Bond’s skin crawled on his back. Softly, wearily, his mouth uttered one bitter four-lettered word. So this was the last surprise of Doctor No, the end of the race!
Bond stared down, half hypnotized, into the wavering pools of eye far below. So this was the 佛山桑拿中心 giant squid, the mythical kraken that could pull ships beneath the waves, the fifty-foot-long monster that battled with whales, that weighed a ton or more. What else did he know about them? That they had two long seizing tentacles and ten holding ones. That they had a huge blunt beak beneath eyes that were the only fishes’ eyes that worked on the camera principle, like a man’s. That their brains were efficient, that they could shoot backwards through the water at thirty knots, by jet-propulsion. That explosive harpoons burst in their jellied mantle without damaging them. That… but the bulging black and white targets of the eyes were rising up towards him. The surface of the water shivered. Now Bond could see the forest of tentacles that flowered out of the face of the thing. They were weaving in front of the eyes like a bunch 佛山桑拿按摩一条龙图片 of thick snakes. Bond could see the dots of the suckers on their undersides. Behind the head, the great flap of the mantle softly opened and closed, and behind that the jellied sheen of the body disappeared into the depths. God, the thing was as big as a railway engine!
Softly, discreetly, Bond snaked his feet and then his arms through the squares in the wire, lacing himself into them, anchoring himself so that the tentacles would have either to tear him to bits or wrench down the wire barrier with him. He squinted to right and left. Either way it was twenty yards along the wire to the land. And movement, even if he was capable of it, would be fatal. He must stay dead quiet and pray that the thing would lose interest. If it didn’t… Softly Bond’s fingers clenched on the puny knife.
The eyes watched him, coldly, patiently. 佛山桑拿会所上门服务 Delicately, like the questing trunk of an elephant, one of the long seizing tentacles broke the surface and palped its way up the wire towards his leg. It reached his foot. Bond felt the hard kiss of the suckers. He didn’t move. He dared not reach down and lose the grip of his arms through the wire. Softly the suckers tugged, testing the amount of yield. It was not enough. Like a huge slimy caterpillar, the tentacle walked slowly on up the leg. It got to the bloody blistered kneecap and stopped there, interested. Bond’s teeth gritted with the pain. He could imagine the message going back down the thick tentacle to the brain: Yes, it’s good to eat! And the brain signalling back: then get it! Bring it to me!
The suckers walked on up the thigh. The tip of the tentacle was pointed, then it splayed out so that it almost covered the 佛山桑拿一条龙 width of Bond’s thigh and then tapered off to a wrist. That was Bond’s target. He would just have to take the pain and the horror and wait for the wrist to come within range.
A breeze, the first soft breeze of early morning, whispered across the metal surface of the inlet. It raised small waves that slapped gently against the sheer walls of the cliff. A wedge of cormorants took off from the guanera, five hundred feet above the inlet, and, cackling softly, made out to sea. As they swept over, the noise that had disturbed them reached Bond-the triple blast of a ship’s siren that means it is ready to take on cargo. It came from Bond’s left. The jetty must be round the corner from the northern arm of the inlet. The tanker from Antwerp had come in. Antwerp! Part of the world outside-the world that was a million miles away, out of 佛山桑拿论坛888 Bond’s reach-surely out of his reach for ever. Just around that corner, men would be in the galley, having breakfast. The radio would be playing. There would be the sizzle of bacon and eggs, th smell of coffee… breakfast cooking…
The suckers were at his hip. Bond could see into the horny cups. A stagnant sea smell reached him as the hand slowly undulated upwards. How tough was the mottled grey-brown jelly behind the hand? Should he stab? No, it must be a quick’ hard slash, straight across, like cutting a rope. Never mind about cutting into his own skin.
Now! Bond took a quick glance into the two football eyes, so patient, so incurious. As he did so the other seizing arm broke the surface and shot straight up at his face. Bond jerked back and the hand curled into a fist round the wire in front of his eyes. In a second it would shift 佛山桑拿浴特殊服务 to an arm or shoulder and he would be finished. Now!
The first hand was on his ribs. Almost without taking aim, Bond’s knife-hand slashed down and across. He felt the blade bite into the puddingy flesh and then the knife was almost torn from his grip as the wounded tentacle whipped back into the water. For a moment the sea boiled around him. Now the other hand let go the wire and slapped across his stomach. The pointed hand stuck like a leech, all the power of the suckers furiously applied. Bond screamed as the suckers bit into his flesh. He slashed madly, again and again. God, his stomach was being torn out! The wire shook with the struggle. Below him the water boiled and foamed. He would have to give in. One more stab, this time into the back of the hand. It worked! The hand jerked free and snaked down and away leaving twenty red circles, edged with blood, across his skin.
Bond had not time to worry about them. Now the head of the squid had broken the surface and the sea was being thrashed into foam by the great heaving mantle round it. The eyes were glaring up at him, redly, venomously, and the forest of feeding arms was at his feet and legs, tearing the cotton fabric away and flailing back. Bond was being pulled down, inch by inch. The wire was biting into his armpits. He could even feel his spine being stretched. If he held on he would be torn in half. Now the eyes and the great triangular beak were right out of the water and the beak was reaching up for his feet. There was one hope, only one!
Bond thrust his knife between his teeth and his hand dived for the crook of the wire spear. He tore it out, got it between his two hands and wrenched the doubled wire almost straight.
He would have to let go with one arm to stoop and get within range. If he missed, he would be torn to shreds on the fence.
Now, before he died of the pain! Now, now!
Bond let his whole body slip down the ladder of wire and lunged through and down with all his force.
He caught a glimpse of the tip of his spear lancing into the centre of a black eyeball and then the whole sea erupted up at him in a fountain of blackness and he fell and hung upside down by the knees, his head an inch from the surface of the water.
What had happened? Had he gone blind? He could see nothing. His eyes were stinging and there was a horrible fish taste in his mouth. But he could feel the wire cutting into the tendons behind his knees. So he must be alive! Dazedly Bond let go the spear from his trailing hand and reached up and felt for the nearest strand of wire. He got a hold and reached up his other hand and slowly, agonizingly, pulled himself up so that he was sitting in the fence. Streaks of light came into his eyes. He wiped a hand across his face. Now he could see. He gazed at his hand. It was black and sticky. He looked down at his body. It was covered with black slime, and blackness stained the sea for twenty yards around. Then Bond realized. The wounded squid had emptied its ink sac at him.
But where was the squid? Would it come back? Bond searched the sea. Nothing, nothing but the spreading stain of black. Not a movement. Not a ripple. Then don’t wait! Get away from here! Get away quick! Wildly Bond looked to right and left. Left was towards the ship, but also towards Doctor No. But right was towards nothing. To build the wire fence the men must have come from the left, from the direction of the jetty. There would be some sort of a path. Bond reached for the top cable and frantically began to edge along the swaying fence towards the rocky headland twenty yards away.
The stinking, bleeding, black scarecrow moved its arms and legs quite automatically. The thinking, feeling apparatus of Bond was no longer part of his body. It moved alongside his body, or floated above it, keeping enough contact to pull the strings that made the puppet work. Bond was like a cut worm, the two halves of which continue to jerk forward although life has gone and been replaced by the mock life of nervous impulses. Only, with Bond, the two halves were not yet dead. Life was only in abeyance in them. All he needed was an ounce of hope, an ounce of reassurance that it was still worth while trying to stay alive.
Bond got to the-rock face. Slowly he let himself down to the bottom rung of wire. He gazed vaguely at the softly heaving sheen of water. It was black, impenetrable, as deep as the rest. Should he chance it? He must! He could do nothing until he had washed off the caking slime and blood, the horrible stale fish-smell. Moodily, fatalistically, he took off the rags of his shirt and trousers and hung them on the wire. He looked down at his brown and white body, striped and pock-marked with red. On an instinct he felt his pulse. It was slow but regular. The steady thump of life revived his spirits. What the hell was he worrying about? He was alive. The wounds and bruises on his body were nothing-absolutely nothing. They looked ugly, but nothing was broken. Inside the torn envelope, the machine was quietly, solidly ticking over. Superficial cuts and abrasions, bloody memories, deathly exhaustion-these were hurts that an accident ward would sneer at. Get on, you bastard! Get moving! Clean yourself and wake up. Count your blessings. Think of the girl. Think of the man you’ve somehow got to find and kill. Hang on to life like you’ve hung on to the knife between your teeth. Stop being sorry for yourself. To hell with what happened just now. Get down into the water and wash!
Ten minutes later, Bond, his wet rags clinging to his scrubbed, stinging body and his hair slicked back out of his eyes, climbed over the top of the headland.
Yes, it was as he had guessed. A narrow rocky track, made by the feet of the workers, led down the other side and round the bulge of the cliff.
From close by came various sounds and echoes. A crane was working. He could hear the changing beat of its engine. There were iron ship-noises and the sound of water splashing into the sea from a bilge pump.
Bond looked up at the sky. It was pale blue. Clouds tinged with golden pink were trailing away towards the horizon. Far above him the cormorants were wheeling round the guanera. Soon they would be going off to feed. Perhaps even now they were watching the scout groups far out at sea locating the fish. It would be about six o’clock, the dawn of a beautiful day.
Bond, leaving drops of blood behind him, picked his way carefully down the track and along the bottom of the shadowed cliff. Round the bead, the track filtered through a maze of giant, tumbled boulders. The noises grew louder. Bond crept softly forward, watching his footholds for loose stones. A voice called out, startlingly close, “Okay to go?” There was a distant answer: “Okay.” The crane engine accelerated. A few more yards. One more boulder. And another. Now!
Bond flattened himself against the rock and warily inched his head round the corner.
XIX A SHOWER OF DEATH
Bond took one long comprehensive look and pulled back. He leant against the cool face of rock and waited for his breathing to get back to normal. He lifted his knife close up to his eyes and carefully examined the blade. Satisfied, he slipped it behind him and down the waistband of his trousers up against his spine. There it would be handy but protected from bitting against anything. He wondered about the lighter. He took it out of his hip pocket. As a hunk of metal it might be useful, but it wouldn’t light any more and it might scrape against the rock. He put it down on the ground away from his feet.
Then Bond sat down and meticulously went over the photograph that was in his brain.
Round the corner, not more than ten yards away, was the crane. There was no back to the cabin. Inside it a man sat at the controls. It was the Chinese Negro boss, the driver of the marsh buggy. In front of him the jetty ran twenty yards out into the sea and ended in a T. An aged tanker of around ten thousand tons deadweight was secured alongside the top of the T. It stood well out of the water, its deck perhaps twelve feet above the quay. The tanker was called Blanche, and the Ant of Antwerp showed at her stern. There was no sign of life On board except one figure lolling at the wheel in the enclosed bridge. The rest of the crew would be below, battened away from the guano dust. From just to the right of the crane, an overhead conveyor-belt in a corrugated-iron housing ran out from the cliff-face. It was carried on high stanchions above the jetty and stopped just short of the hold of the tanker. Its mouth ended in a huge canvas sock, perhaps six feet in diameter,. The purpose of the crane was to lift the wireframed mouth of the sock so that it hung directly over the hold of the tanker and to move it to right or left to give even distribution. From out of the mouth of the sock, in a solid downward jet, the scrambled-egg-coloured guano dust was pouring into the hold of the tanker at a rate of tons a minute.
Below, on the jetty, to the left and to leeward of the drifting smoke of the guano dust, stood the tall, watchful figure of Doctor No.
That was all. The morning breeze feathered the deep-water anchorage, still half in shadow beneath the towering cliffs, the’ conveyor-belt thudded quietly on its rollers, the crane’s engine chuffed rhythmically. There was no other sound, no other movement, no other life apart from the watch at the ship’s wheel, the trusty working at the crane, and Doctor No, seeing that all went well. On the other side of the mountain men would be working, feeding the guano to the conveyor-belt that rumbled away through the bowels of the rock, but on this side no one was allowed and no one was necessary. Apart from aiming the canvas mouth of the conveyor, there was nothing else for anyone to do.
Bond sat and thought, measuring distances, guessing at angles, remembering exactly where the crane driver’s hands and feet were on the levers and the pedals. Slowly, a thin, hard smile broke across the haggard, sunburned face. Yes! It was on! It could be done. But softly, gently, slowly! The prize was almost intolerably sweet.
Bond examined the soles of his feet and his hands. They; would serve. They would have to serve. He reached back ana felt the handle of the knife. Shifted it an inch. He stood up and took several slow deep breaths, ran his hands through his salt-and sweat-matted hair, rubbed them harshly up and down his face and then down the tattered sides of his black jeans. He gave a final flex to his fingers. He was ready.
Bond stepped up to the rock and inched an eye round. Nothing had changed. His guess at the distances had been right. The crane driver was watchful, absorbed. The neck above the open khaki shirt was naked, offered, waiting. Twenty yards away, Doctor No, also with his back to Bond, stood sentry over the thick rich cataract of whity-yellow dust. On the bridge, the watch was lighting a cigarette.
Bond looked along the ten yards of path that led past the back of the crane. He picked out the places he would put each foot. Then he came out from behind the rock and ran.
Bond ran to the right of the crane, to a point he had chosen where the lateral side of the cabin would hide him from the driver and the jetty. He got there and stopped, crouching, listening. The engine hurried on, the conveyor-belt rumbled steadily out of the mountain above and behind him. There was no change.
The two iron footholds at the back of the cabin, inches away from Bond’s face, looked solid. Anyway the noise of the engine would drown small sounds. But he would have to be quick to yank the man’s body out of the seat and get his own hands and feet on the controls. The single stroke of the knife would have to be mortal. Bond felt along his own collarbone, felt the soft triangle of skin beneath which the jugular pumped, remembered the angle of approach behind the man’s back, reminded himself to force the blade and hold it in.
For a final second he listened, then he reached behind his back for the knife and went up the iron steps and into the cabin with the stealth and speed of a panther.
At the last moment there was need to hurry. Bond stood behind the man’s back, smelling him. He had time to raise his knife hand almost to the roof of the cabin, time to summon every ounce of strength, before he swept the blade down and into the square inch of smooth, brownish-yellow skin.
The man’s hands and legs splayed away from the controls. ‘His face strained back towards Bond. It seemed to Bond that there was a flash of recognition in the bulging eyes before the whites rolled upwards. Then a strangled noise came from the open mouth and the big body rolled sideways off its iron seat and crashed to the floor.
Bond’s eyes didn’t even follow it ajs far as the ground. He was akeady in the seat and reaching for the pedals and levers. Everything was out of control. The engine was running in neutral, the wire hawser was tearing off the drum, the tip of the crane was bending slowly forwards like a giraffe’s neck, the canvas mouth of the conveyor-belt had wilted and was now pouring its column of dust between the jetty and the ship. Doctor No was staring upwards. His mouth was open. Perhaps he was shouting something.
Coolly, Bond reined the machine in, slowly easing the levers and pedals back to the angles at which the driver had been holding them. The engine accelerated, the gears bit and began to work again. The hawser slowed on the spinning drum and reversed, bringing the canvas mouth up and over the ship. The tip of the crane lifted and stopped. The scene was as before. Now!
Bond reached forward for the iron wheel which the driver had been handling when Bond had caught his first glimpse of him. Which way to turn it? Bond tried to the left. The tip of the crane veered slightly to the right. So be it. Bond spun the wheel to the right. Yes, by God, it was answering, moving across the sky, carrying the mouth of the conveyor with it.
Bond’s eyes flashed to the jetty. Doctor No had moved. He had moved a few paces to a stanchion that Bond had missed. He had a telephone in his hand. He was getting through to the other side of the mountain. Bond could see his hand frantically. jiggling the receiver arm, trying to attract attention.
Bond whirled the director wheel. Christ, wouldn’t it turn any faster? In seconds Doctor No would get through and it would be too late. Slowly the tip of the crane arced across the sky. Now the mouth of the conveyor was spewing the dust column down over the side of the ship. Now the yellow mound was marching silently across the jetty. Five yards, four, three, two! Don’t look round, you bastard! Arrh, got you! Stop the wheel! Now, you take it, Doctor No!
At the first brush of the stinking dust column, Doctor No had turned. Bond saw the long arms fling wide as if to embrace the thudding mass. One knee rose to run. The mouth opened and a thin scream came up to Bond above the noise of the engine. Then there was a brief glimpse of a kind of dancing snowman. And then only a mound of yellow bird dung that grew higher and higher.
“God!” Bond’s voice gave back an iron echo from the walls of the cabin. He thought of the screaming lungs stuffing with the filthy dust, the body bending and then falling under the weight, the last impotent kick of the heels, the last flash of thought-rage, horror, defeat?-and then the silence of the stinking tomb.
Now the yellow mountain was twenty feet high. The stuff was spilling off the sides of the jetty into the sea. Bond glanced
. at the ship. As he did so, there came three blasts on its siren.
The noise crashed round the cliffs. There came a fourth blast which didn’t stop. Bond could see the watch holding on to the lanyard as he craned out of the bridge window, looking down. Bond took his hands off the controls and let them rip. It was time to go.
He slipped off the iron seat and bent over the dead body. He took the revolver out of the holster and looked at it. He smiled grimly-Smith & Wesson .38, the regular model. He slipped it down inside his waistband. It was fine to feel the heavy
cold metal against his skin. He went to the door of the cabin and dropped down to the ground.
An iron ladder ran up the cliif behind the crane to where the conveyor-housing jutted out. There was a small door in the corrugated iron wall of the housing. Bond scrambled up the ladder. The door opened easily, letting out a puff of guano dost, and he clambered through.
Inside, the clanking of the conveyor-belt over its rollers was deafening, but there were dim inspection lights in the stone ceiling of the tunnel and a narrow catwalk that stretched away into the mountain alongside the hurrying river of dust. Bond moved quickly along it, breathing shallowly against the fishy ammoniac smell. At all costs he must get to the end before the significance of the ship’s siren and of the unanswered telephone overcame the fear of the guards.
Bond half ran and half stumbled through the echoing
stinking tunnel. How far would it be? Two hundred yards? And then what? Nothing for it but to break out of the tunnel mouth and start shooting-cause a panic and hope for the best. He would get hold of one of the men and wring out of him where the girl was. Then what? When he got to the place on the mountainside, what would he find? What would be left of her?
Bond ran on faster, his head down, watching the narrow breadth of planking, wondering what would happen if he missed his footing and slipped into the rushing river of guano dust. Would he be able to get off the belt again or would he be whirled away and down until he was finally spewed out on to the burial mound of Doctor No?
When Bond’s head hit into the soft stomach and he felt the hands at his throat, it was too late to think of his revolver. His only reaction was to throw himself down and forward at the legs. The legs gave against his shoulder and there was a shrill scream as the body crashed down on his back.
Bond had started the heave that would hurl his attacker sideways and on to the conveyor-belt when the quality of the scream and something light and soft about the impact of the body froze his muscles.
It couldn’t be!
As if in answer, sharp teeth bit deeply into the calf of his right leg and an elbow jabbed viciously, knowledgeably, backwards into his groin.
Bond yelled with the pain. He tried to squirm sideways to protect himself, but even as he shouted “Honey!” the elbow thudded into him again.
The breath whistled through Bond’s teeth with the agony. There was only one way to stop her without throwing her on to the conveyor-belt. He took a firm grip of one ankle and heaved himself to his knees. He stood upright, holding her slung over his shoulder by one leg. The other foot banged against his head, but half-heartedly, as if she too realized that something was wrong.
“Stop it, Honey! It’s me!”
Through the din of the conveyor-belt, Bond’s shout got through to her. He heard her cry “James!” from somewhere near the floor. He felt her hands clutch at his legs. “James, James!”
Bond slowly let her down. He turned and knelt and reached for her. He put his arms round her and held her tightly to him. “Oh Honey, Honey. Are you all right?” Desperately, unbelieving, he strained her to him.
“Yes, James! Oh, yes!” He felt her hands at his back and his hair. “Oh, James, my darling!” she fell against him, sobbing.
“It’s all right, Honey.” Bond smoo’thed her hair. “And Doctor No’s dead. But now we’ve got to run for it. We’ve got to get out of here. Come on! How can we get out of the tunnel? How did you get here? We’ve got to hurry!”
As if in comment, the conveyor-belt stopped with a jerk.
Bond pulled the girl to her feet. She was wearing a dirty suit of workmen’s blue dungarees. The sleeves and legs were; rolled up. The suit was far too big for her. She looked like a girl in a man’s pyjamas. She was powdered white with the guano dust except where the tears had marked her cheeks. She said breathlessly, “Just up there! There’s a side tunnel that leads to the machine shops and the garage. Will they come after us?”
There was no time to talk. Bond said urgently, “Follow me!” and started running. Behind him her feet padded softly in the hollow silence. They came to the fork where the side tunnel led off into the rock. Which way would the men come? Down the side tunnel or along the catwalk in the main tunnel? The sound of voices booming far up the side tunnel answered him. Bond drew the girl a few feet up the main tunnel. He brought her close to him and whispered, “I’m sorry. Honey. I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill them.”
“Of course.” The answering whisper was matter of fact. She pressed his hand and stood back to give him room. She put her hands up to her ears.
Bond eased the gun out of his waistband. Softly he broke the cylinder sideways and verified with his thumb that all six chambers were loaded. Bond knew he wasn’t going to like this, killing again in cold blood, but these men would be the Chinese Negro gangsters, the strong-arm guards who did the dirty work. They would certainly be murderers many times over. Perhaps 佛山桑拿按摩论坛交流区 they were the ones who had killed Strangways and the girl. But there was no point in trying to ease his conscience. It was kill or be killed. He must just do it efficiently.
The voices were coming closer. There were three men. They were talking loudly, nervously. Perhaps it was many years since they had even thought of going through the tunnel. Bond wondered if they would look round as they came out into the main tunnel. Or would he have to shoot them in the back?
Now they were very close. He could hear their shoes scuffing the ground.
“That makes ten bucks you owe me, Sam.”
“Not after tonight it won’t be. Roll them bones, boy. Roll them bones.”
“No dice for me tonight, feller. I’m goin’ to cut maself a slice of de white girl.”
“Haw, haw, haw.”
The first man came out, then the second, then the third. They were carrying their 佛山桑拿哪家好 revolvers loosely in their right hands.
Bond said sharply, “No, you won’t.”
The three men whirled round. White teeth glinted in open mouths. Bond shot the rear man in the head and the second man in the stomach. The front man’s gun was up. A bullet whistled past Bond and away up the main tunnel. Bond’s gun crashed. The man clutched at his neck and spun slowly round and fell across the conveyor-belt. The echoes thundered slowly up and down the tunnel. A puff of fine dust rose in the air and settled. Two of the bodies lay still. The man with the stomach shot writhed and jerked.