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“Alison, you have a choice,” his words rang out loud and clear in my ear. “You can go with me, or I will turn you lose and you can take your chances with the rioters and the secret police. You saw what happened to your friend just now.”

He had a tight grip on me. His right hand firmly over my mouth, and his left arm around my ribs just below my breast, a position he knew would make it difficult for me to breathe.

I could smell the kerosene on his hand and the acrid smoke of the firebombing around us with the little air I was able to get in through my nose. An image of my coworker came to mind with a bullet through her forehead.

“I’ll go, I’ll go,” I mumbled. “Just let me get some air.”

He relaxed the death grip he had on me. I was able to turn sufficiently to see that he was a large, strong man, not very handsome, his face had many scars, fighting scars. With a simple twist of his arm, I got the feeling he could easily kill me.

“Follow me,"he commanded still clasping my arm.

I suddenly realized even if I had taken the training course offered by the hospital on how to protect myself from an attacker, it wouldn't have helped: I would have been a goner, killed while feebly trying to protect myself. In all my years at the hospital I had never come across a brute of his size.

“Where are you taking me?” I gasped.


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