26

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

PART TWO



It was dark when Bond arrived in Allsdorf. He had tailed the Mercedes at a safe distance for over three hours through the continuing rainstorm. Now, within the confines of this neat little town, he proceeded slowly, leaving a suitable distance between himself & the target vehicle so as to ensure he remain unseen, nosing his car through the confines of the now familiar narrow streets. His ear had become attuned to the pattern of tones emanating from the tracker & he noted that the Mercedes appeared to have stopped. Following the LED indicator & crossgraining a couple of streets with lights off, he finally turned left then brought the Fastback to a halt at the roadside. From the information being passed to him via the tracker he concluded the Mercedes had come to rest some three hundred yards or so to his front. It was still raining just as heavily as it had been for the past hours. The wind, ebbing & flowing, was driving the ice cold rain in sheets so as to obscure detail of all except that in close proximity. Looking out towards where the trackers LED arrow was pointing, he could see a cluster of lights beyond the perimeter of the built up area some distance away in the darkness & it was here he believed that the Mercedes had come to rest. Bond had left the engine & the windscreen wipers running & was staring hard out towards the lights but the driving wind & rain meant he still could not make out the scene in enough detail to identify it. All he could tell was that it was set against the the base of the mountain which towered over the whole scene. Bond thought it best to make the final approach on foot lest his car be spotted by Van Der Byl so, scanning the way ahead, he soon picked out the best avenue of approach. Stealth was now paramount. In contrast to the distant light show the road running out from the edge of the village towards it was dimly lit, with no street lamps. The occasional headlights of a passing car aside, the only ambient light was the overspill from windows & porch lanterns of the few houses running along it, this served to create pinpoints of light surrounded by areas of deep shadow which petered out approximately half way to his objective. Bond was satisfied he could bypass these & remain in the darkness all the way to his target. He climbed out of the car & pulled on his overcoat, took the tracker & placed it in his pocket. Moving quickly now & clinging to the verge while remaining on high alert, the tracker was telling him Van Der Byl was fairly close, perhaps within 150 yards. Unexpectedly, as he looked on, a blob of yellow light detached itself from the main area of illumination & began to climb slowly at a most precarious angle up the mountainside. Bond guessed what he was witnessing but, because of the rain lashing his face, he still could not confirm. Onward he pressed until the pattern of light transformed from the abstract into the obvious. As Bond had guessed here was the lower terminus of a funicular railway. The light he had seen was indeed the small single carriage beginning its climb. Still in the shadows Bond watched & waited. Soon the tracker began to indicate that the target was moving away from his location. Bond knew which way - upwards. Van Der Byl had taken the carriage up the mountain, but where was he heading? Bond broke cover & jogged the remaining fifty or so yards to the bottom of the line There, at the entrance to a graveled car park, he got his answer. A large display board announced that here was the car park & the railway which led up the side of the Der Alte Mann mountain to the Schloss Hotel. Bond looked upwards, he could see the second carriage on its descent. Briefly he turned his attention to the car park. The scene was quite well lit by some rather old fashioned looking street lamps, casting a yellow sodium tint across the area. There, tucked discreetly out of obvious view, was Van Der Byls Mercedes. Bond approached the platform, a simple stone structure, raised four feet or so from the car park floor & accessed by a short flight of steps. It had a small wooden shelter at one end & its perimeter was secured by a white painted picket fence. Bond waited in the open & watched the tram like carriage slow as it made its final approach, stopping just short of the buffer. He had expected it to be full however only the conductor was aboard. "Sorry Sir" He said as he opened the door & stepped off onto the platform "But you've missed the last train. The next run won't be until eight AM tomorrow." "Ah, I see" replied Bond. He looked on as the conductor locked the carriage door "Tell me, is there another hotel nearby?" "Yes sir" said the conductor. "just follow the road back into the village, take the first right Then straight on. Hotel Herschen is on the right, you can't miss it." "One more thing, is there a petrol station open at this time?"  "No sir" said the man waving Bond down the steps before closing the gate. That won't be open until tomorrow morning either." "Thank you anyway & goodnight" Said Bond as he retreated back across the car park. The conductor was obviously too busy attending to his duties to notice Bond return to the shadows. He watched the conductor climb into a little Fiat &, after a couple of attempts, start the engine. Bond waited for the car to drive away before approaching the Mercedes. He felt for the bonnet catch, pulled it & raised the hood. The engine was still ticking as it cooled & using his Ronson for light, Bond found then removed the distributor cap. He felt for his handkerchief then immersed it in the nearest puddle before squeezing out the contents onto the rotor arm. He repeated this process a couple more times before replacing the cap & closing the bonnet. Now Van Der Byls car was immobilised & done so in such a fashion that it would be impossible to point to sabotage. If he knew about cars then he would in all likelihood be able to diagnose & fix the problem, if not - & Bond was hoping he wasn't mechanically minded -  he would face a wait for a mechanic who would then tell him that water had gotten into the electrics. After all it had been raining hard all these hours so the possibility of this happening was entirely feasible. However the situation played out, Van Der Byl would be delayed, perhaps for a matter of hours. satisfied that he had done all he could for now, Bond turned to retrace his steps back to his own car.



The Hotel Herschen was rather small, faced with wood & constructed in the chalet style, unusually though with a gable end to each elevation. it was located in what appeared to be the main thoroughfare of Allsdorf, which itself was an ordered collection of elderly cream coloured typically alpinesque buildings, most with brightly shuttered windows, squatting beneath blue or brown tiled roofs overlooking the cobbled road.The whole street was brightly illuminated, as seen through his windscreen the rain gave the scene a vaguely impressionist watercolour feel to the scene. Despite the weather there were quite a few pedestrians out & about. Bond quickly surveyed the Herschen & counted four stories, the upper two balconied. He parked the Fastback nose in into one of the roadside bays in front of the hotel & retrieved his bags from the boot before stepping smartly up to & through the entrance. A cursory glance about the lobby told him what he already suspected. The hotel was obviously catering for the lower end of the tourist market. It was functional as opposed to luxurious, yet it would suit his purpose.

Bond followed the porter to his room, the grandly named 'Alpine Suite' on the forth floor. He had asked for a room with a view of the Der Alte Mann &, under the pretext of being a railway enthusiast, the funicular line. Pressing a particularly handsome tip into the porters outstretched hand, Bond asked if the hotel could loan him a pair of binoculars. Seeing his prize the porter eagerly replied "I can do better than that sir. I'll bring up a telescope. We keep it locked away for use by our more favoured guests. It's very powerful so you'll be able to see the railway in all its detail."Thank you," smiled Bond. "that's most kind. Also could you arrange to have my suit & shirt laundered & shoes polished? I shall need them first thing tomorrow morning though."  "Certainly sir." Replied the porter, the prospect of more generous tips spurring him on. "Anything else sir?"  "Yes" Said Bond "Bring me a menu. I''ll be dining in my room." After the porter had left Bond changed out of his wet clothes & into a hotel dressing gown. No sooner had he done so than the porter was back. Bond answered the tap at the door with a call to enter. The porter appeared carrying a large telescope on a wooden tripod. "Shall I set it up for you sir?" "No, thank you. I'll attend to it myself. That's all." Bond pointed to his clothes after the porter laid the menu on the small table by the french window. "Very good sir. If you need anything, anything at all, I shall be on duty until nine o'clock in the morning. Just call reception & ask for Dietmar." The power of a weeks tips delivered in one shot had indeed sharpened Dietmars senses. "I will. Thank you again. Oh & by the way, can I make direct calls from here?" "Indeed sir" Smiled Dietmar "just dial nine then your number. Would you like me to demonstrate?" "I'll manage" Replied Bond, "now if you don't mind...." "Yes sir. Goodnight sir."

Bond locked the door, picked up the menu then sat on the edge of the bed & picked up his Ronson & cigarette case from where he had left them on the pillow while he was undressing. Retrieving then lighting a Morland, he reached over to the bedside table & plucked the telephone receiver from its cradle. The number for Station CH had been committed to memory before his departure from the UK. It was now after eight PM, so he was expecting the call to be answered by the duty officer. Sure enough a young yet efficient sounding voice came on the line. Bond identified himself using the codeword 'Zulu Five Tango' & passed a situation report followed by a list of instructions down the line. After ringing off he studied the menu. Far from haute cuisine it was nonetheless appetising to the eye. Lifting the receiver once more Bond said "Good evening I'd like a meal brought to my room. My name? Mr Grey, the alpine suite. Could I have the Zürcher Eintopf. I should also like a whisky please. What do you have?............. Ah. I'll have the Macallan, a double, neat. Thank you." Bond was travelling with false papers which gave his identity as one Mr Stuart Grey & it was under this alias that he had signed into the hotel. Bond undressed & stepped into the shower, setting the flow as hot as he was able to tolerate he quickly washed himself before standing motionless for a few moments to allow the water to steam away the last vestiges of what had been an eventful day then flicked the taps to cold to assault his senses under a million ice like pinpricks. Bond had barely dried himself & changed into a royal blue sea island cotton shirt & navy slacks when the telephone Rang. It was the Deputy Head of Station CH. He asked Bond to confirm his requests then replied that they would be attended to in full. Lighting another cigarette Bond called reception. "Could I speak to Dietmar please? Thank You" He held the line momentarily before "Dietmar? this is Herr Grey. I am expecting some visitors early tomorrow. About six thirty AM. Could you see to it that they are shown to my room?.............. Yes I am aware that it is irregular however I trust that you will be able to arrange things?..................... Splendid. Also I should like an alarm call at five forty five.................... Thank you Dietmar." Bond looked at his watch, nine fifteen, his plan was to eat then retire to bed. He knew he had a very long day ahead of him & would need all the rest he could get. Bond took to the armchair in the corner of the room & had just stubbed out another Morland into the ashtray on top of the nearby coffee table when there was a knock at the door. He stood & crossed the room to unlock & open the door. The maid was young & rather pretty in a strangely plain sort of way, with big blue eyes & long blonde hair constrained into a braid which was wrapped, band fashion, around her head. "Your meal Herr Grey." She said softly as she steered the trolly into the room. "Shall I serve?" "Yes please" Replied Bond. The food was soon laid out before she retreated, Bond presented her with a tip & she curtsied in thanks. Locking the door Bond made his way to the table. The food, like the maid, looked plain yet appetising & he consumed it with relish. His hunger thoroughly quenched Bond returned to the armchair & lit another cigarette which he devoured with equal enthusiasm while attending to the whisky as he slowly dissected the days events. Van Der Byl was a professional, there was no doubt about that, though Bond could expect no less from a former member of the South African intelligence service BOSS, however he had made his first mistake & a huge one at that. By allowing himself to become contained in this fashion he had handed the initiative back to Bond, who now determined to take full advantage. Bond reasoned that the choice of venue was not Van Der Byls but his contacts so he would have both of them bottled up & ripe for the taking. He also reasoned that van Der Byl would not be overly concerned as he would have convinced himself he had shaken his tail. Unless he was possessed of serious climbing skills, there was only one way off the mountain for the South African & his associate so Bond intended to bolt the door so neither of them would escape......................



The brittle peal of the telephone woke Bond from his slumber. "This is your wake up call Mister Grey." "Thank you." said Bond hoarsely. Throwing back the covers He stepped out onto the carpet & padded barefoot to the bathroom. After attending to his ablutions Bond pulled on the dressing gown & took his first cigarette of the day. The strong coffee, & Swiss breakfast of cheese & bread he had ordered arrived shortly thereafter & he ate in silence, looking contemplatively out of the window at the Der Alte Mann. It appeared strangely foreboding in the muted colours of early morning, Bond shook away this foolish notion & turned to ponder the permutations of the day ahead. He then opened the french windows & set up the telescope on the balcony. It was quite cold, a breeze laden with autumn striking him with some force as soon as he stepped out. He took several deep breaths as he delighted in the sensation of mountain air against his body then found himself shivering as he peered through the viewfinder. He found his target easily. Adjusting the focus knob he zeroed in on the distant lower terminus. The funicular carriage was still there, tethered silently while awaiting another days work, more importantly, so was the Mercedes. Bond regarded the scene for a while before the soft tap at the door shook him from his thoughts. "Come in." He Said. Dieter entered carrying his freshly dry cleaned suit, shirt & polished shoes. "Good morning Mister Grey. The Gentlemen who you are expecting are here." Bond motioned for Dieter to lay the suit & shoes on the bed, as he straightened up &, closing the french windows behind him, took a few steps forward to greet his three visitors. "Thank You Dieter. Take this for your trouble." Bond handed the porter a small wad of notes. Dieters eyes sparkled as he realised just how much money he had been awarded. "No. thank you sir!" He beamed as he withdrew. "Just one more thing. could you arrange for some sandwiches & four bottles of beer to be sent up before seven thirty? Also I shall be leaving within the next hour or so, please arrange my bill." Dieter nodded enthusiastically before exiting the room. Bond waited a few seconds before opening the door to glance along the corridor. It was empty. "Hello gentlemen" he said extending his arm to shake each mans hand."Commander Bond?" Said the voice belonging to the big outstretched hand. Bond nodded as he took the hand in greeting & found its grasp surprisingly firm. "The name's Major Frost, deputy head of station. We spoke on the telephone." Frost was was not what he had been expecting, a short, plump man in his late forties with a mop of thinning yet unruly greying hair & the ruddy complexion more associated with a farmer than an administrator. It seemed to Bond more by luck than design that Frosts overly rotund figure somehow seemed to fit the crumpled blue suit. His decidedly unmilitary cut was somehow at odds with the Hussars regimental tie. "This is Sergeant Travers & Corporal Knox." Hello sir." each man said in turn, nodding acknowledgement as they shook Bonds hand. "Who are your men?" Bond asked the Major. "Are they station?" "No" said Frost. "They're Military Police from a special surveillance cadre of the SIB in Bielefeld. Because we're in effect a sub station, at least in terms of size, we don't have the manpower available when anything out of the ordinary crops up. We sometimes use the MPs for security duties & suchlike at the embassy as well as having them available for the occasional special task such as this. More often than not we have at least three men seconded. It's quite a handy little relationship actually. Obviously whilst working for Station they operate unofficially, however however they've grown used to our methods & I can assure you they are good at what they do." In stark contrast to the Major, both Travers & Knox looked the part. They were both tall, around Bonds height, obviously physically fit & tough looking. "Good." Said Bond after a pause, nodding his approval. "Now Major I take it you have brought my shopping list?" "I certainly have" Smiled Frost as he tapped the grey backpack which was slung over his shoulder. "Then let's see." Bond took the pack & placed it on the table, Unbuckling the flap he dug inside. "The clothes took some getting hold of at such short notice I can tell you. After all it's not easy finding a gents outfitters who are open in the middle of the night! I had to call in a favour from an ex pat friend of mine who owns an outdoor pursuits shop in Bern. He wasn't impressed when I asked him to open up for me!"  "Well done anyway." Said Bond vaguely as he pulled the clothes out & laid them on the table. As requested here was a stout pair of hiking boots, a pair of heavy brown corduroy trousers, a T shirt, a thick grey woolen turtleneck sweater, a green canvas headover anorak complete with a hood & large chest map pocket, a pair of thick grey hiking socks & a green felt alpine hat. Next out was a pager, a simple device, roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes which would give off a bleep if initiated by a telephone call. the British driving licence in the name of John Smith came next followed by a small contraption which looked at first glance like a Swiss army knife, indeed it did contain a blade but the rest of the fold out attachments were in fact master keys, each cut in such a way as to act in the same fashion as a  hotel passkey. At least one of the ten profiles would be sure to fit the locks used commonly used in hotels giving the user the ability to open any hotel room anywhere in the world. Bond next took out the torch, it was chrome plated & the two D cell batteries made it quite heavy, aside from providing light this innocuous looking gadget held a small yet deadly secret, the bezel had been especially strengthened with stainless steel & weighted in such a fashion as to create a very effective cosh, one wholly capable of fracturing a skull if used with the required venom. "Where's the gun?" Bond asked with a hint of impatience. "I have it here." said Frost. "I thought it best to keep it about my person. We don't have much call for firearms at the Bern Station. The only silenced one I could get my hands on at short notice was this" Frost rather clumsily pulled an 1895 Nagant revolver from his trouser band & handed it to Bond "Well well well!" Bond smiled mirthlessly as he weighed the revolver in his hand "Where on earth did you find this?" "It's been laying in the office safe for an age" Replied the Major. "It was 'bequeathed' to us don't you know, one careless owner & all that." Frost then handed the silencer & seventeen rounds of 7.62mm ammunition. "Those are all we have" He said before Bond had a chance to question him. "I believe the chap had call to use the thing before he was, ahem, relieved of it" It was Bonds experience that most silenced pistols weren't actually silenced at all. It was more a case of disguising the report of the gun to some extent so it couldn't be recognised as gunfire as opposed to silencing in the true sense of the word. Silencing a revolver was nothing less than an exercise in futility, however the Nagant was a wholly different beast. Due to its special design & ammunition when employed with a good silencer all that could be heard was little more than the drop of the hammer. He placed it carefully onto the table as if he were handling a piece of priceless china then strode across to the bed to retrieve the airweight from beneath his pillow. He made it safe by opening the cylinder & dumping the rounds onto the bed cover. "I take it you know how to handle one of these Sergeant?" Bond said, offering the revolver to Travers. "Not that model but yes sir." came the reply. "Then here. But use it only as a last resort mind. The safety's in the grip. You can't male chicken it, just squeeze the trigger. Familiarise yourself with it then reload it. You'll be able to carry it safely in your pocket or waistband. You'll notice it carries no identifying marks. If in the unlikely event you have to use it, dispose of it afterwards, somewhere it can't be recovered, a lake or river perhaps. Whatever you do don't hang onto it, then get back to Station as soon as possible." Bond turned to Frost & speaking in German said. "Major, you are to take the Volkswagen & return to Bern but before you do I may have one last task for you. Tell me, how well do you speak German?"  "Fluently." Replied Frost. "Any accent?" "No." "Could you pass for Swiss German over the telephone?" "I believe so, yes."  "Good, then here's what I want you to do." After Bond had finished his explanation he handed the telephone receiver to Frost. "Are you sure it will work?" Frost said with more than a hint of uncertainty in his voice. "It's simple psychology," Replied Bond. "taking people at face value plus the inherent need of the Swiss to comply with authority. Anyway there's only one way to find out so let's try shall we? Remember, be officious." Bond dialled the number he had taken from the notice board in the car park the evening before which would connect them directly with the Schloss Hotel "Hello" Began the Major. "This is Kriminalispecktor Gessel of the Bundesamt für Polize. May I speak to the manager please?" There was a long pause. "Good Morning. Yes, Kriminalispecktor Gessel here. I wonder if you could help me? I have reason to believe you have a guest staying with you by the name of Van Der Byl? Yes........... That's right,................. christian name Anton. Could you tell me how long he has checked in for?................ Two nights? Good. Also in which room is he staying? Good. Thank you................There is no need to worry, however the canton police may arrive to talk to you in more detail you at some stage......... Yes......... Until then you must not speak about this to anyone. Again I must stress that there is no need for you to worry, this is purely a routine police matter............ If I require any further information I will contact you by telephone again. In the meantime I thank you for your cooperation. Goodbye." Frost handed the receiver back to Bond who replaced it on the cradle. "He took the bait then?" He said, already knowing the answer. Frost nodded. "As you heard, Van Der Byl has checked in for two days. He is staying in room 48. Quite a good wrinkle that." Smiled a visibly relieved Frost. Bond turned to the MPs & continued in English "Sergeant, you & the Corporal will take me to the railway where I will catch the first train of the day up to the Schloss Hotel. You will then remain in the car park, tuck yourselves out of sight as much as you are able & keep watch on those trains arriving from the hotel. Just because he has checked in for a couple of nights doesn't necessarily mean he will stay that long. Major, I take it you had a telephoto of the target subject wired from London?" Frost nodded taking the photograph from his jacket pocket. He handed it to Bond who glanced at it before passing it to the Sergeant. "This is the man you are keeping watch for. He's about six foot four & of stocky built. He's driving a black Mercedes, I'll point it out to you once we reach the car park. Stay on duty until after the last train of the day has come in, then head off & find another hotel. Be sure to be back at the car park the following day before 0800. If for any reason Van Der Byl appears you are to arrest him, best do it at gunpoint as I expect otherwise he would wish to make a fight of it. Remember, the area will probably be crowded so exercise extreme discretion, we don't want any passersby to become embroiled, indeed we don't want any witnesses to the event. Let him get into his car, it won't start as I've put water into the distributor, he'll be unable to resist you as effectively as if he were on his feet. Show him the pistol & explain that you are under orders to kill him if he resists or attempts to escape & make sure you sound like you mean it but for gods sake don't use the gun unless you feel your lives are in danger. You will then contact me via the bleeper from the telephone kiosk at the entrance to the car park. If it is activated I will take it that Van Der Byl has been intercepted. If possible I will call the payphone to find out what has happened, though if you need to get out of the area quickly don't wait for me or my call. Is all that clear?" "Yes sir." Both men said in unison. "Alright then, any questions?" There weren't. Bond plucked the telephone handset & dialled the Schloss Hotel once more. "Hello Schloss Hotel? I should like to make a reservation please.............. Today...................A double room......................One night..................Yes that's right..................My name? Mister John Smith........................Thank You. Good bye."

"I suggest you get a little rest gentlemen. I'm going to change. We begin in forty minutes."

Bond retired to the bathroom taking the backpack with him. Slowly he dressed, transforming himself into just another tourist out on a trekking expedition. He was confident he wouldn't look out of place riding the railway to the Schloss Hotel or making his way around once there. This disguise was far more complete than his last so, hopefully, in the event he was spotted by Van Der Byl he would go unrecognised. He had the Nagant & carefully inspected it making sure it was empty, unscrewing the thread protector from the end of the barrel & fitting the silencer. Once satisfied all was correct Bond removed the silencer & placed it in the bottom of the pack then refitted the protector. He worked the action, dry firing the weapon a couple of times, as he expected the trigger pull was very heavy. Opening the loading gate, he slid the cartridges into the cylinder. The Nagant had many unusual features & one of them was its ammunition capacity. Instead of the usual six rounds held by most revolvers, the Nagant took seven. To the casual observer the ammunition looked like spent cartridge cases but what helped to make it so effective when used in conjunction with a silencer was the fact that the projectiles were set within the case & worked in conjunction with the gas seal system. all in all the Nagant was an unsatisfactory weapon to be employed in a gunfight situation yet, unless he had picked a pistol up from his contact, Bond was sure Van Der Byl wasn't armed. He definitely hadn't taken a firearm from the UK, however he couldn't afford to be complacent. As for his contact - or contacts - he had to assume the worst. As far as he, Bond, was concerned he only had what ammunition was loaded into his pistol, he could not afford to expend it then be forced to reload as reloading was a slow & awkward process with the Nagant & not to be attempted whilst under fire. He would have to ensure that he took both Van Der Byl & whomever he was meeting by surprise. The contact was to be killed, those were his orders. As for Van Der Byl, there was little prospect of Bond being able to effect an arrest of sorts & take him down the mountain without the big South African resisting. Should he do so then he would not only endanger himself & any onlookers but compromise the mission. The last thing needed in a situation such as this would be for anyone to witness anything which could lead back to Bond or indeed SIS. In that second, Bond concluded that Van Der Byls fate was also sealed. It would be nothing short of a cold blooded double murder. He contemplated what he was about to do for a brief moment, weighing the pistol in his hand & stared himself square in the eye through the bathroom mirror. The prospect of gunning down two men in this fashion unsettled him & no amount of logic could ease the slightly sick feeling which gripped him at the pit of his stomach.

By the time Bond emerged from the bathroom the sandwiches & beers had arrived. "Eat something now if you like." Said Bond as he packed away his belongings into his weekend bag. "You two men take the rest of the sandwiches & the beer with you in the car. They should keep you going for the rest of the day" The MPs nodded. "Major" He continued "take my bag, I'll collect it from Station or have it sent for. You'd best go now. Drive straight back to Bern." Bond handed the car keys to Frost "Good Luck Commander." He said, his expression deadpan. "Thank you. Good bye." Frost turned on his heel & scooping up Bonds bag, left the room.  Bond turned to the two MPs.  "Alright gentlemen, gather your things. Corporal, you'll leave the hotel first, then you Sergeant. Wait in the car for me & I shall join you presently. What vehicle are you driving?" "A white Opel Rekord sir," Said Travers. "It's parked on the street a couple of doors down." "Good," Bond nodded "very well Corporal, you head off now." Knox left the room. "Remember what I said about using the gun Sergeant." " I will sir." Travers replied "What happens if you get into trouble up there?" "Then that's my problem, you & Knox are here unofficially so so cannot afford to become embroiled in anything beyond what I have already instructed. If things do go wrong, even if you suspect it, the police turning up to take the train up the mountain for example, you are to leave the scene & head back to Station. Don't hesitate, just get out of there immediately." A few minutes later Bond ordered Travers to leave. When he was on his own Bond carefully swept the room to ensure nothing which could link him or any of the others to the scene had been left behind. When he had satisfied himself all was in order, he shouldered the backpack, lit a cigarette & withdrew.   



The Mercedes was still parked in the same spot where Bond had last seen it. From the back seat Bond pointed to the telephone kiosk on the edge of the car park. "Park near enough to that so you are able to hear it should it ring. I'm going to take the number &, should anything untoward happen, I will endeavour to make contact. In all likelihood this may not possible though. I will also call after I check in to give you my room number so stand by for that. You then may be able to speak to me should you need to. Don't leave any messages or such though. To initiate the pager, use the call box to ring this number." Bond recited a seven digit code to them & asked them to repeat. "I suggest one of you move to the back seat, it will look less obvious, the one in the back can rest so rotate at intervals." By this time a few vehicles had entered the car park, their occupants alighting & heading towards the platform. "Right, I'm off." Said Bond as he opened the door. "Good luck sir." Said Travers.

Bond counted nine other passengers. They would provide useful cover as they were sure to make their way to the hotel reception in some semblance of a group, a group in which Bond could hide. He busied himself reading the small information board at the rear of the platform which gave details of the railway. According to what he read this was an uncommonly steep example of the type & it would take approximately ten minutes to ascend the 2,500 meters to the hotel. Readers were advised to be on the lookout for certain landmarks during the journey which could be seen if the weather was kind enough to allow it. Today it looked as if the gods were smiling as gone was the foul weather of the previous twenty four hours to be replaced by glorious sunshine. However sightseeing was the last thing on Bonds mind. In order that the guard didn't recognise him as the man he had spoken to yesterday, Bond had pulled down his hat so that the narrow brim served to obscure this eyes somewhat. He also rounded his shoulders & bent slightly at the knees in an effort to alter his gait & overall physical appearance. At 7.50 the conductor appeared, parking his Fiat close to the platform steps. Bond watched as he unlocked the carriage & stepped inside to prepare himself & it for the first trip of the day. Soon afterwards he invited the passengers to board & they did so eagerly passing their few Rappens fare to him & receiving a ticket in exchange. The carriage was soon filled with exited chatter in at least three different tongues as the conductor consulted his pocket watch. Regarding the sweep hand intently he pressed the button thrice which signalled to his colleagues at the upper terminus that he was ready to begin the journey. The carriage jolted away from its moorings causing a yelp of surprise from some of the passengers. Bond glanced at his watch, exactly 8AM. The talk continued as those aboard pointed out various views to each other. Bond was staring out of the window & to the casual onlooker could have been joining in the sightseeing, but in actual fact his mind was far away, focused intensely on what was to come..............................


TO BE CONTINUED...................................

27

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

Very good  ajb007/cheers

1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger

28

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

+1,  ajb007/smile

29

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

There are another one or two parts to go, not sure yet how it will end. However the next instalment is where things get physical in the showdown between Bond, Van Der Byl & the as yet unknown contact.


I had noticed that the forums automatic censor package has been hard at work. When explaining the workings of the airweight to Sgt Travers, Bond says:

"Then here. But use it only as a last resort mind. The safety's in the grip. You can't c**k it, just squeeze the trigger. Familiarise yourself with it then reload it. You'll be able to carry it safely in your pocket or waistband. You'll notice it carries no identifying marks. If in the unlikely event you have to use it, dispose of it afterwards, somewhere it can't be recovered, a lake or river perhaps. Whatever you do don't hang onto it, then get back to Station as soon as possible."

He is of course speaking about cocking the pistol!

30

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

Some of the things mentioned in Blowback just in case you aren't familiar with them. (Remember it's set in 1968)


http://s3.postimg.org/n6fjgbqmn/1968_VWFastback007_Small.jpg
Bonds Fastback



http://s29.postimg.org/gekrf64mr/Mercedes_Benz_250_S_1968_13_J7_M20102361114.jpg
Van Der Byls Mercedes



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Smith & Wesson Airweight



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Nagant revolver with silencer



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Makarov pistol (not featured yet)

31

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

ajb007/cheers  always nice to put a picture, to help the imagination.  ajb007/martini

32

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

Enjoying  this. I miss the days when collaborative  novels were written on here many moons ago. Alas some of these old tales have disappeared into cyberspace. ajb007/frown  Keep up the good work.  ajb007/martini

33

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

PART THREE


Bond settled himself into his room. He intended to stay here until it was time to make his move, that way there would be less chance of an accidental encounter with Van Der Byl. As expected he had mingled among the group of innocent mountain goers to pass unnoticed through reception then alone on to his room. Despite its name the Schloss hotel was not a castle, architecturally it was more Bavarian country house, built on four stories from the grey green local stone as a mountain retreat by a wealthy Zurich banker at the turn of the century. After the war that mans fortunes had waned & it had been acquired by the present owners & turned into a luxury health & sports spa hotel. It lay on a small plateau almost half way up Der Alt Mann, one edge of which was a sheer 700ft drop. The area immediately surrounding the hotel had been extensively reworked to provide its guests with all manner of outdoor activities, including curling & skating on purpose built rinks. At it's heart though was a notoriously challenging black track ski slope which itself was very popular, drawing determined skiers from all over Europe & beyond, while the crisp mountain air & comprehensive therapy treatments courted equal favour from those of a less energetic disposition. Unlike the 'Alpine suite' at the Hotel Herschen, this room was very well appointed, it's cream walls were tastefully complemented by matching furniture & accessories all manufactured to the highest standard. The large picture window provided the occupant with a splendid view across the snow covered lower lying mountain tops to the distant Bietschhorn. Bond placed the haversack on the bed & crossed the room to stand at this window, lit a Morland & drew on it deeply as he contemplatively took in the view. looking down he saw several souls braving the cold to take drinks on the terrace which itself had been immaculately swept clear of snow & beyond the stone balustrade standing sturdy & sentinel like to separate any guests from the sheer drop that lay ahead. Finishing his cigarette Bond turned to the bedside telephone & dialled the number. After several rings a voice broke onto the line. "Hullo?" Bond recognised the voice as that belonging to Corporal Knox. "Smith here." He said tersely. "Room 33. Got that?" "Yes sir, room 33." Bond dropped the receiver then took the haversack & emptied its contents onto the bed. He reached for the master key set &, pulling out the first key, tried it in his door lock. Bond knew that when he found the one that fitted it would work in all the locks of all the rooms in the hotel so best, he calculated, to find out which one now rather than trying at Van Der Byls door. Forth time lucky, the skeleton key effortlessly locked then unlocked the door with not even a hint of jiggling. It was obvious that Van Der Byl was being debriefed either in his own room or, more likely, that of his contacts as such a delicate procedure would never be conducted in a public space where the possibility of being seen or overheard may occur. He knew where Van Der Byl was but he didn't know the location of his contact & there was little chance of him finding out without unduly exposing himself. He had intended all along to gain entry to Van Der Byls room as he needed to search it & remove the bug from his suitcase so he was hoping that there may be a clue there somewhere. To bribe a member of the hotel staff in an effort to find out on his behalf was out of the question as it was imperative that he, Bond, remain completely removed from the police investigation which was sure to follow the discover of two dead bodies. Bond mulled his options over another cigarette. He concluded that it would be just too much of a stroke of luck to find Van Der Byl & the other man in the formers room so he would have no choice but to go with the plan he was now beginning to formulate.

It was now 11.15AM, Bond changed out of his clothes & into a pair of black slacks & slip on shoes, but left on the grey sweater. He pocketed the key pen knife & the bleeper then took the pistol & slid it into his waistband concealing it with the sweater, the silencer went into his other pocket. He picked up the telephone. "Hello" He said in German. "Could you put me through to room thirty three please?" Bond listened to the burr of the ring tone, he let it ring for almost a minute before dropping the receiver. Van Der Byl wasn't there. Bond picked up the torch & slid the shaft up his sleeve so as to disguise the fact he was carrying it then left his room. Not wanting to use the elevator, he made his way up the stairs to the next floor. There was no one about. As he strode quickly across the thick pile carpet, he had the skeleton key in his hand & at the ready. He stopped outside number 48 & quickly scanned the jamb for signs of something, anything, which may have been left behind by Van Der Byl to alert him that his room door had been opened while he was absent. Satisfied, he listened with his ear to the door lest the South African was indeed inside. Bond then quickly unlocked the door & stepped inside. After closing then locking it behind him he produced the pistol & attached the silencer then, gun in hand went across to the bed. Bond laid the Nagant & the torch on the bed where he could easily reach both then took Van Der Byls suitcase from the wardrobe & placed that beside the gun. It was locked. Bond had no further use for finesse so, using the knife blade from the key set, he pried the locks open. Throwing the lid back he began to rifle through the clothes therein, going through the pockets & feeling carefully over the linings to make sure nothing had been hidden. He had just checked the hems of a pair of casual trousers when he noticed the corner of a brown paper package lying hidden at the bottom of the case. Book took hold of it. It was heavy & thick & smelled of used banknotes. He opened the package & quickly estimated there to be at least ten thousand US dollars inside. He tossed the bundle onto the bed & continued his search. When the case was empty Bond ran his hand slowly over the inside, his fingers feeling for what they knew to be there. The bug was quite large, perhaps the same dimensions as pocket watch, yet it had been cleverly hidden in the top corner so as to remain invisible, using the knife, Bond pierced the cloth lining, noting that it had been cut along the seam then glued to form an invisible mend by whoever had placed it. The bug itself had also been glued in position causing Bond to forcibly lever it free with the blade. After quite a struggle it came away & he pulled it & the long wire antennae clear. He examined the device briefly & wondered about how it was powered, as it was far too small for conventional batteries, before stuffing it into his trouser pocket. Quickly, save for the bundle of money Bond threw the contents back into the case. He then searched the wardrobe before placing the suitcase back inside. Next were the bedside drawers. Bond had each one out, looking in, underneath & behind. Using the torch to illuminate the scene, he pulled each of the cabinets out to make sure nothing had been taped behind. He did the same with the beds headboard, the pictures, lampshades & anywhere else he felt Van Der Byl may have felt the need to hide something. Bond knew that in order to conduct a thorough search he would need several hours, time he didn't have, yet this cursory sweep satisfied him that there was nothing to be found.

Bond picked up the pistol, the torch & the money & took a cane backed easy chair from the far side of the room, carrying it into the corner near the door, at the side where the door opened, he set it down. Bond looked across the room to ensure that nothing looked out of place before seating himself. He put the money & the torch on the carpet next to him &, making sure the silencer was screwed on tightly, placed the Nagant across his lap. When van Der Byl entered the door it would swing inward & thus would be between him & Bond, meaning he would not see the intruder until he was inside. Bond settled himself snugly into the chair, now all he could do was wait..............



The rattle of the lock brought Bond to the alert. the door opened & then Van Der Byl appeared over the threshold. At such close quarters he seemed even bigger than Bond remembered. Bond remained perfectly & as anticipated the South African didn't notice him as he pushed the door closed from behind. Van Der Byl took a couple of strides towards the bathroom door away to the right. "I have a gun on you." Bond spoke, his voice flat, menacing. "Stand still." The big man didn't flinch upon being surprised in this fashion which took Bond aback slightly. "Now, very slowly walk over the end of the bed & sit down then put your hands on your knees. Do not make any sudden movements or I will shoot." Van Der Byl did as he was instructed, placing himself slowly on the edge of the bed in slow time. "You!" he scowled in recognition as he looked Bond square in the eye. The big mans face was a picture of truculence, surprising given the fact that he had a pistol pointed at his chest by a man he seemed to realise would not hesitate to use it. "Yes me." Bond said his face set hard. "You didn't manage to shake me." The South African replied with a barrage of oaths. "You've been a fool Van Der Byl." Said Bond calmly. the big man made no reply, letting his expression do the talking while keeping his eyes firmly focused on Bonds. "We know what you've been up to for quite a while but, until now, we had no evidence." Still the South African remained silent. "There's no need for preliminaries so I shall ask you just one question. Who is your contact?" The big man sneered but remained silent, with his thumb Bond pulled back the Nagants hammer. "I'll ask you just once more. Who is your contact?" "Shoot me" Spat Van Der Byl. "and you'll never find out. That leaves you with a slight dilemma does it not?" "On the contrary" Replied Bond flatly. "If anything it makes things easier. I will find out, it will just take a little time, but the time I would otherwise waste interrogating you will more than make up for it." Van Der Byls manner remained belligerent. "You may find out who he is but it will do you no good because he will be long gone by then. He already has what he needs from me so we have gone our own ways. The package at your feet is proof that our business has been concluded." "Then take this opportunity to save yourself" Bond said. "Things aren't set in stone quite yet."  "Are they not?" Van Der Byl laughed caustically. "Now who's being foolish? You've been sent to kill me, it's as black & white as that so please don't attempt to insult my intelligence further. Just get on with it man. Whether I tell you what you want to know or not is irrelevant, you still intend to gun me down. Ah, I forgot the British - I presume you work for the British - like to give their victims a sporting chance, it eases their conscience does it not?" "It may surprise you to learn that I wasn't given orders to kill you so there is still time for you to save yourself. However be under no illusion, I will not hesitate to shoot if you do not cooperate." Bond said. Van Der Byls lip curled in contempt "And I am to believe you?" "That's your decision" replied Bond. "all I will say is I will kill you if you don't tell me what I want to know. You can be certain of that." "Just out of curiosity," Van Der Byl continued. "if I was to believe you & give you the name, what would happen then? After all do you think you could get me off this damn mountain on your own?" "Maybe not." replied Bond. "However I have a couple of men waiting nearby who could." "Ha" sneered the South African. "Get me away from the scene then put a bullet through my head & bury me where I won't be found." "No. They would take you to Bern, from there you could be taken across the border into West Germany to one of our air bases then removed to the UK."  "What then? Thirty years in Parkhurst?  "Not necessarily" Bond said. "You could prove useful to us & if you told us all you know you may well find yourself being treated leniently. Even if you were gaoled, time in prison is better than the alternative is it not?"

Bond watched the slight change in Van Der Byls expression as he computed the suggestion. He looked at the pistol then back into Bonds eyes. "You know what" He growled. "I think you may just be crazy enough to use that thing." "I'll use it, be under no illusion. I'd like you to know that it wasn't part of my original brief to kill you, just your contact, so if you cooperate there is a way out for you. You have one minute to decide." "How do I know you won't kill me anyway if I tell you his name & where to find him?" "You don't." Replied Bond. "You'll just have to take my word." "What about the money?" Van Der Byl said nodding at the package. "I'm not going to steal it. It will be handed in & up to others to decide what happens to it. It's quite conceivable that you may even be allowed to keep it if you were cooperative. The clock is ticking Van Der Byl, make up your mind." The two men stared at each other across the room, neither giving visual quarter. "It seems you leave me with no choice." Van Der Byl said finally. "Alright. I'll tell you what you want to know but before that I should like to ask you just one question." "Make it quick." Said Bond. "Just how the hell did you find me here? I was sure I'd given you the slip in Lucerne." "That's need to know." Replied Bond coldly. " & you don't. Now. Give me the name & the room number."  "Alright" Said Van Der Byl. Suddenly he launched himself sideways off the bed. The 'phut' of the Nagant was lost beneath the sound of the bullet striking the headboard as Bonds shot went wide. Bond quickly brought the pistol back into the aim & fired, hitting the big man somewhere in the upper torso, amazingly Van Der Byl seemed not even to notice the shot & swiped hard at the standard lamp next to him, causing it launch in Bonds direction, Bond fired again as he parried the lamp with his left arm & jumped to his feet. Van Der Byl was on him before he could fully stand up, grabbing at the silencer & yanking the weapon aside. Bond felt the sledgehammer blow of the South Africans massive fist as it caught him full in the side of the head. His legs, not fully straight, buckled further under the force of the punch. The gun had gone, Bond didn't know where. Dazed by the ferocity of the blow, he found himself momentarily off his feet as Van Der Byl took him by the throat & threw him, as if he was a rag doll, across the room. Bond fell, hitting the end of the bed hard with an almighty thud & rolled limply across the carpet. In that instant he saw the Nagant laying on the floor & the South African grabbing for it. In one move Bond kicked out, knocking the gun away into the skirting board & out of range of the Big mans hand. Van Der Byl turned, murder in his eyes, & swearing viciously he kicked, the shoe aimed squarely at Bonds face. Instinctively Bond rolled away, He saw the shoe pass the side of his face with the power of an express train, so close that he felt it graze his hair. Quickly, while Van Der Byls leg was still in mid air, he grabbed at the foot with both hands & twisted as hard as he was able. The south African suddenly found himself off balance & came crashing down onto his back near the door. In one fluid movement Bond was onto his haunches & throwing himself at the Big man. Bonds outstretched hand came down, swift & unstoppable with as much force as he could muster, connecting hard with Van Der Byls exposed windpipe. The South African gagged, his arms coming up to claw frantically at bonds sweater. Bond delivered another lightning strike. His hand, still outstretched, slashed downwards & across the South Africans face, connecting hard with his nose & smashing it in a splurge of blood. Van Der Byls face, crimson & contorted in pain, morphed into one of abstract rage. In a display of raw power he pulled Bond sideways, causing him to roll away across the carpet. Van Der Byl was still gasping for air through his tortured windpipe as he struggled to his feet. Bond was up first, delivering a hard kick to the mans ribs which strangely seemed to have little effect. As Van Der Byl staggered back into the door still fighting for breath Bond set about him, bringing his foot out to strike hard under the South Africans kneecap, immediately following through he raked his shoe down hard along the shin & onto the instep. Van Der Byl yelped in pain as he pitched unsteadily sideways, allowing Bond another opening. Seizing the chance he punched with both fists, each blow connecting squarely on the big mans cheek bones. Bond saw the balled fists & flailing arms but was too late to stop the first blow landing hard on his side just below the ribcage. The potency of the punch knocking him aslant. Suddenly Van Der Byl let out an apoplectic roar which was almost primeval in its intensity as he rugby tackled Bond. Bond was thrown backwards with Van Der Byls shoulder in his stomach until he smashed hard into the wall. Bonds head struck the plaster with enough force to stun him & allow Van Der Byl to act, Vaguely Bond heard the clatter of falling pictures & upset furniture as The big man consolidated his grip into a crushing bear hold & slammed Bond into the wall for a second time. What air remained in Bonds lungs was now well & truly gone & he found himself unable to breath. Van Der Byls grip tightened to the point where Bond expected his spine to shatter as he was rammed into the wall a third time. Van Der Byls head was pressed to Bonds chest & he grunted & spluttered with the exertion. Bonds arms were free & he recovered his senses in time to bring both hands down simultaneously in karate fashion to chop hard to each side at the base of the South Africans neck. He heard Van Der Byl gasp before he repeated the blows. Briefly the big mans grip loosed as he rose to his full height. He now had Bond around the ribcage & started to squeeze harder than before. The two men were now face to face & Bond could see the murderous intent in Van Der Byls eyes, it wasn't simply murder but murder to be committed with maximum suffering. Bond headbutted, his target the already tortured nose. Van Der Byls face convulsed further in agony. The nose well & truly smashed the South African was gasping hard for breath through his mouth. In one move Bond brought the heel of his right hand up until it made contact underneath the big mans chin, smashing his mouth closed. Bond suddenly felt himself released as Van Der Byl staggered backwards, the blood now pouring from his lips told Bond that some of the South Africans teeth were broken & perhaps he had even bitten off his tongue. Bonds fist struck hard, landing square in the mouth to exacerbate the damage. Van Der Byl took a few steps backwards, panic etched across his face but Bond kept pace, punching at the head & keeping his opponent off balance. Van Der Byl was struggling to breath, his cheeks a vivid puce, as he retreated into the corner where the upturned cane chair now lay. Bond saw the torch still lying where he had placed it, quickly he stooped to grab it but before he could use it, indeed before he had fully stood up, Van Der Byl had somehow recovered from the onslaught. He rushed at Bond spitting & snorting blood like a crazed bull, Bond found himself being shunted backwards with incredible force until both men went headlong onto the bed. Bond was face up & well & truly pinned, Van Der Byls enormous fists came crashing into Bonds torso with the power borne of incandescent rage. "I'll kill you!" He bellowed as he went for Bonds throat. Bond felt the fingers lock themselves vice like around his neck. He couldn't breath as Van Der Byl plied all his weight into the hold, his thumbs pressing hard against Bonds Adams apple. In desperation Bond grasped at the wrists & tried to wrench them free but the big man was just too strong. The two outstretched fingers of Bonds right hand came up fast, stabbing viciously into Van Der Byls eyes. The South African let out a squeal of pain as he recoiled. Bond seized his chance as Van Der Byl loosened his grip, grabbing his arm at the wrist & elbow Bond twisted with all his might, Van Der Byl had no option but to comply with the throw & went sideways & off down beside the bed. He was still face down & struggling to his hands & knees as Bond rolled & pounced upon him. Before the big man could counter Bond had the crook of his arm around his neck & shoved his knee into the small of his back. Grabbing his own wrist with his free hand & using it for leverage, Bond pulled back hard as Van Der Byl arms came up in an attempt to grab him. Both the big mans hands were clawing desperately at Bonds  sleeves but they could find no purchase. Bond continued, pulling twisting & pushing with his knee as one movement. CRACK. The sickening sound of bone splintering was Bonds cue to let go. His neck broken, Van Der Byl slumped face down lifeless into the carpet. Bond pulled himself back onto the bed where he sat exhausted for a short while. He suddenly felt quite sick, Shooting a man was one thing but killing in this fashion had never sat well. He allowed the wave of nausea to pass then knelt down to search Van Der Byl & check for signs of life. Knowing full well he had shot him at least once as he had got to his feet, he half turned the body to make sure. Feeling at the torso, two holes was indeed  there, one just just to the left of the sternum. Although he had missed the heart by a matter of inches the round should have penetrated the lung & caused a knockdown blow, the other entry point at the lower right hand side of the abdomen was not an immediate killer yet should have stopped him long enough for Bond to finish the job but, as soon as began his examination, the secret of why the big man had rode the shots became clear. Van Der Byl was wearing a bullet proof vest under his shirt. It seemed a lot thinner than the types Bond was familiar with & hence easier to wear concealed & this, he reasoned with himself, was why he hadn't noticed it.

Bond made his way to the bathroom. Examining himself in the mirror, his injuries were obvious as well as painful. His neck was reddened & showing the imprint of Van Der Byls fingers & he coughed coarsely as he was reminded. Touching the side of his head he could feel the swelling which he knew would soon blossom into something spectacular. He Felt at his torso, nothing was broken but he knew from experience that the raging pain was sure to persist for some days & be accompanied by livid bruising. There were several large crimson stains on his sweater & splatters of blood on his face. At first Bond though he had been cut yet soon realised it was overspill from Van Der Byls broken & bleeding nose & mouth........

Bond washed his face & hands & just as he was drying the telephone rang. He didn't answer but picked up the receiver after it went silent. "Hello" He said in English "This is Mister Van Der Byl. I've just missed a phone call. Could you tell me who it was from. Ah I see, & what room?............ No, thank you, I don't want you to connect me." Bond let the receiver fall back onto its cradle. He picked up the pistol & after unscrewing the silencer, thrust it back into his waistband gathered up the torch & the bundle of notes then took one last look around the room, taking the keys to Van Der Byls Mercedes. The scene was one of devastation & was sure to prove of much interest to the Swiss police investigators. Bond took off the sweater & rolled it up tightly before tucking it under his arm, leaving him wearing only the T shirt. He then exited & closed the door, leaving it unlocked but hanging the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the handle. Making sure he wasn't seen he made his way back to his own room to deposit the the money, the torch, keys & the bug into the haversack. Looking out of the widow Bond was surprised to see that the weather had turned. The blue sky had given way to a fierce snow storm. Bond took up the telephone receiver & dialled the number of the call box. Sgt Travers voice broke onto the line. "This is Smith. You are to leave the area immediately............ Return to base. Once there you are to report that the contact was Pavel Berezin. Van Der Byl is dead & I am about to go after Berezin Got that?" Bond dropped the handset then set to work carefully ejecting the three spent cartridges & reloading the pistol, Screwing on the silencer then depositing the gun into the haversack Bond pulled on the anorak before shouldering the pack. After a cursory search he left the room & made his way down the stairs to the first floor............................


TO BE CONTINUED.............................

34

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

Keep up the great work, stag!

35

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

Yes, very nice  ajb007/martini

36

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

I don't know how this story will end yet as all I have written thus far has been straight off the cuff. However - depending upon interest - I am already formulating a basic plot line for the next story 'An ungentlemanly act'.

37

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

stag wrote:

I don't know how this story will end yet as all I have written thus far has been straight off the cuff. However - depending upon interest - I am already formulating a basic plot line for the next story 'An ungentlemanly act'.

Just make sure that you don't commit some gigantic faux pas like killing Bond!   ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol

Any ways keep it coming, I'm hanging on the edge of my seat, so to speak!

"I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
-Mr Arlington Beech

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Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

0073 wrote:
stag wrote:

I don't know how this story will end yet as all I have written thus far has been straight off the cuff. However - depending upon interest - I am already formulating a basic plot line for the next story 'An ungentlemanly act'.

Just make sure that you don't commit some gigantic faux pas like killing Bond!   ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol

Any ways keep it coming, I'm hanging on the edge of my seat, so to speak!

All I will reveal is that Bond survives while a few others don't!

Upon submitting the final instalment I intend to re-post each previous part so that BLOWBACK can be read in it's entirety.

39

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

BLOWBACK

PART ONE

1968



Tailing a man, any man, but especially a man who may be sufficiently trained in the techniques of countermeasure is never an easy task. However there are always certain exceptions to the rule & the situation which Bond now found himself was indeed one of those very same exceptions. In following his target onto the morning Zurich bound BEA flight from Heathrow Bond was able to relax safe in the knowledge that once airborne, there would be no prospect of the man giving him the slip. Bond had settled into his seat towards the rear of the aircraft & retrieved his well worn copy of 'The Thirty Nine Steps' from his oxblood Swaine Adeney Brigg Westminster briefcase. From his seat Bond could partially see his target, the big South African, as he struggled to occupy one of the aisle seats some rows in front. Idly Bonds eyes flitted between his book, the man & the rather delicious hostess who was going about her duties along the gangway. D Section had been observing the man for five days but the case was turned over to Bonds department upon receipt of a scrap of information which told that the target was readying himself to leave the country. Bond had picked him up at the Europa terminal & the stalk had begun. The tell tale signs that the man, Van Der Byl, was aware that he may be being followed were as immediate as they were subtle. Bond noticed him linger at the window of the duty free shop, to anyone else it appeared he was just idly passing time but bond knew otherwise because he was employing a trick he himself had used on many occasion. The casual browse was indeed anything but. Van Der Byl was using the glass, or more correctly it's reflection, to watch was happening behind him. He spent several minutes surveying the scene to his rear looking for any anomalies, however small, those little tell tale signs which would alert him to the fact that he was being tailed. Bond was confident that Van Der Byl would have seen him, seen him & regarded him but then dismissed him for he, Bond, was being open in his actions, invisible in plain sight. As far as Van Der Byl or anyone else was concerned Bond was was just an ordinary air traveler, a businessman in a dark blue suit, a raincoat over one arm & a briefcase in the other, off on some routine trip to Switzerland. Despite his nonchalance Bond had taken time to study his quarry though his peripheral vision over a leisurely cigarette. Van Der Byl was tall, taller than Bond & more powerfully built though what was showing through the grey worsted suit told its own story of an athletic physique slowly being overtaken by soft living. Van Der Byls face was square set, almost pug like which spoke of time once spent playing rugby. The scene was set beneath the close cropped blond hair with hard hawkish eyes which were quick & alert & as cold as marble planted deeply into the face. The nose, flattened & twisted, had been broken on more than one occasion. His mouth was a thin slash turned down at the corners into what looked like a permanent scowl. His parchment like skin was browned with time recently spent in the tropics. His hands spade like, the fingers gnarled like weather beaten branches with knuckles worn hard - probably through brawling. Bonds instincts were usually right & on this occasion they told him that here was a truly dangerous man..........

The flight had been delayed so, forty minutes behind schedule, the Viscount whined into land at Zurich. There was rain in the breeze & the leaden sky forecast more as the passengers disembarked & crossed to the terminal building & the brisk formalities of customs & immigration. Bond, Van Der Byl & the rest of the passengers plucked their luggage from the carousel before making their way to the exit. Bond had allowed his bull hide weekend bag to circuit the machine twice before retrieving it, thus purposely allowing Van Der Byl to build up a lead on him. Bond was watching as his quarry strode quickly among the throng of other travellers heading at different speeds towards the main exit. Suddenly & without warning Van Der Byl stopped, turning on his heels by 180 degrees. He placed his suitcase on the floor & absent mindedly frisked his jacket pockets as if looking for some lost document or other. Bond was unfazed as he was half expecting this move & knew exactly what his opponent was doing. Under the pretence of searching for a misplaced passport Van Der Byl was once again seizing the opportunity to check to his rear. Bond knew as those hard eyes flitted left to right that he would be looking for the smallest of signals which would confirm he was being tailed. Hesitation or just the briefest look of being caught out would give the game away so, nonchalantly avoiding eye contact, & knowing that Van Der Byl would remain stationary until he had satisfied himself that he was clear, Bond made his way past the big man & out through the bustle of the terminal into the squall of the autumn noon.

Although he had temporarily lost visual contact with his target, Bond was not unduly worried. There was only one way out of the terminal building & he still had that covered, besides which he knew from his briefing that Van Der Byl had made arrangements to hire a car & would now be making his way to the rental desk to complete the usual formalities before taking charge of it. This brief slack water period, the time between Van Der Byl completing the paperwork & being given the keys, suited Bond. He Knew where his prey was but had a small window of time to attend to his own tasks. The Putty coloured Volkswagen Fastback was parked exactly where Bond expected it to be, on the front row of the car park, opposite the terminal, left there by a representative of Station CH. Going to the offside rear wheel Bond felt up behind the arch for the small square magnet which he knew to be there. He found the magnet easily & pulled the key from its grip. Opening the drivers door, Bond placed his overcoat & luggage on the rear seat before climbing behind the wheel. He pushed the key into the ignition & turned it until the dashboard warning lights appeared, Bond was looking for just one thing & noted with satisfaction that the fuel gauge needle climbed slowly up to just below the 'full' mark. He removed the key & used it to open the glove box. The matt black hard plastic box was about the same size as a transistor radio yet quite heavy. With one eye on the terminal, Bond took it & examined it briefly before flicking the rocker switch on its side. The device sprang to life with a high pitched electronic bleep before settling into a steady drone. This told Bond two things, that both the tracker & the small locator bug which had been fitted into the lining of Van Der Byls suitcase back at Heathrow during the 'delay' were working & that Van Der Byl - or more correctly his luggage -  was within 400 yards. On the face side of the tracker were a series of green LEDs, placed so as to form eight compass points, this crude direction finding capability gave Bond a rough approximation as to the direction of the bug in relation to his own position. He knew that, although the system had a theoretical maximum range of three miles, this figure was wholly dependent upon terrain & other conditions, the bug wouldn't function at all in a tunnel or underground car park & within a built up area its performance would be drastically diminished to perhaps 100 yards or even less. Given the topography of his current location he could expect the three mile maximum range to be reduced by half, meaning that while he could remain unseen by Van Der Byl, he couldn't afford to become complacent. The battery life of the bug itself was another potential issue, it would last approximately eighteen hours, hopefully long enough for him to complete his mission, however he had no back up in place should that time frame expire & would be reduced to old fashioned visual tailing & the possibility that Van Der Byl may spot him. Putting the ignition key back into place, Bond reached into the passenger foot well, his hand groping blindly into the inner recesses behind the dashboard. His fingers found then wrapped around the package, pulling it from its hiding place & depositing it into his lap. It's weight told its own story as Bond unwrapped the mutton cloth parcel. The .38 Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight revolver seemed to Bonds experienced eye to be a virgin example, He examined it briefly after he opened the chamber &, opening the box of cartridges which he had retrieved from their hiding place in the underside innards of the drivers seat, Bond carefully loaded the weapon before sliding it into his waistband.

From his position Bond had a commanding view across the whole of the front of the terminal to the row of rental vehicles which were parked some fifty yards away to his half right & almost at the corner of the building. By the time Van Der Byl appeared the wind had stiffened, sliding off the surrounding mountain tops with a suitably withering bite, the sky was now a solid slab of dark grey & the rain falling from it was as heavy as it was persistent. The big South African hunched his shoulders against the weather &, head down, strode quickly toward to row of hire cars. This was Bonds cue to start the engine & he let it idle on quarter choke as he watched Van Der Byl deposit his case into the boot of a black Mercedes 250s. Through the sweep of windscreen wipers Bond looked on as the Mercedes was smartly reversed from its resting place to join the throng of slow moving traffic making its collective exit from the precincts of the airport. Bond hesitated & allowed more traffic to pass then eased the nose of the fastback out of the parking bay & into a loose pursuit. The tracker was still emitting its solid slab of noise above the thud of the flat four engine & the green LED pointers were cutting between straight ahead & half left. Though Bond could now not see the Mercedes the little black box was working well & was indicating that the target was moving away south westerly. Soon, as Bond was negotiating the last of the airport road, the noise it was making turned from a continuous tone to a fast bleep which told Bond that Van Der Byl was building up a lead on him, causing Bond to plant his foot hard on the accelerator.

The weather was worsening as Bond set the Fastback on the main Zurich to Lucerne highway. The wind was galloping in straight from the snow laden peaks with more voracity then ever but just then a break in the clouds briefly bathed the area in sunshine, giving Bond a tantalising glimpse of his surroundings. It was a majestic scene indeed & one he was pleased to see. To his left was lake Zurich, broad & long & ice grey, white horses abounding across its surface, dancing in time to the gusting winds with the backdrop of mountains forming a distant fringe of greys & white against the angry sky. To his right farming country, verdant & speckled at intervals with quaint chalets & pocket handkerchief sized fields rising as far as it was possible to sustain any semblance of agriculture before the landscape gave itself over to the snow line & more mountains. Occasionally by the roadside & from behind roughly hewn wooden fences, cattle looked dolefully on at the passing traffic, the clanking of their bells lost beneath the roar of internal combustion engines. Soon, too soon, as the road swung away from the lake & set its course though the hilly, boulder strewn upper pastures, the forces of nature which had given now took away, the rain descended once more, this time harder, glancing against the Fastback at forty five degrees & causing the curtain to fall on the scenery for the last time.

Bond guessed he was about half a mile behind Van Der Byl, the steady monotone bleep of the tracker served to relax him enough to allow him to concentrate on the drive. Headlights on, windscreen wipers at maximum speed, the conditions were such that it would have been foolhardy to travel much beyond 45MPH, the rain, the wind & the sharply meandering nature of the road were conspiring to catch out the unwary or unskilled. With some ebb & flow of the trackers voice, Bond stayed behind the target vehicle for the next hour.

The road signs which signalled the approach to Lucerne prompted Bond to close the gap. He knew that once in the city, the tracker would struggle to remain fixed on the bug & he didn't want to waste time & effort searching as a result. Soon & for the first time since leaving the airport Bond saw the Mercedes. He eased off the accelerator & settled into position about two hundred yards behind. There were several vehicles twixt his & the target car, giving Van Der Byl slender chance of being alerted to the fact that he was being shadowed.

Lucerne was as Bond expected it to be, Typically Swiss, it could have been constructed for the sole purpose of appearing on picture postcards. It was an orderly collection of moccha coloured, vaguely Bavarian styled buildings of varying age & architectural flamboyance embedded solidly on part of the banks of the great lake which shares its name & overlooked on all sides by the towering mountains which formed an impressive 360 degree panorama.There seemed something organic about the place, as if it had simply risen from the earth, perhaps it was the rustic nature of the architecture but the illusion was assisted in no small measure by the abundance of trees & green spaces to be found along most of its thoroughfares. Bond followed the Mercedes by sight carefully towards the centre of the city where the streets were particularly narrow & enclosed on both sides by tall yet old & ornate buildings, most of which appeared to Bond to date back beyond the 17th century. the Mercedes stopped outside a small restaurant on one of the cobbled  roads leading in towards the Muhlenplatz. Bond drove past & slotted the Fastback into the first available parking space as Van Der Byl alighted & stepped inside the building. Bond watched him through the wing mirror before stepping out of the car himself. Fortunately the rain had abated &, after placing his luggage in the boot, Bond slipped into his overcoat, crossed the road & walked smartly to another small eatery almost opposite where Van Der Byl now sat. He was occupying a window seat with a good view of the street & its comings & goings. Bond was confident that the South African would have seen him as he navigated the crowds of locals & obvious tourists on the opposite pavement but, by virtue of his simple disguise - the raincoat - he was equally confident that Van Der Byl would not have made the link between the man here & the one at the airport. The restaurant was clean yet low brow, with tired decor which matched the menu. The place was quiet, allowing Bond to choose his own table, although he sat well away from the window he had placed himself where he could still see out & across the way well enough to have the door of Van Der Byls building covered. Draping his overcoat across a neighbouring chair, Bond picked up the menu. Presently he was approached by an efficient looking waiter clad in a freshly starched uniform & bright red apron. "Are You ready to order sir?" He said in German, pencil & pad at the ready "Yes, thank you." Replied Bond. The dishes on offer were little more than peasant fare yet Bond was grateful at prospect of being able to eat.  "I think I'll have the soup followed by the Veal schnitzel with rosti & a double Kirsch." Bond looked at his watch "Could I have the telephone please?"  "Certainly sir." Nodded the waiter before retiring. Bond was conscious of the fact that he had not made contact with the Swiss station. They would be expecting him to make a report & in turn would pass on that same report back to London. As it stood, Bond was last heard of back at Heathrow so there would be plenty of ears anxious for news of his whereabouts & progress - or lack thereof.

"Damn!" Bond jumped to his feet &, grabbing his overcoat, made for the door, leaving the waiter dumbfounded hovering over the table & clutching the telephone. Unexpectedly Van Der Byl had walked out of the restaurant & was making for his car. Bond hesitated in the doorway to allow the Mercedes to move off before sprinting out across the road & through the throng of passersby to his own vehicle, glancing into the restaurant window as he passed he saw an untouched beer at Van Der Byls table. Bond fumbled for the key as he struck back out onto the road to the drivers door. Just then, as he was in the process of climbing aboard, the Mercedes drove slowly past from behind. In that instant Van Der Byls eyes met Bonds & in both men knew what the other was thinking. Bond had fallen neatly into the trap which the South African had set for him. Van Der Byl had entered the restaurant, seating himself with an encompassing view of the street & watched. Perhaps not sure at that stage that he was being followed, he decided to play safe & make sure once & for all, forcing the hand of anyone tailing him. While Bond thought he was driving away, Van Der Byl had simply motored around the block, effectively doubling back on himself to come up behind any would be pursuer. He had comprehensively wrong footed Bond, of that there was no doubt. Van Der Byl had now confirmed he was being followed, he had identified by who & even the car they were driving. The Mercedes exited the scene, turning sharply right again with a brief squeal of tyres. Bond was still cursing himself as he started the engine & rammed the gear lever into first. He knew that the South African would now attempt to lose him, perhaps ditching the car in the process, he may even run for the border. Whatever Van Der Byls plan B he would now not be meeting his contact, the unknown man who Bond had been sent to identify &, if necessary, kill. He, Bond, was now out on a limb. He had failed to make contact with his Station in Bern & now had little prospect of being able to. Van Der Byl would not allow him any opportunity to make up for his mistake, that was clear, & he would now be attempting to place as much distance between himself & Bond as possible so as to shake him off for good. The only thing riding in Bonds favour was the tracker device which he had grabbed from the glove box & cast on top of the dashboard. The traffic was heavy & slow through the narrow arteries of the city & Bond had no time to waste being caught up in it. Knowing that Van Der Byl would be equally entangled Bond looked to the tracker to return to him some semblance of advantage. It was bleeping steadily, the pointers showing him that the Mercedes appeared to be cutting away into the suburbs. Taking a chance, Bond turned off the indicated direction of the Mercedes & headed for what he hoped may be quieter back streets. However, just as in the centre, the back streets of Lucerne were equally old & narrow & compressed into into the same small blocks of tall buildings which conspired to create a canyon effect. The streets were never designed for the volume of traffic which they now had to cope with, causing Bond to find himself stuck behind slow moving cars without an option to overtake. Sounding his horn in an attempt to get the offending vehicles to allow him through proved fruitless. Worryingly the tracker soon began to struggle, it's internal ariel fighting to acquire the bugs signal though the mass of buildings. The signal began to drop to little more than an intermittent blip, still though from the scraps of information it was receiving Bond could tell approximately which direction he needed to be heading in order to keep pace. He turned left then right then left through the side streets in a meandering northwesterly direction, working the gears & accelerator hard whenever he saw an opportunity to gather speed, going hard for breaks in the traffic, throwing the Fastback into each corner with an enthusiasm born of near desperation & running a couple of red lights in the process. Soon the signal had spluttered to nothing leaving Bond to blindly drive in the general direction of its last indication in the forlorn hope of reacquiring it somewhere further on. Seeing a chance to break from the tangle of little streets Bond pulled the Fastback out onto a main road & drove westwards towards the city limits. He was cruising slowly, so slowly in fact that he was holding the traffic behind him. Speed wasn't the objective now, he was attempting to give the tracker the opportunity to lock back onto the bugs transmission from its position which Bond estimated to be still somewhere over to his half left. Bond was willing the little black box to speak but, agonisingly, it remained silent. He knew that while ever he stayed within the built up area the tracker was little more than useless in terms of range. Now to second guess Van Der Byl. Where would he be heading? The trackers last report indicated that he was driving somewhere this way however since then he could have struck out towards any point of the compass, even turning round & heading back towards the airport. Bond slammed the steering wheel with the flat of his hand & cursed violently in the knowledge that he had lost him. He decided to continue on this road to the outer limits of the city just in case Van Der Byl had or was about to leave Lucerne this way. If so the tracker may just pick him up across a radius of perhaps half a mile, Bond acknowledged that his chances were slim but nevertheless he determined to try. After he had exhausted that possibility he would turn around & return to the built up area to comb the city in the vain hope that Van Der Byl had gone to ground there.

Suddenly The tracker squealed loudly in its now familiar monotone & the entire array of LEDs lit up as one in a single flash before a single line pointed dead ahead. There! In front of him, about fifty yards away crossing the junction from left to right Bond saw the Mercedes. Gunning the engine Bond took the corner hard & swung in behind the target car. all pretence of guile should have been gone at this point, under most circumstances it would have been of little consequence if Van Der Byl spotted him yet Bond was determined to wrest some form of victory, however small that victory may be, from the ashes of the past fifteen minutes. More by luck than judgement Bond found himself behind several vehicles which were serving to mask his presence from the South African. Making best use of this cover Bond managed to stay concealed until they hit the city limits. Falling back steadily as the traffic tailed away & suburb gave itself over to countryside Bond finally allowed the Mercedes to disappear from view once again. It soon became obvious that Van Der Byl was travelling south along the banks of the lake. Passing the signpost a moment or two behind Bond noted that this highway would take them all the way to Italy. The rain was sweeping in again, cutting visibility to a matter of only a couple of hundred yards. Bond was staring hard through the windscreen into the deepening gloom as the wipers fought a losing battle to maintain his forward vision. He glanced down at the speedometer, it was hovering around the 100kph mark - too fast for the road conditions - yet still he seemed not to be gaining on his quarry. Mission thoroughly compromised, Bond decided that he would have to stop Van Der Byl & somehow take him into custody so he could be interrogated, subconsciously he felt at the pistol in his waistband. Soon the tracker began to indicate to Bond that he was closing on the Mercedes. He realised that the vehicle must have stopped, so lights off he brought the Fastback to a slow halt at the roadside before he happened upon it. Bond guessed what Van Der Byl was up to & pondered briefly on his next course of action. He could sweep in here & take the South African by surprise, at gunpoint he could require him to surrender & hope that he wouldn't want to make a fight of it. How to get him back to Station HQ in Bern? The boot of the Volkswagen was unusual as it was in the front of the vehicle & Bond reckoned it large enough to accommodate the big man. Locking him inside, Bond could then telephone for help. However Bonds next thought threw a spanner into the works. At that very same moment the tracker began to indicate movement. Bond realised his window of opportunity had closed. That was it, he would go with his second thought. Bond released the handbrake & set off in a slither of wet shingle. A couple of hundred Yards further on Bond noticed the telephone box at the roadside. Van Der Byl had indeed contacted someone. Had he scrubbed the operation & the meeting as Bond had first guessed or was he planning to go ahead in the belief that he had given his shadow the slip?...................................

40

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

PART TWO


It was dark when Bond arrived in Allsdorf. He had tailed the Mercedes at a safe distance for over three hours through the continuing rainstorm. Now, within the confines of this neat little town, he proceeded slowly, leaving a suitable distance between himself & the target vehicle so as to ensure he remain unseen, nosing his car through the confines of the now familiar narrow streets. His ear had become attuned to the pattern of tones emanating from the tracker & he noted that the Mercedes appeared to have stopped. Following the LED indicator & crossgraining a couple of streets with lights off, he finally turned left then brought the Fastback to a halt at the roadside. From the information being passed to him via the tracker he concluded the Mercedes had come to rest some three hundred yards or so to his front. It was still raining just as heavily as it had been for the past hours. The wind, ebbing & flowing, was driving the ice cold rain in sheets so as to obscure detail of all except that in close proximity. Looking out towards where the trackers LED arrow was pointing, he could see a cluster of lights beyond the perimeter of the built up area some distance away in the darkness & it was here he believed that the Mercedes had come to rest. Bond had left the engine & the windscreen wipers running & was staring hard out towards the lights but the driving wind & rain meant he still could not make out the scene in enough detail to identify it. All he could tell was that it was set against the the base of the mountain which towered over the whole scene. Bond thought it best to make the final approach on foot lest his car be spotted by Van Der Byl so, scanning the way ahead, he soon picked out the best avenue of approach. Stealth was now paramount. In contrast to the distant light show the road running out from the edge of the village towards it was dimly lit, with no street lamps. The occasional headlights of a passing car aside, the only ambient light was the overspill from windows & porch lanterns of the few houses running along it, this served to create pinpoints of light surrounded by areas of deep shadow which petered out approximately half way to his objective. Bond was satisfied he could bypass these & remain in the darkness all the way to his target. He climbed out of the car & pulled on his overcoat, took the tracker & placed it in his pocket. Moving quickly now & clinging to the verge while remaining on high alert, the tracker was telling him Van Der Byl was fairly close, perhaps within 150 yards. Unexpectedly, as he looked on, a blob of yellow light detached itself from the main area of illumination & began to climb slowly at a most precarious angle up the mountainside. Bond guessed what he was witnessing but, because of the rain lashing his face, he still could not confirm. Onward he pressed until the pattern of light transformed from the abstract into the obvious. As Bond had guessed here was the lower terminus of a funicular railway. The light he had seen was indeed the small single carriage beginning its climb. Still in the shadows Bond watched & waited. Soon the tracker began to indicate that the target was moving away from his location. Bond knew which way - upwards. Van Der Byl had taken the carriage up the mountain, but where was he heading? Bond broke cover & jogged the remaining fifty or so yards to the bottom of the line There, at the entrance to a graveled car park, he got his answer. A large display board announced that here was the car park & the railway which led up the side of the Der Alte Mann mountain to the Schloss Hotel. Bond looked upwards, he could see the second carriage on its descent. Briefly he turned his attention to the car park. The scene was quite well lit by some rather old fashioned looking street lamps, casting a yellow sodium tint across the area. There, tucked discreetly out of obvious view, was Van Der Byls Mercedes. Bond approached the platform, a simple stone structure, raised four feet or so from the car park floor & accessed by a short flight of steps. It had a small wooden shelter at one end & its perimeter was secured by a white painted picket fence. Bond waited in the open & watched the tram like carriage slow as it made its final approach, stopping just short of the buffer. He had expected it to be full however only the conductor was aboard. "Sorry Sir" He said as he opened the door & stepped off onto the platform "But you've missed the last train. The next run won't be until eight AM tomorrow." "Ah, I see" replied Bond. He looked on as the conductor locked the carriage door "Tell me, is there another hotel nearby?" "Yes sir" said the conductor. "just follow the road back into the village, take the first right Then straight on. Hotel Herschen is on the right, you can't miss it." "One more thing, is there a petrol station open at this time?"  "No sir" said the man waving Bond down the steps before closing the gate. That won't be open until tomorrow morning either." "Thank you anyway & goodnight" Said Bond as he retreated back across the car park. The conductor was obviously too busy attending to his duties to notice Bond return to the shadows. He watched the conductor climb into a little Fiat &, after a couple of attempts, start the engine. Bond waited for the car to drive away before approaching the Mercedes. He felt for the bonnet catch, pulled it & raised the hood. The engine was still ticking as it cooled & using his Ronson for light, Bond found then removed the distributor cap. He felt for his handkerchief then immersed it in the nearest puddle before squeezing out the contents onto the rotor arm. He repeated this process a couple more times before replacing the cap & closing the bonnet. Now Van Der Byls car was immobilised & done so in such a fashion that it would be impossible to point to sabotage. If he knew about cars then he would in all likelihood be able to diagnose & fix the problem, if not - & Bond was hoping he wasn't mechanically minded -  he would face a wait for a mechanic who would then tell him that water had gotten into the electrics. After all it had been raining hard all these hours so the possibility of this happening was entirely feasible. However the situation played out, Van Der Byl would be delayed, perhaps for a matter of hours. satisfied that he had done all he could for now, Bond turned to retrace his steps back to his own car.


The Hotel Herschen was rather small, faced with wood & constructed in the chalet style, unusually though with a gable end to each elevation. it was located in what appeared to be the main thoroughfare of Allsdorf, which itself was an ordered collection of elderly cream coloured typically alpinesque buildings, most with brightly shuttered windows, squatting beneath blue or brown tiled roofs overlooking the cobbled road.The whole street was brightly illuminated, as seen through his windscreen the rain gave the scene a vaguely impressionist watercolour feel to the scene. Despite the weather there were quite a few pedestrians out & about. Bond quickly surveyed the Herschen & counted four stories, the upper two balconied. He parked the Fastback nose in into one of the roadside bays in front of the hotel & retrieved his bags from the boot before stepping smartly up to & through the entrance. A cursory glance about the lobby told him what he already suspected. The hotel was obviously catering for the lower end of the tourist market. It was functional as opposed to luxurious, yet it would suit his purpose.

Bond followed the porter to his room, the grandly named 'Alpine Suite' on the forth floor. He had asked for a room with a view of the Der Alte Mann &, under the pretext of being a railway enthusiast, the funicular line. Pressing a particularly handsome tip into the porters outstretched hand, Bond asked if the hotel could loan him a pair of binoculars. Seeing his prize the porter eagerly replied "I can do better than that sir. I'll bring up a telescope. We keep it locked away for use by our more favoured guests. It's very powerful so you'll be able to see the railway in all its detail."Thank you," smiled Bond. "that's most kind. Also could you arrange to have my suit & shirt laundered & shoes polished? I shall need them first thing tomorrow morning though."  "Certainly sir." Replied the porter, the prospect of more generous tips spurring him on. "Anything else sir?"  "Yes" Said Bond "Bring me a menu. I''ll be dining in my room." After the porter had left Bond changed out of his wet clothes & into a hotel dressing gown. No sooner had he done so than the porter was back. Bond answered the tap at the door with a call to enter. The porter appeared carrying a large telescope on a wooden tripod. "Shall I set it up for you sir?" "No, thank you. I'll attend to it myself. That's all." Bond pointed to his clothes after the porter laid the menu on the small table by the french window. "Very good sir. If you need anything, anything at all, I shall be on duty until nine o'clock in the morning. Just call reception & ask for Dietmar." The power of a weeks tips delivered in one shot had indeed sharpened Dietmars senses. "I will. Thank you again. Oh & by the way, can I make direct calls from here?" "Indeed sir" Smiled Dietmar "just dial nine then your number. Would you like me to demonstrate?" "I'll manage" Replied Bond, "now if you don't mind...." "Yes sir. Goodnight sir."

Bond locked the door, picked up the menu then sat on the edge of the bed & picked up his Ronson & cigarette case from where he had left them on the pillow while he was undressing. Retrieving then lighting a Morland, he reached over to the bedside table & plucked the telephone receiver from its cradle. The number for Station CH had been committed to memory before his departure from the UK. It was now after eight PM, so he was expecting the call to be answered by the duty officer. Sure enough a young yet efficient sounding voice came on the line. Bond identified himself using the codeword 'Zulu Five Tango' & passed a situation report followed by a list of instructions down the line. After ringing off he studied the menu. Far from haute cuisine it was nonetheless appetising to the eye. Lifting the receiver once more Bond said "Good evening I'd like a meal brought to my room. My name? Mr Grey, the alpine suite. Could I have the Zürcher Eintopf. I should also like a whisky please. What do you have?............. Ah. I'll have the Macallan, a double, neat. Thank you." Bond was travelling with false papers which gave his identity as one Mr Stuart Grey & it was under this alias that he had signed into the hotel. Bond undressed & stepped into the shower, setting the flow as hot as he was able to tolerate he quickly washed himself before standing motionless for a few moments to allow the water to steam away the last vestiges of what had been an eventful day then flicked the taps to cold to assault his senses under a million ice like pinpricks. Bond had barely dried himself & changed into a royal blue sea island cotton shirt & navy slacks when the telephone Rang. It was the Deputy Head of Station CH. He asked Bond to confirm his requests then replied that they would be attended to in full. Lighting another cigarette Bond called reception. "Could I speak to Dietmar please? Thank You" He held the line momentarily before "Dietmar? this is Herr Grey. I am expecting some visitors early tomorrow. About six thirty AM. Could you see to it that they are shown to my room?.............. Yes I am aware that it is irregular however I trust that you will be able to arrange things?..................... Splendid. Also I should like an alarm call at five forty five.................... Thank you Dietmar." Bond looked at his watch, nine fifteen, his plan was to eat then retire to bed. He knew he had a very long day ahead of him & would need all the rest he could get. Bond took to the armchair in the corner of the room & had just stubbed out another Morland into the ashtray on top of the nearby coffee table when there was a knock at the door. He stood & crossed the room to unlock & open the door. The maid was young & rather pretty in a strangely plain sort of way, with big blue eyes & long blonde hair constrained into a braid which was wrapped, band fashion, around her head. "Your meal Herr Grey." She said softly as she steered the trolly into the room. "Shall I serve?" "Yes please" Replied Bond. The food was soon laid out before she retreated, Bond presented her with a tip & she curtsied in thanks. Locking the door Bond made his way to the table. The food, like the maid, looked plain yet appetising & he consumed it with relish. His hunger thoroughly quenched Bond returned to the armchair & lit another cigarette which he devoured with equal enthusiasm while attending to the whisky as he slowly dissected the days events. Van Der Byl was a professional, there was no doubt about that, though Bond could expect no less from a former member of the South African intelligence service BOSS, however he had made his first mistake & a huge one at that. By allowing himself to become contained in this fashion he had handed the initiative back to Bond, who now determined to take full advantage. Bond reasoned that the choice of venue was not Van Der Byls but his contacts so he would have both of them bottled up & ripe for the taking. He also reasoned that van Der Byl would not be overly concerned as he would have convinced himself he had shaken his tail. Unless he was possessed of serious climbing skills, there was only one way off the mountain for the South African & his associate so Bond intended to bolt the door so neither of them would escape......................


The brittle peal of the telephone woke Bond from his slumber. "This is your wake up call Mister Grey." "Thank you." said Bond hoarsely. Throwing back the covers He stepped out onto the carpet & padded barefoot to the bathroom. After attending to his ablutions Bond pulled on the dressing gown & took his first cigarette of the day. The strong coffee, & Swiss breakfast of cheese & bread he had ordered arrived shortly thereafter & he ate in silence, looking contemplatively out of the window at the Der Alte Mann. It appeared strangely foreboding in the muted colours of early morning, Bond shook away this foolish notion & turned to ponder the permutations of the day ahead. He then opened the french windows & set up the telescope on the balcony. It was quite cold, a breeze laden with autumn striking him with some force as soon as he stepped out. He took several deep breaths as he delighted in the sensation of mountain air against his body then found himself shivering as he peered through the viewfinder. He found his target easily. Adjusting the focus knob he zeroed in on the distant lower terminus. The funicular carriage was still there, tethered silently while awaiting another days work, more importantly, so was the Mercedes. Bond regarded the scene for a while before the soft tap at the door shook him from his thoughts. "Come in." He Said. Dieter entered carrying his freshly dry cleaned suit, shirt & polished shoes. "Good morning Mister Grey. The Gentlemen who you are expecting are here." Bond motioned for Dieter to lay the suit & shoes on the bed, as he straightened up &, closing the french windows behind him, took a few steps forward to greet his three visitors. "Thank You Dieter. Take this for your trouble." Bond handed the porter a small wad of notes. Dieters eyes sparkled as he realised just how much money he had been awarded. "No. thank you sir!" He beamed as he withdrew. "Just one more thing. could you arrange for some sandwiches & four bottles of beer to be sent up before seven thirty? Also I shall be leaving within the next hour or so, please arrange my bill." Dieter nodded enthusiastically before exiting the room. Bond waited a few seconds before opening the door to glance along the corridor. It was empty. "Hello gentlemen" he said extending his arm to shake each mans hand."Commander Bond?" Said the voice belonging to the big outstretched hand. Bond nodded as he took the hand in greeting & found its grasp surprisingly firm. "The name's Major Frost, deputy head of station. We spoke on the telephone." Frost was was not what he had been expecting, a short, plump man in his late forties with a mop of thinning yet unruly greying hair & the ruddy complexion more associated with a farmer than an administrator. It seemed to Bond more by luck than design that Frosts overly rotund figure somehow seemed to fit the crumpled blue suit. His decidedly unmilitary cut was somehow at odds with the Hussars regimental tie. "This is Sergeant Travers & Corporal Knox." Hello sir." each man said in turn, nodding acknowledgement as they shook Bonds hand. "Who are your men?" Bond asked the Major. "Are they station?" "No" said Frost. "They're Military Police from a special surveillance cadre of the SIB in Bielefeld. Because we're in effect a sub station, at least in terms of size, we don't have the manpower available when anything out of the ordinary crops up. We sometimes use the MPs for security duties & suchlike at the embassy as well as having them available for the occasional special task such as this. More often than not we have at least three men seconded. It's quite a handy little relationship actually. Obviously whilst working for Station they operate unofficially, however however they've grown used to our methods & I can assure you they are good at what they do." In stark contrast to the Major, both Travers & Knox looked the part. They were both tall, around Bonds height, obviously physically fit & tough looking. "Good." Said Bond after a pause, nodding his approval. "Now Major I take it you have brought my shopping list?" "I certainly have" Smiled Frost as he tapped the grey backpack which was slung over his shoulder. "Then let's see." Bond took the pack & placed it on the table, Unbuckling the flap he dug inside. "The clothes took some getting hold of at such short notice I can tell you. After all it's not easy finding a gents outfitters who are open in the middle of the night! I had to call in a favour from an ex pat friend of mine who owns an outdoor pursuits shop in Bern. He wasn't impressed when I asked him to open up for me!"  "Well done anyway." Said Bond vaguely as he pulled the clothes out & laid them on the table. As requested here was a stout pair of hiking boots, a pair of heavy brown corduroy trousers, a T shirt, a thick grey woolen turtleneck sweater, a green canvas headover anorak complete with a hood & large chest map pocket, a pair of thick grey hiking socks & a green felt alpine hat. Next out was a pager, a simple device, roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes which would give off a bleep if initiated by a telephone call. the British driving licence in the name of John Smith came next followed by a small contraption which looked at first glance like a Swiss army knife, indeed it did contain a blade but the rest of the fold out attachments were in fact master keys, each cut in such a way as to act in the same fashion as a  hotel passkey. At least one of the ten profiles would be sure to fit the locks used commonly used in hotels giving the user the ability to open any hotel room anywhere in the world. Bond next took out the torch, it was chrome plated & the two D cell batteries made it quite heavy, aside from providing light this innocuous looking gadget held a small yet deadly secret, the bezel had been especially strengthened with stainless steel & weighted in such a fashion as to create a very effective cosh, one wholly capable of fracturing a skull if used with the required venom. "Where's the gun?" Bond asked with a hint of impatience. "I have it here." said Frost. "I thought it best to keep it about my person. We don't have much call for firearms at the Bern Station. The only silenced one I could get my hands on at short notice was this" Frost rather clumsily pulled an 1895 Nagant revolver from his trouser band & handed it to Bond "Well well well!" Bond smiled mirthlessly as he weighed the revolver in his hand "Where on earth did you find this?" "It's been laying in the office safe for an age" Replied the Major. "It was 'bequeathed' to us don't you know, one careless owner & all that." Frost then handed the silencer & seventeen rounds of 7.62mm ammunition. "Those are all we have" He said before Bond had a chance to question him. "I believe the chap had call to use the thing before he was, ahem, relieved of it" It was Bonds experience that most silenced pistols weren't actually silenced at all. It was more a case of disguising the report of the gun to some extent so it couldn't be recognised as gunfire as opposed to silencing in the true sense of the word. Silencing a revolver was nothing less than an exercise in futility, however the Nagant was a wholly different beast. Due to its special design & ammunition when employed with a good silencer all that could be heard was little more than the drop of the hammer. He placed it carefully onto the table as if he were handling a piece of priceless china then strode across to the bed to retrieve the airweight from beneath his pillow. He made it safe by opening the cylinder & dumping the rounds onto the bed cover. "I take it you know how to handle one of these Sergeant?" Bond said, offering the revolver to Travers. "Not that model but yes sir." came the reply. "Then here. But use it only as a last resort mind. The safety's in the grip. You can't c**k it, just squeeze the trigger. Familiarise yourself with it then reload it. You'll be able to carry it safely in your pocket or waistband. You'll notice it carries no identifying marks. If in the unlikely event you have to use it, dispose of it afterwards, somewhere it can't be recovered, a lake or river perhaps. Whatever you do don't hang onto it, then get back to Station as soon as possible." Bond turned to Frost & speaking in German said. "Major, you are to take the Volkswagen & return to Bern but before you do I may have one last task for you. Tell me, how well do you speak German?"  "Fluently." Replied Frost. "Any accent?" "No." "Could you pass for Swiss German over the telephone?" "I believe so, yes."  "Good, then here's what I want you to do." After Bond had finished his explanation he handed the telephone receiver to Frost. "Are you sure it will work?" Frost said with more than a hint of uncertainty in his voice. "It's simple psychology," Replied Bond. "taking people at face value plus the inherent need of the Swiss to comply with authority. Anyway there's only one way to find out so let's try shall we? Remember, be officious." Bond dialled the number he had taken from the notice board in the car park the evening before which would connect them directly with the Schloss Hotel "Hello" Began the Major. "This is Kriminalispecktor Gessel of the Bundesamt für Polize. May I speak to the manager please?" There was a long pause. "Good Morning. Yes, Kriminalispecktor Gessel here. I wonder if you could help me? I have reason to believe you have a guest staying with you by the name of Van Der Byl? Yes........... That's right,................. christian name Anton. Could you tell me how long he has checked in for?................ Two nights? Good. Also in which room is he staying? Good. Thank you................There is no need to worry, however the canton police may arrive to talk to you in more detail you at some stage......... Yes......... Until then you must not speak about this to anyone. Again I must stress that there is no need for you to worry, this is purely a routine police matter............ If I require any further information I will contact you by telephone again. In the meantime I thank you for your cooperation. Goodbye." Frost handed the receiver back to Bond who replaced it on the cradle. "He took the bait then?" He said, already knowing the answer. Frost nodded. "As you heard, Van Der Byl has checked in for two days. He is staying in room 48. Quite a good wrinkle that." Smiled a visibly relieved Frost. Bond turned to the MPs & continued in English "Sergeant, you & the Corporal will take me to the railway where I will catch the first train of the day up to the Schloss Hotel. You will then remain in the car park, tuck yourselves out of sight as much as you are able & keep watch on those trains arriving from the hotel. Just because he has checked in for a couple of nights doesn't necessarily mean he will stay that long. Major, I take it you had a telephoto of the target subject wired from London?" Frost nodded taking the photograph from his jacket pocket. He handed it to Bond who glanced at it before passing it to the Sergeant. "This is the man you are keeping watch for. He's about six foot four & of stocky built. He's driving a black Mercedes, I'll point it out to you once we reach the car park. Stay on duty until after the last train of the day has come in, then head off & find another hotel. Be sure to be back at the car park the following day before 0800. If for any reason Van Der Byl appears you are to arrest him, best do it at gunpoint as I expect otherwise he would wish to make a fight of it. Remember, the area will probably be crowded so exercise extreme discretion, we don't want any passersby to become embroiled, indeed we don't want any witnesses to the event. Let him get into his car, it won't start as I've put water into the distributor, he'll be unable to resist you as effectively as if he were on his feet. Show him the pistol & explain that you are under orders to kill him if he resists or attempts to escape & make sure you sound like you mean it but for gods sake don't use the gun unless you feel your lives are in danger. You will then contact me via the bleeper from the telephone kiosk at the entrance to the car park. If it is activated I will take it that Van Der Byl has been intercepted. If possible I will call the payphone to find out what has happened, though if you need to get out of the area quickly don't wait for me or my call. Is all that clear?" "Yes sir." Both men said in unison. "Alright then, any questions?" There weren't. Bond plucked the telephone handset & dialled the Schloss Hotel once more. "Hello Schloss Hotel? I should like to make a reservation please.............. Today...................A double room......................One night..................Yes that's right..................My name? Mister John Smith........................Thank You. Good bye."

"I suggest you get a little rest gentlemen. I'm going to change. We begin in forty minutes."

Bond retired to the bathroom taking the backpack with him. Slowly he dressed, transforming himself into just another tourist out on a trekking expedition. He was confident he wouldn't look out of place riding the railway to the Schloss Hotel or making his way around once there. This disguise was far more complete than his last so, hopefully, in the event he was spotted by Van Der Byl he would go unrecognised. He had the Nagant & carefully inspected it making sure it was empty, unscrewing the thread protector from the end of the barrel & fitting the silencer. Once satisfied all was correct Bond removed the silencer & placed it in the bottom of the pack then refitted the protector. He worked the action, dry firing the weapon a couple of times, as he expected the trigger pull was very heavy. Opening the loading gate, he slid the cartridges into the cylinder. The Nagant had many unusual features & one of them was its ammunition capacity. Instead of the usual six rounds held by most revolvers, the Nagant took seven. To the casual observer the ammunition looked like spent cartridge cases but what helped to make it so effective when used in conjunction with a silencer was the fact that the projectiles were set within the case & worked in conjunction with the gas seal system. all in all the Nagant was an unsatisfactory weapon to be employed in a gunfight situation yet, unless he had picked a pistol up from his contact, Bond was sure Van Der Byl wasn't armed. He definitely hadn't taken a firearm from the UK, however he couldn't afford to be complacent. As for his contact - or contacts - he had to assume the worst. As far as he, Bond, was concerned he only had what ammunition was loaded into his pistol, he could not afford to expend it then be forced to reload as reloading was a slow & awkward process with the Nagant & not to be attempted whilst under fire. He would have to ensure that he took both Van Der Byl & whomever he was meeting by surprise. The contact was to be killed, those were his orders. As for Van Der Byl, there was little prospect of Bond being able to effect an arrest of sorts & take him down the mountain without the big South African resisting. Should he do so then he would not only endanger himself & any onlookers but compromise the mission. The last thing needed in a situation such as this would be for anyone to witness anything which could lead back to Bond or indeed SIS. In that second, Bond concluded that Van Der Byls fate was also sealed. It would be nothing short of a cold blooded double murder. He contemplated what he was about to do for a brief moment, weighing the pistol in his hand & stared himself square in the eye through the bathroom mirror. The prospect of gunning down two men in this fashion unsettled him & no amount of logic could ease the slightly sick feeling which gripped him at the pit of his stomach.

By the time Bond emerged from the bathroom the sandwiches & beers had arrived. "Eat something now if you like." Said Bond as he packed away his belongings into his weekend bag. "You two men take the rest of the sandwiches & the beer with you in the car. They should keep you going for the rest of the day" The MPs nodded. "Major" He continued "take my bag, I'll collect it from Station or have it sent for. You'd best go now. Drive straight back to Bern." Bond handed the car keys to Frost "Good Luck Commander." He said, his expression deadpan. "Thank you. Good bye." Frost turned on his heel & scooping up Bonds bag, left the room.  Bond turned to the two MPs.  "Alright gentlemen, gather your things. Corporal, you'll leave the hotel first, then you Sergeant. Wait in the car for me & I shall join you presently. What vehicle are you driving?" "A white Opel Rekord sir," Said Travers. "It's parked on the street a couple of doors down." "Good," Bond nodded "very well Corporal, you head off now." Knox left the room. "Remember what I said about using the gun Sergeant." " I will sir." Travers replied "What happens if you get into trouble up there?" "Then that's my problem, you & Knox are here unofficially so so cannot afford to become embroiled in anything beyond what I have already instructed. If things do go wrong, even if you suspect it, the police turning up to take the train up the mountain for example, you are to leave the scene & head back to Station. Don't hesitate, just get out of there immediately." A few minutes later Bond ordered Travers to leave. When he was on his own Bond carefully swept the room to ensure nothing which could link him or any of the others to the scene had been left behind. When he had satisfied himself all was in order, he shouldered the backpack, lit a cigarette & withdrew.   


The Mercedes was still parked in the same spot where Bond had last seen it. From the back seat Bond pointed to the telephone kiosk on the edge of the car park. "Park near enough to that so you are able to hear it should it ring. I'm going to take the number &, should anything untoward happen, I will endeavour to make contact. In all likelihood this may not possible though. I will also call after I check in to give you my room number so stand by for that. You then may be able to speak to me should you need to. Don't leave any messages or such though. To initiate the pager, use the call box to ring this number." Bond recited a seven digit code to them & asked them to repeat. "I suggest one of you move to the back seat, it will look less obvious, the one in the back can rest so rotate at intervals." By this time a few vehicles had entered the car park, their occupants alighting & heading towards the platform. "Right, I'm off." Said Bond as he opened the door. "Good luck sir." Said Travers.

Bond counted nine other passengers. They would provide useful cover as they were sure to make their way to the hotel reception in some semblance of a group, a group in which Bond could hide. He busied himself reading the small information board at the rear of the platform which gave details of the railway. According to what he read this was an uncommonly steep example of the type & it would take approximately ten minutes to ascend the 2,500 meters to the hotel. Readers were advised to be on the lookout for certain landmarks during the journey which could be seen if the weather was kind enough to allow it. Today it looked as if the gods were smiling as gone was the foul weather of the previous twenty four hours to be replaced by glorious sunshine. However sightseeing was the last thing on Bonds mind. In order that the guard didn't recognise him as the man he had spoken to yesterday, Bond had pulled down his hat so that the narrow brim served to obscure this eyes somewhat. He also rounded his shoulders & bent slightly at the knees in an effort to alter his gait & overall physical appearance. At 7.50 the conductor appeared, parking his Fiat close to the platform steps. Bond watched as he unlocked the carriage & stepped inside to prepare himself & it for the first trip of the day. Soon afterwards he invited the passengers to board & they did so eagerly passing their few Rappens fare to him & receiving a ticket in exchange. The carriage was soon filled with exited chatter in at least three different tongues as the conductor consulted his pocket watch. Regarding the sweep hand intently he pressed the button thrice which signalled to his colleagues at the upper terminus that he was ready to begin the journey. The carriage jolted away from its moorings causing a yelp of surprise from some of the passengers. Bond glanced at his watch, exactly 8AM. The talk continued as those aboard pointed out various views to each other. Bond was staring out of the window & to the casual onlooker could have been joining in the sightseeing, but in actual fact his mind was far away, focused intensely on what was to come..............................

41

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

PART THREE

Bond settled himself into his room. He intended to stay here until it was time to make his move, that way there would be less chance of an accidental encounter with Van Der Byl. As expected he had mingled among the group of innocent mountain goers to pass unnoticed through reception then alone on to his room. Despite its name the Schloss hotel was not a castle, architecturally it was more Bavarian country house, built on four stories from the grey green local stone as a mountain retreat by a wealthy Zurich banker at the turn of the century. After the war that mans fortunes had waned & it had been acquired by the present owners & turned into a luxury health & sports spa hotel. It lay on a small plateau almost half way up Der Alt Mann, one edge of which was a sheer 700ft drop. The area immediately surrounding the hotel had been extensively reworked to provide its guests with all manner of outdoor activities, including curling & skating on purpose built rinks. At it's heart though was a notoriously challenging black track ski slope which itself was very popular, drawing determined skiers from all over Europe & beyond, while the crisp mountain air & comprehensive therapy treatments courted equal favour from those of a less energetic disposition. Unlike the 'Alpine suite' at the Hotel Herschen, this room was very well appointed, it's cream walls were tastefully complemented by matching furniture & accessories all manufactured to the highest standard. The large picture window provided the occupant with a splendid view across the snow covered lower lying mountain tops to the distant Bietschhorn. Bond placed the haversack on the bed & crossed the room to stand at this window, lit a Morland & drew on it deeply as he contemplatively took in the view. looking down he saw several souls braving the cold to take drinks on the terrace which itself had been immaculately swept clear of snow & beyond the stone balustrade standing sturdy & sentinel like to separate any guests from the sheer drop that lay ahead. Finishing his cigarette Bond turned to the bedside telephone & dialled the number. After several rings a voice broke onto the line. "Hullo?" Bond recognised the voice as that belonging to Corporal Knox. "Smith here." He said tersely. "Room 33. Got that?" "Yes sir, room 33." Bond dropped the receiver then took the haversack & emptied its contents onto the bed. He reached for the master key set &, pulling out the first key, tried it in his door lock. Bond knew that when he found the one that fitted it would work in all the locks of all the rooms in the hotel so best, he calculated, to find out which one now rather than trying at Van Der Byls door. Forth time lucky, the skeleton key effortlessly locked then unlocked the door with not even a hint of jiggling. It was obvious that Van Der Byl was being debriefed either in his own room or, more likely, that of his contacts as such a delicate procedure would never be conducted in a public space where the possibility of being seen or overheard may occur. He knew where Van Der Byl was but he didn't know the location of his contact & there was little chance of him finding out without unduly exposing himself. He had intended all along to gain entry to Van Der Byls room as he needed to search it & remove the bug from his suitcase so he was hoping that there may be a clue there somewhere. To bribe a member of the hotel staff in an effort to find out on his behalf was out of the question as it was imperative that he, Bond, remain completely removed from the police investigation which was sure to follow the discover of two dead bodies. Bond mulled his options over another cigarette. He concluded that it would be just too much of a stroke of luck to find Van Der Byl & the other man in the formers room so he would have no choice but to go with the plan he was now beginning to formulate.

It was now 11.15AM, Bond changed out of his clothes & into a pair of black slacks & slip on shoes, but left on the grey sweater. He pocketed the key pen knife & the bleeper then took the pistol & slid it into his waistband concealing it with the sweater, the silencer went into his other pocket. He picked up the telephone. "Hello" He said in German. "Could you put me through to room thirty three please?" Bond listened to the burr of the ring tone, he let it ring for almost a minute before dropping the receiver. Van Der Byl wasn't there. Bond picked up the torch & slid the shaft up his sleeve so as to disguise the fact he was carrying it then left his room. Not wanting to use the elevator, he made his way up the stairs to the next floor. There was no one about. As he strode quickly across the thick pile carpet, he had the skeleton key in his hand & at the ready. He stopped outside number 48 & quickly scanned the jamb for signs of something, anything, which may have been left behind by Van Der Byl to alert him that his room door had been opened while he was absent. Satisfied, he listened with his ear to the door lest the South African was indeed inside. Bond then quickly unlocked the door & stepped inside. After closing then locking it behind him he produced the pistol & attached the silencer then, gun in hand went across to the bed. Bond laid the Nagant & the torch on the bed where he could easily reach both then took Van Der Byls suitcase from the wardrobe & placed that beside the gun. It was locked. Bond had no further use for finesse so, using the knife blade from the key set, he pried the locks open. Throwing the lid back he began to rifle through the clothes therein, going through the pockets & feeling carefully over the linings to make sure nothing had been hidden. He had just checked the hems of a pair of casual trousers when he noticed the corner of a brown paper package lying hidden at the bottom of the case. Book took hold of it. It was heavy & thick & smelled of used banknotes. He opened the package & quickly estimated there to be at least ten thousand US dollars inside. He tossed the bundle onto the bed & continued his search. When the case was empty Bond ran his hand slowly over the inside, his fingers feeling for what they knew to be there. The bug was quite large, perhaps the same dimensions as pocket watch, yet it had been cleverly hidden in the top corner so as to remain invisible, using the knife, Bond pierced the cloth lining, noting that it had been cut along the seam then glued to form an invisible mend by whoever had placed it. The bug itself had also been glued in position causing Bond to forcibly lever it free with the blade. After quite a struggle it came away & he pulled it & the long wire antennae clear. He examined the device briefly & wondered about how it was powered, as it was far too small for conventional batteries, before stuffing it into his trouser pocket. Quickly, save for the bundle of money Bond threw the contents back into the case. He then searched the wardrobe before placing the suitcase back inside. Next were the bedside drawers. Bond had each one out, looking in, underneath & behind. Using the torch to illuminate the scene, he pulled each of the cabinets out to make sure nothing had been taped behind. He did the same with the beds headboard, the pictures, lampshades & anywhere else he felt Van Der Byl may have felt the need to hide something. Bond knew that in order to conduct a thorough search he would need several hours, time he didn't have, yet this cursory sweep satisfied him that there was nothing to be found.

Bond picked up the pistol, the torch & the money & took a cane backed easy chair from the far side of the room, carrying it into the corner near the door, at the side where the door opened, he set it down. Bond looked across the room to ensure that nothing looked out of place before seating himself. He put the money & the torch on the carpet next to him &, making sure the silencer was screwed on tightly, placed the Nagant across his lap. When van Der Byl entered the door it would swing inward & thus would be between him & Bond, meaning he would not see the intruder until he was inside. Bond settled himself snugly into the chair, now all he could do was wait..............


The rattle of the lock brought Bond to the alert. the door opened & then Van Der Byl appeared over the threshold. At such close quarters he seemed even bigger than Bond remembered. Bond remained perfectly & as anticipated the South African didn't notice him as he pushed the door closed from behind. Van Der Byl took a couple of strides towards the bathroom door away to the right. "I have a gun on you." Bond spoke, his voice flat, menacing. "Stand still." The big man didn't flinch upon being surprised in this fashion which took Bond aback slightly. "Now, very slowly walk over the end of the bed & sit down then put your hands on your knees. Do not make any sudden movements or I will shoot." Van Der Byl did as he was instructed, placing himself slowly on the edge of the bed in slow time. "You!" he scowled in recognition as he looked Bond square in the eye. The big mans face was a picture of truculence, surprising given the fact that he had a pistol pointed at his chest by a man he seemed to realise would not hesitate to use it. "Yes me." Bond said his face set hard. "You didn't manage to shake me." The South African replied with a barrage of oaths. "You've been a fool Van Der Byl." Said Bond calmly. the big man made no reply, letting his expression do the talking while keeping his eyes firmly focused on Bonds. "We know what you've been up to for quite a while but, until now, we had no evidence." Still the South African remained silent. "There's no need for preliminaries so I shall ask you just one question. Who is your contact?" The big man sneered but remained silent, with his thumb Bond pulled back the Nagants hammer. "I'll ask you just once more. Who is your contact?" "Shoot me" Spat Van Der Byl. "and you'll never find out. That leaves you with a slight dilemma does it not?" "On the contrary" Replied Bond flatly. "If anything it makes things easier. I will find out, it will just take a little time, but the time I would otherwise waste interrogating you will more than make up for it." Van Der Byls manner remained belligerent. "You may find out who he is but it will do you no good because he will be long gone by then. He already has what he needs from me so we have gone our own ways. The package at your feet is proof that our business has been concluded." "Then take this opportunity to save yourself" Bond said. "Things aren't set in stone quite yet."  "Are they not?" Van Der Byl laughed caustically. "Now who's being foolish? You've been sent to kill me, it's as black & white as that so please don't attempt to insult my intelligence further. Just get on with it man. Whether I tell you what you want to know or not is irrelevant, you still intend to gun me down. Ah, I forgot the British - I presume you work for the British - like to give their victims a sporting chance, it eases their conscience does it not?" "It may surprise you to learn that I wasn't given orders to kill you so there is still time for you to save yourself. However be under no illusion, I will not hesitate to shoot if you do not cooperate." Bond said. Van Der Byls lip curled in contempt "And I am to believe you?" "That's your decision" replied Bond. "all I will say is I will kill you if you don't tell me what I want to know. You can be certain of that." "Just out of curiosity," Van Der Byl continued. "if I was to believe you & give you the name, what would happen then? After all do you think you could get me off this damn mountain on your own?" "Maybe not." replied Bond. "However I have a couple of men waiting nearby who could." "Ha" sneered the South African. "Get me away from the scene then put a bullet through my head & bury me where I won't be found." "No. They would take you to Bern, from there you could be taken across the border into West Germany to one of our air bases then removed to the UK."  "What then? Thirty years in Parkhurst?  "Not necessarily" Bond said. "You could prove useful to us & if you told us all you know you may well find yourself being treated leniently. Even if you were gaoled, time in prison is better than the alternative is it not?"

Bond watched the slight change in Van Der Byls expression as he computed the suggestion. He looked at the pistol then back into Bonds eyes. "You know what" He growled. "I think you may just be crazy enough to use that thing." "I'll use it, be under no illusion. I'd like you to know that it wasn't part of my original brief to kill you, just your contact, so if you cooperate there is a way out for you. You have one minute to decide." "How do I know you won't kill me anyway if I tell you his name & where to find him?" "You don't." Replied Bond. "You'll just have to take my word." "What about the money?" Van Der Byl said nodding at the package. "I'm not going to steal it. It will be handed in & up to others to decide what happens to it. It's quite conceivable that you may even be allowed to keep it if you were cooperative. The clock is ticking Van Der Byl, make up your mind." The two men stared at each other across the room, neither giving visual quarter. "It seems you leave me with no choice." Van Der Byl said finally. "Alright. I'll tell you what you want to know but before that I should like to ask you just one question." "Make it quick." Said Bond. "Just how the hell did you find me here? I was sure I'd given you the slip in Lucerne." "That's need to know." Replied Bond coldly. " & you don't. Now. Give me the name & the room number."  "Alright" Said Van Der Byl. Suddenly he launched himself sideways off the bed. The 'phut' of the Nagant was lost beneath the sound of the bullet striking the headboard as Bonds shot went wide. Bond quickly brought the pistol back into the aim & fired, hitting the big man somewhere in the upper torso, amazingly Van Der Byl seemed not even to notice the shot & swiped hard at the standard lamp next to him, causing it launch in Bonds direction, Bond fired again as he parried the lamp with his left arm & jumped to his feet. Van Der Byl was on him before he could fully stand up, grabbing at the silencer & yanking the weapon aside. Bond felt the sledgehammer blow of the South Africans massive fist as it caught him full in the side of the head. His legs, not fully straight, buckled further under the force of the punch. The gun had gone, Bond didn't know where. Dazed by the ferocity of the blow, he found himself momentarily off his feet as Van Der Byl took him by the throat & threw him, as if he was a rag doll, across the room. Bond fell, hitting the end of the bed hard with an almighty thud & rolled limply across the carpet. In that instant he saw the Nagant laying on the floor & the South African grabbing for it. In one move Bond kicked out, knocking the gun away into the skirting board & out of range of the Big mans hand. Van Der Byl turned, murder in his eyes, & swearing viciously he kicked, the shoe aimed squarely at Bonds face. Instinctively Bond rolled away, He saw the shoe pass the side of his face with the power of an express train, so close that he felt it graze his hair. Quickly, while Van Der Byls leg was still in mid air, he grabbed at the foot with both hands & twisted as hard as he was able. The south African suddenly found himself off balance & came crashing down onto his back near the door. In one fluid movement Bond was onto his haunches & throwing himself at the Big man. Bonds outstretched hand came down, swift & unstoppable with as much force as he could muster, connecting hard with Van Der Byls exposed windpipe. The South African gagged, his arms coming up to claw frantically at bonds sweater. Bond delivered another lightning strike. His hand, still outstretched, slashed downwards & across the South Africans face, connecting hard with his nose & smashing it in a splurge of blood. Van Der Byls face, crimson & contorted in pain, morphed into one of abstract rage. In a display of raw power he pulled Bond sideways, causing him to roll away across the carpet. Van Der Byl was still gasping for air through his tortured windpipe as he struggled to his feet. Bond was up first, delivering a hard kick to the mans ribs which strangely seemed to have little effect. As Van Der Byl staggered back into the door still fighting for breath Bond set about him, bringing his foot out to strike hard under the South Africans kneecap, immediately following through he raked his shoe down hard along the shin & onto the instep. Van Der Byl yelped in pain as he pitched unsteadily sideways, allowing Bond another opening. Seizing the chance he punched with both fists, each blow connecting squarely on the big mans cheek bones. Bond saw the balled fists & flailing arms but was too late to stop the first blow landing hard on his side just below the ribcage. The potency of the punch knocking him aslant. Suddenly Van Der Byl let out an apoplectic roar which was almost primeval in its intensity as he rugby tackled Bond. Bond was thrown backwards with Van Der Byls shoulder in his stomach until he smashed hard into the wall. Bonds head struck the plaster with enough force to stun him & allow Van Der Byl to act, Vaguely Bond heard the clatter of falling pictures & upset furniture as The big man consolidated his grip into a crushing bear hold & slammed Bond into the wall for a second time. What air remained in Bonds lungs was now well & truly gone & he found himself unable to breath. Van Der Byls grip tightened to the point where Bond expected his spine to shatter as he was rammed into the wall a third time. Van Der Byls head was pressed to Bonds chest & he grunted & spluttered with the exertion. Bonds arms were free & he recovered his senses in time to bring both hands down simultaneously in karate fashion to chop hard to each side at the base of the South Africans neck. He heard Van Der Byl gasp before he repeated the blows. Briefly the big mans grip loosed as he rose to his full height. He now had Bond around the ribcage & started to squeeze harder than before. The two men were now face to face & Bond could see the murderous intent in Van Der Byls eyes, it wasn't simply murder but murder to be committed with maximum suffering. Bond headbutted, his target the already tortured nose. Van Der Byls face convulsed further in agony. The nose well & truly smashed the South African was gasping hard for breath through his mouth. In one move Bond brought the heel of his right hand up until it made contact underneath the big mans chin, smashing his mouth closed. Bond suddenly felt himself released as Van Der Byl staggered backwards, the blood now pouring from his lips told Bond that some of the South Africans teeth were broken & perhaps he had even bitten off his tongue. Bonds fist struck hard, landing square in the mouth to exacerbate the damage. Van Der Byl took a few steps backwards, panic etched across his face but Bond kept pace, punching at the head & keeping his opponent off balance. Van Der Byl was struggling to breath, his cheeks a vivid puce, as he retreated into the corner where the upturned cane chair now lay. Bond saw the torch still lying where he had placed it, quickly he stooped to grab it but before he could use it, indeed before he had fully stood up, Van Der Byl had somehow recovered from the onslaught. He rushed at Bond spitting & snorting blood like a crazed bull, Bond found himself being shunted backwards with incredible force until both men went headlong onto the bed. Bond was face up & well & truly pinned, Van Der Byls enormous fists came crashing into Bonds torso with the power borne of incandescent rage. "I'll kill you!" He bellowed as he went for Bonds throat. Bond felt the fingers lock themselves vice like around his neck. He couldn't breath as Van Der Byl plied all his weight into the hold, his thumbs pressing hard against Bonds Adams apple. In desperation Bond grasped at the wrists & tried to wrench them free but the big man was just too strong. The two outstretched fingers of Bonds right hand came up fast, stabbing viciously into Van Der Byls eyes. The South African let out a squeal of pain as he recoiled. Bond seized his chance as Van Der Byl loosened his grip, grabbing his arm at the wrist & elbow Bond twisted with all his might, Van Der Byl had no option but to comply with the throw & went sideways & off down beside the bed. He was still face down & struggling to his hands & knees as Bond rolled & pounced upon him. Before the big man could counter Bond had the crook of his arm around his neck & shoved his knee into the small of his back. Grabbing his own wrist with his free hand & using it for leverage, Bond pulled back hard as Van Der Byl arms came up in an attempt to grab him. Both the big mans hands were clawing desperately at Bonds  sleeves but they could find no purchase. Bond continued, pulling twisting & pushing with his knee as one movement. CRACK. The sickening sound of bone splintering was Bonds cue to let go. His neck broken, Van Der Byl slumped face down lifeless into the carpet. Bond pulled himself back onto the bed where he sat exhausted for a short while. He suddenly felt quite sick, Shooting a man was one thing but killing in this fashion had never sat well. He allowed the wave of nausea to pass then knelt down to search Van Der Byl & check for signs of life. Knowing full well he had shot him at least once as he had got to his feet, he half turned the body to make sure. Feeling at the torso, two holes was indeed  there, one just just to the left of the sternum. Although he had missed the heart by a matter of inches the round should have penetrated the lung & caused a knockdown blow, the other entry point at the lower right hand side of the abdomen was not an immediate killer yet should have stopped him long enough for Bond to finish the job but, as soon as began his examination, the secret of why the big man had rode the shots became clear. Van Der Byl was wearing a bullet proof vest under his shirt. It seemed a lot thinner than the types Bond was familiar with & hence easier to wear concealed & this, he reasoned with himself, was why he hadn't noticed it.

Bond made his way to the bathroom. Examining himself in the mirror, his injuries were obvious as well as painful. His neck was reddened & showing the imprint of Van Der Byls fingers & he coughed coarsely as he was reminded. Touching the side of his head he could feel the swelling which he knew would soon blossom into something spectacular. He Felt at his torso, nothing was broken but he knew from experience that the raging pain was sure to persist for some days & be accompanied by livid bruising. There were several large crimson stains on his sweater & splatters of blood on his face. At first Bond though he had been cut yet soon realised it was overspill from Van Der Byls broken & bleeding nose & mouth........

Bond washed his face & hands & just as he was drying the telephone rang. He didn't answer but picked up the receiver after it went silent. "Hello" He said in English "This is Mister Van Der Byl. I've just missed a phone call. Could you tell me who it was from. Ah I see, & what room?............ No, thank you, I don't want you to connect me." Bond let the receiver fall back onto its cradle. He picked up the pistol & after unscrewing the silencer, thrust it back into his waistband gathered up the torch & the bundle of notes then took one last look around the room, taking the keys to Van Der Byls Mercedes. The scene was one of devastation & was sure to prove of much interest to the Swiss police investigators. Bond took off the sweater & rolled it up tightly before tucking it under his arm, leaving him wearing only the T shirt. He then exited & closed the door, leaving it unlocked but hanging the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the handle. Making sure he wasn't seen he made his way back to his own room to deposit the the money, the torch, keys & the bug into the haversack. Looking out of the widow Bond was surprised to see that the weather had turned. The blue sky had given way to a fierce snow storm. Bond took up the telephone receiver & dialled the number of the call box. Sgt Travers voice broke onto the line. "This is Smith. You are to leave the area immediately............ Return to base. Once there you are to report that the contact was Pavel Berezin. Van Der Byl is dead & I am about to go after Berezin Got that?" Bond dropped the handset then set to work carefully ejecting the three spent cartridges & reloading the pistol, Screwing on the silencer then depositing the gun into the haversack Bond pulled on the anorak before shouldering the pack. After a cursory search he left the room & made his way down the stairs to the first floor............................

42

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

PART FOUR


The corridor was empty apart from the young couple who brushed by him while hurriedly going the opposite way & were far too exited at the prospect of coming events once they reached their room to ever pay him all but the most fleeting of glances. The apparent quietude suited Bonds purpose as he strode quickly to room number 16. The giggling of the lovers subsided as they enthusiastically slammed their room door. Bond carefully placed his ear to the door of 16. Inside he could hear the burble of two voices, indistinct yet loud enough for Bond to realise there were two men inside speaking Russian. This nugget of information shocked him slightly as he had hoped he would only have to face a single opponent, he would now have to think & act fast. The voices sounded calm, unhurried as if their owners were not perturbed at being unable to reach Van Der Byl. Bond guessed they may have tried to call the South African again & cursed himself for not having the presence of mind to leave the telephone off the hook. Looking up & down the corridor to double check he was still alone, he took the haversack & extracted the Nagant, unwieldy as it was he held it at the ready beneath his anorak, although he was holding the straps of the backpack he rapped lightly with his left hand on the door before taking a couple of steps backwards & bracing himself. "Yes?" A suspicion laden voice called out from behind the door. "Housekeeping." Bond replied airily in German, dropping the hand holding the Nagant down by his side. "What do you want?" The voice snapped back. "A Herr Van Der Byl, room forty eight, has asked me to deliver a note to you sir."  "Push it under the door." "I can't sir I have a package also."  "Leave it outside." "But sir, Herr Van Der Byl was most insistent that I hand it over. He promised that you would tip me." The voice behind the door went quiet, Bond guessed it was in hushed conference with the other. Suddenly he heard the click of the lock. The door was only open a sliver when Bond made his move, crashing into it shoulder first, the door hit whoever was behind it with enough force to knock them backwards, Bond was over the threshold, the door springing into him before he threw it back against the wall. There, to his front, the man had already recovered &,in a blur of movement was bringing a small semi automatic to bear. Underhand Bond hurled the haversack as hard as he could at the mans head, causing him to instinctively duck to avoid it. The Nagant was already up & Bond loosed two rounds. At that range, about seven feet, he couldn't miss. The man made to clutch at his chest as he fell awkwardly sideways into the wall, sinking slowly earthward, his forehead scraping the wall all the way down. Bond was on one knee, swinging to point the pistol at the second figure whom he had caught in his peripheral vision. The man must have opened the french window when Bond knocked & was standing by to make a getaway even before he entered. Bond saw the flash in the mans hand & there was an almighty bang which seemed all the more deafening within the confines of the room. The bullet smashed into the wall not far from Bond before whining off to embed itself elsewhere. He immediately responded with two shots of his own but the man was gone. Bond sprinted to the window, ready to open fire however his target was nowhere in sight. In his haste to escape he had jumped from the balcony, the snow telling the story of a rough landing, before making his way into the embrace of the storm. The wind was rattling the french doors & blowing the curtains like half set sails. One of Bonds bullets had smashed a pane of glass & the shards crunched underfoot as he withdrew into the room. Bond checked the man to make sure he was indeed dead, picked up the Makarov pistol, checked it's condition then dropped it into the anoraks chest pocket before locking the door & throwing the key onto the bed. He reloaded the Nagant. The snow was blowing into the room through the still open french doors as Bond stepped out onto the balcony. He climbed over the wrought iron railing & lowered himself down as far as he was able before letting go. He hit the ground quite hard but rolled neatly & then was up. It was only now that Bond realised the full force of the wind & it almost took his breath away. The penny sized snowflakes were being herded horizontally on the back of the wind & that which had already settled was being whipped up into a maelstrom, cutting visibility to perhaps twenty yards. However the footsteps in the snow meant that Bond would have little difficulty in following up his target. He set off quickly, knowing that the trail would rapidly become enveloped by the storm. He had the Nagant at the ready as he followed the trail. The footsteps led off the terrace. Bond hopped the balustrade then set off down the slope & away from the hotel. He knew the cliff edge was to his left &, although impossible to gauge accurately in the storm, he appeared to be moving parallel to it & perhaps ten yards away. Although he had only caught the briefest glimpse of the man as he leapt from the balcony, Bond had seen enough to know that he was only wearing a dark casual suit. Wholly unsuitable attire for the circumstances he now found himself in, even if he kept moving, it wouldn't take long for the wind & the cold to overwhelm him. Despite the windproof trekking anorak, Bond was himself beginning to feel the effects of the windchill & this was exacerbated in no small measure by the fact that he was still wearing the thin trousers & shoes. He knew that the man, whom the telephone operator had identified as one Herr Berezin, would need to seek shelter & fast if he was to survive, this would mean doubling back to the hotel or holing up in one of the outbuildings which were scattered about the immediate vicinity. Bond knew that the man who he had just shot & killed was not Berezin as a file had crossed his desk when he had been assigned the task & part of it made mention of a one Pavel Berezin. KGB Major Berezin had been identified as a possible contact of Van Der Byls during the formers time as assistant military attache to the Soviet embassy in London. Indeed until his quiet expulsion from Great Britain, Berezin had been linked to several other cases where prominent officials on the periphery of government, defence & the trade unions had been approached - & on a couple of occasions recruited - to work for the Soviet secret service. Bond had studied the few photographs which were part of the file that would allow him to make a positive ID should their paths cross. He had noted at the time that Berezins typically Slavic facial features were fine tuned to hint at his personality. What remained of his hair was silver & close shaven, the eyes being cold & lacking empathy. The nose was wide & the mouth thin & cruel. As soon as he had seen the photographs Bond knew he was looking at the image of a man who would display little mercy for his enemies.

The wind was howling across the slopes, taking every crumb of snow with it to create a near white out. Bonds eyes were streaming & his face & hands beginning to numb. Onwards he stumbled, his senses attuned, expecting to hear a gunshot & feel the searing pain of a bullet strike. He was going down hill now, much steeper than previously but still away from the hotel, the storm denying him any other impression of direction. He stopped briefly & went down on one knee to unscrew the silencer. It was freezing to the touch & his torpid fingers struggled to remove it, however the effort was worth the result as the Nagant was now far less cumbersome. Bond pressed on, the terrain flattened out somewhat but worryingly he noted that the footsteps were being erased almost in front of his very eyes. He upped the pace, striding into the blanket of whiteness rather too fast than was good for him. Surely, he reasoned, Berezin, could not hold out for much longer here in the open indeed, if it came down to it, neither could he. Eventually the trail began to loop away to the right & from then on appeared to meander, indicating to Bond that his prey was becoming disorientated. He had been going back uphill for several minutes & was only a matter of fifteen yards or so away when he spotted the dark block set like a beacon against the great canvas of white. Closing warily he saw that the building was small & rough hewn, constructed in typical log cabin fashion & Bond guessed it was used by the hotel as storehouse of some form. He had seen a couple of similar structures as he had made his way from the railway to the hotel which were in obvious service for this purpose. Bonds eyes were watering & painful from the cold as the wind continued to batter his face yet he could make out the footprints & the slightly ajar door. BANG! - BANG, BANG, BANG! The gunshots, muffled by the howling wind were enough to send Bond diving prone into the snow. He fired twice, double tapping at the black slit which marked the entrance & saw the flakes of splintered wood where his bullets had hit the door. Berezin fired twice more, both his shots off target, as Bond rolled hard left. He was up now & continued to move low & fast until he was safely beyond the narrow arc of fire which the door offered. The wind, blowing in his direction from the cabin carried with it a shout  "кто ты, сволочь?". Bond was unable to decypher its meaning & didn't care. Closing forward to a position where he could make out the features of the cabin in some detail he then slowly made his way around the back to the opposite side. There were no windows & no other point of entry other than the front door. Berezin had found shelter & could stay inside indefinitely but for Bond it was a different matter. He knew that if he prolonged things for any length of time he would himself become a casualty of the weather. He was cold to the core & his trousers & feet were wet, indeed the only thing preventing him from shivering uncontrollably was the adrenalin pumping through his system. He had no alternative but to force the issue, however that didn't mean storming the cabin blindly as no doubt his opponent would be laying in wait. Berezin had a pistol, probably a Makarov like his dead comrade. Bond thought it unlikely that he would be carrying the weapon with a round in the breach so that meant it would be holding the eight rounds in the clip. A brief replay of events told Bond he, Berezin, had fired seven. Bond also guessed that as a matter of course the Russian would carry at least one spare magazine about his person so it was too much to hope for that he was down to his last round. His training & experience would also have taught him to change the magazine for the full one during the lull to avoid the life threatening situation of emptying his weapon mid action. Including the one now in the breech, Bond concluded Berezin would have nine shots with which to finish him. Now, he asked himself, if he was holed up here, where would he place himself for maximum effect against a probable attempted forced entry? Both corners on the front wall were dismissed because they gave no field of fire until the attacker was inside. Best, Bond thought, to position oneself in the far corner, crouched or even laid down so as to present as small a target as possible & remain there with pistol levelled at the door ready to shoot anyone who attempted to enter. Which corner was anyone's guess & there was only one way Bond would ever find out if his theories were correct. He removed the Makarov from his anorak pocket & replaced it with the Nagant. He needed something compact & fast firing which he could easily & quickly bring to bear. Bond already knew the condition of this little pistol but checked it again, flicking off the safety, he partially pulled back the slide to make sure there was indeed a round in the breach then held it all the way on the return to the forward position so it didn't make a sound. The door was still ajar but Bond was now behind it & could open it without unduly exposing himself to incoming fire. It looked solidly made from thick hardwood & bond wondered if it was enough to stop a 9mm round. Indeed, from observing where his own shots had struck it appeared that it had defeated them both, though they had struck at a shallow angle. A couple of calculations told him where he needed to be in order to react effectively to Berezin whichever far corner he had placed himself, though he was all too aware that the Russian would have the advantage. Bond crouched low, as low as he was able & had his hand on the rope door handle. Breathing hard to control his pounding heart Bond pulled hard. The door swung open just enough to allow Bond to cover the back wall. Using the door as a shield to offer some protection against return fire he intended only to bring his head & gun arm in harms way but before he could get fully into position two shots had been loosed, crashing into the door inches away from its edge. It was dark inside but the muzzle flashes were enough to allow him to immediately identify the location of the shooter away in the far left hand corner. Another shot came whizzing past Bonds ear as he replied. Aiming at the flash & firing four shots in quick succession, Bond heard rather than saw the dull thud of a falling body. Covering the target with the pistol Bond stood up & entered the cabin. He had left the door open in order that he was able to better examine the scene &, as the wind whistled forlornly across the entrance, Bond approached the body. Berezin was dead, he was sure he had hit him in the torso but the only wound he could see in the gloom was the one in his head, which had entered just below his left eye. Berezin was on his back, the lifeless eyes staring into nothing. Bond began to search him, methodically going through his pockets & other less obvious places where he may have deposited information. Feeling at the lapel of his jacket Bond noticed an anomaly, Instantly he recognised it by its shape as a KGB issue L pill. Bond was most thorough, even checking the dead mans shoes to make sure the heels didn't contain hidden compartments. After satisfying himself that Berezin was clean, Bond scooped up the gun & the spent cases & shoved them into the corpses trouser pocket. There was a deep crimson stain across the earthen floor of the cabin which Bond could do nothing to disguise. He looked at his watch. Time was against him. He couldn't leave the body here were it would soon be discovered as it would mean a lock down of the mountain while the police descended on the place, thus compromising his escape. He also had another very important duty to attend to & all had to be complete before the last train of the day. Taking Berezin by the ankles Bond dragged him outside, He closed the door then drew the body away. The rut Berezins carcass left was unmistakable & thick with blood yet Bond was hoping that this most obvious of trails would quickly vanish beneath the continuing snowstorm. About fifty yards from the cabin Bond found himself in a small area of dead ground which would, he hoped, serve to conceal the body from observation up slope. Quickly he piled some snow over Berezin then retraced his steps, kicking snow over the trail as he went. Soon Bond found himself back at the cabin. He had determined to stay here until a break in the weather would allow him to return to the hotel. For him to go back now, when all the guests would be tucked up snugly inside, would be too out of the ordinary, giving anyone who saw him a firm point of memory which would be no doubt later recounted to the police. Although he was out of the wind Bond was still bitterly cold & feeling the full effects of his wet trousers, shoes & socks. He sat on his haunches with arms crossed, pulling the anorak as far down over his legs as he was able with the hood up & over his head in order to stabilise the heat loss. By now he was shivering uncontrollably as his body fought to keep his core temperature from falling any further. He couldn't stay here forever & despite the risks, should the weather not ease, would have to return to the hotel to risk being picked out as a suspect during the coming police investigation.

It was almost half an hour later when the storm finally broke & Bond felt confident enough to return to the hotel. The sun was out again & the wind had dropped, indeed it was as if the storm had been nothing but a bad dream. As he left the cabin Bond noted with satisfaction that the gouge left in the snow along with the accompanying bloodstains had been more or less obliterated in the intervening period. Scrambling back up the slope Bond soon found himself among the throng of guests who were now streaming back out of the hotel in order to resume their activities.

After returning to his room to change out of his wet clothes & into a different shirt, to lessen the chances of a connection being made when the police were carrying out witness interviews, Bond made his way back to room 16. Using the master key set he swiftly gained entry. The man he had killed was still slumped awkwardly against the wall in a half upright position. Bond searched him. He then set about systematically combing the room & looking for evidence of an exchange of information. He had been advised that Van Der Byl was possessed of a photographic memory & had probably committed all the information he intended to pass on to it, reciting parrot fashion all the technical data to whomever he had arranged to meet. He was suspected of using this talent on several occasions with regard to British official secrets yet Bond wanted to make sure there was no physical material which otherwise would remain overlooked. A deep pile of snow had accumulated inside around the area of the french windows & Bond kicked some of it aside as he made to close them. Starting with the luggage & taking his time he went through it but found nothing. He did the same with the contents of the wardrobe. It wasn't until he was patting down the clothes hanging therein that he found his prize. The mini reel to reel tape recorder was about the same size as the average paperback novel & was wedged tightly into the inside pocket of a finely tailored barathea jacket. The three inch spool had been run almost to the end. It was operated by a single rotary knob on the front which controlled the rewind & play functions & a small flip switch which set it to record. Bond wound it back some way before turning the knob to play. Sure enough he heard the distinctive guttural tones of Van Der Byl answering questions asked by a thickly Russian accented voice which he assumed to be Berezin. Soon Bond recovered seven more tape reels which were obviously full & had been laid aside for removal back to the KGB representative at the Russian embassy in Bern, no doubt to travel onwards via diplomatic pouch to Moscow. This, Bond pronounced, constituted the entire debriefing. All the South African had to tell about the technical aspects of the revolutionary new British developed Starstreak long range surface to air missile - which had been developed to counter the Soviet bomber threat & had the capability to intercept incoming aircraft at all altitudes far out into the North Sea - was now in his possession & the only others who shared this information were all expired. No doubt Van Der Byls own contact, the member of the evaluation team at Boscombe Down who had put Starstreak through its proving trials, would now be in the hands of D section & being subjected to 'robust' questioning.

After continuing his search of the personal items until he was completely satisfied there was nothing else to be found, Bond told himself It was now time to go. The corridors were busier than before, with guests returning from their days skiing & such but Bond managed to slip out of the room unnoticed & made his way quickly back to his own quarters. Once there he packed away the tapes & the recorder into the haversack before setting about wiping all the surfaces he had touched. As a matter of course the police would conduct a forensic examination of both crime scenes & they would be sure to turn up fingerprints which were present in both Van Der Byls & Berezins rooms - those prints being Bonds. If they suspected that the occupier of room 33 was tied into the affair they would descend upon it in the hunt for evidence, it therefore was prudent not to leave anything which would further incriminate him. Aside from the description of him which could be given by the reception staff, which he had no control over, his frequent changes of clothing to put off potential witnesses coupled with eradication of fingerprints meant Bond had done all he was able to disguise himself & his presence about the hotel. Leaving the room & quickly wiping the door handle, Bond set off along the corridor.

The railway carriage was at rest at the upper terminal when Bond approached. He crossed the platform quickly & on through the open door to sit down on the nearest seat. He was the only person aboard, glancing at his watch he dismissed the fact as it was well after the usual check out time so any guests would have departed on the three runs previous to this one, he also remembered that, when passing the other carriage during his ascent, that too had been empty. Bond retrieved his cigarette case & Ronson & lit a Morland. The carriage was small, perhaps twenty feet by nine, with two rows of forward facing red leatherette double seats, bracketed by chrome fittings & separated by a narrow aisle. Two rows of seats were missing from the centre of the right hand side where the door was positioned. The rest of the interior was made up of ornate yet sturdy looking oak panels. The red rubber floor covering seemed designed for heavy use while the large windows offered a spectacular 360 degree view of the journey. Suddenly a man stepped aboard & walked to the conductors station. Turning to look at Bond he smiled briefly. Bond reciprocated & nodded in acknowledgement. "Where's the other conductor?" Bond inquired in German. "I'm afraid he's been taken ill sir."  The man smiled. "I've taken over in the meantime." The man was young, perhaps in his mid twenties, of obvious muscular build, & perhaps a shade shorter than Bond. His blond hair was well groomed & enhanced his rather striking good looks. He was wearing a cheap looking dark blue suit, white shirt & thin black tie with a somewhat crooked knot which, Bond opined, the ladies would no doubt forgive. Possibly borne of an ease with the opposite sex & his own awareness of his effect on them, the man had an air of arrogance about him to which Bond took a dislike. He had the conductors leather satchel over his shoulder & a small brass name plate, of the type Bond had seen the reception staff wearing, pinned to his lapel. Impatiently the man looked at his watch, prompting Bond to do the same. Four thirty. Although the skies had cleared it was already beginning to get dark. As if his thoughts had been read, the interior lights which were set into the centre of the ceiling along the length of the carriage, came on. The new conductor closed the door the moved forward to press the button. Three 'dings' later & the carriage moved off slowly down slope. Bond had placed the haversack on his knee, opened it & casually dug inside. There, among the contents he had his hand on the Nagant. "Stop right there!" The man barked. In the second or two Bond had taken his eyes off him, he had drawn a Makarov & aimed it at Bonds head. Keeping his hand in the haversack Bond sat back in his seat. "Well done" Said Bond. "you almost had me fooled there for a moment." "Quiet!" Spat the man. "Now take your hand from the bag. Slowly. And make sure it's empty or you'll be dead before you know it." Bond did as he was ordered. "Now tell me" The man said. "Who are you & who do you work for?" "I don't know what you mean? Bond replied innocently. "I'm here on holiday." "Don't mess with me." The man hissed. "Now who are you & who do you work for?" "Alright" Bond sighed in resignation. "I'm freelance, I work for no one in particular, just the highest bidder." "So, who was the highest bidder?" "I don't know" Bond continued. "I was hired to kill someone called Van Der Byl & was paid two thousand pounds. That's all I can tell you." "But you also killed my two comrades & I presume took what was not yours." The man said flatly. Bond didn't reply. "You have the tapes, no?" The man said. "Yes I have the tapes." Bond replied. "but not on me." The man cursed "Don't take me for a fool. They're in the bag." "No" said Bond. "I was instructed to leave them hidden somewhere. I suppose the person who hired me didn't trust that I could deliver them safely. I can take you to where I hid them." "Put the bag on the floor then slide it over to me." The man said. In slow time Bond placed the haversack on the floor before pushing it forwards. It wouldn't slide on the rubber surface so simply flopped over onto its side after traveling but a matter of inches. The man cursed Bond. "Make one single move & you are dead." He warned as he took the few steps forward. Crouching to grope for the bag with his left hand while keeping his eyes & the gun firmly fixed on Bond. Taking it by the straps he recovered the haversack & retreated. Dropping it on the front seat he groped inside, producing the tape recorder. All the while Bonds mind was whirring at ten thousand RPM. He was three rows away from his captor & any prospect of him being able to move sideways out of his seat then forward without being shot was slim indeed. "You're good." Bond began. "Very good. I didn't know you were part of Berezins party. I thought there were only two of you. How is it you weren't in the room with them?" "I am - was - Comrade Major Berezins bodyguard." The man said. "The Major had called the South Africans room but got not reply. I was sent out to search for him & after looking around the bar, the restaurant & lobby I went to his room. I saw a do not disturb sign but knocked. I then tried the door to find it unlocked. There I discovered his body. I went back to the Majors room but no one seemed to be in. I waited in my own room down the hall & kept watch. I eventually saw you arrive. Knowing something had gone wrong I followed you back to your own room. I realised that you were about to escape so I headed you off here." "I see" mused Bond. "and what about the conductor?" "He is, er, resting." the man replied coldly. "Now, it is your turn." "Hold on a minute" Said Bond. "You haven't thought things through. They'll be people waiting at the platform. It won't be a good move to arrive there with a dead body. They will want to know what's happened & may even try to detain you. You can't go shooting at them can you? Even if you get away they'll alert the authorities who will then set up road blocks. Those same people will be able to give the police a very good description of you & you'll probably be picked up before you can clear the area." The man had his back to the front window as he continued to cover Bond. Through the growing gloom Bond could see now the interior lights of the second carriage looming ever closer as it made its ascent. "Let me worry about that." Said the Russian. Bond saw his trigger finger move "Listen" he said. "There's ten thousand US dollars in that haversack & I guarantee you another ten thousand if you don't shoot. I can get you some false papers too. You could then just disappear. Think about it, twenty thousand dollars & a new identity." "Stand up." the Russian barked. Bond complied. "Now over to the door. & open it." Bond took the handle & threw back the sliding door until it caught on its retaining latch. The icy blast of air swept into the carriage bringing with it some spots of rain. They were below the snowline now & Bond could make out the steep angle & jagged edges of uninviting rock in the carriage lights which would certainly result in a broken back if he made a jump for it. "Stand in the doorway. Do it!" The Russians intention was clear & it was also apparent no amount of bribery would lead him to change his mind. "Listen" Bond said, looking past the Russian towards the approaching carriage "I can tell you about the Starstreak project, things which Van Der Byl didn't know, Things which will be valuable to your government." "Quiet you pig!" spat the man as he leveled the gun at Bonds chest............... Suddenly there was a jolt on the points as the single track line split into two for a short length to allow the two carriages to pass. The Russian was unprepared & lurched to the right & sideways off balance, fleetingly going off aim as he used both hands to grasp at the metal grab bar on top of the nearest seat in order to steady himself. Bond was on him before he had chance to react, Grabbing the mans gun arm at the wrist Bond Brought it up then smashed down hard across the grab bar. There was a tremendous Bang as the gun discharged before he heard it rattle to the floor. Still standing the Russian found himself confined in the foot well of the front seat, effectively wedged & only half facing his opponent, he punched awkwardly, not able to get any power into the blow, catching Bond on the upper arm. Bond still had a firm hold of the mans wrist &, grabbing at the elbow He used all his weight to slam the limb down onto the grab bar for a second time. Despite the Russians attempt to stop him, Bond brought the arm down with sufficient force to hear the render of broken bone. The Russian gasped in agony, his right forearm smashed. Bond let go then brought his elbow up hard to connect between the mans eyes. Seamlessly Bond punched as hard as he was able, his left fist making contact with the solar plexus, His knees buckling, the Russian almost doubled in pain. Bond followed up mercilessly with a karate chop to the back of the neck which sent the man slumping chest first into the seat. Bond had his hands around the Russians neck & taking the two tails of his tie, began to strangle. His opponent gagged & spluttered as he desperately attempted to free himself from Bonds hold. In response Bond pulled tighter, as hard as possible, until he began to feel the resistance fading. Bond let go then took the half lifeless figure by the armpits & pulled him into the aisle, The Russian was still gagging for air as he was dragged to the doorway. In one move Bond pulled him to his feet so he was facing the open door then, with both hands gave an almighty shove between the shoulder blades. He heard a tortured gargle as the Russian attempted to yell as he tumbled face first into the void. Bond had no idea if he would survive & he had no time to care, hunting quickly beneath the seats he found the Makarov & the spent cartridge case then cast them both out hard through the door. Next he retrieved the haversack &, after checking its contents, he pulled the straps over his shoulders. He could now see the lights of the lower terminal & as the carriage closed he could make out several figures on the platform. The last thing he wanted now was a point of reference for the police in the form witness statements which would describe him & link him back to the incidents up at the hotel. Guessing that just out of idle curiosity the travellers on the platform would watch the carriage making its arrival, Bond knew he needed to act while he was still far enough away to go unobserved. Pulling the door half closed Bond prepared to jump. The rock had given way to soil now & It wasn't much of a fall, perhaps four feet, but he knew it would hurt. Bond Leapt away from the carriage & crashed to the ground, the momentum sending him into an uncontrollable tumble. He went with the fall, remaining limp & not attempting to fight it. He found himself rolling down the slope for quite a way before be slewed to a halt. Laying still until the carriage had traveled away, he slowly checked himself for damage. Although he had landed heavily & grazed a couple of unseen patches of exposed rock along the way, apart from some abrasions & probable bruising, he was unhurt. Thinking himself lucky Bond scrambled to his feet & cut directly away from the track for twenty yards before turning to make his descent.

The car park was empty as Bond crossed to the payphone. He picked up the receiver & dialled the number for the Bern Station. "Hello, this is Zulu Five Tango. Situation report priority one. Are you ready?..............Both principals & another confirmed dead. One more probable. All material recovered, I repeat. Both principals confirmed dead. One more probable. All material recovered. Report ends......... I am leaving location & traveling to station. ETA three hours." Bond dropped the receiver then picked it up & used his handkerchief to wipe down it, the rest of the telephone & anywhere else he guessed the two MPs may have touched. As a 'priority one' he knew that his message would be encoded without delay & dispatched via teleprinter to London. His job now was to deliver the tapes to Station CH where they too would be couriered back to the UK for analysis. Despite protestations from some corners of the service & indeed voices within government that it was becoming outdated, the 'blunt' approach had come good once again. Bond was satisfied that the detractors would be held at bay for a while longer &, irrespective of the cost in human life, news that the secrets of Starstreak were secure was a job well done.

After drying the distributor & rotor arm Bond climbed into the Mercedes. He placed the haversack in the passenger foot well then lit a cigarette & took a few moments to contemplate. As his body was reminding him, he had taken a pounding & latterly this had been compounded by his unwiedly exit from the train. It was only now, with the adrenalin subsiding, that he could fully appreciate the extent of his injuries. He felt stiff & as one the countless bruises & abrasions throbbed mercilessly across his body. Gingerly Bond touched the side of his head where Van Der Byl had caught him with his opening almighty punch & winced in pain. Flicking on the interior light he swivelled the rear view mirror so that he could examine the damage. The blow had landed above his left ear & within the hairline so the after effects were concealed, however the swelling - & no doubt the bruising - was as prominent to the touch as it was painful. Bond turned off the light & readjusted the mirror. It took three attempts to start the engine but the Mercedes finally burst into life. Bond revved the engine a few times as he looked at the fuel gauge, about a third of a tank remaining. It was too late for him to refuel now so he hoped that, by driving carefully, he would have just enough petrol to get him the ninety or so miles to Bern. There was only one way to find out................................


THE END


Bond will return in "AN UNGENTLEMANLY ACT".
(I couldn't resist that one!)

Last edited by stag (24th Nov 2014 17:40)

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Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

I hope you all enjoyed reading. This is my shaky return to writing, indeed it is the first thing I have attempted since last century!

I am becoming a little more confident so hope to present another, better, tale. Though the next one will take Bond to a period in his career I believe has never been visited before.

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Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

Very nice  ajb007/martini

1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger

45

Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

One story down.  ajb007/cheers
Plenty more to come I hope ?  ajb007/martini

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Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

Good stuff, stag, and I second TP in hoping there'll be more. Does anyone want to make this thread a sticky, for easy access?

10 songs done for next CD- one more started, one being discarded.

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Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

I'll second it, it would be nice to have a home for some fan fiction ?  ajb007/martini

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Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

Ok, then!

10 songs done for next CD- one more started, one being discarded.

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Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

I also want this thread stickied.  ajb007/smile  ajb007/martini

Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog (TBB)
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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis and John Gardner

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Re: NEED TO KNOW - A collection of short stories.

Me too  ajb007/martini

1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger