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Authors: Tim Stevens

Delivering Caliban

BOOK: Delivering Caliban
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Delivering Caliban
John Purkiss [2]
Tim Stevens
(2012)
Rating:
****
JOHN PURKISS, THE RATCATCHER, RETURNS...

Purkiss’s job is to track down rogue elements within British intelligence. Summoned to Amsterdam to investigate a cryptic message about one such agent, Darius Pope, Purkiss quickly discovers he’s facing an opponent of unusual ingenuity – and capable of extreme violence. Within hours Pope has disappeared, and two CIA agents are dead.

In Virginia, a young musician, Nina Ramirez, finds herself haunted by watchers, men who seem to be stalking her at every turn. Are the watchers genuine, or products of her increasingly troubled mind?

As the body count rises, Purkiss pursues Pope to the eastern United States, desperate to stop him while avoiding a potentially disastrous political confrontation between the CIA and British Intelligence. But Purkiss is faced with two questions: why is Pope systematically murdering CIA agents, and who will be next?

With assistance from an unexpected source, Purkiss discovers he’s in a race against time before Pope’s and Nina’s destinies converge in New York City. Something he’ll be able to prevent only by uncovering the secret of a monstrous, fifteen-year-old Honduran operation known as Caliban…

Darker, harder-edged and more terrifying than Ratcatcher, Delivering Caliban confronts John Purkiss in ways – physically, emotionally, and morally – he’s never yet experienced.

 

 

DELIVERING CALIBAN

Tim Stevens

 

Kindle Edition

Copyright 2012 Tim Stevens

 

 

***~~~***

 

Kindle Edition, Licence Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you would like to share it with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.

One

 

Amsterdam,

Sunday 19 May, 9.45 am

 

The woman in the beret looked back over her shoulder and John Purkiss registered two things simultaneously.

She was blonde and attractive.

And she was his dead fiancée.

He felt the familiar surge in his chest propelling him forwards, as though he was connected physically with her and needed to be in direct contact with her. Countering this was a voice that screamed in his mind, told him to get a grip.

Purkiss stepped on to the road and wove between the trams and the clangour of the bicycle bells. Amsterdam was a gentle bustle of primitive transport around him, seeming to wash around him like a stream around a rock. He disregarded it, eyes fixed on the woman who had turned away again and was striding with purpose in the direction of the Central Station. Claire wore a mauve beret perched at an angle above her short fair hair, a suede coat tight across her shoulders. He didn’t recognise the clothes, but the gait was hers, there was no question about that: taut, fast, sexy.

The voice in his mind jabbered at him, its words beyond his hearing.

Overhead the iron cast of the sky threatened rain. The Dutch spring morning was as ambiguous as they ever were. Purkiss watched Claire pass a stall where among the usual Amsterdam tourist tat – motifs of tulips and cannabis leaves, Van Gogh and Rembrandt prints – sat a number of incongruous Roman Catholic items. A particularly kitsch row of tea towels portrayed the crucifixion, the Vatican, the Pope with hands clasped.

The Pope...

The voice broke through into his consciousness. Purkiss lurched to one side out of the path of a blaring taxi, spun to view the road he’d just crossed. He pivoted on his heel, scanning the environment in a sweeping motion that took in the spread of the city south of the station.

Damn it. He’d lost him.

As if the thought had somehow sharpened his vision he picked out the tiniest shape in the distance, heading straight for the station’s grand and massive concourse. The head was bowed, the gait almost a sprint.

It was Pope.

Purkiss broke into a run.

 

*

 

The man seemed to sense him approaching at the last minute and turned his shoulder a fraction. For an instant Purkiss thought he’d be someone else, another illusion like the one of Claire that had taken him in a few moments ago. But there was no doubt this was Pope, even in the brief glimpse Purkiss caught of his profile. The thin, prominent nose, the high cheekbones that marked him out even in this city of young and good-looking people, the hint of a grey eye not quite catching Purkiss’s: all were unmistakable.

Purkiss was a tall man, two inches or so above Pope’s height. He had the advantage of momentum; Pope had been slowing when he’d noticed Purkiss bearing down. But he couldn’t simply drop Pope by diving on him or aiming a blow at the back of his neck. It was broad daylight outside the largest train station in the largest city in the Netherlands.

Purkiss would have to get close enough to take the man down unobtrusively.

Pope seemed to sense this and turned fully to face Purkiss, adopting the stance of someone preparing for combat: slightly bent knees, head lowered, arms raised at waist height. He stood at the centre of one of the entrances to the station concourse and people bustled past him, occasionally barging him. His eyes were locked on Purkiss’s. Purkiss assumed Pope would want to avoid drawing attention to them just as much as he himself did.

Pope’s hand moved inside his leather jacket as Purkiss closed the final few metres between them, and emerged flashing.

Purkiss stepped aside at the last minute as the blade flashed in an arc across his abdomen, the point catching the edge of his own linen coat; even in the noise of the crowd he heard fabric tear. Pope was right-handed but had swept the blade in a counter-instinctive forehand gesture so that at the end of the movement his arm was across his body, protecting it. Purkiss grabbed for his wrist and caught it and pulled it on, continuing the movement. Pope had been anticipating this and wrenched his arm back, failing to free himself from Purkiss’s grip but keeping his balance.

With a sharp twist of Pope’s wrist Purkiss popped the knife out of his hand and heard it clatter to the pavement even as Pope’s free hand came jabbing at his midsection. Pope’s stiffened fingers caught him beneath the sternum and even though Purkiss managed to tense his abdominal muscles in time the pain was immense, as though a skewer had been rammed into his belly. He bent forward involuntarily which was a mistake because Pope’s forehead connected with his cheekbone.

Light and agony exploded in Purkiss’s head. Dimly he was aware that he’d let go of Pope’s wrist. Blinded by nausea he closed up with his arms, covering himself in anticipation of the next blow, but in an instant he realised Pope hadn’t pressed home his advantage but had instead chosen to run.

Purkiss plunged into the teeming, tilting surge of the crowd ahead of him, shoving people aside crudely, feeling as though he were wading through sludge. He kept sight of Pope’s head, maddeningly close yet separated from him by bodies that were starting to turn and react to him with surprise and outrage. He broke through the mass, sending suitcases spinning. Pope was sprinting down the concourse to the right, all attempts at unobtrusiveness abandoned.

The yelling behind Purkiss echoed off the great arched ceiling as he gave chase. Pope was heading along a platform towards the semicircle of daylight at the end of the station, veering close to the edge. Two uniformed, shouting men – station personnel, or police – hove into Purkiss’s field of vision and he dodged them smartly. Pope was nearly at the concrete barrier blocking the way between the end of the station concourse and what was presumably some sort of freight platform on the outside. A burly man, another member of staff, had planted himself at the barrier in Pope’s way.

Purkiss didn’t see exactly what happened next but as he reached the barrier himself he saw the large man sprawled on the platform, hands clasped at his throat, a high-pitched gargling piping from his mouth. There was blood, too, a lot of it. Purkiss vaulted the barrier without breaking his stride. Pope had got across it even more quickly and was well along the platform outside.

It was as Purkiss had guessed a loading area for freight. Personnel in orange jackets were clustered in a group, staring in astonishment, one or two stepping towards Pope with their hands raised in warning. None of them made a grab at him. By the time Purkiss passed them they had got over their initial bewilderment and looked more willing to confront this second interloper. Something in Purkiss’s face seemed to discourage them.

A train was at rest on the track to the left. Purkiss watched Pope draw level with the last carriage ahead, then hesitate, looking back. Pope leaped from the edge of the platform, disappearing behind the train.

Purkiss reached the end of the train. Four tracks ran in parallel, and Pope was on the island between the middle two tracks, sprinting again in the same direction as before. Instead of crossing behind the stationary train and following Pope, Purkiss continued running along the platform, parallel now to the other man. Ahead, the outer two tracks merged into one so that Purkiss and Pope were now separated by a single track.

Even as he ran, Purkiss knew the other man had the edge: in stamina and in speed. Not an enormous advantage, but enough to make a difference. Pope was pulling ahead so that they were no longer level.

When you’ve lost one advantage, create another.

Scattered on the platform ahead of Purkiss was an assortment of bits of metal. He spotted what he wanted while he was still running, so the delay when he reached the pile was minimal. Slowing only a fraction he ducked and grasped a wheel of some sort, orange with rust, the size of a dinner plate. It had a good heft as he swung it up, enough to give it the momentum needed.

Purkiss put a last burst of effort into his running, nothing sustainable but enough to bring him back level with Pope. For an instant Pope glanced across the track at him. Purkiss slowed a touch and gripped the wheel like a discus in his left hand and, more awkwardly than he’d have liked because he was using his non-dominant arm, sent the circular block of steel arcing across the track.

For a moment he thought he’d got the trajectory wrong, but his move evidently surprised Pope and broke his stride and that brought him directly into the path of the wheel. It caught him in the side of the head with a solid noise Purkiss could hear on the other side of the track. Pope dropped, thrown off his feet.

Purkiss leaped off the platform, his shoes meeting gravel, fear thrilling him as for an instant he was sure he was going to touch the rails. He picked his way between the metal bars and sprang up on to the other side, seeing Pope stagger to his feet and reel about, disorientated.

Purkiss was at him in two strides, grabbing his shoulders and spinning him round and swinging a punch that would have floored Pope if the younger man hadn’t snapped his head to one side at the last instant and driven a kick into Purkiss’s abdomen, knocking him back. As Purkiss stumbled Pope seized his right arm and rolled on his back, legs drawn up. Purkiss felt himself lifted, pulled along by his arm and across the fulcrum Pope had created with his own balled-up body. The edge of the platform loomed large. Purkiss shot out his left arm and broke his fall awkwardly, his face slamming against the edge.

He felt Pope twist his right arm up between his shoulderblades and force his knee into the small of Purkiss’s back. Purkiss’s neck was twisted so that he was staring down the track to his right, his head hanging over the edge of the platform.

A train was approaching the station, curving down the track towards him, the rumble of its wheels and the screech of its braking mechanism amplified through the concrete pressed against Purkiss’s left ear.

It wasn’t going to manage to stop in time.

Behind him Purkiss felt Pope twist his arm higher and drive his knee deeper into his back, inching Purkiss forward so that his head protruded further over the lip of the platform.

The brakes of the train were screaming now. Through the expanding front window the driver’s mouth stretched silently.

Blindly, Purkiss seized the lip of the platform with his free left hand, ignoring the blaze of pain in his right shoulder where it felt his arm was being wrenched free from the socket. With his hand anchored and using his left elbow as a pivot, he turned slightly on to his left side and heaved.

Pope toppled forward over Purkiss, releasing his arm to flail reflexively with his hands. As the nose of the train hurtled into the station and Purkiss hauled himself back, he saw Pope drop on to the track feet first, between the live rails, and turn his landing into the first movement of a springing action that shot him up to grab on to the opposite platform. He was pulling his feet clear when the length of the train juddered past, hiding him from Purkiss.

Purkiss was up on his feet, running through the pain that burned his shoulder and his face and his belly, back down the length of the train. He reached the end and, heart hammering, stared across at the opposite platform, scanning its length.

Pope was gone.

 

BOOK: Delivering Caliban
8.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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