فصل 14

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Chapter fourteen


Christiaans pushed me to the other side of the room. I saw that he was holding a gun. ‘Where is it?’ he said.

‘Where’s what?’ I asked, trying to look calm.

‘The print-out!’ he said. ‘I’ve just visited your friend Ronnie and I don’t think he’ll be helping you any more. Now where is it?’

‘Where are Elly and Raul? What have you done to them?’ I shouted. I was angry.

He smiled an ugly smile. ‘They’re fine,’ he said. ‘But they are very stupid. Raul should know better than to go against me, and your policewoman friend should stay away from things she knows nothing about.’

‘Where are they?’ I said again. I wanted to hit him but the gun was pointing right at me.

‘They’re quite safe. We need Raul to be fit if he’s going to play his best, or should I say worst, for us tomorrow.’

‘He’ll never do it,’ I said.

‘Oh, I think he will,’ said Christiaans, smiling again. ‘If he wants you and Elly to live.’

‘It’ll never work,’ I said. ‘Elly will be missed at police headquarters.’

‘It’s Saturday tomorrow,’ he said. ‘Who’ll miss her? By the time anyone misses her or you, the match will be over, I’ll be a multimillionaire and I’ll be far away from here. Now,’ he continued, looking serious again, ‘it’s time you joined your friends. I need you safely out of the way until the match is over. Come on, we’re going for a little walk outside. And remember, this gun is pointing at you. If you make any noise at all, it will be a pleasure to shoot you.’

Before we left the room, “he hid the gun under his coat and held it against my back. Then he pushed me out of the door, down the stairs and through the back door of the hotel. He was tall and strong. With him standing just behind me and his gun in my back, it would be stupid to try anything. Outside the hotel he pushed me into the back of a small van with dark windows. Then there was nothing.

The first thing I noticed was the pain; a terrible pain starting at the back of my head and finishing over my eyes.

At first it seemed as if I was in complete darkness. Then my eyes got used to it and above me I could see a little light coming from a window. It was hard to think with the pain in my head, but I guessed that I was lying on the floor of a room under a house, a cellar perhaps. The floor was made of stone and it was hard, dirty and cold.

I checked my body. This was difficult because I was handcuffed - my hands held together in front of me. The hard metal of the handcuffs cut into my hands. Other than the terrible headache, I seemed to be OK. Then my eyes got more used to the dark and I looked around the room. There, in the corner, was Elly, wearing handcuffs and with something over her mouth so that she couldn’t speak. Her eyes were shut, but I saw that she was breathing; she wasn’t dead but I guessed she was unconscious. She had blood running from her head. I wondered where Raul was.

I had to think and act quickly. What would happen once the match was over and Christiaans had his money? I couldn’t see someone like Christiaans letting us go. I was quite sure he’d kill us anyway. Maybe he’d make our murders look like senseless stabbings, leaving our bodies in the street at night. That was what he had done with Max and Jos. From what he had said, he obviously had a flight booked to some country far away once the match was over. Perhaps he’d just leave us in this cellar to die.

I went to Elly and spoke to her. At first she didn’t move but then, slowly, her eyes opened a little. She looked at me as if she hardly knew me.

‘Listen, Elly,’ I whispered. ‘It’s me, Kate. I’m going to try to get out of here, but I’ll come back soon, OK? I’ll come back with help.’

Her eyes closed again.

I heard voices somewhere. I knew that I didn’t have much time. I had to get out of here, and find a way of getting Elly out, too. It seemed impossible.

I looked up again towards the window. Yes, I thought, we were in a cellar and that window probably faced the street. There would also probably be steps which led up to the street. These cellars were very common in Amsterdam. The window was about two metres above me and very small. Luckily it was open a little and there was a stone shelf just beneath it. It wasn’t very wide, but it was just wide enough perhaps. If only I could reach that shelf! But how? And even if I could manage to reach it, how was I going to get through the window? I was quite slim, but the window looked very small.

I walked slowly to the wall where the window was and felt it with the back of my hand. I moved my hands slowly up the wall, trying to find somewhere I could place a foot. There was nothing.

I moved backwards, away from the window, towards a corner of the room. As I moved in the darkness I almost fell over something behind me. It was a chair! It was old and it didn’t seem very strong, but it was a chair. I started to pull it carefully towards the little window. It was my only hope.

It was hard to move the chair without making any noise. Any movement on the floor made a lot of noise and the metal handcuffs stopped me from lifting the chair. I tried to breathe slowly. It took a long time but finally the chair was in position under the window. It was time to try it out, to see if it would take my weight. If it wasn’t strong enough and I fell, the people upstairs would certainly hear the noise and come running to the cellar. It would be the end.

First I sat on it. It was fine. Then I stepped up onto the chair, slowly and carefully. To my surprise it didn’t break. I reached up to the window and managed to touch it. It was dark outside, and I guessed it must be very late. I must have been unconscious for a long time.

Just then I heard a low noise behind me. I turned. It was Elly trying to speak.

‘Shh! Elly,’ I whispered. ‘I’ll be back soon, I promise.’ As I said it, I wondered whether it was true, whether I could really promise that.

I turned back towards the window. I felt the night air coming through it and heard the sound of traffic somewhere. Rain, too. It had started raining. Perhaps I could get through the window, I thought. I would have to pull myself up as hard as I could. If I fell back onto the chair there would be a lot of noise and we would be finished.

I reached up and pulled as hard as I could. I slowly managed to lift myself up onto the shelf just below the window. My arms were strong after all the years of karate training. I felt the fresh air on my face. I breathed it in, trying to give myself new strength. I looked back at Elly. If I could escape, perhaps I could get help.

I pushed through the window, handcuffed hands first, then head. I could see the ground just a metre below me. But would I get through that tiny window?

I pushed my knees against the shelf, breathing heavily. I gave one final strong push and I was out! I pushed my hands down to the ground and fell on my shoulder. I had been right about the steps. I was lying at the bottom of about ten stone steps. I stood up quickly and ran up the steps and out onto the street. I looked up at the house. I had seen it before - it was Christiaans’ house on Herengracht. I ran as fast as I could down the street. It was raining very hard now. I just kept on running.

I ran all the way to the central police station on Elandsgracht. The young policeman at the desk looked at me very strangely as I ran through the door. I was wet from head to foot and wearing handcuffs. I quickly told the policeman what was happening as he took the handcuffs off. ‘We have to get back to Herengracht quickly,’ I said. ‘Very quickly! Christiaans is dangerous!’

The policeman called three other policemen. I got into a car with two of them and two others followed in another car. As we drove to Herengracht, I told the policemen more of the story. I told them I didn’t know where Raul was and that I was worried about him. Five minutes later, we parked just round the corner from Christiaans’ house.

Two of the policemen went round to the front of the house; the other two ran off round the back. The idea was that as the two policemen rang the bell at the front of the house, the two at the back would kick the door down and rescue Elly.

I sat in the car, shaking with the cold. The policeman had given me a blanket and I pulled it around me, trying to get warm. I could see the two policemen at the back of the house. There was a loud noise as they broke the door down. Then there was silence. Each minute seemed like an hour. Suddenly I heard a gunshot! Who had been shot? ‘Please, God, don’t let it be Elly,’ I said to myself. I listened for more shots, but I heard nothing.

Finally, after about fifteen minutes, two of the policemen came out of the house with Christiaans handcuffed. There was blood coming from Christiaans’ leg. I sat forward, hoping that I would soon see Elly. Then, a few moments later, the other two policemen came out with Elly. Behind her was Raul! So he had been in the house all the time! He looked OK. Elly looked pretty bad, but she was alive.

One of the policemen helped Elly into the car next to me and Raul got in on the other side.

‘Thank God you’re safe,’ I said and took hold of Elly’s hand.

She gave me a weak smile.

‘So what happened?’ I asked them.

‘Well, everything went as planned,’ said Raul.

‘Christiaans talked to me and I left his house with the tape.’

‘Yes,’ said Elly, ‘and then Raul came outside and round the corner to meet me. But Christiaans followed him. He had a gun and made us go back to his house. I think Christiaans was very clever. He probably realised that something was going on as soon as Raul said he wanted to visit him.’

‘When we got back into the house, he knocked Elly out and locked me in another room,’ said Raul. ‘He needed me to play in the match. And he needed Elly - he told me that he’d kill her if I didn’t play and lose the match against Ajax.’

It was lucky that Raul was an important part of Christiaans’ plan. If he hadn’t been, both he and Elly would probably have been killed there and then.

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