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The heels of Svetlana Korsakova's Air Russia uniform made sharp, steady clicks on the floor of the air terminal corridor, in synch with the heels of one of her crewmates. Then Tatyana Ushakova bid a cheery goodbye to Korsakova as she sped ahead to meet her retired Florida businessman boyfriend. Korsakova reciprocated with equal cheer, then veered off in the direction of an Internet kiosk to check for e-mails from her mother and two children living back in a Moscow suburb.
Messages from all three were indeed present in her electronic inbox, the two from her children expressing wishes that their mother was home and that she would get back safely, and the one from the children's grandmother informing Svetlana that Dmitri had received poor marks on his latest report card.
Svetlana sighed and smiled as she typed out her responses, telling both Dmitri and Natasha that she would be home in a few days, and chiding Dmitri (in a missive cc'd to Grandmother Belova) for his poor performance in school and informing him that a new tutor would be found for him before the autumn session of school began.
Svetlana was about to log off when a fresh note appeared in
her inbox, an untitled e-mail from an Internet café address. The tip
of her right index finger moved over the fingerpad that guided the
screen's cursor, and pressed down into the pad's cloth surface to
open the new e-mail once the cursor had arrived on top of it: