When the Wind Blows, страница 1
WHEN THE WIND BLOWS
SELECTED AS THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY
THEDENVER ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS
Frannie O’Neill is a talented Colorado veterinarian haunted by her husband’s murder. But the course of her life is about to change again. After another bizarre killing, Kit Harrison, a troubled and unconventional FBI agent, arrives on her doorstep. And late one night Frannie stumbles upon a strange, astonishing phenomenon.
Her name is Max. Only eleven years old, she will lead Frannie and Kit to uncover one of the most diabolical and inhuman plots of modern science.
“WHIPS THE PAGES RIGHT BY… It has been more than a decade since I was captivated by a book like I was captivated by this one.”
—Denver Rocky Mountain News
“ROMANCE, SUSPENSE, ACTION… swiftly told…. There’s magic here, too, leaving readers more than once struck deep by wonder.”
“MEMORABLE… A WINNER.”
“BRILLIANTLY DRAWN CHARACTERS…SKILLED DIALOGUE…. BIG, WARM FEELINGS… READS LIKE A DREAM.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
RAVES FOR JAMES PATTERSON
“PATTERSON JUGGLES TWIST AFTER TWIST WITH GENUINE GLEE.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“JAMES PATTERSON DOES EVERYTHING BUT STICK OUR FINGER IN A LIGHT SOCKET TO GIVE US A BUZZ.”
—New York Times
“JAMES PATTERSON KNOWS HOW TO SELL THRILLS AND SUSPENSE IN CLEAR, UNWAVERING PROSE.”
“PATTERSON KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING, AND HE KEEPS THE PEDAL DOWN ON THE ACTION AND SUSPENSE.”
“PATTERSON IS A MASTER.”
—Newark Star Ledger
“PATTERSON LAYS OUT A TRIAL OF UP-AND-DOWN PLOT TWISTS that makes it nearly impossible to figure out the truth before he wants you to.”
“HE’S UNBEATABLE… Patterson proves himself master of the hair-raising thriller.”
“WHEN IT COMES TO CONSTRUCTING A HARROWING PLOT, AUTHOR JAMES PATTERSON CAN TURN A SCREW ALL RIGHT.”
—New York Daily News
“JAMES PATTERSON BRILLIANTLY EXPLORES DARK CREVICES OF THE ABERRANT MIND… WITH ROLLER-COASTER THRILLERS.”
“A MUST-READ AUTHOR… reaches out and grabs you from the opening page and doesn’t let go until the last drop of blood.”
“PATTERSON, AMONG THE BEST NOVELISTS OF CRIME STORIES EVER, HAS REACHED HIS PINNACLE.”
“PATTERSON’S A MASTER OF SUSPENSE THRILLERS… twists and turns arrive in roller-coaster fashion… Patterson is diabolical.”
“EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED FROM JAMES PATTERSON…. Patterson confounds even mystery veterans with spine-tingling twists and turns that leave readers hanging upside down with their hearts racing.”
“PATTERSON JOINS THE ELITE COMPANY OF THOMAS HARRIS AND JOHN SANFORD in concocting riveting and truly unique serial killers, while creating sleuths who are heroic and fascinating.”
—San Francisco Examiner
“PATTERSON NOT ONLY CREATES A DIZZYING FLIGHT OF SUSPENSE AND VIOLENCE, but exposes the explosive elements in today’s society that make the world vulnerable to frightening events.”
—Baton Rouge Magazine
“Readers who have not discovered James Patterson just don’t know what they are missing. PATTERSON IS, WITHOUT A DOUBT, ONE OF THE MOST TALENTED AND EXCITING AUTHORS OF CRIME FICTION TODAY.”
—Lake Worth Herald
“A RIDE ON A ROLLER COASTER WHOSE BRAKES HAVE GONE OUT.”
—Chicago Tribune on Cat & Mouse
“CAT&MOUSE IS A PULSATING GAME…. THE ACTION IS FAST AND FURIOUS…. The pages turn in a blur…. You might just finish this in one sitting. It’s that kind of book.”
—Rocky Mountain News
“Patterson delivers the SWIFTLY PACED FARE THAT HAS MADE HIM A CHAMP OF THE CHARTS.”
—Publishers Weekly on Ca t& Mouse
“CROSS, A BRILLIANT HOMICIDE COP, IS ONE OF THE GREAT CREATIONS OF THRILLER FICTION.”
—Dallas Morning News on Jack & Jill
“CAPTIVATING… A FAST-PACED THRILLER FULL OF SURPRISING BUT REALISTIC PLOT TWISTS.”
—San Francisco Examiner on Jack & Jill
“TOUGH TO PUT DOWN… TICKS LIKE A TIME BOMB, ALWAYS FULL OF THREAT AND TENSION.”
—Los Angeles Times on Kiss the Girls
“PATTERSON HIT THE BALL OUT OF THE PARK WITH ALONG CAME A SPIDER. KISS THE GIRLSIS EVEN BETTER.”
—Dallas Morning News
“A WILD RIDE… ALEX CROSS IS TO THE ’90s WHAT MIKE HAMMER WAS TO THE ’50s.”
—Denver Post on Kiss the Girls
“A FIRST-RATE THRILLER—FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS AND KEEP THE LIGHTS ON!”
—Sidney Sheldon on Along Came a Spider
“HAS TO BE ONE OF THE BEST THRILLERS OF THE YEAR.”
—Clive Cussler on Along Came a Spider
“TERROR AND SUSPENSE THAT GRAB THE READER AND WON’T LET GO. JUST TRY RUNNING AWAY FROM THIS ONE.”
—Ed McBain on Along Came a Spider
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the authors’ imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Warner Books Edition
Copyright © 1998 by James Patterson
All rights reserved.
Warner Books, Inc.
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Visit our website at www.HachetteBookGroup.com.
First eBook Edition: June 2003
Must be thrilling from the air.
—Leopold Bloom in Ulysses
WHEN THE WIND BLOWS
Prologue: First Flight
Book One: Genesis
Book Two: Tinkerbell Lives
Book Three: Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Baked in a Pie
Book Four: The Flight School
Book Five: When the Wind Blows
A Preview of "The Lake House"
Part One: Child Custody
About this Title
BEFORE I BEGAN THIS BOOK, I had no idea how close to reality the story would be. Over thirty medical doctors and research scientists helped at the conceptual stage, and then again when the manuscript was nearing completion. As one medical doctor and Ph.D. at the National Institutes of Health said, “Most people are not going to believe the breakthroughs that are coming in the very near future.” These doctors and researchers went into considerable detail, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises and suspense in the story you are about to read.
I would especially like to thank Maxine Paetro, who was deeply involved with the book almost from the beginning, and who was important through the arduous research, writing, and editing process.
SOMEBODY PLEASE help me! Somebody please! Can anybody hear me?”
Max’s screams pierced the clear mountain air. Her throat and lungs were beginning to hurt, to burn.
The eleven-year-old girl was running as fast as she could from the hateful, despicable School. She was strong, but she was beginning to tire. As she ran, her long blond hair flared behind her like a beautiful silk scarf. She was pretty, even though there were dark, plum-colored circles under her eyes.
She knew the men were coming to kill her. She could hear them hurrying through the woods behind her.
She glanced over her right shoulder, painfully twisting her neck. She flashed a mental picture of her little brother, Matthew. Where was he? The two of them had separated just outside the School, both running and screaming.
She was afraid Matthew was already dead. Uncle Thomas probably got him. Thomas had betrayed them and that hurt so much she couldn’t stand to think about it.
Tears rolled down her cheeks. The hunters were closing in. She could feel their heavy footsteps thumping hard and fast against the crust of the earth.
A throbbing, orange and red ball of sun was sinking below the horizon. Soon it would be pitch-black and cold out here in the Front Range of the Rockies. All she wore was a simple tube of white cotton, sleeveless, loosely drawn together at the neckline and waist. Her feet were wrapped in thin-soled ballet slippers.
Move. She urged her aching, tired body on. She could go faster than this. She knew she could.
The twisting path narrowed, then wound around a great, mossy-green shoulder of rock. She clawed and struggled forward through more thick tangles of branches and brush.
The girl suddenly stopped. She could go no further.
A huge, high fence loomed above the bushes. It was easily ten feet. Rows of razor-sharp concertina wire were tangled and coiled across the top.
A metal sign warned: EXTREME DANGER! ELECTRIFIED FENCE. EXTREME DANGER!
Max bent over and cupped her hands over her bare knees. She was blowing out air, wheezing hard, trying to keep from weeping.
The hunters were almost there. She could hear, smell, sense their awful presence.
With a sudden flourish, she unfurled her wings. They were white and silver-tipped and appeared to have been unhinged. The wings sailed to a point above her head, seemingly of their own accord. Their span was nine feet. The sun glinted off the full array of her plumage.
Max started to run again, flapping her wings hard and fast. Her slippered feet lifted off the hardscrabble.
She flew over the high barbed wire like a bird.
FIVE ARMED MEN ran quietly and easily through the ageless boulders and towering aspens and ponderosa pines. They didn’t see her yet, but they knew it wouldn’t be long before they caught up with the girl.
They were jogging rapidly, but every so often the man in front picked up the pace a significant notch or two. All of them were competent trackers, good at this, but he was the best, a natural leader. He was more focused, more controlled, the best hunter.
The men appeared calm on the outside, but inside it was a different story. This was a critical time. The girl had to be captured, and brought back. She shouldn’t have gotten out here in the first place. Discretion was critical; it always had been, but never more than right now.
The girl was only eleven, but she had “gifts,” and that could present a formidable problem outdoors. Her senses were acute; she was incredibly strong for her size, her age, her gender; and of course, there was the possibility that she might try to fly.
Suddenly, they could see her up ahead: she was clearly visible against the deep blue background of the sky.
“Tinkerbell. Northwest, fifty degrees,” the group leader called out.
She was called Tinkerbell, but he knew she hated the name. The only name she answered to was Max, which wasn’t short for Maxine, or Maximillian, but for Maximum. Maybe because she always gave her all. She always went for it. Just as she was doing right now.
There she was, in all her glory! She was running at full speed, and she was very close to the perimeter fence. She had no way of knowing that. She’d never been this far from home before.
Every eye was on her. None of them could look away, not for an instant. Her long hair streamed behind her, and she seemed to flow up the steep, rocky hillside. She was in great shape; she could really move for such a young girl. She was a force to reckon with out here in the open.
The man running in front suddenly pulled up. Harding Thomas stopped short. He threw up his arm to halt the others. They didn’t understand at first, because they thought they had her now.
Then, almost as if he’d known she would—she took off. She flew. She was going over the concertina wire of the ten-foot-high perimeter fenc
The men watched in complete silence and awe. Their eyes widened. Blood rushed to their brains and made a pounding sound in their ears.
She opened to a full wingspan and the movement seemed effortless. She was a beautiful, natural flyer. She flapped her white and silver wings up and down, up and down. The air actually seemed to carry her along, like a leaf on the wind.
“I knew she’d try to go over.” Thomas turned to the others and spit out the words. “Too bad.”
He lifted his rifle to his shoulder. The girl was about to disappear over the nearest edge of the canyon wall. Another second or two and she’d be gone from sight.
He pulled the trigger.
KIT HARRISON was headed to Denver from Boston. He was good-looking enough to draw looks on the airplane: trim, six foot two, sandy-blond hair. He was a graduate of NYU Law School. And yet he felt like such a loser.
He was perspiring badly in the cramped and claustrophobic middle-aisle airplane seat of an American Airlines 747. He was so obviously pathetic that the pleasant and accommodating flight attendant stopped and asked if he was feeling all right. Was he ill?
Kit told her that he was just fine, but it was another lie, the mother of all lies. His condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder and sometimes featured nasty anxiety attacks that left him feeling he could die right there. He’d been suffering from the disorder for close to four years.
So yeah, I am ill, Madame Flight Attendant. Only it’s a little worse than that.
See, I’m not supposed to be going to Colorado. I’m supposed to be on vacation in Nantucket. Actually, I’m supposed to be taking some time off, getting my head screwed on straight, getting used to maybe being fired from my job of twelve years.
Getting used to not being an FBI agent anymore, not being on the fast track at the Bureau, not being much of anything.
The name computer-printed on his plane ticket read Kit Harrison, but it wasn’t his real name. His name was Thomas Anthony Brennan. He had been Senior FBI Agent Brennan, a shooting star at one time. He was thirty-eight, and lately, he felt he was feeling his age for the first time in his life.