فصل 14

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فصل 14

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Inside the Hotel Adlon

For a second or two Hiro was completely unable to move. Even though the old man looked quite different dressed as a priest, Hiro was absolutely certain who it was. But the idea that the Shark might change his appearance had never really entered Hiro’s head before. The memory of the priest he’d seen at the Brandenburg Gate came back to him - of course, that was the Shark!

He was sure too that the Shark had recognised him. Hiro’s legs were shaking, but he couldn’t stop staring in through the hotel window. The Shark was at the reception desk and was talking to the receptionist. The two of them seemed to be looking back at the door. Hiro turned away and walked quickly up the road.

What should he do? His first thought was to turn and go back into the hotel, but he stopped himself immediately. As well as being a stupid and dangerous thing to do, Hiro knew he wouldn’t get past the door. One of the men in uniform was sure to stop him at the entrance. Hiro knew as well that there was no point going back to the police - even if they listened to him, it would be too late. With a sick feeling in his stomach, he realised that if he were going to do anything, he would have to do it by himself.

Hiro walked up and down the street. ‘Think!’ he kept saying to himself. ‘Come on! You must think!’ The sick feeling got worse with every second that passed. The Shark was in the hotel. Hiro had to act fast!

He reached the end of the building, then stopped. A crazy idea came to him then.

There was no time to lose. Guessing that the hotel must have an underground car park, Hiro hurried back past the hotel entrance, then turned down the next side road. Thirty metres later, he found what he was looking for. A metal bar stretched across the entrance of the car park and there was an office to one side. Hiro walked past a couple of times, looking in at the office. A man was sitting at the window, with three or four TV screens above him, but he was more interested in the newspaper open on his desk.

After making sure there was no one watching, Hiro hurried beneath the office window, then round the metal bar. It was simple. He was in!

On one side of the car park he saw a row of expensive cars; on the other a sign read ‘Ablieferungen’. Hiro had no idea what it meant, but a few moments later a large white van with pictures of fruit and vegetables on the side arrived. Hiro guessed he must be near the hotel kitchens and that the sign he had seen meant ‘Deliveries’.

There were voices just up ahead. Hiro dropped down behind a car and looked carefully round the next corner. A couple of young men were standing outside a doorway, smoking. They were wearing the white jackets of kitchen workers and they looked a little guilty, as if they were breaking some kind of rule. Hiro just waited and watched.

After five minutes, still laughing and chatting, they went back inside. Hiro waited half a minute longer, then ran up to the doorway where the two men had disappeared. The door was still half open. He pushed his way inside and found himself in a narrow corridor.

Up ahead he could hear the sounds of the kitchen. He moved forward. Halfway down the corridor there was a door on the left. He stopped and listened. No sound. Very carefully he opened the door and looked inside.

On one wall there was just a long shelf with huge cans of food, but when he looked on the other side of the room, he couldn’t believe his luck. On the back of another door, Hiro saw three or four white jackets, similar to the ones the smokers had been wearing. If he put on one of these, Hiro thought, he might be able to get through the kitchens without being stopped.

There was no time for further thought. Hiro tried on the first jacket. It was far too big. He put it back and took the next. This time it was fine. He quickly buttoned the jacket all the way up to the neck and headed straight to the door.

Then he stopped. Perhaps it would be better if he was carrying something; it was less likely that he’d be stopped. Turning back, he picked up two of the big cans of food, then decided to take a third can too, as it would hide half of his face. Then he went out through the door.

He walked quickly. He couldn’t stop and look around. He had to appear to know where he was going. He had to just trust his luck.

To his amazement, it went like a dream. Hiro walked straight down the corridor and a couple of seconds later found himself inside a huge kitchen. There were three men over to the right standing near the ovens, but they didn’t even look up, each busy at his job.

Hiro walked straight ahead, then reached a half-open door. As he did so, he heard someone coming in the other direction. Immediately, Hiro turned round and pushed his way through the door with his back - because he was carrying something it was the most natural thing to do. The other man hurried past without saying a word.

Once he was through the door, Hiro found himself in a hall. There were further doors to the right and left. Long corridors led away almost out of view. In front of him there were stairs and the doors of a lift.

Hiro thought about the lift. If it was a service lift, used only by hotel workers, it might go all the way to the top of the building. He took a deep breath and pressed the button. The lift doors opened immediately. He stepped inside, then came out again. The cans he’d been carrying had been useful, but now he needed something else.

Hiro put the cans down under the staircase, then noticed a pile of dirty sheets there. If he was carrying sheets, Hiro hoped he would again be mistaken for one of the hotel workers. He picked the sheets up and entered the lift just as the doors closed. He looked round for the buttons. Yes, it was just as he’d guessed! There were two floors below ground level, and seven above. If only his luck could continue. Surely, it was logical for Room 319 to be on the third floor!

He pressed the button showing ‘3’. The lift began to travel up.

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