The Arrow's Arc by John Wilcox

The Arrow's Arc by John Wilcox

Author:John Wilcox [Wilcox, John]
Language: eng
Format: epub, azw3
Publisher: Endeavour Media
Published: 2018-02-08T05:00:00+00:00

CHAPTER 9

Bill Gladwin regained consciousness slowly, like a man wading through a swamp of pain in which every step seemed to break open his head anew. The hurt was accentuated by the fact that his body was being jolted violently and his ears were filled with a high-pitched noise. He moaned and put his hand to his head and touched something sticky and wet.

His stirring activated Proctor. “For God’s sake, Taff.” The New Zealander’s voice hissed in his ear and yet it seemed to come from far away. “Don’t do anything else bloody stupid or they’ll kill both of us. Just lie quietly.”

Gladwin tried to open both eyes but the lid of his right eye seemed to be stuck down. He turned his head slowly and realised that he was lying on the floor of the van which, from the way the vehicle was bouncing and jumping and from the whine of the engine, was being driven at very high speeds in low gear over unmade roads. Slowly, he eased his elbows to the vibrating floor and half sat up. Proctor was cringing – there was no other word for it – on the floor beside him and opposite, swaying with the motion, sat a Maquisade, the barrel of his Sten gun pointing directly at the two flyers and his eyes regarding them without expression. Turning his head, Gladwin saw the unmistakable bulk of Chauvin sitting next to the driver, whose shoulders were working hard as he struggled to keep the little truck on the road. Bringing his hand to his face, Gladwin realised that it was covered in blood. He rubbed his right eye gently and was able partly to remove the crusted blood that had gummed his eye shut, but nothing could stop the pounding pain in his head.

“Bloody hell. What hit me?”

Proctor leaned down, but did not move his gaze from the gunman opposite. “That chap did. It bloody well served you right, for charging across and throwing yourself at the boss there.” He gestured towards Chauvin.

Gladwin pulled himself into a sitting position and felt the back of his head. It was still wet. “All right,” he murmured through gritted teeth, “but why did they kill de Vitrac? Eh?”

“I don’t know, Taff, but don’t start trouble again. These blokes seem as though they’d kill their mothers for tuppence.”

As though to disprove the assertion, the man opposite pulled a remarkably white piece of cloth from inside his blouson, laid down the Sten gun and poured a little water onto the cloth from a water bottle at his side and offered it, wordlessly, to Gladwin.

“Thanks – merci beaucoup,” said the Welshman and began carefully wiping his face, neck and, more gingerly, the wound at the back of his head. Tentatively, he examined his skull with his fingers and exerted a little pressure. The pain intensified, causing him to breath deeply to prevent another lapse into unconsciousness, but he held on. Good, there seemed no fracture there, just a damned great bump already rising.



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