The Side Effect
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by John L. DeBoer
Description: In the 1930s, a German anthropologist researching a primitive people makes an amazing discovery. Eighty years later this leads to the development of a miracle drug that could be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of man's fight against disease. An American physician suspects the drug might have a serious side effect with dire consequences for ethnic Jews. He begins an investigation not knowing that the scientist who created the formula is someone who'll stop at nothing to hide the truth. The story ranges from the jungles of New Guinea to the laboratories of Nazi Germany and the boardrooms of the modern pharmaceutical industry. Profit, prestige, and an undercurrent of racial intolerance provide the motivations for keeping a deadly secret from the world. Physician Scott Cutler races against time and powerful forces to expose the attempt at full-blown genocide.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: March 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [409 KB]
Reading time: 244-342 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
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Eastern highlands, New Guinea, 1927
The bonfire created an island of light in the sea of darkness surrounding the small village. Karl Baumann sat next to the tribal chief, watching the display. A line of grass-skirt-clad, bare-chested men jumped up and down, gradually moving counterclockwise around the flames as they beat on small, cylindrical kundu drums. The colors of elaborate, individually unique headpieces made of hair and feathers, and the painted faces of the dancing men caught the flickering light.
Baumann had seen this many times in the year he'd spent in New Guinea living with the Anga people. He knew the dance would continue far into the night until exhaustion overcame the visions produced by the smoke pipes.
The chief, both leader of the tribe and village shaman, had once offered his pipe to the German. At first the hallucinations frightened Baumann, but then the kaleidoscopic images produced a feeling of contentment he couldn't quite explain after the effects left his system.
He tried to compare the experience with what he was familiar. Though similar to being drunk, no dulling of the senses occurred. In fact, awareness of his surroundings increased.
It also had the arousal component of sex. But instead of a crescendo rush toward orgasm, the entire interlude was climactic, giving him a sense that he joined, not with one woman, but with the entire environment--that he was one with nature.
Afterward, he felt no untoward effects of hangover, regrets, or embarrassments. Just a satisfying calm.
Kukote, the villagers called the plant that, when dried, lit in smoke pipes and inhaled, produced the remarkable visions. As Baumann watched the village men dance, he thought of the kukote sample he'd sent back to Germany for analysis.
Soon he would be following it to the University of Leipzig. A year of studying this culture provided the data he'd turn into his anthropology doctoral dissertation.
With that completed, he planned to return to this strange land and its people. He'd only scratched the surface of these isolated pockets of humanity, he realized, and at that moment he had the study of New Guinean natives to himself. There were missionaries around, to be sure, but as far as he knew, he was the only scientist involved in anthropological research on the island.
That American, Margaret Mead, had already made waves with her writings on the sexual mores of Samoans. He'd heard she had her sights on other Pacific locales as well, including his adopted island. Right now he had a head start, and he didn't want to lose his advantage. An Anthropology Department chair, perhaps at his own university, might be in his future if he planned his moves carefully.
Leipzig, Germany, 1927
Two young men wearing white lab coats stood at a counter in a chemistry lab at the University of Leipzig. This late in the day, the large room was mostly deserted. A glass jar sitting on a counter in front of them contained some kind of leafy plant material. Next to it lay a weathered notebook.
"I got the assignment for this," Erich Hauptmann said to his fellow graduate student, Fritz Scholz, pointing to the jar.
"I'm surprised old man Steiner didn't steal it for himself--this being a strange plant with strange powers." He chuckled and winked at Hauptmann. "But of course, he'll take the credit for it when you isolate the active ingredient."
Hauptmann, tall and thin, his black hair combed straight back, smiled at the shorter, medium-build man. "Isn't that the way it always works, Fritz? We do the research, and Herr Professor puts his name at the top of the publication. One day, my friend, we'll be the ones doling out the assignments to the slaves."
"Can't wait for that day. I've been having trouble putting together my thesis. How about you?"
Hauptmann laughed. "Fritz, I haven't even decided its subject yet. You were always ahead of me in our projects."
"Well, you know me, Erich," Fritz said, clearly made uncomfortable by his friend's remark. "When I have a task to do, I've got to get started on it as soon as possible. Nothing wrong with that, is there?"
"No, of course not." He playfully punched Scholz in the shoulder. "I wish I could be as focused as you. This," he said, gesturing at the jar, "could be what I need to get started, finally."
"Do you know anything about this Karl Baumann?"
"Not really. Some doctorate candidate in the Anthropology Department--a Jew. He apparently spent a year in New Guinea living with the natives. Steiner says this plant supposedly contains a hallucinogen of some sort."
"Now I know why the old man didn't grab this for himself. Of what possible benefit would that be for society? We already have schnapps, and that's all I need to start seeing things that aren't there." He laughed.
Hauptmann laughed, too. "That I know, Fritz." His face then took on a serious expression. "But there could be possibilities here. Perhaps a military use."
"Ha! What military? We don't have any, remember?"
"Germany will not be under the world's heel forever. We must look to the future. One day we'll be back on top again. And our science will pave the way."
"If you say so, Erich. As for me, I'd just be happy to make a living. I'll leave the theoretical applications to the dreamers, like you, and I'll just make the stuff."
"It takes both kinds of scientists to make progress, Fritz--the planners and the producers. That's what makes us a good team. Something to think about after we get our credentials established."
"Well, we don't have them yet, so I'll leave you with your schizophrenia plant." He chuckled again. "Hey, maybe that Freud fellow would be interested. Anyway, I've got to sift through my notes and put them together in a way that makes sense--to Steiner, at least. I'll see you tomorrow, Erich."
"Good evening, Fritz."
As Scholz left the lab, Hauptmann reached for the notebook and began to read.
Lae, New Guinea, 1937
Karl Baumann sat in the waterfront cafe, reading the month-old Volkischer Beobachter, getting angrier by the minute. It was the only German newspaper available in the entire town, much to his chagrin. His coffee, barely touched, sat forgotten on the small table.
Before his country's defeat in the Great War, this part of the island had been known as German New Guinea. Having German-born residents here was one of the reasons he'd selected this faraway land for study. And at least they had one newspaper here to keep him informed of developments back home. So he read it, even though he knew it was an anti-Semitic rag. But what made his blood boil was that this wasn't just a fringe publication in Germany, but a widely-read, mainstream newspaper.
Joseph Klemper, owner of the cafe, emerged from within the building, wiping his hands on an apron. He approached Baumann's table. "Ah, that's better," he said, lifting his face into the onshore breeze. "Hot in there. Mind if I sit here for a while, Karl?"
Baumann gestured at an empty chair.
"You look troubled," Klemper said as he sat. "Trouble with your savages?" He gave him a grin.
Baumann shook his head. He picked up the newspaper and tossed it on the table in front of the other German. "My good friend, Werner Heisenberg. Those Nazi so-called scientists belittle his work as 'Jewish physics'. They couldn't hold a candle to the man. He's a genius."
"Just politics. You know how it goes. Everyone trying to curry favor with the leaders of the new Germany."
"Politics? Is there a 'Jewish Party'? No, Joseph, what's going on in Germany is much more serious than that. Hitler and his minions are intent on isolating my people from the rest of the country. Making them outlaws will be the next step."
"Come, now. It can't be that bad. Jews like yourself are important members of German society. Hitler can't achieve the stability he needs without their support."
"He can if he makes his racist views a national cause, give the people something to rally against. To make Jews 'the others,' not really German, he can provide the gullible with a scapegoat to blame for their misfortunes. It's been done before."
"Perhaps, but I can't see this happening in our country."
"Times have changed. When is the last time you were there?"
"I haven't been back since I arrived here, twenty-one years ago." He smiled. "I've now been in New Guinea longer than I lived in Dusseldorf. This is my home."
The sound of cheers drifting up from the harbor caused both men to look in that direction, a place of considerable excitement that day. Throngs of people gathered around a seaplane, just barely visible from their viewpoint. Amelia Earhart, the famous American aviatrix, was about to take off, headed for the United States and the completion of her round-the-world journey.
As if taking a cue from the impending flight, Klemper asked, "What about you, Karl? You're not planning to take up permanent residence here, are you?"
Baumann sighed. "No, my study here is done, finally. Now I have to take my findings and analyze them where facilities exist to aid me." He'd come to the end of his New Guinea research, a work that included many discoveries. One in particular, though, dominated the others in importance. But it was an incomplete finding. He still needed to prove his hypothesis with the scientific analysis this primitive land couldn't provide.
The amazing kukote plant! If only that chemist, Hauptmann, had responded to his last inquiry, he might not be facing this dilemma.
Baumann knew about the test results of the original study of the plant nine years earlier. Hauptmann, being a graduate student, had no control over the distribution of his findings. But now that he's a big shot in Berlin, he can't be bothered to reply to me? Did he keep the investigation to himself? Did he even bother to look into it? Ach! Who knows?
Gazing out at the harbor, he made a decision. He would follow up on his discovery, but not in Germany, a country with which he could no longer identify.
America. Where women like this Earhart and fellow anthropologist Mead could be allowed to do great things. Where a Negro like Jesse Owens could race against white men and win. And this man, Roosevelt. Hitler and his gang call him a Jew. Their attempt to denigrate him in this way, though, made an unintentional point. It indicated that in America, such a thing as a Jew becoming President was possible.
The United States, not Germany, would give his research a fair hearing. Yes. That's where I must go.
"Well, back to work," Klemper announced and rose. "Good luck with your project."
"Thank you, Joseph. My regards to your family." Baumann got up from the table as Klemper disappeared inside the cafe. With a new sense of purpose, he sauntered down to the dock to see the spectacle.