Pilcher stared into his glass at the swirling amber liquid.
“I did something tonight, Ted.”
Ted looked up at the dark screens. Felt something go ice cold in the pit of his stomach. He looked over at Pilcher as the man raised a control tablet and typed something on the touchpad.
The screens flashed to life.
As head of surveillance, Ted had spent a quarter of his life watching these people eat, sleep, laugh, cry, f**k, and sometimes—when a fête was called—die.
“I didn’t do this lightly,” Pilcher said.
Ted stared at the screens, his eyes locking on one in particular—a woman crouching in the shower, shoulders heaving with sobs as a fist of talons punched through the bathroom door.
He felt suddenly ill.
Pilcher watched him.
Ted looked over at his boss. Eyes welling up with tears, he said, “You have to stop this.”
“It’s too late.”
“I used our abbies in captivity to draw a swarm to the fence. Then I opened the gate. Over five hundred abbies have entered the town.” Ted wiped his eyes. Five hundred. He could barely comprehend such a number. Just fifty abbies would have been an unqualified disaster.
Ted fought to keep his tone in check.
“Think about how hard you worked to gather the people in that valley. Decades. Remember the excitement you felt every time we put a new recruit into suspension. Wayward Pines isn’t the streets or the buildings or the suspension units. It’s nothing that you built. It’s those people and you’re—”
“They turned their backs on me.”
“This is about your goddamned vanity?”
“I have several hundred others in suspension. We’ll start again.”
“People are dying down there, David. Children.”
“Sheriff Burke told them everything.”
“You lost your temper,” Ted said. “That’s understandable. Now send down a team to save whomever they still can.”
“It’s too late.”
“Not while people are alive, it isn’t. We can put them all back into suspension. They won’t remember—”
“What’s done is done. In a day or so, the rebellion in the valley will be finished, but I’m afraid one may be coming to this mountain.”
“What are you talking about?”
Pilcher sipped his drink. “You think the sheriff did this all on his own?”
Ted squeezed his hands into fists to stop the tremor that was coming.
“Burke had help from the inside, from one of my people,” Pilcher said.
“How do you know?”
“Because Burke has information he couldn’t possibly have gotten without the help of someone in surveillance. Someone in your group, Ted.”
Pilcher let the accusation sit.
Ice cracked in his glass.
“What information are you talking about?” Ted asked.
Pilcher ignored the question, held Ted’s eyes with his own. “Your group consists of you and four surveillance techs. I know your loyalty is steadfast, but what about your subordinates? Burke had the help of one of them. Any ideas who it might be?”
“Where is this coming from?”
“Ted. That is just the wrong answer.”
Ted stared down into his lap at his drink. He looked up again.
He said, “I don’t know who on my team would do such a thing. This is why you shut down surveillance?”
“You run the most sensitive group in the superstructure, and it’s been compromised.”
“What about Pam?”
“It’s possible the sheriff got to her.”
Pilcher laughed, derisive. “Pam would set herself on fire if I asked her to. She’s missing by the way. Her microchip indicates she’s in town, but I haven’t heard from her in hours. I will ask you one last time—which of your men?”
“Give me the night.”
“Give me the night to find out who did this.”
Pilcher leaned back and regarded him with an unreadable intensity, and said, “You want to handle this yourself, don’t you?”
“A matter of honor?”
“Something like that.”
Pilcher pointed at the monitors. “Only you and I know what’s happening down in the valley. For now, it stays that way.”
“It’s a hard night for me, Ted. I’m grateful to have a friend like you to lean on.”
Ted tried to smile, but he couldn’t manage it. Just said, “I’ll see you in the morning.” He set his scotch glass down on a table and headed for the door.
Everyone went silent.
So quiet Ethan could hear the fire burning in the hearth at the back of the room.
The scratching stopped.
He heard the click-click-click of those talons again.
It made sense. Why would the abbies believe their prey had gone behind this door? They didn’t even know what a door was. That it was something that opened into another place. Most of them were probably still out on—
Something struck the door.
The room took in a collective gasp.
The bolt rattled in its housing.
The door took another blow—twice as hard—as if two abbies had crashed into it at the same time.
He thumbed off the safety and glanced at Hecter, Kate, and the others.
“How many are out there?” Kate asked.
“No idea,” Ethan whispered. “Could be thirty. Could be a hundred.”
In the darkness behind them, children were beginning to cry.
Parents trying to hush them.
And the blows to the door kept coming.
Ethan walked over to the left side where the hinges attached the door to the frame. One of the rusted brass plates popped a screw.
Kate said, “Will it hold?”
“I don’t know.”
The next blow came—the hardest yet.
The entire top plate detached from the frame.
Still four more below it.
Ethan called Maggie over, and in the torchlight, they watched the housing for the bolt.
With the next collision, it shook but held.
Ethan went back to Kate and asked, “Is there another way out of this room?”
The barrage continued, and the more the abbies hurled themselves against the logs, the angrier they seemed to get, now shrieking and screaming after every failed attempt.