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Chapter Thirty Four

Inside the elevator, A Li realized her mistake and put out her hand in front of the electronic eye to stop the doors from closing. When they reopened, she ran back down the hall to Dr. Murray’s laboratory. Still fearful of a police investigation, she wondered what would happen if someone found the foot in the disposal container. She couldn’t take the chance. They would know which lab it came from and it might lead to her involvement. The foot had to be retrieved and left where it belonged—in the Bai Hua Bing’s office on the lower level. Let the police find it there. It was his problem.

Back in the lab, she went to the biohazard bin and opened the lid. The foot, encased in its plastic bags, lay on top of a mound of dissected mice and white paper towels covered with spots of blood. A Li fished the foot out, stopped at a sink, sprayed the plastic with disinfectant and washed her hands. When she returned to the elevator, she punched the button for LL2.

In the basement, when the doors opened again and she walked down the silent hall to office number 3, she realized she had gone past it every Monday night for weeks on her way from the lab to the tunnel. A Li swiped the albino’s white ID card and opened the door. The small windowless office was dark, illuminated only by the glow of several computer screens. The space felt claustrophobic and she wondered how anyone could work in such a confined space.

A Li placed the foot on the first desk, took a tissue from her backpack and rubbed the plastic bag. She had seen one of the crime investigation programs on American television where a criminal wiped his fingerprints off a doorknob with a handkerchief. Through the plastic, the foot felt like it was beginning to defrost.

She slumped down on the desk chair. A Li was exhausted, more tired than she had ever been in her entire life and wondered if she even had the strength to get home.

What is it, sister? I don’t want to talk to you right now.

A Li willed herself to stand up.

Are you jealous because Tanay has chosen me instead of you?

She picked up her backpack and walked out into the hall. She wiped the handle and walked to the elevator without closing the door.

I can get through this without you. STOP IT!

She hoped she would never see the office on LL2/3 again.

I can grow beyond you, sister. I can become strong myself.

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