The Bourne Identity / Page 31

Page 31

The car ploughed into the mound of debris - a huge, som-nambulant insect crawling into garbage, its appearance belying the violence taking place inside its shell.

The man beneath him lunged up, rolling on the seat. Bourne held the automatic in his hand, his fingers jabbing for .the open space of the trigger, he found it He bent his wrist and fired.

His would-be executioner went limp, a dark red hole in his. forehead.

In the street, men came running towards what must have looked like a dangerously careless accident. Jason shoved the dead body across the seat, and climbed over behind the wheel.

He pushed the gearshift into reverse; backed awkwardly out of the debris, over the kerb and into the street. He rolled down his window, calling out to the would-be rescuers as they approached.

'Sorry! Everything's fine! Just a little too much to drink!'

The small band of concerned citizens broke up quickly, a few making gestures of admonition, others running back W their escorts and companions. Bourne breathed deeply, trying to control the involuntary trembling that seized his entire body. He pulled the gear into drive; the car started forward. He tried to picture the streets of Zurich from a memory that would not serve him.

He knew vaguely where he was - where he had been - and more important, he knew more clearly where the Guisan Quai was in relationship to the Limmat.

Mac hen Sie mal los! Der Guisan Quai!

Marie St Jacques was to be killed on the Guisan Quai, her body thrown into the river. There was only one stretch where the Guisan and the Limmat met: it was at the mouth of Lake Zurich, at the base of the western shore. Somewhere in an empty car park or a deserted garden overlooking the water, a short, stocky man was about to carry out an execution ordered by a dead man. Perhaps by now the gun had been fired, or a knife plunged into its mark; there was no way to know, but Jason knew he had to find out. Whoever and whatever he was, he could not walk away blindly.

The professional in him, however, demanded that he swerve into the dark wide alley ahead. There were two dead men in the car; they were a risk and a burden he could not tolerate. The precious seconds it would take to remove them could avoid the danger of a traffic policeman looking through the windows and seeing death.

Thirty-two seconds was his guess; it had taken less than a minute to pull his would-be executioners from the car. He looked at them as he limped around the bonnet to the door. They were curled up obscenely next to each other against a filthy brick wall. In darkness.

He climbed behind the wheel and backed out of the alley.

Der Guisan Quai!

He reached an intersection, the traffic light red. Lights. On the left, several blocks east, be could see lights arching gently into the night sky. A bridge! The Limmat I The signal turned green; he swung the car to the left

He was back on the Bahnhofstrasse; the start of the General-Guisan Quai was only minutes away. The wide avenue curved around the water's edge, river-bank and lakefront merging. Moments later, on his left was the silhouetted outline of a park, in summer a stroller's haven, now dark, devoid of tourists and citizens. He passed an entrance for vehicles; there was a heavy chain across the white pavement, suspended between two stone posts. He came to a second, another chain prohibiting access. But it was not the same; something was different, something odd. He stopped the car and looked closer, reaching across the seat for the torch he had taken from his would-be executioner. He snapped it on, and shot the beam over the heavy chain. What was it? What was different?

It was not the chain. It was beneath the chain. On the white pavement kept spotless by maintenance crews. There were tyre marks, at odds with the surrounding cleanliness. They would not be noticed during the summer months; they were now. It was as if the filth of the Steppdeckstrasse had travelled too well.

Bourne switched off the torch and dropped it on the seat

The pain in his battered left hand suddenly fused with the agony in his shoulder and his arm; he had to push all pain out of his mind, he had to curtail the bleeding as best he could. His shirt had been ripped; he reached inside and ripped it further, pulling out a strip of cloth which be proceeded to wrap around his left hand, knotting it with teeth and fingers. He was as ready as he would ever be.

He picked up the gun - his would-be executioner's gun -and checked the clip: full. He waited until two cars had passed him, he extinguished the headlights and made a U-turn, parking next to the chain. He got out, instinctively testing his leg on the pavement, then favouring it as he limped to the nearest post and lifted the hook off the iron circle protruding from the stone. He lowered the chain, making as little noise as possible, and returned to the car.

He pulled at the gearshift, gently pressed the accelerator, then released it. He was now coasting into the wide expanse of an unlit parking area, made darker by the abrupt end of the white entrance road and the start of a field of black asphalt. Beyond, two hundred-odd yards in the distance, was the straight dark line of the sea wall, a wall that contained no sea but, instead, the currents of the Limmat as they poured into the waters of Lake Zurich. Farther away were the lights of the boats, bobbing in stately splendour. Beyond these were the stationary lights of the Old City, the blurred floodlights of darkened piers. Jason's eyes took everything in, for the distance was his backdrop; he was looking for shapes in front of it.

To the right. The right. A dark outline darker than the wall, an intrusion of black on lesser black - obscure, faint, barely discernible, but there. A hundred yards away ... now ninety, eighty-five, he cut the engine and brought the car to a stop. He sat motionless by the open window, staring into the darkness, trying to see more clearly. He heard the wind coming off the water; it covered any sound the car had made.

Sound. A cry. Low, throated ... delivered in fear. A harsh slap followed, then another, and another. A scream was formed, then swallowed, broken echoing off into silence.

Bourne got out of the car silently, the gun in his right hand, the torch awkward in the bloody fingers of his left. He walked towards the obscure black shape, each step, each limp a study in silence.

What he saw first was what he had seen last when the small black car had disappeared in the shadows of the Steppdeck-strasse: the shining metal of the twisted chrome bumper; it glistened now in the night light.

Four slaps in rapid succession, flesh against flesh, blows maniacally administered, received with muted screams of terror. Cries terminated, gasps permitted, thrashing movement part of it all. Inside the car Jason crouched as best he could, side-stepping round the boot towards the right rear window. He rose slowly then, suddenly, using sound as a weapon of shock, shouted as he switched on the powerful torch.

' You move, you're dead?

What he saw inside filled him with revulsion and fury. Marie St Jacques' clothes were torn away, shredded into strips. Hands were poised like claws on her half-naked body, kneading her breasts, separating her legs. The executioner's organ protruded from the cloth of his trousers; he was inflicting the final indignity before he carried out the sentence of death.

'Get out, you son of a bitch!'

There was a massive shattering of glass; the man raping Marie St Jacques saw the obvious. Bourne could not fire the gun for fear of killing the girl; he had spun off the woman, crashing the heel of his shoe into the window of the small car. Glass flew out, sharp fragments blanketing Jason's face. He closed his eyes, limping backwards to avoid the spray.

Prev Next