Page 15

“Again, I don’t know that. But if the Secret Service was here, there was probably some investigation involving a financial crime. That’s all I know.”

Pope stood suddenly. Ethan could tell he was a large man sitting behind the desk, but standing in his boots, Ethan saw that he was an inch or two shy of six and a half feet.

“You’re welcome to use the phone in the conference room, Agent Burke.”

Ethan didn’t move from his chair.

“I wasn’t quite finished, Sheriff.”

“Conference room’s right this way.” Pope came around his desk and started toward the door. “And maybe a shirt next time? Just a suggestion.”

The pounding in Ethan’s head was becoming laced with anger.

“Would you like to know why I’m not wearing a shirt, Sheriff?”

“Not particularly.”

“One of the agents I came looking for is decomposing in a house six blocks from here.”

Pope stopped at the door, his back to Ethan.

“I just found him before coming here,” Ethan said.

Pope turned and glared down at Ethan.

“Elaborate on ‘I just found him.’”

“Last night, a bartender at the Biergarten gave me her address in case I needed anything. I woke up this morning with a terrible headache. No money. Got kicked out of my hotel room. I went to her house to get some medicine for my headache, only the address she gave was wrong or something.”

“What’s the address?”

“Six-oh-four, First Avenue. It turned out to be an old, abandoned house. In ruins. Agent Evans had been chained to a bed in one of the rooms.”

“You’re sure it’s this man you came here to find?”

“Eighty percent sure. There was a great deal of decay and his face had suffered extensive blunt-force trauma.”

The scowl the sheriff had maintained since Ethan had walked into his office disappeared, and his features seemed to soften. He walked toward Ethan and eased down into the empty chair beside him.

“I apologize, Agent Burke. I kept you waiting out in reception. I got angry that you didn’t call before coming to town, and well, you’re right. There was no obligation. I’ve got a nasty tempter—one of my many failings—and my behavior was unacceptable.”

“Apology accepted.”

“You’ve had a rough couple of days.”

“I have.”

“Go make your phone calls and we’ll talk when you’re finished.”

* * *

A long table crowded the conference room, with barely enough space between the chairs and the wall for Ethan to make his way toward the rotary phone down at the end.

He dug the Post-it Note out of his pocket and lifted the phone.

Dial tone.

He spun out the number.

It rang.

Afternoon sun slicing between the blinds and striking the table’s polished wood veneer in blades of blinding light.

Three rings in, he said, “Come on, baby, pick up.”

After the fifth ring, he got the machine.

Theresa’s voice: “Hi, you’ve reached the Burkes. Sorry we aren’t here to take your call...unless of course you’re a telemarketer...then we’re thrilled to have missed your call, and, in fact, we’re probably dodging it and encourage you to forget this number. Otherwise, leave it at the beep.”

“Theresa, it’s me. God, I feel like I haven’t heard your voice in years. I guess you know that I was in a car accident out here. No one can seem to find my phone, so if you’ve been trying to call, I’m sorry. I’m staying at the Wayward Pines Hotel, Room Two Twenty-Six. You might try calling the sheriff’s office also. I hope you and Ben are OK. I’m all right. Still a little sore, but doing better. Please call me at the hotel tonight. I’ll try you again soon. I love you, Theresa. So much.”

He hung up the phone, sat there for a moment trying to conjure the number to his wife’s cell. Got as far as the first seven digits but the final three remained shrouded in mystery.

The number to the Seattle field office came to him instantly. He dialed, and after three rings, a woman whose voice Ethan didn’t recognize answered.

“Secret Service.”

“Hi, it’s Ethan Burke. I need to speak with Adam Hassler, please.”

“He’s not available at the moment. Was there something I could help you with?”

“No, I really need to speak with him. Is he out of the office today?”

“He’s not available at the moment. Was there something I could help you with?”

“How about I try him on his cell? Could I have that number, please?”

“Oh, I’m afraid I’m not allowed to give out that information.”

“Do you understand who I am? Agent Ethan Burke?”

“Was there something I could help you with?”

“What’s your name?”


“You’re new, right?”

“This is my third day.”

“Look, I’m up here in Wayward Pines, Idaho, in the middle of a shitstorm. Get Hassler on the phone immediately. I don’t care what he’s doing. If he’s in a meeting...if he’s taking a shit...put him on the goddamned phone.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”


“I’m not going to be able to continue this conversation with you speaking to me like that.”



“I apologize. I’m sorry I raised my voice with you, but I have to speak with Hassler. It is urgent.”

“I’d be happy to slip him a message if you’d like.”

Ethan closed his eyes.

He was grinding his molars together to keep from screaming through the phone.

“Tell him to call Agent Ethan Burke at the Wayward Pines Sheriff’s Office, or at the Wayward Pines Hotel, Room Two Twenty-Six. He has to do this the moment he gets the message. Agent Evans is dead. Do you understand me?”

“I’ll give him the message!” Marcy said brightly and hung up the phone.

Ethan pulled the receiver away from his face and slammed it five times into the table.

As he was hanging the phone back up, he noticed Sheriff Pope standing in the doorway to the conference room.

“Everything all right, Ethan?”

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