The Lake House

The Lake House

BY James Patterson

The memorable story begun in When the Wind Blows continues in this thrilling new novel, and it's one that really soars! Frannie O'Neil, a Colorado veterinarian, knows a terrible secret that will change the history of the world. Kit Harrison, an FBI agent under suspension has seen things that no one in his right mind would believe. A twelve-year-old girl named Max and five other incredible children have powers we can only dream of. These children can fly. And the only place they will be safe is the Lake House. Or so they believe...

Chapter 2

THE AMAZING STORY actually started six months ago in the tiny burg of Bear Bluff, Colorado, which is fifty or so miles northwest of Boulder on the Peak-to-Peak Highway.

I was driving home late one night when I happened to see a streaking white flash—then realized it was a young girl running fast through the woods not too far from my home.

But that was just part of what I saw. I’m a veterinarian, Dr. Frannie, and my brain didn’t want to accept what my eyes told me, so I stopped my car and got out.

The strange girl looked to be eleven or twelve, with long blond hair and a loose-fitting white smock that was stained with blood and ripped. I remember gasping for breath and literally steadying myself against a tree. I had the clear and distinct thought that I couldn’t be seeing what I was seeing.

But my eyes didn’t lie. Along with a pair of foreshortened arms, the girl had wings!

That’s correct—wings! About a nine-foot span. Below the wings, and attached somehow, were her arms. She was double-limbed. And the fit of her wings was absolutely perfect. Extraordinary from a scientific and aesthetic point of view. A mind-altering dose of reality.

She had also been hurt, which was how I eventually came to capture her, in a “mist net,” and sedate her, with the help of an FBI agent named Thomas Brennan, whom I knew better as Kit. We brought her to the animal hospital I operated, the Inn-Patient, where I examined her. I found very large pectoral muscles anchored to an oversize breastbone, anterior and posterior air sacs, a heart as large as a horse’s.

She had been “engineered” that way. A perfect design, actually. Totally brilliant.

But why? And by whom?

Her name was Max, short for Maximum, and it was incredibly hard to win her trust at first. But in her own good time she told me things that made me sick to my stomach and angrier than I’d ever been. She told me about a place called the School, where she’d been kept captive since the day she was born.

Everything you’re about to hear is already happening, by the way. It’s going on in outlaw labs across the United States and in other countries as well. In our lifetime! If it’s hard to take, all I can say is, buckle up the seat belts on your easy chair. This is what happened to Max and a few others like her.

Biologists, trying to break the barrier on human longevity, had melded bird DNA with human zygotes. It can be done. They had created Max and several other children. A flock. Unfortunately, the scientists couldn’t grow the babies in test tubes, so the genetically modified embryos had to be implanted in their mothers’ wombs.

When the mothers were close to term, labor was induced. The poor mothers were then told that their premature children had died. The preemies were shipped to an underground lab called the School. The School was, by any definition, a maximum-security prison. The children were kept in cages, and the rejects were “put to sleep,” a horrible euphemism for cold-blooded murder.

Like I said, buckle up those seat belts!

Anyway, that was why Max had done what she’d been forbidden to do. She had escaped from the School. Amazingly, we succeeded. We even got to live with the kids for a few months at a magical place we all called the Lake House.

Kit and I listened to what Max had to tell us, then we went with her to try to rescue the children still trapped at the School.

When the smoke cleared (literally), the six surviving children, including Max and her brother, were sent to live with their biological parents—people they’d never known a day in their lives.

That should have been fine, I guess, but this real-life fairy tale didn’t have a happy ending.

The kids, who ranged from twelve years old down to about four, phoned Kit and me constantly, every single day. They told us they were horribly depressed, bored, scared, miserable, suicidal—and I knew why. As a vet, I understood what no one else seemed to.

The children had done a bird thing: they had imprinted on Kit and me.

We were the only parents they knew and could love.

Copyright © 2003 by James Patterson

Read by Peter J. Fernandez & Denis O'Hare

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The Lake House
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ISBN: 0446615145
416 pages
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