“Stop.” The woman’s voice was a flashbang[AL1] , percussive in the silence of the lab.
He knew that voice. All too well. He whirled to face her, his palm sweaty against the warm metal of his knife. He watched as he took a step backwards, then one more. He searched her eyes but could not find her fear[AL2] .
Suddenly she lashed out with her foot, kicking high and cross-wise, knocking the knife out of his hand. It skittered all the way across the room and bounced against the wall. Neither spoke as the white velvet silence[AL3] gathered around them. He edged left, trying to get closer to the knife, but she circled around him and blocked. Then he rushed at her, slamming her against the wall. She rammed her weight against him, hard, but he only wobbled before pinning her and fixing his hands around her throat. She kicked at his shins and tried to knee him, but he arched away while squeezing down on her neck. He pressed in, crushing his fingers against the resistant cartilage, watching her face turn bluish, her eyes bulge, her chest contract in fruitless, spastic attempts to suck air. He couldn’t watch; his eyes averted to stare at his unfamiliar fingers squeezing down. Finally he felt her strength fade and loosened his grip. When she went limp, he let go and watched her crumble to the floor. He wiped his hands against his jacket and bit his lip. It shouldn’t have come to this[AL4] .
The aqua highlights were marked by Kim Smith - these might well be omitted to strengthen the prose.
CHAPTER 1—THE UNEXPECTED
Hong had never stolen anything before, not so much as a pencil. But here he was, about to pirate a secret that threatened life itself. And that was the other irony; his intent had been to protect life[AL5] .
He shoved his hands deep into his pants pockets as if he could bury his quandary there. Through the plate glass window he could see the laboratory mice convulsing in pools of their own blood. Dr. Dan Humphries might be a brilliant virologist, but he had created the very antithesis of his goal; instead of discovering a new way to inoculate against disease, he had opened the door to a horrifying plague. And that left Hong with the most difficult of choices. He ran a hand through his limp hair and blinked.
The sour thing in his stomach had turned lumpy, curdling. It’s not quite so simple, he thought; he could not let his personal feelings stifle the opportunity that lay convulsing before him. He turned away from the mice and glanced out the front window; small droplets from a misting London rain clung to tiny, hard buds[AL6] . You have to move on in life, sometimes into uncomfortable or unexpected directions, he told himself[AL7] .
[AL1]great opener. Love the new verb “flashbang.” It’s perfect, it describes exactly what you intended.
[AL4]Very powerful scene. Great description, Pattie.