Authors: Carl Douglass
Sybil Norcroft Book Six
Neurosurgeon Turned Author
Writes with Gripping Realism
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2014960350
Copyright 2015 Carl Douglass
All rights reserved, including the right of
reproduction in any form, or by any mechanical
or electronic means including photocopying or
recording, or by any information storage or
retrieval system, in whole or in part in any
form, and in any case not without the
written permission of the author and publisher.
Manufactured in the United States of America.
ll of the six novellas in the Sybil Series are works of fiction and should not be construed as representing real persons, places, or events. Some names of real persons and places appear but only for the purpose of creating a setting in the real world or as a mention of historical circumstances. None of the real people or the real places were actually involved in the fictional portrayals found in these short books. All of the events described were created from the author’s imagination.
To my family
Books by Carl Douglass
-A Novel of Betrayal and Revenge, A Story of the CIA’s Phoenix Program
Saga of a Neurosurgeon Series
-Book One: Garven Wilsonhulme’s Way to Success-No Quarter Asked and None Given
-Heaven and Hell
-Book Three: Garven Wilsonhulme Takes on All Comers in the Jungle of Modern Competition
-Book Four: Young M.D., Garven Wilsonhulme, Engaged in a Social Poker Game of Winner Takes All
The Law of the Jungle
-Book Five: Surgeon in Training, Garven Wilsonhulme, Fang-and-Claw Competition for Glory
-The Vulture and the Phoenix
-Book Six: Neurosurgeon, Garven Wilsonhulme, the Final Great Fight
All in Jest
-Renowned Neurosurgeon in the Fight of Her Life
Gog and Magog
—Yawm al-Qiyamah, Yawm al-Din, The Day of Judgment
Finders Keepers, Losers Weep
-A Novel of Innocence Betrayed and the Search for Restitution
Sheep Dog and The Wolf
-A Story of Terrorism and Response, and the Sheep Dogs Who Protect
Trojan Horse in the Belly of the Beast,
Though They Come From the Ends of the Earth
Dancing with the Devil
Trojan Horse in the Belly of the Beast
The End of the Beginning
Uncharted Country, Uncertain Future
Secrets and Scandals
Running with the Big Dogs
The Origin of Selection, Order, Progression, and Diversity–out of print
Something About Religion
—out of print
Physical Chemistry Laboratory, College Street, Main Campus, Howard University, Washington D.C., October 23, 2019
erisse Monet Daniels might have been an ordinary—albeit very bright—student in Chem 173 were it not for three things: She was very small, six inches smaller than the next smallest girl in the lab class. Most of the students were African-Americans, prideful of being fairly light skinned or café au lait. Cerisse was almost literally as black as coal—so black that her skin color was tending towards grey. Ordinarily at Howard University, neither her diminutive size nor her ebony color would have attracted persisting attention. However, the fact that she was accompanied by two huge guards in grey suits, white shirts, plain colored ties without designs, and scrupulously shined shoes did. All of the men on her guard detail were armed with hand guns in shoulder holsters and a second weapon in an ankle holster. They never smiled or talked to the students or the professors. Many of the Howard students considered them creepy.
Cerisse tried to fit in, to be normal; but, try as she might, she was anything but normal. Not that the other students or even her guard detail knew, but she was a pygmy born in the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] and lived there until she was fourteen. During almost the entirety of her life there in the jungle, she was maltreated in the extreme. The Bantus who surrounded the pygmy villages captured her and sold her as a slave to the French. She became part of the legion of victims of human trafficking; and, among the worst of the abuses she suffered, is that she was forced into childhood prostitution. Her family and most of her relatives were massacred.
That she lived, was owing to her intrepid mother, an American doctor, who took her away and finally adopted her. Her mother and father saw her worth and potential and did all possible to get her a formal education—something she was entirely lacking in the country of her birth. Another remarkable quality of the young woman was that she was a natural linguist. From her childhood—and by necessity—Cerisse was native fluent in French (the official language of the DRC), Dutch, and Portuguese—the languages of the slave masters. She also spoke more than one dialect of Arabic and a fair share of the 242 native languages of her country, including the four national languages: Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba and some of the minor, but still important, “other languages”—Mongo, Lunda, Tetela, Chokwe, Budza, Ngbandi, Lendu, Mangbetu, Nande, Ngbaka and Eborna. Besides her exotic background, she stood out as the only African among the African-Americans. None of her classmates—all but two of whom were African-Americans—had ever actually met or mingled with a real native born African.
She came to stand out—to be different—in other ways. She was brilliant, several ticks above genius; and, despite her small and delicate appearing physique, she was a well-trained martial artist in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga, like her mother. Sybil Norcroft—her mother, recognized that her tiny daughter would have to learn to defend herself both mentally and physically—and Cerisse excelled in both fields. Unlike her classmates, she did not strive to be popular, just to be accepted and otherwise left alone. She never flirted or played the coquette. Also, unlike her most of her classmates, she was engaged to be married to her high school sweetheart, Drake Farrer. Like Cerisse, Drake was a hard-driving, take-no-prisoners pre-med student.
Drake and Cerisse—both age nineteen—entered Howard at the same time and took almost every class together. Now, they were sophomores, and moving swiftly and successfully through the rigorous pre-medicine curriculum. Besides being engaged, in love, and immoderately helpful to one another, the two of them were in an all-out competition with each other to be Howard’s valedictorian in 2021. On this particular day, they were working together to defeat everyone else in the physical chemistry laboratory course that semester.
Prior to Cerisse and Drake coming to the university, Howard produced more African—American chemists than any other chemistry department in the world. It has the largest chemistry department in the District of Columbia. It was the first predominately African-American university to grant Ph.D. degrees in chemistry. Surviving through the storms of the vicious discrimination against Negro people in the early years and the tumults of the civil rights movement, Howard was justifiably proud of its uncompromisingly rigid and rigorous standards. The professor of physical chemistry was determined that it could never be said that he was lax in his requirements of any student because of the color of their skin. He took pride in the accomplishments of his star students, and Cerisse and Drake were among them. That meant that his standards were all the more exacting upon them. The two of them thrived in that environment. They were acknowledged by their student peers to be two of the ten “A’s” in the large quantitative analysis course.
The task of the day was to determine the exact amount of a compound and its nature from two unknowns the students were given. The requirement was that the weights be precise out to four decimal points. Part of doing great in the lab depended on Cerisse and Drake managing to protect their territory extremely well from the attackers who would wreck their experiments. They had gotten near-perfect scores on the mid-term written exam, one of the highest percentage scores in the professor’s memory. Both of them had answered the trick questions about not analyzing heavy metal samples in an iron mortar nor storing alkali metals in glass vessels, nor exposing silver compounds to light and the technicalities of achieving a representative twenty-five gram sample of wheat from a twenty-five ton ship load. What was left to guarantee their “A’s” became their main aim from then until the end of the semester. They took every security precaution to protect their lab materials from saboteurs and became justifiably paranoid in the process.
The mid-term laboratory examination was entirely open book, just a matter of determining quantities of known chemicals in a compound. Cerisse and Drake were assigned a chunk of Dolomite limestone and required to ascertain to four decimal point accuracy the quantities of the several components in the formless lump of silica, magnesium, calcium, combined oxides, and carbon dioxide. The first order of business was to determine what exactly the lump was made of. Once the relatively simple identification of the chemicals in their sample was completed, they set about to separate the parts and to weigh them with accuracy down to the ten-thousandth of a decimal point.
The test was a project expected to take a week. Cerisse and Drake had to know already to use platinum crucibles for the ignition of the contained calcium oxalate precipitates and to determine loss from ignition with professional accuracy. Porcelain crucibles were needed for the magnesium ammonium phosphate precipitates. Meker burners, blast lamps, and muffle furnaces—all of which were in short supply in the student laboratories—had to be employed; and there was going to be a lot of standing around.
It was Drake who first observed the big athletic looking light-brown guy in the vicinity of their scale. He mentioned the fellow’s presence to Cerisse; so, they could be on the lookout for him if he were up to no good. Cerisse recognized him as one Howard’s star football players and as one of the high scorers thus far in the class, and further, knew that the guy’s scale was located all the way across the lab. He did indeed bear watching.
It was Cerisse who saw the big athlete move by the scale (number 3210) next to her’s and Drake’s (number 3212) and dip a moistened pair of toothpicks into the white powder sitting on the brass balance of the Mettler Scale. She did not care over much personally since it wasn’t her scale but had to wonder why sabotage a lab pair who were in the middle of the pack in the class. Both she and Drake had seen similar alterations of the next-door partners’ work over the last two weeks of class. Drake was for turning the guy in.
Cerisse said, “I don’t like to turn anybody in to the authorities on general principles. Besides, everyone will get in a snit because my mother is famous, and I have guards. We can’t let it go, but I think it’s usually better to take care of your own problems. We can tell the poor schmucks at 3210, though. They can take care of it any way they like.”
Drake was dubious, but agreed.
Scores were posted weekly by listing the results next to the assigned Mettler Scale numbers to preserve anonymity. For two weeks 3212 had gotten perfect scores, and Cerisse and Drake were all smiles and tranquility. 3210 got abysmal scores and those lab partners were all scowls and discomposure. The big athlete was all perplexity.
He finally could not contain himself, and heedless of the likelihood that he might be self-incriminatory, he ventured to ask Cerisse and Drake, “How’d you guys do?”
He had a peculiar Bronx accent that Cerisse thought was something that identified him as being in a mafia gang.
“Okay,” replied Drake. “You get your unknowns?”
“Pretty close,” the big fellow said, still uncertain of why the two lab partners were so cheerful in view of their terrible lab performance. “But I thought you hadn’t done so hot.”
“Actually, we were pretty lucky—got perfect scores the last two weeks,” Drake added, watching the known saboteur’s face.
He looked confused, unpleasantly so.
“I don’t get it,” he said forgetting his resolution to be subtle and not to give himself away. “I kind of thought 3210 did lousy.”
“They did,” Drake told him, unwilling to give out more explanatory information.
“I thought you had 3210.”
The guy’s face was earnest now. He was trying to be crafty and subtle, but it was a little late in the day for that. He did not see it though.
He kept on, “So what number are you guys?”
He was so determined in his detective work that he could not see how dumb and revealing his question was.
“Who wants to know? And how come?” asked Cerisse who had been standing to one side until now looking up at the cheating athlete’s face.
Neither of the students at 3212 liked the big jerk making an obvious attempt to find out which place belonged to them; so, he could sabotage their work. The dummy might just as well have come right out and told them his plans.
The big guy knew he had kind of painted himself into a corner.
He figured—as he always did with his superior size—that a good offense was better than a good defense; so, he retorted, “Looks like you thought someone said stand-up when they said shut-up, little darkie.”
Cerisse was in no mood to accept—with any measure of forgiveness—references to her size or color, certainly not in Howard University where the color of one’s skin had never been allowed to influence success, and absolutely never been allowed to be used to disparage anyone. This was especially true of someone trying to wreck her and Drake’s GPAs and was clumsy about it as well.
“Why don’t you just go and see if you can screw up somebody else’s unknown and butt out of our business, cretin?” Cerisse said.
Her secret service guards were at full attention on the small girl and the big man who appeared to be threatening her.
A small crowd was gathering, including a couple of lab instructors who had chanced to overhear the reference to sabotage. The over-muscled student was becoming uncomfortable. He did not like the reference to screwing up unknowns and the implications for his own well-being in the class; and furthermore, he did not like being called a ‘cretin’ even though he was not quite sure what it meant.
“How would you like to make me, little toy doll?” he sneered in a something-less-than adroit rejoinder.
Cerisse felt the eyes of the gathering crowd and especially those of Drake on her.
“This should be settled here and now. Are you threatening me?” she asked loudly enough so every student, lab tech, teacher’s aide, and professor could hear.
The secret service agents moved in a little closer, not quite ready to intervene.
She was angry now. She turned to her fellow students.
“Watch this guy around your lab stuff if you want to pass this lab. Ask number 3210.”
There, it was out.
The lab instructors locked eyes with the big guy, and he studied his shoes. His face was scarlet and his masseter muscles were clenched. He slowly looked over at Cerisse.
He gave her the finger and said, “You see this, pipsqueak. I can flatten you into a greasy pancake before you can say ‘oh professor, dear,’ and bat those scrawny little eyelashes at him.”
He pantomimed a ham-sized fist on the end of an outstretched heavily muscled arm.
Cerisse’s Krav Maga instructor had been in the IDF navy. In his honor she kicked her very much larger opponent square amid-ships. His eyes briefly registered consternation, then pain, and then he toppled to the floor holding on to the contents of the mid-ships stow area. Then he curled up into a fetal ball and vomited.
The larger of the two secret service guards moved extremely quickly and stood over the retching and furious man.
“Don’t get up,” he said quietly.