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The Associate

Chapter One

The headlight beams of Dr. Sergey Kaidanov's battered SAAB bounced
off a stand of Douglas firs then came to rest on the unpainted wall
of a one-story, cinderblock building buried in the woods several
miles from downtown Portland. As soon as Kaidanov unlocked the
front door of the building the rhesus monkeys started making that
half-cooing, half-barking sound that set his nerves on edge. The
volume of noise increased when Kaidanov flipped on the

Most of the monkeys were housed in two rooms at the back of the
building. Kaidanov walked down a narrow hall and stood in front of
a thick metal door that sealed off one of the rooms. He slid back a
metal sheet and studied the animals through the window it
concealed. There were sixteen rhesus monkeys in each room. Each
monkey was in its own steel mesh cage. The cages were stacked two
high and two across on a flatcar with rollers. Kaidanov hated
everything about the monkeys -- their sour, unwashed smell, the
noises they made, the unnerving way they followed his every

As soon as Kaidanov's face was framed in the window, the monkey two
from the door in the top cage leaped toward him and stared him
down. Its fur was brownish gray and it gripped the mesh with hands
containing opposable thumbs on both arms and legs. This was the
dominant monkey in the room and it had established its dominance
within three weeks even though there was no way it could get at the

Rhesus monkeys were very aggressive, very nervous, and always
alert. It was bad etiquette to look one in the eye, but Kaidanov
did it just to show the little bastard who was the boss. The monkey
didn't blink. It stretched its doglike muzzle through the mesh as
far as it could, baring a set of vicious canines. At two feet tall
and forty pounds, the monkey didn't look like it could do much
damage to a one-hundred-and-ninety-pound, five-foot-eight male
human, but it was much stronger than it looked.

Kaidanov checked his watch. it was three in the morning. He
couldn't imagine what was so important that he had to meet here at
this hour, but the person whose call had dragged him from a deep
sleep paid Kaidanov to do as he was told, no questions asked.

aidanov needed caffeine. He was about to go to his office to brew a
pot of coffee when he noticed that the padlock on the dominant
monkey's cage was open. He must have forgotten to close it after
the last feeding. The scientist started to open the door but
stopped when he remembered that the key to the monkey rooms was in
his office.

Kaidanov returned to the front of the building. His office was
twelve by fifteen and stuffed with lab equipment. A small desk on
casters stood just inside the door. it was covered by a phone book,
articles from research journals, and printouts of contractions that
the monkeys experienced during pregnancy. Behind the table was a
cheap office chair. Along the walls were metal filing cabinets, a
sink, and a paper towel dispenser.

Kaidanov walked around the desk. The coffeepot was sitting on a
table alongside a centrifuge, scales, a rack of test rubes, and a
Pokémon mug filled with Magic Markers, pens, and pencils.
Above the table was a television screen attached to a security
camera that showed the front of the building.

The pot of coffee was almost brewed when Kaidanov heard a car pull
up and a door slam. On the television a figure in a hooded
windbreaker ran toward the lab. Kaidanov left his office and opened
the front door. The scientist peered at the hooded face and saw two
cold eyes staring at him through the slits in a ski mask. Before he
could speak, a gun butt struck his forehead, blinding him with
pain. Kaidanov collapsed to the floor. The muzzle of a gun ground
into his neck.

"Move," a muffled voice commanded. He scrambled to his knees and a
booted foot shoved him forward. The pain in his face brought tears
to his eyes as he crawled the short distance to his office.

"The keys to the monkey rooms."

Kaidanov pointed toward a hook on the wall. Seconds later
a blow to the back of his head knocked him unconscious.

Kaidanov had no idea how long he had been out. The first thing he
heard when he came to were the hysterical shrieks of terrified
monkeys and the sound of cages crashing together. The scientist
felt like a nail had been driven into his skull, but he managed to
struggle into a sitting position. Around him filing cabinets had
been opened and overturned. The floor was littered with
gasoline-drenched paper, but that was not the only object doused in
gasoline -- his clothing, face, and hands reeked of it. Then the
acrid smell of smoke assailed his nostrils and his stomach turned
when he saw the shadow of flames dancing on the wall outside his

Fear dragged Kaidanov to his knees just as his assailant reentered
the office holding the gun and a five-gallon can of gas. Kaidanov
scurried back against the wall, much the way the more docile
monkeys skittered to the back of their cages whenever he entered
the monkey room. The gas can hit the desk with a metallic thud and
Kaidanov's assailant pulled out a lighter. Kaidanov tried to speak,
but terror made him mute. Just as the lid of the lighter flipped
open, an insane shriek issued from the doorway. An apparition,
engulfed in flame, eyes wide with panic and pain, filled the
entrance to the office. The dominant monkey, Kaidanov thought. It
had been able to force open its cage door because Kaidanov had
forgotten to secure the padlock.

The term...

Excerpted from THE ASSOCIATE © Copyright 2001 by Phillip
Margolin. Reprinted with permission by Harper Collins. All rights


The Associate
by by Phillip Margolin

  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch
  • ISBN-10: 0061030643
  • ISBN-13: 9780061030642