“Don’t you butt in there because that’s mine,” heard on Radio Rebelde broadcast warned of rebel fighters taken position in the outskirts of the city of Santa Clara, capital of Las Villas Province. Jose Rivera, then a young professor at the university, picked sanctuary with his wife and nine-year daughter. Rebel forces arrived at dusk claiming victory over the government forces followed by a series of skirmishes in the city. A suicide squad under the command of eighteen-year old El Vaquerito dispatched to Capiro Hill in order to capture an armoured train. Rebels mobilised the tractors of the School of Agronomy to derail the train heading off with troops and weaponry.
At the university Che Guevara wearing his arm in a sling falling off a wall in Caibarién met Jose Rivera and his daughter. Thirty-year old Argentinean soldier of the 26th July Movement paused to gaze into her hazel eyes, “What’s your name, child?”
“Anna Maria,” she told him.
Guevara insisted upon Rivera to join the Movement and head for Havana. It was New Year’s Eve and the Battle of Santa Clara announced victorious, aired on shortwave radio. Further on the rebellion led by Fidel Castro was heading for Havana. President Fulgencio Batista learnt his generals were negotiating peace with the rebel leader and departed to the Dominican Republic on January first – 1959.
Mayo and Carbonero arrived at Great Cumbrae on a single-cabin yacht. This island got rich pastures, green fields and cattle, in its geographical location most favourable for a southerly climate. They climbed on a dinghy from the west. It was dark. Reaching a farmhouse, Mayo looked for chicken. In a moment, Carbonero was using his instruments to inject a small amount of liquid to the chick. He followed this same procedure to administer the fluid to a number of hens using the same needle for the fact it required no sterilisation and no fear of transmitting a disease in cross-contact. Bit by bit, chicken after chicken, two Latinos carried on to sneak into farmyards and left leaving nothing behind, no vacuum flask or syringe or needle, to give way for clue. One moment, they came across a tractor on a dirt road. They both hid behind some bushes, wearing biological suits and protective masks from lethal contact.
“It takes less than two hours to multiply the germs in chicken blood. Then they leave a trail everywhere on these green fields. Eggs got microscopic holes and when you dip them in water, those germs sweep in.” Carbonero explained.
“I’m getting cold here. We have to cover a radius of forty kilometres from Gigha so it appears this epidemic has spread wide, an avian flu. Hopefully the Public Health people stop focus on the Isle of Gigha.” Mayo said walking towards their boat. “This time they’re fast to wipe out the fowls. This can’t last too long, only 9 deaths in Gigha, a 149 to go.”
“Unfortunate, Ernesto is back with the antidote and he’s failing this whole operation while collecting the money. I heard NHS picked two guys he treated to carry out tests on them.”
“Can they find out?” Mayo asked.
“Pretty hard, though, that antidote contains iron to be visible through a clinical test. Other elements are active for only eight hours and absorb quickly supplying immunity to the bone structure. It’s only temporary and not a vaccine. However an advanced blood screening would help to analyse its contents but if they got blood sample tested or collected before a dose of ‘Chicken Blood’ is directed.”
“It’s a narrow chance we can barely hope for!”
“The good news is we’re soon getting a new formula that could be used on many kinds of refrigerated food stuffs like milk, butter, chocolates,” the veterinarian said climbing down the beach, “It’s a powder…works like Anthrax. I’ve got detail instructions with me to follow. We need to find some means how to contaminate food items that reach the Isle of Gigha and other communities. It is deadly poison. We need to take extra precaution, a small amount thinner than dust can kill you.”
“Property owner, Lord Gerald Holmer, has agreed to this ‘Barrio’ buy-out for £1.5 million, a community buy-out. Barrio will pay him the money. Before that we need to wash out the Gaelic. If not to have fewer in number, we can finish the job afterwards and wipe off the clan. He wished to have Latinos and Africans, coloured people who are residents of Gigha in the new community recognised by the Immigration and Asylum Act of 1963. Will it work to wipe off the white?” Mayo asked, “Paint a hot cross bun with a pastry of the new formula?”
“Who knows? It seems the case now and Barrio can spend to develop the island convert to a tourist attraction.”
“If only Ernesto keeps matters for himself…he left Cuba with all those antidotes. He’s having a lot.”
“Someone’s supplying him,” Carbonero said turning the dinghy headway. “Tonight we spike in Largs.”
George McWells, an eleven-year old, was admitted at the care house for three days in the Isle of Gigha. And it was a foggy afternoon when his father got his donation cleared and McWells Family crossed by boat to Tayinloan to visit the witchdoctor from the Caribbean, Ernesto, born in Montserrat and a resident of Glasgow. Ernesto’s treatment required five days of voodoo ritual mixed with western medicine however proven effective and only cure for the mysterious fever. And with the second outbreak of this illness in the Hebrides that already caused 17 lives, Ernesto doubled his price to collect a huge sum from each patient, already treated seventy-two.
Three years ago, in 1967, this mysterious viral fever outbreak caused 36 lives in Gigha reducing the community to 127 people. This disease caused symptoms very similar to malaria; vomiting, high temperature and weakens patients into drowsiness and consequent death. No medicine proven effective for a cure. Epidemiology researches had found this virus caused from fecal-oral transmission and not airborne. Tests carried out in the laboratories identified this disease so-called ‘Tropical Fever’ commonly found in Latin America, carried by mosquitoes.
Fairly an alien community of 63 people lived on the island and only two black kids had died from this fever. To some extent this community of Latinos and Africans came under scrutiny and victimised. Soon it was discovered of its source carrying the virus as the domestic fowl. Poultry was wiped out in many farms around the Hebridean Islands. New breed reached pre-pandemic levels by April 1970 when the second outbreak took place during Easter.
Scientists still couldn’t find out how a virus carried by mosquitoes could be found in the fowls, mainly chicken, in northern latitude. In 1967, authorities regulated to carry out checking on the ships and cargo, people and livestock brought into the country through various ports, particularly shipments from Africa and Latin America. In a ‘New Disease Emerge Meeting’ it was declared that a continuation of alien diseases in numbers would create an ill-functioning society challenged mentally and physically, it could not be tolerated by any Public Health policy for the scattered islands under British standards.
Meanwhile, research continued to find an antidote or a vaccine for the mysterious illness when it spread an outbreak for a second time in three years.
Once more Ernesto arrived at Kintyre successfully producing miraculous results. This time Scottish scientists had begun a secret operation to do tests on those patients Ernesto cured from Tropical Fever. This time the authorities cleared the domestic fowl speedily and sprayed the farms in order to control the outbreak. They noted it resurfaced from the Isle of Gigha. Doctors were still left short of a medicine to fight with this syndrome.
Isle of Gigha was a beautiful place seven miles long by a mile and a half wide with sandy beaches and green seas situated three miles west of the Kintyre peninsular, a host of wildlife and world renowned gardens. ‘God’s Island’ got rich archaeological sites and inhabited since prehistoric times by the Norse to the Gaelic of the modern period. Its population peaked to 700 in the 18th century but resident numbers had fallen much in the 20th century for having numerous owners which caused various problems in developing the island.
In 1945, Sir James Horlick wrought the Achamore Gardens and became world famous for its rhododendrons and azaleas. It was a tourist attraction with a nine-hole golf course. In the mid fifties, new feudal owner brought workers from Africa and Latin America. During this decade the Isle of Gigha experienced a fall in the Gioghach community and caused yet another vassal to adopt the coloured people into the community under the Scottish legal system in order to obtain funds to develop the island. A small Cuban family of six members, the Laras, who arrived as botanists during the early sixties were fortunately registered among them by the authorities of Argyll and Bute. Many Cubans arrived and got settled in Gigha.
Scotland remained a free trading partner with many nations worldwide and allowed in refugees, in particular the Hispanic who migrated after the Cuban Revolution.
Veron Barrio turned red to hear that Ernesto Pareds was back in Kintyre treating the ill patients with an antidote only produced in Cuba and available from the biological labs of Che Guevara Foundation – opened on 26th July 1961 after the Bay of Pigs Incident. During Guevara’s travels around the world in the mid sixties, he obtained finance from countries like Czechoslovakia and expertise elsewhere. By profession he was a doctor holding a diploma. Following his capture by the Bolivian Special Forces and his execution on 9th October 1967, Fidel Castro appointed Veron Barrio in the following year as head of the Ministry of Science and Industries which Che Guevara Foundation came under. Meanwhile, this body worked in various fields of researches on medicine, biology and agronomy. Ernesto Pareds came to Cuba as a young boy, achieved a degree in agricultural science and worked at Che Guevara Foundation from 1961 until 1967 when he left for Scotland and got settled. He was a key person in analysing a mosquito-carried disease called Tropical Fever and among the team who discovered an antidote to kill this pandemic virus which could pass into animals and caused deaths but originally carried by mosquitoes and most remarkably that this germ of Tropical Fever could survive in chicken without killing the fowl. So the antidote became known as ‘Chicken Blood’.
Barrio maintained the state-owned tobacco estates in the Pinar del Rìo Province where hundreds of torcedores rolled the prestigious Cuban cigars branded ‘Habanos’ which came in shapes and sizes of Parejo and Figurado in various blends and flavours. Veron Barrio happened to be a wealthy man loyal to President Fidel Castro. His company known as Banana Leaf packed and shipped premium Cuban cigars to aficionado markets around the globe.
Besides, Banana Leaf carried other export products such as sugar, nickel, citrus, coffee and often bananas from the Caribbean. Scandinavian nations and the Benelux states, including Scotland, were among major trading partners.
There was a little boy in the Lara Family fathered by Veron Barrio and his mother, Cathy Lara, continued to write letters. Barrio and Ernesto visited the Isle of Gigha in 1966. Later in 1967, Ernesto arrived on his own seeking asylum as a refugee and warily chosen Glasgow to settle down. It was a mock-up planned at a table in a Banana Leaf casino in Cuba where the threesome were in attendance; Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Veron Barrio. Since it was Barrio who instructed and funded this top secret mission, Ernesto did not know who actually came up with this mad idea – the Banana Leaf scandal. He started like a doctor, took week-long vacations to Campbeltown, hopped to the Isle of Gigha and poisoned the domestic fowl like Mayo and Carbonero did.
Ernesto Pareds found a trustworthy friend in Jose Rivera, a colleague who worked at Che Guevara Foundation, to supply him with the antidote. Rivera was amply paid and Ernesto defected from his actual mission to play a part of a witchdoctor in Kintyre as well because he no longer wished to return to the Caribbean.
Veron Barrio learnt about this treachery from Cathy Lara who mentioned in a letter without knowing the secret behind. It took him a while to establish a network of spies to continue the ongoing secret operation to wipe out the Gaelic and after Fidel Castro appointed him head of Che Guevara Foundation in January 1968.
In Tayinloan, the McWells were met by two agents from the donor company. They boarded an ambulance and headed for Campbeltown to meet Ernesto. Mary Clare said, “Here we go! Let’s take blood sample from him. We failed in our tests with two other patients Ernesto cured because we didn’t collect blood from them before they got treated.” This was previously agreed with the McWells. “Ernesto keeps his patients for five days after the ritual. In that time something is changing in blood.”
“How do you know?” asked Henry McWells.
“We began interviews this time with cured patients. They all agree he uses a dose of injection on the first night, the rest follows normal medicine and vitamins.” Mary Clare explained getting ready the apparatus to collect blood from the sick child. “He doesn’t allow anyone to go near a patient for more than an hour while admitted for five days. There’s a reason to believe he’s using a medical cure, not magic.”
“It could be an extract from a forbidden fruit!”
“I need to take blood from him under eight hours after he gets his dose. See if we can. I go back to do research then to compare these two samples.” She said removing the needle after collecting half pint of pure blood from the sick boy.
“Do you work for ‘Positivity’ magazine, the donor?”
“I am a Doctor of Medicine. I’m hired. This sickness of Tropical Fever is mysterious. There are many unanswered questions. From the records of 1967 with the first outbreak, only a few died after the witchdoctor’s ritual, we do not have exact figures. Some who survived by his treatment or not are now having cancer. Some died of blood cancer – leukaemia. And I’m working on the subject. Those figures aren’t many to prove anything strong but this virus is tested to cause blood cancer. So it’s essential to collect his blood soon after Ernesto’s treatment or get hold of this secret formula.”
“What do you expect me to do?”
“Act normal. Jake and I will try digging. It may take months or years to solve this mystery. I believe I’m on the right track, hopefully to bring out in ‘Positivity’ as a Scottish pioneering work and patent. For the moment keep the NHS guys off the hook…they shouldn’t know what we are up to.”
It was Beltane Day in the quiet town hamlet set for fireworks. The McWells were shown to a room where seven other patients rested in bed for recovery. This camp clinic was decorated of husks and skulls of voodoo faces from the Caribbean. Doctor checked on George, instructed a nurse to give meal and put him in bed for an eight-hour fast before he begins medical examination and treatment.
Moments later, the witchdoctor began his ritual that he carried out every night burning the incest and filling the hall with smoke. It was for this process he collected a huge sum from them. When the fireworks started, everyone left to watch its colourful display taking place in the meadows just behind the abode.
Dr Mary Clare slowly sneaked into the witchdoctor’s clinic and got busy digging into a worn-out leather case. She could find nothing unusual. She reached for a wooden box of cigars left on the table. Its label read, ‘Habanos – hecho a mano’. She opened it to find ampoules of amber glass neatly packed in the furrows that contained a kind of liquid. She picked a capsule and read its label – CHICKEN BLOOD.
That moment she saw a shadow on the wall of the adjacent room through an open door. She picked a couple of capsules and rushed to hide behind a tall window curtain. And she peeked. A man appeared at the door. He wore a suit all black with his head covered in hood. She smelt gasoline, couldn’t see much through the curtain while the firecrackers burst outside. Only a minute passed, the whole place was on fire and the intruder escaped.
Mary Clare reached for the window and slipped out that way. A fire brigade honked and the place extinguished. The patients rescued but a new discovery showed that the witchdoctor was shot dead. Nothing left in Ernesto’s study was saved. Misfire from May Day firework was ruled out.
Based on Dr Clare’s report it was a case to do with the viral fever. She managed to get hold of two ampoules to study its contents and obtain treated blood from George to do further tests.
Ernesto’s death, which was an evident murder case, alerted New Scotland Yard to communicate with the RAF in Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. Surprisingly, RAF reported back that there was a man from Cuba working at Che Guevara Foundation, a defector, who tried to contact the British Consulate. Unfortunately, he was shot by the Cuban police at Nice Park in Santiago on 20th April before he could complete a reconnaissance mission with the British agent.
It created an important link to the mysterious viral fever.
Days before Ernesto’s death, Jose Rivera had been meeting an Englishman from Cayman Islands and told him that he got ‘Top Secret’ information of evidence to link with an outrage planned by the Cuban ‘top brass’ to eliminate the Gaelic community in Gigha from contamination with a viral fever. He’d been followed by the Cuban paramilitary and his life was in danger. He wished to defect and flee to another country. He did not say anything about his involvement. The wealthy Englishman believed in his story and arranged an agent to meet him at Santiago station.
They were watched at close range by Castro’s men and listened to their conversation by an attendant. Only the source he was supposed to meet could not be known. In the meantime, the secret police were instructed to follow every employee working at Che Guevara Foundation and at Banana Leaf.
Rivera drove to Santa Maria High School where his daughter attended special classes. She was 21 years old and seated among the adult pupils. She wore a short white dress. Her yellow legs stuck out under the little desk and her eyes thin and narrow. “Papa!” she called.
They headed towards his new car, “I’m on borrowed time. I am watched on my back. There has been a Top Secret mission ordered by Señor Veron Barrio that I’ve undertaken for sometime. Something has gone wrong from my fault.” He told her about his involvement very briefly while they drove home. “You’ll find all that evidence in these papers with the keys to my apartment in Santiago and some money. Go and stay with grandma in Santa Clara. Stay out of sight. You are not safe here.”
“What about you?”
“I have work. I have to make ready medical supplies for tomorrow before Banana Leaf leaves in a week and I got to fly to Santiago to meet this English agent to hand him the samples of ‘Tropical Fever’ and ‘Chicken Blood’.”
“Papa, I feel you’re unsafe. Is this how you get this car, a BMW? Are you working for Ernesto?”
“I’m sorry. It’s my fault but I believe there’s luck. If I can meet this agent tomorrow, I might possibly seek asylum in the Caymans pretty soon. I will take you there.”
“You are involving me,” said Anna Maria.
“I am. With this, you get priority to defect and get out from here. This genocide is not written anywhere. It was spoken in words and played like a game. Use your common sense.”
“Look! I also have a feeling I might not make it. In that case obtain those samples from the lab in Santiago and find some way out of here. Make it to Florida. Show them to the English.” He parked the car in the square. He gave her a golden necklace, “Anna, keep this. You have extraordinary powers.” He added, “It always shocked me when you appear briskly on the corridor. You are taken by an angel. Grandma knows and she can tell how to use those powers. Remember, get out of here.” And with that he kissed goodbye.
It was a beautiful afternoon on a narrow lane where she stayed – green leaves and red flowers hanging from old masonry walls.
He drove to Che Guevara Foundation to handover the shipment to Banana Leaf agents which contained a newly produced formula of ‘Tropical Fever’ – looked like powder, concentrated dust particles that could spread Tropical Fever to a large community. He was watched by the Cuban military guards and observed of his shaky hands. Barrio planted a special agent ordered to kill Rivera.
Unknown to them, Agent Teller, the English spied on him and noted his stops including a call on his daughter. He left to Santiago that night after obtaining her number.
On the following day, 20th April, Rivera arrived at Santiago de Cuba. He sneaked into a house that stood by the corner on Aguilera Street. This area got congested houses with slab roofs and sandwiched in the quiet rows of the Dolores Square. Passing many corridors on the second floor in Dolores Square Building, he reached a locked iron door, paused to look up and down to make sure nobody followed. Jose Rivera opened the dark room where he kept his clinical apparatus to technically fill vacuum flasks with the antidote to cure Tropical Fever. The walls here were built of some black-coated aluminium and frozen inside. One wall even served a tiny shower bath for a complete wash down from biological hazard. It certainly was a well equipped mini lab. He picked samples and quickly moved out. He was followed by Agent Teller, the secret police and a hitman. Rivera was expecting a rendezvous with Agent Teller that night at Plaza de Dolores near Nice Park.
It was a blaze of orange and brown in shadows and lights of the beleesha beacons on Aguilera Street. He headed hurriedly towards Nice Park when Agent Teller paced behind him. “Mr. Rivera. I am Agent Teller, the one you are looking for.” There were several people passing the street lights.
Rivera slowed nervously, “Anything else!”
“Rigger,” Agent Teller replied.
“That makes me ‘driller’.”
Suddenly, a loudspeaker boomed somewhere and a military jeep turned from a corner. In seconds, it came alive and the pair was surrounded by armed forces. A commander asked for papers from Agent Teller. That moment, some gun shots were fired at them. Someone shot Rivera in his chest killing him at once. Others ducked. The hitman disappeared. Police rushed after him.
A startled crowd watched as the officer drew some ampoules from Rivera’s breast pocket. The guns pointed at the Englishman. Agent Teller watched indulgently while the evidence was packed and cleared from his sight. The officer returned to Agent Teller, going through his papers, “English? We know who you are. Stay away from this. A second time is not an excuse. You can leave right now.” It was very strange that he was let to go. Nor he knew about the contents of the secret folder and those test samples taken away. Nice Park returned to normal – the crowd gone and the dead carried.
He was followed and he knew it. Agent Teller knew exactly where to look next – his daughter. He returned to his motel and rang her house in Havana. Agent Teller obtained the number earlier. A Spanish told him that she had left to stay with grandma in Santa Clara and that was a secret. He dug into Rivera’s file provided by the RAF for a number and he found one quite from Santa Clara – Anna Maria’s resident number. He rang her up and gave news of her father’s death.
Anna Maria was with her grandma in Santa Clara. In a brief exchange, she received a small portion of grandma’s magic to drink a glass of orchid extract. Grandma told her to remove her clothes if she wanted to disappear from others’ sight. She often lost this child in naked bathe in moments she got released of little touches.
It was midnight when Anna Maria got news of her father’s death. A telephone rang to break the silence and her sleep. She knew there was a Bad Moon on the rise. She knew it was bad news. Agent Teller called.
An hour after the call, she stood in her bedroom, in front of a tall, narrow mirror with a thick, black frame, all the furniture in brass and corrugated. In the half light, it appeared dark brown and a glimpse of beige and grey-green marble spotted floor. Her eyes spotted an LP on a low table of brass – ‘Green River’ of Credence Clearwater Revival.
She picked it to find the record split in halves.
She looked up and saw a Full Moon out through the window and the orchid plants hanging below. It turned some fear in her soul, for the first time, to get scared of a trusted leader and his government. She knew with fear that they turned on them. Her father used the word ‘defect’.
That instant she saw fear standing right in her eyes; the spirit of Anzala Fahsha stood in breadth – nose to nose – a black form with messy hair. She stared into eyes of those goggles without irises that sparkled like ice. Fear reverted – turned to revenge and that influenced by Anzala Fahsha. To describe the effect fully – the spirit entered her.
‘Fear dictator’ turned to ‘no dictator to be feared’ – she wasn’t defecting but she was returning. She rushed out and walked briskly down the corridors her father said that she emerged out of the blue as a child. She removed her coat and just vanished in flesh.
On her mind she was heading to Santiago with the things her father gave. Anna Maria was drawn into a breeze travelling at speed with her back on. It was an hour after that that the Cuban military police knocked on her grandma looking for Anna Maria.
She experienced a teleportation that carried her to Santiago. She appeared in Nice Park. She just moved over a hundred and fifty miles across the woods with her back on – holding the keys and the folder. She felt thorns pricking and leaves brushing but without pain or spilling blood.
In the orange beacons of Nice Park, in the area her father was shot and killed hours ago, she started walking to Aguilera Street where she saw the images of the shooting in her hazel eyes and that captured clear of faces of the people standing closest to Jose Rivera. It was a powerful experience to make telepathy with an electric shock absorb pain in her head and yet she could control it. She noticed the face of Agent Teller she hadn’t seen before; the man who was asked to leave the crime scene because he was English. Anna Maria could also see a gunman in the dark but could not make a face. All it told was that a third person involved killed her father.
Science turned to fiction – Che Guevara wrote in his famous ‘Bolivian Diary’ unveiled in 2008, “That girl I saw in Santa Clara disappeared from my eyes in the instant I picked her hand. She re-emerged with white eyes when I released her invisible fingers. She was the daughter of Jose Rivera.”
She entered Dolores Square Building, climbed the steps and reached the iron door on a long, empty corridor. She entered a freezing cold cubicle with black aluminium walls. She forgot to close the door behind. She reached the glass vacuum with gloved arms to operate an ampoule filling procedure with ‘Tropical Fever’ or ‘Chicken Blood’ – deadly poisonous stuff and a biological mini laboratory set up in a local residence. She turned to close the door. Someone else was standing there with a gun in his hand.
“So this is it?”
“You killed my dad?” she knew he was the hitman. He was quite a young bloke and a friend of Rivera – working at Banana Leaf – often assigned by Veron Barrio for this kind of tasks.
He closed the door behind and waved the gun, “You know…this! And what you expect!”
“I didn’t know…this,” she uttered.
“I thought you were travelling with your father!” he sighed, “I was hanging around here and I saw you, I did not expect you. I followed you. Jose came here this afternoon, I lost him somewhere. I was told of this place – a scientific lab somewhere.”
“Why did you kill him?”
“I am sorry, he will die anyhow. It’d be more painful in jail.”
“I can hardly agree. What are you going to do now? Kill me?”
“No, we cannot stay here. Cops are looking for this place. Lock this place and give me the keys. I am taking you to Señor Barrio. He’s expecting you.” Jo gave no time for her to look into anything inside the secret laboratory.
And revenge it was – she liked the idea to take the life of the person who ordered her father’s death and that of Jo who shot him.
On the top of the hotel she was given a suite with a long terrace full of flowers and a Jacuzzi. Right below there were beach creepers and no palmeras, spacious beach and ample quietness, still in the heat of the sun and bright skies of the Caribbean Sea. She could walk down this terrace to the green carpet on the beach and yet a revealing emptiness that caught her of fear to attempt on an escape. Anna Maria had breakfast. She had a fresh bathe attended by two maids who picked her clothes. She was in Barrio’s residential tourist hotel in Cayo Largo – an island on the southern coast.
Close to noon, one surprising caller arrived. He was alone with two bodyguards on his sides. There was no knock and the door just opened. Fidel Castro walked in.
He was standing, talking and she nodded, nothing could be argued. He wanted her to know what happened got to be forgotten, what document she saw must be erased and the matter slammed. Brainwash and she got an offer to stay with dignity.
She nodded but she couldn’t forget her father. This precious moment was over – he was gone.
She came down to the green carpet and set foot on the sand at sunset. She felt a cool breeze and listened to the waves and yet emptiness driving her off. She observed few people in the distant mile. The horizon was flat and filled with sand that turned orange in the dusk. She wore a blue blouse, a Caribbean chemise, with a dark blue wrapper on her waist.
Jo appeared from the dark, “Señor Barrio wishes to see you.” He stepped on the beach with her to Veron Barrio’s private house set on beachfront some distance away. They walked down the beach.
A Full Moon climbed merely over the treetops from the opposite side of the deepening sea. In Barrio’s low-roof summer house, he got dogs and bodyguards. She was shown to his lounge.
“Well, Anna, what you think of this?” He got those ampoules with him and the manila folder that contained the documents her father compiled.
“This is ‘Tropical Fever’ – one dangerous biological weapon ever on earth. And this, ‘Chicken Blood’ is its cure. These cigar boxes with ‘Chicken Blood’ ampoules are filled and packed by your father in his little den in Santiago. He passes them to Ernesto, ironically, using my boat – Banana Leaf. I’m taking care of every crew who helped him.”
Barrio carefully removed a Tropical Fever ampoule from its strong glass tube, whereas Chicken Blood ampoules were placed in the furrows of the cigar boxes without cases. He tapped the glass with tinkle kisses. “These two got some secret and serve two other purposes, one right and one evil. Eat this and you die.” he said and pushed the Tropical Fever tube closer to her. “Tell me, do you know about this manila file?”
She shook her head, “I don’t know.”
He laughed, “I guess. This is rubbish, one of Jose’s dreams. Now this is not important.” He pushed the file aside and said, “But this...the ampoules, one that can kill and one that cures. I am going to start with ‘Chicken Blood’. It serves much better than Spanish fly if you swallow the whole,” he laughed picking the tube and shaking it in his fist.
He stopped movement with a sharp snap from his thumb opening the ampoule. He poured its content into the glass of wine placed before the girl. “Drink this…” And Jo clicked the gun on her.
She drank it and immediately felt her legs go limp and images blurry. She tried to get up but staggered to a fall. Jo gave a hand. She fell down beside the coffee table before Veron Barrio. She picked the Tropical Fever ampoule as two other bodyguards lifted her off the floor. She was taken to a bed placed in the Scorpio Moon. She could see the crests of the low palms. A white-walled boundary confined her to a king-size bed placed on white sand. Moonlight doubled an effect of gloom and made clear the clouds crossing the sky.
Barrio intended to collect a price from her and she submitted to rape determined to draw satisfaction. Her eyes in thin lines, she screamed to the sky. Barrio gasped for air. She tossed the ampoule into his mouth and shut his jaws cracking the glass into his throat. He fell down to the sand-filled floor oozing blood in streams from his nostrils and genitals. His kidneys stopped functioning instantly and the liver destroyed, his lungs split into bits. He was dead.
She thought an exposure to the poison could harm her but Tropical Fever wasn’t an airborne virus. She picked her chemise and back in her senses she realised – she could be invisible. She walked out to the lounge to come across a couple of bodyguards who could not see her. She picked the manila file and ampoules that contained Tropical Fever and Chicken Blood.
She got away before they discovered the dead body of Veron Barrio.
Few days later, Anna Maria showed up at the airport immigration counter. She wore a black suit and a scarf over her hair. The officer noticed her at once. She was wanted by the secret police and ordered to stop her leaving Cuba from any port. He chuckled, “You can’t leave just like that! A one-way ticket to Jamaica! But I heard you’re leaving for Florida.”
She nodded. She was nervous. She got fear.
“Cash!” he asked seriously.
She hastily reached for her purse and passed him a thousand dollars.
“Wohohoho! That lot! I surely don’t need so much.” He was elated, “You mean business.” Officer suggested that he needn’t need much but he rolled the bank notes into his pocket and checked her out.
A moment later, he couldn’t find the money in his pocket or couldn’t remember where he placed them. He lost the money.
Several days later, Anna Maria arrived at Cayman Islands. In Sotheby House on Seven Mile Beach, she met with the British counsellors who passed her papers to fill in an ‘Overseas Retirement Form’. She was interviewed and the samples she produced were still left on the table, soon to be taken for examination.
Nobody could explain the intent of the conversation held in Banana Leaf casino in the early 60’s. Agent Teller had reported of seeing the amber glass capsules removed from Rivera’s pockets. There was enough evidence to prove that the agent Tropical Fever was passed from Cuban sources. And the manila folder everyone wanted to see. It contained mostly Chemistry and diagrams.
The British officer reviewing the file highlighted on a paragraph under the chapter ‘Autoimmunity and Alien Diseases’ broadly discussed in the document. “Isle of Gigha is the perfect location and an indigenous people on whom an agent like Tropical Fever can be put to test on mass scale. Since the virus originally carried by mosquitoes can survive in the domestic fowl – chicken – remain immortal, it makes conditions favourable to contrive an outbreak of the disease epidemic in the northern latitudes. Since 1963, this island contained two different communities of autoimmunity. The Latinos and the Africans in this small community will not suffer from contact with Tropical Fever however the Gaelic will suffer severely from a slightest exposure even to cause death. The people of the northern latitude have a deficiency in the immune system to alien diseases commonly found in the mid latitudes.”
The growth of the human body to the global factors and autoimmunity, the tonsils and the behaviour of germs were issues it discussed – technically lost. The file explained the bases Che Guevara Foundation developed to carry this virus, symptoms, diagnosis and cure. It also documented a confession from Jose Rivera.
Anna Maria passed into the British Virgin Islands.
Banana Leaf was followed by the Royal Navy since she left Havana heading for Scotland. She was stopped outside Irish waters, climbed, checked and quarantined with a yellow flag for carrying the new formula of Tropical Fever. Dr Mary Clare developed a new version of the antidote that served as a vaccine. New Scotland Yard captured Mayo and Carbonero and two other suspects who worked for Banana Leaf. Among them, Lord Gerald Holmer was secretly married to Cathy Lara and he was convicted for collecting huge funds from Veron Barrio. This matter was seriously dealt with. It created several professional bodies and frontiers to look into biological weapons, threats, mishandling, immigrants, laws, the interests and potencies of unreliable states.