, female hero
, judgment day
, woman hero
and nothing more. An apartment that was this put
together was one that someone other than the miner laid a hand to,
which meant someone other than Anthony had been in this room
recently. Someone had cleaned it.
“Done,” one of them men said after a nod
from the other.
The lookout turned from the window.
“Nothing?” he asked.
“We’re too late.”
The men didn’t react beyond that. They
collected at the door, listened and then peered through a crack,
and slipped into the hallway and down the stairs.
Anthony coughed. He felt it buck in his
chest, like a knife had been stabbed there and was starting to come
up through his throat. But the feeling died as the cough
He did it again, struggling to clear his
lungs. Another convulsion. Still no breath. No air.
He was tied in the bolted-down chair. The
jerk of his body tightened the cords that bound his wrists, slicing
them farther into his skin. Blood dripped from the cuts, falling to
the ground and washing out in the flood of water on the floor.
The third cough brought it up. He shook, his
head snapping forward, his neck straining. The muscles and tendons
in it were taut. The arteries and veins stood out.
A shower of water sprayed from Anthony’s
mouth. It burst from him like a geyser, in an abrupt and ragged
He gasped behind it. His head fell to his
chest, his chin touching there before sliding to the side. A thin
string of spit, all bubbles and pink water, dangled from the corner
of his mouth. It stretched to his soaked pant leg, like a spider’s
web hanging between tree branches.
“Are you ready to tell me now, Anthony?”
That was Peter Rupert still. From somewhere
distant, like a voice shouted across a wide plain, Anthony could
hear an identification of the man ringing in his ears.
That is Rupert.
He fought to hang onto it. Knowing who was
in the room with him meant he was alive. Dikembé didn’t know much
at that point, but he knew he wanted to stay alive.
It was Rupert, and Rupert was the mine
supervisor for Laurentian. And the other man in the room, the other
voice he’d heard…?
Anthony couldn’t place that one. He had no
idea who the man with the hose was. On a different day, one that
seemed could only exist in another life, he very much would have
liked to know who that other man was, so he could track him down
and slowly cut him to pieces. But he didn’t know now, in this
“Boss?” The spit hung from Anthony’s mouth a
moment, narrowed, broke.
“Are you ready to tell me?”
Anthony started to cry. He didn’t realize
that at all. He couldn’t feel the tears on his already wet face,
and he couldn’t hear the first hitches that started in his aching
chest before breaking out as sobs in the echoing room. He didn’t
taste the drainage from his nose, even as its saltiness came to his
lips and mouth.
He cried for a full minute before he managed
to control himself enough to speak.
The words were weak, and he choked on them.
He coughed again. Another spray of fluid. “Got no … no diamonds,
boss,” he managed.
It wasn’t clear if he understood anything he
was saying at that point. He knew Rupert was there, all right. He
recognized the man’s voice. He knew who that was.
It was just everything else that was
Rupert waited another minute after the
answer. He paced around Anthony, walking a steady radius around the
chair in the center of the room.
The super finished the cigarette in his
hand, blowing the last of its smoke into the air and dropping the
butt of the Rothman to the floor. It hissed in the water and
“Soak him out,” he said.
The other man moved to Anthony. He lifted
Dikembé’s head, pulling it by the hair, and he forced the hose he
held into the man’s mouth.
Dikembé didn’t respond. Didn’t jerk away
like he had at the start. Didn’t try to spit it out or bite
The man with the hose twisted a valve at
Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child