فصل 11

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فصل 11

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Chapter eleven

In the sauna

Munro woke up with a terrible headache. He was lying on a wooden seat in a small wooden room. He was in a sauna. His hands were tied behind his back. He turned his head. Lying on the opposite seat, also with her hands tied, was Sirpa Virolainen. Her eyes were closed, her red hair lying across her face. Munro called her name. She moved and opened her eyes, only a little at first, but then wide as she remembered what had happened.

‘Where are we?’ she asked Munro.

‘I don’t know,’ he answered. He moved about and managed to sit up.

Just then the door opened. A short man with white blonde hair came into the room holding a gun in his right hand. Munro realised that he knew who the man was.

‘Mr Munro. Ms Virolainen,’ said the man looking at each of them in turn.

‘Mr Lappalainen,’ said Munro. It was the businessman and politician that Munro had read about at the hotel. Suddenly a number of things became clear, as pieces of the picture fell into place. Lappalainen was interested in bioengineering. Perhaps that interest included poisons too. Also, it might explain why Naylor had not told Munro the complete story. Lappalainen was an important person in Finland. It was difficult to know how many people might take orders from him. It would be easy to talk to the wrong person - someone who was a friend or employee of Lappalainen.

‘Ah,’ said Lappalainen. ‘I see you know who I am.’

‘Yes, I do,’ said Munro. ‘It’s difficult not to know one of the most important men in Finland. But I don’t know why you’ve locked us in here.’

‘Well, Mr Munro, it seems that you and Ms Virolainen’s brother have been putting your nose into areas of my business which are nothing to do with you.’

‘Areas of your business?’ asked Munro.

‘Yes. My business,’ replied Lappalainen. Bioratkaisut is one of my companies. I own it.’

Bioratkaisut. That name again. More parts of the picture became clear in Munro’s mind.

Lappalainen continued, ‘The company does well. It makes a lot of money, not just for me but for Finland.’

‘And the poisons?’ asked Munro.

‘Ah, yes, the poisons,’ said Lappalainen. ‘Of course developing poisons is not really allowed. But a foreign country - no, Mr Munro, I’m not going to tell you which country - have offered me a lot of money to organise this work. We have developed an extremely strong and cheap poison. They wanted a gas, if possible. Strong, powerful and with almost no smell at all. We have the technology, they have the money. I have to say I’m not quite sure why they want this poison; to start a war maybe, to kill groups of people who do not like their leader. I don’t know. To tell you the truth I don’t really care. And anyway they offered me so much money that I felt I couldn’t really refuse. And of course, I will be able to use the money to become President of my own country.’

‘And the scientists?’

‘Oh, they get well paid,’ explained Lappalainen. ‘But they don’t really care about the money. You know what scientists are like. They don’t care about rules or the law either. They’re just interested in science.’

‘But, of course, when people find out what has been happening, your chances of becoming President will disappear forever,’ said Munro.

Lappalainen did not look worried.

‘Well, I don’t know who is going to tell them, Mr Munro, but it certainly won’t be you.’ Lappalainen took a piece of paper out of his pocket. It was the piece of paper that Sirpa had given him earlier.

‘I’ve got this now,’ Lappalainen went on. ‘And as you have probably realised you are in a sauna. In Finland we like our saunas very hot, you know, not like in Sweden. Usually we have them between 95 and 100 Celsius. But today I am going to give you a special sauna. A rather hot one. And…’ Lappalainen stopped speaking and looked from one to the other with a smile on his face. ‘… the terrible thing is that you will find the door impossible to open.’ Lappalainen threw back his head and laughed again. Virolainen’s mouth opened wide as she realised what Lappalainen was saying. Although it was hot in the sauna, an icy feeling moved up Munro’s back.

‘So,’ finished Lappalainen, ‘it is beginning to get nice and warm in here. Goodbye Mr Munro, Ms Virolainen. I don’t think you will be telling anyone about my business anymore.’

He turned and left the room. There was a little window in the door. Munro could see Lappalainen through the window checking that the door would not open.

As soon as he had disappeared, Munro spoke: ‘Quick! Get over here with your back to me. Let’s try and get our hands untied.’

Virolainen sat up and moved across to where Munro was sitting, but it was difficult to reach each other’s hands.

The temperature was beginning to rise and Munro could feel the sweat on his face.

‘Let’s stand up,’ said Virolainen. ‘It might be easier.’

They stood up, back to back. Munro felt his fingers touch Virolainen’s hands. He started to try and untie her but she was tied very tightly. He worked hard but it was no use.

Sweat was now running down his face and he could feel it running down his body inside his shirt.

‘Stop!’ said Virolainen. ‘Let me try to untie yours.’

Munro stopped. He felt Virolainen’s fingers working behind him. The temperature continued to rise. Lappalainen had only left ten minutes ago and already Munro felt as if he was burning alive. His shirt was dark with sweat. He could hear Virolainen crying as she pulled and pulled with her fingers.

‘I think it’s coming,’ she said. ‘I think I’ve got it.’

Munro felt her pull once more and then suddenly his hands were free. He quickly turned round to untie Virolainen’s hands. Her face was red, her hair was wet with sweat. Munro’s hands were shaking, but now that he could see what he was doing he untied her hands in only a few seconds. He turned and threw himself against the door but it didn’t move at all. Quickly he started to break off a piece of wood from one of the seats in the sauna.

‘Help me,’ he said.

Virolainen took hold of the piece of wood too and together they pulled at it. Suddenly there was a crash and it came off in Munro’s hand. He turned to the door and using the piece of wood, he hit the small window again and again, trying to break the glass.

Virolainen sat back against the wall unable to do anything.

‘Come on! Break!’ shouted Munro at the glass.

On about the tenth hit, the glass started to break. Munro hit it harder and harder and finally it broke. Welcome cold air filled the sauna.

Quickly Munro knocked out the broken pieces of glass and put his hand through the window reaching the other side of the door. Saunas don’t usually have locks. They don’t usually need them. But Lappalainen had put a large and heavy piece of wood against the door to stop it opening. Munro could just reach the wood, but he could not move it. He tried moving it to the left. And then to the right. It still did not move. The sauna started to get warm again as Munro’s arm was stopping cold air from coming in through the window. Munro moved his hand as far as he could to the left and then hit the wood as hard as possible. He felt it move. He hit it again. And again. And again. Munro could feel blood running down his hand. Finally there was a crash. The wood fell to the floor and the door shot open. They were free.

Munro carefully put his head outside, looking both ways and expecting trouble. It was Sunday - the factory was empty.

‘Let’s go,’ said Munro, and taking Virolainen’s hand he started running towards some stairs.

‘Down,’ whispered Munro and they ran down the stairs, trying to be as quiet as possible.

At the bottom of the stairs they looked round. There were some large double doors to the right.

‘That looks like the way out,’ said Virolainen.

They ran towards the doors.

Munro heard a shot and saw Virolainen fall at the same time. He stopped running and turned back to see how badly she was hit. Quickly he pulled her behind some boxes, looking to see where the shot had come from. He couldn’t see Lappalainen anywhere. But he heard his voice.

‘I don’t know how you are still alive Mr Munro, but you won’t be for long.’

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