There were numbers—what looked like military time—in the bottom right-hand corner of the screens.
“This is her location at twenty-one hundred hours?” Ethan asked.
“Yeah, 9:00 p.m.”
“All right, take us forward slowly.”
Time sprinted by—seconds, minutes, hours—but the blip didn’t move out of the mountain.
Ted paused everything, said, “We’re now at one in the morning.”
“And Pam still hasn’t left the mountain. Run it forward.”
Just before 1:30 a.m., the blip moved out of the mountain, through the forest, and onto the road into Wayward Pines.
Ted pushed in.
The Pam-blip grew larger, now moving quickly down the road toward town.
Ethan said, “Do that thing where it shows all the areas that are covered under visual surveillance.” The DayGlo overlay appeared. “Since Pam is chipped, her movement will trigger camera footage, correct?” Ethan asked.
Pam took a backstreet that ran parallel to Main.
“Now what’s our time?”
“Can we actually see her on camera?”
“I’m not getting a ‘view cam feed’ option.” Ted pushed in closer. An entire city block filled the twenty-five screens. “Oh, that’s why. See? She’s standing in a blind spot.” Up close, there was a scattershot of dark spaces in the DayGlo, and as the seconds whirled by, Pam seemed to always stay in the black.
“She’s good,” Ted said. “Knows all the camera placements and where to go to stay out of the footage.”
Ethan said, “Run it out to 1:55 a.m.”
Ted zipped ahead several minutes.
At 1:55 exactly, Pam’s blip hovered on the south side of the opera house at the corner of Main and Eighth.
You were there. The night of Alyssa’s death, you were watching when she and Kate split up.
Ted said, “Maybe if you told me what you’re looking for, I could help you.”
At 1:59, Pam started moving south.
And then you followed Alyssa.
Pam passed into an area of DayGlo.
Ted said, “I have a ‘view cam feed’ option.”
“Let’s see it.”
The screens changed to a camera view of Main Street.
It was a grainy, night-vision shot, but Ethan could just make out the shadow of Pam walking quickly down the sidewalk.
She passed out of view.
The feed went black.
The screens returned to the aerial map.
“What was she doing in town?” Ted asked.
“At 1:59, Alyssa and Kate Ballinger part ways at the corner of Main and Eighth. Neither woman is chipped, so there’s no footage. I’m told that Alyssa headed south, presumably toward the superstructure. Pam follows Alyssa. Keep in mind that several hours later, near the pastures south of town, I’ll discover Alyssa. Naked in the middle of the road. Tortured to death.”
“The Wanderers killed Alyssa.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. Check our three surveillance cams, Ted.”
Ted switched back.
Marcus had vanished from the tunnel door cam.
Pam had left the gym.
The Level 2 corridor stood empty.
“Go back to where we were,” Ethan said. “Let’s see where she goes.”
Ted switched to the aerial view of Wayward Pines.
Pam continued south out of town. Where the road curved back, her blip moved into the forest and went all the way to the fence.
Ethan asked, “Can you add my microchip to these screens?”
“You mean for the same moment in time?”
Ethan’s blip appeared.
“So you were there with Pam?” Ted said. “I don’t understand.”
“I was. Three nights ago at the fence. Peter McCall had just died.”
“Oh, I remember that.”
“Now run Pam’s trajectory again, from 1:59 a.m. until she reaches me and the fence.”
Ted replayed Pam’s movement.
“I’m not following,” Ted said.
“Then run it again.”
He ran it three more times, and at the end of the third, said, “What the hell?”
Ted leaned forward in his seat.
His demeanor had changed.
Less fear, more intensity.
Ethan said, “Am I wrong, or are there two and a half hours missing from Pam’s surveillance on the night Alyssa was murdered?”
Ted rewound the footage.
He pushed in until the blip itself took up four screens.
Then played it over and over and over.
“The time jump is seamless,” Ted said. “The only tell is the running clock.”
He typed furiously across three keyboards.
An error code flashed on the screens.
Ted stared at it, his head cocked, like it didn’t compute.
“What does that mean?” Ethan asked.
“There’s a missing data field. From 2:04 a.m. until 4:33 a.m.”
“How is that possible?”
“Someone deleted it. Let me try one other thing.”
Now the screens showed what Ted was typing—a long, incomprehensible line of code.
It only returned a different error message.
Ted said, “I just ran a system restore, back to sixty seconds before the time jumped ahead.”
“The surveillance we’re looking for has been deep-sixed.”
“Which means what exactly?”
“It’s been erased.”
“Could Pilcher or Pam have done this?”
“Definitely not. I mean not by themselves. The deletion itself would be practically impossible, but to patch Pam’s surveillance history back together with a missing data field and make it look so flawless? No way. That took a high level of expertise.”
“So who would have helped them? One of your surveillance techs?”
“Only if they were ordered to.”
“You weren’t asked to do this?”
“No. I swear to you.”
“How many on your team are capable of something like this?”
Ethan pointed his knife at the door at the end of the massive control panel. “Are they in there now?”
“One of them is.”
Ethan started toward the door.
Ted said, “Wait.” He pointed at the bank of screens, which had reverted to the live surveillance cameras inside the superstructure.