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Authors: Gerald Seymour

A Line in the Sand

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A Line in the Sand

by

Gerald Seymour

PRAISE FOR THE WAITING TIME:

"One of the best plotters in the business." Time Out "Seymour is ing at the peak of his powers... in a class of his own." The writ

Times

tain's foremost pacy thriller writers."

"One of Bri

Sunday Express.

. Seymour on top form." Mail on Sunday.

Stunning..

ld Seymour has

Once a reporter for Independent Television News, Gera

ved in the West Country for the last thirteen years.

li

His previous

bestsellers include Harry's Game, The Glory Boys, Red Fox, Field of

, The Journeyman Tailor, The Heart of Danger, Killing Ground

Blood

and

tly The Waiting Time.

most recen

by Gerald Seymour Harry's Game The Glory Boys Kingfisher Red

Also

Fox

Archangel In Honour Bound Field of Blood A Song in the

The Contract

n Condition Black The Journeyman

Morning At Close Quarters Home Ru

ilor

Ta

The Fighting Man The Heart of Danger Killing Ground The Waiting

Time

GERALD SEYMOUR

A Line in the Sand

BANTAM PRESS

NEW YORK TORONTO SYDNEY AUCKLAND

LONDON

To Harriet

RS LTD

TRANS WORLD PUBLISHE

Road, London W5 5SA

61-63 Uxbridge

D

TRANS WORLD PUBLISHERS (AUSTRALIA) PTY LT

Avenue, Moorebank, NSW 21U TRANS WORLD PUBLISHERS (NZ)

15-25 Helles

1

D

LT

bany, Auckland Published 1999 by Bantam

3 William Pickering Drive, Al

ess a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd Copyright (c) Gerald

Pr

our to be identified as author

Seymour 1999 The right of Gerald Seym

of

th sections; 77 and 78

this work has been asserted in accordance Wi

of

the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. All of the characters in

this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons,

living

or dead, is purely coincidental A catalogue record for this book is e from the British Library. ISBN 0593 044592 (eased) All

availabl

rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,

stored

in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, nic/mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,

electro

without

ssion of the publishers Typeset mil 13pt Palatino by

the prior permi

Phoenix Typesetting, Ilkley, West Yorkshire Printed in Great Britain by

Mackays of Chatham pie, Chatham, Kent.

Prologue.

He knew it was the last time he would be there.

He stepped through the double door of the administration building, held

open for him, and the sinking afternoon sun blasted against his face.

d hard, momentarily blinded, and stopped disorientated in

He blinke

his

ks.

trac

He lowered the glasses from the crown of his head on to the

bridge of his nose. They were all around him, crowded in the doorway, e his Wends -more than just the people he did business

and they wer

with, true friends.

The car

waiting. The

was

driver stood beside the rear door and smiled

him with respect. The technicians, engineers and managers

at

pressed

ose to him to shake his hand, hold his arms and brush-kiss his

cl

cheeks. The women who worked at the computers and the design benches men and their eyes beneath their close-wrapped head

were behind the

scarves were lit with warmth, but they did not touch him or speak.

The

friendships had been nurtured over many years. When he had left the 2

f the project manager, three or four minutes before, he had

office o

started a stuttering progress down a shadowed, cool corridor,

ing

stopp

by each door to make his farewells. He had been wished a good

journey,

a safe return home, and he had been told how welcome he would be when ck the next time.

he came ba

knew there would not be a next time.

He

full and gold turning to scarlet, hit his face and pierced

The sun,

the

n of his darkened glasses.

protectio

He grinned and responded to the

friendship and trust that was shown him. He had betrayed their

trust.

ct manager took his arm, led him towards the car, murmured

The proje

appreciation that he had fallen in with the change of schedule, and ed his arm in implicit thanks for the present of a Toshiba

squeez

laptop. On each visit, three times a year, he brought many presents the complex, and they had a sliding scale of value

with him to

dependent on the position in the complex of his friends. He brought him computer equipment and gold or sterling-silver ink pens,

with

toilet soaps and packs of toothpaste. He had come, as always, five before, his bags weighted with the gifts that cemented the

days

friendship and bound the trust. The vomit was in his throat, and

he

swallowed hard. As their friend, each time he came, he was invited to

restaurants to eat battered prawns or shrimps, or whitefish, and he was

invited to their homes.

ad taken years of visits to build the

It h

iendship and the trust that were a sham.

fr

e driver opened the door of the car. The project manager was

Th

flicking the buttons of a personal organizer, a secondary present

from

the previous visit, to confirm the date on which he would next return.

oked past the project manager at the straggling line by the

He lo

double

ll smiling and waving.

doors, a

He said it again, as he had said it

many times in the last five days: it had been no problem for him to schedule and come a week earlier than originally planned.

change his

He

d them well. He did not know what would happen to them. It

wishe

was

the mark of their friendship, their trust, that they had left the

3

cool

y

air-conditioned offices and design rooms to stand in the ferocit

of

ght to see him on his way, and he had betrayed them. He

the sunli

could

k into their faces or into the eyes of the project manager.

not loo

he ducked down into the car, a last time, he raked the

Before

buildings, scarred by the sun and the salt carried from the sea by the

s if it were important that he should remember each final

winds, a

detail.

What Gavin Hughes saw.. . The complex was a series of wire-fenced s.

compound

Above the wire-mesh fences around each compound were the

silver- and rust-coloured coils of razor wire.

entry points that were

At the gates to each compound were sandbagged s

covered with decaying canvas to give shade from the sun. The

watch-towers at the corners of the compounds were built on weathered wood stilts, and the dipping sunlight caught the barrels of the

machine-guns jutting above the parapets. Between the compounds were four anti-aircraft defence positions, two with multiple-barrel

Qerlikon

guns and two housing a cluster of squat ground-to-air missiles. If it

had not been for the friendship and the trust, Gavin Hughes, who was a

salesman in engineering machinery, would never have gained access

to

the complex... He saw the entrance tunnel to the building with the buried concrete walls and bomb-proof ceiling, and that was Project 193.

He saw the dun-painted building, into which he had never been

admitted,

that housed Project 1478. He saw the building where the hot-die

forge

was installed, where heated metal for the warhead cone was compressed and then cooled for turning and grinding and milling, the home of

Project 972. The buildings were spread out across the bright sand, scattered inside the complex perimeter that stretched three

kilometres

in length and two kilometres in width, and contained the lathes,

mixers, presses and machine tools.

r,

He would be asked the day afte

or

after that at the latest, what he had seen, what was different

the day

4

from before.

d down into the back of the

He droppe

car and the driver closed the

or

do

behind him. He wound down the window and reached out to shake the manager's hand, but still could not look into his eyes.

project

He

freed his hand and waved at the crowd by the double doors as the car d away.

pulle

ey drove past the three-storey dormitory block that was used by

Th

the

e.

Chines

He had never met them; he had seen them from a distance;

they

worked on Project 193, where the lathes shaped the solid fuel

charges.." and past the tennis courts, which were floodlit in the cooler evenings and had been built for the Russians, to whom he had never spoken. He had passed them in corridors but his friends had made the introductions; they worked on Project 1478 where the

never

machines he had supplied mixed the coating capable of withstanding the

temperature of 3,000 degrees generated in the core of the missile

tube.." and past the volleyball court scraped from the coarse sand and

y the North Koreans and played on in the half-light of dawn.

stone b

slowed as they approached the main gate of the complex.

The driver

Gavin Hughes was sweating and he loosened his tie. He twisted and d

looke

through the rear window, back at the small group still standing

by the main doors of the administration building, toy figures waving him on his way.

Two guards came forward. When he had first come to the complex they had scowled and taken their time over studying his papers. Now they grinned and saluted, their automatic rifles slung casually on their shoulders. Three visits before he had brought one a Zippo

liquid-fuel

lighter with a Harley Davidson motif. On the last visit he had

brought

the other a carton of Marlboro cigarettes.

This would be his final visit. He would never see these men again.

It

had been made plain, at the last briefing. In a discreet

second-floor

room of a Georgian house behind the line of gentlemen's clubs in Pall Mall, the satellite photographs of the complex had been mounted on 5

a

display-board. The images of the roofs of the buildings were

pinpoint

sharp and the entrances to the underground workshops, the tennis

en the volleyball area, and the positions of the

courts, ev

anti-aircraft de fences

This was Gavin Hughes's kingdom. He had access. He was a salesman for

standard engineering machines and could tell them what they needed to

know when the images failed them. At the last briefing, the night before he had flown, over the tired sandwiches and the stewed coffee, he had told them why his visit had been moved forward a week, what was

happening at the complex on the days that he should have visited if the

original schedule had been maintained.

nd

None of their satellites a

high-optic lenses could provide them with that kernel of detail. The ng had been suspended.

meeti

For two hours he had been left in the

room

with only his controller, an un giving and aloof woman, younger than himself, for company. When the meeting had resumed, the senior man requested he repeat the ground covered earlier, why his visit had

been

put forward. In the second session two new men had been present.

An

American, perspiring in a suit of brown herringbone tweed, had sat behind him and to his right, and never spoken. A leather-faced

Israeli, a Star of David in gold hanging in the chest hair under an open-necked shirt, had been equally silent.

Afterwards, the controller had walked him back to his hotel, and

warned

her agent to go carefully on this visit, take no risks. Her last

words, before they parted, reiterated what would be his fate and his death if he created suspicion.. . as if Gavin Hughes did not know.

BOOK: A Line in the Sand
9.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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