Page 16

Why Paris? Why had he insisted that the funds be transferred to Paris! It had not occurred to him before he sat in Walther Apfel's office, stunned by the extraordinary figures presented him. They had been beyond anything in his imagination - so much so that he could only react numbly, instinctively. And instinct had evoked the city of Paris. As though it were somehow vital. Why?

Again, no time . . . He saw the ambulance crew carry a stretcher through the doors of the bank. On it was a body, the head covered, signifying death. The significance was not lost on Bourne; save for skills he could not relate to anything he understood, he was the dead man on that stretcher.

He saw an empty taxi at the corner and ran towards it. He had to get out of Zurich; a message had been sent from Marseilles, yet the dead man was alive. Jason Bourne was alive. Kill him. Kill Jason Bourne!

God in heaven, why!

He was hoping to see the Carillon du Lac's assistant manager behind the front desk, but he was not there. Then he realized that a short note to the man - what was his name? Stossel? Yes, Stossel - would be sufficient An explanation for his sudden departure was not required and five hundred francs would easily take care of the few hours he had accepted from the Carillon du Lac - and the favour he would ask of Heir Stossel.

In his room he threw his shaving equipment into his suitcase, checked the pistol he had taken from the Frenchman, leaving it in his overcoat pocket, and sat down at the desk; he wrote out the note for Herr Stossel, Ass't Mgr. In it he included a sentence that came easily - almost too easily.

. . . he may be in contact with you shortly relative to messages I expect will have been sent to me. I trust it will be convenient for you to keep an eye out for them, and accept them on my behalf.

If any communication came from the elusive Treadstone Seventy-one, he wanted to know about it. This was Zurich; he would.

He put a five-hundred-franc note between the folded stationery and sealed the envelope. Then he picked up his suitcase, walked out of the room, and went down the hall to the bank of lifts. There were four; he touched a button and looked behind him, remembering the Gemeinschaft. There was no one there; a bell pinged and the red light above the third lift flashed on. He had caught a descending machine. Fine. He had to get to the airport just as fast as he could; he had to get out of Zurich, out of Switzerland. A message had been delivered.

The lift doors opened. Two men stood on either side of an auburn-haired woman; they interrupted their conversation, nodded at the newcomer - noting the suitcase and moving to the side - then resumed talking as the doors closed. They were in their mid-thirties and spoke French softly, rapidly, the woman glancing alternately at both men, alternately smiling and looking pensive. Decisions of no great import were being made. Laughter intermingled with semi-serious interrogation.

'You'll be going home then after the summations tomorrow?' asked the man on the left

'I'm not sure. I'm waiting for word from Ottawa,' the woman replied. 'I have relations in Lyons; it would be good to see them. '

'It's impossible,' said the man on the right, 'for the steering committee to find ten people willing to summarize this Godforsaken conference in a single day. We'll all be here another week. '

'Brussels will not approve,' said the first man grinning. The hotel's too expensive. '

Then by all means move to another,' said the second with a leer at the woman. 'We've been waiting for you to do just that, haven't we?'

'You're a lunatic,' said the woman. 'You're both lunatics, and that's my summation. '

'You're not, Marie,' interjected the first. 'A lunatic, I mean. Your presentation yesterday was brilliant. '

'It was nothing of the son,' she said. 'It was routine and quite dull. '

'No, no!' disagreed the second. 'It was superb; it had to be. I didn't understand a word. But then I have other talents. ' . 'Lunatic. . . '

The lift was braking; the first man spoke again. 'Let's sit in the back row of the hall. We're late anyway and Bertinelli is speaking - to little effect, I suggest. His theories of enforced cyclical fluctuations went out with the finances of the Borgias. '

'Before then,' said the auburn-haired woman, laughing. 'Caesar's taxes. ' She paused, then added, 'If not the Punic Wars. '

The back row then, said the second man, offering his arm to the woman. 'We can sleep. He uses a slide projector; it'll be dark. '

'No, you two go ahead, I'll join you in a few minutes. I really must send off some cables and I don't trust the telephone operators to get them right. '

The doors opened and the threesome walked out of the lift The two men started diagonally across the lobby together, the woman towards the front desk. Bourne fell in step behind her, absently reading a sign on a triangular stand several feet away.

Welcome To: Members of The Sixth World Economic Conference

Today's Schedule: 1:00 P. M. : The Hon. James Frazier, M. P. United

Kingdom. Suite 12 6:00 P. M. : Dr Eugenia Bertinelli, Univ. of Milan,

Italy. Suite 7. 9:00 P. M. : Chairman's Farewell Dinner. Hospitality Suite.

'Room Five-zero-seven. The operator said there was a cablegram for me. '

English. The auburn-haired woman now beside him at the counter spoke English. But then she had said she was 'waiting for word from Ottawa'. A Canadian.

The desk clerk checked the slots and returned with the cable. 'Doctor St Jacques?' he asked, holding out the envelope.

'Yes. Thanks very much. '

The woman turned away, opening the cable, as the clerk moved in front of Bourne. 'Yes, sir?'

'I'd like to leave this note for Herr Stossel. ' He placed the Carillon du Lac envelope on the counter.

'Herr Stossel will not return until six o'clock in the morning, sir. In the afternoons, he leaves at four. Might I be of service?'

'No, thanks. Just make sure he gets it, please. ' Then Jason remembered: this was Zurich. 'It's nothing urgent,' he added, 'but I need an answer. I'll check with him in the morning. !

'Of course, sir. '

Bourne picked up his suitcase and started across the lobby towards the hotel's entrance, a row of wide glass doors that led to a circular drive fronting the lake. He could see several taxis waiting under the floodlights of the canopy; the sun had gone down; it was night in Zurich. Still, there were flights to all points of Europe until well past midnight. . .

He stopped walking, his breath suspended, a form of paralysis sweeping over him. His eyes did not believe what else he saw beyond the glass doors. A brown Peugeot pulled up in the circular drive in front of the first taxi. Its door opened and a man stepped out - a killer in a black raincoat, wearing thin, gold-rimmed spectacles. Then from the other door another figure emerged, but it was not the driver who had been at the kerb on the Bahnhofstrasse, waiting for a target he did not recognize. Instead, it was another killer, in another raincoat, its wide pockets recesses for powerful weapons. It was the man who had sat in the reception room on the first floor of the Gemeinschaft Bank, the same man who bad pulled a . 38 calibre pistol from a holster beneath his coat. A pistol with a perforated cylinder on its barrel that silenced two bullets meant for the skull of the quarry he had followed into an elevator.

How? How could they have found him? . . . Then he remembered and felt sick. It had been so innocuous, so casual!

Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller