Piccolo and Tillitson got to Brookfield Town Beach and found the small group there still shocked at seeing the shark. The description of it varied anywhere from six feet to twelve feet. Some said they saw it open its mouth and show its teeth, others said it never came above the surface over its dorsal fin. Outside of these contradictory statements there was nothing of importance learned from the witnesses.
NBC-TV showed up along with the local media. Towards the end of last summer media interest in the shark had waned, but its survival through the winter had brought renewed coverage. What would have been really interesting to everyone, especially the media, was to know the shark wasn't real. But Piccolo and Tillitson were taking great pains to hide that. Being real or not didn’t diminish the danger it still posed for anyone in the lake.
They were ready to leave the scene after about an hour when an elderly lady who they had questioned earlier approached them.
“I’m sorry Sheriff,” she said apologetically, “but there’s something I forgot to tell you.” Piccolo noticed the man who had identified himself as her son was standing nearby talking to another person, but keeping an eye on his mother.
“What’s that ma’am?” Piccolo asked.
“Well there was another man here when the shark came, but he left before you arrived.”
“He was right here on the beach?” Piccolo asked. He took his notebook out of his pocket.
“No. He was over there.” The woman pointed to a clump of trees. Piccolo knew there was a small point of land behind them with a rocky shoreline.
“I asked him if he had seen the shark just as he was leaving and he said he was too busy.”
“Busy doing what?” Tillitson asked.
“Working I guess. He had one of those small portable computers with him.”
“What kind?” Piccolo asked.
“Oh I don’t know about those things. My son…” she turned to the man watching her. “John, can you come over here?”
Her son was about thirty-five in a bathing suit with a towel around his neck.
“John can you tell the sheriff what kind of computer that man had? You know…the one I was talking to before he left the park?”
“Hello, I’m John Rawley” John said shaking hands with Piccolo and Tillitson. “The guy mother’s talking about had a laptop, only a little thicker than usual. You know about so big.” He framed a shape with his hands that looked to be about fifteen inches square.
“Any logo on it? Tillitson asked.
“Not that I noticed. And I looked because I’ve been thinking of buying a laptop myself. There wasn’t any logo.”
“But you say it was thicker than normal.” Piccolo said.
“Yeah. Most of the ones I’ve seen are no more than an inch thick. This was at least three or four.”
“Can you describe what the person looked like?” Piccolo asked both of them.
“He was about your height,” she said looking at Piccolo. “I’d say about sixty, skinny legs, he was wearing shorts and had a little bit of a pot around the middle.”
“Did you get a look at his face?” Tillitson asked.
The woman shook her head. “Not really. He had one of those floppy hats on and dark sunglasses. Had a funny looking nose I thought. Kind of crooked and wide at the bottom.”
Piccolo turned to the son.
“That’s pretty much what I remembered,” he said.
“You mentioned the guy said he didn’t see the shark because he was too busy,” Piccolo said. “I’d imagine there was a lot of commotion when everyone else saw it. And he wasn’t that far away was he? Just behind those trees.”
“That’s what I thought,” the woman said quickly. “The woman near the water with her child was screaming. Everybody else was pointing to it and hollering. I don’t know how busy he could have been not to have heard it.”
“Did he say anything else to you beside being too busy?” Piccolo asked.
“Well I told him that my son had called nine-one-one and that the police would be here any minute figuring that they would want to talk to everybody. But he said he didn’t think he’d be any help to the police.”
“What did he do then?” Tillitson asked.
“He left. Seemed in a hurry.”
“Did you see his car?”
“No. It must have been parked across the street.”
Piccolo and Tillitson questioned the woman and her son further, but they had nothing more significant to offer. Tillitson checked to see that he had her address and phone number listed with the other witnesses, then he and Piccolo went behind the trees where the man with the laptop had been.
Piccolo looked directly across the lake at Arrowhead Shores less than a mile away.
“Now we’ve got a guy with a laptop here looking at the lake who’s not interested enough to go seventy-five feet or so to see a shark in the water that everyone else is screaming about. Why?” Piccolo asked.
“Either A. because he knows the shark isn’t real or B. he’s working so hard he doesn’t give a shit,” Tillitson replied.
“I’ll bet on A.” Piccolo said going along with the game. “And what’s he doing that occupies him so much?”
“Well that could either be A. Checking out a porno site or B. Playing a computer game called “Shark Attack.”
“So you think the laptop could have been controlling the shark.”
Tillitson shrugged his shoulders.
“Who knows,” he said looking across the water. “Lee Hanrahan controls his seaplanes with a hand held remote. The shark has to be much more sophisticated, but maybe that weird shaped laptop was doing the same thing.”
Piccolo agreed. And one other thing came to mind. Across the lake was one of the places they had pinpointed on the map back at the office. It was a spot where the person behind the shark could have seen the victims’s boats pass by before it attacked them.
FBI Director Alan Fritch slammed the phone down on his desk.
He couldn’t believe the call he had gotten. It was from his Operations Director who had informed him that NBC had just announced the shark had been seen at Brookdale’s town beach in Connecticut. Luckily it hadn’t attacked anyone.
At first Fritch thought it was good news. If the shark had been launched from Pasternak’s home, the agent monitoring the site would have picked up the signal. Now they would be able to secure a search warrant. They had linked Pasternak to the shark.
But the Director said the agent hadn’t picked up any signal at all. The house had been continually monitored and nothing had been recorded. The agent also said that Pasternak’s Mercedes SUV had been parked in the driveway all day. It had never left the house.
Then how the hell had the shark gotten to the town park?
Fritch’s immediate reaction had been to increase surveillance around the house, maybe even get an undercover agent inside. But he also had Piccolo to contend with. Any undue attention drawn to eighty-two North Lakeshore would tip him off to Pasternak’s location.
A better solution was to put more signal seeking vans at other locations around the lake. That would accomplish two things. It would throw Piccolo off and at the same time increase the probability of finding where else Pasternak was sending signals from.
He would order that done immediately. Meanwhile other thoughts were running through his mind, none of them pleasant.
The most bizarre was that maybe someone besides Pasternak was behind the shark. Was that possible? Unlikely for sure. But in terms of convincing a judge that they had ample evidence to secure a warrant for the search of his house, they had been set back. The shark had been seen without any signal sent from the house.
Meanwhile what was Piccolo doing? He had opportunity to investigate at the town park. What did he find there? Was he ahead of them now as far as his investigation was concerned?
Fritch also knew he would be hearing from his counterpart at the CIA. He was constantly being reminded by him of Pasternak’s importance to the Predator aircraft program. Not only was it being used against military targets, but in high altitude surveillance. Pasternak’s designs for the next generation of aircraft were all important to them. They didn’t want him sitting in a prison somewhere washing pots and pans.
He had to stay ahead of Piccolo. And right now he was falling behind.
George Pasternak sat in the shark’s small control room hidden in the basement of his home. In this dark room he was in another world; the world of the shark. Here he literally became that powerful animal, with all its cunning, strength and sleek body that enabled it to be king of the underwater.
Monitor screens directly in front of him were his eyes. Two levers on a console filled with blinking lights were his fins, left and right, which enabled him to make sharp, quick turns along with upward and downward movements. A larger lever was his tail. Pushed forward it gave him thrust, moving his tail from side to side, propelling him through the water up to twelve knots.
A wire thin antenna following the contour of his dorsal fin not only controlled his movements from home base but was also his navigation system. Tapping into the satellite used by Predator aircraft, he knew his exact position on the lake and the grid coordinates to his target.
A small sonar device hidden in the snout was his ears. It picked up underwater sounds up to sixty meters and loud ones such as marine motors up to two hundred meters.
Other dials on the console monitored his internal functions. They included electrical engine controls such as power surge, battery life and distributor function, comparable measures of a real shark’s heart and organs, all strong and powerful.
During an attack his hands moved quickly over the controls, playing them like a concert pianist. He literally felt himself moving through the water toward his prey. His mind became that of a shark, seeking out, stalking, planning, then striking.
He roamed the lake looking for prey. When none was sighted, he would practice his movements underwater, twisting and turning his body, gathering speed and actually leaping through the surface, then crashing underwater again. This was the ultimate video game, but also reality with deadly consequences.
An attack usually began with him hearing a sound. A boat’s motor or just something moving in the water. His sonar told him range and distance. A display of the lake in front of him gave the location.
He followed the sound staying on the surface, his eyes peering ahead, the digital flashing numbers on the control console indicating distance decreasing. When he could see his prey he decided on his plan of attack.
A quick circle around it checked out any potential danger. Then the attack came swiftly. His hands and fingers worked the controls as he plunged into his prey with tremendous force. The control device on the console opening his jaws was bulb shaped. He squeezed it and his jaws opened, released it and they closed sinking his teeth into flesh and blood. Blood filled the screen in front of him blinding him momentarily. He heard screams and thrashing in the water. His heart raced faster, the shark’s killer instinct coming to the fore. Now he wanted what the shark wanted; blood human flesh, to dominate, to kill.
It was during those moments he had to remember his goal was only to strike fear into those who ventured into the water. He had to inflict injury to assure that, but killing wasn’t necessary. If he were ever caught by the law, and that was doubtful, he didn’t want to face a charge of murder when it could be avoided.
So he backed off even though every fiber in him wanted to rip off limbs, strike at the neck and head. His rational human brain constantly struggled with the shark he became at the controls. He had almost killed Hal Evers and Jerry Wright. Having managed to capsize their boat sending them both into the water had caused a frenzy within him. There was blood everywhere from the terrible wounds he had inflicted on both of them. Water swirling from their struggling and his own thrashing to gain leverage on Jerry’s leg had excited him to the point where he wanted to do what the shark in him wanted: kill. It was only when he found himself in water too shallow to get at Jerry’s head that he backed off. By the time he had gotten the shark back to its pen under his boathouse he was still sweating and his heart racing.
The experience frightened him. What was he becoming? Had he become the killer animal that the shark was?
He decided becoming the shark had caused him to experience pleasures he hadn’t known in real life. In dedicating himself totally toward gaining revenge for his father’s death, he had forgone most if not all of them. There were only a few women, casual affairs that never afforded him strong sexual relief. Despite all his money, he never experienced the thrill of spending it on anything he desired. He lived simply, engrossing himself in his work; inventing, building, creating, working toward a plan that would satisfy his father’s dying wish for revenge. Right from the very beginning he knew he would satisfy it right in the lake that had been created over his father’s objections. His first attack on Bill Pazman had happened only a hundred yards from where his father was buried. That attack had started the devaluation of lakeshore property and the decline of Norton Utilities stock.
Right next to his father’s grave. How sweeter could revenge be?
Now he had to concern himself with escaping the law. He knew both Sheriff Piccolo and the Feds were after him. He hadn’t known he almost attacked Piccolo’s son until eventually reading about it in the paper. Piccolo had his own revenge to satisfy.
The Feds? They of course had their reasons for keeping him out of prison. He had always been careful to keep his new visions for remote controlled aircraft out of the hands of people in his company. As a result he personally became more valuable to the government than the company itself. Too valuable to waste time in prison.
For the moment he would enjoy himself by staying one step ahead of them all. There wasn’t any need for more attacks by the shark. His father’s revenge had been satisfied by the fall of Norton Utilities. The shark just needed to be used now in any way it could to avoid detection. After he was assured of that, Arrowhead Lake would be free of it.
Other books by Bob Neidhardt include
Kill The Author, Mr. Best Selling Author, Tarnished Bronze