The bourne supremacy, p.104
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.104

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 104


  Footsteps. Over his right shoulder. Bourne spun to his left, pulling the brass letter-opener from his belt. A figure in a grey Mao suit, the cut military, cautiously passed by the wide pillar in the dim outer light of the pine trees. He was no more than five feet away. In his hand was a gun, the bulging cylinder on the barrel a guarantee that a detonation would be reduced to the sound of a spit. Jason made his lethal calculations in a way David Webb would never understand. The blade had to be inserted in such a way as to cause instant death. No noise could come from his enemy's mouth as the body was pulled back into darkness.

  He lunged, the rigid fingers of his left hand clamped vice-like over the man's face as he plunged the letter-opener into the soldier's neck, the blade rushing through sinew and fragile cartilage, severing the windpipe. In one motion, Bourne dropped his left hand, clutching the large weapon still in his enemy's grip, and swung the corpse around, dropping with it under the branches of the row of pine trees lined up along the right wall. He slid the body out of sight into the dark shadows between two large ceramic pots holding the roots of two trees. He crawled over the corpse, the weapon in front of his face, and made his way back against the wall towards the first hall, to where he could see without being seen.

  A second uniformed man crossed through the shaft of light that lit up the darkness of the entrance to the second hall. He stood in front of Mao's crystal coffin, awash in the eerie beams, and looked around. He raised a hand-held radio to his face and spoke, listening; five seconds later his expression changed to one of concern. He began walking rapidly to his right, tracing the assigned path of the first man. Jason scrambled back towards the corpse, hands and knees silently pounding the marble floor, and moved out towards the edge of the low-slung branches.

  The soldier approached, walking more slowly, studying the last people in the line up ahead. Now! Bourne sprang up as the man passed, hammer-locking his neck, choking off all sound as he pulled him back down under the branches, the gun pressed far up in the flesh of the soldier's stomach. He pulled the trigger; the muffled report was like a burst of air, no more. The man expunged a last violent breath and went limp.

  He had to get out If he was trapped and killed in the awed silence of the mausoleum the assassin would roam free and Marie's death would be assured. His enemies were closing the reverse trap. He had to reverse the reversal and somehow survive! The cleanest escape is made in stages, using whatever confusion there is or can be created.

  Stages One and Two were accomplished. A certain confusion already existed if other men were whispering into radios. What had to be brought about was a focal point of disruption so violent and unexpected that those hunting him in the shadows would themselves become the subjects of a sudden, hysterical search.

  There was only one way and Jason felt no obscure heroic feelings of I-may-die-trying. He had to do it! He had to make it work. Survival was everything, for reasons beyond himself. The professional was at his apex, calm and deliberate.

  Bourne stood up and walked through branches, crossing the open space to the pillar in front of him. He then ran to the one behind, and then the one behind that, the first pillar in the second hall, thirty feet from the dramatically-lit coffin. He edged his body around the marble and waited, his eyes on the entrance door.

  It happened. They happened. The officer who was the assassin's 'captive' emerged with the short civilian carrying his government briefcase. The soldier held a radio at his side;

  he brought it up to speak and listen, then shook his head, placing the radio in his right-hand pocket and removing the gun from his holster. The civilian nodded once, reached under his jacket and pulled out a short-barrelled revolver. Each walked forward towards the glass coffin containing the remains of Mao Zedong, then looked at each other and began to separate, one to the left, one to the right.

  Now! Jason raised his weapon, took rapid aim and fired. Once! A hair to the right. Twice! The spits were like coughs in shadows as both men fell into the sarcophagus. Grabbing the edges of his coat, Bourne gripped the hot cylinder on the barrel of his pistol and spun it off. There were five shells left. He squeezed the trigger in rapid succession. The explosions filled the mausoleum, echoing off the marble walls, shattering the crystal glass of the coffin, the bullets embedding themselves in the spastically jerked corpse of Mao Zedong, one penetrating a bloodless forehead, another blowing out an eye.

  Sirens erupted; clamouring bells split the air and deafened the ear, as soldiers, appearing at once from everywhere, raced in panic towards the scene of the horrible outrage. The two lines of tourists, feeling trapped in the eerie light of the house of death, exploded into hysteria. En masse, the crowds rushed towards the doors and the sunlight, trampling those in their paths. Jason Bourne joined them, crashing his way into the centre of an inside column. Reaching the blinding light of Tian an men Square, he raced down the steps.

  D'Anjou! Jason ran to his right, rounding the stone corner, and ran down the side of the pillared structure until he reached the front. Guards were doing their best to calm the agitated crowds while trying to find out what had happened. A riot was in the making.

  Bourne studied the place where he had last seen d'Anjou, then moved his eyes over a gridlock area within which the Frenchman might logically be seen. Nothing, no one even vaguely resembling him.

  Suddenly, there was the screeching of tyres far off on a thoroughfare to Jason's left. He whipped around and looked. A van with tinted windows had circled the stanchioned pavement and was speeding towards the south gate of Tian an men Square. They had taken d'Anjou. Echo was gone.

  Chapter Twenty-four

  'Qu'est-il arrive?'

  'Des coups defer! Les gardes sont paniques!"

  Bourne heard the shouts and, running, joined the group of French tourists led by a guide whose concentration was riveted on the chaos taking place on the steps of the mausoleum. He buttoned his jacket, covering the gun in his belt, and slipped the perforated silencer into his pocket. Glancing around, he moved quickly back through the crowd next to a man taller than himself, a well-dressed man with a disdainful expression. Jason was grateful that there were several others of nearly equal height in front of them; with luck and in the excitement he might remain inconspicuous. Above, at the top of the mausoleum's stairs, the doors had been partially opened. Uniformed men were racing back and forth along the stairs. Obviously the leadership was a shambles, and Bourne knew why. It had fled, had simply disappeared, wanting no part of the terrible events. All that concerned Jason now was the assassin. Would he come out? Or had he found d'Anjou, capturing his creator himself and leaving with Echo in the van, convinced that the original Jason Bourne was trapped, a second unlikely corpse in the desecrated mausoleum.

  'Qu'est-ce que c'est?' asked Jason, addressing the tall, well-dressed Frenchman beside him.

  'Another ungodly delay, no doubt,' replied the man in a somewhat effeminate Parisian accent. This place is a madhouse, and my tolerance is at an end! I'm going back to the hotel. '

  'Can you do that?' Bourne up-graded his French from middle-class to a decent university. It meant so much to a Parisian. 'I mean, are we permitted to leave our tour? We hear constantly that we must stay together. '

  'I'm a businessman, not a tourist. This "tour", as you call it, was not on my agenda. Frankly, I had the afternoon off -these people linger endlessly over decisions - and thought I'd see a few sights but there wasn't a French-speaking driver available. The concierge assigned me - mind you assigned me - to this group. The guide, you know, is a student of French literature and speaks as though she was born in the seventeenth century. I haven't a clue what this so-called tour is all about. '

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