Tom Avitabile

The Hammer of God

— BOOK 1 -

The Bug


Highway To Heaven

The M1 motorway was already a clogged and congested artery in the awakening heart of London this early morning. Amidst the lorries, panel vans, and a host of imported cars, a small Nissan was wedged, nose-to-tail, between two big cement haulers. Inside, its occupants were finally relaxing after a successful night’s work. They even had time to stop along the roadside and unfurl their prayer mats and praise Allah on the occasion of the new day. After the three months of planning and intense training, that led up to last night’s successful completion, Hassad allowed his team this earned respite. This break tempered his instinct to tell Doueed, in the back seat, to lower the volume and hence the tinny racket coming from the ear buds of the young Yemeni’s iPod.

“Are you pleased with our performance?” Amil asked Hassad, who was driving.

“Very smooth, very professional, all of your time in Afghanistan was good training.”

“I am glad you are pleased: maybe you’ll recommend us to another mission. I like the feeling of success.” Amil said.

Hassad let slip a smile but then turned his head with a look of annoyance at Doueed, who didn’t catch his stern eye, as he was bobbing with his head to the beat and staring out at the hideous facades of the council flats and other bad English architecture passing by his rear window. “We started a drip; Allah’s will be done, it will become an ocean.”

Amil, flushed with satisfaction, commented no further because Hassad, their leader, was the only one of them with field experience and so his compliment was like a graduation to him and the rest of this team.

When the “ocean” was amassed, it would be a tsunami more effective and more devastating than any other to have befallen the pompous, arrogant American bastards. An ordained act of retribution for their defying and defiling the kingdom of Allah. From this triggering point forward, they would have to do nothing. The system would ensure the extermination of at least 10 million, maybe 100 million, of the soulless Infidels.

Hassad focused on the glow of the morning sun rising, inhaled and then said, “It is a divine irony…”

Amil turned with amazement because Hassad never spoke without first having been prompted.

The leader continued, “The people of the West love their systems; they place their trust in numbers, science, and manmade laws. Soon they would be humbled and learn that a man should only place his trust in Allah.” He looked to Doueed in the rear view mirror, “Doueed! Turn that thing down!” He barked trying to penetrate the headphones, then continued in the somber voice of an Imam at a funeral, “Only the Koran speaks for God, through the laws of Muhammad himself. Solely through Islam lay the one path to God and the glory of his kingdom. All other roads are destined to destruction at the hands of Allah.”

Those in the car nodded in reverence and deep belief. Hassad knew the hand of God had guided them this night, even when, as in this case, Allah was surely working through the unworthy hands of Hassad Baracus.

Now that their mission was complete, all that remained was for Hassad and his team to wait a few days, and then, one by one, innocently leave Britain headed for various “friendly” regimes. In two weeks time, they would all meet in the Sudan, secure in the knowledge that no one in the world would be any the wiser about their part in the mission. Their safe house, the London home of a true believer, proved to be the perfect base for their operation. Their host, not knowing their actual mission, believed them to be students on a spiritual quest with the local Sheik from a Knightsbridge mosque.

In total, the plan was perfection. Allah be praised!

Then it happened. There was a break in the traffic and the vehicles all picked up speed. Doueed put the ear buds back in and turned it up. Rounding a bend, with the morning sun obliterating the windscreen, Hassad went to turn to admonish the youth again about the racket, when he caught a glimpse of a brake light and reacted quickly — and just in time — as the truck ahead had hit its air brakes and lurched to a stop. His fast reaction narrowly avoided wedging the nose of the Nissan under the rear of the truck’s carriage. Unfortunately, the truck driver behind him wasn’t as quick. The rule of maximum gross weight being what it is, the one-ton Nissan collapsed from the impact of the 30-ton cement truck. The jolt shattered the windscreen and side windows as the car’s frame buckled from the front and rear as if in a giant vise. Hassad was bludgeoned by the air bag exploding out of the center of the steering wheel as the engine compartment accordioned into a flattened hulk. Amil, next to him, was knocked unconscious by a similar concussive blast from the passenger bag. Sarim and Doueed in the back were crushed by the flattening of the Nissan’s rear under the wheels of the huge truck. The pressure of the back seat folding in on them, made them explosively vomit blood and parts of their intestines, which sprayed all over the front seat and its occupants.

The two truck drivers ran to the car crushed between their vehicles. Quickly surmising that the two in the back were dead, they felt the necks of the two in the front seat. The driver was dead but the passenger was still breathing. The trucker held the passenger’s face into the airbag until he too stopped breathing. The other one reached into the front seat and removed the map of Liverpool and the thermos bottle from between the seats. He climbed up the back of the mixer and threw the thermos into the aggregate mix, sealing in cement its deadly viral residue forever. They then feigned panic. Flagging down anyone to help.

Traffic was at a standstill for more than two hours.


In Liverpool that morning, the plant opened promptly at 8:00 a.m. Production was fully underway as it had been for most of the year. The big pharmaceutical contract had given new life to the factory and most of the local workforce. Bryan Jennings, the plant manager, expected a routine day. His calendar showed a morning visit by the Ministry of Health’s inspectors. Same as every week for the last 20 weeks of production. Jennings was proud of his line: 100 days of two-shift, full-run production, and not so much as ten minutes lost. That was because he ran a tight and clean ship. He instituted work rules that called for the periodic maintenance and sterilizing of the line at half-shift intervals. He doubled the number of quality control samplings and created a worker incentive program to keep things running smoothly and efficiently.

It was around 11 a.m. when the inspectors arrived. He led them right to the QC lab. Midway to the clean room, inspector 537 asked, “May we sample right from the line this time?”

That request threw Bryan a bit. For the last twenty weeks, the inspectors were satisfied that his quality control lab held more than adequate daily samplings for them to test. Although couched as a request, Bryan knew that it was actually an order. To maintain decorum, he acquiesced, holding himself back from inquiring about the change of procedure. Bryan knew the inspectors were not bound by law to offer him an explanation or a reason. In fact, they had been very reasonable in not springing any snap inspections or undercover investigations on him thus far. He watched from his office overlooking the floor as the line was stopped, while the inspectors withdrew and sealed samples of the serum from three points along the manufacturing process.

When they finished, a claxon sounded. The next 100 bottles would have to be trashed as a precaution against any variation in the process that came from restarting the line. Bryan didn’t give a moment’s thought to the waste. He did, however, continue to wonder about the change of pattern of the inspectors. Later that day, as he was compiling his daily report, Bryan mentioned this anomaly. But he was confident of his workers, machines, and systems, so the mention was merely a footnote.


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