The Tenth Circle

The Tenth Circle by Jon Land Page B

Book: The Tenth Circle by Jon Land Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jon Land
Claus. See, this used to be a nice town with good people, until Superstorm Sandy hit. Whole area’s been condemned now. Even the former residents are still prohibited from returning after all this time. Fitting, don’t you think?”
    “Why?”
    “Because they knew a storm was coming. It was inevitable. They just didn’t know when. Like what happened to me yesterday, getting set up to take the fall for trying to kill the Reverend Rule and gunning down four of his guards instead. I’m wondering if you were a part of that.”
    “Is that the real reason why we’re here?”
    “I’m still wondering, Hank.”
    “I’m the least of your problems, McCracken. Even local law-enforcement agencies have access to sophisticated facial recognition software these days. And your face showed up in some places even I didn’t know about. Disney World, for example. And San Antonio just after what they still call the Second Battle of the Alamo. Colonial Williamsburg where you fought it out with those Omicron soldiers.”
    “Right, the good old days …”
    “This isn’t funny.”
    “I’m not laughing. Andrew Ericson still hasn’t been found.”
    McCracken started walking along what had been a beachfront promenade but was now a seldom-traveled, sand-covered path. Closer to the water, at what had been the shoreline, foundations and pilings were all that remained of buildings that had stood strong for decades. No one was about nearby and no one would be until the rebuilding effort reached this far down, if that ever came. The ravaged houses that still stood in varying forms were awaiting demolition and the burnt-out shells of several further down the shore had perished to gas fires that had burned out of control when impassable roads kept firefighters from responding.
    “This Rule thing’s been your baby from the beginning, right, Hank? That was your man I found dead in the bus station.”
    Folsom swallowed hard. “Chase Samuels. He had a wife and young son. He was thirty-three, a top undercover, who came over to Homeland from ATF.”
    “Andrew Ericson, age fifteen. As close to real family as I’ve got. You want to continue swapping stories?”
    “No. I’m sorry.”
    “I only met the kid once. If it wasn’t for Christmas cards, I wouldn’t even know what he looks like. Good thing I won’t have to identify the body, Hank, because he’s still alive. You hear me? He’s still alive.”
    “I hear you,” Folsom said softly. “Just tell me what the next step is.”
    “Word Croatoan mean anything to you?”
    “Outside of the fact Chase Samuels left it as some kind of message for us, no.”
    “A British relief party found it carved into a tree at the Roanoke Colony in the late sixteenth century,” McCracken told him, as the wind picked up again, whipping the sand into a funnel cloud.
    “The one where all the settlers vanished?”
    “The very same.”
    “Sorry,” Folsom said, looking as flustered as he did anxious and frustrated. “I’ve never heard the word before today.”
    “How about the other note in the crossword puzzle? Four-two-seven-one-F-H-one-two-one.”
    “We’re still running it.”
    “We?”
    “Analysts. Bottom of the food chain, but the best Homeland’s got.”
    “Well, that’s a relief.”
    “This is already hard enough, McCracken.”
    “I’m the one who’s the object of a manhunt, Hank, not you.”
    Folsom stopped, eyes suddenly sweeping about the beach. “We’re not alone, are we?”
    “What do you think?”
    “I think maybe I shouldn’t have come.”
    “Johnny and Sal are here for your own protection, Hank.”
    “ My protection?”
    “In case somebody followed you here from Washington.”
    “You were hoping that would be the case, weren’t you? You used me as bait.”
    “I wanted someone to have a little chat with. Sal Belamo was an interrogator with the CIA for a stretch. Very old school. Likes to use pliers and power outlets. I was hoping to get the chance to see him

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