Episode #564

- Lauren and Josh traveled to Iowa to look into Sabrina’s past. They found that the real Sabrina Gage is a woman in a vegetative state--and whoever has been in King’s Bay stole her identity.
- Seth awoke from his coma and identified Sabrina as his attacker. Miriam, who had been arrested (based on evidence planted by Sabrina), was exonerated.
- Helen looked after baby Sophie while Courtney prepared for her wedding. When Courtney went to check on her daughter, she found Helen knocked out and Sophie missing!


Maybe he misheard. Maybe there was some kind of mix-up, or Helen is going senile, or-- Something. Anything. Any crazy thing that will assure that, when Jason arrives at the hotel, his daughter will be there, safe and sound, and this entire thing will turn out to have been one enormous, terrible misunderstanding.

He drives in stark silence, too consumed to deal with the radio. Everything on there sounds so trivial and cloying, and he can barely focus on the road as it is. He keeps rethinking his route, changing course in ways that will help him avoid a left turn here or a residential speed limit there. He can’t imagine how something like this could happen, how Sophie could be gone. For practically every minute of her life to this point, he has known exactly where she was. To have no knowledge of that now, let alone of whether she is okay, is--

A horn blares as he makes what should have been an easy left. He sees the car that honked at him, some jerk in an emerald green Toyota Echo, race past him, having taken his chances on a yellow light. Jason honks back as the Echo slows and turns into a motel parking lot. Jason entertains a fleeting thought of stopping to cram the guy’s stupid baseball cap down his throat. Doesn’t he know that some people are driving like maniacs today for a reason?

If not for his utter panic, he might laugh at the absurdity of his rage toward a random driver. Instead he guns the accelerator and plows onward toward the hotel.

Minutes that feel like years pass, and then he is parking at the hotel, barely bothering to turn off his engine before he is out of the car and running inside. A handful of police cars crowd the front entrance, but Brent spots him and waves him through.

“I’ll be in in a minute,” Brent says. “Courtney and Helen are in the lobby.”

Jason thanks him and rushes to where Courtney stands in a bathrobe. Her mother sits on a nearby chair, holding an ice pack to her head and looking as if she has aged ten years from 30 minutes of worrying.

“What happened? Are you okay?” he asks, barely able to speak over the hammering of his heart.

“I was looking after her. It’s my fault,” Helen says. She sounds ready to cry.

“It’s not your fault. Who did it? Did you see--?”

“A man. He knocked on the door and said he had something for the bride, so I answered, and he hit me...” Terror spreads anew over Helen’s face. “The next thing I knew, Courtney was shaking me awake.”

“She hired someone,” Courtney says. “This wasn’t random.”

“I know.” Jason has no doubt about Sabrina’s involvement in this. They fall into a helpless, uncomfortable silence. He has a million more questions that he would like to ask, but he knows that the women have no more answers than he does.

Brent enters the lobby and speed-walks toward them. “Sabrina isn’t getting anywhere. She can’t get on a plane, a train, drive her car, rent one, nothing. Everything connected to her is flagged. And we put out an alert for Sophie and this guy, whoever he is. We will find her.”

“You have to,” Courtney says.

“There’s something else,” Brent says. “My brother called me a little while ago.” He stops to consider whatever it is that he is about to tell them. “Sabrina--she isn’t really Sabrina Gage.”

“What?” all three of them ask at almost the exact same instant.

“Josh and Lauren went to Iowa. To Sabrina Gage’s parents’ house. And the real Sabrina Gage--she’s a vegetable. Has been for years.”

“They’re in Iowa?” Courtney asks. “What?”

“They’re on their way back already. But our Sabrina, whoever she is, she stole this other woman’s identity.”

“Then who is she?” Helen asks, gripping the arms of their chair so hard that her hands look as if they might shatter. “And why does she want Sophie?”

Jason doesn’t even know how to verbalize the thought that swells in his brain, overtaking every other sense and idea. His eyes catch Courtney’s, and he can tell that the same thought has gripped her, too.

Shannon Parish is dead, he thinks, even though he knows--in spite of all logic and rationality--that he must be wrong.


The plane reaches cruising height, and an electronic ding signals that it is all right for passengers to leave their seats. Lauren Brooks, however, has no interest in beverage service or using the restroom or anything else. All she wants is to make the next few hours surge by as quickly as possible. A child across the aisle from her undoes his seatbelt and tries to climb out of his seat, as his mother restrains him.

As if able to read her mind, Josh Taylor says from the seat beside her, “We’ve seriously gotta sit here for the next four hours?”

“I know.” All she can think about is landing in King’s Bay and rushing to the hotel to get ready. Her mother promised to meet her there with her bridesmaid’s dress, so she will not have to waste any time going to the house first.

“I hope Courtney’s not flipping out too much,” she says.

“Even if she is, it’s like, you flew across the country to make sure some psycho doesn’t ruin her wedding. I think she’ll get over it.”

“Yeah... I cannot believe this is even happening.”

“That’s some crazy shit,” Josh says, only to turn and see that the kid across the aisle is staring at him intently. “I mean, some crazy... stuff.”

Lauren laughs lightly and plays with the window shade, sliding it up and down a few times. “That poor girl. Her poor parents, too. They’re locked up in that house, taking care of her, but she’ll probably never talk to them again.”

“It’s sad.”

“I felt so bad when we had to tell her that we weren’t actually Sabrina’s friends. I kind of wanted to keep lying just to make her feel better.”

“Yeah, because lying for someone else’s benefit always works out so great.” There is a sudden edge to Josh’s voice, and when she risks a glance at him, she sees a side of him that she hasn’t had to face in months. She had thought he was well over all of that. Then again, this is Josh; he has never missed an opportunity to make someone squirm just for the hell of it.

Discomfort crawls over her skin and through her veins like a thousand microscopic bugs. Desperate to brush them away, she hastily shifts the subject.

“The whole thing is so elaborate,” she says. “Sabrina--whoever she is--stole the identity of some random comatose girl in Iowa so she could come to King’s Bay, Washington?”

“Maybe she killed someone and wanted to, like, start over.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me, given the other stuff she’s done.” One possibility, which has been nagging at her since they confirmed that Sabrina Gage is not who she claims to be, seems too insane to articulate. “The question is, did she become obsessed with Jason because of working with him, or did she go after that job because she was obsessed with him?”

Josh shakes his head. “I’ve gotta ask you a question. Not that I really want to know the answer, but what the fuck is that guy packing?”

“He said fuck!” the kid across the aisle tells his mother, very loudly. That earns Josh the dirtiest of looks from the mother. Lauren tries her best not to laugh, as Josh holds up a hand in apology and then turns back to her.

“I’m serious,” he says. “What is it about that guy that makes all of you turn into complete idiots? Or lunatics, in this case?”

“He’s a really good guy. He’s caring but he doesn’t take things too seriously. I don’t know. It isn’t any one magic thing.”

“So he has a small dick,” Josh says, looking almost relieved.

“Shut up.” She has to avert her eyes, because he is enjoying needling her way too much. She watches the miles of indistinct clouds and sky pass by outside. “Did Courtney ever tell you about Shannon Parish?”

“That’s the crazy chick who left Jason all that money in her will, right?”

“She was obsessed with him,” Lauren says with a nod. “She had Courtney attacked, and she almost had Courtney’s dad killed. It turned out that she had killed her own parents in a fire.” She pauses, remembering something she hasn’t thought about in a long time. “I think your sister and Andy helped put together the pieces on that one, actually. She was Katherine Fitch’s maid for a while.”

Josh stares at her, trying to ascertain the relevance of the story. Suddenly his eyes go wide. “You don’t think...”

“I don’t know what to think. It’s as crazy as anything Sabrina has done.”

“She died. She left Jason all that money.”

Lauren doesn’t know how to make all the pieces fit together, but the coincidence is too great. Two women who are dangerously fixated upon Jason and who hate Courtney? Even the timing works out, if Shannon...

“This is completely insane,” she says, at a loss for anything more insightful.


Packaged pudding never tasted so good.

In a mere three spoonfuls, Seth Ashby finishes the cup of chocolate pudding that his mother brought him from the cafeteria and starts in on the grilled cheese sandwich.

“I’m glad to see that your appetite is back,” Mrs. Ashby says. She stands beside Seth’s bed, hovering as she has almost second since he awoke from his coma. His father sits in a chair against the wall, dipping in and out of their conversation and a golf magazine.

“Totally,” Seth manages to say between bites. His head still feels cloudy, as if there is a screen standing between him and the rest of the world, but the difference between how he felt yesterday and how he feels now is astounding. He expects that it will only continue to improve.

When there is a knock on the door, all three of them turn to look. Miriam Frost stands there, dressed down (especially for her) in a blazer and jeans, holding her purse in front of her with both hands.

“Hi,” she says. “I just wanted to see if you were... okay.”

Seth swallows the bite of food that he was chewing when she walked in. “I am. Thanks.”

“We’re so sorry you had to go through this, honey,” Mrs. Ashby says, scuttling over to the younger woman. “Stephen and I knew you would never do something like this to Seth. If only we’d had evidence...”

Miriam attempts to shrug off the experience--something at which she has never been particularly good. Seth does feel bad that she was tossed in jail erroneously, but the idea of Miriam Frost having to function behind bars will probably reduce him to hysterical laughter in a few weeks’ time.

“It was disgusting,” she says, dropping all pretense of being okay with it. “Those people! Maybe I can write a book about it.”

“I thought you were just in a holding cell overnight,” Seth says.

She shudders. “And I still managed to see the dark underbelly of humankind.”

Seth takes another bite of his sandwich to suppress a laugh. It kind of works.

“Could I have a moment alone with Seth?” Miriam asks his parents. They gladly agree and hustle out of the room.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” Miriam says as the door closes.

“Thanks. I still feel kind of weird, but the doctor said it might take a few weeks to get all my energy back.”

She steps closer to the bed. “You should come back to Portland and let your parents take care of you.”

He should have seen this coming. Miriam Frost never does anything without an agenda. Of course she didn’t just want to see how he was doing. Seth clams up, not wanting to snap at her but unsure how else to respond.

“I went to jail for you, Seth. That letter you sent me--”

“The police showed me. I didn’t write that.” Guilt washes over him. He forgot about the letter that Miriam received, telling her that he wanted to get back together. “I’m sorry if it gave you the wrong idea. I had nothing to do with it.”

“I don’t see Alex here,” she continues. The underlying meaning is all too clear: Because he doesn’t care about you. You were wrong.

“Alex and I are... not together anymore.”

“Oh. That’s a shame.”

“It’s probably for the best.”

She takes a seat on the edge of the bed. “Does that mean you’ve gotten this... whatever it was out of your system?”

Maybe it is his lack of energy, but he decides that politeness is too much work. “You and I--that’s not happening. Ever again.”

All at once, she stands from the bed and grabs her purse. “Whatever you say.”

“Miriam, I’m serious.”

She moves for the door, then pauses. “Do your parents know?”

“About what?” The realization comes before the words even finish being spoken. “About Alex and me? No.”

A smirk crosses her lips.


“They’re going to find out. One way or another. If you don’t tell them...”

“I’m sorry about the letter,” he says, unable to think of anything more helpful. It comes out sounding as pathetic as if he were begging her to take him back.

She pulls open the door and sweeps out. Seth watches nervously as she trades words with his mother and father, but thankfully, they are brief, and he sees no signs of alarm from either of his parents. A moment later, Miriam departs, and they reenter the room.

“It was nice of her to come by,” Mrs. Ashby says, the simple statement implying all sorts of hopes for the future.

“Yeah, it was,” Seth says. He rests his head against the pillows and becomes aware of how exhausted his entire body feels. “I don’t think I can finish this food right now.” As much as he hates to admit it, he knows that Miriam is right: he has to come clean with his parents eventually. He knows that she is spiteful enough to tell them if the wrong buttons get pushed. Maybe after he naps, his head will be clear enough to deal with it...


While Brent takes an official statement from Helen, Jason and Courtney linger helplessly in the lobby. His blood itches in his veins, but despite the nonstop urge to do something, he remains there, trying to believe that the police can handle this. He resists the urge to call his parents or Tim; telling them what has happened seems like admitting defeat, or at least giving up hope that it will be resolved immediately. Courtney paces back and forth, nervously bringing her newly manicured nails to her mouth and then forcing herself not to chew on them.

“They’re going to find her,” Jason says. “She’s going to be fine.”

She stops only long enough to shoot him an icy glare. “We don’t know that.”

“We have to be positive. Have faith.” He feels like he is spewing platitudes, but the alternatives are too frightening to consider. Instead he reaches out to place a hand on his fiancée’s shoulder. Maybe holding her will--

“Don’t touch me.” She jerks away like his hand is a searing burner.

The utter venom in her expression knocks Jason even further off-balance. “Court--”

“This wouldn’t even be happening if you had just listened to me,” she says. “But no. You had to give Sabrina the benefit of the doubt, over and over and over. I told you she was crazy. But you refused to believe me.”

“I believed you once I had some evidence!”

“Why? Because trusting me wasn’t enough?” She holds her jaw so tightly that it quivers between angry words. “If you had listened to me, our daughter wouldn’t be missing right now.”

He cannot believe she’s blaming him for this. He has no idea how to defend himself, how to talk some sense into her. They are still posed in that silent standoff when Brent approaches.

“Between your mother and one of the hotel guests, we have a lot of information,” he tells them.

“Good.” Courtney stares hard at Brent, refusing to cast so much as a passing glance at Jason.

Seeming to sense the arctic chill between them--though he would have to be the stupidest man on earth not to, Jason supposes--Brent adds, “It’s promising. We know we’re looking for a man in a red baseball cap and driving a light green Toyota Echo. That’s--”

“I know where he is,” Jason blurts out.

Neither Brent nor Courtney responds for a second, as if they aren’t sure whether to believe him.

“What do you mean?” Courtney asks.

“Where? How do you know?” Brent says.

Jason is already halfway across the lobby floor as he pulls his keys from his pocket. “I saw him driving. I know where he took Sophie.”


Lauren doesn’t often wish that she wore a watch, but now is one of the times that she is desperate for one. All she can think about is the wedding, and how she hopes that she can make it from SeaTac to King’s Bay quickly enough, and how Courtney is probably stressing out and calling her nonstop.

“What time do you have?” she finally asks Josh.

He checks his watch, a sporty Tag Heuer that probably cost more than Lauren wants to know. Before answering her, however, he asks, “When are we supposed to land?”

“Like 1:40 Pacific time. What time is it?”

“Quarter to noon.”

She groans. “Courtney’s going to kill me. We’re cutting it so close.”

Now you worry about that?” He laughs the kind of laugh that suggests he gets a bit too much pleasure out of her distress.

“I wish I had my laptop,” she says, more to herself than to him. Thinking out loud helps her work through stress. “Then I could use the wireless and e-mail Philip the wedding details or something.”

“Photographer Philip?”

Only as she nods does the awkwardness of the situation dawn on her. As does the opportunity to get a little pleasure of her own out of Josh’s apparent discomfort. “Yeah,” she says. “He’s my date for the wedding.”

Josh seems to be paying an unreasonable amount of attention to the stitching on the back of the seat in front of him. He traces a finger along one of the seams as he says, “I can’t believe you’re still hanging out with that guy. He’s a douche.”

“That’s kind of pot-and-kettle, don’t you think?” She hopes that he notices her smirk.

“Whatever.” He runs his finger over the seam in the seatback for another few seconds. “So what, are you guys, like, getting serious?”

She didn’t anticipate the question, and even though it shouldn’t be difficult to answer, she finds it to be just that. “I don’t know,” she says quickly. “We’re dating.”


Jason insists upon driving his own car, but Brent convinces him to ride in a police vehicle with him. They lead the way to the motel, and as soon as Brent turns into the lot, Jason is scanning for signs of the Toyota Echo that almost ran into him earlier. He sees it parked at the far end of the lot.

“That’s it,” he says, pointing, but Brent has already seen it, too.

“Stay here,” Brent instructs him. The other police car pulls into the lot behind him, and the officers exit the car to confer with Brent. One of them walks over to get a better look at the car, while another begins knocking on doors. Brent disappears inside the main building, probably to alert the clerk as to what is going on.

Jason squirms in the passenger seat as he attempts to pass the time. They’re going to find Sophie, he is sure of it. That guy who almost ran into him was driving the right car, and Jason remembers that he was wearing a red baseball cap. He was driving like a maniac. It’s too much to chalk up to mere coincidence.

He watches as one officer jots down the Echo’s license plate number and then joins his partner in knocking on doors. Jason keeps one eye locked on the car, as if expecting Sophie to appear magically from inside it. The officers’ progress in knocking on doors does not seem to be producing much.

Unable to take it any longer, Jason steps out of the car. He heads for the group of rooms closest to where the Echo is parked and bangs on a door.

“Open up!” he yells. “Open the door!”

He hears movement inside the room, but none of it indicates an intent to open the door.

“It’s the police! Open up!”

He cannot control himself. If Sophie is on the other side of that door--

“Jason, what are you doing?” Brent calls out. “I told you to stay in the damn car.”

“I can’t just sit there.” He tosses the excuse over his shoulder and bangs again. “Open the door!”

Suddenly, it flies open, revealing a middle-aged man hastily buttoning a white dress shirt. Jason gets the distinct sense that he is interrupting something, but this is not the man who was driving the Toyota.

“I’m looking for my daughter,” he says. “She’s been kidnapped.”

The man is too flustered to answer. Brent appears behind Jason and grabs him, dragging him away from the door.

“No. This is not how this is gonna go. You get back in the car and wait.”

Defeated, Jason hangs his head and returns to the squad car, without uttering a word. The last thing he wants to do is sit around and wait while the police might or might not be on the trail of locating his daughter.

He notices a man exiting a second-floor room and, at first, thinks nothing of it. The guy carries a coat and some other crap. Only when he makes an abrupt turn and hops into the Echo do the alarms sound in Jason’s head. He throws the door open.

“That’s him!” he yells, but the cops are already moving in. One of them pulls a gun, and Jason almost loses his balance. Don’t shoot. Don’t shoot. He is sure that Sophie is hidden under that coat.

The guy pays no heed. He starts the car and peels out of the parking space. The other officer rushes to the second squad car and, with lightning-fast precision, uses it to block the parking lot’s exit. Jason exhales with relief as the lights flash.

But that lasts only an instant. Because the driver of the Echo doesn’t seem too concerned about the barrier, and he tries to drive up onto the grass--and, apparently, through a fence--to get around it. The squad car jerks to life as the Echo smashes through the weak wooden fence and into the road.

Whatever relief Jason felt seconds ago now feels lifetimes away. He watches as the police car sets itself into pursuit of the Echo, but it is a pursuit that does not last long, because the driver of the Toyota loses control and skids across the road. The car spins around and slams into another wooden fence. The slats shatter, raining down over the small car, and then all is silent. Too silent.


What will be the result of the car accident?
Is Courtney right to blame Jason?
Is Josh jealous of Lauren and Philip?
Discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

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