The Rhythm Section
Mark Burnell
Contributed by Elene Blackwelder
Chapter 11

When Stephanie comes to, she finds out that the effects of the drugs that she has been injected with are yet to wear off as her ability to balance is impaired. Also, the intensity of the darkness makes her lose her sense of time. Although she crawls through the dark room in a bid to find a door and escape, she discovers that she is confined in an impenetrable room. She becomes claustrophobic and has a panic attack, where the walls seem to be closing-in on her. By the time the lights are turned on, she is so afraid that she curls up submissively in a corner of the room. A man enters and orders her to follow him to a new room where she meets with another man, Alexander. Although he attempts to persuade her to abandon her vengeful plan against Reza, Stephanie remains rebellious and steadfast in her mission. Furthermore, she deceives them by saying that she had made seven copies of Proctor’s floppy disks, which can be used to publish the government’s involvement in concealing that the plane crash was caused by a terrorist, in the local papers. 

When Alexander leaves, she is moved to a more accommodating confinement room in London. There, she is allowed to eat and rest before she meets with him once again. Alexander presents a proposal to her: that she could either work for their organization and be allowed to exert her revenge on Reza; or she could simply walk away, and forget about her abduction and abandon her quest for revenge. Stephanie consents to being recruited, and Alexander informs her that the covert organization is known as the ‘Magenta House’. They are a private organization dedicated to combating terrorism without any governmental oversight. So long as Stephanie meets their standards after they train her, and provided that she follows orders, she will be allowed to pursue Reza. Alexander also informs her that the reason he is yet to be captured is because there was another person who had masterminded the terrorist attack, Khalil. They expect to use Reza and have him lead them to Khalil, a man they suspected as being responsible for several other terrorist attacks.


Stephanie’s abduction leaves her in a state of confusion and fear. When she says “all the frosty aggression that kept me focused has gone”, she is describing her frightened state (Burnell, 89). She hopes that she has been captured by a secret government agency because the alternative is that she has been captured by Reza’s men, and will probably end up being tortured and killed like Proctor. Luckily, she has been captured by Magenta House, a private organization formed to wage an underground war against terrorism. When she is questioned by Alexander, he tells Stephanie that she has “a genuine taste and talent for those practices that the rest of us take trouble to avoid”, letting Stephanie (and the reader) know the similar distaste he has for her (Burnell, 91). This is emphasized when Alexander tells her that she dropped out of society after the plane crash, and had subsequently slithered beneath it (Burnell, 90). Stephanie is further dehumanized when Alexander informs her she will be like a machine that will be trained and programmed to follow orders if she is recruited by the Magenta House organization.

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