The bourne supremacy, p.116
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.116

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 116


  Mao's tomb. Special guns for special people, another recognition factor, the armaments consistent. Instead of one shell, he now had the full complement of nine in addition to a silencer that precluded disturbing the revered dead in a revered mausoleum. The second was a wallet that contained money and an official document proclaiming the bearer to be a member of the People's Security Forces. The conspirators had colleagues in high places. Bourne rolled the corpse under the limousine, slashed the left tyres and raced around the car, plunging his hunting knife into those on the right. The huge automobile settled into the ground. The captain from the Kuomintang was provided with a secure, concealed resting place.

  Jason ran to the gatehouse, debating whether or not to shoot out the floodlights and decided against it. If he survived he would need the illumination of the landmark. If! he had to survive! Marie! He went inside, kneeling below the window, and removed the shells from the guard's automatic, inserting them into his own. He then looked around for schedules or instructions; there was a roster tacked to the wall next to the ring of keys hanging on a nail. He grabbed the keys.

  A telephone rang! The ear-splitting bell reverberated off the glass walls of the small gatehouse. If there's a telephone check, I know the routine. A captain from the Kuomintang. Bourne rose, picked up the phone from the counter and crouched again, spreading his fingers over the mouthpiece.

  'Jing Shan," he said hoarsely. 'Yes?'

  'Hello, my thrusting butterfly,' answered a female voice in what Jason could hear was decidedly uncultured Mandarin. 'How are all your birds tonight?'

  'They're fine but I'm not. '

  'You don't sound like yourself. This is Wo, isn't it?'

  'With a terrible cold and vomiting and running back to the toilets every two minutes. Nothing stays down or inside. '

  'Will you be all right in the morning? I don't wish to be contaminated. '

  Take out the lonely ones, the ugly ones. . . 'I wouldn't want to miss our date-'

  'You'll be too weak. I'll call you tomorrow night. '

  'My heart withers like the dying flower. '

  'Cow dung!' The woman hung up.

  As he talked, Jason's eyes strayed to a pile of heavy coiled chain in the corner of the gatehouse; and he understood. In China, where so many mechanical things failed, the chain was a back-up should the lock in the centre of the gate refuse to close. On top of the coiled chain was an ordinary steel padlock. One of the keys on the ring should fit it, he thought as he inserted several until the lock sprang open. He gathered up the chain and started outside, then stopped, turned around and ripped the telephone out of the wall. One more piece of malfunctioning equipment.

  At the gate, he uncoiled the chain and wound the entire length around the mid-point of the two centre posts until there was a bulging mass of coiled steel. He pressed four links of the chain together so that the open spaces were clear, inserted the curved bar and secured the lock. Everything was stretched taut and contrary to generally accepted belief, firing a bullet into the mass of hard metal would not blow it apart, only heighten the possibility that a deflected bullet might kill the one firing and endanger the lives of anyone else in the area. He turned and started down the centre path, once more staying in the shadows of the border.

  The path was dark. The glow from the floodlit gate was blocked by the dense woods of the bird sanctuary, the light, however, still visible in the sky. Cupping his penlight in the palm of his left hand, his arm stretched downwards towards the ground, he could see every six or seven feet a small piece of gravel. Once he saw the first two or three he knew what to look for: tiny discolorations on the dark earth, the distance relatively consistent between each. D'Anjou had squeezed up each stone, probably between his thumb and forefinger, rubbing it as hard as he could to remove the grime of the parking lot and impart the oils of his flesh so that each might stand out. The battered Echo had not lost his presence of mind.

  Suddenly, there were two stones, not one, and only inches apart. Jason looked up, squinting in the tiny glow of the concealed penlight. The two stones were no accident but another signal. The main path continued straight ahead, but the one taken by the herded prisoners veered sharply to the right. Two stones meant a turn.

  Then, abruptly, there was a change in the relative distances between the pebbles. They were farther and farther apart, and just when Bourne thought there were no more, he saw another. Suddenly, there were two on the ground, marking another intersecting path. D'Anjou knew he was running out of stones and so had begun a second strategy, a tactic that quickly became clear to Jason. As long as the prisoners remained on a single path, there would be no stones, but when they turned into other paths two pieces of gravel indicated the direction. He skirted the edges of marshes and went deep into fields and' out of them, everywhere hearing the sudden fluttering of wings and the screeches of disturbed birds as they winged off into the moonlit sky. Finally there was only one narrow path and it led down into a glen of sorts-

  He stopped, instantly extinguishing the cupped penlight. Below, about a hundred feet down the narrow path, he saw the glow of a cigarette. It moved slowly, casually, up and down, an unconcerned man smoking, but still a man placed where he was for a reason. Then Jason studied the darkness beyond - because it was a different darkness; specks of light flickered now and then through the dense woods of the descending glen. Torches, perhaps, for there was nothing constant about the barely discernible light. Of course, torches. He had reached it. Below in the distant glen, beyond the guard with his cigarette, was the meeting ground.

  Bourne lurched into the tangled brush on the right side of the path. He started down only to find that the serpentine reeds were like fish nets, stalks woven together by years of erratic winds. To rip them apart or to break them would create noise inconsistent with the normal sounds of the sanctuary. Snaps and zipper-like scratchings were not the sudden fluttering of wings or the screeches of disturbed inhabitants. They were man-made and signified a different intrusion. He reached for his knife, wishing the blade were longer, and began a journey that had he remained on the path would have taken him no more than thirty seconds. It took him now nearly twenty minutes to slice his way silently to within sight of the guard.

  'My God! Jason held his breath, suppressing the cry in his throat. He had slipped; the slithering, hissing creature beneath his left foot was at least a yard and a half in length. It coiled around his leg, and in panic he clutched a part of the body, pulling it away from his flesh and severing it in mid-air with his knife. The snake thrashed violently about for several seconds, then the spasms stopped; it was dead, uncoiled at his foot. He closed his eyes and shivered, letting the moment pass. Again he crouched and crept closer to the guard, who was now lighting another cigarette or trying to light it with one match after another that failed to ignite. The guard seemed furious with his government subsidized book of matches.

  'Ma de shizi, shizi?' he said under his breath, the cigarette in his mouth.

  Bourne crawled forward, slicing the last few reeds of thick grass until he was six feet from the man. He sheathed the hunting knife and again reached into his right back pocket for the garrotte. There could be no misplaced blade that permitted a scream; there could only be utter silence broken by an unheard expulsion of air.

  He's a human being! A son, a brother, a father!

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