Shadow Unit

Clairmont, WV. August 2007

"Hello, Agent Brady. This is Madeline Frost."

Of course it was. Either Frost didn't believe in caller I.D., or she'd been taught telephone etiquette at age eight by a nun with a ruler. And even with a weak cell signal, her voice was still identifiably affectless and metallic and unmistakably hers.

Brady drew a fortifying breath. "Dr. Frost. What did you find?"

"It looks like a duck and walks like a duck," Frost replied, "but it quacks like a wolverine."

"Excuse me?" Brady said.

There was a pause, silent except for the crackle of the lousy connection. He knew the look Frost had on her face at that exact second, as clearly as if they were face to face, and what it conveyed: Why do you even bother to get out of bed in the morning if you're going to be this stupid?

She said, "You can't find the bullet because there isn't one. There never was."