Meg: Hell's Aquarium

Meg: Hell's Aquarium by Steve Alten Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Meg: Hell's Aquarium by Steve Alten Read Free Book Online
Authors: Steve Alten
Tags: Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers, Espionage
Angelica without any—”
    Fran screams.
    David, Mac, and Dr. Stelzer turn in time to see Belle leap out of the aquarium, her open mouth hyperextended a split second before her jaws slam shut around Angelica’s exposed abdomen! For several frozen seconds the 42,000-pound monster simply hangs vertically, suspended above the water by its teeth, while the semi-tranquilized Angelica spasms in the cargo net, blood gushing from her mortal wounds directly into Belle’s open mouth.
    The knife-sharp serrated edges of the dark-backed Megalodon’s teeth rip through the thick hide and crush the organs of her prey before falling back into the aquarium’s illuminated azure waters—
    —Angelica’s innards pouring from the ten-foot-wide gaping hole in her belly like an exploding piñata.

Tanaka Oceanographic Institute
Monterey, California
    David steps off the elevator, entering the third floor administrative wing of the Institute, when he runs into the office manager—a petite blue-eyed blonde in her early forties.
    Patricia Mackreides greets David with a hug. “Thanks for looking out for Mac.”
    “Not a problem. Guy’s been looking out for me since I was in diapers.”
    The mention of diapers causes Trish to tear-up and blush.
    “Hey? You okay?”
    She beams a smile. “Don’t tell Mac.”
    “Tell Mac what?”
    “I’m pregnant.”
    “Holy shit!”
    “Is it Mac’s? Kidding . . . I’m just . . . oh, man, you have got to videotape the moment you tell him. Does anyone else know?”
    “No. I just found out this morning.”
    “Trish, this is so cool. When are you going to tell him?”
    “Tonight.” She glances over at the conference room as the double doors are closed. “You’d better get inside before they start. And not a word about this to anyone.”
    “I promise.” He gives her a gentle hug, then crosses the corridor and enters the chamber.

    The room is packed with the Institute’s department heads and key staff, everyone seated around on immense mahogany table. Joining them are Thomas Cubit, senior partner with the law offices of Cubit and Cubit, and Kayla Cicala, the company’s publicist. David finds a seat along the perimeter of the room, bypassing the empty chair at the head of the conference table reserved for his mother.
    Jonas taps his water glass with his wedding ring, signaling for quiet. “Let’s get started. Quick update: Terry’s with Dani. The doctor says she’ll be fine. She should be coming home within the next few days.”
    Several staff members applaud.
    “That, unfortunately, is the extent of the good news. The bad news, well, bad doesn’t begin to describe it. As you know, Jason Francis, one of our winners in the Feed Angel contest, died tragically during Saturday night’s performance. Kayla?”
    Kayla Cicala holds up a press release. “We’re placing full-page ads in all the local papers, extending our condolences to the victim’s family. Terry has asked the Francises’s lawyer for permission to meet with the family. I’ve already fielded offers to discuss what happened in public with the four major network morning shows—”
    “—which you’ll graciously decline.” Thomas Cubit, a forty-seven-year-old, Irish-Catholic attorney from Philadelphia, refers to notes on his legal pad. “No one is to address the media. No one is to make any statements unless I approve them first. The Francis family wasted no time in hiring a big legal firm out of San Francisco, and they don’t need any more bullets in their chambers. In addition to the Taylors, they’ll want depositions from Mac, Ted Badaut, Dr. Stelzer, and . . . who is Andrew Murch?”
    “He was the second contest winner,” Jonas answers, “the one who survived. Tom, how liable are we?”
    “We have a signed, binding waiver but they have fifteen thousand witnesses to make a case of severe negligence. The game plan at this juncture is for everyone to stay away from the media while we settle out

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