Размер шрифта:     
Гарнитура:GeorgiaVerdanaArial
Цвет фона:      
Режим чтения: F11  |  Добавить закладку: Ctrl+D
Следующая страница: Ctrl+→  |  Предыдущая страница: Ctrl+←
Показать все книги автора/авторов: Forbes Colin
 

«The Greek Key», Colin Forbes

Prologue

Cairo, February 1944.

Staff-Sergeant Higgins – 'Higgy' to his friends – had no warning this would be the last time he would ascend in the creaking lift climbing slowly to the fourth floor of the Antikhana Building.

At ten in the evening it was silent as a tomb within the walls of the three-sided building. The only sound was the ghostly creak of the old lift as it crawled upwards past deserted landings. Through the iron grille of the cage he could see the stone staircase which rose round the central lift shaft. It felt as though no one else was in the place -no one except the Sudanese receptionist behind his desk on the ground floor.

Not surprising if he was the first to get back, thought Higgy. The few military men who slept there occupied small bedrooms on the rooftop. And they rarely arrived back from drinking and eating in Cairo before eleven. Personally, he liked an early night…

He frowned as he slid the door of the cage shut when il had wobbled to a stop. They switched off the lights in the corridors running round the three sides of the building at seven. So where was the glow of light beyond the entrance to the corridor coming from?

He hesitated, listening. Normally he would head straight for one of the three spiral staircases at each corner of the building – the enclosed staircases which led to the rooftop. The light was gleaming from under the closed door at the end of the corridor. The Greek Unit's quarters.

He had no idea what Ionides, who had escaped from German-occupied Greece, did. Something connected with propaganda, they said. He must have forgotten to turn off the light before leaving for his billet. Or he could just still be working.

Hitching up his khaki drill trousers, he walked quietly along the tiled passage. The first twinge of unease ruffled him when he thought he heard a noise from the room next to the last one. Also part of the Greek Unit's quarters, the two rooms were linked by an inner door. But no light glowed from under this second door. Who would be moving about in the dark?

He paused, grasped the handle, turned it slowly, pushed. The door wouldn't budge, was locked. He stiffened. He'd never known that door to be locked before when one of the Greek Unit was working.

Higgy walked a few paces further and stopped at the second door. Beyond, at the corridor's end, the black hole leading to the spiral staircase gaped. He took a grip on the handle of the door, turned it, entered. He froze.

At the last moment, it occurred to him it might be Ionides' colleague, Gavalas, who was working late. But it was Ionides all right. Except he wasn't all right.

Higgy had his share of battle-hardened courage. An ex-tank commander, he'd seen friends in the desert scorched to death in what they cynically called a 'brew-up'. Not the normal brew-up of tea – the fearsome sight of another tank, hit by a German shell, going up in flames. Locked inside their steel box, few escaped alive.

The office, with barred windows facing the native quartet across the street, looked as though a hurricane had struck it. Drawers were pulled out, contents scattered across the floor. Filing cabinets had been overturned. Crimson splashes smeared the white walls.

The black-haired young Ionides lay amid the carnage, sprawled on the floor on top of a mess of papers. He was drenched with blood, his dark eyes stared sightless at the ceiling, his head had been almost severed from his neck, his face was slashed brutally, the weathered skin coated with more blood. Blood was everywhere – spattered across the desk where presumably he had been working. The splashes on the walls were more blood.

Higgy shivered. He closed the outer door. Six feet tall, well-built, twenty-eight years old, he stood motionless, gazing at the horror lying a few feet away. Then he remembered the noise he'd heard from the locked room. He stared at the communicating door. God! The maniac who had done this must be inside.

Panic gripped him. His first instinct was to haul open the outer door and run like hell for the roof up the spiral staircase. His throat felt parched. His hands trembled. The silence from the room beyond the communicating door was insidious, made him want to yell.

The silence went on: not a hint of a sound from behind that closed door. Higgy sucked in a deep breath. Had it been imagination, nerves tingling from the empty building? Had he, in fact, really heard anything? He glanced down and saw again the dreadful corpse which had recently been a living man. A black foot-long circular ruler of ebony lay on the floor. He picked it up, took a firmer hold of himself, walked towards the closed communicating door. Still no sound.


Еще несколько книг в жанре «Шпионский детектив»