’t simply steal your inven-
tion?” Göran hopes he can add water to the fertile soil of mistrust.
Rafael now looks at him with a far away look in his eyes, and says
“You’ve not met Boris, the man who is helping me. He is an educated
scientist who believes in my cause. He can control these men.”
“What about this Markov fellow, he doesn’t seem so educated to
me, at least in anything you learn in a school room.” Göran suspects
that this Boris, educated as he might be, is really bad news. Ra-
fael, his voice now more confident sounding, continues, “Boris told
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 235

me that it’s hard to find good people. Anyway most of what they are
doing does not need high education.”
Göran decides the best strategy is to get Rafael’s thinking back
into the present, so he says, “I hate to remind you Rafael that
these helpers of yours are not very nice. Look how they burned my
land rover and have slapped me around.”
“They are only protecting themselves, they don’t want to end up
in jail. Soon Boris will be here and I’m sure he will see to your
Göran feels frustrated by the lack of progress he having in get-
ting help from Rafael. Whoever Boris is and however well he was edu-
cated, he has some very nasty friends. Anyone who has achieved
wealth and power in the former Soviet Union is unlikely to exhibit
scrupulous moral behavior. It seems to Göran that the key to all
this is in getting Rafael to mistrust this Boris, otherwise it is
unlikely he is going to survive this undesirable adventure.
“When do you expect this virtuous person to arrive? The way Sa-
sha and Markov are acting it doesn’t look very good for me if he
doesn’t get here very soon.”
Rafael, his gaze directed over Göran’s head toward some distant
invisible point, says, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep you safe from Markov
and Sasha. Just tell them what they want to know.”
So much for his getting help from this character, Göran real-
izes. Once they had whatever they wanted from him they would surely
dump his corpse somewhere in this infinite wilderness. Kirsten and
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Magnus would probably not even find out what his fate had been. If
only he could get Rafael to realize this.
“I don’t think my talking to them is a good idea Rafael. If they
decide I am of no more interest they have made it clear they will
dispose of me.”
Göran is relieved to see from Rafael’s expression that at least
the man finds the prospect of his execution by Markov and Sasha un-
pleasant. After a few moments of pained silence Rafael finally says,
“I will tell them that I have had a long talk with you and explained
that Boris will want to talk to you himself. If they believe you
have information that is of technical importance they will not harm
you. Then we can clear all this unpleasantness up when Boris ar-
“It might work,” Göran says, feeling he has been backed into a
corner. He had hoped to get Rafael to release him before this Boris
arrived. The trouble is Rafael’s trust in Boris , and Göran is out
of ideas as to how to break that trust. He thinks of himself as an
excellent researcher when it came to technical things. He never been
very good at interacting with ordinary people. Rafael, who is bril-
liant and fixated on his own goals, is well beyond his manipulative
These thoughts are interrupted by the entry of Sasha, now accom-
panied by Markov. Sasha’s face, Göran notes, is masked by a nasty
look of anticipation. Markov turns towards Rafael and says, “I see
you have been having a nice talk with our guest Rafael. I’m sorry to
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 237

disturb you, but Sasha and I would also enjoy the benefit of his en-
tertaining company.”
Agreement Among Enemies
“I repeat, Henry, who is Walter working for?” Henry tried to
think of some plausible client. Either that or he would have to get
Boris to believe that he had no idea of who had engaged Walter’s
services. That this was the truth might not be at all relevant. His
and Greta’s life might depend on convincing Boris of his trustwor-
“It’s not that easy a question to answer. As you well know, Wal-
ter can be very vengeful and he considers keeping his client’s con-
fidence to be at the root of his business. Also, with all due re-
spect Boris, I feel a certain insecurity. After all, the manner of
your persuasive invitation this evening had some alarming features.”
“I sympathize, Henry, but business is business as you Americans
put it. And don’t forget your planting Greta at the bar to trap me.
Why don’t we call it a draw for the moment? Perhaps as our associa-
tion matures your trust in me will grow.”
“Okay Boris, call it a draw,” Henry replies with some relief.
Then he remembers that he still doesn’t know what has happened to
Greta, so he continues “Well almost a draw, you have not allowed me
to see my associate.”
“True, but I told you she had an exhausting evening and was
sleeping, surely you don’t want to wake her before we settle our af-
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Henry is now confused. Talking to Boris is like trying to build
a house of cards. As soon as you think it is complete it comes
apart. Trying hard to keep his thoughts in order despite his worries
about Greta he says, “I thought we had come to an agreement.” Boris
smiles and replies, “We have, I’m willing to ignore your lack of
help in identifying Walter’s client, however I do expect some evi-
dence of cooperation. If we’re going to work together we must trust
one another my dear Henry.”
Henry is now finding it increasingly difficult to keep his mind
on track, pictures of Greta being abused by this son of a bitch Rus-
sian continuing to circulate in his thoughts.
Finally he replies to Boris, “What exactly do you want to know?”
Boris smiles, and says, “I knew you would be helpful, all I ask
is that you relate to me whatever information Walter provided you
with when you started this assignment.”
Considering his position, Henry had no problem with this, so
without further delay he provides Boris with a slightly edited ac-
count of the instructions he had received from Walter and of his en-
counter with the late Professor Grenqvist. He watches as Boris mulls
over this information. Finally Boris breaks the silence and says,
“It appears that you suspect that I and my colleagues had something
to do with Grenqvist’s untimely demise. I can assure you that such
is not the case.”
Henry hardly believes this and evidently this lack of belief is
seen by Boris who continues, “I see you find this hard to believe,
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 239

but I assure you it’s true. I’m afraid that there are other people
interested in Rafael’s work, probably some of my own countrymen. Un-
fortunately they are also prone to rather crude methods in pursuing
their interests.”
Henry wonders just how many groups are in the field for this
game. Since Henry suspects that Boris is well aware of their visit
to Luleå, he also mentions the visit to the University there.
“Was it your men who ransacked John Pritchard’s office?” Boris
shakes his head in denial and continues, “No Henry, I assure you it
was not us. It also sounds like the sort of stupid thing our com-
petitors would do?” Boris now laughed, “It makes no sense as it
seems they are the ones paying for your services. Perhaps they
thought Greta was working with us.” Henry didn’t believe this. He
wasn’t clear as to why Boris was denying the affair, then again it
was stupid and maybe he was just ashamed of the attempts amateurish-
ness. Boris now puts his hand out to Henry and says, “I’m satisfied,
I see no problem in identifying what organization you are working
for, so let’s shake hands on our mutual cooperation.”
As they are thus occupied Greta enters the room. Her gaze is
fixed on the unexpected joining of hands between Boris and Henry.
Henry feeling of relief at seeing that she is unharmed is tempered
by his knowledge that she doesn’t speak Russian. Therefore she can
have no idea as to what they’re agreeing about. What she must be
thinking now, Henry can see how it must look to her to see him act-
ing so chummy with her erstwhile kidnapper. I’m going to have a lot
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 240

of explaining to do. Then he realizes that Boris must of set this
scene up so as to encourage distrust between himself and her.
Greta quickly recovers from her look of astonishment. She is un-
naturally relaxed, Henry now thinks, she doesn’t at all appear like
someone who has been forcibly questioned. There’s no sign of physi-
cal damage. Suddenly Henry isn’t so sure as to what Greta is up to.
Could she be working for Boris’s mob? No, it would go against every-
thing he knew about her. But then again, how much did he know about
Boris has the look of a chess-master that had just beaten fifty
people blindfolded. His eyes shifted between Henry and Greta and he
says, “I’m sure the two of you would like some rest, we have some
difficult days ahead.”
The tall man that had brought Henry to the house walks in as if
on cue. Boris continues, “My associate will be show you to your room
and we can continue our discussions after you have rested.”
Henry and Greta follow the man up some stairs where he shows
them into a well appointed bedroom. Boris had not asked if they
wished to be together, but here they are. Soon they’re alone, the
door closing followed by the click of a lock. Henry doesn’t bother
to check the door in such an obvious situation. Certainly the win-
dows wouldn’t open, and of course the glass would be unbreakable
with any implements they had at hand.
Greta looks like she is going to explode with anger. Could be
part of the act, Henry thinks. He notices a tightening of his own
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 241

chest, as he wonders if he can trust her at all now. It is not going
to be a restful period. Then he realizes there is a simple way to
keep Greta from yelling at him.
“Greta,” he whispers, “I’m sure the room is bugged, careful what
you say.”
She now looks like she is going to attempt to kill him with her
bare hands. Then miraculously her expression changes to a smile and
she says, “Let’s go to bed dear.”
Worst Case Scenario
To John, Susanne’s modesty in regard to her abilities as a
healer, is unfounded. Whatever she had done has considerably reduced
his discomfort to a point where he considers himself ready to take
on the problem of what might have happened to Göran. The thought of
explaining to Kirstin that Göran had gone missing in the cold and
unforgiving northern wastelands is far more painful than any physi-
cal discomfort. He knows that she is already dubious about his rela-
tion to her husband and the effects of graduate study on their
lives. If he is lucky the Sami search party will find Göran soon,
relieving him of the onerous task of dealing with Kirstin.
Sitting here, in the comfort of Susanne’s house, with nothing
active to do is just making his feelings of guilt worse. It was
truly stupid to send Göran off alone for help. If only he could have
been just slightly patient they would both be here. At the same time
another part of his mind is telling him that given the same circum-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 242

stances he would still have done the same thing. It’s ridiculous to
keep going over a past that can not be undone. Round and round his
thoughts go until finally Susanne arrives with some tea and sweet
rolls, which, at least for the moment, cuts short these useless
“You seem much better,” she observes.
“Thanks to you and Lars,” he replies. “I only wish my student
had been with me when Lars came along. By the way, have you any news
from the search party? Is Göran okay?”
“I’m afraid we still don’t know that, but they did find the ve-
hicle you told us about.”
John’s heart sunk upon hearing this, it must mean that something
had happened to Göran before reaching the ORV. In a sharper tone
than intended he asks, “Was there any sign of him returning, did he
leave a message?”
Her brow furrowed, Susanne replies, “Please relax John.”
John, noticing the grave expression on her face, asks, “What’s
wrong, tell me!”
“The car was burned, seemingly from a gas tank explosion. They
couldn’t find anything that would indicate Göran had been there be-
fore the incident.”
“Have they notified the rescue service about this?”
“I’m sure Anders would have taken care of that,” she replies.
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John doesn’t share her confidence in Anders. Whatever motivates
the man, his actions leave John with a bad feeling. Being denied ac-
cess to a telephone, except in Anders presence didn’t help to allay
his feelings about him. He has to get out of here and find out for
himself what’s going on.
“Susanne, I’m feeling much better, I believe it would be good
for me to have some fresh air.”
“I don’t know John, your lungs may have been damaged and breath-
ing cold air could cause additional damage to them.”
“Let me give it a try, if I have a problem I’ll come right back
inside, I promise.”
“You Englishmen have a reputation for being difficult patients,
but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try.”
Susanne insists on accompanying him on his little excursion. Be-
fore opening the door she takes pains to make sure he is warmly at-
tired for the penetrating arctic cold. John does his best to conceal
the difficulty he is still having with breathing. Even when well he
had problems when the air temperature fell below minus fifteen cel-
sius, and now he was far from well and didn’t even want to guess how
cold it is. After a few minutes of walking in the vicinity of her
house she listenes to his breathing. To his surprise she gives her
approval for a more extended tour of the village.
As they walk Susanne waves greetings to several other Sami man
and women going about their business. A group of men and boys,
dressed in the traditional blue costume with its flared out jacket
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were attending to the reindeer in a nearby corral. If not for all
the problems John has on his mind he would have been overjoyed to
witness the colorful spectacle. The Sami had occupied this region of
the world for thousands of years, and only in comparatively recent
times had their way of life been threatened by so called western
civilization. With some difficulty he manages to bring himself to
say something.
“Susanne, I gather you have spent some time working in the
“Yes,” she affirms, “I lived for some years in Umeå where I
studied medicine and nursing.”
John is relatively familiar with Umeå as he has some colleagues
at the University there. “You must have enjoyed your stay there,
It’s a cosmopolitan place with lots of things to do.”
“True, she replies, but sometimes there are problems in such a
place for us Samis.”
John guesses by problems she meant prejudice, but while curious
he decides that this is not the time to make an issue of it. Also
what he really wants is to find out more about Anders role in the
village, so he says as casually as possible, “Anders seems very con-
cerned about Sami rights, I guess this is also a concern of yours.”
Susanne turns to look at him and grins knowingly, “It’s okay
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 245

Despite the cold, John feels himself blush, realizing that she
can see right through him. She continues, “We are not all national-
istic fanatics seeking to have a separate homeland from Sweden. An-
ders and the rest of us here just want the option of continuing what
we feel is a precious way of life.”
Somewhat awkwardly, John now says, “Susanne, I don’t think
you’re fanatics. Even if I’m a mining engineer I value the environ-
ment and deplore many of the things that have been done to it.”
Susanne gives him a sharper look and says, “So you think that
some new attack on the environment is occurring in what you call the
ice triangle?”
John himself can only speculate on this and isn’t sure how to
answer her. It is very difficult for him to see how any man made ac-
tivity can cause what he has seen. Knowledge of what processes occur
deep inside the Earth is still relatively scanty. For all he knows
what is happening is a purely natural event. Yet deep in his gut he
doubts this.
Finally, after a moment of silence, he replies, “I truly don’t
know Susanne. My scientific training tells me that an event like the
sudden creation of a powerful geyser is beyond our current capabili-
ties. Yet I also know from the geology of this region that it proba-
bly can’t happen naturally.”
Susanne shakes her head, and says, “I feel you’re a good person
John, and I trust you. But so many bad things have happened here in
the recent past, that, well you may think us paranoid, but we think
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this is being done by someone deliberately. You must understand that
Anders has worked hard to protect us and that is why he has become
so suspicious of people from outside.”
After a moments thought, John says, “Yes he doesn’t seem to
trust me, Susanne, I’m glad that you don’t feel the same way?”
John is heartened to see her smile and say, “I think your okay
John, but that doesn’t mean you won’t do something that’s against
our interests. Don’t misread Anders, he is a good man and he is al-
ways careful. I’m sure he will soon begin to trust you.”
I’m not going to shake her opinion about Anders, John thinks,
and maybe she is right, so he says, “I see what you mean Susanne,
and maybe we are all a little paranoid at the moment.”
Distracted by the conversation it is only now that John realizes
they are approaching Susanne’s house. Suddenly John sees Anders run-
ning toward them.
Upon reaching them he says in a loud angry voice, “Why are you
outside, I told you to keep him in the house!”
It doesn’t take too much insight on John’s part to see the an-
noyance on Susanne’s face. In a calm and steady voice she says, “An-
ders, I decided that John needed some exercise and I thought he
would enjoy seeing our village. Also John is our guest, and you’re
inexcusably rude.”
John can see that Anders must have considerable respect for Su-
sanne’s position in the Sami society as he now makes a visible ef-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 247

fort to control himself. To John’s mind he is not altogether suc-
cessful in this.
But now in a lower and more conciliatory tone he says, “My
apologies John, you must understand that this affair is very serious
for us.”
John sees no point in further angering Anders, so he says that
he understands this and is not upset by Anders behavior. At the same
time he still feels a flash of anger at the man who is keeping him
from contacting the outside world. This is quickly forgotten as he
hears Anders say, “Let’s go inside Susanne’s house. I have news from
the geyser area and I need your thoughts about it.”
As soon as they are in the house Anders spreads out a map of the
area on the kitchen table. The site of the village, the geyser and
the burned land rover are all marked. Also there are several other
markings. “You’re geyser is still growing John, and if anything the
growth rate is increasing. Also note these other areas.”
John doesn’t like the way the geyser is somehow attributed to
him but holds his tongue as Anders points to three of the marked
points on the map.
“Geyser like activity has also started in each of these areas
and seems to be progressing in the same way as the one you discov-
ered. Also one of the frozen lakes in the area is starting to melt!”
John is once more reminded of the Yellowstone park discovery
that the entire park was the caldera of a giant volcano. Should he
mention that to these people? For the moment he decides it will not
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 248

help matters, Anders is already difficult enough to reason with.
Looking thoughtful, John now indicates another of the marked points
on the map. “What’s going on here?”
Anders, his brow furrowed skeptically, looks at John and says,
“Maybe you can tell me.”
Looking directly into Anders’ eyes he says, “I have no idea as
to what you mean by that. If I knew I wouldn’t be asking.”
Anders shakes his head and says, “Perhaps, I hope that is the
truth. There is a campsite with a group of around twenty to thirty
men. They appear to be heavily armed. Hunters don’t usually carry
military assault weapons!”
Hearing this, John’s first thought is, my god, what if these men
have done something with Göran’s disappearance?
Returning Anders’ stare he says, “Believe me, I’m as upset as
you Anders, these could be the men who burned the land rover. Was
there any sign of my assistant?
Anders seemingly still unconvinced by his protestations of inno-
cence, says, “I can’t say, our men were hesitant to get too close.
They suspect that the men in the camp were speaking Russian, though
they couldn’t be certain.”
John remembers that it was probably some Russians who broke into
his office. He must convince Anders to cooperate if he is going to
protect Göran, for he is now sure these strangers must have gotten
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 249

hold of him. Therefore his next words are, “You’ve must inform the
Swedish authorities of this at once Anders.”
Even Susanne nods in agreement. Anders just looks angry. “You
know nothing John, this group has probably been sent by your pre-
cious Swedish authorities.”
“You really are being paranoid,” John says, immediately regret-
ting the use of such an emotionally charged word.
However Anders doesn’t seem upset by this and rather cooly says,
“John, even assuming you are as trustworthy as you claim, you know
nothing of our history. Only a decade ago our people had a nasty run
in with Norway’s so called authorities. I don’t share your confi-
dence in the innocence of everyone with a government stamp on their
John can see that Anders’ words are having an effect on Susanne,
who is now nodding agreement with him. “So what are you going to do
about this,” John says, “I doubt if you’re ready to fight a small
army in your midst without help.”
Anders now smiles and says, “As I said, you know nothing about
us, we may be more prepared than you think.”
He then turns to Susanne and speaks to her in what John assumes
is the local Sami dialect. Susanne nods gravely several times and
they both turned to face John.
“As a scientist, John,” Anders said, “what can you say about the
geysers and the warming of the lake?”
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John would dearly like to know what Anders had just told Su-
sanne, but if they had wanted him to know they would have spoken
English or Swedish. Eyes on the map he replies, “I’m a mining engi-
neer, not a geologist, but of necessity I have some knowledge of
that subject. Even if I were a geologist I couldn’t be certain of
what’s happening, it’s so unusual.”
“Yes, we understand that,” Anders says, “but I’m interested in
what you think, even if it’s not scientifically water tight.”
He doesn’t know why, but John now feels defensive. He hates the
idea of being speculative without concrete evidence, yet this situa-
tion is so strange he really has no choice but to put aside his sci-
entific scruples. Therefore with hesitation he says, “Keeping in
mind my lack of expertise, I would say that a volcano is breaking
through to the surface. That alone would be disturbing enough, but
the size of the area in which this is occurring has me very wor-
ried.” Listening to himself pronounce these words he feels silly and
waits for the ridicule he knows he would get from his scientific
But instead of ridicule Anders simply says, “Go on.”
So John continues, “It looks like what is forming is a so called
super volcano. One example of this is Yellowstone in the United
“What’s a super volcano?” Anders asks.
John now explains how the several super volcanoes found on Earth
were thought to be the source of massive extinctions of life. “If
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 251

Yellowstone erupted today it would create an uninhabitable zone with
at least a thousand mile radius.”
Göran draws back against his bonds as Sasha advances toward him,
a serrated hunting knife in his hand. He grabs Göran’s hair and
pulls back his head, holding the point of the knife near his eye.
“You are a man of vision my friend,” Sasha says while bringing
the knife closer to Göran’s eye. “Too much vision is not good for a
man, but I can help you a little with your problem”.
The knife point now touched Göran’s eyelid. Göran curses him-
self, why had he been so stupid. Magnus and Kirstin depended on him.
He had no business taking off on chases in the woods. Strangely
enough however he does not feel fear, more hatred of these intrud-
Markov, speaks up at this moment, “Göran, you seem like a sensi-
ble fellow. Why don’t you just tell us why you are here and who is
with you and we can all have a more pleasant relationship?”
“If I tell you you’re going to kill me, that’s why,” Göran spat
out as he feel his head jerked back by Sasha. The point of the knife
brushes his eyelid and blood trickles down his face. Rafael screams,
“What are you doing? Stop this at once!” Sasha laughs but Markov
turns to Rafael and says, “Rafael, this is none of your business.
Our security is at stake here and that is our job, not yours.”
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“I won’t have this man hurt,” Rafael yells back at Markov. This
is not what we’re here for.”
“I’m sorry Rafael,” Markov responds, “now proceed with your ex-
amination Sasha, unless Göran here has decided to behave more sensi-
bly. I assure you we have no desire to kill you we just need to know
what you are doing here, and most important who’s with you.”
Feeling the blood on his face and the sharp sting of the cut on
his eyelid, Göran begins to ask himself if hiding John’s location is
all that sensible. Also is John even alive? It might be better for
them to find John before exposure and hunger kills him. After all
John was in fairly bad condition when Göran left him. Is he just
kidding himself, not wanting to feel guilty about giving John’s lo-
cation away? Hell, if John is still there he’s in such bad trouble
that being found by these thugs might be considered to be a rescue.
Maybe what he really hated is the thought of giving in to these
thugs who’ve invaded his country. Still, the best course now seems
to be to cooperate, at least a little.
“Okay, I’ll tell you what you want to know,” Göran moans. Why
was he moaning? He had not meant to.
“Very good,” Markov says, a smirk masking his face. “You see Ra-
fael, how a man can be reasoned with.” Göran notes that Rafael is
now shaking with anger. Maybe some good would come of this and it
would at least win him over to Göran’s side.
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Göran, resignedly now relates why he and John are in the area.
He tells them about the geyser and how John had been hurt and had
sent him to seek help.
Markov looks at him like he was a schoolboy that had hurt one of
his fellow pupils. “You’re a very foolish young man, it sounds like
your companion is in a life threatening situation and you have de-
layed us from giving him help.”
Göran feels a sting of guilt at this then recalls how he had
been forced to come here and how he has been treated. With urgency
in his voice, Markov addresses Sasha, saying, “we must attend to the
search for this Professor.”
The two head out the door, and to Göran’s surprise they leave
Rafael with him. Maybe now he can persuade Rafael to cut him loose.
“You see Rafael, your so called employees don’t give a damn
about what you want.”
Rafael, who has calmed down, walks up to him and proceeds to ex-
amine his eyelid. “The cut is not bad, it will heal quickly,” he
says. Göran is now seething, why is Rafael so calm after what has
happened. He has to remember that the guy is insane! Even so he
says, “Didn’t you see what happened. That Sasha creep almost cut my
eye out!” This doesn’t seem to have much impact on Rafael, who now
says, “You don’t understand Göran, he simply needed to scare you a
little. You heard what Markov said, your silence may be responsible
for the death of your companion.”
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Göran sighs to himself in disbelief. Would even seeing him
killed bother Rafael? But he had to keep in mind that Rafael is all
he has now. He’s sure that as soon as they found John they would
kill both of them. The only reason he’s still alive is their need to
check out his story. Now he had really done it. Both of them are in
danger, but, he tells himself, John is resourceful. He must have
survived, even with his arm injury. But these thoughts bring him
little comfort. The worst part is that he feels he has failed not
only John, but his own family. How will they get along without him.
Kirstin had sacrificed her own career so that he could advance his
own, and now Magnus might have to grow up without a father. Maybe he
would be better off without such an incompetent for a father.
Friend or Foe?
Henry and Greta have only a few hours of fitful sleep before
they are awakened by a knock on the door. Despite a growing mistrust
they had both played the game of avoiding any discussion that might
be useful to their hosts or captors. Henry is not really sure what
their status is. He has taken pains not to test the door, though he
has been very tempted to see if it is locked. However he thinks it’s
best to let Boris and his associates think he’s not worried. A
cheerful Boris now walks into the room and gazes admiringly at
“You’re a lucky man Henry. Many would envy you having the com-
pany of such a beautiful women.”
Greta looks from Henry to Boris. Watching her Henry believes she
is deciding which one of them she dislikes more. Greta had carefully
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 255

avoided touching him last night, in spite of them being in the same
bed. He is still in a quandary himself as to her loyalties. If he
ever got out of this mess he would have a lot to say to Walter be-
fore he tells him to go to hell. Somehow he would manage without the
help of such as Walter. Let Walter try and freeze him out. By now he
had enough contacts to get published without help from the likes of
Suddenly he realizes that his mind is wandering off the problems
he now faces and that Boris is talking to him, “Henry, you seem lost
in thought. But it is time to get the action on the road as you
might say.”
Looking at Greta he says to Boris, “Where are we going?”
Greta now speaks up, and he is not sure if she is talking to Bo-
ris or to him or to both of them, “You’re not going to get away with
this, our friends will find you, what ever you do.”
“Greta,” Boris replies with what that smile that Henry finds in-
stantly dislikable, “don’t be so melodramatic. I’m sure that Henry
will explain to you that we are friends now, working in a common
Knowing that Greta now suspects him of collaborating with Boris,
Henry still has no choice but to continue an illusion of coopera-
tion. Both their lives depend on Boris and he has to play along with
the man, so he says, “Well Boris, as one friend to another, where
are we going?”
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Boris shakes a finger at Henry and replies, “And ruin the sur-
prise,” Boris laughs, “of course I’ll tell you. For one thing you
will need some warmer clothes, I don’t want my friends to catch a
With this Boris leaves the room telling them to get dressed. The
closet contains both under and outer garments suitable for extreme
arctic conditions. Henry and Greta take Boris at his word and thus
prepare as best they can for the expected climate.
After a quick meal they pile into a Toyota SUV along with the
two men that had forced Henry to leave the hotel. Everything is very
cordial on the surface, but he has no doubt that the two men have
their hands around the Glock pistols that surely are still in their
coat pockets. All of them are now attired in arctic gear including
hooded parkas and heavy gloves. Henry is pondering on how they are
going to get himself and Greta through airport security, he doubts
that Boris trusts him enough to chance his breaking away.
Finally, Henry breaks the silence and says, “Okay Boris, you
said you would tell us where we are going. Are you going to wait un-
til we get there?”
Boris turns to look at him and says, “I enjoy your sense of hu-
mor Henry, it’s one of the reason I am such a fan of your writing.”
Henry decides to press his inquiry, even though is doubtful of
getting a meaningful answer. “I’m flattered, you’re not so bad in
that department yourself. Maybe we can coauthor something in the fu-
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Boris looks pleased at this, ignoring any hint of sarcasm in
Henry’s voice, he says, “Nothing would please me more. Perhaps after
this is all concluded we can indeed write something together.”
It’s odd, Henry thinks, I almost believe he means it. Then Boris
continues, “We are headed above the arctic circle, where your new
friend Rafael awaits you. My men are there now working on Rafael’s
experiment. It will be a very interesting day for you and your
lovely assistant.”
Greta had remained silent, her mouth clamped shut except when
she could not avoid speaking. Now Boris turns toward her, putting
out his right hand to rub her cheek in a fatherly manner, “You must
relax Greta,” he says, “you will really enjoy this trip. Rafael is
doing some marvelous things, fantastic really.”
Henry pondering this thinks, Boris must really believe that Ra-
fael knows what he’s doing. He recalls Lisette Dupont’s description
of the brilliant employee. She had used terms like unstable and even
deranged. The technology of cellbots was completely new territory,
and Henry is well aware that more often than not, new technologies
have a way of surprising their users, not always to their liking.
Then he notes that Boris seems to be expecting him to say something
so Henry mutters almost indistinctly, “I believe you Boris, it is
going to be interesting.”
Henry’s question about how Boris is going to deal with airport
security is answered when after an hour’s drive they arrive at a
small private air strip. So much for any plan he might hatch for him
and Greta to escape. There is a two engined Cessna parked on the
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tarmac. The ground crew and Boris’s associates efficiently transfer
some luggage and cargo from the SUV to the plane, and in very short
order they are airborne.
The flight lasts about three hours as they fly north and west
over the Gulf of Bothnia. The land and water alike are white with
snow and ice cover. They cross into Swedish territory, probably
somewhere over the northern city of Happaranda. Henry is surprised
that they are not stopped by Swedish air control. No doubt Boris and
his employers had liberally greased the appropriate pockets.
The Swedes, as a discouragement to a Soviet invasion during the
cold war, had constructed their roads with sufficient width to allow
their jet fighter aircraft to use them for take off and landings. It
is ironic, Henry thinks, that a plane load of Russian mobsters are
now making use of this facility. An off road vehicle of some kind
that Henry doesn’t recognize awaits them on the ground.
Henry notices Greta shivering, despite the warm clothing, as she
climbs down from the aircraft’s exit door. It is late enough in the
year for almost total darkness at their present latitude, and Henry
estimates that the temperature must be at least 25 degrees celsius
below freezing. He tentatively places his arm around Greta, and is
pleased she does not draw back from him. Unfortunately he then re-
calls Greta’s entrance into the room the night before. She was un-
harmed, yet she had given Boris important information, or so he
thought. How had she been persuaded to do so? It didn’t seem possi-
ble that she was working for Boris and had set him up. Still in this
business one could never be sure. Reflexively he withdraws his arm
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 259

from her. She turns and looks at him with a blank stare for several
moments before continuing to walk toward the vehicle.
It’s a tight fit getting settled in the off road vehicle. Beside
the five of them there is a driver and another man holding an as-
sault rifle. There follows an endless trek through the winter for-
est. The driver does not seem concerned with damaging a few trees,
and the Russians soon start to pass around a bottle of vodka. Greta
refuses to partake, but Henry decides he is not going to pass up any
cheer, even if it is the kind that comes out of a bottle.
At last the tedious trip comes to an end as they drive up to a
temporary camp placed inside a clearing in the forest. A lot of
armed men are milling about, all carrying assault rifles and other
military gear. Henry also has the impression from the layout and the
stance of the men that they are probably military.
He wonders, can the Russian government be involved in this?
There are so many connections between the government and business in
Russia that it’s not at all unlikely. This is something that Walter
would really like to know, if he didn’t already. Strangely, Henry
now thinks, it hasn’t occurred to him until this moment that Walter
must be missing his report. Surely Walter would be trying to find
out what happened to him. Walter knew the location of the house in
which he had been held. Maybe he had followed them to the private
airstrip. But Walter is such a devious bastard, look how he had en-
snared Henry, he might be on both sides in this game. Henry wouldn’t
put it past him.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 260

There are several huts or shelters in the camp. He, Greta, Boris
and one of his bodyguards, Henry now thought of them as such, enter
the larger one. Even inside the cold is bitter and Henry has no de-
sire to remove his Parka. An olive skinned man is sitting at one of
the tables, drinking what Henry supposed was tea drawn from a nearby
samovar. This must be Rafael, he guesses, he looks so out of place
among the burly Russians. The man certainly was not one of them.
Henry, knowing what he does about the man, doubts if Boris’s plan
for him to win over Rafael would succeed. He would certainly make a
try at it. The more he studies Rafael the less the man looks like a
fanatic. After all, Henry now thinks, all I know about him is
through the eyes of others, especially Lisette Dupont.
Boris now grabs Henry by one arm and steers him toward the lit-
tle man, saying, “Rafael, allow me to introduce you to the famous
writer, Henry Brenner,” Boris is now looking like the ring master at
a circus performance as he continues to speak, “He is very inter-
ested in documenting your project, and believes it’s an historical
moment for mankind.”
Henry notes that this seems to have little effect on Rafael, who
still looks despondent and says nothing. Not a very auspicious be-
ginning, Henry thinks.
Instead of greeting Henry as his favorite author Rafael turns to
Boris and says in a high pitched and nervous voice, “I don’t want
anyone hurt. This is my project and I made a deal with you to help
me, not to kidnap and torture people.”
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Boris looks shocked, though Henry is fairly sure this is an act.
“I don’t know what you are talking about Rafael,” and turning to
Henry and Greta, “Ivan, show these people around while I have a few
words with Rafael.”
Greta and Henry follow the man called Ivan out into the cold.
Whatever is going on, Henry realizes, it wouldn’t be easy to escape
from this crowd. They couldn’t survive in the open very long by
themselves. There only chance would be to steal one of the off road
vehicles. Even then he doubts he could find their way back to to any
civilized location. And he didn’t even know if he could still trust
Greta. She is still acting like she is pissed at him, so evidently
the feeling was mutual at best, and at worst she was working for Bo-
ris and keeping an eye on him. With an inner sardonic laugh he
thinks, I need a plan.
Here’s my Plan
Aware of the intensity of Anders and Susanne’s gaze, John con-
tinues, “If this is a natural, or even if it’s a man made event,
there’re enormous forces at play.”
Even as he says this the implications are filtering down into
his own gut. In the worst case this could bring on the destruction
of European civilization. Of course, he hoped, that is improbable,
but there are precedents. The Mediterranean civilization of the Mi-
noans is known to have been wiped out by a much less violent vol-
canic eruption then a Yellowstone event. In any case this would be
irrelevant to him and the others near to the site. Even if the scale
of an event was moderate they would be destroyed without a trace.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 262

John now sees that Anders is looking at him with a skeptical expres-
Seeing that he has John’s attention, Anders says, “This is all
speculation. What you’re saying is just an exaggeration. I don’t see
how you can know that this is what you call a super volcano, even if
such a thing is possible.”
The way Anders expresses this gives John the impression he is
being called a liar. Ander’s hostility towards him remains all too
evident. Somehow he has to win this man’s confidence. Therefore he
decides to take a stance of moderation and says, “You’re right An-
ders, I don’t really know with certainty. But if it is, or even if
its not, something violent is happening, something that could do se-
rious harm to a lot of people. Don’t you think they have a right to
be protected? If they have to be evacuated, the authorities must be
brought in soon.”
To his disappointment, John realizes that he has not made much
of an impression on the man, who, shaking his head, says, “Professor
Pritchard, I’m still very unsure of your role in this. I’d like to
believe you are sincere but my first duty is to protect the Sami. I
shudder at the very idea of giving the government an excuse to
evacuate us from our lands.”
John feels himself shaking with sudden anger. Try as he may, it
seems Anders is willing to put untold thousands at risk to preserve
his own political agenda. Clenching his teeth, John works hard to
pull back on his emotional response. It’s funny, he thinks, the Eng-
lish are considered to be unemotional and cold. At the moment he
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wishes this were true. He well knows that screaming at Anders is the
last thing he must do. If only he can persuade him to contact the
local police authorities.
Hopefully, Anders is not aware of how angry he feels as he says,
“You may be right Anders, and I certainly understand your desire to
protect Sami interests.”
Believing that Anders relaxes a bit upon hearing this, John con-
tinues, “Don’t you think that at least we have to find out more
about these men, why they are here and exactly what they are doing.
I know it may seem improbable to you that they are capable of being
the cause of these geological events, but isn’t it only prudent to
check them out.”
To John’s surprise, Anders smiles and says, “On that at least I
agree. They are strangers to the north and don’t know its ways as we
do. That is our advantage.”
John is not so sure that this is enough, so he says “I hope that
is a sufficient advantage. From what you said they are well armed
and are acting like a small army.” After a moment John continues,
“If they are Russians they’re probably ex-army.”
Anders quickly replies to this, saying, “Don’t forget John, our
people are spread from Norway to Russia. Unhappily we know all too
much of the ways of the Russian military.”
Thinking about this, John is still doubtful that Anders and his
fellow Sami could best a group of well armed and trained military,
Russian or Otherwise. But, keeping in mind his desire to keep up a
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 264

good relationship with Anders, he says, “Let’s assume you can over-
come these intruders without help from the Swedish authorities, what
then? You still have no idea as to what they are doing. We need to
know more.”
Again Anders smiles and says, “As I said before I am in agree-
ment with you about this. We have discussed this and we have put to-
gether a scheme to obtain the information. Lars has agreed to openly
pay a visit to their camp.” John shrugs hopelessly and says, “That’s
crazy, they’ll just take him captive or shoot him.” Anders holds up
his hands in a quieting gesture and continues, “You underestimate
us, we know more than how to please tourists with our reindeer and
quaint crafts.”
“I don’t doubt that,” John interjects, but that doesn’t explain
this scheme of yours.”
“How do you think we keep track of our reindeer John? You know
we let them roam freely in the forests.”
John had never given this any thought, so after a pause he re-
plies, “I guess you follow them or something, John replied, feeling
frustrated at his lack of accurate knowledge.
“We use implanted signal chips, also if needed we have helicop-
ters to oversee what is happening.”
Hearing this John has to admit to himself that he is somewhat
patronizing in his attitudes, not taking account of the Sami’s ac-
quaintance with modern technology. He recalls how well he had been
treated by Susanne, and how Lars had found him and brought him back
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 265

to the village. “Okay I see your point, Lars can carry a hidden
transmitter into the camp and we can hear what is said to him. I
still don’t see how you can stop them from shooting him first
“We can’t be completely sure that they won’t, but we believe
that they have detained other people, possibly even your assistant,
without shooting them outright.”
Again John feels anger boiling up inside, why hasn’t he told me
this before? He knows I’m worried to death about Göran. Keep calm,
John repeats to himself as he says, “Okay I can believe it might
work. I’ll go along with Lars.”
Anders doesn’t speak for several seconds before blurting out,
“That’s out of the question. You will stay here in the village.”
“Think it through Anders, I’m the most scientifically trained,
I know more than any of you about mining and geology, I need to see
what they’re doing.” Beside he thinks to himself, Göran is in there
and I’m going to get him out. It’s the least I can do after messing
up his life. They continue to argue, but slowly John knows that he
is convincing Anders. After all Anders main concern is that he will
notify the Swedish authorities, and bringing him along would insure
he didn’t convince Susanne or someone else to let him do so in An-
der’s absence. Anders can’t spend all of his time watching John.
Finally Anders says, “I will leave it up to Lars, if you can
convince him I will not oppose your going in with him.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 266

A few hours later John becomes aware that Lars has returned.
Looking out the window from Susanne’s house he sees Lars and Anders
in conversation. They talk for a few minutes before Lars parts from
Anders and enters the house.
John has prepared himself for another long argument, so he is
almost disappointed when Lars says, “John, that’s a fine idea, I was
very worried about my ability to understand what I might find in the
John is so tense he almost spits out his carefully prepared ar-
guments before he realizes what Lars just said. Some part of him
might have even hoped for a refusal so he could avoid putting his
skin at risk. He has no idea how he is going to help Göran, and he
doesn’t even know if Göran is one of the people detained by the Rus-
sians. Well it’s too late. No turning back now. Recovering his com-
posure he says, “Tell me Lars, how do you plan to make the approach
so we don’t get shot?”
“John, I’m a reindeer herder, and I think we will make you an
English reporter. Your magazine has you following my picturesque ac-
tivities. Of course we will have many reindeer with us, and unfor-
tunately they might stray into the Russian camp. A lot of reindeer
running around out of control can be quite confusing.”
the plan somewhat naive, but he has no better alternative. It
might even work, maybe?
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 267

Göran can hardly understand the way he is thinking. Here he is
tied up, his life is being threatened, he is hungry and thirsty, yet
what is bothering most is boredom. Even the mad company of Rafael
would please him at the moment, though he can do without the merry
pair of Markov and Sasha. The door opens and he is almost delighted
to see Rafael enter. Not so happily he sees that behind Rafael are
Markov and another man, whom he doesn’t recognize. The fellow has an
aloof look about him and is very well groomed, not at all like the
grubby characters he has seen so far. For all Göran can see he looks
more like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company than the hoodlum he
surely must be.
Göran is almost amused to see that Markov is speaking in a very
deferential manner to the man. Maybe it’s his imagination, but it
almost looks like there’s a tremor in his lifted hand as he says,
“You see Boris, Rafael exaggerates, our guest is in perfect condi-
tion, not a scratch on him.”
Rafael throws up his hands and excitedly points at Göran saying,
“That’s a lie, look at the man’s eye, that goon Sasha was going to
cut it off!”
Markov barely manages a thin smile and with a nervous laugh
says, “Rafael, we were only kidding, I guess Sasha slipped and his
knife accidently touched Göran, but I would hardly treat it as a se-
rious injury.”
The distinguished individual, that Göran realizes is named Bo-
ris, looks at Rafael and says, “Enough of all this, this man has
clearly not been hurt. I’m sure you have misinterpreted what was
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 268

happening Rafael. You must understand that Markov and Sasha were
only doing their duty. Isn’t it important for all of us that our ex-
periment succeeds?”
Rafael, still obviously very flustered, now interrupts, and says
“Markov doesn’t seem to know that this is my project, he refuses to
obey me.”
Boris puts his arm around the smaller Rafael; Göran thinks he
now looks like a wise and knowing older brother comforting his dis-
traught sibling. “Rafael,” he says, “Markov understands that, but
his actions are motivated by his desire to protect you and the pro-
ject. You will also be glad to know that my backers are encouraged
by your progress and are now willing to provide significant support
to the work.”
Göran watches how Rafael responds to this supposed good news. He
looks more like he is going to have a heart attack than being grate-
ful for Boris’s efforts. Grimily he reflects that this is getting
better than a TV soapbox drama.
Rafael is now literally sputtering. With evident effort he says,
“Backing, I never asked for backing, you said you could find people
to help me, I never asked you for money!”
Göran grudgingly admires how Boris works Rafael. He doesn’t look
the least bit bothered, and he speaks to Rafael in a low pitched
friendly sounding voice, “Rafael, I think there has been a minor
misunderstanding. Of course I wanted to help you. I was upset by the
treatment the Nova Institute had dished out to you and wanted to
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 269

help, but you must also realize that I’m a business man. I was in
Geneva looking for investment opportunities, I thought I explained
Rafael, doesn’t protest this but stands there, seeming now lost
in thought. Boris in the meantime has switched his focus of atten-
tion to Göran. Again, in fatherly tones, he says, “Young man, I must
apologize for the way you have been treated, it is all a misunder-
standing. My colleagues were given the task of guarding the project.
Many of them are veterans that have witnessed terrible struggles in
Russia. They can become overzealous in their duties.”
Listening to Boris speak in his deep voice and solicitous man-
ner, Göran finds himself almost believing the man. Then he recalls
exactly how he has been treated and says, “You’re security people,
if that’s what they are, burned my vehicle, threatened my life and
have kept me here tied up.”
Boris now has a very distressed look. Nodding his head in sympa-
thy he says, “Yes, I sympathize and I can see why you are so upset.
You have a right to be and we will make what amends we can.” He
turns to Markov, and in a sharp voice says, “Markov release this man
at once!”, Boris continues, “Rest assured my dear Göran that we will
fully reimburse you for your vehicle and compensate you for your
Free of his bonds and rubbing his hands and feet to restore cir-
culation Göran says, “My family must be worried to death over by
disappearance, I must notify my wife at once.” Boris replies, “Of
course, but we must guard our security, our presence here is not
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 270

strictly permitted by the Swedish government, and we don’t want un-
due attention. I will arrange it so you can call your wife but you
must not give specifics about what we are doing or where we are.”
Göran decides to accept these terms realizing that he probably has
no choice anyway. He is even surprised that he is being permitted to
call Kirstin at all. Still, he has no confidence whatever in this
smooth talking character, but at least he has some freedom of move-
ment and maybe a chance to get completely away. So he says, “I
agree, just let me talk to my wife.”
Boris nods to Markov and says to him, “You can take this young
man to the communication center and allow him to call his wife. He
must tell her to have any search for him called off and he must not
give any details about us. He can tell her he was rescued by a party
of hunters. If he tries to tell her anything that will compromise us
you must cut the conversation. Make it look like radio interference
is responsible.”
Göran follows a now sullen looking Markov out of the hut. Look-
ing around at the encampment he is very much reminded of some kind
of military operation. The idea of overpowering Markov and getting
away is very attractive, but he can see that would lead nowhere. The
place is just too heavily guarded, so he best bide his time until a
decent opportunity for escape presented itself. Thinking about the
terms which Boris has put upon him, Göran is in a dilemma. He had
ended up agreeing to have any search for him and John called off.
This was probably the main reason Boris had had him released in the
first place. But Markov is not as smart as Boris, and with luck he
could get round the restrictions Boris had laid on him. Markov would
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 271

be listening, but he could say something that Kirsten would inter-
pret as him being under some kind of coercion. It had to be some-
thing that would not alarm Markov.
What Boris had called the communications center, Göran decides,
is much less impressive than its name. One would hardly call a sat-
ellite telephone in the back of one of the off road vehicles a com-
munications center. All part of this Boris’s grandiose view of life
Göran decides as he punches out his home number. Meanwhile he
watches Markov adjust his own set of headphones so as to hear both
sides of the conversation. This is not going to be easy, Göran
thinks, hearing the first ring signal. Kirsten picked up the phone
during the signal, like she had been waiting for the call. Göran
suspects that Markov must understand Swedish, otherwise Boris
wouldn’t have trusted him to monitor the conversation. So he still
has to be careful about what he says, even while speaking Swedish.
Calmly he says, “Hello, Kirsten.” Markov seemed unperturbed, which
settles the matter, the man understands what he is saying. Kirstin
is now almost crying into the telephone, repeating “Göran, Göran,
thank God it’s you.” After calming her down and giving assurances
about his condition Göran proceeds to feed Kirsten the story Boris
had concocted. Unfortunately it sounds all to plausible and probably
would not raise any suspicions. But now Göran decides to make his
move. Instead of asking about their son and only child he says, hop-
ing she catches on, “How is our daughter, little Anna?” Göran prays
that Markov won’t catch this slip. There is a long hesitation, dur-
ing which Göran thinks he is going to collapse, then Kirstin re-
sponds, “Anna has a cold, but I am taking her to the doctor this af-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 272

ternoon. Don’t worry dear, I will make sure all is well. Oh, your
Uncle John called to say that all is well in England.”
To Göran’s relief Markov doesn’t blink an eye, he just looks
bored listening to their domestic prattle. Kirstin’s response was
perfect, he now knows that John is safe and he feels confident that
she would inform the police that he was being held against his will.
With luck he would soon be rescued. He hoped whoever mounted a res-
cue would carry out enough preliminary reconnaissance. They better
come with enough weaponry to deal with all the armed Russians he had
seen around the camp.

John tries to ignore the bitter cold and to pay attention to
Lars’ words. “John, did you hear me,” he says. “It will take some
time to get the reindeer near to the Russian’s camp.”
John nods his head and asks, “What do we do then?”
“We get as close to the camp as we can using the snowmobile,
then wait until the rest of the men arrive with the the reindeer.”
John notices that they are now passing near the geyser where
Lars had found him. It’s hard to believe that happened only a few
days ago. There’s no obvious sign of any return by Göran to the
sight. But there’s plenty of indication that geological activity has
increased. John can see that many new smaller geysers have erupted.
He is even sure he can spot a number of other new eruptions in the
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 273

John’s anxiety must be visible to Lars, who now says, “You look
worried. Do you really think that a volcano is forming and will ex-
plode in our midst?”
He is reluctant to say anything definite, his training as a sci-
entist tends to make him hedge his bets and take a skeptical atti-
tude toward even his own ideas. If Lars is expecting a definite an-
swer he is going to be disappointed.
“I don’t know, Lars, I don’t even think the vulcanologists
would know. But I’m almost certain that something very new is hap-
pening here, something never seen before by man. People don’t real-
ize that we live on a thin shell that surrounds the hot molten inte-
rior of the earth. If you scaled an egg up to the size of the Earth,
its shell would be thicker than the layer that separates us from
this interior.”
Lars gives this some thought before he replies, “So you think
Anders is wrong not to inform the government?”
Deciding to keep a diplomatic stance John answers, “I think I
understand Anders viewpoint Lars, but in this case I also think it’s
misguided. Besides if this continues it’s bound to draw attention.
The activity here must already be showing up on seismographs
throughout the world. A certain amount of earthquake activity is ex-
pected even in Sweden, but this is bound to exceed what is normal
for here.”
Instead of answering, Lars, without any warning, stops the snow-
mobile and motions for John to be quiet. Then they both dismount and
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 274

Lars expertly covers the vehicle with dead pine branches. Still
without talking he motions John to follow him as he advances several
hundred meters into the forest. Seeing how naturally Lars handles
himself in the arctic landscape, John is impressed but also finds it
hard to keep silent as he wants to know why they have stopped and
hidden the vehicle. Finally Lars reaches a culvert where he proceeds
to cover them both with branches and clumps of snow.
John can now barely make out the distant sound of what must be
several snowmobiles. A short time later he sees three vehicles. He
realizes that Lars is handing him a pair of binoculars, his finger
to his lips in a sign to keep quiet. Training the binoculars on the
oncoming riders he can see that the riders are armed with assault
rifles. They give the appearance of looking for someone. All too
soon, Lars grabs the binoculars back. Before living in the North,
John had assumed that night was very dark, however now he understood
that even during the night the The reflection of moonlight off the
white snow gave too much visibility to these intruders. Despite what
Lars had done, John was sure they would be spotted. For once he was
more than happy to be proven wrong.
“That was a close call,” Lars finally says as he brushes the
camouflage off the snowmobile.
“I guess, from how you acted, that they were from the Russian
camp site?” says John.
“Yes, I think they’re looking for you.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 275

“Why do you think that,” John asks, “And how would they know I
even existed?”
“You forget, John, you left a note for your assistant in a
cairn. They must have found it, in which case they now know the co-
ordinates of our village. Also it’s likely they’ve captured him and
forced or tricked him into telling them about you. Their increased
vigilance is going to make it harder to carry out our plans.”
John’s thinks that no matter what he does it just makes things
worse for Göran. He has to do something about rescuing him, no mat-
ter what the cost to himself.
By the time they reach the vicinity of the Russian campsite John
is stiff and feels like he is aching in every bone. They stop and
camouflage the vehicles about two kilometers from the actual site.
John is wondering how they are going to get around in the deep snow
when Lars produces a pair of snowshoes. Donning these he seems to
recall that they are not standard Sami gear. In any case they make
it a lot easier to deal with the deep layer of snow cover. Lars also
takes pains to cover their tracks as they proceed all too slowly to-
ward the camp. Soon John hears voices. Lars leads him up a small
hillock where they’re well shielded from view by the dense tree
cover. After a preliminary survey of the camp, he hands the binocu-
lars over to John.
Scanning the scene John can see that there are easily twenty or
more armed men moving about the encampment, just as Lars had re-
ported. Seeing one of the hut doors open John centers his view on
the emerging group of people. He now sees three men and what he be-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 276

lieves is a woman emerge from one of the huts. It isn’t very easy to
discern gender because of the bulky parkas worn by everyone in the
camp, but he believes he is correct by the way she moves. Their ges-
tures give him the impression that they are arguing. Then another
two men approach the group. One of them seems vaguely familiar. The
other carries an assault rifle slung over his shoulder. John wipes
the fog off the binoculars' eyepiece and takes a more careful look
at the unarmed man, and with the shock of recognition turns to Lars
and says. “One of those men is Göran. We have to get him out of
Lars pulls the binoculars away from John’s grasp and whispers,
“John, control yourself, you have to be patient. His best chance for
safety is if we follow our plan.” Taking another look himself, Lars
continues, “Beside if that is Göran he doesn’t seem to be a cap-
John is also somewhat mystified by the Göran’s apparent freedom
of movement, and thinks that maybe they have misinterpreted the be-
havior of the Russians. Then he recalls the burned land rover.
Surely that was not a friendly sign. Managing to retrieve the bin-
oculars from Lars, he takes another careful look at the group. Now
he focuses on the woman, who is now brushing a strand of hair from
her face. With a shock he realizes that she is Henry Brenner’s as-
sistant, Greta Simon. Looking again at the man next to her he is now
sure it is Brenner. The whole situation is taking on more complexity
than he had expected. What if they’re working with the Russians? But
he didn’t believe that. They should continue with the planned opera-
tion. If they are wrong no major harm would be done.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 277

“You’re right, Lars. we’ll follow the plan. But if I see them
doing anything nasty to Göran I can’t just wait.” He knows that this
is not entirely reasonable, he had promised to cooperate and he is
aware that the stakes may overcome the importance of any individ-
ual’s welfare. Yet, what’s he to do? Göran is his responsibility, he
has placed Göran in danger and it he who must answer to the man’s
family if something goes wrong. As if anyone is safe if they’re in-
deed sitting on a super volcano. The more he watches the group the
more he is certain that Göran’s freedom is no more than an illusion.
After all almost everyone else in the camp is obviously carrying
He continues to watch, seeing that Göran has now reached the
other group. Something like introductions appears to be taking
place. John sees hands being shaken and one of the men, continues to
smile and pat people on the back like at a school reunion. An errant
thought then occurs to John, could they have bought Göran off? No,
that was impossible. Yet why all the friendly gestures? Maybe they
had convinced Göran that the work they are doing is indeed legiti-
mate. And what about Henry and Greta? Maybe he and his new confeder-
ates would look like fools, bursting in on a bona-fide activity. He
can’t take a chance. The only safe course was to continue with their
plan. If this meant he would look foolish, so be it. It would be a
better outcome than many he could now see as possible.
Greta watches Henry and Rafael enter one of the huts. Whatever
had prevented Rafael from recognizing Henry before, he now seemed
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eager to latch on to him. She had seen how expert Henry is at inter-
viewing scientists, so she is sure he will now learn more about the
technology of cellbots. The trouble with this rosy picture is that
she’s in a state of deep confusion about her own relationship with
Henry. The surprise of seeing him acting so friendly with Boris had
deeply shaken her confidence. How could Henry suck up to such a
creep. She had been certain Boris had intended to make love with her
at the Villa, but once they arrived all they did was to have an ex-
travagant meal. During the course of this, Boris started to discuss
her family. She was stunned by how much he knew about her and them.
He then started to talk about the unfortunate accidents that could
occur, especially to elderly people. How they could fall on an icy
street or worse. He said he hoped her family wouldn’t undergo such a
misfortune. Then he started to ask Greta about Henry, who he worked
for, why was he in Sweden, and in particular why he had interviewed
Professor Grenqvist? By this time she was shaking with anxiety for
the safety of her parents. They were innocent of anything she was
involved in and if they came to harm because of her activities she
would be devastated. Her hatred for this man began to know no
bounds, if she could of killed him that evening she would have done
so without hesitation. Then they had taken her to a well appointed
room and left her there. So, later, when she saw Boris and Henry to-
gether, she felt her hatred for Boris boil over and infect her feel-
ings for Henry. First he had put her in a dangerous situation, then
it turns out he is friendly with the presumed bad guys. Damn, what
is she to make of it all. The situation only seems to be getting
worse, Henry just keeps sucking up to Boris and doing whatever he
asks. He had shut her up in the room at the villa by telling her the
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place was bugged, but now she thinks that was only a ruse to keep
her quiet. No, she can’t trust him, somehow he must have reached an
agreement with Boris.
Lost in these thoughts she flinches when Göran taps her on the
shoulder. Boris had went off somewhere with Markov and they were
alone. He says, “Our hosts seem to have forgotten about us, maybe
this is a good time to talk.” Considering what has happened to him,
Greta thinks that at least here she might have an ally.
Shivering with cold, Greta points at one of the huts and says,
“It’s freezing out here, Boris said we could stay there.”
The hut though warmer than the outside is chilly, so they keep
their parkas on. In one corner a samovar stands on a table. They
pull some chairs close to the table to take advantage of any warmth
from the steaming tea. Göran fills two paper cups with the beverage
and hands one to her.
She smiles at him and says, “I gather you’ve been through a
tough time.” Göran looks at her in a tentitive manner, like he
doesn’t have too much trust in her. Considering her own experiences
with this crew she well understands such feelings. By now she is
feeling throughly paranoid and doesn’t know who she can talk freely
to. Maybe she can’t trust Göran, after all how could she tell if he
really had been tortured. Perhaps he is a plant, a graduate student
in appearance only? Still she has to trust someone, without some
help she has no way of escaping from this crew. So she decides to go
ahead and assume the man is what he seems to be and fills him in on
what has happened since their last encounter in Luleå.
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Göran smiles several times and even reaches out to pat her on
the shoulder as her narrative unfolds. He becomes agitated when she
describes the the peculiar dinner with Boris, and mutters something
about his own concerns for his wife and child. When she mentions
finding Henry and Boris shaking hands at the villa his lips draw to-
gether in a grimace and she can see his gloved hand tighten on the
paper cup so that some of the hot tea drops to the floor.
“Do you think Henry is one of them?”
“I don’t know”, she replies, “it doesn’t completely make sense.
Why would Walter have sent him here to investigate rumors about a
secret energy project? I don’t think he would’ve been working
against Walter, he acts like he is very obligated to the man, they
have almost a father son relation. Yet who knows what Boris might
have offered him. Damn it, I just don’t trust him!”
“I’m afraid you may be right, we can’t take a chance on this,
too much is at stake. John could figure this out, if only he were
Göran then relates the events he and John had experienced and
how he had been captured by the Russians. She is somewhat surprised
at the role he describes for Rafael. To her it sounds like he is
more of a prisoner than participant in whatever is going on here.
“So what do you think we should do?” Greta asks.
“Good question,” Göran responds with a gesture of his hands.
“One thing in our favor is that Kirstin knows something is wrong.
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But some of Boris’s gang may be watching her. And in light of your
dinner party with Boris I fear for her safety.”
Greta makes a clutching motion toward her chest as she is re-
minded of her own fears. Somehow they have to contact the police be-
fore anything happens to their loved ones. Then an idea occurs to
her and she says, “Göran, what about the satellite telephone? Didn’t
they let you use it to contact Kirstin?”
Göran replies by shaking his head and saying “I doubt we could
get at it, it’s in the back of one of the off road vehicles, either
locked up or guarded.”
Lost in their conversation they barely are aware when a smiling
Henry enters the room. “Nice to see you again Göran. How’s the the-
sis going?”
Greta is having difficulty controlling herself. She feels in-
creased anger toward Henry. And now seeing him acting so jolly she
feels confirmed in his betrayal. She just wants to scream at him and
not feeling free to do so makes her even madder. Drawing on her self
control and reason she is able with great difficulty to remain pas-
sive. The best strategy is to play along with this snake in the
grass. She will pretend that she now has complete trust in him. So
before Göran could say anything that would’ve given them away she
runs over to Henry and kisses him. Henry enthusiastically returns
the kiss, drawing her tightly to him.
She’s ready to cry with confusion as unwillingly her physical
attraction is conflicted by deep distrust, even hatred. Finally he
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lets her loose, and turning to Göran says, “How’s that English guy
you work for doing? Is he also somewhere around here?”
Before Göran can answer he sweeps his gaze over them both and
says, “I just wanted to see if you’re okay, I have some things to do
now but I’ll get back here soon.” Greta feeling both incensed and
foolish, watches him leave the hut.
Normally John would be enjoying the spectacle of the growing
reindeer herd but the journey is starting to take a toll on his in-
juries. Despite Susanne’s efforts his arm is throbbing. Fortunately
he doesn’t have a great deal of trouble breathing but he’s aware of
a burning sensation in his chest. The ever-present bitter cold
doesn’t help matters, and he has to admit he feels awful. Watching
the Sami working with the reindeer he wishes he had their evident
adaptations to this harsh climate. Anyway, having convinced Anders
that his physical condition had improved enough to justify his pres-
ence on this expedition, he is in no position to complain.
Looking around, he now notices the presence of several vapor
plumes on the horizon. Whatever is happening, its tempo is increas-
ing. The more he ponders the strange geological occurrences the more
confused he becomes. These events are either due to some completely
new geological processes unlike anything he has ever studied or
heard of, or something man made. If the later, and he is now fairly
certain that is the case, it has something to do with the Russians.
It is too much of a coincidence to find them here just at this time.
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John’s impatience gnaws at him as he observes the activity of
the herders. The Sami are positioning the animals for the run toward
the camp. The amount of reindeer in the herd is huge, even intimi-
dating. For the first time since he heard the plan, John is begin-
ning to believe it might work. Watching the men work is fascinating
in itself. Several of them were on skis and some are even using the
reindeer as tows. John suspects that under other circumstances he
would be throughly enjoying himself. Then, again sensing the burning
in his chest he is brought back to the seriousness of what is to
happen. If the plan doesn’t go well the burning sensation would be
the least of his problems.
“John,” Lars is calling to him, “Take these and put them on.”
Lars holds out a traditional Sami costume. They had decided that it
would be safer to drop the idea of him being an English journalist.
If they knew about John, perhaps from interrogating Göran, they
would be very suspicious of someone claiming to be a journalist from
England. John would have thought that a Sami disguise wasn’t feasi-
ble simply because of his height. Like many people he had a stereo-
typical image of the Sami, expecting them to be short with dark hair
and slanted eyes. John’s short stay in the village had cast this
myth aside. That they had had no difficulty in finding a set of tra-
ditional clothes for his long slender frame was final proof of this.
Starting the drive toward the encampment induces an exhilaration
in John, masking the discomfort from his arm and chest. The plan is
to let the reindeer run through toward the camp, with them trailing
in the rear. If the Russians opened fire on the animals, the men
could retreat into the forest. Otherwise they would also enter the
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encampment. The only armament they carried were a few hunting ri-
fles, no match for the Russian’s fire power. He hopes the risk is
worth it.
John, now at the rear of the herd, wishes he could cover his
ears, for the thunderous noise is almost painful. Their approach
wouldn’t be a surprise. All the men are now spread out in a wide
pattern following the lead of the reindeer. The head of the herd
must now be coming into the view of the Russians. John could now
hear the shouts the Russians, though he can barely hear over the
general din.
As the camp comes into his view he can see that some of the Rus-
sians are pointing their weapons at the herd, With relief he watches
as they lower the snouts of their assault rifles, seemingly under
orders from someone in the camp. They must realize that the reindeer
are so numerous, that to fire into them might make matters even more
difficult. It is mildly encouraging for John to see that at least
one person has something like good sense. The camp is now swarming
with the animals. Because of obstacles such as vehicles and huts
that are in the camp the reindeer start to circle about instead of
pushing on to the other boundary. The scene is now wrapped in confu-
sion. The Russians still don’t appear aware of Lars and the others.
John catches sight of Lars, now on skis and being towed by one
of the reindeer. He watches as Lars approaches one of the Russians.
Lars immediately starts gesticulating. John can see that two of the
guards have now grabbed Lars. To his horror, John watches as he’s
pushed to the ground. Worse there are now assault weapons pointed at
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his head. The distinguished looking man that John had observed from
afar is running towards the guards and shouting. At this critical
moment John finds his view is now obscured by the reindeer. A burst
of automatic fire rings out followed by loud screams. The reindeer
now go into full panic and are soon running toward several of the
buildings in the camp.
John, fearing the worst for Lars, works his way toward the
structure where he had last seen Göran. As he approaches he is star-
tled to see Greta running after Henry. What most amazes John is see-
ing that Greta is pointing a pistol at Henry. John finds this so odd
that he can scarcely believe it. He continues to watch, frozen in
place, as they run behind one of the off road vehicles, after this
he loses sight of them. He then hears a sound from behind and
quickly swings about to see what is happening. Two Russians are run-
ning toward him, their weapons at the ready. John dodges, but in do-
ing so throw himself into the path of one of the reindeer. The ani-
mals antlers punch into his stomach, throwing him off balance. Be-
fore he can recover and regain his feet, the Russians reach him,
their guns now pointed directly at him. It happens almost too rap-
idly for him to think of how to escape. All that occurs to him is
that if he is caught he’ll be a dead man. For a moment he is con-
vinced that they intend to shoot him then and there. The stockier of
the two steps closer. The man then thrusts the butt of his weapon
directly into John’s head. Everything slows down as the thought of
complete failure rushes into his mind. The butt contacts his head
and he feels a momentary pain before the blackness encompasses him.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 286

A Woman Scorned
Talking with Göran, Greta hears the thud of an opening door and
turns to see that one of the armed Russians has entered the hut. He
doesn’t speak, but instead motions for her to come with him. Göran
also starts to follow, but the man makes a threatening motion with
his weapon with the clear message that only Greta is to accompany
him. Greta is almost gratified to see the farce of their apparent
freedom of movement unmasked. Having no choice she follows the man
outside to find Henry waiting nearby. Looking at him she feels an
emotional coldness descend upon her. She can’t understand how stupid
she has been. Only a few days ago she admired, and trusted this man.
She is too mature to think it was love, but given time it might have
become so. Now reviewing all that had passed she felt disgust at
herself for being so easily manipulated. So much for all her educa-
tion and supposed intelligence.
Her thoughts about Henry are interrupted by a deep rumbling
sound, like the earth should be shaking. Looking around she sees
what at first appears to be a wall of snow heading toward the camp.
She doesn’t utter a word, noting that Henry and the guard are also
surprised at this phenomenon. Staring at the approaching white wall
she soon realizes that it is simply snow which has been driven into
the air by what looks like hundreds if not thousands of running
The guard now has a frightened expression on his face, as if he
he seeing demons from some horrible past. She can see that he is
trembling, almost on the verge of screaming. Suddenly he rises his
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weapon, clearly with the intent of firing on the oncoming animals.
Watching him, Greta is seized by a feeling of hatred for the man.
All she can think is that he is about to kill some innocent animals.
While the mass of the herd is intimidating, to her, these relatively
small animals are no serious threat to their safety. The reindeer
now assume the status of everything she loves and values. Her own
safety is secondary and entrapped by the frenzy of the moment she
picks up a heavy wooden stake, that was probably intended to anchor
the temporary structures. The guard is concentrating on the rein-
deer, and doesn’t see her coming at him. Without hesitation she
swings the stake into the man’s head with all the force she can mus-
ter. At first the man just looks stunned, then he falls to the
ground. As he does so he drops his assault rifle and Greta, still
reacting automatically bends to pick it up. Still looking at the
fallen man, she changes her mind and instead grabs the pistol from
the holster fastened at his belt. Still in a rage she faces Henry,
who is frozen in place staring at her. Her only thought now is how
he has manipulated her, even to the point of her almost falling in
love with him. For the moment he’s only another member of Boris’s
gang. Standing up she levels the pistol directly at Henry. She al-
most pulls the trigger when Henry turns and runs into the confusion
of the reindeer herd surrounding them. Greta follows in pursuit,
waving the pistol in Henry’s direction. She sees he’s heading for
the cover of one of the off road vehicles, the one with the satel-
lite radio. The vehicle and a nearby hut block Henry from moving
further and Greta catches up to him brandishing the pistol.
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“What’re you doing?” Henry screams at her, “Don’t point that at
me for God sakes.”
Do I really want to shoot him? She understands at some level
that she has lost control to her anger, even that she is not think-
ing clearly, yet at the same time the rage is overwhelming and un-
controllable. The feeling of having been used and made a fool of
overcomes her and she yells, “You son of a bitch, you’re part of Bo-
ris’s mob, all that you have said to me is a lie.”
She keeps screaming, hardly knowing what she is saying. After
doing this for awhile she notices that to her astonishment Henry
doesn’t look the least bit cowered. He is smiling at her and point-
ing at the pistol. She stops screaming and hears him say, “Greta,
before you threaten someone with a pistol I suggest you learn how to
use it. It might work better if you switch off the safety before you
shoot me.” Hearing this she can’t stop herself from diverting her
attention to the weapon. Beside the trigger she can’t see any lever
or button that might be a safety switch.
While she is engaged in this, Henry steps up to her and sweeps
out his hand grabbing the pistol, saying, “Sorry Greta, but I prefer
not to die just yet. And by the way, as to the safety, the Glock 17
is famous for a device built into the trigger.”
He demonstrates this, showing her the metal leaf inside of the
trigger. “You don’t have to release any safety switch, you just pull
the trigger, cute isn’t it. And by the way I’m not part of Boris’s
league of merry men.”
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Greta is now on the verge of sobbing as she screams, “Liar,” at
Henry, pistol in hand, shakes his head and says, “Use your head
for once, can’t you see that he set us up so we would both distrust
the other. Clever bastard that Boris.” He grabs her and pulls her
into his arms. All she can do is cry.
Göran, alone in the hut with the samovar his only companion,
mulls over the short conversation he had with Kirstin. Something is
wrong. By now he would have expected some intervention from the po-
lice. Maybe she had not really understood the message. No, that’s
not possible, her response surely acknowledged that she had under-
stood them. Probably even now the police are searching for him. The
vastness of Sweden’s arctic zone explained the delay. It infuriated
him that Boris and his thugs could operate here with such impunity.
But that’s the problem with Sweden having such a large and under-
populated area. He knew all to well how few of his countrymen ever
travelled north of Uppsala from the near astonishment he was greeted
with when, on trips to Stockholm, he explained that he lived in
Luleå. Another possibility is that the police don’t believe
Kirstin’s story. Why would they take a tale about a phone call from
her husband not being quite right seriously? Most likely they told
her that her man had been drinking or was with another woman.
Just sitting here and thinking the same thoughts over and over
are getting him nowhere, so he decides to take a stroll around the
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camp. At least he can find out what limits are being set on his
Outside the hut, Boris and Rafael are talking. Rafael waves his
hand in friendly greeting, however Göran can see that for once Boris
is devoid of his friendly expression. As he gets closer he hears Bo-
ris asking Rafael to bring him up to date on the project. Rafael ex-
plains that the equipment is stored in one of the off road vehicles.
Göran, follows them as they head toward the indicated vehicle, but
Boris, seeing him, motions for him to stay where he is. Rafael
doesn’t seem to agree with this and whispers something to Boris, who
then motions him to continue following the pair.
Trudging through the snow behind Rafael and Boris, Göran is now
conscious of the many armed men around the camp. He catches up to
both men just as Rafael is unlocking a storage bay on the vehicle.
Göran, looking over Rafael’s shoulder can see that some of the
equipment looks like communications gear. Rafael, pointing at the
equipment, explains, “These transmitters are keyed to micro receiv-
ers in the stage two bots. These are micro rather than nano size ma-
chines, which can both receive and transmit high frequency radio
Boris interrupts Rafael to ask, “As far as I understood, only
very low frequency radio waves can penetrate any distance into the
ground. How do you get around this?”
Göran observes the broad smile on Rafael’s face. He thinks how
pleased the man looks at having a chance to demonstrate how clever
he is as Rafael continues, “I use the channels created by the cell-
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bots as microwave conduits for the radiation. The receivers in the
phase two bots are very sensitive, but as their power supply is lim-
ited the transmitters are short range. The bots follow the cellbots
and when sufficiently near them they can communicate with them.”
Göran is not surprised to see how Boris now strokes Rafael’s
ego, saying, “Very ingenious Rafael, the Nova Institute was very un-
wise to let you go.”
Thinking it best to keep a low profile, Göran has decided to re-
main unobtrusive, so he is surprised to hear himself enter the con-
versation and say “You mean that these cellbots of yours are causing
the geyser eruptions and that up to now they are uncontrolled?”
Rafael, pride now evident on his face, says, “Yes they are in-
deed doing that. Think Göran, many thousands, millions of my cell-
bots are working their way into the depths of the earth, further
than has ever been reached by man made objects. They are programmed
to seek one another out, a behavior that is called flocking. When
they come together my little children, despite their small size, can
create visible bore-holes.”
Boris, continues to appeal to Rafael’s large ego, saying,
“Göran, you have the honor to see a new world emerging. Rafael’s
cellbots can provide us with almost unlimited amounts of energy. His
work will not only make us rich, it may save civilization.”
Listening to Boris, Göran, can’t help but admire him, though he
is still certain he is crooked as can be. He is still sure that the
sudden change in how he was being treated had only occurred because
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Boris is anxious to please Rafael. Now that he knows about their
project, Göran is sure Boris is not going to let him leave to tell
the world. Also they are playing with unleashing forces from the
deep that had never been in the control of mankind. On the contrary,
in the form of volcanic eruptions, these forces had destroyed civi-
lizations. Even knowing his words would have no effect, Göran can’t
stop himself from speaking about this to them. Almost shouting he
says, “You can’t do this on your own. It’s just too dangerous!”
Göran’s mood sinks, seeing that both men are smiling at him as
if he is a small child, unable to understand what the adults are do-
“Don’t be so concerned,” Rafael explains in an annoyingly pa-
tronizing tone. “Boris’s men have placed all the needed stage two
injectors, and now I will send the signal for the cellbots to de-
stroy themselves. The digging process will stop, leaving us with
readily available supplies of geothermal energy. Like Iceland,
northern Sweden will become a land independent of fossil fuels.”
Before he can react to this, Göran hears the sounds of shouting
and even senses a rumbling of the ground. Boris immediately runs to-
ward the noise. Göran sees that both himself and Rafael seem frozen
to the ground. To make matters worse he also hears the sound of gun
fire. Rafael finally reacts slamming the storage bay shut and lock-
ing it.
Göran is still undecided as to what to do. For one second he
considers running after Boris, then he decides to stick with Rafael.
Before he can make any move he’s suddenly surrounded by what can
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only be described as a sea of reindeer. Though relatively small ani-
mals their numbers are overwhelming.
Rafael is now trying to open the door of the vehicle. Before he
can complete this task, Rafael is pulled back by someone who seems
to sweep in behind the reindeer. Göran now pushes through the herd
to help Rafael. As he gets closer he realizes that the man now hold-
ing Rafael, is Henry. Greta appears close behind him, screaming “We
have to get out of here,” at Henry.
Henry in his turn screams back, “And what do you think I’m try-
ing to do here? Göran finally gets their attention and points to Ra-
fael, saying, “The key is hanging from his neck!” Henry, Göran is
pleased to see, gets the message at once. He rips the key from the
protesting Rafael and forces him into the cab of the vehicle. Göran
follows Greta in beside Henry.
Göran sees Henry start the vehicles engine, and without regard
to the milling reindeer back it out of its parking place. Gunning
the vehicle Henry heads for an open spot at the camps edge and into
the forest. Göran looks back at confused situation at the camp
sight, pleased and relieved to see they are not being followed.
Now turning his attention to the other three, Göran hears Henry
say, “Pretty neat escape.” Henry is looking at Greta with an expec-
tation of admiration. Greta remains silent. Göran now notices that
she is shivering. As it is almost warm in the vehicle, Göran con-
cludes this is more from stress than from the icy cold.
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Finally she says, “If only you knew what the hell you were doing
it would be pretty neat.” Rafael, who had been sullenly unresponsive
now looks at Henry and says “Your a fool and if you don’t do what I
say you will destroy the world!”
Boris runs towards the guard seeing that he’s knocked down the
Sami herdsman. He shouts, “Don’t kill him!” But he knows that the
noise and confusion make it unlikely he will be heard. If at all
possible he wants to maintain reasonable relations with the Sami.
But before he can reach him, the man fired his weapon directly at
the kneeling figure, killing him instantly. Boris, now in a rage,
reaches the guard, who is now kicking the body, and screams at him,
“You idiot, do you realize what you’ve done?”
The man looking anything but contrite, seems to have enjoyed the
opportunity to kill someone. Boris calms himself, realizing that it
is almost impossible to really reign in these war veterans. He would
just have to live with the consequences. The Sami would now oppose
every step they took, and the economic exploitation of Rafael’s work
would be all the harder. At least the situation was calming down,
the reindeer began to thin out and the other herdsman had almost
vanished. A few moments later Boris sees Markov and Sasha dragging
the body of another Sami. Boris decides that something would have to
be done about Sasha, he is all too uncontrolled and rapidly becoming
a liability.
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“Good news Boris,” Markov explains with glee, “We captured an-
other one of these Lapp bastards.” Boris looking down on the inert
form with distaste, says, “Capture or do you mean killed?”
Markov grins at him and says, “Just a little stunned, he ran
into the butt of a rifle, but he’ll be just fine.” Boris now reaches
down and turns the face of the unconscious man up so he can examine
him. Then, shaking his head he says, “I’m afraid Markov you haven’t
captured a Sami.”
Markov points at the man’s costume and says, “Who but a Lapp
would wear such a stupid costume?”
Boris, glaring at Markov and thinking how hard it is to get de-
cent help, says, “This is Professor John Pritchard, professional
mining engineer! He is also an Englishman. Bring him into the main
hut and attend to his wounds. Also notify me immediately if he be-
comes conscious.”
Boris now sees that his assistant and bodyguard Ivan is ap-
proaching. About time, he thinks. You were not much of a bodyguard
today. All thought’s about the deficiencies of his colleagues vanish
as he hears Ivan’s news that Henry, Greta and Göran had escaped in
the uproar. Worse Rafael is also missing. This operation, or invest-
ment as he liked to think of it as is becoming less and less practi-
cal every minute.
“So find their trail and follow them!” Boris barks. “That’s an-
other problem” the man exclaimed. “Problem, what problem, tell me,
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“They have stolen one of the vehicles, the one Rafael was using
for his equipment.”
Big Trouble
“Destroy the world!” Henry echos Rafael, who continues to bab-
bling on that they must act soon the world will be destroyed. Henry
loosens his grip on the steering wheel and the ORV swerves. He real-
izes that he has almost lost control of the unfamiliar vehicle as he
turns to look Rafael in the eye. “What have you been doing here Ra-
fael, tell us now or I swear I’m going to bury you.”
Looking directly at Rafael he can see the fear, like the little
man had seen some terrible vision. There’s no way he is going to get
information out of the man by shouting, so in as calm and measured a
tone as he can manage, he says, “Calm down Rafael, take a few deep
Recalling the demonstration he and Greta had witnessed at the
Nova Institute he has some suspicions about what Rafael is worried
about. Watching him and the way he is acting, Henry is now conjuring
up his own dreadful scenario. Finally Rafael calms down enough to be
more coherent.
After listening to Rafael’s story for several minutes, Henry in-
terrupts him saying, “So the trick is in how you control the cell-
bots once they are loose, now I want to know the precise details.”
Rafael hesitates, petulantly saying, “I won’t tell you that,
it’s my secret. I’ve already told Boris too much and I’m sure he
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 297

plans to steal my work. But he doesn’t know enough, not by a long
Henry groans with frustration, forgetting his decision to act
calmly toward the scientist, and says, “Listen Rafael, you have done
something incredibly stupid which at the very least can cause the
loss of much innocent life, If you don’t tell me exactly what is
happening I’m going to personally tear you to pieces, so talk and do
it now!”
“Okay,” Rafael replies, “The trick is twofold, one problem is to
communicate with the cellbots once they are released, the second is
to build a self destruction mechanism into the nanobot component.”
Henry finds the scheme reasonable but that doesn’t mean it would
work. Rafael doesn’t seem to have the idea that you should test
something before you deploy it.
“So have you succeeded in doing this?”
Rafael nods, “Of course, that’s why we’re here, to test the
control system.” Henry knows he’s going to break out into a cold
sweat hearing this.
“Are You are telling me that this is the first test of the con-
Rafael’s reply is delivered with a knowing look of superiority
on his face, “Of course, that’s the only way I can be sure it
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Henry gulps, restraining himself from throttling the man, and
says, “What if it doesn’t work?”
Rafael favors Henry with the look of a teacher talking to his
worst student, “I designed them, it will work.”
Henry has been so concentrated on driving and quizzing Rafael he
has almost forgotten the presence of Greta and Göran. Looking at
them he can see that they are as stunned as he feels. Then returning
to Rafael he says, “So why did you mutter that stuff about destroy-
ing the world?”
Rafael, still looking superior, says, “Because the transmitters
that signal the bots to send the self-destruct signal are in this
Henry feels almost relieved at this news and thinks, maybe the
situation could be saved after all. Then he says to Rafael, “So
what’s the problem, I’ll stop the vehicle and you can use the equip-
ment to send the signal.”
Again Rafael gazes at Henry with the teacher deals with stupid
student look, and says, “You can’t send the signal from just any-
where. The bots are now deep in the Earth which will block the
transmission. We have to have access to the injection points. At
those points I insert the probes which use the channels created by
the bots for a transmission conduit.”
Damn, Henry realizes, as he says, “You mean that we have to
visit all of these injection sites?”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 299

Rafael now looks at him like he has at least gotten through to
his idiot student, and says, “Ah, now you understand.”
Henry knows that the Russians will soon be in pursuit of them.
He had thought to make for the south and help before they could
catch up with them, but now their first priority must be to stop the
cellbots. He has to get more information from Rafael, so he asks,
“How many sites are there?”
“Not many, only twenty.”
Henry hears groans from Greta and Göran as he looks aghast at
Rafael. To visit twenty sites and evade the Russians, would be one
neat trick, and what would Boris and his mob do if they got hold of
them. Not something any of them wanted to dwell on.
Henry, recalling some of his own past work, turns once more to
Rafael and asks, “Did you ever hear of fail safe design?”
“Of course, but it would have taken too long and cost too much.
I wanted to prove to the world that I could provide unlimited energy
for mankind.”
God help us, Henry thinks, save us from well meaning genus. “How
long do we have and what will happen if we don’t stop the cellbots?”
Rafael waits a few seconds before finally responding. “It’s hard
to say exactly, my estimates are that the cellbots could create
enough penetration to produce useable amounts of geothermal energy
in about two months.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 300

Henry listens as now Göran asks, “How long have they been oper-
Rafael answers, “Roughly two months.”
Göran continues, addressing all of them, “From what John and I
saw at the geyser, the whole area is turning into a mini volcano.”
Rafael, now clearly elated, says, “Yes, I’m very pleased with
the performance of the cellbots, they are more efficient than I had
Henry rubs his chin in frustration at the mixture of stupidity
and genus, then says, “What if we don’t stop them?”
Rafael still looking triumphant, answers, “They will eat more
and more of surface layer, eventually exposing the whole region to
magma. The heat and violence of the emerging material will of course
destroy the cellbots. I’m afraid that will be too late to prevent
the formation of a large opening into the superheated magma.”
“So,” Henry exclaims, “we may have the formation of a super
size volcano, one like Yellowstone.”
Rafael looking almost gleeful replied, “It could happen, but I
don’t expect such a spectacular result.”
Henry notices that Greta has been silent since they left the
Russian camp. Any problem between them now seems of little conse-
quence. Their only priority must be to stop the cellbots, no matter
what the personal risk. With a chill of anxiety he suspects that if
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they don’t succeed they will not be around to worry about the conse-
Once more he focuses his attention on Rafael and says, “Why
didn’t you build timed self destruction into the cellbots?”
“I did, but I didn’t know how long they would take to effec-
tively penetrate the mantel. I didn’t want to have my experiment ru-
ined if my estimates were too short.” Then proudly he said, “They
worked even better than I had expected!”
Henry again groans and says, “Rafael, you are an ass and if all
our lives didn’t depend on it I’d throttle you right now!”
Rafael’s superior look remains even as he appears to acknowledge
the hostility of the others. “I am only trying to help mankind,” he
Stunned at what faces them, Henry returns his concentration to
his driving.
Friend or Foe?
John blinks as he regains his senses. He is in a room, probably
one of the huts in the Russian camp. There are three heavily armed
men standing around as well as the distinguished looking individual
he had spied before the attack on the camp.
“Professor Pritchard,” the man says in a foreign but educated
accent, “I wish I could say it is a pleasure to meet you, however
your intrusion is very unfortunate.” John almost breaks into a
laugh, in spite of the situation, thinking, so much for my life as a
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 302

Sami. Shaking his head to clear the butterflies that seem to be
buzzing around inside his brain, he says, “You have me at a disad-
vantage sir, I’m afraid I don’t know whom I’m addressing.”
The man smiles, John notes almost but not quite pleasantly,
“You may call me Boris, and if I may, I’ll address you as John. And
by the way John, I must complement you on your outfit. Interesting
how well you appear to have assimilated to the local culture.”
John, is tired, suffering a headache from the blow to his head
and wheezing slightly. At this moment he wishes he were back in his
pleasant office at the university instead of having to deal with a
group of russian mobsters. Still he has to ask the obvious question,
“Why are you holding me here?”
Boris’ smile erupts into a broad grin, like John has said some-
thing hilarious. Then he shakes his head and says, “I don’t recall
saying that you were being held here. You and your friends entered
our camp uninvited and caused a lot of damage, but that is a matter
that can be settled by lawyers. You may leave anytime you wish.”
This is the last response John had expected, lawyers, he had
never considered that these people were here legally. Then he remem-
bers Göran as well as Greta and Henry. “What about my graduate stu-
dent Göran?”
“Yes, you must mean the young man who was our guest. My men
found him near his burned vehicle, some kind of accidental explosion
he said. He told us that you were in trouble and we looked for you,
without success as you know.”
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John is now becoming very confused. Could he have so totally
misread the situation? Adopting a conciliatory tone he asks, “What
do you mean by, was your guest?”
“I wish I could tell you, we believe that Göran, Greta, Henry
and a man named Rafael, left in one of our vehicles, probably be-
cause they were worried that sensitive equipment might be harmed
during your incursion into our camp.”
John doesn’t reply at once, trying to discern the truth of what
Boris has said. Finally he replies, “Can’t you reach them, there
must me a radio in the vehicle.”
Boris, a frown showing on his handsome face, rubs his forehead
and says, “Yes, but they don’t answer. I’m afraid they might have
had an accident or something damaged their radio.”
John can’t help thinking that all this is too pat. Whatever he
asks, this smooth talking character has an answer. As he is getting
nowhere with questions about Göran, he decides to change the gist of
his questions and says, “Are you responsible for what’s happening in
the forest here?”
He expected immediate denial from Boris, but instead he hears,
“Yes, in a way. The man named Rafael hired us to help him conduct an
experiment. We only had a vague idea about what he was doing. He did
tell us that the equipment in the vehicle, taken by Göran and the
others, is needed to control the eruptions.”
Again it all sounds plausible to John. In any case, even if this
Boris claims he is free to go, he needed help to actually leave the
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 304

camp, something he didn’t recall being offered. For the moment he
might as well act as if he totally believed the man, so he says, “Is
there anyway I can be of help? I’d like to make up for any damage we
may have inflicted on your camp.”
A Complex Problem
Henry fights to control his anger and confusion and attempts to
think rationally about what options they have. Instead of heading
due south, Henry turns the vehicle in the direction of the cellbot
infested region, and possibly into the arms of Boris and his thugs.
At least he seems to have achieved the small comfort of renewed
trust from Greta, who has placed her hand on his shoulder as an in-
dication that she no longer was bent on shooting him.
As they edge closer to the area occasional ground tremors shake
the vehicle. He decides it’s about time to stop and take inventory
of whatever assets they possess for the coming fight.
Soon they all leave the vehicle, and Henry, using Rafael’s key,
opens all the storage bays. He is pleased to find that, in addition
to Rafael’s equipment, they are well supplied with weapons. Boris
appears to have been ready to fight off an army. Pulling out two as-
sault rifles, he passes them on to Göran and Greta.
Göran, taking the weapon, explains that like many Swedes of his
age, he had military training and is familiar with small arms. This
said he proceeds to quickly instruct Greta on the fundamentals she
needs to use the weapon.
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Henry doesn’t take an assault rifle for himself. Instead he
takes three clips of ammunition for the Glock that Greta had so re-
cently pointed at him. He slips these into the ample pockets of his
parka. Now looking into another one of the storage bays he finds
some maps and a GPS locator. He shows these to Rafael, who explains
that the maps pinpoint the locations of the primary injection sites,
that is the positions they must reach to insert the secondary injec-
tors. Once again Rafael explains that only at these sites will they
be able to assert effective termination of the cellbots.
Grimly Henry recalls the popular book he had written on complex-
ity. In it he had discussed the traveling salesman problem, where a
salesman has to find a route between target cities that minimized
his time of travel to cover them all. The solution of the problem
became nearly impossible in any reasonable amount of computing time
as the number of cities involved increased. Ironically he now faced
the same problem. How is he going to reach all twenty injection
sites before disaster. Even if he had a suitable computer available,
there was no way could find an optimum route quickly enough as the
difficulties of the terrain added an additional factor.
To make matters worse, Rafael claimed to need at least fifteen
minutes at each site, so with travel time included surely need more
than a day. The whole affair is further complicated by the certain
pursuit of the Russians. Henry doubts if there is much chance of
success, however it’s too discouraging to reveal his thoughts to the
others, best just to keep pushing ahead.
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So pretty much at random Henry punches out a route on the GPS
system. At least the location of the first stop is easy to choose,
he simply takes the nearest injection point. He’ll do the same for
each successive point, choosing the nearest unvisited site to what-
ever one he located at.
Luck is with them and they reach the first site in only fifteen
minutes of travel. To his delight, Henry finds that he didn’t need
to take any major detours off the line of travel given by the GPS
Henry stops the vehicle and Rafael jumps out. Henry watches as
he places five or six probes into the snow covered earth. There is
no outward sign of geological activity at the site and the work is
completed in only ten minutes. The inserted probes are radio linked
to the transmitter in the storage bay. Rafael now punches several
buttons. Henry hopes that Rafael’s claim that this initiates the de-
struction signal is truthful. He listens with interest as Greta
asks, “Will we hear or see some sign of what happens?” Henry is dis-
appointed to hear Rafael declare, “No, all the activity is taking
place far underground.”
Henry, eager to find some way of confirming that Rafael is doing
the right thing, asks, “How will you know the cellbots have self-
“The secondary bots will send a signal,” and pointing to a dis-
play on the transmitter control panel, “this light will turn yel-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 307

Henry is only slightly relieved to have some indirect indication
about what is happening. Then he notices a puzzled look on Göran’s
face, who asks, “From what you said, there are millions of these
things on the loose. How can you be certain we have gotten them
Rafael’s reply, given with a look of intense self satisfaction,
is, “The cellbots are built to die if they sense less than a speci-
fied number of neighboring cellbots, so once a sufficient number
self-destruct the rest will follow.”
Henry could see that none of the three of them are displaying
any great sign of confidence in this explanation. But, he realizes,
what choice do we have? Thinking about having a choice brings to
mind that in all the action of the last few days he had at least
forgotten about Walter. By now he’s certain that Boris is correct
and that Walter’s customer for this mission must be a Russian based
oil cartel. He shivers at the thought of such a group getting hold
of this technology. He still must resolve the problem of his rela-
tionship with Walter. Walter had nurtured his career and had helped
him when he most needed it. At the same time he had used Henry for
his own purposes. Is Henry loyal to Walter because of his mentoring,
or simply because he still felt he needed him to keep his career on
course? Damn he thinks there’s no time for this now. “Okay he says,”
after Rafael confirmed they had succeeded, “Retrieve the probes and
let’s get back on the road”.
Göran laughs and says, “What road? I don’t see any road.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 308

Henry can’t resist saying to him, “You need vision my friend,
and that’s in the mind”. They had completed the job in ten minutes
and they all felt optimistic. They might save the world after all.
Their luck continued and after completing five more sites they
are beginning to feel confident that they would succeed. Pulling up
the last of the radio coupled probes at the sixth site, Greta hesi-
tates and says, “Do you hear something?”
Henry, concern in his voice, replies, “There has been a contin-
ual feeling that the earth is shaking, accompanied by some low fre-
quency vibration noise.”
Greta shakes her head and says, “I know, but this sounds more
like the engine of one of these off road vehicles.”
Göran adds, “I hear it too Henry. I think some of the Russians
are nearby.”
Henry is in a quandary, realizing that in all the excitement he
has simply assumed they would not run into the russians. He’s also
aware that if their engine starts, they’re sure to be located. Then
again how many men could be on board one of these vehicles. Four at
most he believes, and if they are holding bulky weapons there may
only be a place for three.
Instead of remounting the vehicle he grabs Rafael and points to-
wards the forest. Pulling Rafael with him, he says, “We can gain
cover in the trees, if they come by here they will probably leave
their vehicle to investigate this one. Our trump card is that they
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 309

don’t want to hurt Rafael. This may provide us with a chance of
overcoming them.”
Henry now notices that Rafael is bearing himself like he intends
to start screaming. “One word out of you Rafael and you’re a dead
man”. As he says this he stick the Glock into Rafael’s back. Henry
prays that Rafael would be sufficiently frightened to forget how
much they also needed him. The sound of the engine is getting closer
and despite the arctic cold Henry is aware that a bead of sweat is
trickling down his forehead. Then they see the vehicle pull up to
theirs, one man gets out, two others remained inside. So much for my
plan, Henry thought. Now what do we do?
A Search is Organized
John knows he should be skeptical of Boris’s intentions. However
he had to admit the man is persuasive. Boris seems to have a ra-
tional explanation for all that John had seen. John thinks of him-
self as a person who places facts above emotions, so in the end he
decides to cooperate until contrary evidence might arise. Also,
still dressed as a Sami, he could understand that Boris thought him
to have influence with the herdsmen, and it’s that influence that he
is being called upon to exert. John also shares Boris’s desire to
locate the missing vehicle and hence Göran, Henry and especially
So, still somewhat reluctantly, John agrees to take Boris to the
Sami village. There they would ask for the help of Sami helicopter
surveillance in the search. Boris has done his homework and is aware
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 310

that the Sami routinely use helicopters in there work with the rein-
deer herds.
Following Boris, John climbs into one of the remaining off road
vehicles. Inside, he sees that two others are already seated and
waiting for them. Boris addresses them as Markov and Sasha. John
doesn’t like the look of the two and is especially uncomfortable
seeing the weapons they carried. Already he is starting to have in-
creased doubts about his agreement with Boris. Even if he trusts Bo-
ris, it is not going to be easy to convince someone like Anders to
be helpful. Then again Boris is a very smooth talker, after all he
had already enlisted John to his cause, or had he?
Sasha drives, winding through the forest in the direction of the
village. They hadn’t asked John for directions, so they clearly knew
the location. As they race through the arctic wilderness John sees
several geyser plumes and every once and a while feels a trembling
sensation. The geophysical activity is increasing and John is wor-
ried that something violent and unexpected is brewing.
After several tedious hours in the cramped ORV, John finally
sees the village in the distance. Before they reach it John realizes
that five or six men on snowmobiles are surrounding their vehicle.
There are four Sami men and two women, all carrying hunting rifles,
and signaling for them to stop. John sees that Markov is reaching
for his weapon but Boris says something sharply to him in Russian,
and he lays the rifle on the floor of the ORV. Sasha halts the vehi-
cle and Boris opens the door, motioning to John and Markov to step
out with him.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 311

John now sees that one of the men is Anders, who seems aston-
ished to see John. Before John can speak Anders shouts at him, say-
ing, “Who are these people and why are you with them?”
As quickly as possible John relates an edited version of the
events. Anders, looking very concerned, says, “Lars is still miss-
ing, we heard from the others but there has been no sign of him.”
John turns to Boris and says, “Did you see any sign of another
herder that was left in the camp?”
Boris, instead of responding to John, turns toward Anders and
introduces himself. Then with a saddend expression he explains that
he is very sorry, but that he has no idea as to where the missing
man may be. He goes on saying, “It was complete chaos.” After a
pause to wipe his eyes, he continues, “several of our men are miss-
ing also, I’m sure they’ll all turn up eventually.”
Anders, John observes, is still looking grim. Finally he demands
to know what the Russians are doing at their encampment in the midst
of Sami territory. By way of answer, Boris reaches into his pocket
and pulls out a sheet of paper which he hands to Anders. John him-
self is surprised as Boris explains, “If you read that you can see
our experiment was authorized by the interior ministry. We intended
to officially inform your people of our presence but we were delayed
because of other concerns.”
Anders is clearly not pleased by the document, but he grimaces
saying, “Typical, our concerns are of no interest to the govern-
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Boris then goes into a long explanation of the importance of
Rafael’s vehicle. He also stresses the task of finding Lars and oth-
ers that may be missing. John observes that the final part of Bo-
ris’s plea for help has the most effect on Anders. Boris offers to
pay for the use of the helicopter, naming a sum that almost brings a
smile to Ander’s normally dour face.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Anders finally replies. He pauses so
as to consider what he is saying and continues, “The helicopter will
only hold two people. So only one of your men can accompany the pi-
lot.” Boris flashes a pleasant smile and says, “That would be satis-
factory to us. I suggest that John here represent us in the helecop-
Hearing this, John is both surprised and delighted, as it gives
him a partial confirmation that Boris is trustworthy. Boris must be
okay if he is sending me instead of one of his own people, he
Boris turns to John and says, “Is that okay with you John?” John
agrees, after which, Boris sends Markov back to the ORV to fetch a
portable radio that John may use to keep contact with them.
Anders, seeming to be in the best mood John has yet seen, now
asks Boris if he and the other Russians would like something to eat.
“Thank you,” Boris replies, “but we must get back and join the
search. We need all our vehicles for the job.” Anders then directs
John to ride with him, and the Sami party starts off in the direc-
tion of the village. John looks back, watching the OVR turn around
and head into the forest once more.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 313

As Sasha drives Markov gives Boris a puzzled look and says, “Why
did you let the Englishman go, what if he turns the Lapps against
Boris smiles and said, “Markov, did you ever hear the saying
that you catch more flies with caviar? John now trusts us and wants
to help. Who better to conduct the search? Think how anxious he is
to find his student.” Markov still doesn’t look convinced and grum-
bles, “When he does, he might not like the story he hears about us.”
Boris again smiles in a manner that even Markov and Sasha find
disturbing. Then he says in a very offhand manner, “That’s not a
problem, when we get hold of these people we simply kill them.”
Plan B
Henry, watching their abandoned vehicle, gives a sigh of relief.
The Russian, who is examining their ORV must not have a key to the
vehicle. The feeling of relief is short lived as Henry’s thoughts
recall the severity of their situation. This is reenforced by Göran,
who whispers, “I hope you have a plan, without the equipment in that
ORV we’re not going to get very far.”
Listening to this, Henry wonders why the responsibility of stop-
ping the cellbots appears to have fallen on his shoulders. But there
is no time for argument about such matters, and he focuses on the
various possibilities. If they attacked the man on the ground the
other two in the OTV would be warned. Probably all three of the Rus-
sians are veterans of live combat so his motley crew would be no
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 314

match for them. They need some kind of advantage, but what? Finally
he says to the group at large, “Sorry guys, I’m at a loss, but I’m
open to suggestions.”
In saying this he is really expecting Göran, who at least had
some military experience, to reply. Instead it’s Greta, who says,
“What if one of us reveals himself? Maybe they would all leave the
ORV in pursuit.”
Before Henry can reply he hears Göran saying, “If they are com-
bat trained they wouldn’t fall for such a simple ruse and we would
be in more trouble than ever.”
Henry, agreeing with this continues to ponder the problem. Time
is running out and he has to think fast. They want two things, the
vehicle and Rafael. Also, for certain, Boris would have ordered them
to not harm Rafael. Boris wanted Rafael back, Henry, Greta and Göran
are only a nuisance he would like to eliminate, but not at the cost
of losing Rafael.
Suddenly, Henry tries to steady himself as the ground starts to
shake violently startling them all. Henry, who had been present at a
major Earthquake in Mexico City, senses his body reacting with the
fear learned from that event. Even as he fights to overcome the fear
he sees that the Russian examining the ORV fall backwards and out of
their sight. The other two in the ORV jump out of their vehicle, ei-
ther to aid their comrade of save themselves. Managing to maintain
his own balance, Henry is horrified to see that as the two men exit,
a jet of steaming water erupts under the ORV. The jet strikes the
undersurface of the vehicle and spreads out in all directions. The
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 315

force of the jet must be enormous, Henry thinks, as he watches it
tip the ORV on its side. Henry can only pity his erstwhile foes as
he hears them scream with pain from the searing liquid.
Then he forgets the plight of the men, as Greta, evidently in an
attempt to help the Russians, leaps out of their concealed position
and runs toward the grisly scene. Watching Greta run toward the
site, Henry is ripped with anxiety for her safety. Followed by Göran
and Rafael, he races after her. Panting, Henry manages to catch up
to her, then grabs her by the hand to stop her moving nearer the
deadly scene. She is weeping, but there’s not time for discussion
and he proceeds to examine what is before them. Their own ORV ap-
pears to have survived and hopefully it’s still serviceable. That’s
the good news, unfortunetly he also sees that it’s surrounded by
streaming lava. Heartsick, Henry can see no way they could reach the
vehicle and the equipment they so badly needed to stop the cellbots.
Glancing at Rafael he can see the man shaking, presumably with
fear, though at what he couldn’t be sure. Maybe the realization of
the forces he had so casually let free is at last overcoming his ar-
rogance. Henry also notices that Göran is busy comforting Greta, who
is emotionally distraught. A momentary thought of annoyance passes
through him before he decides that the happily married Göran is only
trying to be helpful.
Once again focusing on the problem of the unreachable ORV, with
its store of equipment to stop the cellbots, Henry fights his feel-
ings of despair. Ironically, it again occurs to him that being blown
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 316

up in a super volcano event would solve all his problems with Wal-
ter. Hopefully he can arrange a better solution.
While these thoughts run through his head, Henry sees Rafael run
closer to the vehicles. He considers if he should restrain the man
before he does something foolish. But he is now so tired and help-
less feeling that he would rather curl up into a ball and let the
world take care of itself. The hell with Rafael, he thinks. He’s no
use to us now, let the bastard kill himself. After what he has done
he deserved it. At least the coming cataclysm would also blow Boris
and his boys to hell along with them.
Sitting down on the snow covered ground he realizes that Greta
is looking at him. She leaves Göran, walks over and kneels down be-
side him. Before he can react, she grabs his head in her hands and
passionately kisses him on the mouth.
“What’s that all about?” he says, after getting his breath back.
“You looked like you needed a distraction, Henry. I know how you’re
feeling because I feel it too. But we can’t give up, so much depends
on us.”
He looks at her tear stained eyes and blushes in shame at his
own behavior. “You’re right Greta, we aren’t giving up. It’s time
for plan B.”
John watches as Per Turi, Susanne’s brother, swoops their ma-
chine over the arctic forest. By now he’s getting used to the noise
and vibration of the small chopper. His concentration on the scene
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 317

below is interrupted by the sound of Boris’s voice in his earphones.
“John, any sign of the ORV?”
John replies into his head mike, “Not so far, it’s a lot of ter-
ritory that we have to cover. So far I’ve counted fifteen geyser
sites, and the geological activity appears to be increasing.”
Listen, John hears the now plaintive voice of Boris, “That’s why
it’s urgent you locate that vehicle, it’s the only way to control
the situation. What’s your current location?”
John reads the coordinates off the copter’s GPS navigation sys-
tem. Per is searching the area systematically by making wider and
wider sweeps around the site of the Russian camp. So far the only
ORV’s they had sited were part of Boris’s search teams. Per, turns
to John and points toward another geyser site. The tracks of an ORV
are clearly visible and pointed in the direction of the geyser. As
they get closer John can make out the profile of an ORV. It’s
stranded near the geyser, sitting on a kind of tiny island. Lava is
streaming past the isolated vehicle. Looking through his binoculars
John now saw that there is another vehicle, which is turned on its
side, probably from the eruption of the geyser. Three prone shapes
that could be bodies are near the vehicle. John recalls how the gas
emitted from the geyser he and Göran had found had knocked him out.
Could those bodies be Henry, Göran and Greta? He activates his hel-
met mike and calls Boris. “Boris, we found two damaged vehicles near
an erupting geyser and lava pool.” He relayed the coordinates and
listens for a response.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 318

“Good work John”, Boris shouts, “Help is on the way.” Before
John can speak again Boris cuts the link. He has not had a chance to
tell about the three bodies. Then he turns to Per, saying, “We have
to land and see if we can do something about those people.”
Per nods agreement and skillfully puts the copter down several
hundred meters from the site. As soon as Per turns off the engine,
they both jump out of the cockpit and run toward the ORVs. Suddenly
John hears his name being shouted by a familiar female voice. He
turns to see Göran, Greta, Henry and a fourth person he doesn’t rec-
ognize running toward him. With a huge sense of relief he hugs
Göran. Henry, looking very haggard grabs him by the shoulder.
“Thank God, you came just in time.”
John, puzzled, asks, “In time for what?” Henry replied, “Why to
save the World, to save the World,”
John is mystified as Henry keeps repeating this. Then he real-
izes that the others are nodding agreement with Henry. John notices
that Greta is hanging on to Henry, occasionally giving him a loving
glance. John, feels a tinge of resentment but listens as Henry ex-
plains what the situation is and just how urgently they must take
John shrugs his shoulders and says, “I know some of it already,
Boris filled me in.” When he says this all three look like he had
just related an off-color joke to a preacher’s convention. “What’s
wrong?” he says.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 319

Göran looking as angry as John had ever seen him shouts at him,
Boris and his gang of thugs burned our SUV, knocked me out and tor-
tured me to reveal your location, that’s what’s wrong.”
John, now very confused feeling, replies, “But it was Boris that
talked the Sami into helping us search for you.”
Henry, who John realizes is giving him a look bordering on dis-
gust, adds, “You see those three bodies over there, they were Bo-
ris’s guards. They were sent to kill us and they came very close to
achieving that goal.”
With a sinking feeling, John now realizes that Boris with his
smooth talk had fooled him and Anders. Damn, he mentally kicks him-
self, how had he been so easily taken?
John, sensing Greta’s angry expression, feels like a complete
fool. Trying to put a face on things he now gives an apologetic look
at the others and feeling absolutely terrible, tells them that he
has given Boris their coordinates.
He can see that Henry is visibly attempting to control his anger
at John’s stupidity. John thinks the man is about to punch him in
the mouth, but instead Henry shouts, “We can’t stay here, the whole
gang must be headed for this spot.”
Greta agrees, saying, “We have to get the transmission equipment
out of the ORV first.”
John feels a slight relief as Henry turns away from him and
says, “You’re right, and now I see plan B!”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 320

Henry explains that they can use the copter to get the transmis-
sion equipment out of the loading bay. One of can be suspended from
the helicopter and lifted onto the the island where the vehicle
stood. They can then hoist the equipment into the helicopter.
John is not surprised to hear the always practical Göran ask,
“And just how are you going to suspend someone from the copter?”
Per, who John realized has not said a word since landing, now
spoke up, “It’s not a problem, we already have a sling mechanism
aboard the copter. We use it sometimes to transport sick reindeer to
the village for care.”
It is clear to all of them that Göran is the best candidate for
the dangerous job, having had some experience with helicopters. John
listens with some interest as Rafael explains how to detach the
equipment from the storage bay and what precautions were needed in
attaching it to the sling.
The pressure of Boris’s imminent arrival spurred on their ef-
forts. Fifteen minutes later the equipment is on board the copter.
“Now what?” Greta asks.
John’s inclination is to send Greta with Per in the copter, that
way she would be out of Boris’s reach. The errant thought that she
would also be out of Henry’s reach also occurs to John. He thus im-
mediately agrees when Henry makes the suggestion.
“That’s crazy,” Greta responds at once. She continues, “Only Ra-
fael knows how to use the equipment, he has to go with Per and fin-
ish the job.” John watches as Henry reluctantly nods his agreement.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 321

Then taking Per, Greta and himself aside, Henry explains to Per what
Rafael must do. He also hands Per the Glock pistol and warns him to
be wary of Rafael, whose loyalties are anything but clear.
John’s attention is diverted as he hears the sound of distant
vehicles approaching. He realizes that their time has run out.
Henry, also hearing the sound, pushes Rafael aboard the copter. John
watches with mixed emotions as Per takes to the air with Rafael
seated in what was his former position. Turning from the scene, he
follows after Henry and Greta as they run for the cover of the
nearby forest. As they do this, John recalls how he and Lars hid
from the Russians. Grabbing some loose branches he shows them how to
cover their tracks. They are not completely successful at this, and
John thinks that it is not as easy to do as watching Lars had led
him to believe. Even so the effort is worthwhile as it might give
them some time to distance themselves from Boris’s men.
John is aching and out of breath and they barely manage to get
under cover as the first of four vehicles moves into the area near
the geyser. The adrenalin rush is subsiding; the consequences of
their situation rushes into his conscious awareness. Their situation
is desperate as they had neither skis nor snowshoes nor much in the
way of supplies. Even worse the area would soon be teeming with Rus-
sians and even if they could escape them there is still the unpleas-
ant reality of sitting on a possible super volcano which might blow
at any moment. Yet what bothers John most is that Boris made a com-
plete fool of him. Watching the way Greta seems to cling to Henry
doesn’t help.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 322

An Unlikely Team
As Per gains altitude he sees four vehicles moving toward the
geyser. He considers himself a fairly decent helicopter pilot, espe-
cially when it came to herding reindeer. But reindeer didn’t gener-
ally shoot at you. Anders had warned him that this could be very
dangerous, but he had simply shrugged his shoulders, after all heli-
copters themselves are difficult to handle and he thought himself
used to danger. Now he is reconsidering this as he watches four or
five armed men jumping from the vehicles beneath the rising copter.
He could see that two of them ran toward the geyser, while the re-
maining three headed for the forest. Then, out of the corner of his
eye he could see another man pulling a long tube like object out of
one of the ORV’s. The man is moving quickly and Per sees that he is
directing his gaze toward the copter. It doesn’t take too much
imagination, given that Per is a fan of action adventure films, to
guess that some sort of anti-aircraft missile is being employed
against the copter. Without hesitation he flies away from the area,
keeping as low an altitude as possible.
In the excitement he had almost forgotten about his passenger.
The man that John called Rafael is now fidgiting nervously beside
him. Per feels the Glock pistol in his pocket. He is used to fire
arms, being an avid hunter, however there is something ugly and sin-
ister about the Glock. It is a weapon that’s to be used against hu-
man beings, not something to be used when hunting for food. Such a
thing is not his way, and he doubts if he could use it to control
Rafael. He decides that the only reasonable course of action is to
act as if he and Rafael are on the same team. Assuming as friendly
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 323

an expression as he can, Per turns his head toward Rafael, asking,
“Where to?”
Rafael mutters something about giving him a moment to consider
the problem. Per holds the helicopter at rest relative to the ground
while Rafael consults his map and the copters GPS navigational sys-
tem. After a few moments, Rafael asks for help, and together they
are able to set up the coordinates of their first destination.
Hearing a beeping sound from the navigation system, indicating
that they have arrived, Per looks for a good spot to set the copter
down in. After several sweeps over the area he finds a relatively
flat spot. He lands the copter and as they disembark, Rafael ex-
plains the procedure they must follow. Walking several hundred me-
ters from the copter, he assists in placing several of the spearlike
objects that Rafael calls probes. Rafael now explains that one of
them must now return to the copter so as to activate the transmit-
ter. Afterwards they must retrieve the probes.
Hearing this, Per sees that he is confronted with a dilemma.
Could he trust letting Rafael returning alone to the copter while he
stayed to pick up the probes? Otherwise not only would extra time be
needed for them both to walk back and forth to the copter, but also
it would show Rafael that he did not trust him. Also, John had made
all too clear that they had very little time available to complete
the job. Per, looking at the way Rafael carried himself, doubted
that the man had the kind of competence needed to pilot the copter,
much less start it without the key. The other possibility, that Ra-
fael would take off into the forest seems even more unlikely. Coming
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 324

to a decision, he waits at the scene as Rafael sets off to activate
the transmitter.
Another Threat
Henry, still breathing heavily, motions Greta, Göran and John to
be silent. The noise of men and vehicles in the vicinity is all too
overwhelming. Henry is sure that Boris now had no use for them, and
doubted if they would be spared if found. On their side is the vast-
ness of the forest. If they could get some distance from Boris’s men
their only problem would be the weather and of course the volcanic
activity, which would do them in even more effectively than Boris.
Meanwhile, Henry notes that Göran is busy constructing something
from loose conifer branches. Greta whisperes to him, “Göran, this is
no time to be playing.”
Henry, has a fairly good idea of Göran’s motive. So he is not
surprised to see him smile at Greta, saying, “I’m not playing.”
John adds, “Göran’s military training is not wasted, Lars, my
recent Sami companion did something similar.” Nodding in the af-
firmative, Göran explains that the contraption is to sweep the snow
behind them, hopefully hiding their tracks.
Slowly and carefully they move away from the geyser and the
group of Russians that have gathered in its vicinity. Henry sees
that he is not the only one who is becoming fatigued by the effort
of making their way in the deep snow cover. Wonderful, he mutters
to himself, now all we have to do is survive in the arctic forest
with no provisions. There seems to be an endless number of unpleas-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 325

ant ways to resolve his difficulties with Walter. Thinking about
Walter, he again ponders what uses the man or his employers would
have with the cellbot technology if they got hold of it. Would they
be any better than Boris and his friends. Before putting Rafael
aboard the copter he had spoken to Per about Rafael’s importance. He
had said, “Whatever happens, you must prevent Rafael from falling
into the hands of the Russians. Perhaps the man falling into Wal-
ter’s greedy hands would be not better or even worse. But unfortu-
nately Walter knows about Rafael, and once he became aware of what
is happening here, he’s smart enough to figure the rest out. Rafael
had opened Pandora’s box, and it led into the hot core of the Earth.
He shivers, and not from the cold, as the military implications of
the cellbots rise up in his mind.
Greta must have noticed his perturbed state considering the con-
cerned look she is giving him. “What’re you thinking about?” Greta
whispers to him. Staring straight at him she continues, “The look on
your face is hardly reassuring.”
At this point he is confused as to how much her influence is
affecting him. Thinking back to when he first met her, he was cer-
tainly annoyed at Walter, but cared little for whatever the man’s
motives might be. Face it, as long as the money and fame rolled in,
Walter’s morals were of little interest. Henry’s doubts centered
more on himself, not on what Walter and those like him might be do-
ing to the world. Now he is examining his own motives with a more
critical eye, but did that eye belong to him or to Greta. Looking at
her, he not only feels guilty, he also has a desire to protect her.
She is still staring at him, waiting for an answer.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 326

Henry finally replies, “Just thinking about what’s going on.”
She responds with a nod of the head and a knowing smile, “You’re
worried about Walter, aren’t you?”
Henry doesn’t answer, wondering if she is reading his mind. Is
he all that obvious? Then he smiles and moves his head in agreement.
Then, with a more serious expression, he says, “There won’t be any-
thing for us to worry about if we don’t get out of here. It’s a mat-
ter of what gets us first, cold, starvation, Boris or an eruption
from under our feet.”
Henry now becomes aware that Göran is signaling to them. Göran
whispers, “Quiet! I hear something. I think it’s snow scooters.”
Henry, now aware of a distant hum, asks, “From what direction?”
Göran slowly turns his head, trying to determine the direction
of the sound source. Then he points to the east, “There,” he said.
Henry now hears John, who has not said very much since he left the
copter, say, “But that’s in the direction we’re traveling, The Rus-
sians are behind us to the west.”
Henry, listening, reflects on how impressed he has become with
the man’s competence. The way John obtained aid from the Sami and
deduced so much about the geological events from scanty evidence
said much about him. On the other hand, Henry is mystified by John’s
attitude toward him. He has a distinct sense that John doesn’t like
Even as these thoughts flash through his mind, Henry looks
around for some place they can hide. They hadn’t expected to be ap-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 327

proached from the east, Boris must have even more men working for
him than they had seen in the camp.
Contemplation comes to an end as Henry sees four snow scooters
jumping over a nearby hill and coming into clear view. The scooters
immediately turn in their direction. Henry sees no place to hide or
to escape to. Out of desperation he fires a round from his assault
weapon in the direction of the advancing vehicles. At the very least
they can put up a fight. He sees that one of the riders is pointing
a weapon in their direction. The man doesn’t fire, but now the snow
scooters separate into a dispersed pattern so as to approach them on
several sides. Despair running through him Henry, like the others,
drops to the ground and prepares to engage the oncoming riders.
A Minor Problem
Boris curses on hearing the news that the escapees had not only
avoided his men, but had somehow killed three of them. Worse is the
news that Rafael had taken off with the Lapp copter pilot. If they
managed to get hold of the wrong person in the authorities the area
could soon be swarming with police or worse. His contacts, made with
such difficulty and effort, would be of no use to him if too much
publicity got out. Despite what he had paid them they would turn on
him, judging this to be the lesser risk. That’s the problem with
bribing government officials. Still he smirked, thinking how quickly
he had managed to convince the oh so incorruptible Swedes to aid
him. Like just about anything else, they could be bought. Looking at
Markov, the bearer of the unfortunate news, he almost suspects that
he is going from him how stupid it was to let John go off with the
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 328

pilot. No, the man wouldn’t dare. People now treated him with more
respect, no more is he the abstract head in the clouds mathematician
of his student days. Thank God, if such existed, for the awakening
brought about by the fall of the communists. Boris had learned well
in the ensuing chaos. Now people know just how unwise it is to upset
Looking Markov straight in the eye, he says, “Rafael is our
first, our only priority.” Clear in his vision, Boris feels confi-
dence surge back into his body. Surely they still had some cards in
the game. They had not planted several of the original injectors
that Rafael had provided, just in case something like this might oc-
cur. Rafael would simply be told they didn’t function as expected.
In actuality the injectors were already on the way back to Boris’s
home base in the homeland. Surely the oil cartel’s scientists could
figure out how the cellbots work and how to replicate them by study-
ing the devices.
Meanwhile he holds his silence, enjoying the power of keeping
Markov waiting on his words. Finally, with his characteristic petu-
lant expression, Markov breaks the silence.
“How are we going to get hold of Rafael?”
Boris, after holding his reply just enough to intimidate Markov,
finally answers.
“That helicopter has to eventually return to base, probably at
the village where Pritchard was staying. Call off the search for the
others and direct all our forces to the village. Then we only have
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 329

to wait for that copter pilot and Rafael to return. I’m finished
with pretending to Rafael that we are only partners. The little man
will soon learn who the boss is.”
Markov, the pitch of his voice rising in supplication, says, “If
we let the others go they’ll tell everyone about us.”
Boris looks blankly at Markov, knowing that this is something
that always helps to keep him in his place.
“The arctic forest will almost certainly take care of that prob-
lem for us. Anyway we have to take a chance here. Much depends on
getting Rafael back, and the Sami village is our key to achieving
Great Minds Think Alike
Knowing that Boris probably wants Rafael back alive, and doesn’t
know that he’s now with Per in the copter, Henry believes they have
a chance to fight off the approaching russians.
He starts to take aim with his assault rifle when, John suddenly
yells, “Stop, those aren’t russians, I know them, they’re Sami.”
John then drops his weapon, gets to his feet and wildly waves his
hands at the oncoming riders. “That’s Anders Somby, the village
chief,” he shouts.
Henry and the others all follow John’s example, Henry thinking,
I hope he’s got this right. As the snow scooters get closer, Henry
can see that two of the riders are indeed wearing traditional Sami
gear. They stop and one of them, a perplexed look on his face, ad-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 330

dresses John, saying, “Where’s Per and the copter.” Henry listens as
John tells the man, whom he calls Anders, what has happened and why
they had separated. Anders, realizing how he had been hoodwinked by
Boris, says something that Henry is sure is a curse, though he
doesn’t understand the language the man is using.
Anders, now in a very British sounding English, at least to
Henry’s ear, continues, “But why haven’t we heard from the copter?
Per should’ve let us know what happened.”
Henry is also mystified by this. He had explicitly asked Per to
notify the village and to warn them about Boris’s duplicity. He con-
tinues to worry about Per and Rafael’s fate until he notices that
the ground is shaking. The almost imperceptible shaking that by now
he takes simply as part of the background suddenly picks up in vio-
lence. Within seconds it develops into what must be a full blown
earthquake. Henry, despite his skeptical attitude, finds himself
praying, to whatever deity might exist. He loses his balance and
falls to the snow covered ground, and the tremors go on and on. Was
this how a super-volcano eruption begins? Then, much to his relief
the ground movements stop as suddenly as they began.
Lifting himself and dusting the snow off he is only minimally
relieved. For the moment they are safe, but probably only for the
moment, and he realizes that his hands are shaking as his heart beat
slows to a manageable level. It’s hardly a comfort to see that the
others are as upset as he.
Henry, correctly or not decides that he is bearing the responsi-
bility of leadership. It’s ironic, he thinks. He had travelled here
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 331

essentially to steal the secret of the cellbots for Walter’s myste-
rious customer. Now all that he considers important is to stop the
things from functioning and to get his and Greta’s asses out of
The thought of Greta, whom is now standing between him and John,
draws his attention to his feelings about her. He notices also that
John is looking at her, something that is inexplicably upsetting to
him. Before he realizes it himself he is grabbing hold of her. As
he does this, he reflects on how unusual it’s for him to act so pos-
sessively towards a woman. He also feels a small sense of shame. He
knows that for most of his life his main focus has been on himself.
It is both strange and oddly satisfying that he’s more concerned for
Greta’s safety than for his own.
Even as he holds her, he isn’t sure that his feelings towards
her are reciprocated. After a moment she squirms from his grasp and
says, “I’m okay Henry, really I’m not going to fall apart simply be-
cause the ground is shaking a little.”
Henry reluctantly lets go, wondering if he’s making a fool of
himself. But there is no time for this now. So he turns to the man
John called Anders and says, “It’s very important to know what hap-
pened to Per and Rafael. If something has prevented them stopping
the cellbots, we’re going to be in more trouble than you can imag-
From the way Anders stares at him, Henry can see he is not mak-
ing much of an impression. Not too surprising, as Anders probably
has no idea who he is. Fortunately John, who Henry realizes has been
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 332

looking at Greta, now speaks up, saying, “Anders, we have to get
moving, the Russians are on our trail and I think they now intend to
kill us.”
John’s words jar Anders into action, and he gives orders to the
other Sami. Henry doesn’t have to understand the Forest Sami lan-
guage to comprehend that they are to mount the scooters and head
back to the village. As he sits behind Anders, Henry’s ponders op-
Soon they’re all heading eastward toward the village. With some
time to think, Henry sees the oddity of there escape. Why hadn’t the
russians found them. After all they supposedly were close by when
Anders and the other Sami found them. Certainly they had attempted
to hide their tracks in the snow using Göran’s trick with the fur
tree branches. But even Henry, as untrained as he was, realized that
they were kidding themselves with such a pitiful technique. The rus-
sians are a crude lot for sure, but they are also veterans that are
obviously used to winter conditions. The only sensible conclusion is
that he can come to is that the Russians had stopped following them.
But why, why?
As they continue to speed eastward they see more and more vapor
plumes. The geological activity is now visibly increasing at a
faster and faster pace. Even with this distraction, Henry can’t let
go of the mystery of why the russians had abandoned the chase. He
must attempt to think like Boris. For better or worse he found this
easier than he would’ve expected, maybe he’s more like Boris than he
wants to admit to himself. Then his heart almost stops beating, for
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 333

he realizes what Boris must be up to. Of course! Boris’s main goal
is to get hold of Rafael and his secrets. If like Boris, he suspects
that Rafael may have left with the copter, Henry asked himself how
would he get the man back. The answer is all too easy and terrible
at the same time.
He’s on the same scooter as Anders, so he taps him on the
shoulder. It’s almost impossible to speak over the sound of the
scooter’s engine, so Henry shouts as loud as he is able. At first
Anders doesn’t understand what he is saying. Finally, after Henry’s
second try, Anders signals to the others and the four scooters come
to a stop.
Henry now explains his conclusions to the entire group. The most
active response is from Greta, who in an almost hysterical tone of
voice, yells out, “If Boris is heading for the village, he’ll kill
all the people there, we’ve got to warn them.”
Hard Work
Glancing at Per, Rafael ponders the events that have gotten him
into this miserable situation. He dislikes riding in the helicopter
almost as much as the way he has been pushed around for the last few
hours. Right now he doesn’t know who’s worse, Boris and the strange
people who work for him, or Henry Brenner and these Sami. What a
strange name, he vaguely recalled there being some kind of native
people in northern Europe, but he had thought they were called
Lapps, after the area Lapland. At least the cellbots were performing
as expected. All the fuss about them causing a disaster, is beyond
his understanding. At worst there would be a few new volcanoes
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 334

formed in this wasteland. He can see no problem with that, the only
inhabitants being these half civilized Lapps. At least the pilot,
Per, seems competent. Though Rafael thinks he looks ridiculous in
the red and blue costume the Lapps liked to wear. Now looking at the
map and the GPS system, Rafael shouts above the chopper’s noise,
“Three more sites to go.”
Per also glances at the map before changing their heading. Con-
centrating on flying, he doesn’t utter a word to Rafael. Rafael is
both happy and angry at the silence of his companion. He doesn’t
want to listen or become friends, but at the same time he dislikes
being ignored. Damn, he reflects again, if only these people had
left him alone he could’ve carried out the test without anyone get-
ting hurt. This is just how it is, he thinks, here am I, on the
verge of bringing bringing geothermal energy to this part of the
world, and the thanks I get is to be treated like a villain. Brenner
and his stupid talk about super volcanos and disasters is behind all
the problems he is now having. At first he had thought Henry under-
stood what he’s doing, but recent events ended that illusion. On the
other hand its now obvious that his onetime friend Boris, is only
interested in stealing the secret of the cellbots. All those meet-
ings in Geneva, all of the unctuous sympathy given for his plight at
the lab, all of it was just a ruse used by the smooth talking rus-
sian. He is smarter than Boris and his friends. They wouldn’t profit
at his expense. He has some surprises in store for them if they try.
“We’re there,” Per said, pointing to the ground below. Rafael is
unaware that it’s here that John and Göran had first encountered an
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 335

eruption. He can see, that now the ground activity is unusually
“Rough landing here,” Per comments in the word conserving fash-
ion that continues to grate on Rafael. He is further annoyed that
Per, claiming the extent of the eruptions as reason for his caution,
sets the copter down at least a kilometer away for the original
cellbot injection.
The copter comes to rest and Rafael jumps onto the ground, and
at once senses the subsonic vibration that had pervaded all of the
other sites. This time it’s stronger, enough to shake his entire
body, throwing him enough off balance to make walking difficult.
Glancing to his side he can see that Per is also having similar
problems. Finally they negotiate the distance and both men get to
work placing the radio controlled probes. Rafael is in the midst of
placing the last probe when a new eruption takes place by his side,
knocking him to the ground. An adrenalin shock hits him as he real-
izes that he was narrowly missed by the spray of hot liquid. Still
being thrown about, he looks to see what happened to the Lapp. His
pulse, already racing, quickens as he thinks, without the pilot I’m
trapped here. Pulling himself together the best he can he gets to
his feet and starts to explore the area more carefully. Now he no-
tices a lump on the ground, several meters to his right. His fear is
realized as he becomes aware that it’s the inert body of Per. Hold-
ing back an urge to vomit, he chokes at the smell surrounding the
dead man. Horrific damage has been done by the molten material that
now partially still covered him. The smell of burning flesh is too
much for him and Rafael looses control and vomits. Moving back from
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 336

the body he is filled with frustration that turns to fear. Stopping
the cellbot activity at the two remaining locations is the least of
his problems. Now he has no way of escaping from this hellish place.
Wiping himself clean he is able to stop and think about what he can
do. At the very least he can hike back to the copter and halt the
cellbot activity at this site.
That might at least lower the activity level enough to allow him
to survive. The automatic self destruction that he had built into
the cellbots still had several days to go before activation, so the
remaining two sites would certainly become increasingly active. He
can only hope that whatever happens there would on have enough range
to reach him here. With no experience flying anything and certainly
no chance of piloting the copter he had but one option. Maybe he
could use the radio to get rescued? With that hope he begins the te-
dious trek back to the copter.
A Quiet Village
By this time Henry is certain his worst expectations are true.
How else to explain what he is seeing through the binoculars? They
are as near the village as they could come without revealing them-
selves. From this distance it is strangely quiet. Finally he takes
another look, with the same negative result.
“We have been here for over thirty minutes,” Göran commented,
“and not one person has appeared.”
Anders looks very worried. For the first time since they had met
the rather surly man isn’t snapping at Henry like he represents the
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devil. Henry, with his own premonitions, is even sorry for the man.
The suspense is awful with the fears that Boris must have invaded
the village and either killed or carried away its inhabitants. He
hopes he is at least succeeding in acting optimistic in spite of his
gloomy thoughts. Anders and the others are in enough pain without
him adding to it.
Göran, who is acting very cool and collected, whispers, “I don’t
consider it advisable to get any closer until we have some idea of
what has happened.”
Henry agrees, saying, “Maybe one of us could get near the build-
ings without rising suspicion. If the Russians are there they won’t
be afraid of a single man.
Claiming the advantage of his military training, Göran volun-
teers for the privilege of putting himself at risk. Henry is sur-
prised to hear John say, “It was bad enough getting you clear of
those Russian bastards last time, I don’t want to do it again.”
Göran laughs and says, “John, remember I hunt, I’m quite used to
camouflaging myself. Don’t worry, you’ll get a thesis out of me
Watching as Göran creeps closer and closer to the buildings,
Henry keeps pulling at his chin, until Greta, a wane smile on her
face pulls his hand away and says, “You better stop that, somebody
might think your nervous.” Henry flashes her a quick smile in return
and takes her hand and squeezes it affectionately.
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Once more he lifts the binoculars to his eye and watches Göran.
Nothing seems to be happening, so either the Russians had abandoned
the site, or are just waiting for them to pop up.
He now observes Göran crawling around the side of the building,
careful to keep his body below window height. Finally he appears
from the other side and slowly works his way back to their position.
By this time Henry is sweating so much that he almost wants to re-
move his heavy parka. At last Göran reaches them.
“They’re there,” he says. “All the villagers are in the church
and being guarded by Boris’s men. Several others are scattered
Henry asks, “Did you see Boris?” Göran replies, “Not that I say
with any certainty, I didn’t dare get close enough to identify any
particular individuals.”
Relieved to have some information, despite the bad news, Henry
thinks that at least Boris had not killed all the villagers. Even
while thinking this he can see the distress and anger on the others
faces. Greta, pulls at him and says, “Henry, we have to do something
before that maniac kills someone.”
Henry recalls Greta’s impulsiveness in attacking the Russian
guard at the camp. If he’s not careful, he thinks, she is likely to
do something dangerous. Speaking softly to her, he does his best to
make the case that the Sami in the church are only in moderate dan-
ger. Even as he says this, the sinking sensation in his own body is
feeding him quite another message. Boris has made the village the
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bait for his trap. It is set for him and his friends and most of all
for Rafael.
Turning to a very very disturbed looking Anders, Henry says,
“I’m very sorry.” Henry is taken by surprise at Anders’s response,
as the man assumes an expression of he sort that told someone, I
know something you don’t.
Anders then relates how sometimes the winters are so severe and
the snow so heavy, they are unable to shovel pathways between the
houses. For this reason they had constructed a series of underground
passageways, and the church was the center of the network. Several
of the passages led outside the village, making it comparatively
easy to gain access to them. They had felt that as long as they
needed such a system it would be prudent to hide it from view.
Sometimes paranoia pays off, Henry mutters to no one in particu-
lar. Then he says to the group, “Okay, now it’s simple, all we need
to do is to go through the passage into the church, disable ten or
so heavily armed Russian war veterans and bring the Sami occupants
to safety.”
Henry could see that his irony is lost on his audience. Göran in
particular is looking particularly dour as he says, “I think we need
to do some planning.”
Henry’s attention shifts from his contemplation of Göran to the
sound of an approaching copter. If this is Per and Rafael returning
to the village, they must give them some warning about what awaits
them. Before he can say something about this, Henry also hears that
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Anders is speaking rapidly into his cell phone in what must be a
Sami dialect.
Anders finishes, puts away the phone and addresses the group,
speaking English so all could understand. “I just spoke to Matts
Haetta, (Henry supposed this was another headman, known to the other
Sami) and he is sending aid and some more potent weaponry as well as
their village copter. They’ll be here soon, so we can make plans
while waiting for them.”
Henry sees that the comment about more powerful weapons has a
disturbing effect on Göran. He can imagine why this would be dis-
turbing to a Swede who was not part of the Sami population, but per-
sonally he found the news cheering.
Greta looks like she is going to make some sort of critical re-
mark, but she also refrains from speaking. Henry wondered how the
Sami would react when this was all over. He doubted that they wanted
any information about cached military weapons made public. But that
was a problem for the future.
Unexpected Visitors
Pacing up and down the line of pews, Boris recalls his former
life. A time when he worshiped not the god of men but the god of
mathematics. The professors at Moscow University said he was a ge-
nus, that he would do great things. Then came the downfall of the
Soviet Union. And the great academicians that were his mentors, men
celebrated for their genus, had to take jobs as taxi drivers or
worse to feed themselves. Watching this, Boris saw the future, a fu-
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ture in which genus in mathematics would be worth nothing more than
the dirt on the ground. Boris was smart enough to get the message.
Much to his own surprise he loved his work with the oil cartel.
Watching his fortune grow is better than proving meaningless theo-
rems. He even found that he had a taste for pain, the pain of others
of course. Being here in the Sami church he could sense the excite-
ment of his control over these people. The children looked fright-
ened, but both the male and female Sami adults just looked angry and
defiant. Once he has his hands on that simpleton Rafael, then he
would decide what to do with these people. Rafael, brilliant, but
still a fool. He would tell Rafael that if he didn’t cooperate he
would burn the church, with these people in it. Boris recalls how
solicitous Rafael had been of the tall Swede that Sasha had been
working over. Rafael was hard to predict, but such a scheme might
work. If it didn’t, at least Boris would have the satisfaction of
putting the fire to these pitiful villagers. How easy it had been to
fool them. They had approached the village with hidden weapons,
claiming to be on a friendly visit. These simpletons soon found out
just how friendly Boris and his men are. Now it’s just a matter of
waiting for the copter.
His own estimates of how long the cellbot suppression would
take, did give him pause. Why is it taking so long? The smug incor-
ruptible Swedish authorities had been all too easy to buy off, but
for how long could they prevent an investigation of what is happen-
ing here. Seismic detectors throughout the world are probably regis-
tering the geological activity in the area, and sooner than later
the men he had bought off would have to allow investigation of the
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matter. The aircraft that is to pick him up is waiting for his sig-
nal, then the trip from the Russian border to here should take no
more than an hour. Damn that little shit Rafael, what’s he doing?
Once he got what he needed from him it would be a pleasure to drop
him in the arctic ocean.
Sasha must have seen the angry look on his face, for he apolo-
gized for disturbing him before saying, “How long are we going to
play nursemaid to these peasants?” Boris felt a certain fondness for
the man, he also seemed to enjoy their special line of work.
“Relax, we’ll be out of here soon enough. Rafael can’t possible
take more than another hour to finish the work.”
Sasha, an eager look on is face that Boris throughly understood,
asks, “What’re we going to do with these people?”
Boris smiled, enjoying the chance to play with Sasha, for he
well understood what the man would like to do, “I’m not sure yet,
shooting them all could rise a terrible fuss with the Swedes, I
don’t think they know enough about us to make it a problem.”
Sasha gives him a look like a child being denied candy. “Why not
take one or two of the prettier girls along with us for insurance.
Tell them that if they make trouble for us we’ll deal with the
“An interesting idea Sasha, I will give some thought to it.”
Sasha, looking like a dog whose master just threw him a bone,
grins knowingly at him. It’s fun toying with the man, but it’s also
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a dangerous game. An overly stimulated Sasha had certainly messed up
the business with Grenqvist. He was only supposed to get information
from the man, but in his eagerness he had managed to cut out one of
the professor’s eyes and then to kill him. Still he likes Sasha.
Just then Boris hears the thumping noise of an approaching cop-
ter. He motions to Sasha to bring four or five men outside with him.
Rafael deserves a proper and forceful greeting. Four men would be
sufficient to guard a church full of unarmed men, women and chil-
Outside the lights of the approaching copter, reflecting on the
white snow, are blinding. The door opens and two men stepped out.
Boris squints at the light and it takes several seconds for him to
see that neither of the men are Rafael. He curses his own slowness
for now he can see their weapons.
Boris at last takes action and runs for cover. While doing this
he sees two additional copters follow, and they also are disgorging
pairs of armed men. Boris can now make out that several of the in-
truders are in Sami traditional dress. If they thought that they
could best him by showing a few weapons, they are very much mis-
taken. He still has the hostages in the church. Carefully he works
his way back in the direction of the entrance. They wouldn’t dare
attack him and his men there, not when it meant risking the lives of
their friends and relatives. With a little fast talking he would
soon be in control of the situation.
Approaching the entrance he hears shouts from inside the build-
ing. This is followed by the sound of automatic weapon fire. Some-
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thing is very wrong. Somehow the damned Sami had managed to work
their way into the building and are now fighting with the guards.
Feeling a hand on his back, Boris turns. A frightened looking Sasha
whispers that the two others that were with them have been killed.
Boris, contrary to what he himself would have predicted, finds
the sense of danger exhilarating. He recalls that when he first re-
cruited Sasha, the man had boasted of his military experience in the
Chechen conflict, where he had flown a helicopter. If they could
take over one of the helicopters, they could get away from this mess
and maybe find Rafael.
Quickly he explains the plan to Sasha. As they move toward one
of the copters, Boris wonders if he will have a use for any of the
three timed explosive charges in his backpack. His original inten-
tion had been to blow up the church. The thought of leaving one to
go off near the church is tempting, however he decides to keep them
all for possible future use.
Motioning to Sasha, he steps into the light and reveals himself
to the man guarding the copter. He holds his ground as the fellow
advances toward him, watching the assault rifle pointed at his
heart. All the time he is aware that Sasha is working his way to the
man’s rear. Boris holds his hands in a surrender position but main-
tains an aggressive look to divert the guards attention. Boris en-
joys the surprised look on the man’s face as Sasha expertly grabs
the him from behind. The guard expires with a gurgling sound as a
combat knife slashes across his exposed throat. The suddenly satis-
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fied look on Sasha’s face is a final delight. In spite of his fail-
ings, Sasha’s feral love of killing is a pleasure to observe.
The keys are in the copter. Sasha mutters that the controls are
a lot simpler than the military machines he’s familiar with. Even so
Boris has a few moments of near panic before they take to the air.
Sasha swings the machine toward the west and extinguishes the navi-
gation lights.
“Where to Boss?” Sasha asks, the rush of pleasure from killing
the guard still evident in his manner.
Much to both his surprise and delight, Henry sees that the rus-
sians were completely surprised by the eruption of the armed men
from the hidden tunnel entrance. Anders’s call to the neighboring
Sami in the region had paid off very well. It would have been nice
if he had told Henry more about what was going to happen, but con-
sidering the situation, he could not be blamed for distrusting out-
siders. The diversion of the landing copters and the snow scooters
had worked and the five Russians remaining in the church had been
overcome. Two of the Russians that had greeted the first copter and
one inside the church had been killed. The hostages had suffered
nothing more than some scrapes and bruises, though the look of fear
on the children marks psychological damage that will not be easily
healed. Henry believes that the attack was more successful than they
deserved, but luck is always a welcome addition to enterprise.
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Walking out of the building, Henry sees one of the copters take
to the sky followed by considerable shouting. Matts Haetta, the
leader of the other village, runs over to the church and confers
with Anders who then approaches Henry saying, “Two of the Russians
killed one of our men and stole his copter. They took off to the
west a few minutes ago.”
Hearing this, Henry is certain that the slippery Boris is one of
the absconding men. John, Greta and Göran now join the conversation.
The flush of victory vanishes with the news that Boris had evaded
The worst news is that there is no sign of a returned Rafael.
Thinking furiously, Henry decides that their main task must be to
locate Rafael. His only recourse is to plead with Anders for help in
finding him, perhaps by using the remaining two copters. Anders is
dubious but finally Henry wins him over to the plan.
Göran and Henry each climb in alongside the pilots of the two
helicopters. The copters are equipped with simple radar gear, nor-
mally used to track the reindeer herds. They would sweep out to the
north and south of the presumed route of the fleeing Russians. Hope-
fully they would find Rafael before Boris, then they could decide
what if anything they could do about the impending disaster.
Waiting for Help
Rafael is well aware of his superiority as a scientist. If asked
he would explain that he did real science. Physics, math, and bio-
physics are real science to him. The descriptive aspects of geology
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and even biology in his opinion are for plodders. At this moment
however he wished he knew more about geology. But even without a
knowledge of geology the oddity of the ground around the geyser was
hard to miss. The snow cover had melted and the warmth of the ground
radiated into the surrounding air. It’s so warm that he’s sweating
in his highly insulated winter clothes. Despite the severity of the
situation he is in, a glow of triumph suffuses him as he trudges to-
ward the copter. His invention, the cellbots, had penetrated through
the mantel and into the enormous pool of energy that made up the
Earth’s interior. The pitiful attempts to drill into the Earth’s
surface had never gotten further than one or two kilometers. Only
his imagination has been able to find a way of accessing the true
depths of the planet’s nuclear furnace, beyond the mantel. He admit-
ted that the cellbots might not be perfect, that’s why they’re run-
ning this test. If something goes wrong in this uninhabited part of
the world it is no great problem. His real mistake had been trusting
Boris. But that’s over, from now on he would be more careful, but
first he had to get away from this area. Reaching the copter he ac-
tivates the transmitter and sends the destruct signal to the cell-
bots. If he didn’t reach the remaining sites they would auto-
destruct in another twenty hours. He should have set the auto-
destruct for a shorter time interval, but he hadn’t counted on the
poor performance of Boris’s goons.
Even though he doesn’t know how to pilot a copter he could work
the radio. Turning on the receiver he assumed that it would already
be set at the proper communication frequency used by the Sami herds-
men. Then, fumbling around the storage compartment, he finds a small
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pistol. Having the weapon gives him a surprising feeling of confi-
The geyser eruption and the warming of the ground are unnerving.
Interesting as it might be he doesn’t want to be around to witness
the violent events that may ensue. After some more procrastination
Rafael picks up the mike attached to the helmet and pushes the
transmission button. After all the Russians have no copters, so the
most likely rescue will come from the Sami. He broadcasts a call for
help, giving his GPS coordinates, for about ten minutes. There’s no
answer but he decides to wait before continuing to transmit. It
would be futile to run down the batteries with no one listening.
Shivering, he notices that it’s very cold in the cockpit. He
laughs, thinking, of course it’s easy to get warm. All he need do is
to go back to the geyser. Walking back he notices that the ground
motion is almost visible. Any fear of this is overridden by his de-
sire to escape the cold. Once near the pool he sits down on the now
exposed ground. He’s tired and the warmth is comforting, so he
stretches out to take full advantage of the heat. He has hardly
slept in the last few days and the work of planting probes and run-
ning back and forth to the copter at the other sites had tired him.
He hardly notices closing his eyes and falling asleep on the warm
rock surface. Lost in this sudden sleep, he doesn’t hear the sound
of the approaching copter.
A Nice Surprise
Boris nudges Sasha and points to the right, “There he is, the
coordinates he gave are correct.” Boris, can hardly believe their
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luck. Rafael, naive as always, had actually broadcast his position.
As soon as the rotor comes to a halt, Boris leaps out and follows
Sasha over to the other machine. Let Sasha take the lead. Though he
doubts that Rafael has the sense to lay a trap, there is no reason
to take any chances. Thinking about traps, Boris feels the weight of
the explosive he is carrying in his backpack, and an idea occurs to
“It’s empty,” Sasha yells. Boris can see this for himself and
says, “He must be near by, couldn’t have gone far since he sent that
stupid message.”
Sasha points to some tracks in the snow going toward the geyser
sight. Boris spots the prone form of Rafael, who is either dead or
sleeping. He motiones to Sasha and they both ran toward the form,
Boris again making sure that Sasha takes the lead.
Damn, Boris thinks, if he’s dead this is going to be all screwed
up. I should have gotten his fucking secret from him before we
started this crazy experiment.
Still ten meters from Rafael, Boris hears the sound of at least
two copters. Looking back he sees them approaching close to the
ground. Screaming at Sasha, he says “Get Rafael back to our copter
and get him out of here.”
Whoever is in the two Copters must land away from the geyser or
risk their machines. With speed and luck Sasha and Rafael could be
airborne before they set down.
Sasha grabs the inert body and yells, “His okay, just sleeping.”
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Boris takes hold of Rafael’s feet and the two of them run back
towards their copter. While running Boris realizes that they have a
problem. The copters only take two passengers and only Sasha could
fly the damn thing. He would have to let Sasha take Rafael and he
would have to wait here and deal with the men in the other copter.
He gives Sasha quick instructions as they shove Rafael into the
passenger seat. Boris also notices that Rafael’s breathing is la-
bored and says, “Sasha, make sure he gets medical attention, I think
he may have breathed some noxious fumes from the geyser.”
He clears the copter as Sasha takes to the air. Sasha had as-
sured him that with his Chechen experience he would have no trouble
dealing with the two pursuing copters.
Then, taking off his backpack he removes one of the explosive
charges. Boris congratulates himself as he riggs Rafael’s abandoned
copter with the explosive from his back back. Opening the cockpit
door would provide a jolly surprise. He then scurries off to find
cover to watch the fun from. He can see that one of the copters is
following Sasha, while the other is coming in for a landing along-
side of the rigged machine.
Jumping out of the copter Göran cautiously approaches the other
machine. The cockpit is empty, and he sees lots of footprints in the
surrounding snow. One set goes off toward a clump of trees. Should
he look inside the copter or follow the footprints? He can’t take a
chance on the person getting away while he scrounges about the other
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copter, so he runs in the direction of the footprints. He barely re-
alizes it when a shot zings past him. His training takes over and he
drops to the ground. Then he lets off a couple of rounds in the di-
rection of his assailant. Then firing another burst as cover he runs
in what he hoped is a random direction from his position. He again
drops to the ground as a burst of fire racks his previous location.
Now he has his assailant located. He spots a vague shadow near one
of the trees. Without hesitation he sprays the area with fire until
only a few rounds are left in his weapon. The strategy pays off in
the form of a scream of pain. He now carefully circles into the area
where he finds a cursing Boris. The man is holding on to his right
knee, clearly in pain. He doesn’t look happy to see Göran.
Göran is in no mood to talk, so without making any comment he
slings Boris over his shoulder and starts back toward the copter.
Then he realized that there is no room for both of them in the cock-
pit so he decids to put Boris in the other copter and tie him up.
That would keep him warm while they called for help. As he ap-
proaches the machine Boris starts to yell at him. “Nyet, Nyet!”
Göran is eager to rid himself of the man’s weight so he keeps going,
ignoring Boris’s cries. Boris now switches to English, yelling,
“It’s a trap, explosives!” They are now almost at copter, and Göran
is already pulling at the cockpit door when he realized what Boris
is saying.
Something automatic takes over, later he would claim that reason
left him. He drops Boris and leaps away as the door openss. Even so
the force of the explosion throws him into the air and as he hits
the ground he hears a snap. It takes a few seconds before he feels
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the pain in his arm and realizes it must have broken when he hit the
surface. Flying debris from the explosion surrounds him adding to a
general sense of confusion. Then as the sound of the explosion fades
he sees the remains of the copter are in flames. There’s no sign of
Boris. Göran manages to regain his feet and limps toward his own
copter and pilot. The man looks very distressed and waves frantic-
ally at the rotor. Göran could now see that the blade has been dam-
aged by a piece of debris from the explosion. He hopes the radio
still works, the pain from his broken arm is awful.
Hell Ride
In pursuit of the copter that had just taken to the air, Henry
looks back at where Göran had landed. Suddenly he sees an explosion.
His first thought is to return to the scene to find out what hap-
pened and if Göran is in trouble. However the thought that Rafael
may be in the copter they are following trumps that idea.
Rolf, the Sami pilot clearly doesn’t agree. Henry yells at him
not to turn back, but to no avail. Rolf, wants to go back to help
the other pilot, a close friend, and doesn’t want to listen to
Henry’s arguments. Soon they are hovering over the site and Henry
can see the burning remains of one copter near another machine with
a damaged rotor.
The Sami copters are pretty much identical and they don’t know
if the burning machine contains their friends or not. Then the radio
crackles to life and Göran’s pilot fills them in on what had hap-
pened. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that the destroyed
machine had been the copter that Per and Rafael had used. That meant
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that the cellbot destruction equipment was now lost along with Ra-
fael. Putting together the pieces of the puzzle, Henry says, “Since
Rafael is not here and Boris must have come in another copter, my
guess is that the pilot of the copter we were following has Rafael
with him.” Meanwhile Rolf informs, Anders back at the village, of
what they knew.
Henry fidgets impatiently as they land. Feeling very frustrated
at his failure to get Rolf to continue the pursuit, he knows it
would be counterproductive to argue about it now.
Rolf, now informed that his friend is okay, stays in the copter
while Henry jumps onto the ground. Reaching the other machine, he
can see that the pilot is applying first aid to Göran’s broken arm.
From the look on his face Henry can see that he is in considerable
He greets Henry with a forced smile and says, “You should of
continued chasing that copter. Boris was here and therefore Rafael
must be onboard with Sasha.” Henry, agrees, but decides that he
might as well be diplomatic, and says, “There’s no time to worry
about where Rafael is, our problem is to get the four of us out of
here with one copter.”
Hearing this, the pilot laughs and says, “That’s not a problem.
We can all fly back with Rolf. There’s the harness we use for trans-
porting reindeer. It will slow us up, but two of us can be suspended
from it.”
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Henry looks at Göran’s broken arm and thinks, who is going to be
one of the lucky men to enjoy a thrilling ride back to the village.
But the thought is short lived, replaced by a new surge of
ground motions. Cutting short further discussion he says, “We better
get moving, I have a feeling we don’t have too much time.”
Henry makes the best of it as Rolf attaches the harness, which
is meant for a reindeer. It takes some minutes to modify it so that
Henry and Göran’s pilot would be safe, if not comfortable. This is
going to be quite a ride, he reflects. The adrenaline rush of the
last few hours is subsiding and despite a desire to put a courageous
face on it he is thinking about his own survival or rather non-
survival. No, he explains to himself, I’ll be perfectly safe in the
harness. Anyway the alternative of remaining here is even more un-
palatable. It’s not like any earthquake he has experienced. In those
cases the ground motion had been severe but short lived. This is
continual, more like a huge fleet of giant trucks passing.
Henry watches his feet leave the ground as the copter rises into
the air. The ground is about twenty meters below him as Rolf veers
to the east. From his vantage point, with the air stream passing
over him, Henry decides he might as well be moving at supersonic
speed. He knows they’re moving no faster than sixty kilometers per
hour, the maximum speed Rolf claimed as safe with the harness. Look-
ing down and back toward the geyser, Henry sees a flash of white
light. Then he is sure he is seeing a rippling of the ground beneath
him. The trees begin to fall and streams of white and red are visi-
ble as sections of the forest are ripped apart. The ground speed of
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the copter appears to be increasing and the force of the wind on his
body makes it hard to breath.
Looking at his suspended companion he can see that he isn’t
alone in his discomfort. To his own surprise he does manage to cooly
analyze the situation. Rolf must have increased their speed above
the presumed safe limit in an attempt to escape whatever is happen-
ing. The copter now starts to rise higher and higher. If he falls
from this height he’s surely a dead man. To distract himself from
fear Henry thinks how much fun it would have been to tell Walter he
is quitting. Greta is right, Walter is a greedy bastard that has
used him for years. If he got out of this life was going to be dif-
ferent. They are now very high and are at some distance from the
geyser sight.
Henry decides that he is going to survive. It’s not all that
bad. This happy state is short lived as the world below opens up
like a gateway to hell. The sound of a thousand lightning storms
races over him and the harness jerks and threshes about. Large
chunks of earth and rock lift into the air about him. Impacts of
smaller clumps or rocks rake his body. The sounds diminish, but he
decides this is more from his loss of hearing than from anything
The copter rocks about in the now turbulent air as Rolf strug-
gles with the controls. Henry can’t decide if the ground is coming
up at them or they’re losing altitude. After what seems like an
eternity they pass through a boundary and into a slightly calmer re-
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gion. Henry watches as the ground drops away and the forces on him
Calmer he turns to look back. It’s the most extraordinary sight
he has ever seen. There can be no doubt, he is witnessing the birth
pangs of the Earth’s newest volcano. Off in the distance he watches
as several plumes of dark material reach for the sky. This new child
of vulcan has siblings, this is a multiple birth. He counts at least
five such plumes in addition to the one that was their recent land-
ing spot. The once pristine northern forest would soon be submerged
in debris from these unwelcome visitors. It may have been a horrible
experience, but he is thankful for not missing it.
As they descend toward the village, Henry notices a blackening
of the snow white landscape. He can feel the grit and the dust in
the air bruising his skin, adding to any injuries he had sustained.
He also becomes aware that his lungs are burning and that what he’s
breathing is only remotely like normal air.
As they get closer to the village he can see that it’s sur-
rounded by trucks and other vehicles. Several large helicopters
bearing the three crown insignia of the Swedish military are on the
ground. Rolf hovers their copter so Henry and his companion touch
the ground. He sees several men in uniform running toward him. Be-
fore he can protest he is cut loose and placed on a litter. No one
cares about what he is saying and despite his protests he is carried
aboard one of the large copters. Looking up at the darkening sky he
just wants to go to sleep and get away from the pain he is now feel-
ing. Then, like an angel appearing, his field of view is filled with
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 357

Greta, a look of concern on her pretty face. When she bent to kiss
him he wants to warn her that he is covered with dust and dirt, but
could say nothing. Someone sticks a needle in his arm and he falls
into blissful darkness.
Rafael shakes his head as nausea, vertigo and a throbbing vibra-
tion rush in on him. The last thing he recalls is laying down on the
warm ground near the geyser. He only dimly remembers losing con-
sciousness. He must have inhaled some noxious fumes from the geyser
pool. This is confirmed by a burning sensation in his chest and a
stinging pain in his throat. Opening his eyes he sees that he’s
strapped into the passenger chair of a vehicle. Yes, he is moving,
and looking to one side he sees that he has the unwelcome company of
To his dismay, they’re in the copter but instead of Per, Sasha
is piloting. Then he remembers how Per died in an eruption, and the
call for help he made on the copters radio. Sasha, now turns to him
and says something in Russian, pauses, laughs and then switches to
his heavily accented English.
“Ah my little bird, you’re awake. Boris told me to take good
care of you, and I will.”
“Where are we, why are you here?”
Sasha doesn’t answer at once, but mutters something barely audi-
ble to himself. Finally he says,
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 358

“Show some gratitude, Boris and I rescued you from the nasty
Rafael doesn’t feel particularly rescued. Though he’s happy to
be away from the active zone, being at the mercy of Boris and Sasha
is not much of a rescue. Thinking about the geyser the cellbots come
to mind. Probably by now they had self destructed, but not before
they had let the fires of the Earth’s interior loose on the surface.
Trying to ignore his nausea, Rafael looks out of the copters win-
dows. To the west he can see a sudden series of flashes of light.
Then the sound of reach them and the copter shakes in the accompany-
ing air turbulence.
Rafael’s fear quickly passes as he realizes that this is his do-
ing. The cellbots have shown their power, and happily he is alive to
enjoy the triumph of his success. For the moment even the presence
of Sasha doesn’t bother him and he says, “Sasha, you have just wit-
nessed possibly the greatest triumph of 21st century science.”
Sasha’s face looks ashen. He turns to Rafael and says, “Without
our help you would have done nothing, don’t forget that my little
man. You owe us big.”
At first stunned by this reply Rafael is silent. The helicopter
continues to drive deeper into Finnish territory, both men now alone
with their thoughts.
Rafael, thinks about the implications of being cast off with Sa-
sha. Boris had proved bad enough, but Sasha is worse. He doesn’t
know how he is going to do it, but he must get away from Sasha. Pa-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 359

tience, he would bide his time until a suitable opportunity arose.
Carefully he runs through various scenarios in his mind. This Sasha
is a competent brute, but basically stupid. If he could just keep
his nerve and fight off the damn nausea he would easily outmaneuver
Finally Rafael sees that Sasha is bringing the copter down for a
landing near what looks like an abandoned farm. The only sign of
life is a parked car looking very out of place in the tawdry sur-
As soon as the copters rotor comes to rest Sasha jumps out and
motions to Rafael to follow him. Rafael, still dizzy, forces himself
to remain calm. The effort is easier than he had expected, and he
even senses that a higher power had now taken control of his body.
Reaching the ground he sees that a man has emerged from the car and
is walking toward the copter. Getting close to them he glances at
Rafael, a look of derision and contempt on his face. Somehow this
pleases Rafael, giving him an ironic sense of justice for what he
intends to do.
He watches now as the stranger and Sasha hug each other like two
bears copulating. They both ignore Rafael, not even giving him the
courtesy of considering him a threat. Rafael smiles and thrusts his
hand into the pocket of his parka. He savors the cold grip of the
pistol he had found in Per’s copter. Rafael doesn’t even notice if
they are surprised as he empties the entire ammunition clip into
there bodies. He had always thought that killing someone would dis-
gust him, but now, if not elated, he felt no remorse. The world
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 360

would be a better place without the likes of Sasha and his friend.
And best of all he is once more in complete control of his own work.
Running toward the car he realizes that the Sasha’s friend, he
never found out his name, probably had the ignition key in his
pocket. The thought of searching the corpses is distasteful, so he
is pleased to find the key still in the car.
He doesn’t give the Russians any further thought as he drives
away. For the first time in days he feels really good. The nausea
and dizziness are gone and his mind turns to the future. Maybe he
could find that women he had worked with in Switzerland, Mademoi-
selle Pogany. She could be of use and she certainly had thrown her-
self at him. She would be impressed with what he had accomplished.
The future had endless possibilities.
New York Bound
Greta, still saddened by the events of the last few days, walks
down the corridor of Karolinska hospital. While they had escaped
with their lives, they had not succeeded in preventing the ecologi-
cal disaster that had now engulfed northern Sweden. The looks on the
evacuating Sami residents didn’t help her black mood. The evacuation
had gone smoothly but it was clear they wouldn’t be able to resume
their way of life. Even Anders, appeared to be beaten down by the
events, and was now in trouble with the authorities over the cached
Bringing herself back to the present moment she continues to
look for the room where Henry is supposed to be. It had only been a
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 361

day since she last saw Henry, but it seemed much longer. She shiv-
ers, remembering how Henry had passed out in the medical evacuation
helicopter. She isn’t all that well herself. The choking dust and
the foul gases released by the eruptions had nearly killed all of
them in the village. If the evacuation would of been delayed even a
few hours she doubted if any of them would now be alive. Even here,
over a thousand kilometers distant from the new volcanoes, the air
was polluted and the sky dimmed. It would be weeks before they could
assess the environmental damage caused by the event.
Finally she reaches Henry’s room. He’s sitting in a chair beside
the bed reading the International Harold Tribune. When she enters he
looks at her with a welcoming grin.
“Took you long enough to get here, I was beginning to think you
had forgotten me.”
Sounds like the old Henry she thinks, as she pulls the paper out
of his hands and replies, “I tried, but I thought you needed someone
to put you on the path to normalcy.”
He nods in agreement and donning a serious expression, says,
“When do we start, I’d like a demonstration now. I can think of some
normal things I’d like to do with you right now.”
She pulls away from his attempted grasp and says, “First
there’re a few things to clear up. I recall that a few days ago I
was ready to shoot you, and I’m still not sure it wasn’t a good
And that is not entirely a jest, she thought.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 362

“I can see that some of my actions might have been misunder-
stood. Just give me a few days to explain, preferably in some nice
secluded surroundings, and I’ll explain all. Anyway you have some
explaining to do yourself.”
She had to admit there was some justice to this. She had never
intended to get involved with Henry, and she still isn’t sure what
her feelings toward him are.
“I don’t think so. The way you were going on between Boris and
Walter, what should I have thought? I became convinced you were
working for some rotten organization intending to exploit our coun-
tries environment. And I was right.”
Let him explain that, she thinks.
Henry utters a sigh and replies, “I’m just a guy who wanted to
write a book. It just so happens that my literary agent is the scum
of the Earth and has been using me to do his dirty work for the last
ten years. Is that my fault?”
“You’re a grown man and responsible for what you do, you
should’ve told Walter to get lost years ago.”
For a moment the smile on Henry’s face vanished, but it soon re-
turns and he says, “It’s easy for you to judge me, but you don’t
know all the facts. You’ll just have to spend a few years with me
and you’ll see how nice I really am.”
The guy is really good at evasion, she thinks, but she isn’t go-
ing to let him get away with it so easily this time.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 363

“Just tell me, who do you really work for, and more important
are you going to continue to work for them?”
“I’m finished with Walter, from now on I’m just a science
writer. As to who Walter works for, I honestly don’t know. I’m not
sure I want to either.”
Greta isn’t sure Henry really means this. She had seen him in
action too many times. But she isn’t ready to let go of the rela-
tionship just yet. She decides to change the subject for the moment
at least.
“You do realize how much damage has been done? If the authori-
ties had been informed in time they might have stopped it.” Henry
shakes his head in disagreement.
“Not a chance, from what I’ve found out from the Swedish police
a high environmental official here in Sweden was working for or with
the Russian Oil cartel that was behind the late and not missed Bo-
ris. That’s how Boris was able to fly in and out of Sweden without
being stopped by any border police. Göran’s wife Kerstin contacted
your trusted authorities but nothing happened. So what do you think
my intervention could have done?”
“But you could have made more of a fuss when you first came
here. You knew that something odd concerned with energy was being
“Right, and end up like Grenqvist, you know Boris had Sasha do
him in when they found out he knew about their plans. And your pre-
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 364

cious Swedish police declared his death an accident. I’d like to
know how having an eye gouged out is an accident?”
Greta is cynical enough to believe at least part of this, but
still sees some discrepancies in Henry’s explanation. She asks,
“Then why did the Swedish army intervene when they did?”
Henry laughed, “It’s hard to hide the birth of five new active
volcanos, especially in a place where no one would have believed
they could develop.”
Greta has to accept that. Still she believes that if he wanted
to, Henry could have done something.
“I assume you’ve heard, the Sami are all being moved out of
their northern lands in Sweden. The government is even talking about
building a major geothermal facility, which will ruin the area for
Henry shrugs, “It’s ruined already, might as well get some ad-
vantage out of it. We’ll be lucky if the side effects of the erup-
tion don’t ruin a lot more than northern Sweden’s environment. And
believe me some people are going to make a lot of money out of this.
I suspect that some of them are Walter’s clients. That’s probably
why I was sent here.”
“You have an answer for everything, but I still can’t trust
Henry grins again, and despite her better judgment she finds
herself returning a friendly, maybe a more than friendly smile.
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 365

Henry continues, “Greta, you just have to come with me to New
York. I need a good assistant, especially if I’m going to dump my
agent. Come and live with me and you’ll find out just how nice a guy
I am.”
Greta thinks, now I have a surprise for you Mr. Brenner. “I’ll
certainly come to New York, Henry, but not to work or live with
you.” Greta has an inner delight at Henry’s reaction. He really
looks surprised.
“What are you going to do?” He asks.
“I’ve got a job with the UN. I’m going to work for the UN’s en-
vironmental protection secretariat. When I went home this morning
the offer was waiting in my mail.”
To her dismay, Henry doesn’t look at all upset at the news. He
just takes her hand in his and says, “Congratulations, and now I can
see you without having to support you.”
Greta doesn’t know whether to hit him or walk out of the room.
She surprises herself by kissing him instead.
“Come in!” John shouts in answer to the knock on his office
door. Göran, one arm in a cast, the other grasping some papers and
books, pushes open the door. John says, “Doesn’t look like that arm
is slowing you down.”
Göran, grinning, says, “Got to get the thesis done, I have a
tough advisor.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 366

Göran drops the stuff on John’s desk and continues, “My thesis
topic seems out of date, considering what we now know about Rafael’s
John groans, “Yeah, a mixture of genius and disaster. That’s a
technology that’s going to need a lot of work.”
“And I’d like to be in on it. I followed Henry’s tip and con-
tacted the Nova institute in Switzerland. They’re interested in me
joining them, hell they ought to, I have real experience with cell-
bots at work.”
“I agree,” Göran watches as John picks up the papers, and feels
pleased to hear John continue, “You’re perfect for them, though I’m
going to hate to lose you. It will be quite a change for Kerstin and
Göran agrees, it’s something he is worried about, but hopefully
they will adjust. Not wishing to discuss the state of his family re-
lations with John he just says, “After what’s happened here, she’s
anxious to get away.”
Looking at the dust covered snow outside the window, John re-
plies, “I can understand that, the weather up here is not going to
be too nice. Probably take several years to recover from all the
volcanic dust.”
Göran sighs and says, “I’m going to miss it here, at least as I
will remember it, but I guess I can get some skiing done in Switzer-
land. So what are you going to do? With this experience it should be
easy to move to a prestigious university in England or the States.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 367

Göran is now surprised to hear John reply, “I’m going to stick
around. The energy minister wants me to work with her on getting
some positive result out of the mess up north. Imagine, Sweden is
now in the same position as Island, better, when it comes to having
geothermal energy. It’s going to be exciting here, energy and tem-
peramental volcanos.”
Göran isn’t entirely sure of this, but decides not to air his
doubts with John, at least for now, so he says, “That’s great for
this place, maybe we can still work together, it’s only a few hours
flight between here and Geneva, and of course we have the internet.”
“I hope so,” John continues, “I wonder what happened to Rafael
and that low life Russian Sasha? There’s a rumor they escaped the
Recalling his time with Rafael, Göran almost wishes this is
true. Then thinking about the potential use of his work as a weapon
he says, “I hope not, whatever his motives he was nuts, You didn’t
get to talk with him as much as I, believe me we’re better off if
he’s out of the picture.”
John throws up his hands and says, “Enough of this, let’s see
how you’re doing on that thesis.”
Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008 page 368

Arctic Heat Copyright © Martin Lesser August 2008

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Old Friends Simply a Job Questions Working Overtime Night Visitors The Morning After Important Visitors Welcome to the North Anything Missing? Talking it Over With Best Intentions Getaway Tales from the Ice Triangle A Trek In The Wilderness Lake Geneva Ripples Extremophiles A Surprise Awakening Whoʼs The Boss? Breaking Away Yellowstone Dreams Tea and Conversation Birds of a Feather

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