Glancing at my watch I followed Baldy’s directions with my binoculars and spotted the last pair. They looked pathetic, like children playing a game. One of them kept popping his head up and the other was stock still. His rifle held to his chest, the barrel was visible over a knoll, silhouetted by his trembling torch. These weren’t the hardened veterans I’d expected. They were more like civilians.
“Baldy, I’m gonna fire her up. Let me know when we take those two clowns.”
The heavy diesel engine hurled itself into life and choked out a small cloud of black smoke. Christ it felt good to fire that boat up! After all the time we’d spent getting there, after all the lives it cost to put us in that boat, I can’t deny the vindication I felt at that moment.
After a shot to from behind me I heard “…make that one…” come from out on deck.
The gauges all looked to be in the middle, nothing was threatening to explode on us, so I opened the wheelhouse door a few inches and shouted through it, “Two minutes!”
Even though I knew he wouldn’t be there yet I checked to see if Swanson was in sight, but of course there was no sign of him. I imagined him, running flat out in the dark, and prayed to a god I’ve never believed existed.
“THAT’S IT! WE’RE ON THE MOVE!!” I roared.
Taking my side arm in hand, I put my arm out the wheelhouse door and pointed it up to the sky, then fired three rounds in rapid succession. Looking out the window to the mouth of the harbour I saw my men all climb over the seawall and start to run up the walkway towards the mouth of the harbour. Passing fast under the sparsely placed lampposts they moved like the shadows of ghosts.
By this stage it had been twenty five minutes. Swanson was due at any moment.
“Did you get that clown yet?”
“He’s fucking vanished, Sir.”
In the darkness the little shit had managed to slip away. This was especially dangerous because it meant that he could have been bringing reinforcements, my men were exposed while they waited at the mouth of the harbour and Swanson still hadn’t arrived. There was no way that we leaving him behind.
“ALL EYES OUT FOR THE SQUEEKER!!” I bellowed out of the starboard window.
Looking back at the third jetty I saw no movement. No flashlight. Just darkness.
“HE’S MAKING FOR THE RUNABOUT!!” Baldy screamed.
I threw my eyes south and caught a fleeting glimpse of him passing under a lamppost just a few yards from the fastest boat in the port.
“He’s already dead, Sir” smirked Collins.
“KILL HIM!” I screamed in reflex. “Drop him NOW!”
Instantly Collins and Baldy started to fire on the runabout. If he tripped the runabout trap he would have brought more men down on us. Rifle fire was one thing, but grenades were too much to avoid attracting unwanted visitors.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey