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From chapter 20 …
When a bullet passes close to you, it creates a shock wave that can overload an eardrum. An untrained person would reach for their ears and usually get shot in the head by a second round. Liz was well trained; she hit the floor of the hotel room and spread out so as to lower her profile as much as possible. Around her the glass from the shattered window pane was strewn like snowflakes and across the room she could see a large hole in the room door where the bullet had exited into the corridor beyond; anyone who happened to be passing there at the time was dead.
Liz knew that if the sniper was worth anything at all he’d know he’d missed and be patient. He only had to wait for her nerves to crack to get a second shot. She lay flat counting the seconds slowly going by in her head like a grandfather clock. Desperately she looked around the room for something that could aid her. Her handbag was sitting on a wingback chair in the corner with her gun in it; it was the first thing she’d checked when she’d gotten up from the bed.
Liz’s mind went from, ‘there’s someone shooting at me’ to ‘who’s shooting at me’ very rapidly; after all her mind had nothing else on at the moment.
The dark stranger, whoever he was, had left her here alive, he’d left her gun in working order and he had all the information he needed. If he’d wanted to kill her he could have picked an easier way than this. The loonies at Botolf sprung to mind, but she doubted that one of them could be sober enough to hold a rifle. However, they might be sober enough to write a cheque and the CIA had many enemies willing to take a pot-shot at an agent.
James also sprung to mind. He wouldn’t shoot her with a rifle! No, never. He might beat her to death with a copy of Herodotus, but he would never shoot her. Besides, even if James found out the truth, would he really be that angry? Would he not just still love her? After all, he does love her? My mind’s wandering she thought and returned to focus on her life being in mortal danger.
She decided to ignore the handbag and the gun. It was too much of an easy target for a good marksman and from this range her pistol would be of no real use. To look out the unbroken window would be an amateur mistake. The hitman would invariable aim for it as she raised her head to appraise the situation but, then again, if he knew she was a CIA trained operative he would know she knew that and aim for the broken window. Or he could anticipate her double guess and aim for the unbroken one. As part of her mind circled like this for a while another part continued the count of seconds. It had just reached five hundred and was thinking of having a party when she remembered she had a hand mirror in her bag; perhaps it was worth the risk after all.
Crawling over the shards of glass, she imagined what was going through the mind of her would-be assassin. Was he the type to wait or was he the type that would take a shot and leave while the going was good? Did he hold his scope on one target or was he panning the room hoping for movement? She reached the bag and flicked at the dangling strap with a long fingernail. The bag made a slight motion and with another flick it tumbled to the floor and emptied itself.
A second bullet ripped through the wingback chair as if it were tissue paper and bashed about the bathroom behind in a series of noisy ricochets. How is nobody in the hotel hearing this? She thought. Whatever panic is happening out on the street it must have spread into this place. She pulled the bag away from its spilled contents and found the mirror. After crawling back to the unbroken window, she lay half propped up against the solid wall. ‘Thank heavens for good old English well made hotels’, she mused. ‘If this was a motel in Texas, I’d have a dozen rounds in the back; he could kill me with a BB gun’.
Liz took a deep breath and considered that all-in-all it had been a bit of an odd day, even for a deep cover agent from the CIA. She quickly raised the frameless mirror over the ledge, fully expecting another high velocity shot to tear the mirror from her grasp, but nothing happened.
Across the street was a fairly ordinary above-shops office building. Liz started at the top window and got down one floor when she saw him. Her eyes were 20-20 but she didn’t need extraordinary vision to see him; he was fat, bald and amateurishly had the window fully open with his rifle muzzle sticking out. She would have thought he was ‘no pro’ if she hadn’t recognised him immediately as her recruiter, handler and adopted Uncle, Bill.
“Bastard!” she said loudly.