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datatime: 2022-12-02 03:56:23 Author:wWghtqFH

Bond let his whole body slip down the ladder of wire and lunged through and down with all his force.

Bond got to the-rock face. Slowly he let himself down to the bottom rung of wire. He gazed vaguely at the softly heaving sheen of water. It was black, impenetrable, as deep as the rest. Should he chance it? He must Get moving

The stinking, bleeding, black scarecrow moved its arms and legs quite automatically. The thinking, feeling apparatus of Bond was no longer part of his body. It moved alongside his body, or floated above it, keeping enough contact to pull the strings that made the puppet work. Bond was like a cut worm, the two halves of which continue to jerk forward although life has gone and been replaced by the mock life of nervous impulses. Only, with Bond, the two halves were not yet dead. Life was only in abeyance in them. All he needed was an ounce of hope, an ounce of reassurance that it was still worth while trying to stay alive.

From close by came various sounds and echoes. A crane was working. He could hear the changing beat of its engine. There were iron ship-noises and the sound of water splashing into the sea from a bilge pump.

Bond let his whole body slip down the ladder of wire and lunged through and down with all his force.

That was all. The morning breeze feathered the deep-water anchorage, still half in shadow beneath the towering cliffs, the' conveyor-belt thudded quietly on its rollers, the crane's engine chuffed rhythmically. There was no other sound, no other movement, no other life apart from the watch at the ship's wheel, the trusty working at the crane, and Doctor No, seeing that all went well. On the other side of the mountain men would be working, feeding the guano to the conveyor-belt that rumbled away through the bowels of the rock, but on this side no one was allowed and no one was necessary. Apart from aiming the canvas mouth of the conveyor, there was nothing else for anyone to do.

Bond had not time to worry about them. Now the head of the squid had broken the surface and the sea was being thrashed into foam by the great heaving mantle round it. The eyes were glaring up at him, redly, venomously, and the forest of feeding arms was at his feet and legs, tearing the cotton fabric away and flailing back. Bond was being pulled down, inch by inch. The wire was biting into his armpits. He could even feel his spine being stretched. If he held on he would be torn in half. Now the eyes and the great triangular beak were right out of the water and the beak was reaching up for his feet. There was one hope, only one

Bond, leaving drops of blood behind him, picked his way carefully down the track and along the bottom of the shadowed cliff. Round the bead, the track filtered through a maze of giant, tumbled boulders. The noises grew louder. Bond crept softly forward, watching his footholds for loose stones. A voice called out, startlingly close, "Okay to go?" There was a distant answer: "Okay." The crane engine accelerated. A few more yards. One more boulder. And another. Now

Bond stepped up to the rock and inched an eye round. Nothing had changed. His guess at the distances had been right. The crane driver was watchful, absorbed. The neck above the open khaki shirt was naked, offered, waiting. Twenty yards away, Doctor No, also with his back to Bond, stood sentry over the thick rich cataract of whity-yellow dust. On the bridge, the watch was lighting a cigarette.

Bond stepped up to the rock and inched an eye round. Nothing had changed. His guess at the distances had been right. The crane driver was watchful, absorbed. The neck above the open khaki shirt was naked, offered, waiting. Twenty yards away, Doctor No, also with his back to Bond, stood sentry over the thick rich cataract of whity-yellow dust. On the bridge, the watch was lighting a cigarette.

A SHOWER OF DEATH

Bond got to the-rock face. Slowly he let himself down to the bottom rung of wire. He gazed vaguely at the softly heaving sheen of water. It was black, impenetrable, as deep as the rest. Should he chance it? He must Get moving

Bond stepped up to the rock and inched an eye round. Nothing had changed. His guess at the distances had been right. The crane driver was watchful, absorbed. The neck above the open khaki shirt was naked, offered, waiting. Twenty yards away, Doctor No, also with his back to Bond, stood sentry over the thick rich cataract of whity-yellow dust. On the bridge, the watch was lighting a cigarette.

Below, on the jetty, to the left and to leeward of the drifting smoke of the guano dust, stood the tall, watchful figure of Doctor No.

He would have to let go with one arm to stoop and get within range. If he missed, he would be torn to shreds on the fence.

Ten minutes later, Bond, his wet rags clinging to his scrubbed, stinging body and his hair slicked back out of his eyes, climbed over the top of the headland.

Bond let his whole body slip down the ladder of wire and lunged through and down with all his force.

Now, before he died of the pain

He would have to let go with one arm to stoop and get within range. If he missed, he would be torn to shreds on the fence.

Bond flattened himself against the rock and warily inched his head round the corner.

He caught a glimpse of the tip of his spear lancing into the centre of a black eyeball and then the whole sea erupted up at him in a fountain of blackness and he fell and hung upside down by the knees, his head an inch from the surface of the water.

Bond looked up at the sky. It was pale blue. Clouds tinged with golden pink were trailing away towards the horizon. Far above him the cormorants were wheeling round the guanera. Soon they would be going off to feed. Perhaps even now they were watching the scout groups far out at sea locating the fish. It would be about six o'clock, the dawn of a beautiful day.

From close by came various sounds and echoes. A crane was working. He could hear the changing beat of its engine. There were iron ship-noises and the sound of water splashing into the sea from a bilge pump.

Bond stepped up to the rock and inched an eye round. Nothing had changed. His guess at the distances had been right. The crane driver was watchful, absorbed. The neck above the open khaki shirt was naked, offered, waiting. Twenty yards away, Doctor No, also with his back to Bond, stood sentry over the thick rich cataract of whity-yellow dust. On the bridge, the watch was lighting a cigarette.

Bond examined the soles of his feet and his hands. They; would serve. They would have to serve. He reached back ana felt the handle of the knife. Shifted it an inch. He stood up and took several slow deep breaths, ran his hands through his salt-and sweat-matted hair, rubbed them harshly up and down his face and then down the tattered sides of his black jeans. He gave a final flex to his fingers. He was ready.

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