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   Hurricane Hugo lasted more than three days, but they felt like the

   safest three days Par had spent in weeks. It was a good bet that the

   Secret Service wouldn't be conducting any raids during a hurricane.

   South Carolina took the brunt of Hugo but North Carolina also suffered

   massive damage. It was one of the worst hurricanes to hit the area in

   decades. Winds near its centre reached more than 240 kilometres per

   hour, causing 60 deaths and $7 billion in damages as it made its way

   up the coast from the West Indies to the Carolinas.

  

   When Par stepped outside his motel room one afternoon a few days after

   the storm, the air was fresh and clean. He walked to the railing

   outside his second-storey perch and found himself looking down on a

   hive of activity in the car park. There were cars. There was a van.

   There was a collection of spectators.

  

   And there was the Secret Service.

  

   At least eight agents wearing blue jackets with the Secret Service

   emblem on the back.

  

   Par froze. He stopped breathing. Everything began to move in slow

   motion. A few of the agents formed a circle around one of the guys

   from the motel, a maintenance worker named John, who looked vaguely

   like Par. They seemed to be hauling John over the coals, searching his

   wallet for identification and quizzing him. Then they escorted him to

   the van, presumably to run his prints.

  

   Par's mind began moving again. He tried to think clearly. What was the

   best way out? He had to get back into his room. It would give him some

   cover while he figured out what to do next. The photos of Theorem

   flashed through his mind. No way was he going to let the Secret

   Service get hold of those. He needed to stash them and fast.

  

   He could see the Secret Service agents searching the computer chalet.

   Thank God he and Nibbler had moved all the equipment. At least there

   was nothing incriminating in there and they wouldn't be able to seize

   all their gear.

  

   Par breathed deeply, deliberately, and forced himself to back away

   from the railing toward the door to his room. He resisted the urge to

   dash into his room, to recoil from the scene being played out below

   him. Abrupt movements would draw the agents' attention.

  

   Just as Par began to move, one of the agents turned around. He scanned

   the two-storey motel complex and his gaze quickly came to rest on Par.

   He looked Par dead in the eye.

  

   This is it, Par thought. I'm screwed. No way out of here now. Months

   on the run only to get done in a hick town in North Carolina. These

   guys are gonna haul my ass away for good. I'll never see the light of

   day again. Elimination is the only option.

  

   While these thoughts raced through Par's mind, he stood rigid, his

   feet glued to the cement floor, his face locked into the probing gaze

   of the Secret Service agent. He felt like they were the only two

   people who existed in the universe.

  

   Then, inexplicably, the agent looked away. He swivelled around to

   finish his conversation with another agent. It was as if he had never

   even seen the fugitive.