What kind of scum-sucking cockroaches kidnap a defenseless baby, Amanda Michaels thinks while trying to fall asleep. She will make them regret that decision.
Lying on the cramped, lower bunk of the sleeper car, she feels with her fingertips along the thin foam-rubber pad masquerading as a mattress. There it is. She tugs on the lower portion of her backpack hiding the loaded pistol with the customized silencer, nestling what constitutes all her belongings in the crook of her right arm. The sheath strapped under the left pant leg of her jeans secures a long KA-Bar serrated edge fixed blade knife. And in the right pocket of her hoodie are two identical burner cell phones. One is her only means of communication with her compatriot, who is also on the train, both of them full-in with their improbable mission. Imagining the linen scent of her favorite candle briefly tricks her olfactory glands into ignoring the foul odors. The elderly Chinese lady on the bunk overhead smells of mildewing clothes. On the lower bunk an arm’s length away, a twenty-something Chinese girl sleeps with her jacket over her head. The sleeper car’s other occupant, a tiny woman who barely stands five-foot tall and can’t weigh 100 pounds, presses her torso against the tiny sink, paper towels surrounding the collar of her shirt, while she works some type of soapy liquid through her dark brown shoulder-length hair. Amanda decides to pass on that shower.
She thinks, all I wanted was to get some of my memory back from before the crash. Not this.
If she’s captured, what could Chinese intelligence agents possibly “get” out of her anyhow? Sure, she survived the Hemispheres plane crash, but she doesn’t know how or why. Only that it might have had something to do with her dad’s research and her being his test subject. To study her telomeres, maybe that’s what they would want? Most likely to torture her to learn whatever she knows.
The bullet train hurtling northbound towards Beijing at 180 miles per hour suddenly lurches, causing a metallic screech that soon fades.
Amanda thinks for a moment about a family photo. Of her dad, her, and her mom, sitting on the front porch of the house they lived in before the crash. The one she hopes to recall, that her Uncle Andy showed her. She mentally photoshops her baby brother Justin in too. Nothing can stop fantasies no one else can see.
The sink-showering lady climbs back up to her top bunk, and talks in Chinese with the other older lady.
If my plan fails, I won’t have to worry anymore, Amanda decides. Because I’ll be dead.
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