“Your daughter.”

“It had to be done. Maybe not the way it was done, but… I lost my head.”

“I’ve been wondering—why have me investigate her murder? Find her body in the road? I assume you orchestrated that. What did you possibly hope to gain?”

“Alyssa never gave up Ballinger’s group. I didn’t think you’d really investigate your former partner unless you thought she’d actually killed someone. And you should’ve come to the conclusion it was Kate. You would’ve if you’d searched her house. I had Alyssa’s murder weapon stowed in a toolbox in Kate and Harold’s shed. You were supposed to find it, but you never even searched, because I guess you never really thought she did it. Well, doesn’t matter now.”

“How do you sleep at night, David?”

“Because I know that no matter what I’ve done, it’s all been in the service of creating Wayward Pines. Of protecting Wayward Pines. And there’s nothing more important. So I sleep just fine. I have a new nickname for you, by the way.”

“We need to meet,” Ethan said. “We need to talk about what comes next.”

“Light-bringer. That’s my new nickname for you. Translated from the Latin, Lucifer. Do you know the mythology of Lucifer? It’s quite apt. He was an angel of the Lord. The most beautiful creature of them all. But his beauty? It deluded him. He started to believe that he was as lovely as his maker. That perhaps he should be God.”

“Pilcher—”

“Lucifer led a band of angels in revolt against the Almighty, and I want to ask you a question now… how’d that turn out for them?”

“You’re a sick man. These people deserved their freedom.”

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“I will share with you that it did not turn out well at all. Do you know what God did to them? He cast them out. He created a place called hell for Lucifer and all his fallen angels.”

Ethan said, “And who am I in this fairy tale? Lucifer? And I suppose that makes you God?”

“Very good, Sheriff.” He could hear Pilcher smiling through the telephone. “And if you’re wondering where to go to find this place of everlasting torment that I’m about to create for you, I would say look no further.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Hell is coming to you.”

A dial tone blared for two seconds in Ethan’s ear.

Then all the lights winked out.

25

1040 Sixth Street

Wayward Pines

Three Years, Seven Months Ago

On their last day together, she prepared his favorite meal.

All afternoon in the kitchen—slicing, stirring, mixing.

The simple act of keeping her hands busy somehow carrying her from one moment to the next.

But she had to focus, because the second she dropped her guard, it all came crashing down on her.

Three times, she’d lost it.

Crumbling to her knees.

Her sobs filling the empty house.

It had been so hard here.

Scary and lonely, and ultimately, hopeless.

But then he’d arrived. Like a dream.

They’d found comfort in each other, and for a time, everything had been better. She’d actually been happy in this strange little town.

The front door opened, closed.

She set the knife down on the cutting board.

Dried her eyes on a dish towel.

Turned to face him.

He stood across from her at the kitchen island.

Said, “You’ve been crying.”

“Just a little.”

“Come here.”

She went to him, wrapped her arms around him and cried into his chest as he ran his fingers through her hair.

“Did you talk to them?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“And?”

“No change.”

“It’s not fair.”

“I know.”

“What if you just said—”

“I don’t have a choice in the matter.”

“Can’t you—”

“Don’t ask me. Please.” He lowered his voice and whispered into her ear. “You know I can’t talk about it. You know there are consequences.”

“It kills me not to understand.”

“Look at me.” He held her face in his hands and stared down into her eyes. No one had ever loved her like this man. “We’ll get through this.”

She nodded.

“How long?” she asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Is it dangerous?”

“Yes.”

“Are you coming back?”

“Of course I am. Is he upstairs?”

“He’s not home from school yet.”

“I tried to talk to him about it, but—”

“He’s gonna have a real hard time.”

He put his hands on her waist.

Said, “Look, it’s done, and there’s nothing we can do about it, so let’s enjoy the time we do have. All right?”

“Okay.”

“Should we go upstairs for a little while? I’d like a little something to remember you by.”

“I don’t want to burn dinner.”

“Fuck dinner.”

She lay in bed, in his arms, watching the sky darken through the windows.

“I can’t even imagine what it’ll be like,” she said.

“You’re strong. Stronger than you give yourself credit for.”

“What if you don’t come back to me?”

“Then know this. The time I’ve spent with you here in this valley, in this house, have been the best of my life. Better than all my time in the world before. I love you, Theresa. Madly and forever and—”

She kissed him and pulled him on top of her.

Into her.

She was crying again.

“Just be right here,” she said. “I love you. God, I love you so much, Adam, don’t leave me, please, don’t leave me…”

V

26

In the last shreds of daylight, Tobias opened his leather-bound journal and read the first page inscription for possibly the thousandth time.

When you come back—and you will come back—I’m gonna f**k you, soldier, like you just came home from war.

He flipped the pages three-quarters of the way through the volume to where he’d last left off.

The pencil was down to its last inch.

The pipe was getting low.

He crushed down the ashes and took a deep draw, collecting his thoughts as the river murmured past.

From where he sat, the sun had left the building, although it still struck the summit of the mountain across the river, a half mile above him.