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(page 5, continued)

The Asian turned and Angela took advantage, plowing past into a large, open space. Bare, save for a nucleus of electronic equipment and pole lights clustered around an operating table, bundles of duct-taped cables snaking across the floor. Haloed in the lights was an older man with beard. Sixties, perhaps. Beside him, a younger woman, light hair pulled back in a braid. Both wore medical gowns, staring at Angela from behind surgical masks. 

She approached them, spying on the table a body wrapped in blue plastic pads dripping condensation, IV tubes everywhere. A male form, skin morbid gray, dotted with electrodes that hooked into a wall of monitors—heart, respiration, EEG—none registering activity

Not an operation. Autopsy. 

And then she saw the dead man’s face . . .

Hysterical, she rushed the table, but sturdy hands grabbed her from behind. 

“You want see him alive?” the Asian warned. “Stay back.”

She tried to swing around, claw out his eyes—but his grip was too strong. 

“You’ve murdered him.”

“He is not dead,” the older man said. “Yet. But you mustn’t interfere.”

Disbelieving, Angela looked to Ian. Serene and pale like some toppled Greek statue. She’d seen death before. 

“You’re lying.” 

But if they weren’t . . . 

The man and woman stood waiting. Desperate, Angela saw no choice, giving in, and the Asian released her. He regarded her warily for a moment, then joined his comrades, and they began to remove Ian’s wraps. 

“Refrigerant pads,” the Russian told her, flipping a switch to set a nearby apparatus humming. She saw a transparent tube filled with blood exiting the region of Ian’s groin, connecting to the machine and re-entering his body at the same point. “Heart-lung pump. As we circulate his blood we warm it, adding pure oxygen.”

(continued . . .)