Best-selling author Michael Crichton takes on global warming in his latest thriller, "State of Fear." Read an excerpt below.
In the darkness, he touched her arm and said, "Stay here." She did not move, just waited. The smell of salt water was strong. She heard the faint gurgle of water.
Then the lights came on, reflecting off the surface of a large open tank, perhaps fifty meters long and twenty meters wide. It might have been an indoor swimming pool, except for all the electronic equipment that surrounded it.
And the very strange device at the far end of the pool.
Jonathan Marshall came back to her, grinning like an idiot. "Qu'est-ce que tu penses?" he said, though he knew his pronunciation was terrible. "What do you think?"
"It is magnificent," the girl said. When she spoke English, her accent sounded exotic. In fact, everything about her was exotic, Jonathan thought. With her dark skin, high cheekbones, and black hair, she might have been a model. And she strutted like a model in her short skirt and spike heels. She was half Vietnamese, and her name was Marisa. "But no one else is here?" she said, looking around.
"No, no," he said. "It's Sunday. No one is coming."
Jonathan Marshall was twenty-four, a graduate student in physics from London, working for the summer at the ultra-modern Laboratoire Ondulatoire-the wave mechanics laboratory-of the French Marine Institute in Vissy, just north of Paris. But the suburb was mostly the residence of young families, and it had been a lonely summer for Marshall. Which was why he could not believe his good fortune at meeting this girl. This extraordinarily beautiful and sexy girl.
"Show me what it does, this machine," Marisa said. Her eyes were shining. "Show me what it is you do."
"My pleasure," Marshall said. He moved to the large control panel and began to switch on the pumps and sensors. The thirty panels of the wave machine at the far end of the tank clicked, one after another.
He glanced back at her, and she smiled at him. "It is so complicated," she said. She came and stood beside him at the control panel. "Your research is recorded on cameras?"
"Yes, we have cameras in the ceiling, and on the sides of the tank. They make a visual record of the waves that are generated. We also have pressure sensors in the tanks that record pressure parameters of the passing wave."
"These cameras are on now?"
"No, no," he said. "We don't need them; we're not doing an experiment."
"Perhaps we are," she said, resting her hand on his shoulder. Her fingers were long and delicate. She had beautiful fingers.
She watched for a minute, then said, "This room, everything is so expensive. You must have great security, no?"
"Not really," he said. "Just cards to get in. And only one security camera." He gestured over his shoulder. "That one back in the corner."
She turned to look. "And that is turned on?" she said.
"Oh yes," he said. "That's always on."
She slid her hand to caress his neck lightly. "So is someone watching us now?"
"Then we should behave."
"Probably. Anyway, what about your boyfriend?"
"Him." She gave a derisive snort. "I have had enough of him."
Earlier that day, Marshall had gone from his small apartment to the café on rue Montaigne, the café he went to every morning, taking a journal article with him to read as usual. Then this girl had sat down at the next table, with her boyfriend. The couple had promptly fallen into an argument.