A lifeline. I needed one and I saw it. The helicopter was losing altitude swiftly, but angling toward a main artery road. In fact despite the rotation it was following the road almost exactly as it descended to meet it. And there, maybe 200 yards distant, was what could save my life – a pedestrian bridge.
If luck was with me, the chopper would pass over it, but only just. If it didn’t, I guess at least I’d got the bad guy.
The spinning continued but the descent slowed slightly. I guess someone was wrenching at the controls in the cockpit, but didn’t quite know what they were doing. What they did do was save my life. They managed to get the helicopter to clear the bridge by a whisker and as it did so I let go, falling barely 6 feet onto the asphalt walkway.
Momentum carried me into the steel barrier with a crunching thud, but I stopped dead while the chopper continued its downward spiral.
It slammed into the road almost on its side with a brutal crash. Two rotor blades snapped off and shot sideways destroying the front of an office building. The tail section bent backwards giving the craft the appearance of a twitching scorpion, tail raised over its abdomen.
Showers of sparks filled the air as it slid along the road, gouging a trail in the tarmac. Fuel must have been leaking from the cracked tank as I could see flames starting to spread and follow the main body of the aircraft as it gradually slowed.
After maybe 100 yards it came to a creaky stop. By some miracle it hadn’t hit any moving traffic, though a dozen or so cars parked at the roadside would be needing some serious bodywork. Flames built up around the shell as fuel started to gush out.
And then, a sight I couldn’t believe I was seeing. The cabin door flew open, banging back down onto the side – now top – of the helicopter. Hynes, battered and bruised by very much alive, dragged himself out and looked for a way down avoiding the fast-spreading fire.
Spotting a gap, he leapt down onto the roadside. Staggering, he got his bearings. Looking back at the helicopter, I’m sure he could see what I could. The last remaining bodyguard struggling to undo his safety belt, hand waving, begging for help. Hynes turned his back and ran, desperate to escape the raging fire before…
The bridge shook with the force of the explosion. Every window that I could see shattered and Hynes – along with every person on the street near him – was knocked off his feet. A column of flame rose into the air and pieces of helicopter shrapnel flew in all directions.
One large piece made it as far as the bridge I was still on, but slammed into the guard rail inched from my head before dropping down onto the road beneath.
I grabbed the rail and used it to lever myself upright. Next to me a teenage boy on a BMX had stopped to watch the scene. I had to get to Hynes as fast as possible and now I had a means of doing so. Rude as it was, I just shoved the kid off the bike and jumped on, pedalling away as he screamed abuse at me.
Judging by the pain in my side you could add a shattered rib to the useless right hand, but at least I was still alive. The bridge had two exits on the side of the road I was heading for – one smooth ramp and a flight of steep steps. My luck was out – the steps were the route pointing towards Hynes.
As he picked himself up and looked around, I launched myself down them.
I obviously wasn’t hard to see. Hynes took one look at the bedraggled lunatic pedalling one-handed down the steps and knew to flee in the opposite direction. Pushing pedestrians out of the way, he rounded what was left of the helicopter wreckage and headed for the handful of cars which had stopped further up the road. If he managed to get into one of them I’d have no chance of stopping him.
I pedalled faster.
Hynes bypassed the first couple of cars. There was no point in trying to grab one of them as they were blocked in by other vehicles.
I was 50 yards behind him when he grabbed a young woman by the hair and dragged her from her open-topped sports car.
I was 40 yards from him as he settled into the seat and looked around for the ignition mechanism.
I was 20 yards behind him as he found it, started the engine and put his foot down.
Thankfully even the fastest car takes time to get to speed. In that time, I covered the final short distance and let the bike ram into the rear of the car as I launched myself into the air.
As his tyres bit the road surface, I landed with a thump on the rear of the car, slid forward and grabbed the headrest of his seat.
With every nerve ending in my arm telling me not to, I wrapped my right hand around the head rest also and into Hynes’ face. I’d not call it a punch – the arm didn’t have enough strength in it to class as one – but it was enough to distract him as I hauled myself forward and made a grab for the steering wheel.
He battered my head as I reached forward, but I wasn’t going for the wheel itself, but the gear change levers to its side. Letting myself drop almost into his lap, I pulled on the lower one. The gear dropped suddenly, but his foot was still planted on the accelerator.
The car lurched forwards, pushing me back into him and lifting his hands from the wheel. Out of control, the car slewed to the right and stopped almost instantly as it crashed into the back of a parked 4x4.
The sound of broken glass and rending metal was drowned out by a sound like a gun going off as the airbags deployed. However, they weren’t designed to be used with two people in the driver’s seat.
My body blocked the airbag erupting from the centre of the steering wheel, though it saved my ribs from further damage. Hynes, however, was less fortunate.
With nothing to stop his head snapping forward, his face piled into the top of the steering wheel. His face deformed as the wheel buried itself in broken bone and cartilage. I could feel his limp body coming to rest on mine as he slipped into unconsciousness, or perhaps death.
Either way, with the sound of sirens approaching, he wouldn’t be going anywhere before someone arrived to deal with him.
Mission accomplished. Although I think I would be getting a little dressing down about a lapse in the “Secret” side of the job. I’d worry about that later over a nice cold beer. Paid for out of my own pocket, of course. I think our budget may be taking a hit from the clean-up job…