Can you please give me a summary of Chapter 26 of Contagion by Robin Cook?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Chapter 26 focuses on what faces Beth Holderness, form the microbiology laboratory of Manhattan General, and exposes some of the conspiracy behind the contagions while complicating Jack's danger.

In Chapter 24, Jack asked Beth to look around to see if she might find anything that looked like suspicious cultures that might be related to the contagious outbreaks of infectious diseases at the hospital. At the close of her shift in Chapter 26, Beth finds herself alone in the laboratory. She begins to look around. Since the chapter switches to Beth's point of view (the narrator tells the story focused through what Beth sees, feels, thinks and does), the narrator can let us know what she thinks about the odd behavior she has seen around the hospital, and her thoughts confirm Jack's opinion that Martin and Richard are acting unusually volatile and moody, even though typically moody. This point of view allows the narrator to establish credence for Jack's observations thus confirming Jack as a reliable assessor of what he sees.

Beth goes straight to the insulated refrigerator-type boxes that Jack had earlier noted and that stood at the back of the microbiology lab. One held the cultures actively being worked with in an incubator, and Beth had been in and out of that one all day, while the other held frozen cultures. Being less familiar with the freezer box, she chooses to look in there for anything suspicious. At the rear of the large double-rowed freezer box, Beth finds metal boxes, about the size of shoe boxes. Not knowing what the contents of those are, she pulls one out to examine it. From its new position on the floor, Beth is surprised to see that it has a small padlock on it. An external examination, feeling around each by hand, shows that all the metal boxes have similar padlocks, except for one that has a lock that hadn't caught and is hanging open.

While Beth is tentatively examining the two culture dishes in the metal box, one of which she had picked up and taken the lid off of, the freezer door opens. Hastily trying to reassemble the cultures, the box and padlock, Martin catches her by coming around the corner and meeting her, with considerable surprise and even more anger, face-to-face. Richard soon joins them and as the culmination of yelling from both, Beth is dismissed from her job starting immediately; she is fired.

The story switches point of view to Twin, the leader of the Black Kings, and we learn that someone has put a $500 hit order out on Jack and Beth: they are both to be killed, and Reginald is going to do it.

Returning the point of view to Beth, we accompany Beth to her apartment, where the building entrance door has been broken into, by all appearances, with a crowbar. Beth takes no notice except for dismay at the need to postpone moving and goes upstairs to her apartment. The first thing does is to phone Jack and leave a message telling him that they need to talk because she did find something suspicious. A violent crash rips her door from the door jam and Reginald stands before her, pistol in hand.

Jack finds himself in danger when, after playing a game of neighborhood basketball, he goes for a run in Central Park where he is pursued on foot by Reginald. After a horrible set of events, Reginald has Jack in his sights when Spit appears after having shot Reginald. Warren, the leader of the basketball gang, sent Spit to save Jack and promises Jack protection after first confirming that Jack is not involved in drugs.

    "Let's go, Doc," the man said.
    Jack descended the last three steps. When he got to the bottom he recognized his rescuer. It was Spit!
    "What are you doing here?" ....
    Jack had no idea how Spit happened to be there at such a crucial time, .... 

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