Tuesday, October 2, 2012


"Excuse me," Jason said to the black-clad woman behind the reception desk. He spoke slowly to be sure she'd understand. "I'm looking for someone staying at this hotel. We work together. Her name is Michelle Owens. O-W-E-N-S." She didn't bother making eye contact and continued typing into her computer, so he wondered for a moment if she'd heard him at all. Finally she stopped typing and looked at him. She spoke with a thick accent.

"Michelle Owens reserved a room with us for five nights. Check-in date was Tuesday, yesterday." Hope sprang up in Jason's heart as she resumed her typing. "But she did not check in."  She continued typing and staring at her screen, as if making sure. Again she said, "She has not checked in, sir."

He thought about asking if he could be notified if she did check in, but he decided that was extremely unlikely. He briefly imagined her spending the night with some handsome Syrian man she met in the airport. No, all signs pointed to something bad happening to her.

"Thank you very much."

His next step, following Dave's orders, was to ask around elsewhere. He had no idea where to start.

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