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About the author

The author was born on the Isles of Scilly, a small group of islands able to survive the seas in all their states. Often marooned for weeks, Scillonians learn to live entirely from the sea. He is familiar with most things living under the sea or flying over it and the tough characters of the people whose lives depend on it.

The lore of ancient Cornish legends and tales of the mariners who sailed the square riggers around the world are his song of the sea. But for all islanders, the call of the islands is irresistible.

Being of scientific background, it was a pleasure to write this book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The BYSSUS KILLER

 

Charles Tucker

The BYSSUS KILLER

Vanguard press

VANGUARD PAPERBACK

 

ยฉ Copyright 2021

Charles Tucker

The right of Charles Tucker to be identified as author of

this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All Rights Reserved

No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication

may be made without written permission.

No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced,

copied or transmitted save with the written permission of the publisher, or in accordance with the provisions

of the Copyright Act 1956 (as amended).

Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to

this publication may be liable to criminal

prosecution and civil claims for damages.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is

available from the British Library.

ISBN 978 1 784659 85 1

 

Vanguard press is an imprint of

Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie Publishers Ltd.

www.pegasuspublishers.com

First Published in 2021

Vanguard press

Sheraton House Castle Park

Cambridge England

Printed & Bound in Great Britain

Dedication

 

This book is dedicated to my late parents who spent WWII isolated on the Isles of Scilly but totally self-sufficient.

The engineer on RMS Scillonian kept me under his weather eye when I sailed unaccompanied in winter seas.

To Dick Bodilly, Bert Blake, and Hank Philips who taught me the art of fishing and dressing crabs.

Finally, to Aunt Min and Uncle Tom, who took me as their own until they passed away. Tom had sailed the Horn in four masters and was a legend in his own right.

Acknowledgements

 

In the ambience of a winter evening oil lamplight, wind and rain defeated by thick cottage walls, the author, in his early years, was treated to stories of Cornish legends and the enthralling experiences of the same old codgers acknowledged in this book.

At the age of four, the author remembers the wail of a siren on 3rd September 1939, defining the start of World War II and the beginning of the winter evening ambience in the shadows of those oil lamps. Life on the Isles of Scilly became isolated, short of supplies and essentials such as flour, coal and paraffin. But it engendered wonderful memories of the old salts who sailed the Horn, rowed the lifeboats and saw action at sea.

Especially remembered are brothers, Tom and Jim Williams. Tom and his sweetheart, Minnie, were a love story when Tom stayed in New Zealand for twenty-five years and Minnie waited for him to come home. They had no children, but they โ€˜adoptedโ€™ me and my little friends for life.

These special people of the islands are acknowledged as the mainsprings to write this book, with its Cornish overtones.

Charles Tucker

   The Virus

The marine biologist could not believe his eyes. The virus attached to a human cell was flat and rectangular. Normally viruses are spherical. He adjusted the electron microscope and was even more astonished. The very thin, flat virus had cut through the human cell wall and killed it.

He selected a slide of the viral platelets to get a spectral analysis. Again, he was astonished at the simple chemical make-up: aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate, its platelets separated by elastic silk-like proteins, chitin being the predominant one.

Aragonite was familiar. It was a secretion in molluscs that produced โ€˜mother of pearlโ€™, known as nacre, so thin as to be close to the wavelength of light giving it its lustre and iridescence. But nacre was formed from hexagonal platelets. The marine biologist was looking at rectangular platelets that had no iridescence and were totally transparent. He knew they could come only from one source, a mollusc called Pinna nobilis, nicknamed the king mussel in its warm Mediterranean habitat. It was โ€˜Kingโ€™ because it grew to one metre in length. It attached itself to rocks by the strongest material known to man, byssus, or sea silk.

The biologist was in a quandary. Viruses have the same number of elements, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etcetera, as normal living cells, about sixteen elements. They are alive but can only sustain life as a parasite on healthy cells. The killer virus he was analysing had about six elements, was inert and was not a parasite. It was dead, but a killer. Developing a vaccine against it would be as useless as trying to vaccinate a block of stone.

Normal viruses are driven by a life force to multiply on a host, half kill it and move on, transferring their deadly content by air, blood or saliva. This inert โ€˜virusโ€™ had no life force, yet from the biologistโ€™s tissue sample, it knew how to congregate upon a living host and kill it.

The biologist knew this was impossible.

He was wrong.

 

 

 The Surfer

The Atlantic rollers were breaking on the Sennen Cove sands. The grey clouds of an October day filled the air with scudding rain, driven by a cold westerly wind. On a good day the surfers would ride these waves, but today not a single soul braved the weather. The cliff walkers had noticed a black log rolling up the sands on the incoming tide, probably fallen off some deck cargo in

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