Time to move then, break down and pack away the Barrett, can’t bear to leave it for them, drop the pack, rig a small charge underneath it to ruin its discoverer’s day, hand gun in pocket with clips, AK in both hands, start wriggling away to the right and then up the slope, ten yards gone, fifteen, round a tree, then bullets start striking it, poor old beech, must be nearly two hundred years old. They’ve seen me, looks like one is trying to move parallel up the slope on my right, the other inching forward below me, loosing off the odd shot. They’re game, I’ll give them that: ninety percent casualties and still they keep coming, except for that one that got going, it didn’t help him either.
Can’t let that one on to the right get up the hillside before me, he must be near that remaining mine on that side. Detonate it, a cry, thanks Uncle Sam, near the hill summit now. The sound of vehicles racing into the valley floor, three, four, assume at least sixteen armed men then. Time to scoot, but a shot to the right reminds me I’m not alone on the slope. Where is he? The call of radio static has betrayed him, by that tree about sixty yards away, he’s talking to his mates down in the valley. Hurl a rock just to his right, he’s startled, moves away on instinct, into the path of four rounds from the AK47. When you’re on your own, Hendricks taught me, continuity of concentration sorted the living from the dying, too bad for you. Now scoot for the boundary wall, just hope she’s nearby,
Through the woodland hedge into the open field beyond, sprint like crazy, you’ve got at least five hundred yards and a steep slope’s head start, just pray they haven’t sent anyone ahead around you. Over the barbed wire fence into another strip of woodland, through that, another fence before an open field, this and more woodland, down the hillside to the perimeter wall.
Seven or eight minutes have passed.
His phone goes off, a text message, from her, twenty minutes away, is he okay?
One word answer, ‘yes’, then one more, ‘hunted’.
The hunter becomes the hunted, nothing new there, he’d felt hunted most of his young life, until the past few years at least. Have to buy time for her, time for the prey to turn predator for a while.
He was crossing the last open field now, the worst moment, where were they, his pursuers? An explosion away behind him, must be his pack booby trap, that’s one less then, perhaps more. Might as well use the last front-line claymore, another explosion, who knows if it achieves anything? No, it would, it would force them to move more slowly, more cautiously. There remained two more in the previous strip of woodland, and two here, in this last strip, both sets just inside the wire fencing, aiming backwards in his direction. You’ve got a nasty, cunning mind, you know that, no wonder Hendricks liked you, get them from behind as they pause at the fences. Any intense shooting here, this close to the perimeter, or explosions, would be sure to attract attention: how long would it take the police to arrive?
He settled behind a tree just inside the last strip of woodland, about one hundred and eighty yards below lay the perimeter wall, he would need a clear minute from here. Movement in the woodland opposite, can’t tell how many, wait ‘til the first ones start to climb the fence. Here he comes, point man, dead man, three rounds fired, one strikes him, crude these things, four hundred yards and it becomes a lottery. Bullets coming cracking across now, single shots, two, three minutes, odd; are they trying to encircle me? No signs of movement either side? Hold them here another fifteen minutes at least.
Time passes, then the sound of vehicle engines, from the far left, yes, there, two pick-ups entering the field through a gate, going straight for his woodland side, aiming to get men behind him. The fire from in front intensifies. Clear that away, both claymores go off, perhaps I should have waited, but the fire ceases… No just one or two left shooting, very slack though. Aim at the first vehicle, automatic, no choice now, a full clip brings it to a halt, one survivor takes cover behind and starts shooting back, the other pick-up crashes the fence while I’m is inserting the final clip. Move, no time, sprint for the wall, pull the wire away, over we go, down the other side, peek over the top. Voices in the trees above, moving swiftly from tree to tree, they can’t let him get away.
A car’s coming down the road, more of them, he points his weapon, heart sinking, no it’s her, a couple of minutes early.
He turns back, sees one of them half way down the slope, head poking round a tree, tough luck, he’s down, but they know where I am. He’s racing towards the car, crouched low behind the wall, motioning for her to turn the car around. She does, she’s twenty yards away… Pop up and look back over the wall, there’s one, eighty yards away almost behind the wall, a burst settles him, she’s got the door open, starting to pull away. One last burst into the woodland, drop the weapon and in behind her as she accelerates away; trigger the last two mines, why not, can only make them put their heads down for a second or two?
They’re around a corner now, accelerating away.
“Thanks Miss. That was a close one. By the way, how did you know to do that, pull away with the door open after turning around?”
She’s in shock, face strained and pale, but smiles.
“Old spy films, what else? Are you hurt?”
“No Miss, the thing with the number plates?”
“You noticed? Just masking tape, should be able to stop soon and take it off. Is there any sign of pursuit?”
They were three miles away already, heading deeper along the small lanes and into the hills, away from the gathering sirens converging on the site of the recent battle.
“No Miss, I think they’ve got their hands full right now.”
“What did you find out, anything?”
“A whole lot of gunmen training, well over thirty, perhaps forty, assault rifles, the works. I was lucky to make it out in one piece. Are you going to tell him, I think the police will know more than us shortly?”
“He’ll know soon enough. What happened in there?”
“I almost got trodden on, had to shoot my way out, left my pack behind, but there’s nothing there to trace me. Well, maybe some DNA, that’s all.”
“Tell me about it later, on we get back, so I can go and tell him this evening. What do you want to do now, go home?”
“Not yet Miss, not until he can speak for me there. Do you want me to disappear?”
“No, but you’ll need to be elsewhere when my cleaner and other people come around on Thursday, just for the day.”
“No problem, Miss, and thanks again, I owe you.”
How many was it, at least twenty-six, probably over thirty, that’s a start at least?
Later, when he told her the number, recounted events, she didn’t know whether to hug him or recoil, but he was the one to do the job for her, of that there was no doubt. Yes, providence it must be.
Later that afternoon, at the same time as she was leaving her flat for the trip to the hospital, Andy Bowson was arriving at the estate in the Chilterns. In the convoy of vehicles were the Command chief, Dager and a plethora of other officers. The first police to arrive at the scene had been shot at suffering casualties, three serious, before heavily armed back up had started to arrive, followed later by soldiers and armed helicopters. There were now hundreds of men at the site with more arriving all the time.
A siege of the main house was underway; several armed men were in situ with seemingly no shortage of weaponry or ammunition. The estate grounds were being combed in an effort to contain the situation, prevent escapees. Over thirty dead and dying men had been found, dressed in camouflage gear and suffering from gunshot and blast injuries. There were assault rifles and spent cartridge cases scattered about in profusion and the remains of detonated explosives. It was a war zone alright; the question was: whose?
Andy went across to a couple of ambulances in which body bagged corpses were being placed, unzipped a couple, a massive gunshot wound to one, the other looked more like handgun rounds.
It was the first he lingered over; he turned to Edward beside him.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking? This looks eerily familiar, he’s almost been torn apart, just one shot by the look of it. We’ve seen something like this before, heard it in fact.”
They backed off while the medics re-zipped them, glaring disapprovingly, and closed the doors.
“From a back street in Birmingham to a super-expensive country estate in the Chilterns, what’s the connection? Other than a number of dead and dying murderous Islamic lunatics, some with bullet wounds that make it look like they were hit by a cannon?”
“Don’t know boss, but I can’t say I’m sorry. Whoever’s done it has taken on an army and it looks like they got away, again. It’s got to be part of the same thing, can’t be coincidence.”
“I think you’re right. Only this time they must’ve left something behind for us, and one or two of those wounded gunmen may live long enough to tell us what happened.”
The politicians are going to go loopy, this place was apparently owned by super-rich Arabs, very well connected diplomatically, a supposed ally, and here they were hosting a major terrorist training base. With friends like these…
His assistant looked at him squarely in the eye.
“I hope they didn’t leave anything behind. I hope they just keep going as long as they avoid harming the innocent.”
George was challenging him, trying to see if he would turn him in, to provoke a reaction which would show his hand, which way he would jump if it came to it?
“I didn’t hear that, let’s get on with the job.”
I hope I’m not forced to decide.
© 1642again 2018