After adopting their son, Chase, Marc and Gillian Thayer intend on enjoying a relaxing weekend away at a picturesque resort in northern Michigan. Then, a killer seeking revenge begins reenacting the ten plagues of Egypt on the resort and everyone in it. As plague after plague appears, the Thayers must make sense of how their story intersects with those of the others at the resort and of their own dark pasts. Can they find the killer before the tenth plague—the death of the firstborn son?
The sunny world outside the suite windows had turned slate gray, the sky overcast and foreboding. The change in weather seems indicative of our stay here, Gillian mused as she looked out the window. Not all it was cracked up to be. Her notion of a romantic weekend getaway had apparently died with the man lying under a pile of frogs down the hallway.
Jared Russo was a classic joker and prankster. Was it only coincidental that his death scene looked like a joke, as if Jared had somehow staged it himself? Of course, the notion of Jared committing suicide was absurd, but who would have intentionally placed Jared’s lifeless body under a pile of frogs like that? And why?
Was someone trying to make a statement of some kind? If so, what was he trying to say other than what the Bible reference, scrawled on the wall in apparent blood, suggested—that Jared’s death was judgment of some kind? If Jared had meant to explain what was going on, he’d unfortunately missed his opportunity. Bewildered, she hoped they would get some answers soon.
Gillian held Marc’s icy hand and cradled Chase close with the other as they sat on the suite couch.
“I already told you. I didn’t touch anything,” Marc told Sheriff Miles Griswold, a lean man in his mid-40s with a military haircut and an odd patch of white over his left ear. Wiry and athletic, he was probably a runner, the type who ran marathons rain or shine and seemed barely winded afterward.
Gillian had offered the sheriff a seat, but he’d declined, saying that he concentrated better on his feet. He now paced restlessly like a caged lion, as if the movement of his feet somehow connected something in his brain he might not otherwise engage.
The sheriff cleared his throat. “I’m not exactly sure what to think just yet. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. It’s bizarre.” He passed a hand over his face and sniffed, eyes bewildered. “All I can say so far is that I see a healthy man who shouldn’t be dead and a death scene that looks anything but natural to me.”
“What do you think it means?”
“The frogs?” He shrugged. “Oh, I really can’t say. Not in 23 years have I ever seen anything so weird. Right now, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe he had a heart attack. Beats me. But that still doesn’t explain why frogs were crawlin’ all over him. Maybe the CSI will shed some light on what’s goin’ on here.”
“Let’s hope so. I’d like to know what happened to my friend.”
Griswold sniffed again. “Since you’re a Bible scholar, I wanted to know your thoughts about the writin’ on the wall.”
Marc stared at him blankly. “It’s a Bible reference.”
“I know that, but what does it mean?”
Marc grabbed his Bible from the end table and looked up the verse: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.”
Griswold scratched his head. “Well, that sort of makes sense, then. Aren’t these guys workin’ on some type of newfangled Bible or somethin’? That’s what’s got everybody outside hollerin’, right?”
“Actually, I don’t exactly know myself. I was hoping Jared would fill me in.”
The sheriff spread his hands. “Well, I don’t even know, and I’m the sheriff, so join the club. If the writin’ on the wall means what you say it does, then we’ve got a clear connection between your friend’s death and whatever this controversial project’s all about. Smells a little fishy to me.” He paused to rub his forehead, as if Marc’s headache were contagious. “Man, and here I thought the incident with the blood was an isolated incident.”
Gillian stared at the sheriff. “Incident with the blood”? What was he talking about? …
Someone knocked on their suite door. Marc looked spent, so Gillian pushed to her feet and glanced at the visitor through the peephole. She expected to see the sheriff with more questions, but on the other side of the door stood a man she’d never met before. He didn’t look like a murderer, but what were they supposed to look like?
She opened the door a crack but kept the chain engaged. “Who is it?”
“My name’s Vernon Brannon. I’d like to talk to your husband, Marc.”
Gillian unfastened the chain and opened the door wide.
The man was burly and blue eyed, with thick black hair that was trimmed short. A distinctive widow’s peak disrupted the straight, clean line of his forehead. Black chest hair peeked from the open collar of his green polo shirt. His bare arms were equally hairy, reminding her of a gorilla. She guessed he was in his mid-forties.
“You must be Gillian Thayer,” he said in a deep voice.
“That’s right.” Gillian wondered how he knew who she was. She sensed Marc at her back and stepped aside so the two men could face each other.
The man’s gaze swiveled to Marc. “Are you Marc Thayer?”
“We need to talk.”
“About what you saw in that room.”