(please scroll up for Part 1)
Screams filled the air as people saw what had happened, and suddenly the shopping area seethed like an ant hill that’d been kicked apart. People ran to and fro, desperately seeking cover, while a few stood still and looked around, trying to work out what had happened or where the sound had come from.
Gritting my teeth against the pain, I forced myself upright as Susan’s team converged on my location, weapons out and grim looks on their faces. Turning, I began a staggering run, knowing that I could never outrun my pursuers in this state, but refusing to give up that easily.
A bullet ricocheted off a wall next to me and I turned into the nearest side road and quite literally ran for my life, every step pumping fresh blood out of the wound in my shoulder.
I’d made it about two hundred yards when I ran straight into a police officer, colliding with him and leaving a smear of bright blood on his yellow jacket.
“Easy mate, you alright?” He asked, holding me upright as I sagged with the pain.
“No”, I managed to gasp, “run, for Christ’s sake run!”
I couldn’t shake his grip, so I slid my right arm up and over his left, then under his right and levered him off me. He began to fumble for his pepper spray, but two rounds hit him in the chest and he flew backwards with a scream.
Ducking, I forced my aching body into action again and tucked my head down as I ran, desperate to get out of range of my pursuers. Most pistols are wildly inaccurate after about thirty yards, and I had no doubt whatsoever that the rounds the officer had taken were meant for me.
I found myself on a main road, heading back towards the area I’d left Eva. Pulling out the phone, I managed to hit the speed dial for her number and held it to my ear as I gasped for breath.
“John?” She answered, sounding relieved.
“Eva, go, leave. They’ve killed Susan and they’re after me. I’m shot, you’ve got to get out of here now”, I somehow managed, taking a right turn at random and finding myself in a small street that petered out into a tiny park.
“Where are you? I’ll come and get you”.
“No you won’t, you need to leave. I’ve got to go”.
I threw the phone into a garden as I ran past, then made the trees at the end of the lane and cut left towards what appeared to be fields and a railway track. I was running out of breath fast, and if the colour of the blood coming out of my wound was any indication, I wasn’t doing so well there either.
I could hear sirens somewhere behind me now, the noise bouncing off the walls nearby and then blending with the other sounds of panic as I got further away.
Risking a glance behind, I saw the two men from the van, both in paint stained blue overalls, sprinting towards me with silenced pistols in their hands.
Despite being armed myself, I knew that I was in no state to be taking on two armed opponents, so I half crawled, half threw myself over a fence and found myself on a railway track with fields and woods the other side.
Unsure what else to do, I began to run alongside the tracks, feeling weaker every second as the two men chasing me closed the gap.
My breath came in huge gasps as I forced myself to stumble on, tripping and sliding on grass and stones as I somehow managed to keep going. I knew that with a bullet lodged in my shoulder I was doing myself more damage by moving, but I really didn’t have any choice.
Staring resolutely forward, I kept placing one foot in front of the other, telling myself that I had been through worse and made it out alive. There is something uniquely human in the utter refusal to lie down and die, even in the very jaws of death. I’ve seen men with their legs blown away, with no hope of survival, dragging themselves towards perceived safety while their lifeblood drains away into the sand. I felt that way now; a grim knowledge that I had no way out, but a determination to get away nonetheless.
Shaking my head to dispel the maudlin thoughts, I forced myself into a semblance of alertness and looked around. The men were still a good fifty yards behind me, although the gap was closing faster than I’d like. About twice that distance in front of me, I could see that the railway line crossed a road, the level crossing gates just beginning to close as the red lights warned of an approaching train. Spurring myself on, I redoubled my pace and managed to stay upright long enough to reach it and duck under the barrier. Several cars were sat patiently in the queue, waiting for the barrier to raise, and to my horror the third car along was a Ford Focus with Eva behind the wheel, looking as surprised to see me as I was her.
She opened the door and began to get out, but I waved at her frantically to get back in and turn around, just as the first of my followers reached the barrier.
I saw him out of the corner of my eye and turned, pulling my pistol in the same movement. He fired first, but his aim was hampered as he was buffeted by the wind caused by the train that began to streak past and the shot went wild.
I let off a round before I brought the pistol to bear, and although it missed, he ducked back, momentarily off balance. I took advantage of his uncertainty and lunged forwards, rolling back over the barrier and kicking him into the side of the moving train.
He was ripped away as one of his flailing arms caught in the wheels, his scream lost in the noise from the train. His partner was only a few feet behind, and as he ducked to avoid his friend’s body I fired four times, each round catching him in the chest and knocking him backwards to disappear over the embankment.
The driver’s in the queue began to panic, some reversing madly to get away, others leaving their cars and running as a blood covered madman killed two people in front of them. I eased myself back over the barrier, adding yet more blood to the coating I’d already given it, and made it to the car where Eva still sat waiting for me.
“I thought I told you to leave?” I managed as I sank into the passenger seat.
“And where would I go?” She asked, reversing and pulling out past the abandoned cars at the level crossing gates rose, ignorant of their involvement in the carnage below.
I ignored her question and opened the glove compartment to find something to staunch my wound with. After a few moments of rooting around, I checked under the passenger seat and found a large first aid kit, blessing Trevor as I pulled it out and opened it up on my lap.
Inside the bag there were enough bandages and meds to keep me alive for a week, as well as a small holdout pistol and a money bag with about £300 in £20 notes.
Grabbing a first field dressing, I tore the wrapping off with my teeth and pressed it to the wound, pinching the straps between my back and the seat to stop it from slipping. Within moments blood began to seep through, so I placed another one on top of the first and held them firmly in place.
Eva looked over at me, concern showing openly.
“We need to get you to a doctor”.
I shook my head and concentrated on staying conscious as darkness hovered at the edge of my vision.
“No, no doctors. They would report it to the police straight away”.
“I don’t know how to fix that, and if you don’t get it seen to you’ll die!”
I pawed through the bag until I found some Oramorph, a form of morphine that you take orally, and tore the end off, squeezing the liquid into my mouth.
“I’ll be fine. Just drive towards London, I know a few people I can call, one of them will help, I’m sure”.
The morphine began to kick in and everything started to take on a surreal, floating quality. I turned my head to speak to Eva, but the movement made my head spin and I had to close my eyes and breathe deeply to stop myself from throwing up.
“John, John? Shit!” Her voice sounded as if it were coming out of a long, deep tunnel, and I tried to focus on her.
“What?” The word seemed to stretch forever as it came out of my mouth and drifted away.
“Stay focused John, I need you alive. I need you!”
Summoning up reserves of strength I’d forgotten I possessed, I pulled myself back from the brink of unconsciousness and forced myself to concentrate.
“Follow the signs to London. When we get to London, head towards Hackney. I’ve got a lockup on Digby Road, there’s a few things there we can use”.
She put her foot down, and the growl of the engine was strangely comforting.
“What happened back there?” She asked.
“Susan got shot. I told her everything and I think she believed me. She called her team off and told them I wasn’t a target, and then she got shot”.
My drug addled brain strove to make sense of it all. Something was screaming at me, but it couldn’t make it through the fog that wound itself through my thoughts.
“Who shot her, her own team?”
I shrugged, or tried to, but the pain in my shoulder flared up even through the morphine.
“I don’t know. It would make sense, I suppose, she said she was lied to. That’s it! She said that someone had lied to her, and then she got shot. Whoever shot her must be the member of the team who survived what happened at the house. Maybe they were behind it all along. That would certainly explain why Daniel and Mark got shot, er, got shot....” My concentration began to slip again, and I tried to unwind the window to get some fresh air to wake me up. I scrabbled at the button for a few seconds before Eva leaned over and pressed the one in the central console. Instead of making me feel better, the blast of air that buffeted me made my head spin and I remember throwing up just before I finally sank into the beckoning darkness.