The brilliant Dr. Peter Jance, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, is only weeks away from succumbing to cancer. But a top-secret government organization known as the Fountain Society gives Peter a new lease on life by transplanting his brain into the body of his much younger clone. When the brand-new Peter becomes disgusted with the immorality of the project and wants out, he finds himself on the run for his very life.
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Wes Craven is a former humanities professor turned master of the macabre, a prolific and wildly successful film director and screenwriter for almost thirty years. His credits include A Nightmare on Elm Streeet, many episodes of Twilight Zone, The People Under the Stairs, Screams 1, 2 and 3 and the classic Last House on the Left. In a new departure, he has recently completed his first nongenre film, starring Meryl Streep and Aidan Quinn, about a violin teacher in Spanish Harlem. The film is slated for a fall 1999 release. Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and holds a master's degree in writing and philosophy from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He lives in Los Angeles. Fountain Society is his first book.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Detention Complex 14 -- Haifa
The cell held fifteen men. It was ten by twelve and stank of sweat, filth and fear. The only amenity offered was a hole in the center of the concrete floor which served as a toilet. The cell contained, so far as Rashid al-Assad had been able to gather, three Lebanese commandos who kept to themselves and were dreaded even more than their jailers. One of their number had been beaten badly during capture and was raving with fever and gangrene. This kept the others in a murderous mood.
There were also six nondescript Palestinians, none known to Rashid. From what he surmised they were nothing more than workmen, drivers or ex-army thieves, the usual Shiite dregs. They gave true Palestinian fighters a bad name, screaming under torture, wetting themselves and having nothing of importance to disclose when they quickly broke. He despised them.
The four Syrians were probably spies of one sort or another, more than likely industrial. He ignored them.
There was Rashid himself, proud to be a Shi'ite Muslim and a Hezbollah guerrilla. Not once had he uttered a sound, although they had removed everything on him that could be pulled off with a pair of pliers.
And then there was this tall blond pig of a Russian over in the corner.
This Russian was not to be known, Rashid understood. He was the only other professional there, and he was unapproachable. Someone had tried to fuck him the first night, and the Russian had killed the idiot before he could even open his mouth in protest. The corpse had been removed two days later, when the smell reached the guards two floors above.
In that very guard room Lieutenant Joram Ben Ami, watch commander of the intelligence unit at Haifa, was reading a message from his superior in Jerusalem at that very moment. The call they had both been expecting had been received from Washington at 12:45 p.m. local time, 1:45 a.m. in Washington, which was considered a good sign. It meant that the CIA was transmitting when scrambled telephone messages were least likely to attract attention. The business to which the call referred had been in process long enough to be in danger of random slipups, leaks to the press, unwanted attention from whistle-blowers and bleeding-heart congressmen, but the process had remained secret, and so the Israelis and the Americans were able to continue providing mutual benefit for each other. Ben Ami had been given the order to prepare two more units. That would make a total of ten prisoners shipped to the U.S. over the past six months, in return for which the Israeli air force would receive another five air-to-air Sparrow missiles. An excellent trade, in Ben Ami's opinion.
He chose Rashid al-Assad, the Hezbollah guerrilla, as the first. Rashid was the motherless asshole suspected of bombing a bus of Jewish settlers in downtown Haifa six weeks ago. The only unfortunate thing was that he was to be shipped untouched.
The second unit was stipulated by Ben Ami's commander -- it was to be the Russian caught spying for Iraq. He needed to be processed slightly, so Ben Ami relayed the orders to his best team. An ordinary claw hammer was used, both because it was what was on hand, and because they all hated Scud-selling Russians. His teeth came out with surprising difficulty.
Just before dawn, an unmarked American C-120 touched down on the airstrip outside the detention complex. Half a dozen long crates were fork-lifted out of the hold, and the two prisoners, heavily drugged and in handcuffs, were taken aboard by CIA operatives. The plane rose again, and the deal was done.
Twenty hours later, thousands of miles away from this airstrip and from each other, Rashid al-Assad and his Russian companion would be in the hands of an organization so secret not even the CIA spooks who acted as their handlers knew its purpose.
Neither man would survive his arrival for more than a few days.
St. Maurice, Switzerland
Nearing orgasm, Elizabeth was having strange thoughts about being caught up in The Wizard of Oz.
She was in Dorothy's house, and the twister was sweeping around her, rattling the shutters and roaring in her ears. Wood splintered and she was lifted into the air.
Then at last she wasn't thinking at all.
All week long she had been obsessing about this afternoon, listing in one column all the reasons for showing up, in the other all the reasons for breaking the relationship off. The problem was, the same items kept popping up in both columns.
At least, for the moment, she was free of her most haunting preoccupation -- that she would never see Hans Brinkman again.
She arched her back and surrendered to the storm. She heard his cry of release, then despite his best efforts, his heart no longer seemed in it. He fell away, and a moment later he was throwing open the hotel window. He took in several deep breaths of frigid Alpine air.
She tried to catch her own breath.
He turned and smiled that perfect smile, then got back into bed with her, pulled the covers over them both and kissed her.
"That was wonderful," she said.
"But you didn't..." He made a gesture.
"No, but my watch stopped," she said lightly, returning his smile. "Really, Hans, don't worry about it."
He rolled out of bed just as quickly as he had gotten in, and gave a sigh. "I'm a selfish bastard, aren't I?"
"You are, yes, but that's my problem."
She tried to make it light, too, but it didn't feel that way inside. She couldn't help asking herself what all these Saturdays had amounted to, when all was said and done. Granted, he was rich and handsome, but she had been with handsome, powerful men before and hadn't felt a tenth of what she felt with Hans, or for him. The others had been devoted to her, had lavished gifts on her -- but not Hans. Attention, yes, in unpredictable bursts, but for the most part his days were spent in the world of global finance and his evenings devoted to his marriage, with all of the social life that went with it. Places she did not know and was not invited to. In fact she was, she knew, a complete secret from the rest of his life and the people in it. She did not exist in his world. Only here, in these rooms, for a few hours a month. It was not enough, even though she had allowed it to become everything she really cared about; she knew it had to end, sooner or later. And recently, she reluctantly felt it should be sooner than later.
As Hans dressed she watched him from under the covers, like a biologist studying a baffling animal from a blind. Hans Brinkman was thirty-five, ten years older than she, golden-haired, eyes flecked with green and brown. Like pools in Alpine streams, Elizabeth had thought when she first saw them -- cool, and full of hidden life. The afternoon sun glinted off his finely muscled body, his shock of thick blond hair. That last climax had been his third, yet he seemed unaffected. He was an athlete even in bed, she realized, and they were locked in some sort of contest she was probably fated to lose.
She was halfway down a hellish black diamond trail when she had first spotted him -- a flash of color shooting by on skis in the brilliant Swiss sunlight.
"On your left!" And then a blur.
This caught her attention in a hurry, since it was usually her passing the few who dared this sheer face. But there was something else, too. A feeling that she knew him, or needed to, and it was so strong that it was downright eerie.
Had she glimpsed a boyish grin in that streamlined, racing figure? No, just a wicked grin -- she was sure of it!
On full auto, Elizabeth shot out in a breath-stopping arc off an ice shelf she had always wisely avoided before. Half-falling, half-flying fifty yards downslope in the air, she managed to land upright only by a combination of grit, skill and pure luck. But she w
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