October, 1973

Route 60 cuts across the Florida peninsula above the glitter of the Gold Coast and below the Mouse-induced confusion of Orlando. It is straight, narrow and dull. Dr. Jonas MacPherson was driving it in a hurricane-force wind that blew the rain from the West, right into his windshield. His rate of speed had been diminished to about 40 mph to compensate for the onslaught, but it hadn't helped much. He was alone. "It's so very lonely; you're two thousand light years from home," sang Mick Jagger on the radio, underscoring this fact.1

He told himself he was taking some time off to sort things out, to obtain perspective on the strange events that were taking place around him. Subconsciously, he knew he was engaged in mindless flight. He hadn't even told his wife he was leaving town.

Hinrichs, Draper and the rest of the old team were gone. No, not gone. They were dead. And that was the problem. They shouldn't be. None had died under suspicious circumstances. A few could be said to have lived longer than expected. There were no unusual accidents. The only thing was the concentration of death within a short time span.

The team of space scientists had worked together at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in the recently ended Apollo days, when men went to the Moon. In addition to his scientific duties, MacPherson had recruited and assembled the team on orders directly from Werner von Braun. They had worked on the Moon landings, along with thousands of others, but had also worked on a secret project connected with the Apollo program. After the final Moon landing, the team had gradually dispersed. Some left NASA. Others went to Houston. A few had simply retired. One had died.
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