by Christian Vassie

chapter 2 - the jetty I November 2011

The faintest scraping sound caused him to spin round.

‘It is time,’ Omar said softly.

Michel looked out between the dark serrated silhouettes of the cliffs towards the yellow moonlight dancing on the water beyond the jetty. It no longer mattered how dangerous it was. For all five of them, this was their best chance, their only chance, finally to be free.

Crossing the complex, past the pool and on towards the hangars, they approached the two guards from the deep shadows, grabbing them from behind, clamping a hand over their mouths while injecting the powerful sedative. A brief struggle and the guards were unconscious. As expected, the guard who smoked was carrying a box of matches, which they took.

Inside the hangar stood the helicopters, specially adapted for the missions they had been carrying out over the past six months.

The two men worked quickly, taking the equipment they needed from the helicopters, cutting fuel lines, pouring fuel across the floor. Finally they broke into one of the offices. In seconds they had collected their equipment and made a pile of stationery, towels, and paper under one of the desks. The two men exchanged glances. Michel struck a match. They closed the door behind them and ran back to the pool.

Omar slipped like an eel into the rippling waters to join the others while Michel ran to the small office that nestled between the pool and the cliff.

He knew exactly what he was looking for; masks, wet suits, and oxygen cylinders. Emerging into the night air, he glanced towards the hangar. A faint dancing light from the flames was already visible in one of the windows.

A race down the steps towards the narrow beach, past the outhouse and on to the marina with its three powerful speedboats moored side by side along the jetty. Dumping the diving gear and the equipment taken from the office into the first boat, Michel leapt aboard the second boat. All the boats carried spare fuel in a locker under the seats. He threw open the locker, pulled out a jerry can and splashed fuel about the deck, then leapt onto the third boat and did the same again.

Back to the outhouse, checking his watch as he ran. Three minutes since he had struck the match in the hangar.

He had the key to the outhouse, they trusted him with that. A gentle hum inside indicated that everything was working. A quick touch of the keyboard and the computer monitor came to life, but it was too dark to see anything inside the pool. He typed quickly and switched the monitor to show the outside of the door that connected the pool to the sea. The light from the moon was just enough and he was relieved when he saw the heavy door starting to swing open.

One, two, three, four shadows slipped out into the waters along the jetty. Michel ran outside, so focussed on his next task, a moment that was two minutes into the future, that he forgot the immediate present, until it crashed into him from his left with a force that sent him flying into the rough rock of the cliff. His leg twisted and buckled beneath him. He heard something crack as he tumbled forwards down the concrete steps. Pain sparked like fireworks.

The guard was all over him, beating him and shouting. Michel drew himself into a ball in a futile attempt to protect himself from the blows of the riot stick. He tried to focus, they had come too far to fail now. He was still trying to think when the blows stopped raining down and the guard collapsed on top of him.

‘He had it coming,’ Omar said, hauling the guard aside and offering Michel a hand. ‘All that country music he listens to. It stinks.’

Supported by Omar, Michel hopped along the jetty and let himself be hoisted into the first boat. He sat at the controls, furious with himself, while the others pulled the boat away from its moorings.

‘Have we forgotten anything?’ Omar asked.

‘Picnic hamper?’ Michel said.

‘Yeah, funny guy.’

Five metres from the jetty, Michel powered up the engines. As he did so, he caught sight of two more guards running but, before they could reach the jetty, a massive burst of light followed by a boom that shook the air blew the men off their feet. The helicopter hangar disappeared in a ball of flame and smoke.

There was no longer any need for stealth. Omar tossed burning rags into the other two boats, dived and swam half a dozen strokes to the first boat. He clambered aboard and was promptly thrown backwards as Michel threw full power at the engines and the boat surged forward. In no time at all, the cliff was far behind them, and they were speeding towards an uncertain future.

Michel wasn’t a fool, he knew that sooner or later they would be hunted down. They were worth far too much money to be allowed to disappear. When the hunters came they would have to be ready.

Copyright © 2014 Christian Vassie