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Black Ice: Chapter 14

Sam Craven sees yellow after being knocked unconscious while searching Icelandic beauty Solrun’s flat.

To read earlier chapters of Colin Dunne’s brilliant spy novel please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/black_ice/

It isn't red, it's yellow.

In books, they always say being knocked out gives you a red effect between the eyes. Well this one was a violent shade of mustard, and it swelled and heaved at the back of my eyes until I had to edge them open. Ouch. Close again. The yellow started ebbing and flowing and I realised, like it or not, I was alive.

On the whole, I didn't like it.

This time I opened my eyes and found myself face down on the carpet. A minute later I was face down in the bathroom, over the loo. I felt better for that. So I had a glass of water and did it all over again.

I looked at myself in the mirror. That was a mistake too. I'd gone the colour of candle-fat and I could swear there were sparks coming out of the top of my head where he'd hit me. Chamois jacket. While I was sitting there carefully working it all out, he must have coasted up in the lift and coshed me with a sputnik.

I had another glass of water which, after some difficult negotiations, my stomach decided to accept. Then I turned to go back into the living-room when I saw him.

He was framed in the doorway. Handsome, of course. Elegant, in the fine soft leather. But very very surprised. He should've been running away, I should've been catching him: instead we stood there trying to hypnotise each other.

Then it broke. I shouted something; he turned and fled, and I was so unsteady that I crashed over the sofa as I tried to race after him.

I got to the door in time to see the lift go. I got to the lift in time to see it had reached the ground. And I got back to the flat window in time to see a van tearing down the hill.

That was when I lost my second glass of water.

Luckily, I managed to grab the pan from the floor in time.

A pan? In the middle of the sitting-room floor? Once the urgency had passed, I studied it with some interest. One large pan, orange in colour, wooden of handle, and very heavy. For smacking someone over the head, it was a lot more useful than the scatter cushions or the bits of wicker.

While the latest attack of dizziness passed, I sat on the floor-cushion and had another look at the photo album. The last page had been torn out. Surprise surprise.

I put together the bits of my brain that were still undamaged and pointed them at this chaotic scene. They didn't do too well. Young Chamois wishes to retrieve photo of self so as not to be linked with Solrun. Yes? Well, possibly. So he sneaks in, smashes up the flat, sneaks out, sits reading Harpers until I arrive, sneaks back, wallops me over the head with pan, grabs photo and goes.

On balance, I thought not.

I decided to discard the theory that he carried large pans on his person on the off-chance of meeting a diurnalist in need of treatment. On wobbly legs I went through to the kitchen. Aha. One row of pans, orange with wooden handles. Mummy Pan, Baby Pan, but Big Daddy Pan was missing from the end hook.

So, I tried that one. As I sat admiring his photograph, he tiptoed past me into the kitchen, selected the senior pan, tiptoed back, and panned me. He then threw it down, grabbed the photograph, made his escape . . . and then popped back to see how I was. Little as I understand human behaviour, this didn't sound too convincing either. And if it didn't sound too good to me, how would it sound to Petursson? The flat suddenly looked a very good place not to be. I went.

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