7 Days - Chapter 32


To read previously published chapters, click here.

James Rollins is the New York Times bestselling author of international adventure thrillers sold in over thirty countries. His latest novel, The Doomsday Key, is now available nationwide. For more information, visit www.jamesrollins.com.

JUNK MAIL


by James Rollins

Nick knew it was a dangerous gamble to contact his boss.

Koleson Fletcher’s name had been on the press release faxed to his friend Mike, a press release that claimed Nick and Ashleigh had died during the Palace Station explosion. But Nick also knew that he could not make any real headway in this investigation by himself. He needed a friend, someone on the inside he could trust.

But could he trust Kole?

Nick stared at the Sig Sauer on the bed.

Before a few hours ago, Nick would have staked his life on Kole’s friendship and loyalty. He now had to do just that, to risk his life by sticking his head out into the open. If Kole was working with the enemy, Nick would not survive until dawn.

Knowing that, he made a few last-minute preparations—then began to pace the room. It would be the longest twenty minutes of his life.

His only hope lay in one fact: the time stamped on that incriminating press release indicated the fax had been sent before the explosion. That meant that whoever had disseminated the press release already knew about the bomb and had made a stupid error by releasing the fax a few minutes early.

And Koleson Fletcher would never have done that. The man was too smart, too wily when it came to manipulating the press. It was why he had the job he did. He knew all the pitfalls to avoid. He would have never made such a blatant error in the paper trail.

Someone else had to have sent it. It would have been simple enough to forge the letterhead and toss that fax into the whirlwind of paperwork that must be flying throughout the halls of Washington and beyond.

But what if Nick was wrong? What if he was putting too much emphasis on this one detail? Anyone in the heat of the moment could make a mistake.

As he paced the room, his doubts grew. He examined and re-examined his life, searching for any clue about how and why he had been snared in this trap. The glow of the laptop drew his eye. He crossed to it, opened a browser, and logged into his e-mail account. It was a risky move. Someone could be monitoring traffic, but he needed as much information as possible. And besides, he’d already stuck his neck out in the real world; what harm could there be by doing the same in the cyber world?

He quickly ran down the list of his email subject lines, looking for any telltale clue about why his life had been hijacked. Nothing seemed amiss. Lots

of email shared the same "congrats!" subject line, wishing him and Ashleigh a happy honeymoon.

He stared at those in particular.

Their wedding seemed like ages ago, from another life. He pictured Ashleigh in her dress, an angel in silk. Their first dance, her breath on his cheek, her laughter… it all suddenly overwhelmed him. He found it difficult to breathe. He retreated until he was sitting on the bed. He flashed back to seeing her strapped to the metal table, bruised and beaten, a pistol poised at her temple.

He covered his face with his hands, trapped between bone-deep grief and raw fury. In that one moment, she died a thousand times, a thousand ways, each more bloody and brutal than the next. He dug his fingers into his face, knowing he had failed to protect her. His breathing grew ragged, but he slowly forced himself away from that brink.

He did not have the luxury of despair, not if he wanted to bring down those who’d taken Ashleigh away from him.

He lowered his hands, stood up, and crossed to the computer. He was about to close his email account when his eyes settled to the bottom of the list, to the last piece of email, dated an hour ago.

The logline read: Another way to INCREASE the size of your rod!

The email looked like any other piece of spam, but Nick studied it closer. After they’d first met, he had taught Ashleigh an easy and flexible way to communicate in private. Her father, well known for his prying and meddling ways, had not been keen on their relationship at first, so they’d developed this system to keep certain messages private. It was really mostly fun and games, two lovers whispering secrets in the dark, but it had occasionally proven useful.

He read the log line again. Another way to INCREASE the size of your rod! According to their code, the first and last word had to match the initials of the sender. In this case another and rod matched his wife’s new married name: Ashleigh Roberts.

But was he reading too much into this?

With his hand trembling, he opened the email. A photo appeared. It depicted Uncle Sam pointing at the recipient with a line below that stated:

We Need a Few Good Men

To test the latest in male

enhancement products!

It appeared to be one of millions of spam emails sent around the world every second. And that is what made their secret code so perfect. Few people would delve any deeper. Even now Nick wasn’t sure if this was spam or a message from Ashleigh.

He refused to hope.

There was only one way to know for sure.

With his heart pounding through his chest, Nick dragged the picture of Uncle Sam from the email and onto the computer’s desktop. An icon bloomed there. He read the file name for the photo. I_escaped_ontherun_help7025552391.jpg

Nick stared, not sure whether to believe it or not. Could this really be a message from Ashleigh? Could she have escaped? He teetered between joy and terror. The last sequence had to be a phone number. All he had to do was call. But what if this was some trick to draw him out of hiding? What if Ashleigh’s captors had tortured this information out of her?

Before he could settle on an answer, someone knocked on the door. He checked his watch. Twenty minutes had passed. Lost in shock and grief, time had escaped him.

Twisting around, he snatched the pistol from the bed with trembling hands and retreated toward the bathroom. His heart thudded against his ribcage, pounding hard.

With Ashleigh dead, he had been willing to throw his life away in order to expose those who had killed her. But what if she was still alive? He stared over at the computer, then at the motel door. What had seemed a reasonable risk just minutes ago now struck him as foolhardy and dangerous.

A muffled voice called outside. "Nick? It’s me, Kole."

Nick hurried to the bathroom window. He’d left it open. He searched below for any strange cars or people down in the back alley. It looked clear. He moved to a spot by the bathroom door.

Had Kole come alone? Or was there an assassination team waiting to take him out?

He stared at the front door’s peephole. From his years with the O.S.I., he knew that such eyeholes were death traps. If someone wanted to murder you, they’d wait until your shadow passed over the hole, then shoot right through the door.

Nick kept to the far side of the room. He had an angled view to the outside through a part in the window curtain. By shifting slightly, he had a complete view of the upper balcony and the parking lot below.

In the reflection, a single figure stood outside his door.

Koleson Fletcher.

The rest of the upper level appeared empty. The parking lot below looked the same as before. A few pimps and drug dealers plied their trade. Nick trusted the young men’s survival instincts, honed by the mean streets, to sense if anything was wrong. He also suspected they had eyes throughout the neighborhood. If any cops or suspicious vehicles were around, the crew would have cleared out by now.

Satisfied, Nick hurried to the door, swept it open, and planted his pistol into Kole’s belly.

"Get inside," Nick commanded, knowing with growing certainty that more than his own life now hung in the balance.

He had failed Ashleigh before—but never again.



<< Return to the April 2010 Index of Fusion

'Lord, we are SORRY it has taken us this long': BlazeTV hosts react to historic Roe v. Wade decision

Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Supreme Court of the United States officially overturned Roe V. Wade, and the debate over abortion rights has been given back to the states. On this historic day, BlazeTV hosts celebrate the Supreme Court's incredible decision and take a look at some of the insane reactions as the left comes completely undone.

Jason Whitlock: Today will forever stand as a pivotal moment in our nation’s history

The Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade. The decision and the reaction to it have already revealed a lot about our people and politics. Pro-life groups celebrate, pro-choice groups call for “a night of rage,” and Nancy Pelosi just seems completely confused by the United States Constitution.

Glenn Beck reacts LIVE to Roe v. Wade ruling: 'Lord, we are SORRY it has taken us this long'

I never thought that in my lifetime, I would see Roe v. Wade be overturned. But today, that day has come. The Supreme Court has voted 6 to 3 to return decisions about abortion to the states. But this fight isn't over. We are about to see good versus evil side by side. Many states will stand with the unborn. But others will become abortion mills. It's your turn to choose now, America!

Allie Beth Stuckey: 'Praise God, Roe v. Wade is overturned!'

I don't know about you, but I just had the most euphoric feelings. It almost seems too good to be true. I didn't think there was any way that this would actually happen, especially with all the backlash, intimidation, and violence toward the Supreme Court justices. And yet, here we are. Roe v. Wade has been overturned. This is an amazing day!

Dave Rubin: Big disagreement on what happens next now that Roe v. Wade is overturned

Dave Rubin, Libby Emmons, Jeffrey A. Tucker, and David Reaboi debate what will happen in the wake of the Supreme Court’s breaking decision on Roe v. Wade. Now that abortion rights have been pushed back to the states, will there be a summer of massive riots or not? Will the Roe v. Wade ruling make America’s political polarization significantly worse?

Stu Burguiere: Here are the reasons SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade

I never thought this would happen. I never thought I would see this day. I just never ever ever ever never ever believed that Roe v. Wade would actually be overturned. I really didn't. But let's take a look at the reasons this day has finally come ...

The Rick & Bubba Show: 'This is history! Unfortunately we're 60 million lives too late'

We were live on the air when news broke of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned its controversial 1973 Roe v. Wadeopinion, concluding that there is no constitutional right to an abortion.

"The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives," the syllabus of the decision reads.

As expected, the leftist outrage erupted instantaneously, fueled largely by the misinformed idea that overturning Roe v. Wade means abortion will be banned nationwide. But, as stated in the above-mentioned Supreme Court syllabus, the authority has actually been returned to individual states and their duly elected lawmakers.

One such misinformed leftist, Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky, was infuriated that those awful Supreme Court justices "just voted to kill women." So he took to Twitter to urge people to go to the homes of said Supreme Court justices to "let them know how you feel."

"Go to the home of every Supreme Court justice who just voted to kill women. Let them know how you feel," Kasky tweeted.

The backlash was immediate:

Kasky decided to delete his original tweet because he is apparently "sick of republicans talking to [him]." But, unfortunately for Kasky, the internet is indeed forever:

Speaking from the White House, President Joe Biden dutifully helped spread the misinformation about the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and took the opportunity to prompt voters to elect more Democrats in November so that Congress can write abortion protections into law. Did the president just let slip the real reason Congress hasn't made any effort to start writing such laws in the nearly two months since Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion was "leaked" in early May?

Watch Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguere discuss how Biden's speech reveals that Democrats are absolutely terrified of the upcoming midterm elections. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

CNN reporter tries to 'ambush' GOP candidate Kari Lake, IMMEDIATELY regrets it

Image source: (left) Video screenshot/ (Right) Mario Tama/Getty Images

CNN senior national reporter Kyung Lah thought she'd caught Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake off guard when she asked for an impromptu interview outside an event, but ended up sorely regretting her decision.

Lake, a former Fox news anchor, shook hands with Lah as she approached and immediately pointed out that the CNN reporter wasn't wearing a mask any more, a barbed reference to a contentious interview in October 2021, in which Lah smeared the GOP candidate as a “rising star of the right-wing and proud spreader of lies." Lah asked if Lake had “a minute to chat.”

“I’ll do an interview," Lake answered, "as long as it airs on CNN+. Does that still exist? I didn’t think so, because the people don’t like what you guys are peddling, which is propaganda. Thank you.”

Lake then walked into the event, leaving Lah utterly speechless.

It looks like Lake gained quite a few fans on Twitter:

Kari Lake has been a longtime friend to "The Glenn Beck Program." She joined Glenn last August to tell Glenn why she left the corrupt world of media, what prompted her to enter "the even more corrupt world of politics," and how she plans to make a big difference in her battleground state of Arizona.

Watch the video clip below to catch the conversation. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

Hunter's Biden's latest BIZARRE scandal reveals how red-flag laws REALLY work

Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Even if red-flag laws weren't unconstitutional (which they are), they've never been about your safety. They're about your submission, argued Glenn Beck on the radio program. Think of it this way: If red flag laws became the law of the land, do you think President Joe Biden’s son Hunter would lose his guns or face charges for violating the gun laws we already have?

You may have heard that he once "lost" a gun in a dumpster by a school. But there's a whole lot more to the bizarre tale. Newly revealed texts from Hunter's abandoned laptop detail the strange drama that unfolded when Hallie Biden, Hunter's sister-in-law-turned-lover, threw his handgun into a dumpster near a Delaware school in October 2018. The gun was found and turned in to police, but like so many of the Biden family scandals, the chaos created a sandstorm that conveniently helped cover Hunter's tracks. Only tidbits of information have emerged, the most significant of which is that the gun in question was purchased by Hunter illegally and, of course, no charges were filed as a result.

Glenn broke down the details of the most recently revealed Hunter Biden scandal, noting in particular that no charges or arrests were ever made as a result.

"If you voted for Joe Biden and you believe in all of these red-flag laws, then why isn't Hunter Biden in jail today?" Glenn asked.

"You and I both know that the ramifications of Hunter Biden's activities and his tragic saga go well beyond Hunter Biden, because they are teaching people a lesson. We are moving towards a society that has a ruling class that lives above their own edicts. They tell us they know better. They tell us that our neighbors and even some of us are dangerous, while ignoring the dangers in their own lives or in their own families ... We saw it during COVID-19 and we will see it again with gun regulations, 'The rules are for thee and not for me.' This is why Americans cannot give an inch, not one inch of our liberty away on the grounds of the government's good faith. They have no good faith left. They have violated every single principle of liberty and they've done it in a name of they know better," he said.

"Don't be fooled," Glenn added. "Just as we saw during COVID-19, just as we saw with the Patriot Act that is now being horribly abused by the people in power that swore they'd never abuse it, red-flags are not about your safety. Period. They are about your submission."

Watch the video clip below to catch the conversation. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.