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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Hall Adam

«The Striker Portfolio», Adam Hall

Chapter One

The fly

'Haben Sie sich verlaufen?'

'Ja, ich mochte nach Villendorf.'

'Es gibt keinen solchen Ort hier.'

'Vielleicht ist es Wohlendorf. Die Leute, die mir davon erzahlten, hatten keine sehr gute Aussprache.'

'Wohlendorf — ah, ja! Das ist etwas ganz anderes. Aber es ist ziemlich weit von hier.'

'Vielleicht konnten Sie so freundlich sein, und es mir auf der Karte zu zeigen...'

'Ich kann nicht einmal Karten lesen. Aber Sie mussen zuerst nach Westheim fahren.'

He pointed up the road.

'Ich glaube, ich bin dort durchgefahren.'

'Sie mussen durchgefahren sein. Fahren Sie dorthin zuruck und fragen Sie dann in Westheim.'

I folded the map.

'Ja, haben Sie vielen Dank.'

He was old, a weather-stained man. He watched me turn the car; then in the mirror he was blotted out by the dust.

In two kilometres I took a small road south and turned again to come back parallel and stay in the area. It was routine procedure to tell him I had lost my way. Later it could prove to have been bad security to be seen in this area standing by a car doing nothing. He would remember a man losing his way but it was better than remembering a man standing by a car doing nothing.

But I didn't know if security was important in this area. Those bloody people in London never tell you anything.

Dust drifted across the roadside grass when I pulled up and cut the engine. The silence took over again. The white dust blew like steam across the grass. The roads here ran through chalk and there was a quarry gouged out of the hillside. The sun was past its zenith but I was still hoping I hadn't got here too late. The only real worry was that I didn't know what I was here for at all.

Even in the sun it was cold. I needed to move and the hill looked useful so I went up the road on foot, taking the binoculars.

From the top edge of the quarry all I could see were fields and farm buildings and the spire of the church in Westheim some way off. Below the quarry was an abandoned plough rusting among brambles. There were no traffic and no one was working in the fields. There was nothing interesting to look at and I began feeling fed up.

All they had said was please station yourself in the area Westheim-Pfelberg-Nohlmundt and observe. Only London could be so bloody vague.

Now I was stuck on top of a chalk quarry obediently observing an abandoned plough in some brambles at 12 times magnification. It would do London good if I trudged down there and took it to bits and did a one-tenth-scale sectional drawing and sent it in as sighted 1300 hours map-ref. 04-16 Blake's Contour 115-A have no intention of reassembling.

The fields were quiet except for the whisper.

Nothing moved anywhere. The farm buildings looked like cardboard cut-outs in the distance. Any traffic in this area would send up dust and there was no dust. Nothing moved on the land. The whisper was in the air. I looked upwards.

There was no vapour-trail and I had to do a square-search with the binoculars before I caught it. Small as a fly.

I looked down again. Dust was rising along the Westheim-Pfelberg road a couple of miles away near the spot where I'd talked to the farmer. No one could see me from there even on top of the quarry. It probably wouldn't matter if anyone did.

This had the smell of Parkis about it: move X into Square 4 and let him sweat it out, you never know your luck. After a dozen blind swipes Parkis would score a hit and people would call it a 'flair'. They forgot the times he missed.

The trail of dust was fading among the fields towards Pfelberg. Nothing else moved on the land. The whisper was still audible so I lay on my back and propped the binoculars up with my hands on my cheek-bones and adjusted the focus. The fly was very high now and vapour was forming. It was climbing to full ceiling in slow spirals and the sun flashed on it every time round. It was too small to identify but its performance was military and the only plane in the West German air-arm with this much ceiling was the Striker SK-6.

The vapour made a corkscrew in the sky. Most of my awareness was now shut in by the binoculars and I forgot the fields and the farm buildings and concentrated on the bright fly trapped in the lens. It spiralled hypnotically. The whisper was only just audible now. I put it at close on sixty thousand feet, the Striker's operational ceiling.

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