Connelly stopped firing because he had run out of bullets. The sound of police sirens called out from the distance, getting closer with each passing minute. A few onlookers started filming the shootout on their mobile phones. Morons, Jack thought as he stared at a guy in a business suit with his iPhone out and then at a young hipsters giving a thumbs up.
Does that fool believe this is a bloody film set or something? Jack thought as he watched Jasmine Cochrane launch herself at Connelly.
Cochrane was a flurry of fists and kicks as she beat at Connelley as if he was nothing more than a punch bag in a gym. The onslaught was brutally efficient. Conelly fell backwards and hit the side of his head as he made impact with the ground. Connelly groaned in pain but grinned as he saw Jasmine Cochrane towering over him.
‘What are you grinning at?’ Jasmine asked as she kicked Connelly in the side and then stamped her boot on his abdomen.
His teeth looked broken and were stained with his own blood, but Connelly sneered as he spat out his blood. ‘Aren’t you going to call for back up, Cochrane?’ O’Dowd’s probably sent his men to kill them all by now, Connelly thought.
‘It looks like she’s doing fine by herself,’ Jack said as he walked up beside Jasmine and glowered at Connelley.
Jasmine kicked Conelly again. ‘What do you mean?’
Connelly snorted. ‘Try calling them, Cochrane, and see if anyone will pick up.’
Jack looked at Jasmine Cochrane and shrugged. She took out her mobile phone and dialled up the surveillance unit, but the line was dead. Jasmine tried a different number, but that line was dead too. By the third number, she knew something was seriously wrong, and flicker of worry crossed across her voice
‘What have you done?’ Jasmine asked Connelly.
Connelly coughed up more blood and wiped the blood from his lips on the back of his hand. ‘I haven’t done anything, Cochrane.’
The police car that sounded far away just minutes ago was now very loud indeed and coming up the street.
‘What do you want to do?’ Jack asked Jasmine. ‘Do you want to stick around and explain things to the cops?’
Jasmine put her phone back in her pocket then bent down over Connelly and started to choke him with her forearm. Connelly struggled, but the beating he had sustained at Jasmine Cochrane’s hands had taken its toll. Within seconds, Connelly went limp and lay unconscious on the ground
‘You haven’t killed him, have you?’ Jack asked, smiling and feeling more curious than worried.
‘No,’ Jasmine said in a numbed tone of voice. ‘He’s not dead.’
‘The cops are getting closer,’ Jack said. ‘What do you want to do?’
Jasmine pulled out her mobile phone and dialled a fourth number, a number she hoped she’d never have to call.
‘Bellerophon has fallen,’ Jasmine said into her phone and started running towards her car and to the aid of her doomed colleagues in the surveillance unit.
Doris watched as Graeme poked and prodded at the cuckoo clock in a vain search for the diamonds. ‘You’ll not find them in there, son,’ Doris said with a sly smile on her lips.
‘Gran, this is serious,’ Graeme said. ‘Where are the diamonds?’
‘I’ve put them in a safe place,’ Doris said.
‘They were in a safe place, Gran.’
‘Well, they’re in a safer place, then,’ Doris said, sighing.
Have I just walked into the twilight zone, thought Derek. ‘What diamonds?’ Derek asked.
‘The less you know, the better, son,’ Doris said to Derek.
‘Gran, never mind him,’ Graeme said. ‘Where’ve you hidden the diamonds.’
‘I’m not telling you,’ Doris said with her arms folded
‘Gran,’ Graeme said, ‘They’ll kill Jack, if -‘
Graeme deliberately left his sentence unfinished and waited for Doris’s mind to fill in the rest.
‘Jonah Burns and his men have got Jack.’ That’s a lie, but she doesn’t know that, Graeme thought. I know, I know lying to my gran is low but I need to get those diamonds.
‘Jack’s hurt?’ Doris asked.
‘Not yet, Gran,’ Graeme said as he lifted up his sleeves and revealed his horrible burns to Doris. ‘But Jonah Burns doesn’t mess around. I don’t know how much time we -‘
Doris walked into her hall and grabbed her jacket and house keys
‘Let’s go, son,’ Doris said. I hope we can save you, Jack, thought Doris. What are they doing to you right now?
O’Dowd’s men battered through the reinforced doors of the surveillance unit. The wall started to cave in and a thick chunk of it fell on top of Sam’s head. As the piece of debris struck her, Sam lost consciousness. The piece of debris hit Sam on the temple, and almost immediately a thin streak of blood started to drip across her face and onto the floor.
‘Find Turner,’ O’Dowd’s head man said as he stepped through the dust and debris and into what remained of the surveillance unit.
The other assailants fanned out, and as they went, they shot dead any of Turner’s agents that still had a pulse. The soft, agonising groans of the dying agents were replaced by intermittent bursts of gunfire as O’Dowd’s men executed their foes.
‘Like shooting ducks in a barrel,’ said a beautiful female assassin with a grin spreading across her face as she shot a middle-aged agent in the forehead.
‘Keep moving. We don’t have much time,’ the leader of the group said.
‘Oh, look. There’s a wee kiddie over there,’ said a grizzled looking mercenary with pockmarked cheeks. ‘So young.’
‘And so dead,’ snorted a young guy with grenades strapped to his bulletproof vest and a belt full of bullets crisscrossing his chest.
‘Do you want me to shoot her in the head,’ the female assassin said. ‘You know to make sure. O’Dowd wants us to kill everyone.’
‘Yes and who needs witnesses,’ said the young male assassin. ‘Do it, babe.’ He kissed the female assassin.
‘I’ve never killed a kid before,’ the female assassin said.
‘It’s like killing an adult,’ the old soldier with pockmarked cheeks said. ‘Besides, if you kill enough people you don’t even feel it anymore.’
‘Enough talking,’ the head man said. ‘Find Turner, now.’
They passed an unconscious Sam and penetrated deeper into the surveillance unit.
‘Over here!’ said a large mercenary with short blond hair and a scar below his left eye.
‘Ah, Mr Turner,’ the head man said as he pulled out a photo from his pocket and looked at the image O’Dowd gave him.
Malcolm Turner didn’t say anything, but continued to clutch his bullet ridden stomach and writhe in agony. The pain was unbearable, but Turner still stared at O’Dowd’s group of assassins and hoped that his death would be quick.
‘Don’t get up, Mr Turner,’ the head man said, which brought a round of laughter from the other assassins as they stood around Malcolm Turner.
‘Well do it then,’ Malcolm Turner said.
‘Why so eager to die, Mr Turner?’ the head man said as he pulled out his gun and aimed it at Malcolm Turner’s body.
Turner looked at the gun and waited for O’Dowd’s head man to fire. Turner hoped that the shot would be clean and his death quick. But neither was the case. The bullet ripped through Turner’s left hand like a stone through water. The pain Turner felt was was excruciating and equalled by the shock of seeing his left handed mangled and his flesh shredded.
‘Oh, I forget to say,’ the head man said, ‘Mr O’Dowd wants you to die slow, The head man nodded to his crew. They held Turner down as he shot Turner again first in the right hand and then a bullet each in Turner’s knees. Each time he was shot, Turner cried out, but his tormentors just laughed.
‘Oh, that must sting,’ said the female mercenary. ‘Do you want mommy to kiss it better?’
During the whole time Turner was being tortured, Pete lay on the opposite side of the room under the rubble. Turner had ordered Pete to play dead. And Pete wished he was as he listened to Turner’s wailing and screaming.
The mercenaries started to light cigarettes and drank from their canteens as they watched the life drain from Turner’s eyes.
O’Dowd’s headman looked at his watch. ‘Right enough time wasted,’ he said as he pressed the barrel of his hand gun on Turner’s forehead and pulled the trigger.
‘It’s probably time for you to go home, son’ Doris said to Derek as she stood in her living room with her jacket on and her house keys in her hand.
Derek stood up. ‘Are you sure you want to go with him. ‘
‘No, son,’ Doris said, sighing. ‘I’m not sure, but Jack needs me, and Graeme is…’
‘Yes, Jack needs her.’ Graeme snorted. ‘Well, tata bye bye, Derek.’ he said, giving Derek a wave.
Derek scowled at Graeme then turned to Doris. ‘Stay safe, my friend.’
‘Thank you, Derek,’ Doris said, smiling as she watched him leave.
As Derek left, Graeme called out. ‘Hey, buddy.’
‘What?’ Derek said tersely.
‘Have you considered taking the Bruce Willis approach to baldness?’ Graeme grinned. ‘I mean, that’s one nasty comb-over you’ve got.’
‘Graeme,’ Doris said. ‘Behave. I’m sorry Derek that was -‘
It’s all right, Doris,’ Derek said. ‘It’s what I’d expect from someone like him. I hope you’ll be okay, Doris.’ Derek then looked at Graeme and said drolly, ‘Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!’ as he closed the door behind him.
‘That was unpleasant,’ Doris said to Graeme
‘Yes, there was no need to resort to foul language,’ Graeme replied.
‘No, I think Derek had every right to say what he said. You know, son, you can be very cruel at times.’
As Doris stared at Graeme, his face went red, and he started to stare at his shoes.
‘Are you going to take me to the diamonds, then?’ Graeme said. ‘You know, Jack’s still in danger and -‘
Doris frowned. ‘Yes.’
As Doris locked her door, Graeme tried to ignore the fact that he could sense Derek watching him from behind his spyhole
‘Your neighbour, Derek was it?’ Graeme asked as he walked with Doris down the stairwell.
‘Yes,’ Doris said, wishing Graeme would just keep quiet. ‘What about him?’
‘He’s an odd duck, isn’t he?’
‘Maybe,’ Doris said as they walked along the street and headed towards where Doris had hidden the diamonds. ‘But he’s been kind to me, and he’s a gentle soul.’
‘It’s been awhile since I walked down this way,’ Graeme said ‘Not since I went with grandpa to his -‘
‘Yes,’ Doris said sadly. ‘Your grandpa was -‘
‘Gran,’ Graeme said as the wheels in his mind spun. ‘Are we going to Grandpa’s allotment?’
‘Yes,’ Doris said, her mind preoccupied with thoughts of Jack and what danger he may be facing.
Graeme was about to ask Doris something when he heard a voice call his name
‘Graeme, my wee Graeme,’ Doreen said, waving.
Doreen was quite drunk, and she had John with her.
‘What do you want?’ Graeme asked
‘Can’t a mother say hello to her son?’
‘Ha,’ Graeme said with a hollow laugh. ‘I’d have been better off being raised by wolves
‘That’s not a nice thing to say to your, mother,’ John said. ‘You should show some respect.’
‘Really,’ Graeme said. ‘Has she told you about locking Jack and me in our rooms for hours and not leaving us anything to eat and drink.’
‘Come on, son,’ Doris said, tugging at Graeme’s hand.
‘She was probably trying to toughen you up,’ John said
‘Yes, I was,’ Doreen said, seeking to banish the uncomfortable thoughts in her mind. ‘Just look how strong you and Jack are.’
‘Jack may be physically strong,’ Graeme said. ‘But his mind is as fragile as glass. As for me, well, I’ve spent my life in and out of one prison or the other, so it’s hardly a ringing endorsement of your parenting.’
‘I did my best.’
‘You could have done better!’ Graeme bellowed. ‘Now, bugger off.’
Two police officers suddenly came up to them.
‘Are you all right?’ a female police officer asked Doris.
‘Yes, she’s all right,’ Doreen said.
John shifted uncomfortably.
‘Are you sure?’ the officer asked as she looked at the bruises around Doris’s eyes which although fading were still visible.
Doris opened her mouth to speak.
Jack tried to keep up with Jasmine Cochrane as she ran to her car, but he was soon out of breath.
‘Hey, wait up will you,’ Jack said.
‘I’ve not got time for this.’ Jasmine said. Are they all dead? Maybe I can save a few of them if I get there quickly enough, she thought. ‘I must get back they need me.’
‘But you don’t know if there’s anything wrong for certain,’ Jack said. ‘It could be a technical problem with your equipment. They could be fine.’
‘Really?’ Jasmine asked as an expression of incredulity spread across her face. ‘Why was Connelly taunting me, then. He knew that something had happened to my team, to my friends.’
‘Okay, if there’s something wrong that still doesn’t mean you should barge in half-cocked,’ Jack said. ‘Besides, if it is as serious as you think then why not wait for the cavalry.’
‘It might be too late already,’ Jasmine said as she unlocked her car door and jumped into the front seat. Besides, the little girl, Sam, might be hurt too.’ Jack stood in front of the car blocking Jasmine’s progress Get out my way, Mr Ledger.’
‘Sam? Why is Sam with your agents?’
‘We were questioning her father, Pete,’ Jasmine said. ‘To see how he fits into all this and –’
‘He doesn’t fit into any of this.’ Jack said. ‘I don’t know why you’ve been surveilling Jonah Burns, but I can assure you that Pete and Sam have nothing to do with anything.’
Jasmine seemed to ignore Jack’s last statement. ‘Move, Mr Ledger, or I’ll run you down.’
‘I’m coming with you,’ Jack said.
‘I can’t allow a civ—’
‘Lady, you need all the help you can get so I’m coming with you, or you’re going to have to run me down to get past me,’
Despite all her training and all the protocols, Jasmine Cochrane made a decision which she hoped she wouldn’t regret. ‘Okay, Mr Ledger, you can come.’ You may be useful, she thought.
Jack sat in Jasmine Cochrane’s car and fumbled about in his jacket pocket for his Little Red Book of Karma and his pen.
‘Lost something?’ Jasmine asked as they drove along the road.
‘Found it,’ Jack said like a smoker who found the lighter they thought they’d lost. Jack wrote Connelly’s name in neat handwriting in his book, then in capitals wrote BREAK HIS LEGS!!! No one fires a gun at me. Jack thought.
‘What are you doing,’ Jasmine asked as she saw Jack write Connelly’s name in the book.
‘It’s just an aid to memory, that’s all,’ Jack said, feeling as if the itch in his brain had been scratched. ‘I think it’s time we level with each other, don’t you?’ Jack put his pen and little red book back in his pocket, still unaware that the transmitter Connelly put in his jacket pocket was working and could be used to track him down.
‘What do you mean?’ Cochrane asked.
‘I mean, agent, what do you think my involvement is in all this?’
‘Well, I don’t know,’ Jasmine said as she sped along the road towards the surveillance unit. ‘That was why I was ordered to bring you in, and it’s why we were questioning your friend, Pete. When I was listening in to the conversations in the factory, I assumed by the way that Jonah was treating you and your brother that you were maybe involved with O’Dowd somehow, but then he mentioned something about stolen diamonds, and—‘
‘O’Dowd?’ Jack asked, his brow creasing.
‘Yes, O’Dowd the man Jonah Burns has been working with,’ Jasmine frowned. ‘Why? Do you know him?’
‘I knew a man called O’Dowd, all right,’ Jack said. ‘He never even had the dece4ncy to turn up to his own daughter’s funeral.’
Jasmine wasn’t really paying attention to Jack and didn’t realise the significance of the statement. Jasmine’s eyes were fixed on the road in front of her while her mind whirled with a potent mixture of worry and guilt as she went over and over in her mind how things had played out. Was there anything I could have done differently? Jasmine thought.
Back on the street where Jasmine Cochrane had subdued Connelly two police officers stepped out the police car and leaned over a seemingly unconscious Conelly
‘Is he dead?’ asked the stouter of the two police officers.
‘No, but you are,’Connelly said. He shot the two officers in the head.
Had Connely known what was in store for him, he might have chosen to blow his brains out there and then. Instead, Connelly got back into his vehicle and went in pursuit of Jasmine Cochrane and Jack Ledger.