Tom wondered what the map had to do with Tanya, and why wasn't the detective saying anything? He just stood there, looking at Tom. Games, Tom thought. That's all they're doing—playing mental-anguish games with me.
The detective looked intently at Tom. Finally, he abruptly asked, "Do you know what a cell-phone 'ping' is Tom?" The guy didn't wait for Tom to answer. He showed Tom the map, which had a circle drawn on it. He pointed at it and explained that the last calls on Tanya's cell phone had gone through the same tower. In fact, every call attempted in the last eight days had gone through one single tower. They concentrated on Tom's reaction.
Time slowed down. Seconds turned into hours. Tom felt pure dread.
The detective paused.
Tom was tired of waiting. "And?" he said, inching beyond irritated. What are you waiting for? Tom thought. Why are you stalling? They're afraid to tell me! His rage rose to the surface.
"We found her car," said the detective, pausing again.
Tom's heart rate surged into overdrive and his brain jumped into high gear. He had hundreds of questions. His head spun and a cold lump rose in his throat. It was hard to speak. He swallowed convulsively, trying to be calm, trying to finish his thoughts.
I open my eyes. What? What am I seeing?
I am scared. I look up at the passenger side of the car and I see a man's face. I don't know who he is. I am startled, scared. Why is he asking me so many questions? He is saying something but I cannot make sense of it. What is he talking about?
"It's a car accident," he says. "Oh, my God, it's her!"
Is he real? Or is my mind playing games with me again? Who is he? I do not think I know him. Where did he come from? Maybe he can help me.
I see that he's a police officer. He pulls open the passenger door.
Other people are with him. They are smiling and seem happy that they found me. I think I am happy, too.
"She's still alive," someone says.
"It's been—what? Eight days?" I hear another voice.
"She's still alive! We have to move fast and get her out of here. Oh, my God, I can't believe she's still alive!"
"Can you help me?" I asked.
I look at the man and his jaw drops. He seems stunned. He scrambles around.
"Do you have any water?" I ask. Then, they ask me questions and I answer them, and I try to be friendly. I make them laugh. They work to get me out of my car, but I'm stuck. My car is smashed around me and they can't get me out. The fire department uses the Jaws of Life to cut apart my SUV. My beautiful, wonderful car.
"I can't feel my legs," I tell the medics. I am so tired I don't even want to breathe anymore. I close my eyes.
"I can't get a pulse," I hear somebody say. "She coded!"