Sneaking aboard and keeping his distance, David had seen the container and he was determined to be the latest addition as a passenger.
He had peered around a corner and watched as the man in yellow had placed ladders, climbed up, let in someone David had never met, and climbed down again after locking him inside.
Listening to the thuds coming from the container high above him, David was caught off-guard by the man in charge of the operation.
“Who are you?” the man asked. “What are you doing here?”
David spun his head around and he tripped over his words for a moment before saying, “I’m here for container 37. Sergei-”
“Let me guess. Sergei sent you too?”
The man in yellow shook his head. “Even if I wanted to, there’s no more space.” He flung his hands out in a gesture that suggested David should leave.
David stood there, soaked to the skin and defiant. “I need to get into that container. You don’t understand-”
“Oh, I don’t understand?” The man looked like the kind of man you didn’t want to argue with. “Let me tell you something. There is not sufficient space for four people in that container. There are two beds, there is one sofa, and there is enough food for two people if they don’t eat much.”
David tried to interrupt but there was no chance before the man continued, “Even if someone slept on the floor and didn’t eat anything, the air inlets and machinery up there are specialised. They cannot handle the load of four people. If I let you in, you’ll all suffocate.” He stepped closer to David and looked him right in the eyes. “Now do you understand?”
David nodded, looking artificially despondent as he turned around.
“The rest of the crew will return in fifteen minutes,” the man said, walking behind David, no doubt planning on escorting him back down the gangway and back onto dry land. “I delayed them as much as possible. You’ll need to go before they get back. You can take a ride in this popular container in a week.”
In a surge of desperation and sheer panic, David spun around and shoulder charged the man into the corner of a metal container directly behind him.
As the man collapsed into a yellow heap, David rushed past him into the slight clearing, looking for the first ladder. As he found it and grabbed hold, through the sound of the storm he heard a distinct sound that would cause anyone with anyone to stop as fear struck them. There was no doubt in his mind that the sound was that of a gun being cocked.
He moved backwards in slow motion, letting go of the ladder and keeping his hands where they could be seen. Turning his head at the same speed, he could see the man, recovered from the container collision, pointing a gun at David’s head.
David wore a rueful smile. I’ve got nothing to lose here. I either die here, or I die in prison.
“Sir, it’s time to leave,” the man said.
David shook his head. There was a rage building inside him. Like Jean Valjean, feeling an intense fury as the victim of an oppressive regime, his life had been ruined by his time in prison. Much like the man from Les Misérables, there was only one way he could truly be free. I need to start again, somewhere new. One man and his gun will not stop me.
Before the gunman knew how to react, David had thrown himself at him. As he collided there was an ear-splitting sound of a shot being fired, whistling past his left ear and bouncing of steel somewhere nearby.
“You will not stop me!” David shouted in the face of the man who seemed to be frozen with fear. There was no resistance, no attempt to fend him off. David backed away a step, as the events of the past few seconds came into sharp focus.