Sabine, jolted in the back of the truck, was thirsty.
She clutched her stomach.
Her dark hair hunging over her face.
Finally, she bent over further, grabbing her bare knees, and splashed vomit onto the steel floor.
Jolting and bouncing. The truck was moving fast.
She could see the road bouncing behind them through a gap in the canvas. The big summery oak trees as green blurs, and the pines as black streaks.
Telephone poles and wires. Crows flying, iridiscent black, letting out harsh caws.
They were in the country now. America.
Somewhere deep in the vastness of the country north of New York City.
She’d been flown in by cargo plane. Shivering, black-hooded, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.
Aix, Toulouse. The smell of wild thyme. Paris, freezing and foggy at two AM. A clasp knife with a serrated edge. Where was it all now?
And the Africans? And Jean-Pierre, the man who’d recruited her to cut glass with a diamond edged tool and slip into second story windows? She was small and lithe and could go into very small spaces. Maybe that was why he’d picked her off the street. He told her she was too young to whore. Too skinny. She’d attract the wrong type of men. The kind that would beat her up and cut her face with a razor.
Jean-Pierre was probably dead. The Africans, too. Sabine had killed two flics (cops).
She wasn’t sorry. The first one she took with the knife as he unbuttoned his fly.
Zip. His throat slashed in total silence. He staggered, the hot jet of blood hitting her brows. Then he fell over some trash bins, spilling bottles and cans.
The other managed to get his pistol out before Sabine, quick as a bird, stuck the knife in his heart.
Broke off the blade on a rib, twisting it as he sank to his knees.
Well, he was going to rape her, too, wasn’t he? Served him right. The magistrate, however, did not concur.
In New York, they’d taken off the hood but not the manacles. She’d glimpsed the skyline.
The Empire State Building.
She looked around for where the World Trade Center Towers had been. Nothing. Then they dragged her down a long, bare cement corridor and she was thrown into a room and the door clanked shut and locked behind her.
It was black inside the room. And cold. She crouched down, shivering in her parka. Thought about Jean-Pierre. Missed him with her whole body.
The laughing Africans. Their beautiful jokes and night-black faces. All dead. Killed by the flics in a movie-style downtown Paris shootout, outside a jewelry store. The flics had machine guns and body armor. The blacks just had some shotguns and pistols and knives. It wasn’t a fair fight.
Food came into the black room through a slot in the door twice a day. It was garbage. But Sabine ate it. With her fingers.
On the third day they came in and put more manacles on her and dragged her, twisting and biting, to the truck. They threw her inside and chained her to a ring set into the floor. Then the truck started with a gasp and a grinding roar and they were off, bouncing. Sabine could see bits of Manhattan through the gap in the canvas. A red fire hydrant. A fire escape. A delivery truck. A bridge strut.
Flashing by. This was life. It flashed by you in little bits. Gone before you knew it.
That was the day she arrived at the Ultra Facility.
Sabine Delonge. Twelve ans.