Infected Page 97

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CHEAP BUZZ

Her bathroom layout was identical to his, but there the similarity ended. Hers was decorated in seashell colors, everything matching perfectly, from the pale yellow towels to the porcelain clamshell soap dish. Every surface sparkled.

It wasn’t until Perry swallowed six Tylenol from a bottle he found in the immaculate medicine cabinet that it clicked. The pills slid down his throat, and it all fell into place.

At times the Triangles had acted weird, showing emotions instead of talking in their monotone robotic voice. Not just when they were mindscreaming incoherently, but when they were talking to him in a singsong voice, a lilting mental speech that sounded almost silly compared to their normal businesslike vocal patterns.



They acted like that right after he took Tylenol. And silly wasn’t the right word for it — the right word was stoned. Stoned out of their collective little gourds. Something in the Tylenol got them higher than a kite. He’d accidentally discovered a weapon to wield in the final battle.

Perry smiled.

“Put on a good buzz, boys,” he said, then swallowed back six more Tylenol. “You’re going to need it where you’re going.”

The Tylenol-buzz was the final piece in his puzzle to outsmart them all: the Triangles, the hatchlings, the Columbos . . . everybody. Perry would show them who was King Crap. No bout-a-doubt-it.

He had a plan, kiddies, a big-brained plan that would expose the stupidity of his conspiring enemies.

Be a hot time in the old town tonight. Don’t fuck with a Dawsey.

He quietly hopped back into the living room. The hatchlings were still asleep, their slumbering clicks punctuating the silence of the apartment.

Perry hummed a tune, the words rolling through his mind.

Burn, burn, yes ya gonna burn.

TOP

Dew’s vision felt fuzzy. He pulled off his leather gloves and rubbed his eyes. The cold clung to his clammy fingers. His breath streaming out in billowing cones, Dew put the gloves back on and refocused his attention on the apartment complex’s snow-covered roads.

The cops hadn’t found a damn thing during the night — the giant-size All-American psychopath was still running around like a rolling land mine waiting to bump into something and explode. Not a word from Wahjamega, either. Murray had dispatched several agents to the town. There were extra state police patrolling the area, the local police force was alerted to the danger, and NSA signal-intelligence agents scanned almost every line of communication in and out of the town. That, and the fact that Perry’s face was plastered on every TV screen in the Great Lakes area, made it unlikely he’d slipped into Wahjamega unnoticed. The public was alert and looking; at least in the Great Lakes region, the hunt for Perry Dawsey had already taken on the mythical proportions of the O.J. Simpson chase. Another murdering football player on the lam.

The murder was about seven hours old — if Dawsey had fled, he could already be in Indiana, Chicago, Fort Wayne or on the Ohio Turnpike heading for the East Coast, but Dew knew that Dawsey hadn’t gotten far. Let the public think what they want, let them get the man’s description and keep a sharp eye out. Dawsey might surprise them all, you never knew, and if Dawsey was heading somewhere, it was better that Joe Public knew enough to steer clear.

Dawsey’s Ford remained safely under the carport’s snow-covered metal awning. No cars had been reported stolen in Ann Arbor for two days — no motorcycles, mopeds or even a freaking ten-speed, for that matter.

So Dawsey probably hadn’t driven anywhere, and on top of that it looked as if something was wrong with his right leg. Brian Vanderpine, the Ann Arbor cop who’d discovered the murder scene, was the first to notice Dawsey’s bloody footprints in the apartment hallway. Despite the fact that blood was splattered all over the hall, Vanderpine only found prints made by a left foot. They hadn’t found any marks that

might have been left by a crutch, so Vanderpine ventured the hypothesis that Dawsey was hopping.

So now you had a man — a huge man — without a car or any means of transportation, committing what amounted to a spontaneous murder, leaving in a hurry, probably without the time to plan anything or the forethought to call a cab (they’d checked, and no taxi had picked up a fare anywhere near the area that day), and he was hopping all the way. That was the key — people would remember if they saw someone hopping, and no one had reported any such person despite the ubiquitous news coverage.

All of these elements led Dew to one conclusion: Dawsey probably hadn’t left the apartment complex at all. Most everybody figured he was long gone, but they based their decisions on fabricated info saying Dawsey had terrorist connections that could help him fade into the woodwork.

The army of cops had checked inside every apartment in Building B, so he wasn’t there, but how far could he have gone? There were seventeen buildings in the complex, with twelve apartments in each building, four apartments each on three floors. An army of cops had knocked on every door in the entire complex, asking if anyone had seen or heard anything strange. No one had. But not all the apartments were occupied. Some people were at work, some were just gone. There hadn’t been time for a background check on every apartment owner to find out if each one was supposed to be home or not. No signs of forced entry — Dawsey hadn’t broken in anywhere.

But that didn’t mean Dawsey wasn’t in one of those apartments. Maybe with a hostage. Maybe forcing someone to say that everything was fine.

Dew stuck with his instincts. If Dawsey had blood on his feet, he might also have it elsewhere on his person. The obvious bloody footprints had led out to Dawsey’s car, but each print held less and less blood, and at the car the last of it appeared to have worn off his boot. A man wounded, hopping, moving fast . . . he might fall, and if he did, that hypothetical additional blood might leave a mark in the snow.

Infected Page 97

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Infected Page 97 summary

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