Chapter no 10

Quantum Radio

The massive truck drove north on the A1 motorway, past the Geneva airport and into the Swiss countryside.

Since Ty had climbed into the truck, the driver had said only four words: “I’m Lars,” and “Don’t talk.”

And he hadn’t.

For the first forty minutes, the only voice in the cab was that of a French audiobook narrator. From the action in the book, Ty was pretty sure it was wrapping up. It was a spy novel, and the protagonist was on the run—and out of options.

When the audiobook finished, Lars lit a cigarette, cracked his window slightly, and held the pack out to Ty, who shook his head.

When the cigarette was half finished, the man said, eyes still on the road, “So why do you need a ride to Zürich in the middle of the night?”

Ty couldn’t quite place his accent. Belgian, if he had to guess. When Ty didn’t respond, Lars glanced over, silently prompting. “It’s… complicated.”

“What sort of complications?”

Ty had never been a very good liar. As a child, a fixed stare from his mother was enough to make him spill the beans like a burst piñata.

He opted for honesty because, honestly, he really didn’t know that much to tell.

“I made a discovery that someone is threatened by. I need to get away from them.”

“I assumed you were in some sort of trouble.” He motioned with the cigarette toward Ty. “The way you’re sitting. Are you hurt?”

“No. Not really. Just bruises.” “A fight?”

“Yeah. You could say that.”

Lars crushed out the cigarette in an ashtray and lit another. Ty cracked his window to get some fresh air, and upon seeing that, Lars stubbed out the new cigarette.

“Do you know why I drive at night?”

Ty shrugged. “Less traffic? Get there faster?”

That is the practical reason. The real reason is that I’ve become used to being alone. Sleeping during the day. Driving at night. You think being comfortable being alone makes you strong. It helps in this work, but it can hold you back in life. I’ve been driving a lorry on these roads for almost forty years. That’s a lot of time to think. This I know: two things are important in life. The choices you make. And the people you meet. You don’t think so when you’re young, but you’ll know the truth one day: every day of your life is nothing more than a series of choices. Streets you can’t see. Sometimes you take the wrong road.”

He reached for a cigarette, then seemed to remember Ty’s reaction to it.

“You took the wrong one. You either did the right thing or the wrong thing. In this world, you can be attacked for both. The only way to avoid being attacked is to do nothing important, nothing that matters to anyone.”

Ty was considering those words when Lars added, “I wanted to be a philosopher.” The truck driver chuckled at his own words. “I had this theory, a philosophical framework I called ‘The Mind as a Biological Machine.’ Big plans. The problem was, philosophy—ideas—don’t pay the bills. And I had some. Father was gone. Mother was sick. So I left her with my sister and started driving. It was different back then. Good pay. People treated us different. We watched out for each other out here on the road.”

Lars put the cigarettes away and ran a hand through his thinning hair.

“The greatest mistake you can ever make in this life is assuming things will stay the same. Change—that’s the only real constant. I thought I’d drive this lorry for a few years, save up, and go back to college. It didn’t work out. I should have continued my studies on the side—made a living and pursued my passion. You can do both. This job kept changing, and I kept on driving, staying the same. I figured the world will always need lorry drivers, and they’ll have to pay them a good wage to make sure everyone is safe and things get from point A to point B.”

He took a deep breath. “The shipping companies, they can only save money on two things: fuel and the driver. Used to be, fuel was the only commodity to them. These days, both are. They don’t care—the drivers

from Eastern Europe. And I don’t blame them. They’re just trying to support their family, same as me. They spend the money to get their license… and it’s a lot of money to them… and they come here, and they work for starvation wages—a third of what we used to earn. Company doesn’t care. If you’re in the hole and you start earning less, you never get out.”

Lars shook his head. “But don’t listen to me. I’ve become a bitter old man. My body’s starting to break down, and I’m having regrets. All I wanted to say is that if you’re in some kind of trouble, think hard. Don’t dig yourself in deeper. Consider where the road you’re taking might lead you.”

With that, the man put on another audiobook, a work of historical fiction centered on World War II. The words and the hum of the truck and the exhaustion finally overwhelmed the ache in Ty’s body. The last thing he remembered was seeing road signs for Bern.

* Ty woke to a baseball bat nudging him.

The truck was stopped by the side of the road. There was no rest stop or fuel station nearby, only green fields in the moonlight. He and Lars were alone—and the older man was holding the bat, his eyes burning with intensity.

“You’re a terrorist,” he practically spat at Ty. “What?”

His sleep-addled mind could barely process what was happening. “You set off a bomb in your apartment!”

Lars held his phone up, showing the front page of the news website, which was run by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. The headline read:

CERN Researcher Detonates Bomb at Home

Quickly, Ty scanned the article.

The Geneva cantonal police are asking for the public’s help in locating Dr. Tyson Klein, an American physicist working at CERN, who is a person of interest in the explosion at

his Geneva apartment around 2 a.m. The blast killed one person, a sixty-eight-year-old pensioner living below Klein’s apartment, and injured a dozen more.

The words hit Ty like a gut punch. That person was dead because of him

—because of his work. And others were injured. He wondered how badly they were hurt. He wondered how many might never walk again or see again because of the blast that was meant for him.

There was no mention of Penny or the man she had shot in the alley.

Perhaps it was farther down in the article.

Lars jerked the phone back.

“Wait! Let me read it—please. I need to know what happened.”

The Belgian driver eyed him a moment, then, still clutching the bat, held the phone out with his other hand, showing Ty the article again.

Details about the incident and Klein’s possible motivations are unclear at this time, but sources say that Klein recently gave a presentation at CERN with ambitious claims that were met with skepticism. A colleague reached for comment, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that she did not believe that Klein had any explosives expertise or ill intent but that the thirty-five-year-old physicist had been working long hours and had become distant in recent weeks.

A special anti-terrorist strike force within the cantonal gendarmerie has been tasked with apprehending Klein, whom authorities are treating as armed and dangerous. Local organizations, including the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, have placed their headquarters on alert.

Lars drew the phone back and pressed the baseball bat into Ty. “Why?

Why did you do it—” “I didn’t.”

“Get out!”

Slowly, holding his hands up, Ty stepped down from the truck.

“I didn’t set that bomb off. Someone else did. They’re trying to kill me because of my research.”


“I’m telling you the truth.”

Still holding the bat, Lars glanced at his phone. He was opening the phone app.

“I’m calling the authorities. Turning you in. If they know I helped you, I’ll lose everything. All my work—forty years down the drain.”

Ty took a step toward Lars, hands still held up. “Look, you said you took some wrong turns in your life. If you turn me in, it’ll be another one. I promise you. If you make that call, I’ll disappear. They’ll kill me. I know it. What I’ve found will change the world. I’m not certain, but I think it will make it better. I do know that it’s important. Important enough to kill for. I just need some help. Please.”

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