Books written by Ray Sullivan

Monday, 22 April 2013

Parallel Lives chapter 87

Martin had seized the moment and had swung his car in front of the two parked cars before they even realised they had company. The approach down the lane without lights had been bordering on treacherous, given the conditions, but the tracker, linked to his mobile GPS unit, indicated that the hire car had been parked up. The look on Michael’s face when Martin leapt out of his seat, pistol aimed directly at him, was one that would remain in his memory for a long time. Surprise, anger and resignation all in a split second, not bad for one look, he thought.
Simon had followed Martin but had been vaguely aware of some activity near the cliff edge. Parking up near the road end of the parking area he and Gerald jumped out of the car, both wincing as the biting cold hit them. Simon pointed to the barrier, grabbing Gerald by the sleeve.
‘There’s someone over there,’ he shouted, pulling Gerald closer to ensure he heard him, ‘come on.’ The two men edged forward, leaning into the oscillating wind and snow flurries, shielding their eyes with an arm each. Simon pulled them up short once he had made out the struggle taking place on the cliff edge.
‘I think that’s Howells,’ he said as loud as he dared, ‘he must have heard us. Bloody helicopter probably gave us away,’ he rationalised. ‘The other guy, d’you reckon that’s Staples?’ he asked. Gerald was in no doubt, despite the swirling snow battering his head he recognised the hair colour and body build he had been studying all day. This was their man, absolutely.
‘That’s him,’ he called back. Simon edged a little closer, unsure about how this game was being played.
‘Jack. Jack Howells,’ he called, cupping his hands to his mouth, hoping the words wouldn’t be whipped way behind him, mingled with the sound of the Puma settling on the car park. Howells turned and raised Staples arm into the air, clearly controlling him. Staples tried to pull free, but Howells held on tight.
‘Bloody hell, he’s playing hardball,’ said Simon, ‘how close to the edge do you reckon they are? Gerald eased himself carefully forward a pace, reaching on tip-toes.
‘It’s not far, that’s for certain.’ Simon decided to negotiate, there wasn’t time to waste.
‘What do you want, Jack?’ he shouted. Jack wriggled with the still struggling Staples, shouted something back, but the words never reached Simon, the wind carrying them across the shoreline. Simon turned to Gerald.
‘Go back to the car, get the briefcase with the cash, bring it here, then get his wife if she’s with the others. He won’t want to leave without her if he can help it. Find out if they’re waiting for a boat below,’ he said. Gerald nodded his understanding and turned for the car. Simon edged a little closer.
‘Jack, I can offer you cash, you can have a free passage out, you can use the helicopter to take you to the continent if you want,’ he promised. Simon didn’t actually know if he was authorised to use the Puma for that kind of activity, but he’d sort it out if it came to the crunch. He could see Howells was shouting some kind of instructions, but he couldn’t hear them; he wasn’t at all sure Howells had heard him either. Reluctant to move too fast, Simon waited for Gerald to return with the case.
Karen stared at the loathsome man she had outwitted that morning in Manchester, despising the gloating look on his face, fearing the pistol he was waving at her. Michael spun around, his hands resting on the top of the dashboard.
‘Keep your hands where he can see them, I don’t think he would shoot but he looks edgier than usual. We’ll have to get out, there’s nothing we can do now, it’s over,’ he said, resignation in his voice. Karen slowly raised her hands and then lowered her jaw as she saw the black and green military helicopter appear from the direction she had last seen Jack walking towards, watched it spin one eighty, lower its undercarriage from the protruding side pods and land. The little shit outside had placed his left hand on the bonnet to steady himself as the force of the down-draught buffeted him and served to further obscure the events beyond it.
‘Just how important is this project of yours?’ asked an incredulous Alan, mirroring Michael’s lead with the hands. ‘I think there’s something you haven’t told us, this just isn’t right,’ he said, feeling the car shake under the combined buffeting of the natural elements and the Puma. Michael just shook his head.
‘This is way over the top, even for him. Truth is, I don’t know what strings he’s pulled, what lies he’s told, but you’ve got to believe me, I’ll do my best to sort this out.’
Out of the white haze a middle aged man in a business suit, thinning hair waving madly over his head, approached from around the side of the helicopter. He approached Martin, lay his hand on the arm holding the pistol, gently forcing it down to a safe position while speaking closely to Martin’s ear, then walked around the car. Opening the rear door, he leaned in.
‘Mrs. Howells. My names Gerald, would you come with me please?’
Jack was confused. His left hand was aching through gripping the icy metal, John was struggling to be free of his grip. The edge was much closer than he had realised and he felt totally unconfident about letting go of the barrier. He tried to shout to John, but he was out of it again, in a world of his own.
Then that man had appeared, from the direction of the cars, where it sounded like the helicopter had landed. He had shouted Jack’s name, he knew who Jack was. He had shouted something to Jack that sounded like he wanted to know if there was anything he could do. ‘Like help, that would be a good start’, thought Jack. But he had stood back, not venturing any further, shouting some stuff, but the words never made it. Another man had arrived with him, disappeared into the blizzard, returned with a case, probably a first aid kit, thought Jack and then he had left again.
Jack thought he heard the man ask if Jack wanted to use the helicopter, but he wasn’t sure. It didn’t seem to be making a lot of sense. He was starting to shake, the cold was running right through him and John was beginning to struggle harder. Then John slipped, sliding off the edge. Jack dropped to his knees, crunching onto the jagged, rough outcrop, clinging onto the barrier as hard as he could, aware that the change in position had weakened his grip. John was shouting, his hand forming a grip around Jack's wrist, his body banging against the coarse rock face. Jack strained against the weight pulling down on him, pulled himself up onto one leg outstretched, bracing his body. He heard his name called again, why won't they come and help? Pulling harder with his left hand he focussed on the man with the bag again, only to see two extra people, mere shapes. John was scrabbling now, which was alleviating some of the strain on Jack, but simultaneously causing his weight to shift, making maintaining a grip that much harder. Peering through the snow, cold and pain, Jack started to put a form to one of the three.


Copyright Ray Sullivan 2011

The characters, places and events described in this novel are fictitious and any resemblance to persons, places or events, past or present, is coincidence.  All rights reserved

Parallel Lives is published in paperback and as an eBook


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