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

Our sacred republic has never been in more danger than it is today. Little by little, industry by industry, the far Left is fundamentally transforming the country we love. And it's an aggressive, hostile kind of takeover we've only seen in some of the world's darkest societies.

On Glenn TV this week, Glenn Beck exposes how the Biden administration and Democrats are aggressively scrambling to reset everything: our free and fair voting system, our kids' education, our policing, immigration and border security, our economy, our military, and our energy supply.

Finally, Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) joins to discuss how Biden's "woke" policies are threatening America's national security and our way of life.

Watch the full episode below:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

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Apparel company The North Face recently stated that it would no longer make jackets for oil and gas companies because it doesn't want to be associated with the fossil fuel industry. In response, Colorado-based oil and gas company Liberty Oilfield Services rented full billboard ads to remind The North Face of the truth: "Globally, 60% of all clothing fibers are made out of oil and gas. For North Face, it is likely 90% or more."

Liberty CEO Chris Wright joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to discuss just how much of our economy — beyond outdoor apparel and energy — wouldn't exist in a world without fossil fuels. And he warns that many companies are now deeming this truth to be "controversial."

"I have been for years, trying to get a real, honest dialogue about energy going," Chris told Glenn. "So we took this opportunity to point out that North Face jackets are ... almost completely made out of oil and gas. How can you choose not to associate with the essential material your equipment [is] made out of? So we put a billboard up ... the billboard says, 'That North Face puffer looks good on you. And it was made from fossil fuels.'"

"Most billboard companies did not want to run that billboard. They thought it was controversial," he added. "And Facebook put a hold on our brief video just saying the jacket looks good, this is what it's made out of. In today's world, that is controversial."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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.

During a lecture at the Yale School of Medicine's Child Study Center, a New York City-based psychiatrist told students and faculty that she fantasizes about "unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way," among several other shockingly race-hating statements.

In April, Dr. Aruna Khilanani — a New York-based forensic psychiatrist and psychoanalyst — delivered the talk called "The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind" virtually as part of the Yale School of Medicine's "Child Study Center Grand Rounds," a lecture program for "trainees in child psychiatry, psychology, and social work, faculty, clinicians, and scientists."

On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck shared several quotes from an audio recording of the lecture provided by Bari Weiss, a former opinion writer and editor for the New York Times.

Here are a few of Khilanani's statements from the audio:

  • "This is the cost of talking to white people at all. The cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil."
  • "I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a f***ing favor."
  • "White people are out of their minds. And they have been for a long time."
  • "White people feel that we are bullying them when we bring up race. They feel that we should be thanking them for all that they have done for us. They are confused, and so are we. We keep forgetting that directly talking about race is a waste of our breath."
  • "We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero, to accept responsibility. It ain't gonna happen. They have five holes in their brain. It's like banging your head against a brick wall. It's just like sort of not a good idea."

"We must take a stand. We must speak out, because this is evil," Glenn said in response to Khilanani's shocking lecture. "I don't care who you voted for, you know this is evil."

Watch the video below for more details:

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The prices of our houses and food are already rising fast, but they will skyrocket to record highs if we don't fix the problem soon. So what's causing the inflation?

On the radio program this week, Glenn Beck said he doesn't believe it's the fault of our loggers, farmers, or truckers — many of them are really struggling. But the big corporations that control these industries are making record profits, all while the Biden administration is making some very odd decisions that could make the crises even worse.

Watch the video below for more details:

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.