Authors: Gordon Bickerstaff
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers, #Medical, #Conspiracies
Two weeks into the semester and the October weather was becoming colder and wetter. Gavin Shawlens finally felt he knew his way around the attractive out-of-town campus in Waterlooville, Hampshire. Gavin and Zoe had settled into their flat and the domestic arrangements were working well.
a treat she had taken him to a live London National Theatre performance of 'Coriolanus' in Portsmouth. In fact she had taken him to the cinema in Portsmouth to watch a live screening broadcast of Shakespeare's scorching tragedy of political manipulation and revenge. It was the first time he'd been to the theatre in the cinema and he was pleasantly surprised by the experience. She felt afterwards that he had 'warmed-up' a little more.
had given Zoe a crash course on how to look convincing as research technician Christine Willsening. She thought it would be more difficult but research lab K416 was isolated from the main research building so contact with other technicians was limited. For much of each day she was in the lab on her own if Gavin Shawlens was elsewhere on campus. Sometimes to reduce the boredom she would find out where he was and go looking for him.
Shawlens paused for a moment, checked his watch, 3.01 p.m., before he entered seminar room C233. In the room a group of senior students sounded as if they were having an argument. He had never met them before and wondered what they would be like.
strode confidently into the seminar room and the noise level dropped to a whisper. He scanned the faces sat around the table. It was a small room with one large window, a conference table and seating for eight. It was bright and well suited for small group tutorial meetings.
I in the right room here for the sports biology final year tutorial group E?" Gavin asked.
said the student nearest to him.
everyone I'm Dr Gavin Shawlens. I'm a visiting lecturer from the University of Kinmalcolm," he said as he sat down.
of them looked interested or impressed enough to say anything.
don't know any of you. Can we do a quick around the table. Tell me who you are and a little about your final year project."
students glanced nervously at each other to see who would speak first.
your name?" Gavin said to the girl beside him on his left.
Rachel, Rachel L Boyd. My final year project is on the development of movement skills for netball. I'm working with a local school team. I have a national level two coaching qualification for netball. I want to coach netball professionally when I graduate," she said confidently.
was twenty-one, fresh-faced and lightly freckled with shoulder length auburn hair tied back in a high ponytail. She wore a blue tracksuit with a netball logo top over a white polo tee shirt. She had a big smile full of attractive teeth that had been shaped by a skilled orthodontist.
leaned forward and looked at the woman sitting next to Rachel.
E McSwann, mature student, obviously. My project is library-based and is on the critical importance of sport in a developing society. I'm a health and lifestyle coach. I specialise in organic massage, Thai herbal and thermal basalt," she said and the strain in her voice suggested she felt self-conscious.
was thirty-four and a petite five foot four natural blonde. She was thin-faced with a slight build. Her tight-fitting clothes made her look even thinner, almost anorexic. She fidgeted impatiently with her pencil. Her six-year old daughter was off school with a cold and her neighbour agreed to look after her for an hour and that was two hours ago.
O DaSilvon. I'm boxing, light welterweight, man. Aiming for middleweight by next spring. I'm welterweight ABA elite champion y'know. My project's on protein nutrition and I hear you're a biochemical expert so I'll be calling round for some guidance on my proteins," he said and offered his clenched fist for Shawlens to fist bump.
was twenty-two, born in London and his Brazilian parents still live in Bayswater, London. An area more popularly known as Brazilwater. Gavin guessed that Ronnie would be at least six feet three inches tall and not someone you would want to get on the wrong side of so he dutifully completed the fist bump.
B Wattsin. My project aint going like, it's stuck. Totally like, is he right? You're a biochemical dude."
acknowledged with a nod and a smile.
was twenty-nine, five feet five with shoulder length, untidy and dark greasy hair. Overweight with a prominent round face underlined by a double chin and matched with puffy sausage-like fingers. He filled out a dark blue 1980's style fashion shell suit that was grubby and stained.
..., erm ..., Tyler. Tyler Wattsin for some reason you're not on this tutorial list," Gavin said looking at the tutorial group printout he'd been given.
I'm like, really stressed bout it man. Your registry people are incom.., incomptat.., incompatatent. Keep messin me about. All fees owed are like paid, honest man, it's like, totally done," Tyler explained.
sometimes the finance office forgets to update the registry office. No problem."
man you're like, okay."
didn't explain that in the previous academic year his registration had been suspended by the University when a criminal records office check disclosed convictions that would not allow him to work with young or vulnerable people.
failed the one exam he took and his registration had lapsed. He was a non-student in the system and he refused to take the hint and go away. He'd gain entrance through a special access programme for mature disadvantaged people and failed to take advantage of the opportunity.
Francis A Ottobondi, track an' feel'd. Takes a good look at ma face, man. Am gonna be de woomen Usain Bolt. I gonna take de woomens 'undred meetres well below tin-point-three secunds at de next worrld champs. Ma project is totalee worrkin with de energy man. Y'know de reel fast energy for de sprinter folk, dat creatine phosphatty stuff an ..."
Francis," Gavin cut-in.
could see she was firing up to offload a barrel-load of issues. Francis was twenty-two from Peckham, London. She was very muscular with powerful looking arms. Gavin guessed she would have matching legs.
hair was braided and tied at the back she had high cheekbones and piercing eyes with light purple eye shadow to match her purple nail polish and purple lipstick. Her outer sports leisure clothes were bright yellow and green.
you know your general exam paper is designed to allow you to express and interpret ideas, concepts and knowledge that you have gained over the past two years. So over the next ten weeks we'll explore some topics to help you evaluate, criticise and analyse issues. Any questions?"
watched Gavin as he extracted some sheets of paper from a folder and began to sort them into order.
ya givvin us coursework, man? Weez all reelly up to us eyes wit essays, an' signmints, an' raports, an' all dat stuff fore we even tink about us studies. They aint no more time in a day, man. I ass to do most ugh ma trainin in ma dreams. You ear whut am sayin, man?" Francis said.
I hear you loud and clear. I only have one assignment. I'm giving you each a separate question I want you to write a three thousand word essay that addresses the issue raised by the question," Gavin explained as he handed each one a separate sheet of paper.
week one of you will give a ten minute presentation to introduce your topic before we all discuss the topic. Marking will be split eighty percent for the written report and twenty percent for the presentation. Deadline for written assignments is five weeks from today. Any questions?"
No way, man, I'm like, really really busy. I can't do nothing like, in five weeks, no way. I'm allowed extensions like, for my illness. I'm like, incarper .., incasper .., in-car-paccer-a-tated with this tunnelling dyslexia thingy, man," Tyler said.
weeks is the deadline and if it's not submitted, you'll get a zero mark."
student took a huge intake of breath and looks of shock marked their faces as their brains registered what he said.
The look of shock on their faces was something Gavin had never experienced with his own students at Kinmalcolm. Shocked expressions turned to rebellious looks.
man, I don't think you're allowed to give the zero mark. It aint allowed here, man. Maybe your Uni but not here man, no zeros," Ronnie said and the others agreed.
don like thees question, man. I gonna do some tin on effects of de lactate on ma muscle instead, man. Are you cool wit tat?" Francis said as she handed the sheet of paper back to Gavin.
lactate?" Gavin asked.
room fell silent and Gavin observed their eyes shifting around the table while Francis tried to think of a convincing reason.
He isn't going to let you do that is he?" Laraine said with a frown directed at Francis.
I dun see why nut," she blasted back.
wouldn't be fair on the rest of us would it? Fran is repeating this year and did lactate last year," Laraine said turning to speak to Gavin.
what Larrrraine!" Fran blasted.
on last year's list is acceptable. Do you have another topic Francis? One that's not on last year's list."
shook her head with loud tuts and air gasps as she retrieved her sheet. Gavin Shawlens handed out another sheet of paper.
let's have a discussion. I want you to read this one page newspaper article on Lance Armstrong and ethics in sport. I'll give you a few minutes then we'll discuss the issues. I'll help develop a discussion so listen and learn," Gavin said and scanned their faces to make sure they would participate.
outlined the background to champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France and the issues raised by the US Anti-Doping Agency. It was a good choice as each of the students had strong opinions and the arguments rolled on without much need for Gavin to intervene. At the end of the tutorial they agreed to disagree. They were content they had taken part in a robust and thoughtful discussion.
our time is up. Before you rush off does anyone know the technician Oliver Mansole?"
replied but Gavin could tell from their expressions they knew who he was talking about.
anyone sees Oliver can you pass on a message from me? Tell him I need to speak to him about some new research work. Thanks."
the end of the period Laraine hurried out of the room and called her babysitter to apologise for taking so long. Francis and Rachel compared their allocated topics to see if one would be easier that the other as they walked out of the room. Tyler hung back and made his way around the table to stand beside Gavin
into the biochemicals. I could do a project on like, steroids. You can supervise me," Tyler said.
not doing any projects. Ask someone from the Department."
like, useless they know nothing."
I don't have time to supervise a project."
man you don't like, do anything. A technician does my lab things for me."
you know the technicians well?"
they're my brothers and sisters. They pull for me, man," Tyler said proudly.
you know Oliver Mansole?"
like, Olly's my man like, a good mate."
can I contact him?"
like, that depends," Tyler said as he watched a technician in a white lab coat sliding out of a column of moving students and stop behind Gavin Shawlens.
looked at the name Christine Willsening on her ID badge, smiled at her. Licked his lips then hurried along the corridor to catch up with his mates. She placed her hand heavily on Gavin's shoulder and he turned around.
erm ..., Zo um ...," he mumbled and looked confused.
mind was a million miles away. She glared daggers at him.
okay, right. Hi Christine," he uttered after some anxious seconds.
Tampin leaned very close to him and told him to look at his SEM phone. The whole screen flashed bright red. The team had received a RED FLASH emergency meeting at a pre-designated location.
you feel the vibration?"
vibration? Oh that's switched off. It's a nuisance when …"
it switched on."
Shawlens if you ever get my name mixed up again. I'll kick your balls so bloody hard, sperm will squirt out your ears," she said as she pushed his arm forward to walk in front of her like a scolded child.
left his mates and found a quiet corner to make a mobile phone call to the Old Bards Club. He thought about going over to the busy pub and restaurant, which was well known for top class food and entertainment but decided, it would be better to call. The Old Bards Club was a members-only club with a two-year waiting list for new members and Tyler Wattsin was most definitely not a member. It was owned and run by a powerful and respected clan known as the McVickin family.
"I need to speak to Mrs McVickin," Tyler pleaded.
"Piss off Tyler she's busy," Jamie McVickin replied.
, like, this is stuff she asked me to like, nose around. I've got like, good stuff."
"What have you got?"
"High grade like, serious but I'm only sharing it with Mrs McVickin."
"I'm warning you Tyler. If you're selling
useless crap; I'll give you a slap myself."
Jamie McVickin transferred
Tyler's call from the impressive Club reception desk to an adjacent old abattoir building that Lisa had converted into a hi-tech production factory. Lisa's workers scattered as she stormed towards the factory office to take the call. She was angry she had been disturbed.
're keeping me from my business. This better be bloody useful or that lump I put on the side of your head will get a twin on the other side."
"There's a new guy started at the Uni. He knows like, Oliver
He knows where Oliver is hiding?"
"I'm like, sure he knows."
"What's his name?"
"Okay Tyler. Find out where he lives then drop by the factory entrance for your usual reward."
Lisa McVickin re
turned to the main hall in the factory to finish off her business. In a moment of madness, the factory Manager had overstepped his mark and needed to be punished. As was her way she delivered the punishment violently by her own hand, accompanied by ranting verbal abuse, in front of everyone in the factory.
Manager had intervened to stop Lisa's brother Sidney McVickin from killing a female factory worker in a frenzied sex attack. Lisa resumed her beating of the Manager. She was determined to make sure the Manager would never again interfere with her brother no matter what he was doing.