He sat up in bed, the fog in his head beginning to lift. He was in a private hospital room—he thought it looked familiar. There was a window beside the bed. The blinds had been drawn, but the light creeping through seemed timid enough to be either early morning or early evening.
“Where’d you find me?” he asked.
“Mack Skozie’s front yard. You’d blacked out. Do you remember what you were doing there? Mack said you seemed pretty agitated and confused.”
“I woke up yesterday by the river. I didn’t know who I was or where I was.”
“You’d left the hospital. Do you remember leaving?”
“No. I went to the Skozie residence because he was the only Mack in the phone book.”
“I don’t think I understand.”
“Mack was the only name that held any meaning for me.”
“Why do you think that is?”
“Because Mack is the last word I read before the truck hit us.”
“Oh, right...it was a Mack truck that T-boned your car.”
“The mind is a weird thing,” the nurse said, moving around the end of the bed and walking over to the window. “It works in mysterious ways. Seeks out the strangest connections.”
“How long has it been since I was brought back here?”
She raised the blinds.
“Day and a half.”
Light streamed in.
It was actually late morning, the sun just clearing the eastern rim of cliffs.
“You had a bad concussion,” she said. “You could’ve died out there.”
“I felt like I was dying.”
The early light pouring down into the town was stunning.
“How’s your memory?” Pam asked.
“Weirdest thing. It all came back when I remembered the accident. Like someone just flipped a switch. How’s Agent Stallings?”
“The man who was riding in the front passenger seat of the car when the collision happened.”
“He didn’t make it, did he?”
Nurse Pam walked back over to the bedside. She reached down, put her hand on his wrist. “I’m afraid not.”
He’d assumed as much. Hadn’t seen that sort of trauma since the war. Still, to have that suspicion confirmed was a sobering thing.
“Was he a close friend of yours?” the nurse asked.
“No. I’d met him for the first time earlier that day.”
“Must’ve been just awful. I’m so sorry.”
“What’s my damage?”
“Dr. Miter will be able to fill you in better than I can, but you suffered a concussion, which is resolved now. A few cracked ribs. Some superficial cuts and bruises. All things considered, it could have been much, much worse for you.”
She turned away and headed for the door, stopping as she started to pull it open for a quick glance back over her shoulder.
“So,” she said. “We’re sure about your memory coming back?”
“What’s your first name?”
“Ethan,” he said.
“Could you do me a favor?” Ethan asked.
Big, high-wattage smile. “Name it.”
“There are people I need to call. My wife. My SAC. Has anyone been in contact with them?”
“I believe someone from the sheriff’s office got in touch with your emergency contacts right after the accident. Let them know what happened, your condition.”
“I had an iPhone in my jacket at the time of the collision. Would you happen to know where it is?”
“No, but I can certainly put on my Nancy Drew detective hat and check into that for you.”
“I’d appreciate it.”
“That little red button on the side of the railing? See it?”
Ethan glanced down at it.
“I’m one click away.”
Nurse Pam flashed one more brilliant smile and left.
* * *
There was no television in the room, and no telephone. The best and only entertainment was the wall clock hanging above the door, and he lay in bed for several hours watching the second hand make its endless orbit as the morning turned to midday and then to afternoon.
He couldn’t be sure, but his room appeared to be three, possibly four floors up. Nurse Pam had left the blinds open, and when he tired of clock-watching, he turned carefully over onto his good side and studied the happenings of Wayward Pines.
From his vantage point, he could see straight down Main Street and several blocks back on either side.
He’d known prior to coming here that it was a tiny, sleepy town, but the sheer inactivity still surprised him. An hour elapsed, and he counted a dozen people strolling down the sidewalk past the hospital, and not a single car driving down the town’s busiest thoroughfare. The most effective object of distraction was two blocks away—a construction crew framing a house.
He thought about his wife and son back in Seattle, hoping they were already en route to see him. They’d probably caught the first plane out. They would have had to fly into Boise or Missoula. Rent a car for the long trek out to Wayward Pines.
The next time he glanced at the clock, it was a quarter to four.
He’d been lying in this bed all day, and Dr. Miter, or whatever his name was, hadn’t even bothered to stop by. Ethan had spent significant time in hospitals, and in his experience, nurses and doctors never left you alone for more than ten seconds—someone always bringing some new medication, always prodding and poking.
Here, they’d practically ignored him.
Nurse Pam had never even shown up with his iPhone and other belongings. How busy could this hospital in the middle of nowhere be?
He reached for the control panel attached to the railing and jammed his thumb into the NURSE CALL button.
Fifteen minutes later, the door to his room swung open and Nurse Pam breezed through.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see that you rang until ten seconds ago. I think we’re having some issues with our intercom.” She stopped at the foot of the bed and put her hands on the metal railing. “How can I help you, Ethan?”
“Where’s Dr. Miter?”
She grimaced. “He’s been tied up in an emergency surgery all afternoon. One of those five-hour nightmares.” She laughed. “But I filled him in on your vitals this morning and the fantastic progress you’re making with your memory, and he thinks you’re doing A-OK.”