Jane Jago’s latest hard-hitting novel, serialised for you to enjoy!
Afterwards, Rod admitted to Jim that the journey from Glasgow to Castle Ellan seemed like the longest hour of his life. He sat staring into the middle distance, while Sam checked on the contents of the two back packs the man in the jumpsuit placed on the ground at his feet.
“Good enough,” he said. “Now. We need to set up a safe bed. He may still be sleepy. So what we need is somewhere he can be safe while being cuddled. That will be Rod’s job. I’ll need to be able to get to the other side of the kid to monitor him.”
Jumpsuit man looked at him soberly.
“You really are worried aren’t you.”
“I am. And I hope I’m over reacting. But if they’ve had the poor little sod drugged for a day and a half without proper care, he could be getting to the stage where he isn’t breathing easily. Or. Well never mind. Just take it from me that I’m worried.”
“Right. Now I’m worried too. If we pull up those three seats over there that’s where the casualty station is. We can put an inflatable mattress in their place, and anchor it down. We’ve got some big soft duvet sleeping bags. Will that do?”
“Yes. Good enough. I can get around it. Can you get an oxygen line there if necessary?”
“Can do. Is there anything else?”
“Not that I can think of.”
“Right. I’ll make it happen.”
Four big men came forwards removed the seats, then inflated and tied down a mattress, which they padded with three big soft, downy sleeping bags. Then they saluted Sam and went back to their own seats.
“Almost there,” the pilot’s voice came through Sam’s headphones. “ETA five minutes.”
Then the radio guy came through.
“The kid is moving a bit more now. Could be waking up.”
Sam prodded Rod’s arm.
“If your nephew is starting to wake up, you need to be with me. And we have to get to him fast, before they either frighten him or give him another shot of whatever they’ve drugged him with. I don’t want either thing to happen. So…”
Rod dragged himself back from wherever he had been. “Right. I’ve got the plans of the castle on this tablet, and Bill is just here. We reckon upstairs. We go in by this door, and God help anyone who gets in our way. Who is in our party?”
Six brawny men stood up.
“C’mere and fix the plan in your minds. No need to be polite on the way in.”
The men nodded soberly.
“Boomer boys, how long do you need to set your charges?”
“Fifteen minutes. Then we have twenty minutes to get the fuck out of there before she goes up.”
“Right. So. You wait here until we get Bill back to the chopper. Then you go in.”
At that moment, the helicopter touched down gently. The doors opened immediately and Sam found himself running alongside Rod and a group of brawny jumpsuit-clad men. They reached a side door, and Rod kicked it open just as a pair of men were trying to close and lock it.
“Upstairs. On the left.”
One of their men stopped to guard the door, while the rest of them pounded up the stairs. The voice in Sam’s ear told him they were nearing the locator. He found himself at the front of the crowd and booted open the door at the head of the stairs. A woman was bending over the figure of a child with hypodermic syringe in her hand. Sam kicked her. Hard. He felt bones break. She fell down screaming and one of the men in Sam’s wake punched her scientifically on the corner of the jaw. Sam hit the ground at the side of the bed.
“Rod. Get here and talk to William please. I need you to try and wake him up.”
“Billy. Wake up little man. It’s uncle Rod.”
The small boy’s voice was a thread of sound.
“Uncle Rod. Where are you?”
Rod dropped to his knees beside Sam.
“I’m here. Me and my mates have got you safe now. This is doctor Sam. He wants to have a look at you. Is that OK?”
Sam took a bottle of water from his pack and gently helped William to sit up.
“Drink,” he said as he held the bottle to the lad’s lips. “Gently, little man. There’s plenty. Can I listen to your chest now?”
“Hold him against you Rod.”
Sam put a stethoscope to William’s chest.
“Not bad,” he said. “I’ll just give him a whiff of oxygen. It’ll help. Bill, will you be scared if I put a mask on your face for a minute? It’ll help you breathe better.”
“I won’t be scared,” the child whispered, and Sam put the mask over his mouth and nose.
“Breathe deeply. It will make you feel better.”
“Okay. Let’s get him into the chopper. I’ll carry him. The rest of you will probably need to guard us.”
Rod clapped a hand on Sam’s shoulder.
“Right. Run. We have your back.”
Sam scooped up child and oxygen cylinder.
“Okay Bill, we’re gonna run. Is that OK? I won’t drop you.”
William nodded, and Sam set off down the stairs as fast as he could safely go. Out of the door they went, and across the grass to the waiting helicopter. Sam ran as fast as he could, silently thanking God for all the hours he spent in the gym. As he reached the chopper, the door opened and he handed his burden into the arms of one of the waiting crewmen. He jumped into the machine, hearing gunfire behind him and felt something sting his shoulder.
“Bastards,” he said. “Anybody else hit?”
“Yeah. One.” Rod said.
“No. Shoulder. Flesh wound.”
“Okay. I’ll have a look after we’ve settled Bill. You come sit with him and hold him so he’s sitting up. And chat to him. I don’t want him going back to sleep yet.”
“Right. I will. But what about you? Are you hit?”
“Sort of. Just a scrape across the biceps. I’ll spray it and shove a plaster on it.”
He suited action to words, before turning his gaze towards the boss of the jumpsuit men.
“Is there any problem with them shooting at the chopper?”
“Nah. It’s armoured. Even the glass. And they don’t seem to have any serious shooters. Mostly sawn offs, a couple of two-twos and a few handguns.”
“Good. I’ll look at your bloke’s shoulder as soon as. Can you get him out of his jumpsuit?”
Sam turned his attention to the child in Rod’s lap. He grinned down at him and carefully removed the oxygen mask.
“How you doing Billy Boy?”
“I feel awfully sick.”
“I can give you an injection to stop that.”
He saw William’s involuntarily wince.
“What is it little man? Did they hurt you when they injected you with their drugs?”
“Yes. They hurt me a lot.”
Sam stroked his head.
“Well we won’t give you an injection then. I have some pills, though they won’t work quite as well.”
William studied his face for a moment.
“Will you hurt me if you give me an injection?”
“No. I promise I won’t.”
The little boy held his sleeve.
“Then you can give me a shot. I feel so very sick.”
“That’s a boy.”
Sam took a local anaesthetic spray from his bag and lifted the sleeve of William’s T-shirt. What he saw there made him tighten his mouth.
“That arm looks a bit sore. Is the other one the same?”
Rod hugged the small figure very tightly and his face was stony. Sam managed a grin for William.
William nodded and Sam sprayed the small thigh liberally. Then he prepared the anti-nausea shot. Before William had a chance to flinch the injection was done.
The little boy was jubilant.
“I didn’t feel a thing.”
“Good. So will you trust me enough to let me give you a shot of antibiotics? You are very cold and you might have picked up a bug.”
“Yes. You won’t hurt me.”
Sam swallowed around a big lump in his throat then gave his small patient a shot of penicillin.
“Can somebody open my bag?” he said. “There’s a red jumper in the top, and I need it.”
A hand passed him the soft wool and he pulled it over William’s head.
“Arms through. It’s much too big but it will help to warm you. And now, stick your legs inside this sleeping bag. Better?”
William actually managed a little giggle before rubbing his face in the softness of the sweater.
“It smells like my Daddy and it’s as soft as clouds. Can I go sleep now?”
“You can. Cuddle into uncle Rod and keep nice and snuggly.”
William turned into his uncle’s huge chest and gave a small sigh before falling asleep.
“Sam,” Rod said “this jumper is cashmere.”
“And? That child is cold. No contest. Now I’m going to look this gunshot wound before the boomer boys get back.”