“Right.” Teddy placed a palm to his chest. “Forgive me.”

“I like the theater, okay?” Chuck said. “It’s a theatrical term.”

“You know, I knew a guy worked the Seattle office,” Teddy said.

“Really?” Chuck patted his pockets, distracted.

“Yeah. You probably knew him too.”

“Probably,” Chuck said. “You want to see what I got from the Laeddis file?”

“His name was Joe. Joe...” Teddy snapped his fingers, looked at Chuck. “Help me out here. It’s on the tip of my tongue. Joe, urn, Joe . . .”

“There’s a lot of Joes,” Chuck said, reaching around to his back pocket.

“I thought it was a small office.”

“Here it is.” Chuck’s hand jerked up from his back pocket and his hand was empty.

Teddy could see the folded square of paper that had slipped from his grasp still sticking out of the pocket.

“Joe Fairfield,” Teddy said, back at the way Chuck’s hand had jerked out of that pocket; .Awkwardly. “You know him?” Chuck reached back again. “No.”

“I’m sure he transferred there.”

Chuck shrugged. “Name doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Oh, maybe it was Portland. I get them mixed up.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed.”

Chuck pulled the paper free and Teddy could see him the day of their arrival handing over his gun to the guard in a fumble of motion, having trouble with the holster snap. Not something your average marshal had trouble with. Kind of thing, in point of fact, that got you killed on the job.

Chuck held out the piece of paper. “It’s his intake form. Laeddis’s.  That and his medical records were all I could find. No incident reports, no session notes, no picture. It was weird.”

“Weird,” Teddy said. “Sure.”

Chuck’s hand was still extended, the piece of folded paper drooping off his fingers.

“Take it,” Chuck said.

“Nab,” Teddy said. “You hold on to it.”

“You don’t want to see it?”

Teddy said, “I’ll look at it later.”

He looked at his partner. He let the silence grow.

“What?” Chuck said finally. “I don’t know who Joe Whoever-the Fuck is, so now you’re looking at me funny?”

“I’m not looking at you funny, Chuck. Like I said, I get Portland and Seattle mixed up a lot.”

“Right. So then—“

“Let’s keep walking,” Teddy said.

Teddy stood. Chuck sat there for a few seconds, looking at the piece of paper still dangling from his hand. He looked at the trees around them. He looked up at Teddy. He looked off toward the shore.  The foghorn sounded again.

Chuck stood and returned the piece of paper to his back pocket.  He said, “Okay.” He said, “Fine.” He said, “By all means, lead the way.”

Teddy started walking east through the woods.

“Where you going?” Chuck said. “Ashecliffe’s the other way.”

Teddy looked back at him. “I’m not going to Ashecliffe.”

Chuck looked annoyed, maybe even frightened. “Then where the

fuck are we going, Teddy?” ,

Teddy smiled.

“The lighthouse, Chuck.”

Shudder Island

“WHERE ARE WE?” Chuck said.


They’d come out of the woods and instead of facing the fence around the lighthouse, they’d somehow managed to move well north of it. The woods had been turned into a bayou by the storm, and they’d been forced off a straight path by a number of downed or leaning trees. Teddy had known they’d be off course by a bit, but judging by his latest calculations, they’d meandered their way almost as far as the cemetery.

He could see the lighthouse just fine. Its upper third peeked out from behind a long rise and another notch of trees and a brown and green swath of vegetation. Directly beyond the patch of field where they stood was a long tidal marsh, and beyond that, jagged black rocks formed a natural barrier to the slope, and Teddy knew that the one approach left them was to go back through the woods and hope to find the place where they’d taken the wrong turn without having to return all the way to their point of origin.

He said as much to Chuck.

Chuck used a stick to swipe at his pant legs, free them of burrs.  “Or we could loop around, come at it from the east. Remember with McPherson last night? That driver was using a semblance of an access road. That’s got to be the cemetery over that hill there. We work our way around?”

“Better than what we just came through.”

“Oh, you didn’t like that?” Chuck ran a palm across the back of his neck. “Me, I love mosquitos. Fact, I think I have one or two spots left on my face that they didn’t get to.”

It was the first conversation they’d had in over an hour, and Teddy could feel both of them trying to reach past the bubble of tension that had grown between them.

But the moment passed when Teddy remained silent too long and Chuck set off along the edge of the field, moving more or less northwest, the island at all times pushing them toward its shores.  Teddy watched Chuck’s back as they walked and climbed and walked some more. His partner, he’d told Noyce. He trusted him, he said. But why? Because he’d had to. Because no man could be expected to go up against this alone.

If he disappeared, if he never returned from this island, Senator Hurly was a good friend to have. No question. His inquiries would be noted. They’d be heard. But in the current political climate, would the voice of a relatively unknown Democrat from a small New England state be loud enough?

The marshals took care of their own. They’d certainly send men.  But the question was one of time—Would they get there before Ashecliffe and its doctors had altered Teddy irreparably, turned him into Noyce? Or worse, the guy who played tag?

Teddy hoped so, because the more he found himself looking at Chuck’s back, the more certain he grew that he was now alone on this.  Completely alone.

“MORE ROCKS,” Chuck said. “Jesus, boss.”

They were on a narrow promontory with the sea a straight drop down on their right and an acre of scrub plain below them to the left, the wind picking up as the sky turned red brown and the air tasted of salt. ;

The rock piles were spaced out in the scrub plain. Nine of them in three rows, protected on all sides by slopes that cupped the plain in a bowl.

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