Inside the Clinica de Salud Publica, visiting hours were over. The gymnasium lights had been turned out. Pierre Cloucharde was fast asleep. He did not see the figure hunched over him. The needle of a stolen syringe glinted in the dark. Then it disappeared into the IV tube just above Cloucharde’s wrist. The hypodermic contained 30 cc of cleaning fluid stolen from a janitor’s cart. With great force, a strong thumb rammed the plunger down and forced the bluish liquid into the old man’s veins.
Cloucharde was awake only for a few seconds. He might have screamed in pain had a strong hand not been clamped across his mouth. He lay trapped on his cot, pinned beneath a seemingly immovable weight. He could feel the pocket of fire searing its way up his arm. There was an excruciating pain traveling through his armpit, his chest, and then, like a million shattering pieces of glass, it hit his brain. Cloucharde saw a brilliant flash of light . . . and then nothing.
The visitor released his grip and peered through the darkness at the name on the medical chart. Then he slipped silently out.
On the street, the man in wire‑rim glasses reached to a tiny device attached to his belt. The rectangular pack was about the size of a credit card. It was a prototype of the new Monocle computer. Developed by the U.S. Navy to help technicians record battery voltages in cramped quarters on submarines, the miniature computer packed a cellular modem and the newest advances in micro technology. Its visual monitor was a transparent liquid crystal display, mounted in the left lens of a pair of eyeglasses. The Monocle reflected a whole new age in personal computing; the user could now look through his data and still interact with the world around him.
The Monocle’s real coup, though, was not its miniature display but rather its data entry system. A user entered information via tiny contacts fixed to his fingertips; touching the contacts together in sequence mimicked a shorthand similar to court stenography. The computer would then translate the shorthand into English.
The killer pressed a tiny switch, and his glasses flickered to life. His hands inconspicuously at his sides, he began touching different fingertips together in rapid succession. A message appeared before his eyes.
SUBJECT: P. CLOUCHARDE‑TERMINATED
He smiled. Transmitting notification of kills was part of his assignment. But including victim’s names . . . that, to the man in the wire‑rim glasses, was elegance. His fingers flashed again, and his cellular modem activated.