The Bourne Identity / Page 15

Page 15



Out of the corner of his eye he perceived movement, Koenig had shifted his head, nodding at both men. They rose as the lift door opened. Bourne turned; the man on the right had taken a small radio out of his overcoat pocket; he spoke into it - briefly, quickly.

The man on the left had his right hand concealed beneath the cloth of his raincoat. When he pulled it out he was holding a gun, a black .38 calibre automatic pistol with a perforated cylinder attached to the barrel. A silencer.

Both men converged on Bourne as he backed into the deserted lift. The madness began.

5

The lift doors started to close; the man with the hand-held radio was already inside, the shoulders of his armed companion angling between the moving panels, the weapon aimed at Bourne's head.

Jason leaned to his right - a sudden gesture of fear - then abruptly, without warning, swept his left foot off the floor, pivoting, his heel plunging into the armed man's hand, sending the gun upwards, reeling the man backwards out of the enclosure. Two muted gunshots preceded the closing of the doors, the bullets embedding themselves in the thick wood of the ceiling. Bourne completed his pivot, his shoulder crashing into the second man's stomach, his right hand surging into the chest, his left pinning the hand with the radio. He hurled the man into the wall. The radio flew across the lift; as it fell words came out of its speaker.

'Henri! �a va? Maintenant, rascenseur?

The image of another Frenchman came to Jason's mind. A man on the edge of hysteria, disbelief in his eyes; a would-be killer who had raced out of Le Bouc de Mer into the shadows of the rue Sarasin less than twenty-four hours ago. That man had wasted no time sending his message to Zurich: the one they thought was dead was alive. Very much alive. Kill him!

Bourne grabbed the Frenchman in front of him now, his left arm around the man's throat, his right hand tearing at the man's left ear. 'How many!' he asked in French. 'How many are there down there? Where are they?'

'Find out, pig!'

The lift was halfway to the ground-floor lobby. Jason angled the man's face down, ripping the ear half out of its roots, smashing the man's head into the wall. The Frenchman screamed, sinking to the floor. Bourne rammed his knee into the man's chest; he could feel the holster. He yanked the overcoat open, reached in, and pulled out a short-barrelled revolver. For an instant, it occurred to him that someone had deactivated the scanning machinery in the lift. Koenig. He would remember; there'd be no amnesia where Herr Koenig was concerned. He jammed the gun into the Frenchman's open mouth.

Tell me or I'll blow the back of your skull off! The man expunged a cry; the weapon was withdrawn, the barrel now pressed into his cheek.

Two. One by the lifts, one outside on the pavement, by the car.'

'What type of car?' 'Peugeot'

'Colour?' The lift was slowing down, coming to a stop.

'Brown.'

The man in the lobby. What's he wearing!'

'I don't know...'

Jason cracked the gun across the man's temple. 'You'd better remember!'

'A black coat I'

The lift stopped; Bourne pulled the Frenchman to his feet; the doors opened. To the left, a man in a dark raincoat and wearing an odd-looking pair of gold-rimmed spectacles, stepped forward. The eyes beyond the lenses recognized the circumstances; blood was trickling down across the Frenchman's cheek. He raised his unseen hand, concealed by the wide pocket of his raincoat, another silenced automatic levelled at the target from Marseilles.

Jason propelled the Frenchman in front of him through the doors. Three rapid spits were heard; the Frenchman shouted, his arms raised in a final, guttural protest. He arched his back and fell to the marble floor. A woman to the right of the man with the gold-rimmed spectacles screamed, joined by several men who called to no one and everyone for help, for the police.

Bourne knew he could not use the revolver he had taken from the Frenchman. It had no silencer; the sound of a gunshot would mark him. He shoved it into his topcoat pocket, side-stepped the screaming woman and grabbed the uniformed shoulders of the lift attendant, whipping the bewildered man around, throwing him into the figure of the killer in the dark raincoat.

The panic in the lobby mounted as Jason ran towards the glass doors of the entrance. The boutonniere-ed greeter who had mistaken his language an hour and a half ago was shouting into a wall telephone, a uniformed guard at his side, weapon drawn, barricading the exit, eyes riveted on the chaos, riveted suddenly on him. Getting out was instantly a problem. Bourne avoided the guard's eyes, directing his words to the guard's associate on the telephone.

The man wearing gold-rimmed glasses!' he shouted. 'He's the one! I saw him!'

'What? Who are you?'

'I'm a friend of Walther Apfel! Listen to me! The man wearing gold-rimmed glasses, in a black raincoat. Over there!'

Bureaucratic mentality had not changed in several millennia. At the mention of a superior officer's name, one followed orders.

'Herr Apfel I' The Gemeinschaft receptionist turned to the guard. 'You heard him! The man wearing glasses. Gold-rimmed glasses!'

'Yes, sir!' The guard raced forward.

Jason edged past the receptionist to the glass doors. He shoved the door on the right open, glancing behind him, knowing he had to run again, but not knowing if a man outside on the pavement, waiting by a brown Peugeot, would recognize him and fire a bullet into his head.

The guard had run past a man in a black raincoat, a man walking more slowly than the panicked figures around him, a man wearing no glasses at all. He accelerated his pace towards the entrance, towards Bourne.

Out on the pavement, the growing chaos was Jason's protection. Word had gone out of the bank; wailing sirens grew louder as police cars raced up the Bahnhofstrasse. He walked several yards to the right, flanked by pedestrians, then suddenly ran, wedging his way into a curious crowd taking refuge in a shop-

front, his attention on the cars at the kerb. He saw the Peugeot, saw the man standing beside it, his hand ominously in his overcoat pocket. In less than fifteen seconds, the driver of the Peugeot was joined by the man in the black raincoat, now replacing his gold-rimmed glasses, adjusting his eyes to his restored vision. The two men conferred rapidly, their eyes scanning the Bahnhofstrasse.

Bourne understood their confusion. He had walked with an absence of panic out through the Gemeinschaft's glass doors into the crowd. He had been prepared to run, but he had not run, for fear of being stopped until he was reasonably clear of the entrance. No one else had been permitted to do so - and the driver of the Peugeot had not made the connection. He had not recognized the target identified and marked for execution in Marseilles.

The first police car reached the scene as the man in the gold-rimmed spectacles removed his raincoat, shoving it through the open window of the Peugeot. He nodded to the driver, who climbed in behind the wheel and started the engine. The killer took off his delicate glasses and did the most unexpected thing Jason could imagine. He walked rapidly back towards the glass doors of the Bank, joining the police who were racing inside.

Bourne watched as the Peugeot swung away from the kerb and sped off down the Bahnhofstrasse. The crowd in the shop-front began to disperse, many edging their way towards the glass doors, craning their necks around one another, rising on the balls of their feet, peering inside. A police officer came out, waving the curious back, demanding that a path be cleared to the kerb. As he shouted, an ambulance careened around the north-west corner, its horn joining the sharp, piercing notes from its roof, warning all to get out of its way; the driver nosed his outsized vehicle to a stop in the space created by the departed Peugeot. Jason could watch no longer. He had to get to the Carillon du Lac, gather his things and get out of Zurich, out of Switzerland. To Paris.


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