by James Rowe
The Sicilian Dragon - Chapter 1 draft
The Sicilian Dragon
JACK BISHOP - BOOK ONE
Somewhere between Munich and Zurich Jack started to believe they might just pull it off. He had evaded his pursuers in the narrow streets approaching the coach terminus as marked police cars and vans swarmed the area. Taking the worn baseball cap from his bag he had slipped it on along with a padded coat to disguise his size. He had then casually walked up to the bus that would take him out of the city. The driver had scanned the code on Jack's phone and Jack had made his way to the rear of the bus where he was less likely to be disturbed. Or noticed. Stashing his rucksack, and its precious contents, Jack had settled down for the journey.
The bus was new but already showed signs of wear. The seats were frayed and graffiti in a mixture of languages was etched into the windows. Despite the time of night it was three quarters full. Many of the passengers had closed their eyes as they had left Munich and there was little talk amongst those passengers who remained awake.
Jack checked the time on his watch. It was two hours since they had pulled out of Munich station. Soon he would be crossing the border and he would be able to breathe a little easier. The delivery of the first half of the package, currently stashed in his battered backpack under his seat, would be completed and he the team could regroup.
Jack keyed in a code on his phone and the screen lit up revealing a secondary security screen. Entering the second passcode fully unlocked the phone. Ensuring the Wi-Fi access was turned off Jack opened the mapping App to check his progress. The blue dot which indicated his location showed the border just a few miles away. Jack switched to his contacts. The contact list contained just seven entries. None had names present, just a list of letters with corresponding phone numbers.
Jack moved his thumb to select the contact marked 'F'. It was time to check in and find out the progress of the second part of the package. As the encrypted message box opened the bus started to slow. Instinctively he locked the phone. Sitting up in his chair he noticed other passengers starting to stir and mutter. The vibration of the engine further reduced as the driver activated the air brakes. The fact that there was no scheduled stop and the time of departure were the reasons Jack had specifically chosen this bus so this was worrying.
Blue flashing lights reflected through the windows and the reason for the unexpected stop became clear. Glancing over the seats Jack saw that the motorway ahead was reduced to one lane, which was funnelled between two German police cars. Beside each, uniformed and heavily armed, stood too many officers for a normal inspection. Illuminated by the roof lights of the vehicles, they watched two of their number indicate to the driver to open the front door.
Jack grabbed his bag and quickly checked the contents, making sure they were still protected. Sliding from his seat and ducking low he moved to the small stairs at the rear of that led to the toilet, and next to the toilet the emergency exit. Grabbing the lever, he pushed it down. The door remained closed fast, the safety mechanism, still in place until the driver released it.
At the front entrance Jack was glimpsed the two officers climb aboard and speak briefly to the driver. The one who spoke was wearing the badges of a captain in the German police. He towered over the driver in his seat, hooked nose protruded over a thick moustache. The second officer was clearly the muscle. Even taller than the captain he filled the aisle, head only inches from the ceiling. Both, Jack noticed, were carrying sidearms. Muscles was already playing with the holster cover of his, obviously keen to show it to the passengers.
His exit blocked; Jack slipped back into an unoccupied seat opposite the steps. Pulling his cap further down over his eyes he watched as to Moustache slowly walked up the central aisle, followed by Muscles, checking each person's passport and compared the passengers faces to a sheet of paper that Jack would bet contained an image of his own portrait.
Moustache and Muscles slowly approached his location. Jack could now hear their discussions with the passengers. As they questioned a blonde female passenger in her early twenties, she turned and pointed at him. Moustache turned towards Jack and their eyes met. Jack smiled and shrugged as Moustache began to walk towards him. Muscles now had the excuse he wanted and uncoupled the holster cover, his hand starting to ease the pistol from its case.
Moustache raised his hand and told Jack to stay seated. Jack stood, pretending he didn't understand, he had to make the most of the small advantage he had while the officers were restricted by the narrow aisle and the police outside remained unaware of what was developing on the bus.
"No spechen German", Jack said as walked towards his would-be captors. Moustache replied, shouting at Jack to remain where he was. Muscles was close behind his boss, obviously keen to resort to the next level of control, putting hands on Jack, or worse.
By this time Jack had closed the distance between himself and the lead officer. He exploded forwards pushing Moustache backwards, tangling him up with Muscles. They fell to the floor, Moustache pinning Muscles down as their bulky overcoats hindered them further. Jack grabbed for the bright red hammer he had seen located next to a double sized window. Swinging it hard the sharp point on the emergency hammer shattered the window upon impact, the glass fragmenting into a thousand pieces. The wind immediately howled in, bringing a flurry of snow.
Glancing at the officers Jack saw they were still struggling to untangle themselves, although Moustache was in the process of pulling himself to his feet. Jack noticed that the handgun Muscles had been keen to bring to bear had become dislodged and slid back down the aisle towards where the driver sat, open mouthed.
The passengers nearby also remained frozen as the events unfurled before them. Seeing his chance Jack grabbed his rucksack and dived through the window, landing heavily on a snow-covered bank, rolling to reduce the impact.
Shaking his head to clear it, Jack grabbed his cap that had been knocked free as he landed. Replacing it he kept the bus between him and the police vehicles. He needed to make use of the few seconds he had before the police on board raised the alarm and those stood at the front became aware.
Moving quickly towards the rear Jack broke into a run. Jumping the waist high crash barrier, he landed in the overgrown bushes that ran alongside the road. Risking a look, he lifted his head and saw the two police officers looking through the broken window, barking into their radios. The area was lit up with their powerful Maglite torches. The police who had remained outside reacted to the radio calls, making their way quickly but in a professional manner up each side of the bus.
Ducking, Jack rolled down the embankment, clutching his bag to his chest. Reaching the bottom, he set off at a run, the shouts and lights fading behind him.