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.But I wanted land where people never walked.The campgrounds were empty now, and their trails offered easy access to the woods.But if the weather turned warm again, which undoubtedly it would do before the ground froze for the winter, people would flock to these trails, some with dogs.I didn’t have the time or energy to dig that deep a hole.I’d been driving for ten minutes when the shoulder widened to two car lengths.Slowing down, I swerved off the road, and the tires slid to a stop in the muddy grass.I turned off the engine and the headlights and looked through the windshield and the rearview mirror.The highway stretched on, dark and empty.“You think this spot is safe?” Walter asked.“Safe as any,” I said, pulling the keys from the ignition.I opened the door and stepped down into the cold, wet grass.The sound of our doors slamming resounded through the woods.Opening the trunk, we each took a shovel and a pair of leather gloves to keep our hands from going numb.I led us back into the trees.We didn’t go far, because it’d be difficult to find this place on a moonless night.We’d be carrying Orson, and stumbling through the woods with him would be hard enough.The white pines dripped snowmelt, and within moments, I was shivering and miserable, thinking of the fireplace at the Woodside Inn.Forty yards in, I stopped.The trees grew so close to one another that the highway was now invisible.I drew an arrow in the pine needles, pointing toward the road.If we somehow became disoriented in the forest, we could wander out here all night looking for the highway.“Let’s dig,” I said, motioning to a level space between the trees.I stabbed my shovel through the pine needles, and it cut into the moist earth below.The work was initially difficult because we were cold, but the exertion soon drew sweat.In no time, I could feel only the biting chill in my ruddy cheeks.We traced the outline first.Then we began to dig, and with the two of us working, we’d soon gone two feet down.When I thought it was sufficiently deep, I lay in the hole and Walter measured how far an animal would have to dig to reach me: There’d be a foot of earth between Orson and the forest floor.I climbed out and brushed the dirt from my jeans, now damp and mud-streaked.Walter leaned against the trunk of a red spruce and lit a cigarette.In the blue dusk, there was no detail in his face, but I could tell that he stared at me strangely, the tobacco cinder glowing and fading.“What?” I asked, but he shook his head.“No, what is it?” I’d begun to shiver again.“We’re actually going to kill a man.”“Not a man, Walter.The man who’s threatened to sic a psychopath on your family.”“You might not be scared, Andy, but I’m shitting my pants.I hardly slept last night.I can’t stop thinking that a million things could go wrong tomorrow.He could escape.Kill us.He might even know we’re here.You considered that? He’s a psychopath, and we’re fucking with him.”A twig snapped in the distance.“Aren’t you doing this for your family?” I asked.“Think about them when you’re scared.What it’ll feel like to see the animal who threatened Jenna bleeding in that hole.”The woods had become unnervingly dark.“It may get rough tomorrow,” I said.“We may have to …do things to him if he won’t tell us what we need to know.You up for that?”“I will be.”Walter started in the direction of the highway.I picked up my shovel and followed him, counting the steps from Orson’s grave to the edge of the forest.When we emerged from the trees, the highway was silent, and a cold fog was descended from the high country.I could only see a hundred yards down the road now—beyond, an impenetrable black mist.I left my shovel leaning against the largest pine tree I could find.We would need some marker to find this place at night.As we climbed back into the car and the interior lights came on and the seat belt warning beeped, something sank inside of me.Walter was wrong.Perhaps the foggy dusk intensified it, but I was afraid.Driving back toward the inn, my hands trembled as they gripped the steering wheel.I wondered in the back of my mind if I could do it.In spite of everything he’d done, Orson was my brother.My twin.There was a bond.Walter and I didn’t speak.I imagined our silence might be analogous to that which develops between soldiers who have a bloody task ahead of them.No place for superficial chatter.Only an intense focus on the coming hours, and mental preparation to do a horrible thing.24FRIDAY, early afternoon, as the sun reached its apogee and crossed into the western sky, my bed resembled a small arsenal: my subcompact.40 Glock; Walter’s full-size.45; two boxes of Remington.40-caliber 180-grain semijacketed hollow-points; two boxes of Remington.45-caliber 185-grain semijacketed hollow-points; two extra magazines for each handgun; a pair of Amherst RS446 walkie-talkies; eighteen vials of benzodiazepines; one vial of antidote; three hypodermic needles; latex gloves; leather gloves; a penlight; handcuffs; and two mechanic’s suits I’d purchased from an Army-Navy surplus store in Davidson.The benzodiazepines had been tricky to come by.Walter’s mother-in-law suffered from a panic disorder, and among the sundry medications she stockpiled was a medium-acting sedative called Ativan.He’d helped himself to thirteen 1-mL vials.According to our on-line research, this would be sufficient to keep Orson sedated for a couple of days if need be.The downside, however, was that the onset of Ativan took upward of twenty minutes, and I needed something that could knock Orson down in less than two.So I’d done a very bad thing.Horror writers get away with murder in the pursuit of realism, and over the years, I’d befriended attorneys, detectives, and professionals in various fields, all of whom had graciously consulted with me on the accuracy of my novels.The investigative and courtroom procedures in my stories are religiously unerring.I always get the gun right [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]