Charlie was hungry and thirsty and his head was throbbing where
he had hit it on a rock when he had been taken prisoner.
His brain was foggy, but this is what he knew. He was in a
locked room without much light in a city where people spoke
Spanish. He had been brought here on a boat that had
traveled overnight from Florida. He didn’t know why or what
was going to happen to him.

How the hell had he gotten himself into this mess? Two weeks
ago he had been a first-rate if somewhat bored securities
analyst working for International Investments in Los Angeles.
Then a series of events had occurred that completely changed
his life. Images flashed through Charlie’s mind, and in a
lucid moment he wondered whether he was hallucinating as a
result of his head wound.

He thought he remembered taking a weekend trip to Death Valley,
a place he had always wanted to visit. Something bad had
happened there, but he couldn’t remember what it was. That
had been the start of his problems. Or had it? How had he
gotten to Florida? More questions filled his brain with tiny
question marks that converged and became one giant question
mark threatening to overwhelm him.

There was a knock on the door…