Chapter 1

May 23, 2008

 

 

 

Chapter 1

Ireland 2010

 

 Colleen O’Brady had waited long enough for her husband Devin to succeed. For years she’d despised his early morning departures and late evening arrivals. Their marriage was over; it was time to move on. She was years younger than him, and though her attractive figure had changed little during their twelve-years together, unrelenting envy had begun to line her face. Even so, spawning a new relationship wouldn’t be difficult for her. She’d seen the furtive looks men gave her at O’Sullivan’s pub and their stares when she swam at Glandore Harbour.

 

 Devin O’Brady was fit and slim when he married Colleen, but long hours at his computer and little exercise had begun to show; something Colleen never let him forget. Despite her incessant distain for his appearance, she was all that mattered to him. Yet, regardless of all he did to retain her affection, it was never enough. Her demands were endless, laced with threats of divorce; threats that haunted his daily commute from Rosscarbery to Cork. Devin knew that without cash and lots of it his days with Colleen were over.

 

 O’Brady managed a laboratory in Cork. It stood between two vacant lots; one on the south side and one on the north. At the rear was a medical instrument factory and directly opposite stood a large electronics warehouse. Technology park developers had restored this old industrial area after the economic recovery in early two thousand and boutique, high-tech industry had begun to move in. The restored two-storey grey building had one liability: inadequate security.

 

 It was after midnight when O’Brady stopped typing and leaned back from his keyboard. He arched his back, twisted from side-to-side, and put his hands behind his head. Four solitary weeks had passed since he began writing the formula. Now he was confident he had it right and that meant money to burn.

 

 O’Brady lent forward and opened the top drawer of his desk. He took out a CD-ROM the size of a business card, placed it in the CD-ROM burner, and burned a copy of the formula onto the CD. When it was finished he ejected it and placed it on his desk. He returned to his keyboard, altered several equations on the screen, saved them to the computer hard drive, and switched off his computer.

 

 He’d work on the altered version until Christmas and then resign. In a month or two he’d offer the authentic data to the highest bidder, deposit the money in a European bank, and leave for Mauritius or Hawaii; places Colleen had been on about for years.

 

 Since the formula’s conception O’Brady had been discreet about his Dyna-Cell, as he called it. Laboratory staff only knew his theory had something to do with electro-magnetics and a rare mineral. They didn’t know O’Brady’s Dyna-Cell was a source of clean, almost perpetual energy. His final calculations confirmed a Dyna-Cell, the size of a small car battery, would power a six-cylinder motor vehicle for as long as it remained roadworthy. For that energy requirement alone he’d have more buyers than he could handle.

 

 The sole drawback to mass production of Dyna-Cells was the paucity of the magnetic enhancing trace-mineral Bariandite. There were small, contaminated deposits in Africa, but the only viable deposit, discovered in the nineteen-thirties, was in Lake Mackay, a remote seasonal lake in Australia’s Great Sandy Desert. Despite the scarcity of Bariandite, O’Brady knew he would get his price. His calculations were too consequential for an energy-hungry, terrorised world to ignore.

 

 O’Brady placed the CD-ROM in his briefcase along with eighteen thousand pounds, which he received by courier earlier that day. The cash was part payment of a long overdue account. He locked his briefcase, switched off his desk light, and laid down on the couch. It was after midnight. He didn’t hear the van drive onto the vacant southern lot thirty minutes later.

 

 Brian, the driver, a short man with thick eyebrows, plump jowls and a cheerful smile, steered the van beneath the high window of the ground floor lunchroom. Clancy emerged from the rear of the van and gave Brian directions while Killian, a balding, well-built man, jumped down from the passenger’s side and took control. He opened a black vinyl bag and took out a jemmy. He put two torches in the back pocket of his overalls and moved threateningly toward Clancy. “Take the ladder out’a the back and lean it against the side of the van,” he commanded.

 

 In seconds Killian and Clancy were standing on the van’s roof examining the lunchroom window. Killian found a small space between the window and the frame and pried it open. He was soon through and standing on the lunchroom bench. Clancy was about to pull back when Killian’s left hand took hold of his collar. “Come on Clancy, get your ugly face in here!” said Killian as he dragged him through the window.

 

 They jumped to the floor and headed for the kitchen door. Killian, with Clancy pressing up against him, opened it slowly, peered down the hall, and moved quietly toward the first office. They went from office to office searching desks and filing cabinets in the dull glow of the street lamps: nothing was locked.

 

Killian turned anxiously toward Clancy. “That courier’s never let me down before; he better have got it right this time.”

 

 Clancy grabbed Killian’s sleeve. “You told us he saw them put the cash in the bag.”

 

 Killian shook off Clancy’s hand. “That’s what he told me. Now shut up and don’t miss anything!”

 

 Killian knew the money had to be there. The courier had showed him the signed delivery docket marked 4.50 pm; too late to deposit it.

 

 Satisfied they’d looked everywhere downstairs, they made their way to the laboratory on the second floor. Additional light streamed through the large windows and movement between workbenches, desks, and computer terminals was easier. They slowly made their way toward two offices at the front of the building, checking every cupboard and drawer as they went.

 

 Entering the first office, Killian saw a polished computer console, several chairs, and a wooden desk. There were no cupboards or filing cabinets. A quick check of the desk drawers revealed nothing. The blinds in the second office were drawn. Killian swung the door open violently and barged in.

 

  Adrenaline surged through O’Brady’s body as he sat upright on the couch. Before he could get to his feet Killian charged into his chest knocking him backwards over the couch.

 

 “I’m out’a here!” yelled Clancy, as he made for the stairs at the other end of the building.

 

 Killian rolled over O’Brady and slammed into the wall. Clancy, fearing Killian’s wrath, returned and headed toward the wrestling pair behind the couch. Suddenly O’Brady jumped to his feet, grabbed his briefcase, and pushed Clancy into the wall as he ran into the laboratory. He’d just passed the second workstation when Killian, armed with his jemmy, slammed into his back and sent him sprawling sideways into the corner of a workbench. Several of O’Brady’s ribs cracked and his lungs emptied as he hit the floor.

 

 Killian and Clancy threw themselves on him and began punching him wildly. O’Brady ignored his pain and swung the briefcase into Clancy’s face. Blood spurted out of Clancy’s mouth and onto Killian’s neck. O’Brady attempted to swing the briefcase again, but Killian smashed the jemmy down on his face. O’Brady groaned as blood spurted from his left ear. His left eye, now out of its socket, hung down on his cheek. Killian swung the jemmy again smashing O’Brady’s teeth and severing his tongue. O’Brady gagged on his blood and coughed it over Killian’s face and chest. He turned and looked at the briefcase one last time as the next blow smashed through his skull and sank into his brain. Killian hit him again before Clancy pulled him off and held him.

 

 “Killian! Stop! That’s enough! That’s enough!”

 

 When Killian relaxed, Clancy grabbed the edge of a workbench and hauled himself up. His bloodied clothes turned his stomach. Killian got to his feet, leaned over O’Brady’s body and forced the briefcase free from his clenched fingers.

 

 Before Clancy could vomit Killian pushed him toward the stairs. “You’re useless Clancy! Why I got ya involved I’ll never know. Get out’a here!”

 

 Brian heard nothing until Clancy landed on the van roof and rolled off onto the grass.

 

 Killian bounded down the ladder, grabbed Clancy, and shoved him into the van. He grabbed the ladder and the black bag, and threw them in after him. He slammed the rear door, tossed the briefcase between the seats, and climbed in.

 

 Brian drove several kilometres before he dared questioned Killian. “What in the world happened in there? Did ya cut yourself on something?”

 

 Killian smashed his fist into the dashboard. “No! Someone was sleeping in an office. We barged in on him and he got violent. Anyhow, I put an end to him. He’ll be telling no one about us.”

 

 “What do ya mean ya put an end to him?”

 

 “I did him with the jemmy; smashed his head in! Is that clear enough?”

 

 Brian began to steer the van erratically. “You didn’t have to go that far did ya? Surely you’ve got us in it now! You know we never get rough!”

 

 “Come on Brian, they won’t know we did it!”

 

 “What about Clancy? What’d he do?” asked Brian as he looked for car lights in the side mirror.

 

 “He ran around in circles wailing like an old widow. From the moment we got inside he was useless!”

 

 “Did he get in on the killing?”

 

 Killian ran his fingers violently through his hair. “No! The rotten sod hit Clancy in the face with his briefcase. Then he vomited blood on me when I hit him with the jemmy. I tell ya, I would’ve kept hitting him if Clancy hadn’t stopped me. Anyhow the money must be in the briefcase ’cause he fought so hard to keep it.”

 

 Brian began to imagine long nights in prison. “It better be!” he warned.

 

 Killian calmed down and placed his right hand on the briefcase. “We’ll know soon enough.”

 

 “What if the police come asking questions? How can we be sure Clancy will keep his mouth shut?” asked Brian nervously.

 

 Killian made a fist with his right hand and waved it toward Brian. “He’ll keep his mouth shut all right.”

 

 The smell of O’Brady’s blood made Killian nauseous and he was relieved the twenty-five-kilometre journey to Lismore was nearly over. A kilometre short of Lismore Brian turned left down a laneway and headed for a two-storey cottage. At the end of the lane he drove through a white gate, passed by the cottage, and parked in his workshop next to Clancy’s car.

 

 Killian picked up the briefcase and exited the van just as Clancy emerged from the back and said, “Ya could’ve driven slower; I was bouncing all over the place in there!”

 

 Killian and Clancy removed their blood-drenched overalls and put on fresh clothes. Killian took a screwdriver from a bench, broke open the briefcase, and divided the money on the bonnet of Clancy’s car.

 

 Clancy’s hand shook as he took his share. “It better be worth it Killian, ya killed that bloke to get this.”

 

 Killian glared at Clancy. “That’s the last ya’ll ever say about it, ya hear?”

 

 Clancy stepped away from his car and said in a nervous, high-pitched voice, “Ya can be sure Killian, ya can be sure. Let me just t take my money and I’ll be gone.”

 

 “That’s right,” said Brian as he stepped between Killian and Clancy. “Get out’a here and don’t spend up big, ya hear!”

 

 A faint pink glow began to torch the eastern edge of the night sky as Killian put his share of the money in the briefcase and walked outside. Clancy drove passed him without a word. Brian followed Killian out, closed the workshop doors, and walked with him to his car.

 

 Killian grabbed the car door handle and said to Brian without turning around, “Brian, they’ll not get us, I promise ya. We left no clues and if ya get rid of the van tyres, wash any blood out’a the van, and burn the clothes, there’ll be noth’n to pin on us. I’ll leave ya to it; and don’t spend any of that money for a while.”

 

 Killian put the briefcase on the passenger seat and squeezed in behind the steering wheel. “I’ll see ya in a few days,” he said as he turned the ignition key.

 

 Killian drove away, confident he could rely on Brian. Clancy, though, was a liability. As he drove through the morning stillness he figured the body wouldn’t be found for hours and days would pass before a thorough investigation got under way. The police would certainly question him and Brian; they were on their list, but there’d be no evidence to convict them.

 

 Killian parked at the front of his apartment, picked up the briefcase, locked the car, and ran up the stairs. “Maybe one day I’ll crack the big one and get out’a this rat’s hole,” he said as he inserted the key in the front door.

 

_____________

 

 Brian drank a little Kilkenny before he climbed the stairs to his bedroom. He dropped his shoes on the floor and tripped over a mat. He figured, if he woke his wife as he usually did after a night at the pub with Killian, she wouldn’t ask any questions. He got into bed and made amorous advances toward her.

 

 “Get ya paws off me Brian! Ya stay out all night drinking with that Killian and then ya think ya can use me!”

 

 He rolled over and vainly sought sleep.

 

______________

 

 Clancy headed for a small riverside cottage near Mallow, thirty kilometres to the East of Lismore on the Blackwater River. He’d moved there when his wife left him. Spending on credit had always been a problem for Clancy. Eventually his wife declared herself bankrupt and left him. Later he also lost custody of their son and was ordered to pay maintenance until the boy turned sixteen.

 

 Just three weeks before the robbery Clancy invested in a shonky moneymaking scheme and, as usual, it failed. He lost every pound he’d set aside for his son’s tuition. So when Killian put the heist to him, he went for it. It sounded lucrative and uncomplicated and, except for O’Brady, it would have been. Clancy cursed O’Brady’s timing, but now it was over; he had what he went for. He grabbed a handful of ten-pound notes and waved them in the air. The savagery of the night was beginning to fade.

 

______________

 

 This day was as any other in Killian’s life. His neighbours heard a merry drinker come home at dawn and saw him leave for work at 7:30 am: something they often witnessed. He rode his regular bus and greeted each commuter as he normally did. As far as he was concerned he had nothing to fear and just got on with the day.

 

 During the day, as images of the night’s events flashed through his mind, Killian was disturbed by one thing and continually asked himself, “Why’d the bloke fight so hard for eighteen thousand pounds?” Again and again he recalled the briefcase’s contents, searching in his mind for a clue worthy of the man’s demise. “Maybe there was more money somewhere in the case? Perhaps I’ve missed something?” he said as his shift finally ended.

 

 He entered his apartment just after six o’clock and took the brown vinyl briefcase from a wall cavity behind the bathroom mirror. It had a red velvet interior, a fold-down flap with three small pockets, and two large sleeves divided it. Killian removed the contents and put them on the kitchen table. He took a knife from the sideboard and cut away the velvet lining: nothing.

 

 “There’s got’a to be something,” he said as he threw papers about the kitchen. “Insurance papers, credit card statements, business news articles, and this CD with the Datacomp label!” Killian concluded it was the only thing worth investigating.

 

  He picked up the telephone. “Sean this is Killian, I need a favour. I have this CD someone sent me and I was wondering if I could take a look at it on ya son’s computer?”

 

 Sean hesitated. Whenever he heard from Killian, trouble was sure to follow.

 

 “I’ll only be a moment, Sean,” said Killian.

 

 “Okay, but you will be going after you’re through, I tell ya.”

 

 “I’ll see ya in half an hour Sean.”

 

 Killian arrived in twenty minutes. Sean showed him to his son’s bedroom and placed the CD in the drive tray. Killian was vaguely familiar with computers and fidgeted nervously with the mouse and the keyboard. Information eventually appeared on the screen and Sean showed him how to scroll down the pages.

 

 Killian ignored the equations but paid attention to the words about a new energy source; especially when a list of its potential users emerged. The Army, the Air Force, the Navy, vehicle engine manufacturers, airline companies, space vehicles, and energy producers made up the two page list.

 

 Killian had his answer. The bloke didn’t die for the money; he died for the CD. He pushed his chair back and shouted down the hallway, “I’m through Sean; you can turn it off now.”

 

 Sean entered the bedroom and put his cup on the desk. “Are you sure?” he asked as he took hold of the mouse.

 

 “Yes; I understand a little more now,” said Killian with a smile as he turned and headed up the hallway.

 

 “I must be off Sean; it’s been a long day,” he said as he reached the lounge room.

 

 “Here, wait a minute Killian, ya forgot the CD.”

 

 “We’ll be seeing ya again then?” asked Sean as he passed the CD to Killian.

  

 

 

 

“To be sure,” replied Killian as he strode off into the warm night.