Virus: The Day of Resurrection

Virus: The Day of Resurrection by Sakyo Komatsu Read Free Book Online

Book: Virus: The Day of Resurrection by Sakyo Komatsu Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sakyo Komatsu
began rolling forward with surprisingly little noise. It bounded over the uneven ground until it came out onto the level part where a white line was clearly visible even in the dark. Although it resembled a painted line, it was actually an accumulation of snow that had apparently been carried down from the hills behind them. Little enough that if the sun were to shine on it, it would melt, and if it were to snow, it would be lost. As though testing its wings, the flaps were lowered two or three times, and then the wooden twin engine plane arrived at the starting line and opened up the engine all the way. It merely waddled along at first due to the drop tanks attached to its underbelly. At last, it got off the ground, and after clearing the hills ahead of it, disappeared into the blackness of the night sky. The frozen stars that had been visible here and there just a little while ago were now concealed by thick layers of cloud, all save one. The black twin-engine plane made for that star, headed from fifty-one degrees north toward forty degrees north, and from west four degrees, over the Greenwich Meridian, to thirty-two degrees thirty minutes east. It was a journey of about one thousand six hundred kilometers flying in a diagonal line across a rectangular slice of the earth’s spherical shape … a long, difficult, and secretive journey.
    At the same time that this strange wooden plane, loaded with three strange men and their strange cargo, was taking off from Cornwall with a snowstorm bearing down from the north, five hundred kilometers west of the Turkish capital of Ankara—far south of the airplane’s Near Eastern destination—the longitudinal line at thirty-nine degrees thirty-five minutes east ran southward. It crossed over the blazing An-Nafūd Desert and the Red Sea; it grazed Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa; and it crossed the equator over Kenya. At Mozambique, it bid the continent farewell and crossed over vast expanses of sea, before running aground at last on the continent of Antarctica.
    There, one other journey was about to begin.
2. Sixty-nine Degrees, Twenty-five Seconds South
    “That about does it …” said Norio Yoshizumi, giving the final checklist a tap. He signed the copy and handed it to the officer who was standing by. The officer bowed slightly, put the copy in his breast pocket, and glanced at his watch.
    “Departure’s at 2300, so there’s still a little time left.” The middle-aged officer, Taguchi, smiled, drawing lines in his tanned cheeks, and pulled out that Meerschaum pipe he was always smoking from the pocket of his overcoat, offering it to Yoshizumi. “How about it? Have a pinch to remember us by?”
    “Thanks,” said Yoshizumi, returning the other man’s smile and pulling off a glove. Yoshizumi had often smoked that pipe—it was Major Taguchi’s pride and joy—during the voyage. That pipe had belonged to Major Taguchi’s father before him. Though it was reasonably worn, there was not a single crack in it, and Yoshizumi especially liked the taste of its mouthpiece.
    Major Taguchi handed a bag of Capstan Navy Cut to Yoshizumi, its mouth tied with a string, and for himself took out 3B’s Blackwood and put it between his teeth. The wide rear deck was lit with glittering lights, and on it a large, specially fitted Bristol helicopter, having finished taking on baggage, was noisily starting up its rotors. The uproar had mostly died down at the scene that stretched from the rear deck almost to the lift that went down to the ship’s hold. And all that could be seen now were the figures of sailors running around picking up the canvases and ropes that had been thrown aside. The arm of the derrick that had been in operation all day was now also firmly bound against the rough weather. Yoshizumi looked down from the deck and, bathed in light from the lamps on the snow, saw the side of Shiretoko on a field completely covered in ice, above which its reddish draft, usually submerged,

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