Alan pointed his AR-15 into the side room.
“Clear!” he said.
Ethan walked in, and asked, “Can you operate this system?”
“I can figure out how to play that memory shard. Give it here.”
They sat at the console.
As Alan slipped the shard into a port, Ethan looked up at the screens.
All were dark but one.
A camera feed showed the school basement—a large crowd packed into a classroom. In the center of the room, the injured lay on makeshift cots while neighbors tended to them and nursed their wounds. He searched for Kate but couldn’t pick her out.
An image appeared on another screen.
It was a long camera view across a field—the riverside park. It showed a man limping beside the river.
Ethan said, “Look, Alan.”
Alan looked up.
The man on the screen began to run—the awkward, stumbling gait of someone who’d been wounded.
Three abbies sprinted into view on the left side of the screen as the man disappeared out of the right.
A new monitor flashed to life—a feed looking down Sixth Street, Ethan’s street. The man ran out of the field and into the road, the abbies in pursuit, upright, all four of them moving closer and closer to the camera.
They ran him down in front of Ethan’s house and killed him in the street.
Ethan felt a surge of nausea. Rage.
“I wondered this morning if something was up,” Alan said.
“Mustin, that guard back there? He’s a sniper. All day every day, he sits on top of a mountain overlooking the town and the canyon and shoots any abbies that try to come in. I saw him in the chow hall this morning when he should’ve been at his post. He said Pilcher had pulled him off the peak for today. No reason given. It was a clear day too.”
“So Mustin wouldn’t see what his boss had done to all those innocent people.”
“When did they breach the fence?” Alan asked.
“Last night. You weren’t told?”
“Not a word.”
A new screen flared to life.
“That’s the memory shard file?” Ethan asked.
“Yep. Have you seen this?”
“You can’t unwatch it.”
Alan played the file.
From high in the corner of a ceiling, a camera looked down on the morgue. There was Pilcher. Pam. And Alyssa. The young woman had been strapped with thick, leather restraints to the autopsy table.
“No audio?” Alan asked.
“It’s a good thing.”
Alyssa was screaming, her head lifting off the table, every muscle straining.
Pam appeared, took a handful of Alyssa’s hair, and jerked her head down against the metal table.
When David Pilcher moved into frame, set a small knife on the metal table, and climbed on top of Alyssa, Ethan looked away.
He’d seen this once before, didn’t need the images reinforced inside his brain.
Alan said, “Jesus God.”
He stopped the video, pushed his chair back from the console, and stood.
“Where are you going?” Ethan asked.
“Where do you think?” He moved toward the door.
“What?” Alan glanced back. You wouldn’t have known what he’d just seen to look at his face. That Nordic iciness as blank as a winter sky.
“The people in town need you right now,” Ethan said.
“I’m going to go kill him first if that’s okay with you.”
“You’re not thinking.”
“His own daughter!”
“He’s done,” Ethan said. “Finished. But he has information we’re going to need. Go mobilize your men. Send a team to shut the gate and restore power to the fence. I’ll go to Pilcher.”
Ethan stood. “That’s right.”
Alan dug his keycard out of his pocket, dropped it on the floor, and said, “You’ll need this.”
A key fell beside the card.
“That too. It’s for the elevator. And while we’re at it . . .” He pulled a subcompact Glock out of a shoulder holster, held it by the barrel, and offered Ethan the gun. As Ethan took it, Alan said, “If the next time I see you, you confess that, in the heat of the moment, you put a round into that piece of shit’s gut and watched as he bled out slowly, I will totally understand.”
“I’m sorry about Alyssa.”
Alan left the room.
Ethan bent down, lifted the key and the plastic card off the floor.
The corridor was empty.
Halfway down the stairwell, he heard it.
A noise he knew all too well from his time at war.
They were firing the chain gun, and it sounded like death on the drums.
By the time he reached Level 1, the noise was unreal. People would be leaving their workstations, leaving their residences.
At the pair of unmarked doors, he swiped the card through the reader.
The doors opened.
He stepped into the small elevator car, pushed the key into the lock on the control panel, and turned it.
The single button started blinking.
He pressed it, the doors closed, and the racket of the chain gun began to gradually fade away.
He took a deep breath and thought of his family, his fear for them blooming in his stomach like a flower of broken glass.
The doors opened.
He stepped off into Pilcher’s suite.
Passing the kitchen, he heard the sizzle of meat cooking. Garlic, onions, olive oil perfuming the air, Chef Tim obliviously at work while the abbies invaded, intently plating Pilcher’s breakfast, adding intricate dots of a bright red sauce from a pastry bag onto a piece of china.
As Ethan moved down the hall toward Pilcher’s office, he checked the load on Alan’s Glock, happy to see a round already in the tube.
He opened the doors to Pilcher’s office without bothering to knock, and strode inside.
Pilcher sat on one of the leather sofas that faced the wall of monitors, feet propped up on an acacia wood coffee table, a remote control in one hand, a bottle of something old and brown in the other.
The left side of the wall showed feeds from Wayward Pines.
The right—surveillance from inside the superstructure.
Ethan walked over to the sofa, took a seat beside him. He could break Pilcher’s neck. Beat him to death. Suffocate him. The only thing stopping him really was the sense that this man’s death belonged mostly to the people of Wayward Pines. He couldn’t steal that away from them. Not after everything Pilcher had put them through.