The Viper legged it out of the square, which was still echoing to the sound of gunfire with Charlie and Samantha in hot pursuit. Running the length of Gresham Street, the Viper pulled open the door of a Range Rover stopped at the end, waiting to turn out into the traffic. Roughly dragging the young woman driver out and throwing her screaming to the ground, he jumped in behind the wheel just as a Metropolitan Police traffic car turned the corner responding to the emergency at the Guildhall. The driver stopped the car with a screech of brakes, leaping out to apprehend what he believed was a car-jacker. The Viper, more used to the manual change gearboxes of old pick-up trucks in the desert, rather than the automatic shift boxes of luxury, top of the range Rovers, was at a loss of how to get the thing moving.
As the copper ran towards him, he managed to put the shift stick into low gear. Booting the accelerator, the big engine roared and with a squeal of tyres and clouds of blue smoke, the powerful Rover took off, knocking the police constable over and breaking his leg.
‘Damn!’ exclaimed Charlie to Samantha, both panting in exhaustion as they arrived too late at the scene.
They watched as the Range Rover disappeared down the Jewry Street, going the wrong way against the oncoming traffic.
’Shit! The ‘effing Jag’s back at the Guildhall.’ gasped Charlie.
‘Charlie, what about taking. . .’
‘Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?’
They ran over and jumped into the police car, its engine still idling.
‘Oy!’ shouted the constable laying on the ground in pain. ‘Leave my car alone!’
Charlie ignored him, turned the car around and accelerated away after the terrorist. A scene of chaos greeted them as they sped down the road in hot pursuit. Cars avoiding the speeding Range Rover had bumped up over kerbs on the pavements on either side of the street.
‘Sam, turn the blues and twos on.’ shouted Charlie as he steered around a couple of wrecks littering the road.′
‘The what, Charlie?’ enquired Samantha.
‘The bloody sirens and flashing lights.’ wailed Charlie, swerving and just missing a spinning car.
As the police radio crackled with urgent messages about the attack at the Guildhall, Samantha fiddled with the various switches and handles on the dashboard in front of her.
‘Not that one!’ cried Charlie aloud as the police car’s bonnet popped open in front, held in place only by the safety catch. The heater fan whined full blast and the glove box fell open as Samantha tried to find the right one. They sideswiped a white Transit van, the driver giving them the V-sign and a snarled shout of abuse, and started gaining on the Range Rover, whose driver, unfamiliar with the gears of the luxury car, had now only succeeded in putting it in second. Even so, it was showing a good turn of speed with the big, over-revving V8 engine screaming in protest.
To Samantha’s delight, the sirens finally whooped into life and the flash of the blue lights on the roof reflected from shop and office windows on the sides of the street. Forewarned, the oncoming traffic slowed and pulled into the side. Entering Cheapside, both vehicles narrowly missed knocking over some pedestrians on a crossing outside the Bank Underground Station. Charlie narrowed the gap as the traffic continued to pull over for the flashing lights and siren of the police car. He was just wondering how it was all going to end as both cars raced neck and neck on to Tower Bridge Approach, scattering tourists making their way to the Tower of London, when the Range Rover braked hard and swung off on the road leading to St Katharine Docks.
In a frantic effort to stop the terrorist’s car, Charlie accelerated hard and got alongside, spun the wheel and thumped the police car hard into the side of the heavy Range Rover. With a crunch of tearing metal, the lighter car bounced off the heavier SUV and the strained safety catch holding the bonnet closed let go. The bonnet flipped up and over, smashing into the windscreen. Charlie wrestled with the wheel and not being able to see through the starred windscreen, the car spun off the road and embedded itself in the wall of the security gatehouse at the entrance to the dock.
A cloud of steam hissed from the broken radiator in the crumpled front of the car as a dazed Charlie wound down the side window and looked up at the bemused security guard sitting inside. The guard looked back at him.
In a thick Irish brogue, he asked, ‘Would it be anything personal, sir? Most people usually show their passes to gain entry.’
Brushing the slight aside, Charlie shook his head to clear it and asked, ‘Where did the Range Rover go?’
‘Ah now, he managed to keep his car on the straight and narrow.’ quipped the security guard, pointing to the broken, splintered stub of the road barrier pole opposite. ‘Although he gave me no time to raise the barrier.’
Charlie grunted and checking that Samantha was all right, they both climbed out of the battered wreck. Slamming the door, one of the flashing lights fell off the roof as the siren gave a last, final whoop.
In a parting shot, the security guard asked tongue in cheek, ‘Now will you be handling this little incident yourself, officer, or should I be calling your colleagues in from the station?’
‘Suit yourself. But if I was you, I’d give them a ring because you’ve now got a live terrorist running amok in your yard.’ replied Charlie to the surprise of the guard.
Charlie wondered why the terrorist had made tracks for the marina. Had he planned to escape by boat after the assassination attempt, as it seemed he had made his way here from the attack at the Guildhall?
Interrupting his thoughts, a shout from inside the marina, reminded Charlie that the chase was not over.
They ran into the boatyard and saw the Range Rover smashed into the side of a sailing yacht, which was now hanging lop sided in the slings of a mobile crane that had been about to launch it down the slipway.
‘Where is he?’ shouted Charlie to the shaken crane driver.
‘He ran off up that pontoon and boarded that flash-looking Beneteau on the right.’ was the reply.
‘And watch out.’ shouted another marina worker close by, ‘He threatened me with a bloody knife!’
‘Stay here, Sam.’
‘Why not wait until the police arrive, Charlie?’ urged Samantha.
‘No. I want to find out what he’s up to and besides, I’ve got a personal score to settle with the bastard.’
‘Don’t go taking any risks.’ implored Samantha, as he left her and ran across to the pontoon.
‘Don’t you worry, Missus, he looks big enough to look after himself.’ chuckled the crane driver from the safety of his cab.