UNTIL THE BELL TOLLS
CHAPTER EIGHT: FEVERISH
The local police chief and one other cruiser met them at the town line, and Charlie indicated that they follow him to the school, their lights bright against the now dark sky.
"You're sure about this?" Charlie asked Erica, spotting the school coming up on the left. There were light-trucks on it, keeping it well lit despite the late hour, as people still worked through the wreckage.
"Absolutely," Erica replied, barely glancing at the ruined school as they passed it. "Head down this next street. Go to that house there, the one with the porch." She pointed to a tall Georgian brick house with slate tiles, easily the nicest house on the street. "I remember seeing it when we first arrived here, it stuck out amongst all the others around it. It would have stuck out for Hughes too, and add the fact that it's got a foreclosure sign in front of it—"
"Means no one is touching it until it gets sold," Charlie said, turning down the street she'd indicated. "Just like the house in Redkill where he stashed Madison's van."
"And check out the second floor, those big bay windows…." She gestured upwards as they pulled to a stop in front of the home, and Charlie leaned out to look up. The curtains were drawn back, whereas they were closed over every other window in the house. "He's there, in that room," Erica said. "I'm sure of it. No other reason for those curtains to be open."
Charlie couldn't fault that logic. Climbing out, he nodded to the local police that came to stand next to him.
"Here?" the chief asked, tipping his hat back and peering up at the home. "You sure? This place hasn't been lived in for over six months."
"That's why," Charlie said. "Can you get us in?"
"Surely." The chief strode up the steps onto the porch and, upon reaching the front door, pulled his nightstick to smash through one of the windows.
"Wait! Try the door!" Erica said quickly, jogging up the steps behind Charlie. "I'm betting it's not locked."
The chief frowned at her, but lowered the nightstick and grabbed the doorknob. His eyebrows lifted high on his head as the lock clicked and the heavy wooden door swung wide open.
"Careful," Charlie said then, before the chief could go inside. "We don't think the house is booby-trapped, but the way our luck is running…."
The chief sighed but nodded, and, flipping on his flashlight, he made a sweep of the front entryway. Not seeing anything, he led the way inside, a couple of his men right behind him.
Charlie could feel Erica dancing nervously next to him, twitching, wanting to run straight upstairs to the room with the bay window.
The chief tried the lights, but it was quickly evident that the power had been shut off. Not surprising if no one had been inside here for over six months.
Upon following the cops into the front hall, Charlie pointed the chief up the stairs to the right. The older man nodded and started up the carpeted steps, flashlight leading the way, checking every crease and line for danger. The old wood underneath creaked with each step, as loud as screams in Charlie's ears.
Shoving past, Erica practically climbed over Charlie so that she could go up the stairs behind the chief, and Charlie had to shake his head. Put a child in danger, and Erica Reed was a force to be reckoned with.
The second floor was eerily quiet as the chief swept the landing and tested the closed doors on either side. Erica pointed over his shoulder at the one that obviously led to the front of this house. With a nod, the chief moved forward, still sweeping with the flashlight before every step. Erica was practically bouncing on his heels.
At the threshold, the chief blew the air out of his cheeks and slowly turned the knob. The door opened easily, and he nudged it gently ajar.
Something inside whimpered, and the chief opened the door more fully.
The smell of urine and sweat greeted them, pungent and strong, along with something tinnier—like fear.
"Oh my god," the chief whispered.
Erica pushed him aside and all but ran to the little boy tied to the chair in front of the window, his arms bound by his sides. His head was bowed to his chest, barely aware as Erica kneeled in front of him, pushing his hair back and trying to see his eyes.
"Connor?" she called. "Connor Hughes, can you hear me?"
"I'll call an ambulance," the chief said, already pulling his phone.
"And protective services," Charlie said as he took in the rest of the room. It was sparsely furnished—stuff that, whomever lived here before, just decided not to take with them. It appeared barely touched, except for the boy in the chair and, to his right, a TV tray table with a big cup on it, complete with a very long straw. The cup was set on the edge, the water in it almost completely drained down. Hughes had left his son some water—how kind.
He moved around and crouched down next to where Erica was still trying to get Connor to respond to her.
"Come on, sweetheart," she begged, lifting his chin up. "Talk to me."
The boy blinked a little, and, for a moment, he seemed to look straight at Erica, but then his eyes closed again and he whimpered. Charlie checked the ropes—they weren't too tight, though the rope burns on the boy's wrists were nasty. A quick check showed that he had circulation in his arms and hands though, so Charlie pulled out his knife and started sawing.
When the last rope snapped, Erica reached up and the boy fell into her arms, just wrapping his arms around her as tightly as he could, still whimpering softly. Erica hugged him back, looking over his head at Charlie, her eyes shining. After a moment, she smiled.
And for the first time since Lloyd was shot, Charlie felt like they might win this thing.
"We know Hughes was given nine bombs," Ray said, slamming his hand on the plastic table. "And we know it was White Sun that paid for them. Are you still going to sit there and tell me you knew nothing about it?"
" I'm sorry, but I don't see how I can help you, Marshal." Bill Peters leaned back in his chair, his dark blue eyes narrowed into slits, the light gleaming off his shaved head. "Just because I hung out with the guy, doesn't mean I have any clue what he's up to. His escape was just as big a surprise to me as it was to everyone else. And as for White Sun, I haven't been in touch with that organization since I left the company ten years ago. If Hughes's been in touch with them…" He shrugged. "It has nothing to do with me."
"So you say." Ray leaned forward as Bill leaned back, and part of him wished the glass between them would disappear so that he could beat the answer out of the guy. A few hits and—
"So I do say," Peters said. "In fact, I really don't see why I even have to talk to you anymore. You interrupted my dinner, and the creamed corn was looking especially good this evening."
Ray snorted. "This isn't a joke, Peters. Innocent people are being hurt by this guy."
"I'm sure you think they're innocent, anyway," Peters sneered. He pushed his chair back suddenly, standing up so that he could look down at Ray. "Look, I can't help you, Marshal, so why don't you—"
"He hit a school, Peters. He used two of your bombs to blow up an elementary school in Perrytown." Ray stood up so he was eye-level with the man on the other side of the glass, ignoring the burn in his hurt leg. "He would have killed kids who haven't even made it into the double digits if we hadn't found the bombs in time. And yeah, I think they're pretty damned innocent when they can't even read yet."
Peters stared at him, and something akin to surprise flitted across his face. "What?" he asked, his voice low.
Ray leaned against the plastic counter, his face almost to the glass.
"Perrytown Elementary School was blown to pieces this morning by two of White Sun's bombs. And we're not talking about an inner city school, here. This was a rural school in a mostly white town about an hour from here. The kids of hard working folk, farmers mostly, just trying to make a living—the kind I thought you people wanted to protect. Half the town's being foreclosed on because it's so poor. Now you tell me, is that the kind of target White Sun really wants to take down?"
Peters' expression darkened, the sneer back on his face. "You're lying," he said.
"I'm sure as hell not. You want to see the pictures?" Ray picked up his phone and, clicking to a shot of the school on fire, pressed it up against the glass. "That look like I'm lying to you?"
Peters face twitched, and Ray could see the confusion for a moment. Then it went away, and Peters lifted his head.
"Could be anything."
Ray flipped to the next shot, this time with the school's name clearly visible on the side, flames brushing against the metal letters. Peters breathed out heavily, his nostrils flaring as he looked at the photo. When he looked at Ray again, there was no sign of the amused man from before.
"Even if I knew what that was about," Peters ground out, "I wouldn't tell you."
"He's not hitting what you wanted him to hit, Peters. Man isn't sane. So you if you know anything, anything, about what it is that he might be going after…"
Peters shook his head, his eyes shifting away. "I don't."
"Listen to me," Ray pressed. "Even if he takes out whatever it is you want him to, it's too late. You really think anyone's going to see him as a hero now? Even White Sun, whatever the hell they believe in, can't possibly be into killing innocent kids. And when all this is said and done, that is all people are going to remember – that this crackpot hit a school. So you tell me, Peters. Who gets the blame when this all goes down? And if you're the one who vouched for him with White Sun, you really think they're ever going to listen to you again?"
Peters just continued to stare at him, but his left eye was twitching.
Ray gave a nod. "Still saying you don't know what else Hughes might be after?"
Peters looked away again.
Ray shook his head in disgust. "Fine. Tell you what…" He pulled a card out with his name on it and a pen, and wrote the phone number on it for the Cold Room in Redkill. "Here's my number. I'll tell the guard to allow you three calls tonight." He looked up at Peters. "Make whatever calls you need to verify what I just told you. If I'm telling the truth and you suddenly remember something," he bobbed his head, "you give me a call."
He stepped back and handed the card to the prison guard standing behind him. The guard gave a nod.
Peters watched him a moment longer, and then turned his back to him. Ray didn't bother to say goodbye—he just left, pushing through the doors and limping into the small waiting room beyond.
Shea looked up from where he'd been doing something on the cell phone Ray had left him. Ray stared at it, then at him. Shea's eyes narrowed.
"I was getting info on the names of the White Sun people," he said. "As ordered."
Ray breathed out slowly, and limped past him. He heard Shea stand up and follow him.
"He tell you anything?" Shea asked.
"Not yet," Ray said, pushing through the outer doors and into the cool night air.
"He's not talking?" Lloyd's weak voice asked over the phone.
"No, not yet," Charlie replied, watching the paramedics struggling to check the boy out despite the fact that he was still glued to Erica inside the ambulance—so far, all they'd managed to do was get an IV in his arm. "He's not lifted his head from Erica's shoulders since we found him in the house. She doesn't seem interested in letting him go either."
Lloyd snorted softly, and Charlie had to smile, imagining the psychiatrist's eyeroll.
"Well," Lloyd said then, "then she needs to get him to talk."
"Tell her to use her own daughter, to tell him a story about how much she wants to be with her. See if he'll respond with something about wanting to be with his own mom. It should work."
"Erica will hate that."
"I know. I don't care." Lloyd coughed then. "And I need to listen in."
Charlie sighed, but said he would do it. Reluctantly, he carried the phone over to Erica and put it in her free hand (the other was wrapped around the boy in her arms). When she looked up, he bent over to whisper in her ear what Lloyd had just asked her to do. As he leaned back, he could see the fury in her gaze, so he gestured at her to calm down, pointing to the boy.
"It's the fastest way," he said. "You have to do this."
Her eyes flashed angrily, but she slumped slightly, as if in resignation. With obvious reluctance, she shifted so that Connor wasn't as tightly pressed to her and she could see his face.
"Hey," she said to him, brushing his hair back from his eyes. "How you doing?"
Connor didn't speak, he simply stared blankly. Charlie couldn't even tell if he was really seeing them or not. Erica tried a smile.
"You know," she told the boy, "I have a little girl myself. She's a little younger than you, but she's mine and I love her very much."
Charlie crossed his arms, trying to not be impatient.
"I don't get to see her very often, though," Erica continued. "I was taken away from her. But I desperately want to be with her again. She's all I have in the world." She tilted her head. "Do you know what that's like?"
Connor blinked, and he finally seemed to look up at her. After a moment, he nodded.
"I want my mom," he whispered.
Erica smiled. "I know," she said. "And I want to find her for you. You know that, right?"
Connor seemed to just study her. Finally, he nodded again.
"Good," Erica said, hugging him a little more closely. "Good."
Connor sniffed. "Will…will you find her?"
"I hope so. I'm going to try," Erica said, "me and a lot of other people. But we don't have enough information yet. We need your help." She looked up at Charlie, clearly hesitating, and he nodded. She shook her head unhappily. "Connor," she asked, "do you know who took her?"
Connor's head dropped down low, hiding his face from her behind his hair. Erica shushed softly, brushing his hair back.
"It's okay," she promised. "It's not your fault."
"But I let him in," Connor whispered.
"It's not your fault. It's not your fault at all. You need to believe that. It's all his. Okay?"
Connor tried to look away, but Erica trapped his chin on her fingers.
"It's not your fault," she said again. Connor looked at her again, and the first glint of tears filled his eyes.
"It was my dad," he whispered, his voice shaking. "He took her. He put me here, and then he took her."
Erica nodded. "Do you know where?"
Connor shook his head. "Just…something about…" He sniffed. "He was going to make her see."
Connor shook his head. "I don't know."
Erica licked her lips, then smiled again. "It's okay. He say anything else?"
Connor looked down. "I…yeah. Before he left."
"What did he say?"
"He said…he said that he lived in me now. That, when this was over, I would be him." The boy looked up, the tears falling freely now down his already heavily streaked face, his bottom lip trembling hard. "I don't want to be him. Please say I won't ever be him."
"Oh god, sweetie," Erica pulled him close, dropping the phone in her hand to the floor of the ambulance. "You won't. I swear you won't." She rocked him close. "I promise."
Charlie frowned slightly, picking the phone up and walking away from the ambulance.
"You hear all that, Lloyd?" he asked.
Lloyd coughed roughly. "Yeah."
"It help at all?"
"I don't…I don't know yet. Something familiar about what he told Connor but…" he coughed again, and this time it didn't stop.
"Hang on," Julianne's voice echoed over the phone. "Here's water."
Charlie frowned deeply, closing his eyes as he listened to Lloyd trying to get what sounded like a horrific bit of coughing under control.
"Charlie?" Julianne said then.
"We'll call you back." And then she hung up.
Charlie breathed out heavily, opening his eyes to look up at the stars. Damn it.
"I'm getting someone," Julianne said, stepping away from the bed.
"No, wait, wait…." Lloyd wiped at his face, feeling the heat rolling off him. He knew what was wrong, but he didn't care.
"No, you're shaking. I'm getting your doctor."
"No, I…" Lloyd grabbed her arm. "He told his son that he'd become him, right? The poem…the poem is sort of about that, but not really. But I know I've…It's right on the tip of my tongue."
"Let me go."
"Wait!" Lloyd snapped, gripping her arm tighter to keep her from leaving. "Help me. The boy said that…that…."
"That when this was over, he'd become his father," Julianne snarled. "Sounds sick to me."
Lloyd nodded. It was. It was a horrible thing to say. Unless…unless…
Julianne suddenly wrenched her hand free.
"No, don't go. Please. I'm okay," Lloyd insisted, looking up at her. "I just need a minute."
Her eyes narrowed, clearly not believing him.
Lloyd tried smiling, even if it felt more like a grimace. "Who's the doctor here?" he asked, the trembling in his voice probably giving him away.
"What's the old saying?" Julianne replied, arching an eyebrow very cutely. "They make the worst patients."
"Julianne, please! Don't quote clichés at me!" Lloyd begged. "I don't want to go back to sleep, and they'll put me back to sleep. I can get this."
He could see her hesitation, but she didn't move. He tried to smile again—her expression showed he didn't succeed, so he just pushed on.
"Tell me again about Hughes," he begged. "Not…not what was in Madison's report. About what he did in prison."
Julianne frowned. "I'd really rather…."
"I know. Humor me."
She swallowed, but he knew he had her. She bit her lip, and then walked back to her computer. After a few moments, she stopped typing and clicking and started reading.
"Okay," she said. "According to what Ray learned from his friend at Fishkill, Hughes hung out with the skinheads a lot and—"
"No, no, I don't care," Lloyd said, rolling a hand to indicate that she needed to move on. "I don't care who he hung out with. I want to know what he did while he was there. If this…if it's the poem he's quoting, did he get it from the library? Did he read the novel? What?"
"The novel," Julianne repeated, frowning slightly as she typed a few more things into her computer. "I didn't think about that. Hemingway, right?"
"Yeah. But I don't know what that has to do with anything either. Just…" He wiped his hand across his too dry forehead, feeling the burn like touching a frying pan. "I mean, does this guy seem like a reader to you? Doesn't fit with what we know about him…."
She typed a little more, and then shook her head. "There's nothing here about his hobbies. I don't know. Let me call Ray."
Lloyd just nodded, leaning back on the bed and trying to hide the shake in his hands.
They'd just reached the police station again in Redkill when Julianne called. Ray glanced at the phone as they headed inside, nodding to the FBI agent grabbing a smoke by the door and trying to ignore the burning in his thigh from walking on it too much. Shea jogged up the steps ahead of him to the main floor of the station, and then turned sharply towards the stairs on the side leading to the basement, clearly intent on getting back down to the Cold Room as soon as possible. From the looks the cops inside gave the guy, Ray couldn't blame him.
He put the phone to his ear. "You got something, Jules?"
"Not exactly. Can you call your friend at Fishkill again?"
Ray frowned, following Shea at his hobbled pace, glaring at the cops watching him.
"Why do you need me to call him?" he asked Julianne.
"Lloyd wants to know what Hughes did in his spare time in the prison."
Ray's eyebrows lifted, taking a breath when he reached the second set of stairs. Shea was already bounding down them. "Why?"
"He wants to know where Hughes got the poem from."
Ray frowned. "Everyone knows that poem, Julianne. It's not exactly obscure."
"Yeah, but…" He heard her sigh. "Lloyd thinks he may not be quoting the poem…at least, not directly."
"What are you saying?"
"He wants to know if it's the book."
"Hemingway. He wrote a book called 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'."
"He did?" The stairs down looked unusually steep to Ray as he stared down them. Leaning heavily on the banister, he began the painful process of following Shea down.
"He did. Can you find out if Hughes was a reader?"
Ray grunted slightly, stopping on the first landing, guessing he'd lose Julianne if he went down any further. He frowned as Shea disappeared down the next set of steps, not waiting for him. "I'll see what I can do," he said.
"Talk to you soon, Jules," he said, hanging up.
"I need the key-card," Shea called up. "Gate's locked up and the dude down here won't let me in."
Ray sighed heavily and resumed painfully limping down the stairs. When he reached the gate to the sub-basement, Shea had his arms crossed and was drumming his fingers impatiently on his arms. Ray pulled out the key-card, showed it to the guard stationed behind the door, and then swiped it.
Shea grunted as he pushed through, sneering at the cop before heading towards their little storage room/office.
"So what did Julianne want?" Shea asked, pushing open the door to the Cold Room, which felt oddly ironic to Ray now.
"She wanted to know if Hughes read books in prison."
Shea actually laughed at that. "Serious?"
"Hell, I can find that out. I'll just go ask him."
Ray sat down heavily on the chair, sighing heavily. Then what Shea just said registered. "Wait. What was that?"
"I'm a con, he's a con, we've got stuff in common. I probably won't be able to get him to talk about where he put the bombs, but talking about his past-times in the big house? That I can probably get out of him."
Ray's eyebrows lifted high on his forehead, but he saw no reason to say no. "Okay, I'll—"
The phone on the table rang shrilly, and Ray blinked. He looked at the ID on the base, and then smiled faintly. "Hold that thought," he told Shea. Picking up the phone, he said, "Ray Zancanelli."
"Zancanelli," Peters greeted. "Bill Peters."
"Figured as much. You got something for me?"
"Sort of," the man replied. "All I know is, Hughes talked all the time about how he was going to show his wife that he was more powerful than anyone, especially those who tried to keep him down."
"Like who, exactly?" Ray asked.
"I don't know. Maybe you guys. Marshals caught him after he escaped from Redkill's jail that first time, right?"
Ray grimaced. "Yup, it's what we do." He looked across at Shea. "Anything else?"
"Just that he thought the prison shrink was an idiot. Called him a fool. Said he was going to show him what a mistake he made."
Ray frowned. "Mistake?"
"Shrink labeled Hughes a pyro. Hughes took offense. Said he was completely in control of everything he did, and was going to prove that to the doc."
Ray drew in a deep breath. "And you helped this psycho?" he asked quietly.
"I didn't say that. I didn't help anybody. I'm just telling you what I overheard him say."
Ray rolled his eyes, took a deep breath, and nodded. "Okay," he said. "Is that all you got?"
"Yeah," Peters said. "That's all I got."
"Well, then, I guess—"
"Wait," Shea whispered, waving a hand. "Ask him Lloyd's thing."
Ray stared at Shea a moment, sighed, and said to Peters, "One more thing."
"Hughes a big reader?"
The earned a big laugh, so loud Ray had to pull the phone away from his ear.
"Reader?" Peters gasped between laughs. "Are you kidding? No way in hell. Man watched movies like crazy, especially the old ones, but he never read a book that I ever saw."
"Movies," Ray said, frowning. "You sure?"
"Movies?" Julianne repeated, looking over at Lloyd. His eyes were shut, though not because he was sleeping. She knew he was listening to every word Ray was telling them over the speaker. "Are you sure?"
"That's what he said," Ray answered. "He loved movies, especially the old ones."
"Okay," she said. "Thanks."
"Call us if—"
"I will," she promised. "Bye."
She hung up and walked closer to Lloyd. His head was tipped back, and, as she approached, his eyes opened to look up at the ceiling. His teeth were gritted tight.
His jaw loosened. "There was a movie based on Hemingway's novel," he said, his voice trembling. "I saw it when I was younger. Had Gary Cooper in it. My mother loved Gary Cooper." He turned his gaze to meet Julianne's eyes. "I couldn't stand him. I hated that movie. I thought it was a terrible thing to do to such a great book."
She shrugged. "I never saw it."
"Don't bother. The ending was…." His eyes widened slightly, and he smiled briefly, looking back at the ceiling. "That's it. That's where I've heard what the Connor said before. Gary Cooper says it over and over to Ingrid Bergman—who, by the way, is supposed to be playing a Hispanic woman, which is a joke in itself—as he's about to die, to convince her to leave him there."
"Says what over and over?"
"That he is her now. That he's not going to die there, he's going to live on in her. He's her, she's him, he's her....He repeats it over and over like a lunatic just before he sacrifices himself to save them. It was such terrible overacting, I almost…." His smile fell, his eyes widening even more. "Oh my god."
"Hughes…" He looked at Julianne again, and his body seemed to start to shaking again, worse than before. "Where is he?"
"At the station with Ray and Shea." She frowned. "You're shaking again."
"I never…I never stopped shaking. I was… It's rigor, probably. The station…isn't the courthouse there too?"
She nodded. "And the county seat. What's rigor? What's wrong with you?"
"It's, unh…" He tipped his head back, groaning. "Oh god…I knew I was too hot. That stupid surgeon…."
He wasn't looking at her now, and to his left, one of the machines monitoring his condition started to beep loudly. Julianne backed up. As she did, another machine started to whine.
"No," she whispered, taking another step back. "No."
"Wait," Lloyd said suddenly, reaching for her before she could get too far away. "You have to tell them. Tell them about the movie. Tell them about Cooper's overacting. About sacrificing himself."
"What? What do you mean?"
"Tell them. You have to….They have to...They have to get outta there. Oh god, it…" He tipped his head back again, his whole body going rigid. He let go of Julianne's arm and she bolted for the door, throwing it open.
"Help me!" she shouted, waving at the woman at the nurses' station. "I need help. Something's wrong!"
"The doctor's already on his way," the woman called back, already on her feet and grabbing things off her desk. "Hang on, I'm coming."
Julianne propped the door open and looked back at Lloyd, covering her mouth with her hand and starting to shake herself.
"Still want to do this?" Ray asked, walking with Shea down the corridor to Hughes's cell.
"Why not?" Shea replied. "Not much else you and I can do right now. We're sort of waiting on the others to tell us what they've found. May as well try something else."
Reaching the first gate, he sneered slightly at the cop at the gate in front of them. The cop frowned, glancing at Ray, who indicated that they be allowed to walk through. Clearly unhappy, the cop opened the door—which set off a small alarm as it released and swung open. Ray stalled, and Shea naturally stopped with him, both ignoring the cop who was now looking at them impatiently over the beeping.
"You know what you're going to say to him?" Ray asked, looking down at the hall of cells. Most were open, obviously empty.
Shea shrugged. "I thought I'd piss him off and see what happens," he said. "Oh, no, wait, that's what you do."
Ray smirked. "Seriously, do you have a plan?"
"I'll figure something out. You forget—I ran Sing-Sing because I was pretty good at knowing how to get things for people. And that came from working the system. Means I've had some experience convincing people to do things for me."
"Conning people you mean."
Shea shrugged off the dig, walking the rest of the way through the gate, followed by the cop. Ray then indicated it be closed between them. Shea glanced at the locked door and then at Ray on the other side. Ray shrugged, smiling slightly.
"I'll be listening in from here," he said, pointing at the chair next to the gate. "Don't want to get in the way of all your 'experience.'"
Shea's eyes narrowed, and he held out his hand. "Give me the key-card."
"What, you don't think the good officer here will let you out?" Ray asked, trying for a joke and instantly regretting it when Shea's expression didn't change. Sighing, Ray handed him the key-card through the cell bars of the gate. The cop sighed heavily. Ignoring him, Ray plonked down on the chair in front of the gate, rubbed at his burning leg and watched Shea walk the rest of the way to Hughes's cell. After the cop opened the cell door, Shea waved him away, and the cop walked back to stand near the gate with Ray.
"This a good idea?" the cop asked Ray.
Ray shrugged. If nothing else, it should be an interesting conversation to listen to.
Back in the Cold Room, the phone on the desk started to ring, Julianne's ID visible on the screen.
Charlie sighed as he followed the ambulance to Redkill hospital. Erica was still inside it—the boy had screamed when Erica tried to let him go, and, at the end of the day, it was just easier for her to stay with him until they got back to Redkill.
When the phone rang, he hit the car's speaker.
"Julianne? You got something?"
"Yeah," she said, her voice shaking slightly. Charlie frowned.
"Yeah." He could hear her swallow. "Lloyd…Lloyd thinks Hughes is referring to the movie 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', not the poem or the book. What Connor said to Erica about turning into his father sounded like something from the movie."
Charlie frowned. "The movie?" He shook his head. He'd never seen it. "What happened in the movie?"
"Apparently, the lead sacrificed himself to save the people he was with. According to IMDb, he dies at the end fighting off the fascists in Spain, but before he does, he tells the woman he loves that he's going to live on in her. He says it several times. Over and over."
Charlie's frown deepened. "What does that mean?"
"Lloyd thinks…he thinks it means that Hughes has rigged the Redkill police station to blow, and probably the courthouse too, with himself inside. He planned to commit suicide in a big way. I'm sure his wife has a line of sight to the station, just like Connor could see that school. Charlie...." Her voice was shaking painfully hard now. "Ray and Shea are sitting right on top of the bombs and they have no idea. I can't reach Ray on the landline at all. No one is picking up in the station upstairs either."
Charlie swore. "Okay. Keep trying them. Can you call Erica as well? She's in the ambulance. Tell her to join you at the hospital—I'll head to the police station as soon as I call Sergeant Vega and her team."
"Will do." Her voice was still shaking badly, so Charlie smiled.
"It's going to be okay, Julianne. There's time. They'll be fine."
"I know. Thanks, Charlie."
"No, thank you. And thank Lloyd. If he's right, he just saved our asses again."
Julianne nodded. "I will," she replied, staring at the messy, empty bed in front of her. Blood stained the sheets, the wires hung loose, and all the monitors were quiet. "I will," she repeated as she hung up.
Continue to Part Nine
- Current Music:Beatles - Helter Skelter