May 1987, Wonsan, North Korea
Sharifah Abbas focused on the faint glimmer of light within the Ministry of Health. It was well after midnight. The sidewalks were draped in shadows and an eerie stillness pervaded the normally bustling sector of the city. She glanced nervously at her watch, then up and down the empty street. What was taking Hashim so long? Her brother should have been out of the building by now. All he had to do was photograph one file folder containing the North Korean bioweapons research. The informant had clearly identified the room, file cabinet, file drawer, even the Korean characters on the file folder.
A sudden noise broke the silence, and a dim glow slashed across the building. In that instant, every muscle in Sharifah's body froze. She glanced over her shoulder and spotted a man on a bicycle riding toward her. The balloon tires bounced on the cobblestones, sending weak shafts of light in random directions from a flashlight strapped to the handlebars.
Sharifah tugged her knit cap down until only the dark slits of her eyes were visible above her scarf. Hunching her shoulders, she edged closer to the wall. Even stooped, she was conspicuously taller than Korean women. She held her breath as the bicycle neared, its rattling fenders echoing through the empty street. The rider passed by, apparently oblivious of her presence. Sharifah exhaled slowly as the rattling faded into the damp night air. Then a more ominous sound shattered the stillness–a muffled scream.