GRIDLOCK/Alvin Ziegler 1

A Novel of Suspense By Alvin Ziegler

GRIDLOCK/Alvin Ziegler 2

Alvin Ziegler © 2010 Alvin Ziegler

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“The Grid is expected to be the next World Wide Web.” —CERN, the Swiss research laboratory that pioneered both.

"The effort to decipher the human genome . . . will be the scientific breakthrough of the century—perhaps of all time.” —President Bill Clinton, March 14, 2000


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Wherever we go, we carry four billion years of information on humanity. The United States Government spent over $2.7 billion on decoding our DNA, but that didn’t finish the job. Decoding our DNA proved far simpler than interpreting the data that it produced so its secrets remained locked. Some liken the difference between decoding our DNA and interpreting it to the difference between identifying every part of the space shuttle and getting it to fly. Unmercifully, the sick and dying have been given a promise that science hasn’t delivered—until now. A lightning fast computer network called a grid is interpreting our DNA. It can solve virtually any question that can be calculated. Using grid technology, scientists are creating custom drugs to treat diseases like cancer that are as individual as a fingerprint instead of the one-size-fits all approach. This revolutionary event could extend our lives by decades, transforming the business of medicine forever.

This book was inspired by actual organizations, technologies, and science.

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Actual Timeline of the Genome
Four Billion Years Ago The beginning of DNA is thought to be created by the aggregation of simple molecules in the primordial swamp that existed on earth at that time.


Gregor Mendel, “the father of modern genetics” established the principles of genetic inheritance by studying pea plants.


Thomas Hunt Morgan, American geneticist discovered the basics of dominant and recessive traits and links on a chromosome. Awarded the Nobel Prize.


Barbara McClintock, the world’s most distinguished cytogeneticist, discovered that chromosomes exchange information by “jumping genes.”

April 2003

The Human Genome Project, a full map of our genetic code, is completed for $2.7 billion in thirteen years.

December 2005

The Cancer Genome Atlas—a three-year, $100 million pilot project to explore the genetic connections to cancer—is launched.

May 2007

James Watson's whole genome is sequenced at a cost of less than $1 million dollars.

September 2007

Craig Venter publishes the results of his own sequenced genome. IBM announces plans to bring the cost of DNA sequencing to as low as $100, making a personal genome cheaper than a ticket to a Broadway play.

October 6, 2009

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Friday, October 28 Meyrin, Switzerland

Jűrgen rushed from his apartment at 9:45 A.M., tightening his watch strap. The silver Mercedes limousine purred at the curb. He climbed into the backseat and squeaked into leather upholstery. “Let’s go,” Jűrgen said through the limo window, lowering the arm rest. The limo hummed through the foothills of the jagged Jura Mountains. He could see the cerulean blue of Lake Geneva, surrounded by snow-capped peaks that extended to the Savoy Alps in France. Cloud wisps swirled over the water. Through the mylar glass, he glimpsed red hair beneath the driver’s cap. “Where’s Adrian?” Jűrgen asked through the limo window. “Out sick.” This was no day for bumbling around in the twenty-six cantons of Switzerland. “You do know the way to CERN?” Jűrgen started to recite the organization’s address. The driver cocked her head around. “Yes, Director Hansen.”

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At least the limo service had briefed her. The car passed four schoolchildren playing tag at a bus stop. Jűrgen slid papers from his briefcase. He drummed fingers, studying his talking notes. He pictured the faces of executives of the medical community. They had flown from around the world to visit CERN—some would be annoyed to find that Meyrin was only a glorified agricultural village. Jűrgen wouldn’t let Dr. Onagi bore them today. No. The Grid network would be the show stopper. He checked the closeness of his shave. When the BlackBerry in his suit coat vibrated, he scanned Tatiana’s missive: I’m wearing Escade perfume—soon that will be all I’m wearing. He adjusted the knot on his tie, gazing at the road. The limo hugged mountain contours as it dropped in elevation. A petite redhead who traveled with silk handcuffs and a riding crop awaited Jűrgen after his speech at CERN. She helped him unwind with sexual role-play. He text messaged a reply: Meet me @ Zermatt airport, British Airways, Gate 14, term 2, 4 PM— J. Tonight they would hook up at a chateau high in the Alps where he would star in her Russian seductress game. Jűrgen had picked up Tatiana at a Geneva club two weeks back. He didn’t know yet how long he’d keep her—girlfriend shelf life ran five weeks tops. Shrouded by tinted glass, he reclined against the headrest. As the limo cut along the highway, Jűrgen envisioned Tatiana’s lips working his chest. The blare of a truck horn pulled him back to reality.

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Looking through the rear window again, his eye caught the Bernese Alpine Valley. He hammered on the window divide. “Driver.” “There is construction, Sir,” the chauffeur said sternly. “We’re making a detour.” Jűrgen’s watch read ten-thirty. “Don’t make me late.” “I’m taking a shortcut.” Jűrgen’s claustrophobia surfaced. The driver veered the limo off the highway. Jűrgen felt a nerve flutter. They’d turned onto a side road. Tires grumbled over rocks. The road narrowed, giving way to clover and dirt over a canopied path that was no more than a partially paved cow trail. His mouth went dry. “What are you doing?” Without answering, the driver pressed a button in the glove compartment. Jűrgen caught that she wore an earpiece. “Hey.” The driver rolled up her sleeves. “We are close.” “Are you listening?” The woman hunched at the wheel. Holding his BlackBerry, Jűrgen hit the three-digit Swiss code for emergencies. No cell signal. Communications were usually good here. The limo halted at the edge of a lake. The driver whipped open Jűrgen’s car door. “Out,” the driver ordered. Jűrgen held the limo handle. “What is this?” The woman leveled a handgun at Jűrgen’s forehead.

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He jerked his hands high, forgetting those visions of greatness. “Easy!” The clearing had the calm of a cemetery. Watching the unblinking woman, Jűrgen dropped one foot outside the car, then the other. She had the shoulders of a competitive swimmer. What looked like a birth mark covered the left side of her face. The woman popped open the silver Mercedes trunk with the car key, revealing a coil of fishing line and a twenty-pound gym weight. “Remove the line,” the woman ordered. “The weight, too.” As Jűrgen picked them up, a buzz came from overhead. A twin-engine plane—a businessman on holiday, perhaps. If only that plane could be Jűrgen’s charter. His eyes swept over the wooded lake, grasping at a way out. There were no houses within sight. So much for being in the land of neutrality. The plane noise quieted. A breeze rustled dry leaves past his feet. “Tie that weight to your leg and knot it tight!” Cradling the weights against his chest, Jűrgen begged, “Do you want money?” “That won’t be necessary.” “Who do you work for?” “Those who protect us all.” She kept the gun trained on his head. “What about my protection?” “Save your breath!” He bent and tied, picturing the worst. Time to act. “Is this about the Grid?” Jűrgen jerked into a standing position, carrying the weight. “Whoa!” The woman shouted.

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He lunged and hurled the weight at the woman’s moving head. The weight struck her shoulder, knocking her down. She dropped the gun and fell beside the weight. Jűrgen leapt for the gun. With a crawl and grunt, the woman beat him to it. On the ground, she pointed the gun and fired. He touched the red between his fingers. Panic mixed with fear that his life could end—this maniac wanted him dead. Winded, the woman awkwardly returned to her feet. “What do you want?” Jűrgen’s voice broke. She lowered the gun. “No more games. Get the weight.” Blood snaked down his arm. He shimmied to the gym weight, pulled it and the fishing line toward him with one hand. Aching, he bound it around his ankle. The woman brushed dirt from her hat, gesturing for him to get up. Jűrgen lumbered to his feet, checking his shoulder. “Does this involve Jude Wagner? Killing me doesn’t end the medical revolution. It doesn’t change the FDA decision.” The woman’s face hardened. She motioned with the gun muzzle for Jűrgen to step into the lake. He hesitated then moved into the water. Waist deep, he stepped out of his loafers and dove under the algae-covered surface. Underwater, he struggled to lose the weight that was tied to his leg. The October sun had failed to warm the icy lake. His legs were turning numb and his frozen fingers fumbled with the fishing line. His head surfaced. Gasping, he heard a blast. In the first nanosecond he felt a sharp tap. In shock, he felt no pain but he could no longer fill his lungs with air. Another shot slammed into his forehead. Time stopped.

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Ripples spread in symmetry above his sinking head.

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Friday, October 28 San Francisco, CA

Aiming his car key button at his Mazda, Jude locked the MX6 on Hyde Street. He had found a spot without circling on crammed Russian Hill. He passed a family of five parading from an ice cream parlor. The store manager followed them out, flipping a closed sign on the glass door. The kids giggled at their father when his scoop hit the pavement. The scene resurrected a hazy childhood memory. His mother used to carpool him and his friends from Little League games to the Baskin Robbins ice cream shop after the sixth inning. She would buy a hot-fudge sundae for any batter who got on base. She would’ve been proud that her wild-eyed son had become an FBI agent. At his ground-floor flat, he text messaged his twin sister, Kate, “Thinking about mom.” SEND. He put his phone away, shaking off the effects of bourbon. Kate had told Jude that his living alone led to brooding.

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He picked up the New York Times electric blue plastic bag and carried it through the front gate to the Mediterranean-styled three-story house. Ruby bougainvillea covered the stucco exterior. Under a trellis of hibiscus, he strode brick steps to his door. He put the key inside the lock; it cranked too easily. No resistance. The Baldwin bolt had already been turned. The idea of calling the cops crossed his mind, but he could’ve forgotten to lock up. He slowly pushed the door open and moved inside his narrow place. The ceiling spotlights in the hallway had been switched on. Had he turned them off when he’d left that morning? Crossing the living room, he made a fist. The bookcase had been emptied. Mystery paperbacks, San Francisco history books and rock concert ticket stubs decorated the floor. Papers that had been stacked on the rice chest-turnedcoffee table were now strewn on the oriental rug. Maybe the intruder hadn’t left. He listened for creaks in the floor. Except for wind lashing at the windows, he heard nothing. Not even a fog horn. Lightly, he stepped to the kitchen. Open cupboard drawers showed rearranged boxes of pasta noodles and chips. In the bedroom, his Chinese dresser doors were ajar. Shirts, suits and a high school wrestling trophy had tumbled out on the floor. In the mini-study, he checked on his desktop computer. The drive bay was hollow and dark, the hard drive missing. Cursing to himself, he heard the scuffling of hard-soled shoes from the front hallway. Around the corner, a man in a suit kicked open the closet door, then raced outside the flat. Into draughty air howling off the bay, Jude barreled down the steep grade of Filbert Street. Across the gulch, Coit Tower glowed, a beacon in the night.

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The thick-bodied man bobbed in his flapping suit jacket. Practiced at navigating the decline, Jude easily tapped down the steps. As the street leveled, he locked on his subject, advancing on his strides. Years of Grid information was stored on that hard drive. While Jude usually backed up everything daily, he had failed to do so after a breakthrough he had made earlier that day. He regretted not grabbing his service weapon from under his bed on the way out—a new agent blunder. They plowed into North Beach. Jude clipped by Washington Square Park. A faint aroma of roasted bean emanated from a closed coffee store. Only ten feet behind the man, Jude lunged and brought him to the pavement outside a pizzeria. While on the ground, the man gripped the hard drive. With one knee on him, Jude pulled the man’s arms behind him. “Call the cops,” some voice from the restaurant shouted. “I’m a Federal agent,” Jude said. The man turned over, breaking free. A Range Rover skidded to a stop. A spry woman in a brown jumpsuit hopped out like a hockey player hitting ice. Next, her boot pressed into the back of Jude’s neck, forcing him to asphalt. With her mitt of a hand, she snatched the hard drive and papers. Jude snagged her leg, sending her to the sidewalk. The hard drive dropped to the ground. Jude intercepted it before he was slugged in the abdomen. Elbows tucked, he held the hard drive close and fended off one assailant while the other scrambled. He thrashed out of their control until one rammed him in the knees. He went palms and face down onto the pavement.

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Friday, October 28 Meyrin, Switzerland

Alone on the observation deck, Hideo Onagi felt his heart thump. Noise travelled easily in this all white chamber, three hundred feet underground, beneath the Franco-Swiss border. This was where the famous collider operated. He stared glassy-eyed at the bottom of a cavernous, twostory room at the most expensive scientific experiment in history. His stomach churned. Family turmoil and the gravity of this presentation had set off Hideo’s ulcer. He had arranged to fly to his estranged wife once this was over. He flipped through 3x5 note cards, reviewing his talking points. Returning the cards to his pocket, he felt something else there and took out a photo of his daughter, Yomiko—age nine and the joy of his life. He gazed at it briefly, then pushed it back into his pocket. Below, a sort of subway platform served as a maintenance station to the monorail that traveled along a twenty-seven kilometer circumference.

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Hideo’s attendees arrived taking in girders and struts which supported the high-ceilinged space. The time had come for him to show off the scientific breakthrough that took decades to build. Two dozen board members and financial officers from the world’s largest hospitals and universities had jetted from around the world to this vast lab in secluded Meyrin. They looked about, stone-faced, at the consoles that were connected by colored wires that lined the walls. Hideo tapped his rubber-soled shoe for composure, afraid he’d blow his chance to get vital donations. The history of science had been strewn with great discoveries that were first met with cold indifference before acceptance. That couldn’t happen here. Hideo had given up his private practice to join Stanford and change medical history. Delay of action on this genome project could cost tens of thousands of lives. Jűrgen, CERN’s Life Science Director, should be here. These were his contacts. Jűrgen said he’d handle the walking-tour part of the presentation. Hideo used his phone to fire off an unusually direct text message to Jűrgen. WHERE ARE YOU? Although Jűrgen represented the Stanford University side of things, Hideo was going to have to fill in for Jűrgen. But Hideo’s area of molecular biology involved computer science, artificial intelligence and biochemistry—not physics. At the trial of his life, Hideo was minus the expert witness. These strangers would render a pass-fail verdict on work that had consumed him for years. He flushed with embarrassment when the consortium—huddled together as a mini United Nations—stared at him. They had come to hear a scholarly revelation about how this would

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change medicine. That would come. First, they had to see what CERN’s Grid computer did. Hideo felt like an out-of-town lawyer before a restless jury. He gestured toward the huge bright blue metal pipe overhead. After introducing himself, Hideo said, “This pipe runs through a cement-lined tunnel that extends in a seventeen-mile subterranean circle. The metal used here could build another Eiffel Tower.” On the wall beneath the pipe, exotic instruments flashed. The audience started to chatter. “As you may know, the Large Hadron Collider is the most powerful accelerator in the world, operating at minus two hundred and seventy-one Centigrade—colder than deep space.” Hideo thought a moment, then said, “This nine-billion-dollar underground linear accelerator was designed to smash protons to analyze the big questions of the big bang, cosmology—oh— and unified theory. Superconducting magnets are used to guide protons into a massive collision for observation.” A fat man interrupted, looking at the tube above. “Wait, how does that relate—” “That’s coming. Scientists wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without a big enough computer to analyze all of the data. CERN employed a computer system called a grid to study results.” Attendees murmured, rubbing their arms. He was losing them. Fat man said, “Like an electrical power grid?” “Not exactly. Computer grids link thousands of computers to work as a single virtual machine. This Grid analyzes the equivalent of thirteen million DVDs worth of information that the particle collision produces.” A hawk-faced lady dressed in black: “What does this do for healthcare?”

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Medical chiefs knew less than he had expected. Hideo spoke with tension in his voice. “We’re repurposing this world computer to analyze the human genome—the total hereditary content of an individual. It holds four billion years of information on humanity, the ultimate human recipe book. That’s why you’re here, to see how your dollars can mine the genome, the greatest discovery in scientific history. Interpreting the genome enables us to diagnose every disease. You see, the Grid will change society as the Internet did; it will not only crunch diagnoses, but will answer anything that can be calculated.” He paused to let the message sink in and was gratified to see he had eye contact. The hawk lady pointed skeptically at the flashing instruments. “This is how you’ll change medicine?” “Let me explain. CERN’s physicists built the Grid to handle questions that are exponentially more complex than any computer systems could handle before. Conveniently, the Grid runs over the World Wide Web—which CERN also invented to analyze atom-smashing results.” A technician entered the room below and started electrical equipment. Hideo raised his voice to speak over the burring noise, “The Grid also powers Stanford University’s research. It’s all about distributed processing power, connecting computers everywhere to work as one.” A Persian man in a finely tailored, double-breasted suit said, “How will this help the general public?” “I’m getting to that.” The hawk-faced woman said, “So Jude Wagner isn’t speaking today?”

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“He’s not.” Hideo wrung his hands. He and Jűrgen had invited Jude to be present for this important meeting, but these days Jude was overbooked. He now worked the FBI’s Cyber Investigation Squad which demanded his grid expertise. Jude had achieved international acclaim for his computer discovery and would soon receive the Turing Award from Intel Corporation. “Let’s go to Building Six,” Hideo said, “I’ll explain as we have refreshments.” Mercifully, Hideo sensed his audience lightening up. With a flick of a CERN tour guide flag, he directed them forward. He stole a look at his watch. Jűrgen was over an hour late. Good god. Could he be hung over sick from a night of carousing? After an elevator ride to the ground level, they filed to Building Six. While the group exchanged hotel stories and restaurant recommendations, Hideo checked his phone. No messages. Hideo led the way to a conference room where attendees ate hors d'oeuvres until he motioned for everyone to get comfortable at the rosewood table. Bottles of Evian water and folders were set on the table at precise intervals for each person. The orderly area reminded Hideo of his fastidious wife and their soul-searing divorce. His daughter’s face flashed before him. He moved across the conference room to get back to his performance. Jűrgen’s absence had thrown him off. “Okay. The question from earlier was how this Grid partnership with Stanford was going to help the public.” “Yes,” came from the Persian man, sipping Evian.

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“The goal is to improve everyday medicine using our genomes. The genome is our roadmap to understanding disease. All disease has a hereditary basis. We’re tapping into that with huge processing power. The U.S. government got us part of the way there by sequencing the human genome in 2003, but that was just a start and that took 13 years and two-point-seven billion dollars.” Perspiration soaked his Polo shirt. Hideo fiddled with his wedding ring. “What does genomic medicine do that traditional medicine can’t?” The fat man asked. “Traditional medicine is failing. It treats everyone who has cancer with a short list of drugs like we’re all the same. In reality, cancer is as individual as a fingerprint. We’re talking about one-point-four million people being diagnosed with cancer annually in the U.S. alone who are being lumped together with treatment that ignores their DNA. It’s time we match individual treatment to individuals. Side effects from mis-prescription kills over 100,000 Americans a year.” he said. “Genomic medicine will change this.” “How?” Hawk Lady asked. “Once we identify an individual’s genome, a world of information becomes available to us: a person’s body chemistry, his predispositions, his susceptibilities, his strengths and weaknesses on a molecular level.” Hideo took a deep breath. “By the way, some of this is in your brochure. The Stanford Project works like this: a patient has his genome sequenced by a company like 23andMe based in the San Francisco Bay Area—this costs around one thousand dollars. The results would come back on two DVDs to the patient and his doctor. That doctor could then log onto Stanford’s secured website to access the Grid. The Grid would compare the genomic data from those

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DVDs against millions of other online medical records, isolating tissue samples from patients with similar symptoms or disease. The result: a customized treatment for your individual illness. “When you combine this Grid that crunches massive amounts of data with electronic records from hospitals for instance, well, you end up with a very powerful thing.” The audience had gone dead silent. “Can you back up?” A man with Scottish accent asked. “Where do those patient records come from?” “Good question. For years, medical researchers struggled with doing statistical analysis. Hospitals, doctor’s offices and pharmacies used disparate computer systems. Thus, networks couldn’t communicate, making medical records inaccessible. Vital information that could save lives was wasted. “Finally, research hospitals teamed up with everyone possible to get the data online. The solution started with creating systems of security that topped that of the ATM business. Of course, even putting anonymous medical information online was controversial. Everyone feared the upshot of a privacy breach, but the need to save lives won the war over privacy fears. Computer standards were created and information pooled. Mind you, all names, social security numbers and hospital account numbers remained anonymous. While this was happening, the search engines of the world connected that pooled information to create an even larger dataset.” “So, what’s next?” The question came from a man seated at the far end of the table. “Well, already at Stanford, we’re diagnosing volunteers’ illnesses through a system of comparison, using their DNA. The Grid matches bits of molecular information from tumors

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with exactly the right drug to suppress that tumor. To treat each cancer patient individually means tons of analysis. The computer power of the Grid makes it possible. In the case of cancer, we fight mutations with custom-made proteins that conform to that person’s body chemistry.” Some heads nodded subtly. A Persian man asked, “Is there someone from CERN who is assigned to this Stanford Project?” “I should’ve mentioned, Jűrgen Hansen, CERN’s Director of Life Sciences, is the liaison between this lab and Stanford’s. He maintains the physical Internet connection which links this Grid to Stanford.” The Scottish man said, “Personalized medicine is a pipedream until we make it affordable.” Hideo stood tall to elongate his short stature. “Exactly. That’s the point here. We’re also in the business of democratizing medicine; making the costly part—research and diagnosis—free.” “How?” the same man interrupted. “We’re leveraging shared computer resources. Not only do grids run over the Internet, which is free, but they get power from volunteers’ idle computers. In the packet you’ll see how this Grid at CERN relies on distributed processing power from volunteers. “I see doubt. Believe me, all we need are the resources. Isn’t fighting cancer as worthy a mission as landing spacecraft on Mars? If we don’t push medicine forward 1500 Americans will go on dying from cancer every day and thirty-nine million people will still have AIDS in Africa because old expensive drugs are failing. “Why not invest a fraction of that and get a leg up on the fight against diseases like cancer? You can see what a marvel CERN’s Grid is if we’re using it to make sense of the Big Bang. “

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Audience members turned to one another. Hideo scored a point. Looking at his watch, he checked on the time leading to his departing flight. “I know this is a lot to swallow, but we can agree healthcare in the West is disappointing. The Stanford/CERN partnership is testing a non-profit alternative to our existing universal healthcare, and we need your support.” Brochures were being opened when a man entered the room. “Excuse me for being late.” He said. While the room was silent the new man found a seat and took the opportunity to speak. “Apologies if you’ve already covered this, but what exactly would our endowment money accomplish?” To Hideo’s relief, eyes tracked him as he circled the table. “Your investment will pay employee salaries to build Stanford’s online service. Your dollars guarantee we have processing power from places like CERN. It also extends our Grid to every home PC—running like a worldwide database—bringing supercomputing power to desktops, virtually. We’ll have one enormous “virtual” super computer—the same way researchers from 25 countries analyzed the collision of particles here through a Grid of institutions and universities around the world. And, yes, we’ll need specially trained pharmacists to mix the customized drugs.” The room went quiet. After fielding another dozen questions, Hideo’s mind strayed to his flight. His plane was leaving in less than two hours. Barely enough time to get to the airport. He delivered his plea for investment and thanked everyone. But nothing from Jűrgen! Something had to be wrong.

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Still, Jűrgen’s absence hadn’t been as detrimental as Hideo had thought. His pitch had to have won some new backers. “Excuse me, everyone,” Hideo announced. “I have a flight to catch.”

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Friday, October 28 San Francisco, CA

A patrol car’s P.A. chirp signaled cars to make way. The attackers released Jude as the cruiser whipped around the corner and stopped. The man and woman ran to the Rover and screeched off. “On your feet,” came from a voice above. Flat on his back, Jude flashed back to high school wrestling practice. That vision changed when his eyes opened to a bystander and two cops. Three heads silhouetted against the night sky. One cop gave a repulsed expression at Jude’s alcohol breath. One strike against him. “I’m with the FBI,” Jude choked. No response came from the mustached officer. Two cardboard cutouts of men would’ve been more animated. After getting on his feet, Jude moved close to show the officer his wallet and badge. The bystander vanished into the dark.

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“Stand back,” the officer said. Jude understood that many cops had been treated dismissively by a feeb at some point on duty. That could’ve been the case here. It didn’t help matters that feds were famous for padding their arrest reports with busts made by beat officers. “What happened here?” The younger cop with the flat nose hooked a thumb on his belt. Headlights from passing cars reflected in his brass name plate. “Did you see them?” Jude asked, flicking sidewalk dirt from the hard drive; he touched blood droplets on his cheek. “No. Why don’t you begin answering our questions?” The older officer with the bushy mustache picked his teeth while he spoke. “They got into my place.” “And they were after that . . . computer part?” The cop pointed at the hard drive that Jude held in his hands. The other cop muttered, “That’s why you’re playing tackle here on Columbus?” Jude filled them in on the break-in at his apartment and the subsequent chase. The uniforms looked to be weighing his tale as one version of the story. The younger cop opened a leather-bound notepad and scratched down notes. While the officer wrote, Jude removed his cell phone and speed-dialed his colleague, Niles Tully. Jude told Niles to come to his apartment and hung up. The older officer said, “And that’s your profession . . . cyber work at the bureau?” Jude nodded. The cop holding his wallet checked his Stanford magnetic clearance card. “Why do you carry a Stanford access card?” the cop asked, stroking his mustache. “I consult for them.”

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“And you work at the FBI?” “I’m on call at Stanford—a few hours a week—for a special project.” The two cops exchanged glances. “Doing?” “Grid computing.” Jude avoided elaborating on his role in the genomics initiative. “What? Don’t I look like a workaholic?” Jude tapped the hard drive. “You want a description of the thief, right?” The cop with the pad filled his page. After a quick ride up the hill in the squad car, the three of them trod through Jude’s hallway. The mustached cop gathered loose paper from the floor, leafed through them. “Aren’t you going to have a team dust for latents?” Jude asked. “You’ve got your computer equipment now, right. Can you prove they got anything else?” Jude sighed audibly. “Then it’s only breaking and entering, isn’t it?” Not seeing anything else missing and holding the recovered hard drive in his hands, Jude knew he’d have to check prints for himself. When one said to the other, time for a code seven Jude got that they were signaling to eat and their short-lived inspection was done. Fearing a lecture on the risks of vigilantism in North Beach, Jude led the officers to the door.

After locking the door behind the men in blue, Jude blew debris from the hard drive with a can of compressed air and slid it into the drive bay. Then he navigated to drive F to check for damage. With relief, he saw the files. The pounding in his chest slowed, but he couldn’t forget that whoever instigated this had dangerous ideas and an elaborate plan of operation.

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He went to the kitchen, pulled a bag out of the freezer and rubbed Birds Eye frozen corn on his still raw, throbbing cheek. Moving to the bathroom mirror, he stared at scrapes from road burn that textured one side of his face. Jude straightened things to cool down. Gathering his concert tickets, Wired magazines, auto insurance papers and bank statements off his living room floor, he realized a folder of business documents that had been resting on his desk were gone—documents that pertained to the Google deal. His nerves shot up again. It took months of negotiations to strike this deal and it would change the pharmaceutical landscape overnight. He could call in a stolen property claim but he had taken an oath of secrecy. The impending partnerships with Google would connect the Grid to Google’s world databases. The power of these databases was phenomenal: they held most of the world’s printed information and enabled users to query medical data on the fly. This would extend Stanford’s reach to millions of pages of medical data for free in exchange for online advertising. Jude text messaged Kate again, in Kentucky telling her what had happened. Setting down his phone, he opened the fridge door and transferred chicken leftovers onto a stoneware plate. With a chicken leg in hand, he heard a knock. After peering through the peep hole in the door, he unlocked it. Niles, Jude’s Grid partner, charged in, smelling of cigarette smoke. In a navy pea coat, dress white pants and white bucks, he looked as if the British Navy had left port without him. Niles slammed the door. Jude locked it behind him. Niles studied Jude. “Your face doesn’t look too good.” Jude moved to the living room. Niles followed him, looking at the papers, strewn.

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“You’re more scattered than a Jackson Pollack painting.” Niles said with his Oxford English accent, snatching paper from the floor. “What happened?” Niles took the corner club chair, removed a foil-covered mint from his pea-coat pocket, unwrapped it and popped it in his mouth. Jude sat on the sofa. “They were after my hard drive.” “Blimey.” Niles looked around again. “Did you see the tosser?” “I saw them all right, but not clearly.” “So, there was more than one. Don’t tell me they got away.” “One in my apartment, then another joined in the fun down on Columbus. But they didn’t get my drive.” Jude touched his cheek. “What they did get was the Google papers.” “What?” “I suppose they snatched what they could get.” Niles got up and walked slowly around the place, staring at the floor. “Damn it! So, now what? You’ll get your bureau on this, right? Ply that job of yours.” Jude looked at him, unamused. He knew that Niles resented his leaving Stanford for the FBI—as if Jude had abandoned the project, but Niles knew better. No one was more indispensible to Stanford’s genomic project than Jude. Officially Jude had changed jobs, yes, but Stanford held onto him as their go-to man for algorithm fixes. They had no choice. Jude’s code was embedded in the Grid. Jude’s FBI job served an ulterior motive. It allowed him to study electronic surveillance so he could safeguard the Grid against hackers.

GRIDLOCK/Alvin Ziegler 30

Losing data about patients would destroy public trust—torpedoing the entire medical effort. Jude had become a white-hat hack—a hired coder who stopped black-hat attacks. He recalled how the term hacker originated in the 1950s when a boy called Joe Engressia, who was born blind, developed perfect pitch as a result. Being able to precisely match a tone of any frequency through singing or whistling, he discovered at eight years of age that the U.S. long-distance telephone exchanges responded to special frequency tones. The hacker idea came when he saw that the 2600Hz idle tone signaled a toll free call. He mimicked that frequency by whistling which connected his long-distance call at no charge. Intruders could have wanted Jude’s hard drive to obtain access to the Grid. But that wouldn’t have helped. He carried his key fob in his right front pocket. It held the Grid access key. The key displayed a number that changed every thirty seconds—in sync with the Grid server—enabling Grid access. Jude may have been cavalier about his clothes and car, but not about cryptographic procedure. “Maybe your secret agent business won’t be a waste, after all,” Niles quipped. “There’s gratitude.” “We’ll ring Hideo in the morning. Tell him about the leak. See what he can do to protect the Google deal.” Niles said. “I doubt we’ll reach him. After Switzerland, he was flying to Japan.” “Right. Today he gave that funding speech at CERN with Jűrgen. Wonder how much that raised? Either way, we’re going to find who nicked these papers.” “I’m glad you’re so confident.” Jude said. “Listen, I’m knackered.”

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“You’re going to sleep?” “We’re not going to run through every angle on this thing at a bar. Not at midnight. We go at this tomorrow. After you get started, call me. And keep that head clear. No bevies.” “You are giving a homily on abstinence? Where’s my recorder?” Jude’s face brightened with an idea. “You working on the boat tomorrow?” “Yes.” “I’ll meet you at the marina. We can get a sail in before Kate arrives.” Niles buttoned his coat, considering it. “Okay.” Niles started for the door. “Usual time. And Jude, whoever these low lifes are, they’re not going to shut us down.” “Not over my dead body.” “Like you say, healthcare’s in a quagmire and we’ve got a duty to see this through. But I might reconsider that if I don’t get seven hours of sleep.” Niles closed the door.

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