She blinked in confusion as her mother gently shook her awake in the middle of the night. She couldn't have been asleep for more than a couple of hours at most. Why was she being awakened so soon?
"They are going to take us to a safer place," her mother whispered.
Rubbing her eyes sleepily, she grabbed her pillow and joined the rest of her family. It soon became obvious that they were all being herded into the basement. Once there, they were lined up against the wall. Three servants and the doctor. Her parents. Her three older sisters, Olga, Tatiana, and Maria. Her frail, sickly younger brother, Alexei.
The man with the hard, cold eyes was speaking. "I finally have my orders," he said. "I am to execute you all."
The sound of gunshots and screams quickly drowned out that of the truck motor running outside. She saw her father fall to the floor and lie motionless, blood oozing from the wound in his head. Alexei lay beside him, twitching and moaning. Even the dog lay in a pool of blood. As someone ran at her with a bayonet, her final thoughts were of her brother. But what about Alexei and his bleeding problem? Even a tiny cut would be enough to kill him...he hasn't a chance against bullets and bayonets...
She discovered that she was standing on a hard edge holding to what seemed to be a concrete block and was shocked to realize that she was actually on the side of a bridge with cars whizzing past many feet below her. At least, she guessed that they must be cars, although they looked very different from any cars she had ever seen, and went much faster as well.
"No! Don't do it! Don't jump!" She turned her head to see a man running toward her, shouting in English. He was tall and slender, with longish, slightly curly medium brown hair, dark brown eyes, and a moustache. He looked vaguely familiar to her. She felt sure that she had seen his face in a history book once. But how could that be, when he was here now?
"But I wasn't going to jump," she told him.
"What on earth are you doing there, then?"
"I...I have no idea." She looked around, perplexed. "Where are the others? I'm not even in Russia anymore, am I?"
"Hardly." The man laughed. "We're a long way from Russia. Come on, let's get you down from there before you fall." His strong hands supported and guided her over the concrete rail. She felt dizzy with relief once she was standing on the bridge.
"My car's this way. We'd better hurry. This bridge gets a lot of traffic sometimes." Obediently, she followed him back to his car, which was parked just beyond the bridge.
"Your car is truly amazing," she told him, gazing in awe at the assortment of buttons and dials on the dashboard.
He shrugged. "It's just a Toyota."
"Just a what?"
"A Toyota. That's the make of the car. It's made by a company in Japan."
"A country in the Far East. Surely you've heard of it?"
"Of course I've heard of Japan!" she snapped.
He blinked, taken aback.
"I just didn't realize that they made cars there," she added, more kindly.
"Why don't you tell me the last thing you remember before you found yourself on the bridge," he suggested.
"They woke us up in the middle of the night and made us go downstairs. Then they told us that we were going to die and started shooting at us. They shot my father...oh, dear God, my father is dead..."
Suddenly she was sobbing uncontrollably. He put his arms around her awkwardly and patted her on the shoulder. "It's all right, sweetheart. You're safe now. No one's going to hurt you here."