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The Legacy

The Legacy

Titel: The Legacy
Autoren: Gemma Malley
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‘Without it you have nothing.’
    ‘The circle of life?’ Richard asked, rolling his eyes. He snapped his fingers at Derek. ‘Take him,’ he ordered. ‘I’m tired of this conversation. I have what I need.’ He picked up his phone and dialled a number.
    Derek, meanwhile, took a rag out of his pocket and forced it into Albert’s mouth so that he could hardly breathe. ‘Now, about this new company,’ Albert heard Richard say as he was dragged from the room. ‘I was thinking I’d call it Pincent Pharma.’

    Chapter One
    APRIL 2142
    Richard Pincent paused, his face grim. Taking a deep breath, he pulled open the door in front of him and walked into the cold, dank room. It used to be a store cupboard – now it had become an autopsy suite and the smell of death hung in the air. Death. The very word made Richard shiver, made his mouth curl upwards in revulsion. Death and illness, his old adversaries – he had beaten them once before and he would beat them again.
    Dr Thomas, one of his longest-serving scientists, was standing over a corpse, his forehead creased into a frown, a bright light shining overhead.
    He looked up; he seemed uncomfortable. ‘I’m afraid it’s bad news,’ he said, turning his gaze back to the body – or what was left of it. The skin was tight against the bones, as though every ounce of moisture had left the body; the eyes were wide, staring. Richard wished Dr Thomas had closed them – he would have done it himself if the very idea didn’t make him retch. Instead he looked directly at the scientist, trying his best to hide any flicker of fear that his own eyes might betray.
    ‘Bad news?’ The ominous feeling of dread flooded through him. ‘I don’t want bad news. I thought I made that clear.’
    Dr Thomas sighed and stood upright, wiping his forehead with his sleeve and taking off the plastic gloves that encased his hands. ‘I don’t know what else to say, Mr Pincent. I don’t know how many more bodies I can cut open when I’m faced with the same conclusion every time.’
    Richard stared at him angrily. ‘The same conclusion? Are you sure?’ His voice caught as he spoke and he cleared his throat loudly.
    There was silence for a few minutes as they both digested this prognosis.
    ‘You’re wrong,’ Richard said eventually, his voice defiant.
    ‘Mr Pincent, sir.’ The tension was audible in Dr Thomas’s voice. ‘Just because you want something to be the case does not make it so. I have cut open several bodies now, and I’m telling you that I have found the same thing in all of them . . .’ His voice trailed off as he saw the expression on Richard’s face and realised that he had stepped over the line.
    Richard held his gaze for a few seconds then dropped it. He looked at the corpse. Number 7. They had been arriving every day since the beginning of the week when a Catcher had collapsed and his worried colleague had taken him to the doctor, suspecting food poisoning – the only possible illness in a world where Longevity had made illness and disease things of the past. By the time they had reached the doctor’s surgery, however, the man was dead. Hillary Wright, the Secretary General of the Authorities, had been alerted immediately and had had the foresight to arrange for the situation to be tidied up quickly. Excuses were made and the body was brought to Pincent Pharma for analysis.
    ‘I’m sorry,’ Dr Thomas said carefully. ‘I didn’t mean to be negative.’
    ‘No?’ Richard’s voice was flat, angry.
    The doctor cleared his throat. ‘No,’ he said. ‘But the facts remain. This virus is deadly. Longevity can’t seem to . . . can’t seem to fight it, sir.’
    ‘Longevity can’t fight it?’ Richard repeated slowly. ‘It cannot fight a mere virus?’ He felt sickened. It wasn’t true; it couldn’t be true. Longevity fought every disease, every infection, every bacterium. It kept the world young, it fought off death, it bestowed the gift of eternal life on humanity. It also made Great Britain the most powerful country in the world. Like Libya in the late twenty-first century with its oil, or Rome in the first century with its armies, no one dared to cross its government, no one dared to challenge its demands. ‘You’re wrong,’ he continued. ‘Longevity fights everything. It’s invincible.’
    ‘Of course it is,’ Dr Thomas said tentatively. ‘But perhaps . . .’
    ‘Perhaps what?’ Richard’s eyes narrowed.
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