Excerpt: 'Gone Tomorrow'

Points three through six are variations on a subjective theme: irritability, sweating, tics, and nervous behavior. Although in my opinion sweating is as likely to be caused by physical overheating as by nerves. The inappropriate clothing, and the dynamite. Dynamite is wood pulp soaked with nitroglycerine and molded into baton-sized sticks. Wood pulp is a good thermal insulator. So sweating comes with the territory. But the irritability and the tics and the nervous behavior are valuable indicators. These people are in the last weird moments of their lives, anxious, scared of pain, woozy with narcotics. They are irrational by definition. Believing or half-believing or not really believing at all in paradise and rivers of milk and honey and lush pastures and virgins, driven by ideological pressures or by the expectations of their peers and their families, suddenly in too deep and unable to back out. Brave talk in clandestine meetings is one thing. Action is another. Hence suppressed panic, with all its visible signs.

Passenger number four was showing them all. She looked exactly like a woman heading for the end of her life, as surely and certainly as the train was heading for the end of the line. Therefore point seven: breathing.

She was panting, low and controlled. In, out, in, out. Like a technique to conquer the pain of childbirth, or like the result of a ghastly shock, or like a last desperate barrier against screaming with dread and fear and terror.

In, out, in, out. Point eight: suicide bombers about to go into action stare rigidly ahead. No one knows why, but video evidence and surviving eyewitnesses have been entirely consistent in their reports. Bombers stare straight ahead. Perhaps they have screwed their commitment up to the sticking point and fear intervention. Perhaps like dogs and children they feel that if they're not seeing anyone, then no one is seeing them. Perhaps a last shred of conscience means they can't look at the people they're about to destroy. No one knows why, but they all do it.

Passenger number four was doing it. That was for sure. She was staring across at the blank window opposite so hard she was almost burning a hole in the glass.

Points one through eight, check. I shifted my weight forward in my seat.

Then I stopped. The idea was tactically absurd. The time was wrong.

Then I looked again. And moved again. Because points nine, ten, and eleven were all present and correct too, and they were the most important points of all. Excerpted from Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child Copyright © 2009 by Lee Child. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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