Doctor No

Page 34

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Bond held her to him. He said anxiously, “Are you hurt, Honey?”

“No, I'm all right. It's just that I'm so terribly tired. And my feet got rather cut on the mountain. I fell a lot in the dark. If we could walk a bit. We're nearly there. And there's a door into the garage before we get to the machine shop. Couldn't we go in there?”

Bond hugged her to him. He said, “That's just what I'm looking for, Honey. That's our only hope of getting away. If you can stick it till we get there, we've got a real chance.”

Bond put his arm round her waist and took her weight. He didn't trust himself to look at her feet. He knew they must be bad. It was no good being sorry for each other. There wasn't time for it if they we're to stay alive.

They started moving again, Bond's face grim with the extra effort, the girl's feet leaving bloody footsteps on the ground, and almost immediately she whispered urgently and there was a wooden door in the wall of the tunnel and it was ajar and no sound came from the other side.

Bond took out his gun and gently eased the door open. The long garage was empty. Under the neon lights the black and gold painted dragon on wheels looked like a float waiting for the Lord Mayor's Show. It was pointing towards the sliding doors and the hatch of the armoured cabin stood open. Bond prayed that the tank was full and that the mechanic had carried out his orders to get the damage fixed.

Suddenly, from somewhere outside, there was the sound of voices. They came nearer, several of them, jabbering urgently.

Bond took the girl by the hand and ran forward. There was only one place to fide-in the marsh buggy. The girl scrambled in. Bond followed, softly pulling the door shut behind him. They crouched, waiting. Bond thought: only three rounds left in the gun. Too late he remembered the rack of weapons on the wall of the garage. Now the voices were outside. There came the clang of the door being slid back on its runners and a confusion of talk.

“How d'ya know they were shootin'?”

“Couldn't been nuthen else. I should know.”

“Better take rifles. Here, Joe! Take that one, Lemmy! An' some pineapples. Box under da table.”

There was the metallic noise of bolts being slid home and safety catches clicked.

“Some feller must a gone nuts. Couldn't ha' been da Limey. You ever seen da big pus-feller in da creek? Cheessus! An' da rest of da tricks da Doc fixed up in da tube? An' dat white gal. She cain't have been in much shape dis niornin'. Any of you men bin to have a look?”

“Nossir.”

“No.”

“No.”

“Haw, haw. I'se sho surprised at you fellers. Dat's a fine piece of ass out dere on de crab walk.”


More rattling and shuffling of feet, then, “Okay let's go! Two abreast till we gets to da main tunnel. Shoot at da legs. Whoever's makin' trouble, da Doc'll sure want him to play wit.”

“Tee-hee.”

Feet echoed hollowly on the concrete. Bond held his breath as they filed by. Would they notice the shut door of the buggy? But they went on down the garage and into the tunnel and the noise of them slowly faded away.

Bond touched the girl's arm and put his finger to his lips. Softly he eased open the door and listened again. Nothing. He dropped to the ground and walked round the buggy and . went to the half-open entrance. Cautiously he edged his head round. There was no one in sight. There was a smell of frying food in the air that brought the saliva to Bond's mouth. Dishes and pans clattered in the nearest building, about twenty yards away, and from one of the further Quonsets came the sound of a guitar and a man's voice singing a calypso. Dogs started to bark half-heartedly and then were silent. The Dobermann Pinschers.

Bond turned and ran back to the end of the garage. No sound came from the tunnel. Softly Bond closed the tunnel door and locked and bolted it. He went to the arms-rack on the wall and chose another Smith & Wesson and a Remington carbine. He verified that they were loaded and went to the door of the marsh buggy and handed them in to the girl. Now the entrance door. Bond put his shoulder to it and softly eased it wide open. The corrugated iron rumbled hollowly. Bond ran back and scrambled through the open hatch and into the driver's seat. “Shut it, Honey,” he whispered urgently and bent and turned the ignition key.

The needle on the gauge swung to Full. Pray God the damned thing would start up quickly. Some diesels were slow. Bond stamped his foot down on the starter.

The grinding rattle was deafening. It must be audible all over the compound! Bond stopped and tried again. The engine fluttered and died. And again, and this time the blessed thing fired and the strong iron pulse hammered as Bond revved it up. Now, gently into gear. Which one? Try this. Yes, it bit. Brake off, you bloody fool! Christ, it had nearly stalled. But now they were out and on the track and Bond rammed his foot down to the floor.

“Anyone after us?” Bond had to shout above the noise of the diesel.

“No. Wait! Yes, there's a man come out of the huts! And another! They're waving and shouting at us. Now some more are corning out. One of them's run off to the right. Another's gone back into the hut. He's come out with a rifle. He's lying down. He's firing!”

“Close the slot! Lie down on the floor!” Bond glanced at the speedometer. Twenty. And they were on a slope. There was nothing more to get out of the machine. Bond concentrated on keeping the huge bucking wheels on the track. The cabin bounced and swayed on the springs. It was a job to keep his hands and feet on the controls. An iron fist clanged against the cabin. And another. What was the range? Four hundred? Good shooting! But that would be the lot. He shouted, “Take a look, Honey! Open the slot an inch.”

“The man's got up. He's stopped firing. They're all looking after us-a whole crowd of them. Wait, there's something else. The dogs are coming! There's no one with them. They're just tearing down the track after us. Will they catch us?”

“Doesn't matter if they do. Come and sit by me, Honey. Hold tight. Mind your head against the roof.” Bond eased up the throttle. She was beside him. He grinned sideways at her. “Hell, Honey. We've made it. When we get down to the lake I'll stop and shoot up the dogs. If I know those brutes I've only got to kill one and the whole pack'll stop to eat him.”

Bond felt her hand at his neck. She kept it there as they swayed and thundered down the track. At the lake, Bond went on fifty yards into the water and turned the machine round and put it in neutral. Through the oblong slot he could see the pack streaming round the last bend. He reached down for the rifle and pushed it through the aperture. Now the dogs were in the water and swimming. Bond kept his finger on the trigger and sprayed bullets into the middle of them. One floundered, kicking. Then another and another. He could hear their snarling screams above the clatter of the engine. There was blood in the water, A fight had started. He saw one dog leap on one of the wounded ones and sink its teeth into the back of its neck. Now they all seemed to have gone berserk. They were milling around in the frothing bloody water. Bond emptied his magazine among them and dropped the gun on the floor. He said, “That's that, Honey,” and put the machine into gear and swung it round and began rolling at an easy speed across the shallow lake towards the distant gap in the mangroves that was the mouth of the river.

For five minutes they moved along in silence. Then Bond put a hand on the girl's knee and said, “We should be all right now, Honey. When they find the boss is dead there'll be panic. I guess some of the brighter ones will try and get away to Cuba in the plane or the launch. They'll worry about their skins, not about us. All the same, we'll not take the canoe out until it's dark. I guess it's about ten by now. We should be at the coast in an hour. Then we'll rest up and try and get in shape for the trip. Weather looks all right and there'll be a bit more moon tonight. Think you can make it?”

Her hand squeezed his neck. “Of course I can, James. But what about you? Your poor body! It's nothing but burns and bruises. And what are those red marks across your stomach?”

“Tell you later. I'll be okay. But you tell me what happened to you last night. How in hell did you manage to get away from the crabs? What went wrong with that bastard's plan? All night long I could only think of you out there being slowly eaten to death. God, what a thing to have dreamed up! What happened?”

The girl was actually laughing. Bond looked sideways. The golden hair was tousled and the blue eyes were heavy with lack of sleep, but otherwise she might just be coming home from a midnight barbecue.

“That man thought he knew everything. Silly old fool.” She might have been talking about a stupid schoolteacher. “He's much more impressed by the black crabs than I am. To begin with, I don't mind any animal touching me, and anyway those crabs wouldn't think of even nipping someone if they stay quite still and haven't got an open sore or anything. The whole point is that they don't really like meat. They live mostly on plants and things. If he was right and he did kill a black girl that way, either she had an open wound or she must have died of fright. He must have wanted to see if I'd stand it. Filthy old man. I only fainted down there at dinner because I knew he'd have something much worse for you.”

“Well, I'm damned. I wish to heaven I'd known that. I thought of you being picked to pieces.”

The girl snorted. “Of course it wasn't very nice having my clothes taken off and being tied down to pegs in the ground. But those black men didn't dare touch me. They just made jokes and then went away. It wasn't very comfortable out there on the rock, but I was thinking of you and how I could get at Doctor No and kill him. Then I heard the crabs beginning to run-that's what we call it in Jamaica-and soon they came scurrying and rattling along-hundreds of them. I just lay still and thought of you. They walked round me and over me. I might have been a rock for all they cared. They tickled a bit. One annoyed me by trying to pull out a bit of my hair. But they don't smell or anything, and I just waited for the early morning when they crawl into holes and go to sleep. I got quite fond of them. They were company. Then they got fewer and fewer and finally stopped coming and I could move. I pulled at all the pegs in turn and then concentrated on my right-hand one. In the end I got it out of the crack in the rock and the rest was easy. I got back to the buildings and began scouting about. I got into the machine shop near the garage and found this filthy old suit. Then the conveyor thing started up not far away and I thought about it and I guessed it must be taking the guano through the mountain. I knew you must be dead by then,” the quiet voice was matter of fact, “so I thought I'd get to the conveyor somehow and get through the mountain and kill Doctor No. I took a screwdriver to do it with.” She giggled. “When we ran into each other, I'd have stuck it into you only it was in my pocket and I couldn't get to it. I found the door in the back of the machine shop and walked through and into the main tunnel. That's all.” She caressed the back of his neck. “I ran along watching my step and the next thing I knew was your head hitting me in the stomach.” She giggled again. “Darling, I hope I didn't hurt you too much when we were fighting. My Nanny told me always to hit men there.”

Bond laughed. “She did, did she?” He reached out and caught her by the hair and pulled her face to him. Her mouth felt its way round his cheek and locked itself against his.

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