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Facial Image by Sergio Albiac

Nine Minutes Eleven Seconds

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This will be the best thing that ever happened to you.” 

When Madison starts her first real job as an executive assistant at a Silicon Valley AI Giant, she has hopes to start afresh and put her troubled life in Boston behind her. But it is not to be. She is overtaken by anxiety when she learns the employee she’s replacing was killed in a hit-and-run, and her charismatic VP boss fills her with unease. Madison begins to suspect there is more to him than meets the eye.

Suddenly Madison’s ordinary and seemingly meaningless life is thrust into profound significance when her attempt to unmask the truth reveals secrets that are much bigger than her. Secrets that put her in imminent danger when she realizes she holds the key to unraveling a deadly scheme the FBI has been trying to crack. 

Nothing is what it seems.

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She never knew what hit her. Or if she did, she only knew it for a second, two at the most.

Prologue

Byxbee Park, Palo Alto

Saturday 8:55pm

She never knew what hit her. Or if she did, she only knew it for a second, two at the most. In any event, not long enough for her to break stride, never mind jump out of the way or do anything to save herself, beyond looking over her shoulder and widen her eyes in terror.

Before that, though, she almost certainly noticed the sudden harsh glare of headlights swerving off the road and sweeping across her from behind, the LED high-beams closing fast.

The grill of the EV SUV struck her dead center with such force she was catapulted into the air like a 49er’s field goal attempt, sailing through the uprights for three points before crashing back to Earth fifty feet down the trail, piling face-first into the hard-packed gravel.

She lay motionless, in excruciating pain, unable to move, a pile of broken bones and internal bleeding, her earbuds spinning to a stop a few feet from her smashed-in head.

No sirens, screeching brakes, or car doors slamming in alarm. Nothing but the gentle sway of the tall Cypress trees lining the deserted jogging path, serenading her plight in the evening breeze, along with Taylor Swift’s faint crooning from her earbuds.


Then, footsteps! Crunching on fine gravel, getting closer. Help was coming!


“Please…” she gurgled weakly, blood oozing through shattered teeth. “Help…me.”


The Good Samaritan crouched next to her.


She tried to make eye contact with her savior, but couldn’t move her head.


“Allow me.” It was a man’s voice, deep and reassuring, with an accent she couldn’t quite place.


“Thank…you,” she coughed, spraying a fine mist of fresh blood.


Her savior placed his hands on either side of her head, gently but firmly gripping her skull.

As he did so, she noticed he was wearing surgical gloves. 


That was the last thing she saw as he gave her head a sharp, quick twist.

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