Are You Afraid Of The Dark
Are You Afraid Of The Dark
My special thanks go to my assistant, Mary Langford, whose contribution was invaluable.
SONJA VERBRUGGE HAD no idea that this was going to be her last day on earth. She was pushing her way through the sea of summer tourists overflowing the busy sidewalks of Unter den Linden.
Don’t panic, she told herself. You must keep calm.
The instant message on her computer from Franz had been terrifying. Run, Sonja!
Go to the Artemisia Hotel. You will be safe there. Wait until you hear fromThe message had ended suddenly. Why had Franz not finished it? What could be happening? The night before, she had heard her husband saying to someone on the telephone that Prima must be stopped at all costs. Who was Prima?
Frau Verbrugge was nearing Brandenburgische Strasse, where the Artemisia was located, the hotel that catered to women only. I will wait for Franz there and he will explain to me what this is all about.
* * *
WHEN SONJA VERBRUGGE reached the next corner, the traffic light had turned to red, and as she stopped at the curb, someone in the crowd bumped against her and she stumbled into the street. Verdammt touristen! A limousine that had been double-parked suddenly moved toward her, grazing her just hard enough to knock her down. People began to gather around her.
“Is she all right?”
“Ist ihr etwas passiert?”
“Peut-elle marcher?” At that moment, a passing ambulance stopped. Two attendants from the ambulance hurried over and took charge. “We will take care of her.” Sonja Verbrugge found herself being lifted into the ambulance. The door closed, and a moment later, the vehicle sped away.
She was strapped onto a gurney, trying to sit up. “I am fine,” she protested.
“It was nothing.
I-” One of the attendants was leaning over her. “It is all right, Frau Verbrugge. Just relax.” She looked up at him, suddenly alarmed. “How do you know my-?” She felt the sharp sting of a hypodermic needle in her arm, and a moment later, she gave herself up to the waiting darkness.
Paris, France MARK HARRIS WAS alone on the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower, oblivious to the rain swirling around him. From time to time a streak of lightning shattered the raindrops into dazzling diamond waterfalls.
Across the Seine River stood the familiar Palais de Chaillot, and the Trocadero Gardens, but he was unaware of them. His mind was focused on Prima and the astonishing news that was about to be released to the world.
The wind had begun to whip the rain into a frenzied maelstrom. Mark Harris shielded his wrist with his sleeve and looked at his watch. They were late. And why had they insisted on meeting here, at midnight? Even as he was wondering, he heard the tower elevator door open. Two men were moving toward him, fighting against the fierce wet wind.
As Mark Harris recognized them, he felt a sense of relief. “You’re late.” “It’s this damn weather, Mark. Sorry.” “Well, you’re here. The meeting in Washington is all set, isn’t it?” “That’s what we need to talk to you about. As a matter of fact, we had a long discussion this morning about the best way to handle this, and we decided-” As they were speaking, the second man had moved behind Mark Harris, and two things happened almost simultaneously.