Home > Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1)(13)

Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1)(13)
Author: Michael Crichton

"Well, I did the best I could on short notice," his secretary said. "There's running shoes your size, and khaki shorts and shirts, and a shaving kit. A pair of jeans and a sweatshirt if it gets cold. The car is downstairs to take you to the airport. You have to leave now to make the flight."

She left. Gennaro walked down the hallway, tearing the sales tags off the suitcase. As he passed the all-glass conference room, Dan Ross left the table and came outside.

"Have a good trip," Ross said. "But let's be very clear about one thing. I don't know how bad this situation actually is, Donald. But if there's a problem on that island, burn it to the ground."

"Jesus, Dan . . . We're talking about a big investment."

"Don't hesitate. Don't think about it. Just do it. Hear me?"

Gennaro nodded. "I hear you," he said. "But Hammond- "

"Screw Hammond," Ross said.

"My boy, my boy," the familiar raspy voice said. "How have you been, my boy?"

"Very well, sir," Gennaro replied. He leaned back in the padded leather chair of the Gulfstream II jet as it flew east, toward the Rocky Mountains.

"You never call me any more," Hammond said reproachfully. "I've missed you, Donald. How is your lovely wife?"

"She's fine. Elizabeth's fine. We have a little girl now."

"Wonderful, wonderful. Children are such a delight. She'd get a kick out of our new park in Costa Rica."

Gennaro had forgotten how short Hammond was; as he sat in the chair, his feet didn't touch the carpeting-he swung his legs as he talked. There was a childlike quality to the man, even though Hammond must now be . . . what? Seventy-five? Seventy-six? Something like that. He looked older than Gennaro remembered, but then, Gennaro hadn't seen him for almost five years.

Hammond was flamboyant, a born showman, and back in 1983 he had had an elephant that he carried around with him in a little cage. The elephant was nine inches high and a foot long, and perfectly formed, except his tusks were stunted. Hammond took the elephant with him to fund-raising meetings. Gennaro usually carried it into the room, the cage covered with a little blanket, like a tea cozy, and Hammond would give his usual speech about the prospects for developing what he called "consumer biologicals." Then, at the dramatic moment, Hammond would whip away the blanket to reveal the elephant. And he would ask for money.

The elephant was always a rousing success; its tiny body, hardly bigger than a cat's, promised untold wonders to come from the laboratory of Norman Atherton, the Stanford geneticist who was Hammond's partner in the new venture.

But as Hammond talked about the elephant, he left a great deal unsaid. For example, Hammond was starting a genetics company, but the tiny elephant hadn't been made by any genetic procedure; Atherton had simply taken a dwarf-elephant embryo and raised it in an artificial womb with hormonal modifications. That in itself was quite an achievement, but nothing like what Hammond hinted had been done.

Also, Atherton hadn't been able to duplicate his miniature elephant, and he'd tried. For one thing, everybody who saw the elephant wanted one. Then, too, the elephant was prone to colds, particularly during winter. The sneezes coming through the little trunk filled Hammond with dread. And sometimes the elephant would get his tusks stuck between the bars of the cage and snort irritably as he tried to get free; sometimes he got infections around the tusk line. Hammond always fretted that his elephant would die before Atherton could grow a replacement.

Hammond also concealed from prospective investors the fact that the elephant's behavior had changed substantially in the process of miniaturization. The little creature might look like an elephant, but he acted like a vicious rodent, quick-moving and mean-tempered. Hammond discouraged people from petting the elephant, to avoid nipped fingers.

And although Hammond spoke confidently of seven billion dollars in annual revenues by 1993, his project was intensely speculative. Hammond had vision and enthusiasm, but there was no certainty that his plan would work at all. Particularly since Norman Atherton, the brains behind the project, bad terminal cancer-which was a final point Hammond neglected to mention.

Even so, with Gennaro's help, Hammond got his money. Between September of 1983 and November of 1985, John Alfred Hammond and his "Pachyderm Portfolio" raised $870 million in venture capital to finance his proposed corporation, International Genetic Technologies, Inc. And they could have raised more, except Hammond insisted on absolute secrecy, and he offered no return on capital for at least five years. That scared a lot of investors off. In the end, they'd had to take mostly Japanese consortia. The Japanese were the only investors who had the patience.

Sitting in the leather chair of the jet, Gennaro thought about how evasive Hammond was. The old man was now ignoring the fact that Gennaro's law firm had forced this trip on him. Instead, Hammond behaved as if they were engaged in a purely social outing. "It's too bad you didn't bring your family with you, Donald," he said .

Gennaro shrugged. "It's my daughter's birthday. Twenty kids already scheduled. The cake and the clown. You know how it is."

"Oh, I understand," Hammond said. "Kids set their hearts on things."

"Anyway, is the park ready for visitors?" Gennaro asked.

"Well, not officially," Hammond said. "But the hotel is built, so there is a place to stay. . . ."

"And the animals?"

"Of course, the animals are all there. All in their spaces."

Gennaro said, "I remember in the original proposal you were hoping for a total of twelve. . . ."

"Ob, we're far beyond that. We have two hundred and thirty-eight an'mals, Donald."

Two hundred and thirty-eight?"

The old man giggled, pleased at Gennaro's reaction. "You can't imagine it. We have herds of them."

"Two hundred and thirty-eight . . . How many species?"

"Fifteen different species, Donald."

"That's incredible," Gennaro said. "That's fantastic. And what about all the other things you wanted? The facilities? The computers?"

"All of it, all of it," Hammond said. "Everything on that island is state-of-the-art. You'll see for yourself, Donald. It's perfectly wonderful. That's why this . . . concern . . . is so misplaced. There's absolutely no problem with the island."

Gennaro said, "Then there should be absolutely no problem with an inspection."

"And there isn't," Hammond said. "But it slows things down. Everything has to stop for the official visit. . . ."

"You've had delays anyway. You've postponed the opening."

"Oh, that " Hammond tugged at the red silk handkerchief in the breast pocket of his sportcoat. "It was bound to happen. Bound to happen."

"Why?" Gennaro asked.

Chapter 4

"Well, Donald," Hammond said, "to explain that, you have to go back to the initial concept of the resort. The concept of the most advanced amusement park in the world, combining the latest electronic and biological technologies. I'm not talking about rides. Everybody has rides. Coney Island has rides. And these days everybody has animatronic environments. The haunted house, the pirate den, the wild west, the earthquake-everyone has those things. So we set out to make biological attractions. Living attractions. Attractions so astonishing they would capture the imagination of the entire world."

Gennaro had to smile. It was almost the same speech, word for word, that he had used on the investors, so many years ago. "And we can never forget the ultimate object of the project in Costa Rica-to make money," Hammond said, staring out the windows of the jet. "Lots and lots of money.

"I remember," Gennaro said.

"And the secret to making money in a park," Hammond said, "is to limit your Personnel costs. The food handlers, ticket takers, cleanup crews, repair teams. To make a park that runs with minimal staff. That was why we invested in all the computer technology-we automated wherever we could."

"I remember. . . ."

"But the plain fact is," Hammond said, when you put together all the animals and all the computer systems, you run into snags. Who ever got a major computer system up and running on schedule? Nobody I know."

"So you've just had normal start-up delays?"

"Yes, that's right," Hammond said. "Normal delays."

"I heard there were accidents during construction," Gennaro said. "Some workmen died. . . ."

"Yes, there were several accidents," Hammond said. "And a total of three deaths. Two workers died building the cliff road. One other died as a result of an earth-mover accident in January. But we haven't had any accidents for months now." He put his band on the younger man's arm. "Donald," he said, "believe me when I tell you that everything on the island is going forward as planned. Everything on that island is perfectly fine."

The intercom clicked. The pilot said, "Seat belts, please. We're landing in Choteau."


Dry plains stretched away toward distant black buttes. The afternoon wind blew dust and tumbleweed across the cracked concrete. Grant stood with Ellie near the Jeep and waited while the sleek Grumman jet circled for a landing.

"I hate to wait on the money men," Grant grumbled.

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