Wayward (Wayward Pines #2)(15)

by Blake Crouch

“It’s just so insular.”

“So take him and leave.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes.”

“We’d be killed.”

“But you might escape. Some have left, though they’ve never returned. Do you secretly fear that, as bad as you think it is in Pines, it could be a million times worse on the outside?”

Theresa wiped her eyes. “Yes.”

“One last thing,” Pam said. “Have you opened up to Ethan about what happened prior to his arrival? Your, um… living situation… I mean.”

“Of course not. It’s only been two weeks.”

“Why haven’t you?”

“What’s the point?”

“You don’t think your husband deserves to know?”

“It would only cause hurt.”

“Your son might tell him.”

“Ben won’t. We already talked about it.”

“Last time you were here, you rated your depression on a scale of one to ten as a seven. How about today? Are you feeling better, worse, or the same?”

“The same.”

Pam opened a drawer and took out a small white bottle that rattled with pills.

“You’ve been taking your medication?”

“Yes,” Theresa lied.

Pam set the bottle on the desktop. “One a day, at bedtime, just like before. It’ll last you until our next appointment.”

Theresa sat up.

She felt like she always did after these things finished—emotionally ragged.

“Can I ask you something?” Theresa said.

“Sure.”

“I assume you talk to a lot of people. Hear everyone’s private fears. Will this place ever feel like home?”

“I don’t know,” Pam said as she stood. “That’s entirely up to you.”

5

The morgue was in the basement of the hospital through a pair of windowless doors.

Far end of the east wing.

Pilcher’s men had arrived ahead of Ethan with the body, and they stood in jeans and flannel shirts outside the entrance. The taller of the two, a man with Nordic features and head of Pilcher’s security team, looked visibly upset.

“Thanks for bringing her down,” Ethan said as he moved past and shouldered through one of the doors. “You don’t have to wait.”

“We were told to wait,” the blond said.

Ethan shoved the door closed after him.

The morgue smelled like a morgue. Antiseptic not quite masking the embedded musk of death.

The flooring was white tile, badly stained, and slightly concave with a large drain in the center.

Alyssa lay naked on the stainless-steel autopsy table.

The sink behind the table was leaking, the sound of dripping water echoing off the walls.

Ethan had only been inside the morgue once before. He hadn’t liked it then, and he found it infinitely less charming with a corpse in situ.

There were no windows, no other source of light but the examination lamp.

Standing next to the autopsy table, everything beyond was lost to darkness.

Over the drip-drip-drip came the hum of the refrigerated morgue drawers—a stack of six stationed against the wall beside the sink.

The truth was he didn’t know what he was doing. He wasn’t a coroner by a long shot. But Pilcher had insisted he examine the body and produce a report.

Ethan set his Stetson on the organ scale above the sink.

Reaching up, he took hold of the lamp.

In the hard light, the wounds looked clean. Neat. Impeccable. No ragged skin. Just dozens and dozens of black windows into devastation.

The woman’s skin was the color of primer under the burn.

He went appendage by appendage studying the punctures.

It grew harder with her lying dead on a table under this cruel clinical light to think of her as Alyssa.

He raised her left arm into the light and studied her hand. There was dirt under her fingernails. Or blood. He imagined her hands desperately pushing into the fresh wounds, fighting to stanch the blood that must have been pouring out of her.

So why, aside from the oak leaf fragments in her hair, was she otherwise clean? Without a trace of blood or bloodstain on her skin? He hadn’t seen any blood where he’d found her in the road. She’d obviously been killed elsewhere and moved to that place. Why had they drained her blood? To transport her without leaving a trail? Or something more sinister?

Ethan studied her other arm.

Her legs.

He didn’t want to, but he shined the light briefly between her thighs.

No bruising or damage evident to his untrained eye that might suggest sexual assault.

Because he couldn’t help but handle her body gently, it took him three tries to roll her over.

Her arms clanged against the metal table.

He brushed the bits of gravel and dirt off her back.

There was a recent wound on the back of her left leg.

A scarred-over incision.

The cut made—he guessed—to extract her microchip.

He pushed the light away and eased down onto the steel, adjustable stool. The way she lay draped across the cold table—exposed, degraded—ignited something inside of him.

Ethan sat in the dark wondering if Kate could really have done this.

After a while, he got up and walked to the door.

Pilcher’s men stopped talking when he stepped out. He looked at the tall blond and said, “Could I speak with you for a minute?”

“In there?”

“Yeah.”

Ethan held the door and the man walked into the morgue.

“What’s your name?” Ethan asked.

“Alan.”

Ethan pointed to the stool. “Have a seat.”

“What is this?”

“I’m asking you a few questions.”

Alan looked dubious. “I was told to bring her here and put her into cold storage when you were finished.”

“Well I’m not finished.”

“Nobody said anything about answering questions.”

“Quit flexing and sit down.”

The man didn’t move. He had a good four inches on Ethan. His shoulders were miles apart. Ethan could feel his body priming for a fight, heart rate ramping, battle trance coming on. He didn’t want to throw first, but if he didn’t have surprise, if he didn’t bring Alan down in the first few seconds, the likelihood of beating this man who was built like a Norse god seemed a bit of a stretch.