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'We didn't create Carlos. We created Cain, and we abused him. We took away his mind and his memory. We owe him. Go down and get the woman. I'll use the phone. "

Bourne walked into the large library with the sunlight streaming through the wide, elegant French windows at the far end of the room. Beyond the panes of glass were the high walls of the garden . . . all around him objects too painful to look at; he knew them and did not know them. They were fragments of dreams - solid, to be touched, to be felt, to be used -not ephemeral at all. A long table where whisky was poured, leather armchairs where men sat and talked, bookshelves that housed books and other things - concealed things - that appeared with the touch of buttons. It was a room where a myth was born, a myth that had raced through South-east Asia and exploded in Europe.

He saw the long, tubular bulge in the ceiling and the darkness came, followed by flashes of light and images on a screen and voices shouting in his ears.

Who is he? Quick. You're too late! You're a dead man! Where is this street? What does it mean to you? Who did you meet there? . . . Methods of kills. Which are yours? No! . . . You are not Delta, you are not you! . . . You are only what you are here, became here!

'Hey I Who the hell are you?' The question was shouted by a large, red-faced man seated in an armchair by the door, a clipboard on his knees. Jason had walked right past him.

'You Doogan?" Bourne asked.

'Yeah. '

'Schumach sent me. Said you needed another man. '

'What for? I got five already, and this fuckin' place has hallways so tight you can't hardly get through 'em. They're climbing asses now. '

'I don't know. Schumach sent me, that's all I know. He told me to bring this stuff. ' Bourne let the blankets and the straps fall to the floor.

'Murray sends new junk? I mean, that's new. '

'I don't. . . '

'I know, I know! Schumach sent you. Ask Schumach. '

'You can't. He said to tell you he was heading out to Sheepshead. Be back this afternoon. '

'Oh, that's great! He goes fishing and leaves me with the shit . . . You're new. You a crumb ball from the shape-up?'

'Yeah. '

'That Murray's a beaut. All I need's another crumb ball. Two wise-ass stiffs and now four crumb balls. '

'You want me to start in here? I can start in here. '

'No, asshole! Crumb balls start at the top, you ain't heard? It's further away, capice?'

'Yeah, I capice. ' Jason bent down for the blankets and the straps.

'Leave that junk here, you don't need it. Get upstairs, top floor, and start with the single wood units. As heavy as you can carry, and don't give me no union bullshit. '

Bourne circled the landing on the first floor and climbed the narrow staircase to the second, as if drawn by a magnetic force beyond his understanding. He was being pulled to another room high up in the brownstone, a room that held both the comfort of solitude and the frustration of loneliness. The landing above was dark, no lights on, no sunlight bursting through windows anywhere. He reached the top and stood for a moment in silence. Which room was it? There were three doors, two on the left side of the hallway, one on the right. He started walking slowly towards the second door on the left, barely seen in the shadows. That was it; it was where thoughts came in the darkness . . . memories that haunted him, pained him. Sunlight and the stench of the river and the jungle . . . screaming machines in the sky, screaming down from the sky. Oh, God, it hurt!

He put his hand on the knob, twisted it, and opened the door. Darkness, but not complete. There was a small window at the far end of the room, a black blind pulled down, covering it, but not completely. He could see a thin line of sunlight, so narrow it barely broke through, where the blind met the sill. He walked towards it, towards that thin, tiny shaft of sunlight.

A scratch! A scratch in the darkness! He spun, terrified at the tricks being played on his mind. But it was not a trick! There was a diamond-like flash in the air, light bouncing off steel. A knife was slashing up at his face.

'I would willingly see you die for what you've done,' said Marie, staring at Conklin. 'And that realization revolts me. '

Then there's nothing I can say to you,' replied the C. I. A. man, limping across the room towards the general. 'Other decisions could have been made - by him and by you. '

'Could they? Where was he to start? When that man tried

to kill him in Marseilles? In the rue Saracin? When they hunted him in Zurich? When they shot at him in Paris? And all the while, he didn't know why. What was he to do?'

'Come out! Goddamn it, come out!'

'He did. And when he did, you tried to kill him. '

'You were there! You were with him. You had a memory. '

'Assuming I knew who to go to, would you have listened to me?'

Conklin returned her gaze. 'I don't know,' he answered, breaking the contact between them and turning to Crawford. 'What's happening?'

'Washington's calling me back within ten minutes. '

'But what's happening!'

'I'm not sure you want to hear it. Federal encroachment on state and municipal law-enforcement statutes. Clearances have to be obtained. '

'Jesus!'

'Look!' The army man suddenly bent down to the window. "The truck's leaving. '

'Someone got through,' said Conklin.

'Who?'

'I'll find out. ' The C. I. A. man limped to the phone; there were scraps of paper on the table, telephone numbers written hastily. He selected one and dialled. 'Give me Schumach . . . please . . . Schumach? This is Conklin, Central Intelligence. Who gave you the word?'

The dispatcher's voice on the line could be heard halfway across the room. 'What word? Get off my back! We're on that job and we're going to finish it! Frankly, I think you're a whacko. . . '

Conklin slammed down the phone. 'Christ . . . oh, Christ!' His hand trembled as he gripped the instrument. He picked it up and dialled again, his eyes on another scrap of paper. 'Petrocelli. Reclamations,' he commanded. 'Petrocelli? Conklin again. '

'You faded out. What happened?'

'No time. Level with me. That priority invoice from Agency Controls. Who signed it?'

'What do you mean, who signed it? The topcat who always signs them. McGivern. '

Conklin's face turned white. That's what I was afraid of,'

he whispered as he lowered the phone. He turned to Crawford, his head quivering as he spoke. The order to General Services was signed by a man who retired two weeks ago. '

'Carlos. . . '

'Oh, God!' screamed Marie. The man carrying the blankets, the straps! The way he held his head, his neck. Angled to the right. It was him! When his head hurts, he favours the right It was Jason I He went inside. '

Alexander Conklin turned back to the window, his eyes focused on the black enamelled door across the way. It was closed.

The hand! The skin. . . the dark eyes in the thin shaft of light Carlos!

Bourne whipped his head back as the razor-like edge of the blade sliced the flesh under his chin, the eruption of blood streaming across the hand that held the knife. He lashed his right foot out, catching his unseen attacker in the kneecap, then pivoted and plunged his left heel into the man's groin. Carlos spun and again the blade came out of the darkness, now surging towards him, the line of assault directly at his stomach. Jason sprang back off the ground, crossing his wrists, slashing downward, blocking the dark arm that was an extension of the handle. He twisted his fingers inward, yanking his hands together, vicing the forearm beneath his blood-soaked neck and wrenched the arm diagonally up. The knife creased the cloth of his field jacket and, once above his chest, Bourne spiralled the arm downward, twisting the wrist now in his grip, crashing his shoulder into the assassin's body, yanking again as Carlos plunged sideways off balance, his arm pulled half out of its socket



Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller
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