“That’s him,” Six uttered. “Picture the road ahead in your mind and get ready to duck down and drive at the same time.”
I put my foot down. I braced myself.
The person running towards us didn’t raise the gun, didn’t shoot at us. Instead, I shot right by, turning to catch a look at who it was.
I recognised her straightaway. It was the young woman from the bus. She was the one who had been following us.
“It was definitely her,” Six said. “Same clothes and trainers. I shot at her loads of times and I didn’t get near her. She took down that team trying to kidnap you.”
Speeding away, I glanced as often as I could into the wing mirror. She was watching us drive away, seemingly indifferent to the fact we’d left her behind.
She was dangerous and highly-skilled. Why didn’t she kill me? What did she want? Who was she?
I saw the grey Audi S3 at the back of the hotel carpark.
“Where’s the key?” I texted.
Silas’ next text included a link, which just looked like a load of numbers. When I tapped it, the car’s headlights flashed and I heard the doors unlock.
“How did you do that? Did you just hack a car?”
“Doesn’t matter. Key’s under the passenger seat.”
When I came out of my text messages, every single text I had received or sent vanished from my phone.
No time to question why. I jumped in the driver’s seat, Six found the key under the passenger seat and climbed in.
A thought hit me.
“What is it?” Six asked.
“I haven’t driven for ages,” I said.
“You want me to?”
I looked at Six.
“You can drive?
“Of course,” he shrugged. “I can lose a tail and come out best in a car chase. And we don’t have time to mess around, so decide now.”
I pulled out of our space and accelerated to the gate. As I drove up the ramp, I could make out a figure running towards us – with a gun.
The iron gate was floor to ceiling, stretching across the entrance and exit. There was no way of climbing over or breaking in.
“Now what?” Six demanded.
I stared helplessly at the gate. Did Silas think it would be open – or did he have some way to get us in?
My phone vibrated. A text from Silas.
“You’ll be needing this.”
His next text was a ten-digit number.
What was that for?
Then Six pointed to a keypad set in the wall. I typed in the number Silas had sent and the iron gate slid back.
I led the way inside the carpark, suddenly realising I had no idea what I was looking for. The text came.
“You’re looking for a grey Audi S3.”
As we neared our next destination, our pace quickened. It felt like we were being followed again. I shot a glance over my shoulder and caught sight of a silhouette on a rooftop. I didn’t know who it was, but someone must have found the carnage I’d left behind by now.
“We can’t stay,” Six said. “We need to go – now.”
Once the hotel we were supposed to be staying in was just a hundred metes away, I texted Silas.
“They found us. We need to get out – now.”
A text came back in seconds.
“Hotel carpark. Round the back. Lower ground floor.”
We hurried around the back of the hotel Silas had booked us in for the night, then down the ramp to the carpark.
An iron gate was shut across it. We were locked out.
“So it wasn’t you who pulled me out of the van?” I asked Six.
“I was on a rooftop,” Six replied. “It must have been the same person I’d shot at before.
One of them got mixed up in our first shootout. Didn’t end well for him. But I knew then that they were coming for you.” Six shook his head. “I saw him from the rooftop. So quick.” He shot me another look. “He could do things – things that should’ve been impossible. I tried shooting at him anyway and I still couldn’t hit him. He pulled you from the van without touching you.”
“Did you get a look at him?” I asked.
“Wouldn’t know him if he passed us on the street right now.”
We took a longer, roundabout route to out next destination, circling back on ourselves a couple of times just to make sure we weren’t being followed.
“Gonna need more ammo,” Six grunted eventually, a scowl on his face.
“You ran out?”
“Can you get more?”
“When we get to London – I have some hidden in a few places.”
“You have ammo hidden around London?”
“And some other stuff.”
Six looked up at me before I could ask any more questions.
“I barely landed a shot,” he said pointedly. “That first guy I ran into – I didn’t get near him. Whoever he was – he was so quick. Then I made it to the cathedral as that team were shoving you in the van. I took a couple of them down, but then he attacked them and killed the rest.”
I couldn’t just stand there in case someone saw me. All I could do was head for the next meeting point and forget about what kind of hell was going to break loose when the mess I was standing in was discovered.
Taking care to step around the blood, I did a quick check to make sure there was no obvious trace on my clothes or shoes, then strode away.
A face peered around the corner I was heading for. It was Six. As I got closer, he had a look on his face that was probably the look on my face aswell. Confused. Stunned. Like something horrifying had happened. Knocked for six – so to speak.
I rounded the corner and we walked together in silence.
“What happened?” I asked eventually.
“Don’t want to talk about it.”
As my hands reached for the hood, I knew that whoever had pulled me out wasn’t Six. Why hadn’t they identified themselves? And how did they get me out wihout climbing into the van?
I pulled the hood away.
I was alone. There was no one watching me, no one waiting to ask if I was okay. Whoever had helped me had gone.
But my eyes were drawn to the scene around me. There were dead bodies scattered over the ground. One was slumped against the van, which was riddled with bullet indentations and spattered with blood. Some of them had been shot. The rest had been beaten to death. I recognised the couple I’d passed before among the dead.
They were all armed and trained. They were organised. So who took them down? And why didn’t they let me see them?
With my hands tied behind my back, I couldn’t get the hood off.
A volley of silenced shots collided with the van wall close to my head. More silenced shots were fired outside. There were running feet. Punches and kicks were landed. There were yelps and screams of pain. A body smashed into the side of the van. Something hit a body hard. There was a crunch. A bone cracked. A shout of pain was silenced with a snap.
I waited, holding my breath, not daring to make a sound.
No one entered the van. I couldn’t hear or feel anyone near me.
Suddenly something grabbed my ankle and hauled me over the van floor. Then I was yanked out of the van. I landed on my feet. A blade sliced through the ziptie binding my wrists.
I waited a second for my rescuer to whip off the hood and say something, but nothing happened.
I rolled over the van’s metal floor and collided with the far wall. I eased myself into a sitting position. I could just about hear my captors arguing in muttered voices outside. Then suddenly everything stopped.
“What the hell was that?” one of them muttered.
Guns were drawn. Some of them scrambled for cover. Instructions were whispered. There were grunts of alarm.
I heard a silenced gunshot. Then a volley of silenced gunshots rang out. A couple of bullets clanged against the van’s panelled wall.
I heaved myself over and rolled away from the open sliding door.
Last thing I needed was to catch a stray bullet.