Amy had begun to think she wouldn’t spend the rest of her life looking as though she’d been flogged. The long gouge and other scrapes on her back were already fading to pale pink lines. There might be some mottled scarring from when she’d been thrown on her side, and the constellation of claw marks on her shoulder would probably be around for good, but that was all.
Back in Dakar, Senegal, she spent a lot of time in her sunny room in the same cheap flophouse she’d been staying at when Robert had dropped out of contact.
The place had no WiFi, free or otherwise, so most afternoons she would head for the CyberCafé Pirogue. The café took up the first floor of a building probably constructed in the 1920s. It had dim lighting and dark walls, which gave it the feeling of a basement dance club. The interior constantly smelled as though it had just been repainted, although no fresh paint was otherwise in evidence. The ancient windows were murky with a resinous amber smudge, and the ceiling fan never managed to blow away a layer of sawdust that covered the floor in a corner near an unused broom closet.
The darkness made the place cozy and anonymous, perfect for relaxing and tracing the impact of the photos and other files she’d sent out from Prospérité.
Barely a week after her return to Senegal, she typed her pseudonym, “Caroline Yi,” into a news-search engine and found over sixty links to English-language sites alone. The activist websites were already humming with talk of resurrecting the boycott that Sanderson Tropical Timber had narrowly avoided eighteen months earlier. Some green groups, the ones that had praised Sanderson’s voluntary reforms, had balked at first, but many were coming around. Amy knew she had made this happen, and it made her lacerations feel like battle scars.
Caroline Yi’s story about a strange animal carcass on a logging truck had met with less enthusiasm. She’d posted that description on a site called PrimateWeb, an online forum for primatologists, tropical forest ecologists, physical anthropologists, and anyone else whose research involved primates.
After a week of checking responses to her request for help identifying the animal, Amy was glad she hadn’t used her real name.
The more polite comments on PrimateWeb were gentle suggestions that she’d seen a deformed monkey, or some other kind of carcass that had been battered into looking like something other than what it actually was.
One person said she was probably sick with a tropical fever and had hallucinated it. Another recommended that she quit sneaking handfuls of the medicine man’s magic bark.
So screw that. She had other things to think about.
Now that she’d done some damage to Sanderson Tropical Timber, she could forget about Equateur and put her time to different use. For starters, there was a group of Mexican and U.S. activists working hard to slow down commercial overfishing in the Sea of Cortez. Amy had helped them out before, and it looked like they were hurting for cash to keep up the fight. She planned to meet with their organizers once she got back to California, and she would head back there as soon as her battered face looked a little less shocking.