With newfound clarity, the pain in his leg was making it difficult to concentrate on anything else.
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
Beverly lifted the flashlight and let it shine on her right hand, where between her thumb and first finger, she held something that resembled a microchip, specks of drying blood still caught up in the semiconductor.
“What is that?” he asked.
“How they monitor and track you.”
“That was in my leg?”
“They’re embedded in everyone’s.”
“Give it to me.”
“So I can stomp it into pieces.”
“No, no, no. You don’t want to do that. Then they’ll know you removed it.” She handed it to him. “Just ditch it in the cemetery when we leave.”
“Won’t they find us in here?”
“I’ve hidden here with the chip before. These thick stone walls disrupt the signal. But we can’t stay here long. They can track the chip to within a hundred yards of where the signal drops.”
Ethan struggled to sit up. He folded back the blanket to uncover a small pool of blood glistening on stone under the flashlight beam. More red eddies trickled out of an incision site on the back of his leg. He wondered how deep she’d had to dig. Felt light-headed, his skin achy and clammy with fever.
“You have something in the bag to close this wound?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Just duct tape.”
“Get it. Better than nothing.”
Beverly pulled the duffel bag over and thrust her hand inside.
Ethan said, “Did I dream you told me you came here in 1985, or did that really happen?”
“That happened.” She pulled out a roll of tape. “What do I do?” she asked. “I have no medical training.”
“Just wrap it around my leg several times.”
She started a piece of tape and then moved in, winding it carefully around Ethan’s thigh.
“Is that too tight?”
“No, it’s good. You need to stop the bleeding.”
She made five revolutions and then ripped the tape and smoothed it down.
“I’m going to tell you something,” Ethan said. “Something that you won’t believe.”
“I came here five days ago...”
“You already told me that.”
“The date was September twenty-fourth, 2012.”
For a moment, she just stared at him.
“Ever heard of an iPhone?” Ethan asked.
She shook her head...
“The Internet? Facebook? Twitter?”
...and kept shaking it.
Ethan said, “Your president is...”
“In 2008, America elected its first black president, Barack Obama. You’ve never heard of the Challenger disaster?”
He noticed the flashlight beginning to tremble in her hand.
“The fall of the Berlin Wall?”
“No, none of it.”
“The two Gulf Wars? September eleventh?”
“Are you playing some mind game with me?” Her eyes narrowed—one measure of anger, two of fear. “Oh God. You’re with them, aren’t you?”
“Of course not. How old are you?”
“And your birthday is...”
“You should be sixty-one years old, Beverly.”
“I don’t understand what this means,” she said.
“Makes two of us.”
“The people here...they don’t talk to each other about anything outside of Wayward Pines,” she said. “It’s one of the rules.”
“What are you talking about?”
“They call it ‘live in the moment.’ No talk of politics is allowed. No talk of your life before. No discussions of pop culture—movies, books, music. At least nothing that isn’t available here in town. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are hardly any brand names. Even the money is weird. I didn’t realize it until recently, but all the currency is from the fifties and sixties. Nothing later. And there are no calendars, no newspapers. Only way I know how long I’ve been here is because I keep a journal.”
“Why is it like this?”
“I don’t know, but the punishment for slipping up is severe.”
Ethan’s leg throbbed from the constriction of the duct tape, but at least the bleeding had subsided. He let it ride for now, but he’d have to loosen it soon.
Beverly said, “If I find out you’re with them—”
“I am not with them, whoever they are.”
There were tears building in her eyes. She blinked them away and wiped the glistening trails off the sides of her face.
Ethan leaned back against the wall.
The chills and the aches getting worse.
He could still hear the rain beating down above them, and it was still night beyond that stained-glass window.
Beverly lifted the blanket off the floor and draped it over Ethan’s shoulders.
“You’re burning up,” she said.
“I asked you what this place was, but you never really answered me.”
“Because I don’t know.”
“You know more than me.”
“The more you know, the stranger it becomes. The less you know.”
“You’ve been here a year. How have you survived?”
She laughed—sad and resigned. “By doing what everyone else does...buying into the lie.”
“That everything’s fine. That we all live in a perfect little town.”
“Where paradise is home.”
“Where paradise is home. It’s something I saw on a sign on the outskirts of town when I was trying to drive out of here last night.”
“When I first woke up here, I was so disoriented and in so much pain from the car accident, I believed them when they told me I lived here. After wandering around in a fog all day, Sheriff Pope found me. He escorted me to the Biergarten, that pub where you and I first met. Told me I was a bartender there, even though I’d never tended bar in my life. Then he took me to a little Victorian house I’d never seen before, told me it was home.”
“And you just believed him?”
“I had no competing memories, Ethan. I only knew my name at that point.”