فصل 04

مجموعه: جیسون بورن / کتاب: اولتیماتوم بورن / فصل 4

فصل 04

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Chapter four

The Farm

Darkness had fallen on Manassas as Bourne crept through the woods around General Norman Swayne’s farm. He reached a fence - high, with thick crossed wire. Bourne wondered why a general who worked in an office would build something so expensive around a farm. It was not designed to keep animals in, but to keep people out.

Bourne knew there would be no electric alarms because the animals and birds would set them off repeatedly. He pulled his small wire cutters out of his back pocket and started to work on the wire. With each cut he again understood, confirmed by his heavy breathing and the sweat on his face, that he was now past fifty and his body knew it. It was something not to think about because there were Marie and the children, and there was nothing he couldn’t do if he wanted to. David Webb had gone from his mind; only the hunter Jason Bourne remained.

He was through! He gripped the fence and pulled the opening toward him, then crawled inside. He stood up, listening, his eyes moving in every direction. He saw, through the branches of the trees, the lights of the large house. Slowly he made his way toward what he knew was the circular drive. Then, reaching the edge of the road, he lay flat under a tree, collecting his thoughts and his breath as he studied the scene in front of him. Suddenly, there was a flash of light on his far right. A door had been opened. It belonged to a smaller, separate house - a log cabin.

Two men and a woman came out and were talking… no, they were not just talking, they were arguing - heatedly. Bourne took the binoculars out of his pocket and put them up to his eyes. He studied the three people, knowing that the medium-sized, protesting man was the Pentagon’s General Swayne, and the woman with dark hair was his wife. But what fascinated him was the tall, overweight man nearest the door. He knew him! He could not remember from where or when, which was certainly not unusual, because his memory often failed him. But he knew that he hated him, and that was not usual. He could not explain it because no connection came to him. Where were the images, the brief flashes from the past, that often filled his mind? They did not come; he only knew that the man he saw through his binoculars was his enemy.

Then that huge man did a strange thing. He put his large left arm around the shoulders of Swayne’s wife, his right arm waving in the air as he shouted at the general. Swayne turned around and walked across to his house. The large man released the general’s wife and spoke to her. She nodded, touched her lips against his, and ran after her husband. The other man walked back into the cabin and closed the door, removing the light.

Bourne knew that he had to reach the man who had been part of his forgotten past. He slowly got to his feet and, moving from one tree to another, made his way toward the cabin. He stopped, dropping to the ground, when he heard the sound of wheels. Within seconds he saw a small, strangely shaped vehicle like a three-wheeled golf cart racing out of the shadows of the circular drive. It seemed designed for both high speed and balance, and thick glass surrounded the driver on all sides - glass that Bourne knew would stop a bullet. Then a second three-wheeled cart came out of the shadows behind the cabin.

It stopped only meters from the first one and these words came from an unseen speaker: “Secure the gates. Release the dogs and continue your rounds.”

The carts swung away in opposite directions and Bourne reached into his back pocket and pulled out his dart gun. If the dogs hunted together, he would have no choice - he would have to climb the fence. The gun could stop two animals, not more; there would be no time to reload.

Suddenly, a large black dog raced past on the drive. It didn’t slow down as it passed him; it didn’t pick up the human smell. It was on its way somewhere. Then another dog appeared, this one long-haired. It did slow down, but as if it was trained to halt at a specific area. Standing motionless, Bourne understood. These were trained male attack dogs, each with its own territory. It was a practice used by landowners in the Far East. Vietnam… Medusa. It was coming back to him! Half-remembered images - a young, powerful man in uniform. That same man, older, larger, had been in the viewfinder of his binoculars only moments ago! And years ago that same man had promised supplies and brought nothing. Bourne remembered taking his gun out and pushing the barrel against the man’s forehead.

“One more word and you’re dead, Sergeant.” The man had been a sergeant. “You bring us supplies by five o’clock tomorrow morning or I’ll get to Saigon and personally blow your head off.” They got the supplies.

Bourne’s thoughts came back to the present. The longhaired attack dog was suddenly circling in the road, its nose picking up the human smell. Within seconds it found the right direction and ran through the bushes, its teeth white in the darkness. Bourne moved back to the fence, raising the dart gun with his right hand, his left arm bent and extended. The angry animal jumped. Bourne fired first one dart and then the other. As the darts struck the dog, Bourne wrapped his arm around its head, pulling the head to one side while swinging his right knee up into the animal’s body to push away the sharp-nailed feet. It was finished in moments - moments of quietening anger until the dog fell asleep in Bourne’s arms. He lowered it to the ground and once again waited, afraid to move until he knew that none of the other animals had heard.

There was no sound from them, but Bourne heard one of the carts approaching. It stopped near the front gate. The driver opened the door and began to throw pieces of food to the black dog. Bourne knew that he had to stop the cart and force the driver outside without giving him any reason to use his radio to call for help. He looked at the sleeping dog at his feet. Place it in the road? No, the driver might assume it had been shot from the other side of the fence and call the house. What could he do?

He looked around and saw a fallen branch on the ground. He crossed quickly to it and pulled it toward the drive. To lay it across the drive might appear too obvious a trap, but partially on the road might work. The grounds were neat and the guards under the big man’s command would want to avoid criticism. Bourne swung the branch around and pushed it around two meters into the road. He heard the door of the cart shut; the vehicle rolled forward, gathering speed as Bourne raced back into the darkness of the tree.

The driver’s single headlight lit up the branch on the road. He slowed down and approached it cautiously, as if he were unsure what it was. Then he stopped, opened his door, stepped out on the drive, and walked around the front of the cart.

“Big Rex, you’re one bad dog,” said the driver, in a quiet, very Southern voice. “What did you pull out of there, you stupid animal?… Rex? Rex, you come here!”

“Stay completely still and put your arms out in front of you,” said Jason Bourne, walking into view.

“My God! Who are you?”

“Somebody who doesn’t give a damn whether you live or die,” said Bourne.

Half an hour later, with all six attack dogs drugged and carried to their sleeping place, Bourne opened the entrance gate and let the two guards leave. By now they believed that he was working for a higher authority, and he had also given them each three hundred dollars. They knew he was not a terrorist because they were still alive, and they were happy enough to walk off down the road.

Bourne used one of the carts to drive most of the way to the cabin, then crept forward and looked through the window. The huge sergeant was sitting in an armchair watching television.

Bourne walked around the cabin to the front door. He knocked with his left hand; in his right was an automatic.

“It’s open, Rachel!” shouted the voice from within.

Bourne twisted the handle and pushed the door back. He walked inside.

“No!” roared the sergeant, pushing his great body out of the chair. “You! You’re a ghost! You’re dead!”

“Try again,” said Jason Bourne of Medusa. “The name’s Flanagan, isn’t it? That’s what comes to mind.”

“You’re dead!” repeated the general’s assistant, screaming, his eyes wide in panic. “You were killed in Hong Kong… four, five years ago!”

“You checked?”

“We know - I know!”

“You’ve got connections in the right places, then.”

“You’re Bourne - I don’t believe this. You’re the one Swayne called ‘Cobra’!”

“I know, it’s confusing.”

“You’re one of us! How did you get in here? Where are the guards, the dogs? Where are they?”

“The dogs are asleep, drugged, and I sent the guards home.”

Suddenly, in the distance, there was a gunshot. Bourne spun around… then kept turning. All the way around! The huge sergeant was jumping at him, his big hands sliding over Bourne’s shoulders. Bourne kicked with his right foot, catching the sergeant’s side while he crashed the barrel of the automatic into the base of the man’s neck. Flanagan fell forward onto the floor and Bourne hammered his foot into the man’s head, stunning him into silence - a silence that was broken by the continuous screams of a woman racing outside toward the door of the cabin. Within seconds, General Norman Swayne’s wife burst into the room, stepping back at the sight in front of her, gripping the back of the nearest chair, unable to contain her panic.

“He’s dead!” she screamed, falling to the floor and reaching for her lover. “He shot himself, Eddie! He killed himself!”

Jason Bourne walked to the door of the strange cabin that held so many secrets. Watching his two prisoners, he closed it. The woman cried but they were not tears of sorrow, only fear. The sergeant shook his head, raising it, his expression a mixture of anger and puzzlement.

An hour later, Alex Conklin sat back in his chair, the phone in his hand, shocked by Jason Bourne’s astonishing information.

“So where are Flanagan and Swayne’s wife now?” he said.

“Gone. I let them go - they’d told me everything they knew. Now you’ve got to make sure that no one finds out!”

“All right, all right. There’s a doctor in Falls Church that we’ve used before in special operations. I’ll contact him. I’ll also get somebody to take away the dogs. Open the gates.”

“OK,” said Bourne. “Now put me on tape. I’ll tell you everything Flanagan told me. Hurry. I’ve got a lot to do.”

“You’re on tape.”

Reading from the list he had written down, Bourne spoke quickly. There were the names of seven frequent guests at the general’s dinner parties; then came the license plates from much more serious twice-monthly meetings. Last was the unlisted telephone number in New York that Flanagan had to call in an emergency. There was no name - only a machine that took messages. “That has to be priority one, Alex.”

“We’ll find out whose number it is,” said Conklin. “The licenses are no problem and I’ll have Casset run the names through the computers without telling DeSole.”

“And Swayne? We’ve got to keep the death quiet until we find out who they all are and we can start a wave of fear rolling. Then we suggest the Carlos solution.”

“I don’t know - I can fool the doctor for a day or two but after that he’ll want somebody higher than me to approve it. Maybe we should tell Peter Holland and ask him to approve the delay.”

“No,” said Bourne. “Give me two days - get me two days!”

Within an hour, Dr. Ivan Jax arrived at the Swayne’s house. He turned off the engine, grabbed his medical bag, and got out of the car.

“I’m your doctor,” he said, walking up the steps. “Our friend didn’t give your name, but I guess I’m not supposed to have it.”

“I guess not,” agreed Bourne, extending a hand in a surgical glove as Jax approached.

They entered the house and Bourne watched while the doctor quickly, expertly, worked on the body, mercifully wrapping the head in bandages. Without explaining, he cut away parts of the general’s clothing, examining those parts of the body beneath the fabric. Finally, he carefully rolled the body off the chair and onto the floor.

“Are you finished in here?” he asked, looking at Bourne.

“I’ve searched the room, Doctor, if that’s what you mean.”

“Yes… I want this room locked up. No one must enter it after we leave until our friend says they can.”

“I certainly can’t guarantee that,” said Bourne.

“Then he’ll have to.”

“Why?”

“Your general didn’t kill himself. He was murdered.”

Bourne called Conklin.

“The woman,” said Alex Conklin. “From everything you told me, it had to be Swayne’s wife. My God!”

“It doesn’t change anything, but it looks that way,” agreed Bourne. “But if she did kill her husband, she didn’t tell Flanagan, and that doesn’t make sense.”

“No, it doesn’t…” Conklin paused, then spoke quickly. “Let me talk to Ivan - the doctor.”

“He’s gone. He put the body into his car and left a few minutes ago. He said he’d call you later and explain. He wants to get out of here and no one’s to come into this room after I leave - until you inform the police.”

“I’ve got to find a way of keeping everybody away from there. It’s almost impossible.”

“It’s perfect. Our little game will start here.”

Bourne hung up the telephone, then turned and glanced around the general’s study. Since Flanagan and Rachel Swayne had left almost three hours ago, he had searched every part of it, as well as the dead guard’s separate bedroom on the second floor. He had placed the items he intended to take on the coffee table; he studied them now.

There were three small notebooks, all the same size. The first was an appointments book; the second a personal telephone book; the last was a diary. With these were a few notes that Swayne had written, and his wallet. It seemed Bourne had found nothing very useful, nothing that connected with the modern Medusa. So he started searching the room again, this time taking more time.

Fourteen minutes later he came to the window and found it was covered with spots of blood. Not only that, but it was open - just a little, but open. Bourne looked closely and saw what kept it from closing. The end of the left curtain had been pulled out and was now stuck beneath the lower frame. Bourne stepped back, puzzled but not really surprised. This was what he had been looking for - the missing piece in the complex puzzle that was the death of Norman Swayne.

Somebody had climbed out that window after the shot that had blown the general’s head apart. Somebody who knew the house and the grounds… and the dogs. A killer from Medusa.

Who? Who had been here? Flanagan… Swayne’s wife? They would know, they had to know. Bourne picked up the telephone on the desk.

“Yes,” answered Conklin.

“It wasn’t Swayne’s wife. It was somebody from Medusa who left by the window. But Flanagan and Swayne’s wife must have known who was here. Pick them up and hold them - they lied to me.”

“Sorry - I can’t do that. They’ve disappeared.”

“That’s crazy. If I know you, you’ve had them followed since they left here.”

“Electronically, not physically. They booked seats on the ten P.M. flight to London.”

“London?” interrupted Bourne. “They told me they were going the other way, to the Pacific. To Hawaii.”

“That’s probably where they are going because they didn’t check in for the London flight. We need to bring in Peter Holland.”

“No, not yet! Give me the two days, Alex, please.”

“I’ll do the best I can.”

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