The Hospital, somewhere in Maryland
At about eleven in the evening, Dr. Ethan Kane trudged down the
gray-and-blue-painted corridor toward a private elevator. His mind
was filled with images of death and suffering, but also progress,
great progress that would change the world.
A young and quite homely scrub nurse rounded the corner of the
passageway and nodded her head deferentially as she approached him.
She had a crush on Dr. Kane, and she wasn't the only one.
"Doctor," she said, "you're still working."
"Esther, you go home, now. Please," Ethan Kane said,
pretending to be solicitous and caring, which couldn't have been
further from the truth. He considered the nurse inferior in every
way, including the fact that she was female.
He was also exhausted from a surgical marathon: five major
operations in a day. The elevator car finally arrived, the doors
slid open, and he stepped inside.
"Good night, Esther," he said, and showed the nurse a lot of very
white teeth, but no genuine warmth, because there was none to
He straightened his tall body and wearily passed his hand over his
longish blond hair, cleaned his wire-rimmed glasses on the tail of
his lab coat, then rubbed his eyes before putting his glasses back
on as he descended to the subbasement level.
One more thing to check on . . . always one more thing to
He walked half a dozen quick steps to a thick steel door and pushed
it open with the palm of his hand.
He entered the dark and chilly atmosphere of a basement storage
room. A pungent odor struck him.
There, lying on a double row of gurneys, were six naked bodies.
Four men, two women, all in their late teens and early twenties.
Each was brain-dead, each as good as gone, but each had served a
worthy cause, a higher purpose. The plastic bracelets on their
wrists said DONOR.
"You're making the world a better place," Kane whispered as he
passed the bodies. "Take comfort in that."
Dr. Kane strode to the far end of the room and pushed open another
steel door, an exact duplicate of the first. This time rather than
a chilly blast, he was met by a searing wave of hot air, the
deafening roar of fire, and the unmistakable smell of death.
All three incinerators were going tonight. Two of his nighttime
porters, their powerful workingman bodies glistening with grime and
sweat, looked up as Dr. Kane entered the cinder-block chamber. The
men nodded respectfully, but their eyes showed fear.
"Let's pick up the pace, gentlemen. This is taking too long," Kane
called out. "Let's go, let's go! You're being paid well for this
scut work. Too well."
He glanced at a naked young woman's corpse laid out on the cement
floor. She was white-blond, pretty in a music-video sort of way.
The porters had probably been diddling with her. That's why they
were behind schedule, wasn't it?
Gurneys were shoved haphazardly into one corner, like discarded
shopping carts in a supermarket parking lot. Quite a spectacle.
Hellish, to be sure.
As he watched, one of the sweat-glazed minions worked a wooden
paddle under a young male's body while the other swung open the
heavy glass door of an oven. Together they pushed, shoved, slid the
body into the fire as if it were a pizza.
The flames dampened for a moment, then as the porters locked down
the door, the inferno flared again. The cremation chamber was
called a "retort." Each retort burned at 3,600 degrees, and it took
just over fifteen minutes to reduce a human body to nothing but
To Dr. Ethan Kane, that meant one thing: no evidence of what was
happening at the Hospital. Absolutely no evidence of
"Pick up the pace!" he yelled again. "Burn these bodies!"
Excerpted from THE LAKE HOUSE © Copyright 2003 by James
Patterson. Reprinted with permission by Warner Books, an impring to
Time Warner Bookmark. All rights reserved.
The Lake House