chapter 1

November 30, 1999

One of the good things about these converted warehouses, is that often the top floors have windows that open. The biotech firms in the shiny glass buildings near Kendall Square are much less susceptible to this approach.

At the top of the building, just above the the windows, several lights were attached pointed down, illuminating yellowish parabolas. I had broken one of them with a stone yesterday, so my position perched on the windowsill just under it was not as glaringly obvious as it would have been.

I’ve been scouting the place for the past three days, and it was finally time for a quick in and out, leaving my calling card somewhere prominent and suitably impressive. I saw some likely choices during my on-location visit, but I haven’t yet decided.

The building was a red brick box with 3 stories of lofted offices. Exposed beams and exposed brick walls on the inside, just the way so many Boston-area companies like it. On the right, it was flush with a 2 story structure that must have been a factory of some kind in its previous incarnation. The faded marks of O’Malley Warehouse Co. were just barely readable on the windowless wall on the left of the building. The third floor housed my target.

The windows were large, about 6 feet high. They were the kind where a section only a couple of feet at the top swings out. Sometimes they swing out at the bottom, opening upwards, but these were the more sensible kind—if you didn’t want rain being funneled in—that had a downward opening. My chosen window was unlocked, but even if it hadn’t, it would have been easy enough to slide a specially made flat metal ribbon through the rough seam, and slide the rudimentary latch open.

I pulled it open, and locked it into its upwards position. Right at the click, I lost my balance slightly, and my heart dropped into my pants for a millisecond, before I grabbed unto the edge of the window near the latch and swiftly pulled myself up through the window. I jumped down into the offices immediately flattening myself on the floor as a precaution against a security guard who might just now be doing an utterly superfluous security check. It also gave me a moment to let my heart rate drop from supersonic.

The room I was in was the office of the vice president of something or other. Often these maturing startups, having filled out the conventional C-level executive slots, will start inventing all manner of VP positions for the early employees. I’ve seen a software development firm once that had more VPs than developers.

The main office area had lights controlled by motion detectors, so walking in there directly would have been a bad idea indeed. I executed an army high crawl, pushing with elbows and knees in a prone position—the low crawl involves pushing with the edges of the feet and staying as flat as possible—towards the door. When I was flush with it, I could see that the offices were dark, but that there was light emanating from the lab located in the middle of the floor. Did someone forget to turn it off? Even then, the door shouldn’t be ajar, the lab procedures indicate that the thick everything-proof door should be locked at all times that someone wasn’t transiting through. Some of the things these biotech firms do can be so fucking dangerous, everyone is very paranoid. This means that someone must be inside the lab.


chapter 1 - November 30, 1999 - Michael Katsevman