The Bourne Identity / Page 29

Page 29



'Where?'

'We would be told by radio. Car frequency.! 'Terrific,' said Jason flatly. 'You're not only second-rate, you're accommodating. Where's your car?' 'Outside.' 'Give me the keys.' The radio would identify it

The man tried to resist; he pushed Bourne's knee away and started to roll into the wall. 'Nein!'

'You haven't got a choice.' Jason brought the handle of the pistol down on the man's skull. The Swiss collapsed.

Bourne found the keys - there were three in a leather case -took the man's gun, and put it into his pocket. It was a smaller weapon than the one he held in his hand and had no silencer, lending a degree of credence to the claim that he was to be taken, not killed. The blond man upstairs had been acting as the point, and therefore needed the protection of a silenced gunshot should wounding be required. But an unmuffled report could lead to complications; the Swiss on the first floor was a back-up, his weapon to be used as a visible threat

Then why was he on the first floor? Why hadn't he followed his colleague? On the staircase? Something was odd, but there was no accounting for tactics, nor the time to consider them. There was a car outside on the street and be had the keys for it

Nothing could be disregarded. The third gun.

He got up painfully, and found the automatic he had taken from the Frenchman in the lift at the Gemeinschaft Bank. He pulled up his left trouser leg and inserted the gun under the elasticised fabric of his sock. It was secure.

He paused to get his breath and his balance, then crossed to the staircase, aware that the pain in his left shoulder was suddenly more acute, the paralysis spreading more rapidly. Messages from brain to limb were less clear. He hoped to God he could drive.

He reached the fifth step and abruptly stopped, listening as he had listened barely a minute ago for sounds of concealment For a scratch of cloth or a quiet intake of breath. There was nothing, the wounded man may have been tactically deficient, but he had told the truth. Jason hurried down the staircase He would drive out of Zurich - somehow - and find a doctor -somewhere.

He spotted the car easily. It was different from the other shabby automobiles on the street. Outsized, well-kept, and he could see the bulge of an antenna base riveted into the boot He walked to the driver's side and ran his hand around the panel and left front mudguard; there was no alarm device.

He unlocked the door, then opened it, holding his breath in case he was wrong about the alarm; he was not He climbed in

behind the wheel, adjusting his position until he was as comfortable as he could be, grateful that the car had automatic gears. The large weapon in his belt inhibited him. He placed it on the seat beside him, then reached for the ignition, assuming the key that had unlocked the door was the proper one.

It was not. He tried the one next to it, but it, too, would not fit. For the boot, he assumed. It was the third key.

Or was it? He kept stabbing at the opening. The key would not enter; he tried the second again; it was blocked. Then the first. None of the keys would fit into the ignition! Or were the messages from brain to limb to fingers too garbled, his coordination too inadequate? Goddamn it! Try again!

A powerful light came from his left, burning his eyes, blinding him. He grabbed for the gun, but a second beam shot out from the right; the door was yanked open and a heavy torch crashed down on his hand, another hand taking the weapon from the seat.

'Get out I' The order came from his left, the barrel of a gun pressed into his neck.

He climbed out, a thousand coruscating circles of white in his eyes. As vision slowly came back to him, the first thing he saw was the outline of two circles. Gold circles, the spectacles of the killer who had hunted him throughout the night The man spoke.

They say in the laws of physics that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The behaviour of certain men under certain conditions is similarly predictable. For a man like you one sets up a gauntlet, each combatant told what to say if he falls. If he does not fall, you are taken. If he does, you are misled, lulled into a false sense of progress.'

'It's a high degree of risk,' said Jason. 'For those in the gauntlet.'

'They're paid well. And there's something else - no guarantee, of course, but it's there. The enigmatic Bourne does not kill Indiscriminately. Not out of compassion, naturally, but for a far more practical reason. Men remember when they've been spared; he infiltrates the armies of others. Refined guerrilla tactics applied to a sophisticated battleground. I commend you.'

'You're a horse's ass.' It was all Jason could think to say. 'But both your men are alive, if that's what you want to know.'

Another figure came into view, led from the shadows of the building by a short, stocky man. It was the woman; it was Marie St Jacques.

'That's him,' she said softly, her look unwavering.

'Oh, my God ...' Bourne shook his head in disbelief. 'How was it done, Doctor?' he asked her, raising his voice. 'Was someone watching my room at the Carillon? Was the lift timed, the others shut down? You're very convincing. And I thought you were going to crash into a police car.'

'As it turned out,' she replied, 'it wasn't necessary. These are the police.'

Jason looked at the killer in front of him; the man was adjusting his gold spectacles. 'I commend you,' he said.

'A minor talent,! answered the killer. 'The conditions were right. You provided them.'

'What happens now? The man inside said I was to be taken, not killed.'

'You forget. He was told what to say.' The Swiss paused. 'So this is what you look like. Many of us have wondered during the past two or three years. How much speculation there's been! How many contradictions ... He's tall, you know; no, he's of medium height. He's blond; no, he has dark black hair. Very light blue eyes, of course; no, quite clearly, they are brown. His features are sharp; no, they're really quite ordinary, can't pick him out in a crowd. But nothing was ordinary. It was all extraordinary."

Your features have been softened, the character submerged. Change your hair, you change your face ... Certain types of contact lenses are designed to alter the colour of the eyes ... Wear glasses, you're a different man. Visas, passports ... switched at will.

The design was there. Everything fitted. Not all the answers, but more of the truth than he wanted to hear.

'I'd like to get this over with,' said Marie St Jacques stepping forward. I'll sign whatever I have to sign - at your office, I imagine. But then I really must get back to the hotel. I don't have to tell you what I've been through tonight.'

The Swiss glanced at her through his gold-rimmed glasses. The stocky man who had led her out of the shadows took her arm. She stared at both men, then down at the hand that held her.

Then at Bourne. Her breathing stopped, a terrible realization

becoming clear. Her eyes grew wide.

'Let her go,' said Jason. 'She's on her way back to Canada. You'll never see her again.'

'Be practical. Bourne. She's seen us. We two are professionals; there are rules.' The man flicked his gun up under Jason's chin, the barrel pressed once more into Bourne's throat He ran his left hand about his victim's clothes, felt the weapon in Jason's pocket and took it out. 'I thought as much,' he said, and turned to the stocky man. 'Take her in the other car. The Limmat.'


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