Arlen Wagner has seen it in men before - a trace of smoke in their eyes that promises imminent death. He is never wrong. When Arlen awakens on a train one hot Florida night and sees death's telltale sign in the eyes of his fellow passengers, he tries to warn them. Only nineteen-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape their doom. They continue south but soon are stranded at the Cypress House - an isolated Gulf Coast boardinghouse run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady - directly in the path of a hurricane. The storm isn't the only approaching danger, though. A much deadlier force controls the county and everyone living in it, and Arlen wants out - fast. But Paul refuses to abandon Rebecca to face the threats alone, even though Arlen's eerie gift warns that if they stay too long they may never leave.