Triggers

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Authors: Robert J. Sawyer
procedure.”
    “Shit! If someone’s reading the president’s memories—Christ, national security goes right out the window.” Susan ran out the door and down the corridor to the third-floor nurses’ station. She whipped out her ID. “Susan Dawson, Secret Service. I want this building locked down immediately. No one gets in or out.”
    The stocky nurse looked flabbergasted. “I—I don’t have the authority…”
    “Then get me Dr. Griffin—
stat!”
    The nurse scooped up a telephone handset.
    Susan caught a movement out of the corner of her eye. She wheeled. A broad-shouldered white man was walking briskly toward the elevator. “Freeze!” she shouted.
    The man had doubtless heard what Susan had said to the nurse, but now was pretending not to hear. He reached the elevator station and pressed the down button.
    “I said
freeze!”
Susan snapped. “Secret Service!” She unholstered her SIG Sauer P229.
    The man turned; he was perhaps thirty-five, with light brown hair and round rimless glasses, and was wearing a blue business suit. “I’m just a visitor here,” he said.
    “No one is leaving,” Susan said.
    The man at the elevators spread his arms. “Please. I’ve got a crucial meeting across town. I
have
to be there.”
    Susan shook her head. “No way. Step away from the elevator.”
    The phone on the nurse’s desk rang; the nurse picked it up. “Yes, ah—good. Hang on.” She offered the handset to Susan, but Susan was holding her pistol with both hands and had it trained on the man.
    “Is that a speakerphone? Put it on.”
    The nurse shook her head. “No.”
    Susan frowned, then motioned for the nurse to give her the handset. She used her left hand to hold it while keeping the gun in her right. “Dr. Griffin? It’s Susan Dawson. I want this hospital locked down.”
    “I can’t do that,” Griffin said. “There’s been an explosion only a mile from here, for God’s sake. We’re an emergency-services facility.”
    “They evacuated the White House in time.”
    “Regardless,” said Griffin. “There’s been a terrorist attack. We need to be open.”
    “Mister
Griffin, the president is in danger. Lock this building down!”
    Just then, an orderly pushing a gurney crossed in front of Susan’s line of sight—and line of fire. The elevator doors opened, and the man who’d been standing by them hurried inside, just as the orderly was eclipsing him from Susan’s view. Susan dropped the phone and started to run, but the elevator’s door closed before she got to it.
    “Where are the stairs?” Susan barked over her shoulder.
    “There!” the nurse shouted, pointing.
    Susan found the door, pushed it open, and pounded down the two flights, almost colliding with a startled doctor who was climbing up.
    The elevator must have stopped on the second floor on the way down because she arrived in the lobby just as it did. A portly woman was waddling out of the car, followed by the man she’d seen upstairs.
    “Freeze!” Susan called.
    The woman did just that, but the man still kept walking. Susan moved herself between him and the doors leading outside and pointed her pistol at him. “I said freeze!”
    People in the lobby screamed, and another man tried to make it out the front door, running toward it. But the automatic door didn’t slide away, and he collided with the glass.
    A deep voice came over the intercom: Dr. Griffin. “Attention, everyone. Attention, please. We have a situation here in the hospital, and I’m locking all the doors.”
    The guy who’d come out of the elevator mouthed the word, “Fuck.”
    Susan strode over to him. “Come with me.”
    “There’s seven figures on the line here,” he said imploringly. “I have to get to that meeting.”
    “No, you don’t. What you have to do is precisely what I tell you to do.” She pulled out her handcuffs and snapped them on his wrists.

CHAPTER 10
    THE man who had tried to escape the hospital turned out to be a lawyer named

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