Order hardcover edition
Order e-book edition

New! short novel

Download from Amazon

table of contents

Click for text of an episode, or for audio. New text episodes added every weekday, audio frequently.


NEWS:   (June 03, 2007)  more...

« Previous Episode | Main | Table of Contents | Next Episode »

Chapter 8 - April 2, 2003 - Episode 5

Listen to podcast Listen to Episode

Detective Mark Cohen’s mobile phone beeps three times to indicate a new text message as he drives up the Garden State Parkway from Atlantic Highlands. Against both departmental policy and common sense, he continues at 80 miles per hour as he fingers the keys to retrieve the message and then reads it:


Message from:
917 555 6789
cod bullet 2 rt temple
alpha-amanitin in blood
suff for death but not cause

One-handed, he tries calling back but gets voice mail. “What the fuck is alpha-amanitin?” he asks in his message.

By the time Mark gets back to his desk in the precinct, he still hasn’t gotten a call back from the coroner. He tries a few more numbers there but gets only voice mail so he Googles “Alpha-amanitin”.


Suppliers of: alpha-Amanitin
... where to find biomedical research supplies and services. Search by: Product
Supplier. Suppliers of: alpha-Amanitin Found 7 Companies, ...
www.biosupplynet.com/cfdocs/ products/prod_supp.cfm?prod_id=5 - 8k - Cached - Similar pages
Isolation and characterization of an alpha-amanitin-resistant rat ...
... Isolation and characterization of an alpha-amanitin-resistant rat myoblast mutant
cell line possessing alpha-amanitin-resistant RNA polymerase II. ...
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve& db=PubMed&list_uids=168192&dopt=Abstract - Similar pages
Studies on the possible mechanisms of protective activity against ...
Arch Pharm Res. 2001 Feb;24(1):55-63. Studies on the possible mechanisms of
protective activity against alpha-amanitin poisoning by aucubin. ...
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve& db=PubMed&list_uids=11235813&dopt=Abstract - Similar pages
[ More results from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov ]
Structural basis of transcription: alpha-amanitin-RNA polymerase ...
Click here to read Structural basis of transcription: alpha-amanitin-RNA polymerase
II cocrystal at 2.8 A resolution. Bushnell DA, Cramer P, Kornberg RD. ...
www.facultyof1000.com/pubmed/11805306 - Similar pages
Studies on the inhibition by alpha-amanitin of single-step ...
Studies on the inhibition by alpha-amanitin of single-step addition reactions and
productive RNA synthesis catalysed by wheat-germ RNA polymerase II. ...
www.cancerci.com/pubmed/2467661 - Similar pages
Alpha-amanitin-resistant transcription units in trypanosomes: a ...
... Alpha-amanitin-resistant transcription units in trypanosomes: a comparison of promoter
sequences for a VSG gene expression site and for the ribosomal RNA genes. ...
nar.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/19/19/5153 - Similar pages
The Effect of {alpha}-Amanitin on the Arabidopsis Seed Proteome ...
www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/reprint/134/4/1598 - Similar pages
Science Fair Projects - Alpha-amanitin
... Alpha-amanitin. A relatively tiny protein of only eight amino acids,
alpha-amanitin is the toxin found in the Amanita genus of mushrooms ...
www.all-science-fair-projects.com/ science_fair_projects_encyclopedia/Alpha-amanitin - 15k - Cached - Similar pages
Effects of alpha-amanitin on nuclear maturation of porcine oocytes ...
... Articles. Effects of alpha-amanitin on nuclear maturation of porcine oocytes
in vitro. B Meinecke and S Meinecke-Tillmann. The effects ...
www.reproduction-online.org/ cgi/content/abstract/98/1/195 - Similar pages
Alpha-amanitin - Definition of Alpha-amanitin by Webster's Online ...
Alpha-amanitin. Advertisement. Close. ...
www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/Alpha-amanitin - 11k - Cached - Similar pages



The Science Fair entry proved most useful:


A relatively tiny protein of only eight amino acids, alpha-amanitin is the toxin found in the Amanita genus of mushrooms that makes them so deadly. It is also found in the unrelated Galerina autumnalis.

Particularly dangerous about this toxin is its delayed effects. It slowly attacks an RNA polymerase in the liver. Few effects are reported within 10 hours; it is not unusual for significant effects to take as much as 24 hours after ingestion. This is far past the time when the stomach could be safely pumped. Diarrhea and cramps are the first symptom, but those pass, leaving a false remission. Then, on the 4th to 5th day, the toxin starts to have severe effects on the liver and kidneys, leading to total system failure in both. Death usually takes place around a week from ingestion.

Around 15% of those poisoned will die in around 10 days progressing through a comatose stage to renal failure, liver failure, hepatic coma, respiratory failure and death. Those who recover are unlikely to regain full health. Early diagnosis can be tricky and treatment is mainly supportive (gastric lavage, activated charcoal, fluid resuscitation) but includes various drugs to counter the amatoxins, including penicillin and cephalosporin derivatives, and can extend to an orthotopic liver transplant. The most reliable method to treat amanitin poisoning is through having the stomach pumped immediately after ingestion; however, the onset of symptoms is generally too late for this to be an option.


Mark makes a few hurried phone calls and gives some urgent orders. As he does this, a news alert he’s set for Lazard pops on his screen and makes him visibly angry.



New York Post Online Edition

Eats Mushrooms; Dies from Lead


April 2, 2003 – Larry Lazard. CEO of hackoff.com, ate poison mushrooms shortly before shooting himself according to sources in the NYPD.

The apparent source of the mushrooms was a pizza Lazard had eaten earlier that evening.  However, according to our sources, the poison in these mushrooms is slow-acting and the cause of death was certainly the gun shot wound to the head, not the mushrooms.

The ex-con CEO was well-known in Silicon Alley circles for the rapid rise and fall of his personal wealth as well as for his extremely abrasive style.  He and his wife Louise, although rumored to have a stormy marriage, are active in chi-chi NY charitable circles.

Lazard founded hackoff.com after release from prison where he served time for a credit card ripoff scheme called “Gotcha” which he confessed to in 1993. 

Hackoff develops software which protects e-commerce web sites from hackers.  The company went public in 1999; it shares peaked at 159 and 1/8 in early 2000.  At that time the paper worth of the Lazards was well over a billion dollars.  The company did a successful secondary in March of 2000 and the Lazards cleared over $50,000,000 before taxes by selling a small fraction of their stock.

However, the company rapidly traded down.  It sometimes traded for under one dollar, a loss of over 99% of its value.  Last year the company was the subject of a hostile takeover attempt by rival antihack.  However, antihack had to abandon the hostile takeover when its own customers were the subject of a vicious web-based attack.  Recently hackoff has been trading at slightly over one dollar per share.

Ex-swimsuit-model Donna Langhorne, formerly CFO of hackoff, is its new CEO.  Sources are quoted as saying she has the cojones for the job. It was sexy Donna who found Larry dead in his Hudson Street office early this morning.  She had no comment when contacted by the New York Post yesterday and was unavailable for comment today.  Chances are that we’ll be seeing more of her, though.


coming back later, set blookmark here | display next episode now »

Buy hackoff.comTell a friendWrite a Review


great chapter. ch 8 is the best ive read so far

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)