فصل 17

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فصل 17

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

A surprise visitor

‘What is that?’ the Shark asked sharply.

‘I don’t know,’ Hiro lied. He could hear Schubert saying his name repeatedly.

‘It is your phone!’ the Shark said. His eyes were on fire. ‘Give it to me!’

Very slowly, Hiro took the phone from his pocket.

Schubert’s voice was clear all of a sudden. ‘Hiro? Hiro? What’s going on?’ Hiro could hardly believe it. The plan had worked!

But now the Shark was boiling with anger. He shouted a word in a foreign language that Hiro didn’t recognise, then went back to English. ‘What have you done? You have called this man!’ He was shaking the gun right in front of Hiro’s eyes. The Shark’s face suddenly became very hard.

This is it, Hiro thought. Now comes the shot. Schubert had stopped speaking now. Perhaps he was crossing the corridor at that moment; perhaps he would crash through the door any second. But it didn’t matter what the bodyguard did now. Hiro knew it would be too late. Helplessly, he put his hand up in front of his face as if he imagined he could stop the bullets. He prepared himself for the shot.

But it didn’t come. Instead, the Shark pulled the phone from Hiro’s hand.

‘Who is this?’ the Shark said angrily into the phone.

Hiro couldn’t hear what Schubert replied. The gun was still pointing at Hiro’s head and it was very difficult to think.

‘Right,’ the Shark went on in a new quieter voice. ‘Listen to me. I believe you know who you are talking to. As you must know, I have the Japanese boy with me. If you try anything stupid, I will shoot him immediately. Is that clear?’

Again Hiro supposed that Schubert replied, but he had no idea what Schubert said. The Shark interrupted.

‘All right, shut up! Listen to me. I am going to leave this hotel with the boy and you will not do anything to stop me. I have already killed one of the hotel workers. Now, this is what I want. Are you listening carefully?’ He got quickly to his feet, made his way over to the door, and looked through the eyehole. Next he went over to the window, and looked out into the night. All the time he kept the gun pointing at Hiro. Very soon he came back.

‘In a couple of minutes’ time, the boy and I are going to leave this room. We will go down to the back entrance of the hotel - I want you to have a taxi waiting there for us. I will tell the driver where to go, but you will not attempt to follow the taxi. If there is trouble at any point, the Japanese boy will die. Is that clear? I will give you three minutes to arrange this. Call me back when everything is ready.’

The Shark pressed the ‘End Call’ key and dropped the phone into his pocket. Then he looked across to Hiro. ‘This does not mean you will live after all,’ he said. ‘If I could, I would kill you twice!’

Listening to the Shark, Hiro felt strangely dead already. He was so tired; the last twenty-four hours had been so hard. It seemed as if he was watching himself in a crazy film, watching helplessly as it showed the story of his life.

‘Get up!’ the Shark said, coming towards him with the gun again.

Hiro climbed slowly to his feet. He wondered what was coming next.

‘Now, go over to the door and pull the boy out of the way,’ the Shark ordered.

Hiro felt ill again. He moved across and reached down for the boy’s arms. It didn’t hit him till then that the boy was really dead. Other than his grandfather, this was the first time Hiro had seen a dead person. When he tried to lift the boy’s shoulders they felt so heavy and so warm. Was there really no life? Only ten minutes before, the boy had been knocking cheerfully on the door. Hiro wanted to cry.

The Shark was watching him closely. ‘First time?’ he asked coldly. ‘Have no fear. Dead people don’t usually complain.’ He gave his horrible toothy smile for a moment, then his face went hard again. ‘Come on - don’t waste time.’

Hiro pulled at the body in his arms. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said under his breath. At last the body moved. As Hiro pulled the boy across the carpet a long bright red line of blood was left behind. Hiro thought he would be sick.

A moment later Hiro’s phone rang again in the Shark’s pocket. Hiro saw the Shark reach into his clothes, then a number of things happened very suddenly. First of all there was a very bright light and a terrific explosion, then the room went completely dark. At the same time a cloud of smoke filled the room. Hiro heard shots: again the dumf! dumf! of a silenced gun - then a loud cry of ‘Aaghh!’ followed by the crashing of furniture. After that there was a strange silence, like the end of the world. For a moment or two Hiro wondered if he was dead.

Then the lights came on again.

It took a little while for the smoke in the room to clear. When it did, Hiro saw that the door to the room had gone. It lay on the floor, broken in pieces. Standing over it was Schubert. On the floor opposite him lay the Shark. The old man was still alive, but he was holding his stomach very tightly. Already blood had started to appear through the priest’s clothes; no matter how hard he held his stomach, he couldn’t seem to stop it.

‘Sorry to come in without knocking,’ Schubert said coolly.

The Shark’s eyes were tight with pain. Very slowly, he turned his head and looked directly at Hiro. His face had gone as white as a sheet, but his teeth still shone in the bright light.

In a quiet voice he said, ‘I wish I had chosen another seat on the train.’

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