I stared in wide-eyed horror at the van tearing right at us. The car behind moved right up until it was almost touching the back bumper. We were heading for a collision. The bars on the front of the van would crush us inside the car.
Gripping the wheel, I froze. I didn’t know what to do.
Six grabbed the wheel. Before I knew it, he was driving and I was scrambling into the passenger seat.
He slowed right down. The car behind bumped into the back of us. Six swung left. The driver behind followed. The van altered its trajectory to charge right at us.
Then Six jammed his foot down and accelerated.
Looking in my mirror, I couldn’t see who was driving. I slowed right down, hoping they would overtake and I would realise I was just being paranoid.
But the car slowed and drove just behind me.
I put my foot down and accelerated.
The car sped up.
It was the middle of the night. There were no other cars around. If anything happned to us now, there would be no one else to see it.
“You want me to take over?” Six offered.
“No. Just takes one passing police car and that’s our adventure over.”
“And Mondial have been known to pay off cops,” Six agreed. “I heard they have hundreds on their payroll.”
The headlights of another vehicle were heading our way. As it came closer, I could see it was a van – with a metal grid on the front.
Suddenly it veered across the road and sped right at us.
My eyes flitted from the road to the young woman in my mirror. She had shoulder-length auburn hair. She wore a colourless black leather jacket and jeans. Her handgun was aimed casually at the floor.
“Who is she?” I said.
“I’ve no idea,” Six replied. “No one can do what I saw her do. The others – they were from my old employers.”
“They keep finding me.”
“They have people everywhere – and more kids like me. They have money and resources to throw at any problem in their way.” Six looked at me. “You’ve written about them. It shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s why they want you dead. Welcome to life as a spy.”
I drove slowly out of the town centre. There was no sign of the woman with the gun. But the same car had been right behind me for a few minutes now. As I stayed on the main road, which was well-lit, but really quiet, it stayed right behind me.
“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.”