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gravel, and Harry breathed a sigh of relief. Then the back end
of the vehicle slid away, swivelling the car about its axis,
spinning it off the drive. Harry could see the shredded tyre in
the wing mirror, rubber collapsed and flapping free from the
rim of the wheel. More bullets sprayed across the back
window, and he ducked instinctively.
The figure had stopped running now that the car was
stationary. Harry could see him  he looked like a waiter of all
things, though his head was a strange shape  in the splintered
glass of the wing mirror. Harry kept his head low, waited until
the man was at a point where the car was between him and
157
Harry. Then he tried to open the door  had to kick it to get it
to move.
Harry took a deep breath, estimated the distance to the edge
of the woodland, and ran.
He was almost at the treeline when he was spotted. Bullets
tore up the turf under his feet and one whipped past his ear as
he dived for cover. He crawled the last few feet into the trees,
and only then did he look back. The figure was still a long way
off, and appeared uncertain whether to follow him or not. After
a minute it seemed to decide not to bother, and started back
towards the main house.
Harry was gasping for breath as he felt in his blazer pockets.
He hadn't run like that in years.
'Lucky I took the company car,' he murmured. His old MG
would have offered precious little protection from the hail of
gunfire.
He searched through his pockets again. But his cellnet phone
was not there. Harry looked back at the battered and scarred
BMW angled into the turf a hundred yards away. A hundred
yards across the open grass  across the killing ground. And on
the passenger seat, connected to the car stereo, was his phone.
158
0C
Negotiation
Several thoughts occurred to Harry Sullivan as he lay at the
edge of the woods staring at the remains of his car and the
house in the distance.
The first was that there should be local police crawling all
over the place. For some reason Hanson's calls had not got
through. The terrorists were certainly in control if his brief
encounter was any indication.
The second thought was that he had himself called Ashby at
Special Branch. And if he had left promptly, Ashby would not
be far behind. Especially the way he drove. Harry did not want
Ashby to run into a similar reception committee at Hubway, so
he pulled himself to his feet and navigated his way through the
woods back to the main gate.
He waited at the edge of the woods, within site of the drive
and the road. He could see the security camera panning back
and forth like a hunting cobra as it surveyed the main gate, but
he had no way of knowing who was watching the pictures it
was relaying. The question now was whether to wait for
Ashby, or to start walking and try to find a telephone.
Harry decided to give it half an hour. There was little traffic,
so spotting Ashby's car should not be a problem. That said, he
stopped one car convinced it was Ashby only to be greeted by
a little old lady who was far from amused and nearly ran him
down when he asked if she had a phone he could use. Harry
stood in the middle of the road watching the grey Cosworth
receding rapidly into the distance and wondered both where
the lady got her vocabulary and how she managed to reach the
pedals.
159
While he was still standing there, like a world-weary rabbit,
a car horn sounded loudly just behind him. He leaped to the
side of the road and the grey car drew level with him.
The window wound down. 'You looking for a lift,
Commander?' asked Sergeant Fawn.
'Thank God,' Harry said. He could see Ashby over Fawn's
shoulder as he reversed the car on to the verge behind Harry.
Harry got in the back seat. 'There's a few things you need to
know,' he said, and explained quickly about his own abortive
visit to the house.
'I'll call for back-up from the local boys,' Ashby said.
'Sounds like they didn't take Hanson seriously.'
'Or he didn't take you seriously,' Fawn told Harry.
'Thanks. Then I suggest we find out what they're up to in
there.'
'How do you reckon we go about that?'
Harry grinned. 'I'm going to phone them and ask,' he said.
The Doctor was sitting in front of the blank screen in his
attic hideaway. He had shut the computer down, finding the
noise of the cooling fan distracting. Much better to sit back and
listen to the sound of the birds outside. The sounds of machine-
gun fire from the front of the house had been another [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]