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Aeschylus

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Ebook "The Whole Truth"
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Tác giả: David Baldacci
Thể loại: Trinh Thám
Nguyên tác: The Whole Truth
Biên tập: Dieu Chau
Upload bìa: Dieu Chau
Language: English
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Chapter 40
NNA FISCHER WAS IN HER OFFICE at The Phoenix Group building where she continued to pore over the documents that littered her desk. She actually now had more questions than answers about the Red Menace. And every day, sometimes every hour, a new revelation would burst to the surface like the aftershocks of a tsunami, and the earth would shake.
What bothered Anna the most was that there was no face, no name behind the R.I.C. Press releases were done over the Internet exclusively. No one had come forward and said I am the R.I.C. And with the murder of Petrov, and the attack on Afghanistan, Anna could perhaps understand why. Gorshkov had stated very clearly that whoever was behind this was going to be punished, and there were few nations on earth as good at punishment as the Russians.
Had this somehow backfired on the people who had perpetrated it? Were they running scared, unsure of what now to do? Anna couldn’t answer any of those queries. All she knew was that the effort had been extraordinarily well planned. Yet was it for benign or evil motives? She could understand the benign argument; Russia after all did not have an exemplary track record on human rights and there were many people and organizations out there that would love to put them in their place. The evil side Anna had a more difficult time conceptualizing. What purpose would be gained by turning Russia into an even more isolated and paranoid country? It would be akin to giving North Korea free nukes and telling them to fire away.
She rubbed her temples. She couldn’t spend all her time on this. Yet she was certain lots of other people across the world were doing the same thing right now. Someone had to find the truth at some point.
She checked her watch. It was nearly three o’clock. There was a firm-wide meeting today and all the staff was required to attend. She wasn’t looking forward to sitting through what usually turned out to be a boring discussion. But at least she had a half hour to work on something of importance. And then this evening she had something still more critical to do.
She was going shopping for her wedding dress. Her in a wedding dress? Anna smiled at the thought and her skin actually tingled. The only thing better would be seeing Shaw in a tux. She had no doubt he would carry it off wonderfully.
With the world in crisis, it seemed ludicrous to be thinking about dresses and weddings. On the other hand, if the world were going to blow up sooner rather than later, she had no desire to wait to legalize her relationship with the man she loved.
A few minutes later she was so intent on her work that she never heard what was going on downstairs.
At precisely the same instant the front and rear doors of the building burst open and twelve men wearing long coats swarmed in. From under their coats they drew silenced weapons, took aim, and started firing.
When they charged in the receptionist in the front foyer had just lifted up the phone to make a call, but the line was dead. A moment later she was too as a bullet hit her in the forehead. She slipped off her seat and fell limp beside her desk, the blood from her head wound staining her dress front. A middle-aged analyst had unfortunately chosen this moment to come into the foyer. A second later he lay dead next to the receptionist. Some of the armed men headed to the basement. Others went room to room on the first floor, kicking open doors and killing anyone inside. Still others raced to the upper floors. There were twenty-eight people in the place today. Not a single one of the twenty-eight would be going home tonight.
When the screams reached Anna’s ear, she thought someone had injured themself. She jumped up and rushed to the doorway. When she heard a muffled sound, she didn’t immediately realize what it was. When she heard it again, the truth hit her.
That was a gunshot! Then she heard several more.
She slammed her door closed and locked it, raced back to her desk, and tried the phone. The line was dead. She grabbed her purse off the shelf and slid out her cell phone. The sounds of footsteps were growing closer. She heard more bangs, more screams, and more thuds as bodies presumably hit the floor. She tried to remain calm but her hands were shaking so badly she could barely hold the damn phone.
She punched in the emergency number for the police and then watched in disbelief as the phone tried to connect, but no ringing came. She had made many calls on her cell from the building. What was going on? She looked at the tiny screen. She had no bars of reception. She tried again and again with no luck. She finally threw her phone down and ran to the window. She was three stories up, but she had no choice. She heard the sounds of feet pounding up the stairs. Her office was the last one on the hall. Still, she probably had barely a minute if that.
She struggled with all her might to raise the window. The exterior had recently been painted and Anna suddenly realized that the idiots had painted the window shut. She dug her fingernails into the wood frame, applied every ounce of strength she had. It would not budge. The sounds were coming down the hall. She heard a door kicked open, and next came a scream. Then a sound like a book being dropped as another body hit the floor.
In the midst of her terror, this actually gave her an idea. She grabbed a book off her desk and used it to smash the window glass open, and then to clean out all the shards. She leaned out the window and screamed.
“Help us! Help us! Call the police.”
Unfortunately it was a quiet street with unoccupied buildings on either side of her and no one was down there to hear. She saw a large van parked at the curb. She called again, but apparently no one was in the vehicle. She was going to throw something at it when she noticed what appeared to be a small satellite dish attached to the van’s roof. It was pointed right at the building.
Her panicked mind still working at incredible speed, the truth came to her. That’s why she had no reception bars on her phone. Whatever was coming from the van was blocking them. She glanced up and down the dead-end street and noted the temporary barriers that had been set up at one end, preventing traffic from coming through.
She slipped off her pumps, climbed onto the windowsill, and looked down. There was an awning over the first-floor window. If I can hit that and then roll to the street.
She had no idea whether there was anyone left in the van. She only knew that if she stayed here she was dead. She steeled herself to jump. Tears were sliding down her face as she heard another door crash open next to her office. A scream, a thump, and then a thud. That was poor Avery. Gone.
God, if only Shaw were here.
She said a prayer, took aim, and tensed her legs for the leap. As soon as she was safely out, she would run like she had never run before, to get help. Although she doubted there was anyone left alive to save. Except her.
The two bullets fired right through the door hit Anna directly in the back and exited out her chest into the fresh air of a London afternoon. She squatted there frozen on the windowsill, seemingly unaware that she had just been shot as blood gushed all over the floor and window. And all over her. As her eyesight began to fade, the blue sky turned brown, the small patch of green grass across the street eroded to yellow. She could no longer hear the birds in the sky or the cars passing along on the next block over. She gripped the wood of the window with all her strength, but within a few seconds, as her blood left her far too fast, she had no strength left.
When Anna Fischer fell, it wasn’t forward and out the window, but backwards, and into the room. She lay there spread-eagled staring at the ceiling of her office.
The door was kicked open and two men came in to stand over her. One of them slid off his mask and looked down at her, shaking his head.
“Damn lucky shot,” he said. “I was just trying to blow the door.”
The other man took off his mask and gazed down at her. “How the hell?” Caesar began. “Two chest shots dead-on and she’s still breathing?”
The other man said, “Give it a minute; she’s about to kick.”
“I don’t have a minute. Look at the window. She was trying to get away.”
The other man followed his gaze to the shattered glass.
Caesar took careful aim even as Anna’s chest started heaving erratically with the last throes of life.
The shot hit her directly in the forehead.
As she let out what was to be her last breath, it sounded very much like a name. “Shaw.”
Caesar used his boot to push roughly against the woman’s shoulder, but it was crystal clear she would never bear witness against them as to what had happened here today.
The second man spoke into a walkie-talkie. He listened for a moment and then nodded.
“All dead,” he told Caesar.
“All dead,” Caesar repeated back. “Hack Squad?
“Almost done.”
“Tell them they’ve got two minutes. Send somebody down to the street to see if anyone saw the chick at the window. If they did, they know what to do. The plane’s waiting. If they ain’t on it, they ain’t on it. Let’s hit it.”
He and the other man opened their backpacks and took out notebooks, reams of paper, charts, graphs, and other documents and then proceeded to press Anna’s fingertips to many of the documents.
As the men started to spread the material over Anna’s desk, Caesar said, “Damn.” He was looking at the papers that were already on Anna’s desk.
“What?” asked his companion.
Caesar pointed at one of the papers Anna had printed out showing her interest in the Red Menace.
He said, “Lady was obviously already curious. But it’ll tie in okay.”
He took out a camera and started snapping pictures of the office’s interior.
They received an all-clear that no one had seen Anna at the window, though some of her blood had made its way to the small garden standing to the left side of the building entrance. The orange daylilies had grown a shade darker on impact.
Soon, a third man joined them. He sat down at Anna’s computer and slid a CD into the intake slot. The man typed so fast his gloved fingers were a blur and the keyboard was rattling like a train car over bad tracks.
Sixty seconds later he took out the CD. “Download’s finished.” He got up and raced out.
Thirty seconds later there wasn’t a living person left inside The Phoenix Group building.
The Whole Truth The Whole Truth - David Baldacci The Whole Truth