A night for humanity in all its evil, joy, and madness.
A celebration in hell.
Her five years in Wayward Pines, there’d been only four fêtes.
Tonight makes five.
Theresa wipes her face and turns away from the window.
Moves quietly through the empty attic, mindful to keep her footsteps gentle on the creaky hardwood. If she wakes Ben and he sees a fête in progress, he’ll want to go outside, be a part of it.
She descends the drop-down ladder, folds it up, raises the attic door back into the ceiling.
So strange to be standing on the second floor of this silent house, considering what’s happening outside.
She walks down the hallway and stops in the open doorway of Benjamin’s room.
Twelve years old and looking more and more like his father every day.
Watching him, she wonders if, when they finally catch him, Ethan will cry out.
Will she hear him?
And if so, will she be able to stand it?
Sometimes things feel so normal, so as they always have been, but then come moments when the buried tension of questions she no longer allows herself to ask threatens to shatter her like ancient crystal.
Soon, there will be music on Main Street, and chances are, it will wake her son.
Ben will want to know what’s happening, and there will be no lying to him.
He’s too smart for that.
And she respects him far too much.
What will she tell him?
And the harder question...
A week from now when she wakes in the middle of the night, alone in her dark bedroom, with no possibility of ever seeing her husband again...
What will she tell herself?
Ethan rushed through the next intersection, more lights appearing every time he glanced back, but his nearest pursuer—the hurdler—was his immediate concern. The man had broken ahead of his slower compatriots, Ethan thinking he looked familiar—the bald head, the huge, silver-frame glasses—and as the man closed to within thirty feet, Ethan realized who it was: that prick pharmacist he’d tried to buy aspirin from two days prior.
Main Street loomed one block ahead, a disturbing noise bubbling up over the two- and three-story buildings—the ebullient chatter of a gathering crowd.
Under no circumstances could he run naked onto Main Street.
But at his current clip and without altering his trajectory, in another twenty seconds he would do that very thing.
One street stood between Ethan and Main, and it wasn’t even a street—just a one-lane alley that slashed behind the row of buildings. It gave him one last boost of rage-infused adrenaline to acknowledge that if he rounded the corner into that alley and came upon anybody, anybody at all, he was done.
Hacked to death by a machete-wielding pharmacist.
Nice way to go.
A one-story garage abutted the street, and he figured the corner of the building, when he turned it, would break the pharmacist’s line of sight for about two seconds.
If there wasn’t a crowd waiting for him in the alley, it might be enough.
Ethan had been sprinting up the dead center of the street, but now it was time to make his move.
He veered right, cutting across the rain-slicked pavement.
Must not fall.
Crossed a strip of grass, then sidewalk, then grass again, and as he reached the opening of the alley, it occurred to him that he didn’t even know what he was going to do.
No time to plan. Just react.
By the proximity of the man’s footfalls, he estimated the pharmacist to be six strides back.
Ethan shot into the alley.
Concrete to dirt.
Mist tinged with the reek of wet garbage.
He saw no one in the immediate vicinity beyond a pair of flashlights several hundred feet down, meandering his way.
Ethan kicked his feet sideways and parallel, as if shredding to a stop on skis, arresting his forward momentum as he skidded to such an abrupt halt he could feel gravity fighting to flip him end over end.
He righted himself and exploded back the way he’d come, accelerating straight at the corner of the building.
Be there. Be there. Be there.
The collision was tremendous, Ethan’s forehead smashing flush into the lower half of the pharmacist’s jaw in a bone-fracturing wreck so intense the impact left Ethan out on his feet for half a second.
He snapped back, blood sheeting down his face.
The pharmacist sitting stunned and spitting teeth onto the road.
In the aftermath of the brain-scrambling hit, it took Ethan two seconds to realize that the long, metal object lying on the pavement was the man’s machete.
He reached down and lifted it as the man looked up at him, the horror of knowing what was about to happen dragging him back into coherence more effectively than a bucket’s worth of smelling salts.
Ethan squeezed his fingers into the indentations in the machete’s handle, which had been wrapped in duct tape for improved grip in the rain.
The man raised his arms in a feeble attempt to fend off what could not be fended off.
Ethan feigned a strike and drilled the man in the face with a front kick, his heel thrusting through the wreckage of the man’s crushed nose and driving the back of his head into the pavement with a skull-fracturing crunch.
The man groaned and stayed down, but his two friends were closing in—they’d be here in ten seconds—and behind them, a block back, that army of flashlights moved like a herd of cattle up the street, the sound of numerous footfalls on wet pavement getting louder and louder.
Ethan fled back into the alley, relieved to find that those pair of lights he’d seen last time had vanished.
He ran, needing to make the most of this brief window of invisibility.
Twenty steps in, he neared a Dumpster and didn’t even hesitate.
Ducked around the side, hit the ground, crawled behind it, wedging himself between the metal and the brick wall of the building it nestled against.
He couldn’t hear anything over the thundering of his heart and his doglike panting, sweat and blood pouring down his face into his eyes, freezing, muscles blazing with a lactic acid burn like he’d just hit the wall on a marathon.
Footsteps raced past on the other side of the Dumpster and the sound of them moving away, getting steadily softer, was like music.
The side of Ethan’s face rested on the ground, dirt and bits of glass and gravel embedding in his cheek.