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The Limit: Chapter 42

Maudie, seriously wounded and driven by superhuman resolve, steps up his one-man war in the setting of Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach.

To read earlier chapters of Peter Lacey’s nail-biting crime thriller please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_limit/

Maudie’s injury rendered the Luger useless because he needed both hands to free the chamber. He dropped it on to the concrete and gripped the mesh to pull himself up. It hurt too much and he paused.

The engine below hooted again. It was an impatient sound. Toni was down there, still in danger. He had given his word and there wasn't a lot left any more but his word.

He reached out again and pulled. The pain reached a pitch where it could get no worse. It didn't matter any more. His remaining strength did.

When he was on his feet he looked at Curtis. The man appeared to be waiting patiently, leaning back against the wire wall, legs straight but no balance. The gun was still in his right hand by his side.

Maudie adjusted his own balance. His left shoulder was burning fiercely and his left side was numb. He let go of the rail and put his hand in his pocket.

"Hey, mister. You dropped your gun."

He looked round slowly. Watching with solemn eyes from the walkway were two boys, brothers. They were aged about eight and ten. It was the elder who had spoken. The younger continued to eat crisps. They had seen it all before, on television. This might be real but it wasn't new.

Further along, perhaps fifteen yards away, a girl of about eighteen also watched indifferently. Her companions had their backs to the rail and she was continuing to listen to their conversation while watching at the same time.

Perhaps she thought he was another drunk.

It was another slide for his kaleidoscope.

He turned away and walked towards Curtis. The knife, sticky with the unknown's blood, was in his hand. His left leg dragged more noticeably. His lungs were a furnace.

Curtis was alive and bleeding a lot beneath his jacket. His mouth was open but as Maudie neared he clamped it shut with effort and tried to raise the gun. His arm lifted, but not for enough. It dropped back to his side.

Maudie released the blade, held it before him from the waist, point up, and walked into him, using his body weight to push it in to the hilt.

They could have been embracing. Two inebriates full of false affection. Instead it was deadly affection. Maudie felt the man's breath gush on to his cheek. Then there was no more breath.
He pushed himself away from Curtis who, surprisingly,
remained upright. Forget the knife. Probably didn't have the strength to pull it out. The gun. Take the gun.

He did so, from limp fingers.

The hooting.

The train.

It was chugging. Leaving the station. He went down the
stairs, letting gravity take him, his good arm, the arm that
held the gun, hooked over the rail to guide him and keep him upright. When the stairs ended, he fell on to his knees on the concrete platform.

The first open carriages had moved past him. A family in the enclosed section looked at him curiously as they went by. There were two open carriages left. He stepped closer. Dyson and Toni were the only remaining occupants. They were in the first seats of the last carriage. Dyson's eyes were wild. Toni, by his side, was distraught.

They went past him.

He jumped.


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