Wednesday, March 03, 2004

An English researcher forsees his death (with apologies to Yeats): I worked late last night and didn’t get a train home until around 10 pm. A long day of reading and writing about biological weapons. I had printed off an interview with a scientist who defected from the Russian bio-weapons programme in 1992 (if you are really interested), and was reading it on the train home. Getting off the train I had to brave the five minute walk through the swirling blizzard, down empty white suburban streets to my house. My mind was swirling like the snow: full of defectors, anthrax, Ilyushin-28 bombers and places with names such Sverdlovsk, Stepnogorsk and Omutninsk. Walking towards me along the snow-filled street was a heavy-set man – head down, wearing a fur hat. It flashes through my mind – I’m in a Len Deighton novel – his head comes up and I see him reach into his pocket. My eyes fix on the Makarov with silencer already fitted that he pulls out. Too late to do anything, I see one flash and the hear the distinctive “squidnggg” noise of a silenced pistol. My dead body slumps down into the snow on the street. A car with dark windows and diplomatic plates screeches up. The assassin takes the papers from my fallen bag, jumps in the car and is gone. The unconcerned snow continues to fall on my body, as blood runs from the hole in my forehead. All is quiet again on the snow-covered street.

Of course that isn’t what really happened. The heavy-set man’s head never rose, his hand stayed sensibly in his pocket. He walked past without even acknowledging me; head down – into the blizzard, towards the train station and home. I went to my home and ate spaghetti with pesto. Who say’s too much work doesn’t f*ck you up?