The Bourne Identity / Page 30

Page 30

Bourne froze. Marie St Jacques was to be killed, her body thrown into the Limmat River.

'Wait a minute!' Jason stepped forward; the gun was jammed into his neck, forcing him back into the bonnet of the car. 'You're being stupid! She works for the Canadian government. They'll be all over Zurich.'

'Why should that concern you? You won't be here.!

'Because it's a waste!' cried Bourne. 'We're professionals, remember?'

'You bore me.' The killer turned to the stocky man. 'Machen Sie mal los! Der Guisan Quai.'

'Scream your goddamn head oft!' shouted Jason. 'Start yelling ! Don't stop!'

She tried, the scream cut short by a paralysing blow to her throat. She fell to the pavement as her would-be executioner dragged her towards a small nondescript black car.

'That was stupid,' said the killer, peering through his gold-rimmed spectacles into Bourne's face. 'You only hasten the inevitable. On the other hand, it will be simpler now. I can free a man to tend to our wounded. Everything's so military, isn't it? It really is a battlefield.' He turned to the man with the flashlight. 'Signal Johann to go inside. We'll come back for them.'

The torch was switched on and off twice. A fourth man, who had opened the door of the small car for the condemned woman, nodded. Marie St Jacques was thrown inio the rear seat, the door slammed shut. The man named Johann started for the concrete steps, nodding now at the executioner.

Jason felt sick as the engine of the small car was gunned and it bolted away from the kerb into the Steppdeckstrasse, the

twisted chrome bumper disappearing into the shadows of the street. Inside that car was a woman he had never seen in his life ... before three hours ago. And he had killed her. 'You don't lack for soldiers,' he said.

'If there were a hundred men I could trust, I'd pay them willingly. As they say, your reputation precedes you."

'Suppose I paid you. You were at the bank; you know I've got funds.'

'Probably millions, but I wouldn't touch a franc note."

'Why? Are you afraid?'

'Most assuredly. Wealth is relative to the amount of time one has to enjoy it. I wouldn't have five minutes.' The killer turned to his subordinate. 'Put him inside. Strip him. I want photographs taken of him naked - before and after he leaves us. You'll find a great deal of money on him; I want him holding it. I'll drive.' He looked again at Bourne. 'Carlos will get the first print. And I have no doubt that I'll be able to sell the others quite profitably on the open market. Magazines pay outrageous prices.'

'Why should "Carlos" believe you? Why should anyone believe you? You said it: no one knows what I look like.'

I'll be covered,! said the Swiss. 'Sufficient unto the day. Two Zurich bankers will step forward identifying you as one Jason Bourne. The same Jason Bourne who met the excessively rigid standards set by Swiss law for the release of a numbered account. It will be enough." He spoke to the gunman. 'Hurry! I have cables to send. Debts to collect.'

A powerful arm shot over Bourne's shoulder, vicing his throat in a hammer-lock. The barrel of a gun was jolted into his spine, pain spreading throughout his chest as he was dragged inside the car. The man holding him was a professional; even without his wounds it would have been impossible to break the grip. The gunman's expertise, however, did not satisfy the bespectacled leader of the hunt. He climbed behind the wheel and issued another command.

'Break his fingers,' he said.

The arm lock briefly choked off" Jason's air as the barrel of the gun crashed down repeatedly on his hand - hands. Instinctively, Bourne had swung his left hand over his right, protecting it As the blood burst from the back of his left, he

twisted his fingers, letting it flow between them until both hands were covered. He choked his screams, the grip lessened, he I shouted.

'My hands! They're broken!'


But they were not broken, the left was damaged to the point where it was useless; not the right. He moved his fingers in the shadows; his hand was intact.

The car sped down the Steppdeckstrasse and swung into a side street, heading south. Jason collapsed back in the seat, gasping. The gunman tore at his clothes, ripping his shirt, yanking at his belt. In seconds his upper body would be naked; passport, papers, cards, money no longer his, all the items intrinsic to his escape from Zurich taken from him.. It was now or it was not to be. He screamed.

'My leg'. My goddamned leg!' He lurched forward, his right hand working furiously in the dark, fumbling under the cloth of his trouser leg. He felt it. The handle of the automatic.

'Nein! roared the professional in the front. "Watch him!' He knew; it was instinctive knowledge.

It was also too late. Bourne held the gun in the darkness of the floor, the powerful soldier pushed him back. He fell with the blow, the automatic now at his waist, pointed directly at his attacker's chest.

He fired twice; the man arched backwards. Jason fired again, his aim sure, the heart punctured, the man fell over into the recessed jump seat.

'Put it down'" yelled Bourne, swinging the automatic over the rounded edge of the front seat, pressing the barrel into the base of the driver's skull. 'Drop it!'

His breathing erratic, the killer let the gun fall. 'We will talk,' he said, gripping the wheel. 'We are professionals. We will talk' The large automobile lurched forward, gathering speed, the driver increasing pressure on the accelerator.

'Slow down!

'What is your answer?' The car went faster. Ahead were the headlights of traffic; they were leaving the Steppdeckstrasse district, entering the busier city streets. 'You want to get out of Zurich, I can get you out. Without me. you can't. All I have to do is spin the wheel, crash into the pavement. I have nothing whatsoever to lose, Herr Bourne. There are police everywhere up ahead. I don't think you want the police.'

'We'll talk,' lied Jason. Everything was timing, split-second timing. There were now two killers in a speeding enclosure that was in itself a trap. Neither killer was to be trusted, both knew it. One had to make use of that extra half-second the other would not take. Professionals. 'Put on the brakes,' said Bourne.

'Drop your gun on the seat next to mine."

Jason released the weapon. It fell on top of the killer's, the ring of heavy metal proof of contact. 'Done.'

The killer took his foot off the accelerator, transferring it to the brake. He applied the pressure slowly, then in short stabs so that the large automobile pitched back and forth. The jabs on the pedal would become more pronounced. Bourne understood this. It was part of the driver's strategy, balance a factor of life and death.

The arrow on the speedometer swung left: 30 kilometres, 18 kilometres, 9 kilometres. They had nearly stopped, it was the moment for the extra half-second of effort - balance a factor, life in balance.

Jason grabbed the man by the neck, clawing at his throat, yanking him up off the seat. Then he raised his bloody left hand and thrust it forward, smearing the area of the killer's eyes. He released the throat, surging his right hand down towards the guns on the seat. Bourne gripped a handle, shoving the killer's hand away; the man screamed, his vision blurred, the gun out of reach. Jason lunged across the man s chest, pushing him down against the door, elbowing the killer's throat with his left arm, grabbing the wheel with his bloody palm. He looked up through the windscreen and turned the wheel to the right, heading the car towards a pyramid of rubbish on the pavement.

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