“After you tell us everything.”
Ethan led the town into the theater.
The dead abby was laid out onstage for everyone to see.
Every seat in the house was filled and there were people in the aisles and sitting on the edge of the stage.
Ethan looked down at his family in the front row, but he couldn’t get Pilcher out of his mind. What would the man do? Was he sending his men into town right now? Would he come after Ethan? Theresa and Ben? The town itself?
No. The news was out. And in spite of everything, how many times had Ethan heard Pilcher refer to the town as “my people.” They were still, after everything, his greatest a.s.sets. He might retaliate against Ethan, but the residents of Wayward Pines now knew the truth, and that was that.
Someone turned on a spotlight.
Ethan stepped into the beam.
He couldn’t see the faces now.
Only the harsh, blue-fringed light blazing out of the back of the theater.
He told them everything.
How they had been abducted, suspended, and imprisoned in this town.
How the aberrations had come into existence.
About Pilcher and his inner circle in the mountain.
A few walked out—couldn’t stand to hear the truth or didn’t believe.
But most people stayed.
He could feel the mood in the room shift from disbelief, to sadness, to anger as he described how Pilcher filmed and scrutinized their every private moment.
When he told them about the microchips, a woman jumped up and raised her fist, shouting at what she perceived to be a hidden camera in the ceiling, “Come down here! Are you watching this? Come answer for yourself, you son of a b.i.t.c.h!”
As if in answer, the lights in the theater dimmed.
A projector in the back kicked on and cast an image onto the pearlescent movie screen behind Ethan.
He turned, stared at the heavy white vinyl as David Pilcher appeared.
The man was sitting at his desk in a pose vaguely suggestive of a presidential address, forearms on the surface, hands clasped.
A hush fell upon the theater.
Pilcher said, “Ethan, would you mind stepping aside, letting me have a word?”
Ethan backed out of the limelight.
For a moment, Pilcher just stared into whatever camera was filming him.
He said finally, “Some of you know me as Dr. Jenkins. My real name is David Pilcher, and I’ll keep this short and sweet. All the things your dear sheriff just told you are true. If you think I’m here to explain myself to you, or to apologize, let me disabuse you of that notion. Everything you see, everything, I created. This town. This paradise. The technology that made it possible for you to be here. Your homes. Your beds. The water you drink. The food you eat. The jobs that occupy your time and make you feel like human beings. You draw breath for no other reason than I allow it. Let me show you something.”
Pilcher was replaced with an aerial view of a vast plain, where a swarm of several hundred abbies crossed the rolling gra.s.slands.
Pilcher’s voice filled the theater over the images of the swarm.
He said, “I see you have one of these monsters, dead onstage. You should all take a good look at it, and know that there are millions and millions of them outside the safety of Wayward Pines. This is what a small swarm looks like.”
Pilcher returned, only now he was holding the camera himself, his face taking up the entire movie screen.
“Let’s be clear. For the last fourteen years, I’m the only G.o.d you’ve known, and it might be in your best interest to keep acting like I still am.”
A rock hurled out of the darkness and struck the screen.
Someone in the crowd shouted, “f.u.c.k you!”
Pilcher looked away, watching everything unfold on his wall of monitors.
From the wings, Ethan watched as three men climbed up onto the stage and began to tear down the screen.
Pilcher started to speak, but someone in the back of the hall pulled the projector out of the wall and smashed it into pieces.
Pilcher sat alone at his desk.
He picked up the bottle of scotch.
Drained it dry, threw it at the screens.
He had to hold onto the desk as he dragged himself onto his feet.
He’d been drunk.
Now he was annihilated.
Staggered away from the desk across the dark hardwood floor.
Vincent van Gogh watched him from the wall, his face shaven, his right ear bandaged.
Caught himself from falling on the large table in the center of the room. He stared down through the gla.s.s at the architectural miniature of Wayward Pines, tracing his finger across it to the intersection of Eighth and Main.
His fist went through on the first try and flattened the intricate model of the opera house.
His hand caught on the jags of gla.s.s as he pulled it out.
He punched his b.l.o.o.d.y fist through another part of the gla.s.s.
His hand was bleeding profusely by the time he’d broken out all of the gla.s.s, the tiny shards and pebbles littered across the town like the wake of a biblical hailstorm.
He stumbled alongside the table until he came to Ethan’s yellow Victorian.
Crushed the sheriff’s station.
Crushed the house of Kate and Harold Ballinger.
It wasn’t nearly enough.
He grabbed hold of the table, bent his knees, lifted, and flipped it upside down.
Even after Ethan had told them everything, after the movie screen had been pulled down, people stayed in their seats.
n.o.body would leave.
Some sitting catatonic. Stunned.
Others weeping openly.
Or in small groups.
Into the shoulders of spouses they’d been forced to marry.
The emotion in the room was staggering. Like the hushed devastation of a funeral. And in many ways, that’s exactly what it was. People mourning the loss of their previous lives. All the loved ones they would never see again. All that had been stolen.
So much to process.
So much to grieve.
And so much still to fear.
Ethan sat with his family onstage behind the curtain, holding them tightly.
Theresa whispered in his ear, “I’m so proud of what you did tonight. If you ever wonder what your best moment was, you just lived it.”
He kissed her.
Ben was crying, said, “The stuff I said to you earlier today on the bench…”
“It’s okay, Son.”
“I said you weren’t my father.”