Novel Name : Hot Revenge Box Set 2

Chapter 2

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The car drives into the night, taillights, glowing gold through the exhaust. Ross stands silently by.

“Time for me to go too.”

“Good luck, James. I’ll be listening.” He offers his hand and I shake.

Then, bag in hand, I set off down the dark streets.



The night is icy, the ground slick with frost and a breeze, slight though it is, bites at fingers and ears,
even through the gloves and the woollen caps both Klempner and I are wearing.

Slipping from one shadow to another, we skirt the luridly lit front entrance of Club Electric, moving
around the side.

“Don’t slip on the ice,” mutters Klempner. “You’d end up in the canal.”

The water, black and unwelcoming, ripples sluggishly, assorted unsavoury-looking objects bobbing at
the surface.

“No, thanks… How are you planning on getting inside? I’m assuming you weren’t planning on the front

“No. He probably has the back covered too.”

“Fire escape?”

Klempner shrugs, noncommittally. “Maybe.”

“So, what then?”

He brandishes the wooden carrycase he’s been toting since he first arrived with his armoury.

“And that is…?”

He kneels, unclipping the case. It opens into two halves, lying flat, to reveal inside what looks like a
gun, sort of, and various components, nested into hollows in packing foam.

“A harpoon gun? And you plan to use that how exactly? I know James talked about hunting whales.
Not that I wouldn’t be happy to see Finchby with one of those through his chest, but…”

“It’s a line thrower.” Klempner raises eyes to high above.

There, above what would once have been loading access for, what was then, a warehouse, a mix of
silhouettes and dull glints mark the rusted remains of ancient winch and pulley systems jutting from the

Klempner strolls to and fro, apparently measuring height or angle by eye. “What are you like at
climbing? Ever done any?”

“Klempner, that’s got to be, sixty… seventy feet…”

“Yes. Have you done any climbing?”

“A bit of rock-climbing when I was a teenager and of course some rope work in the gym. But nothing
like…” I let my eyes slide upward: a solid wall of smoothly constructed brickwork, damp in the night air,
slick in the winter freeze. “… nothing like that.”

“If you can climb a rope in a gym, you can do this. It’s just a longer stretch.” He cranes his neck, looking
up. “Which of those looks the most secure, would you say?”

“You have got to be kidding. Trust our weight to one of those? They’re decades old. There can’t be
more than rust and hope holding them together.”

“You want to get inside or not? We can’t use the entrances. There’s no windows at all for the first two
stories and the ones above that are barred. Oh, and for the avoidance of doubt, we’ll be trusting my
weight to it, not yours.”

“Your weight? Why yours?”

“You're heavier than me, by quite a bit. I'll go up first, get the rope anchored to whatever else I can find
up there. Then you can follow.”

“Klempner, that’s just not…”

“Got any better ideas?”

“Since you ask, no.”

“Well then.”

“What’s your idea from there? Hoping there’s access from the roof?”

He shrugs. “There usually is for these places. Services shafts, ventilation… Whatever. And if there isn’t
any ready-made, we might make an access. Through the roof tiles perhaps.”

He looks up again, sucking at his teeth. “If we’re pushed, I suppose we could tackle the bars on those
upper windows, but I don’t much like the idea of dangling sixty feet up for the length of time that would
take. Even in the dark, we’d be too visible if anyone came round.”

He extracts the ‘gun’ from the packing, assembling parts. It could be a shotgun except for the unusually
short barrel and strapped below the barrel, a canister, loaded with coiled cord.

Then a long brass pole, with a loop to one end… He glances up. “The projectile…” he explains, without
waiting for my question.

I watch in some fascination. “You’ve done this before.”

He huffs. “Once or twice.”

“You’ve led an interesting life, haven’t you?”

“You could say so.” He fiddles with the cord, smoothing over a kink. Then knotting cord to the loop, he
loads the projectile into the front of the barrel where it protrudes, dangling the cord, then snaps fingers
at me. “Pass me one of those cartridges.”

I ease one from its slot. “What is it the Chinese say? May you live in interesting times?”

“There’s that...” He pushes the cartridge into the breech, clicking it home. “… But it’s not as though I’m
cut out for afternoon tea with the vicar.”


His eyes rise to mine. “You going to tell me what the deal is with you and the Haswell woman? You’re
supposed to be Jenny’s husband.”

“One of them.”

“Alright, one of them. But what’s with you and Beth Haswell? You seem pretty chummy with her, but no-
one blinked. Not even her own husband. And I’d not have thought Richard Haswell was the type to sit
back while his wife…”

“Richard offered it. Charlotte has two husbands. I have two wives. We’re a five-cornered family.”

He says nothing for long seconds. Then, “And Jenny’s happy with that?”

“She was one of the instigators.”

Klempner snaps the gun closed. “Stand back. Just because it spits line instead of bullets it’s no less a
firearm and it’s going to be fiddly.”


“Because this isn’t really the job it was designed for. It’s a line-thrower but it’s intended to be fired
horizontally; for sea rescue and similar. I have to get it up and over one of those brackets so the line
will catch. Then we can follow on with a rope to take real weight. This stuff’s good to one-twenty
pounds. Not enough to take me and certainly not enough for you.”

“Why just one of the brackets? Why not aim to straddle two or more if you can, then there’s more than
a single support if one of them fails?”

Klempner sniffs. “I like that idea.” He aims upwards, sighting along the length of the shaft, then fires.

The brass projectile streaks upwards, trailing its cord. As it approaches its target it flies straight as an
arrow, but then overshooting, rises above the roof and abruptly veers off-course, taking the cord with it.

“Fuck…” Klempner cranes to see. “Must be a wind blowing up there.”

As it falls back, the cord misses the brackets and the projectile clatters onto the concrete.

In my peripheral vision, something shifts… a brighter patch in the darkness.

“Someone’s coming.”

Freezing hard back against the wall, at the last moment, we turn faces away from the betraying beam
as a figure comes around the corner…

Two figures… Matched silhouettes, behind the glare of a torch, accompanied by floating red embers
and the scent of cigarette smoke.

“What d’you think it was? I didn’t hear anything…”

“Well, I did. Some sort of clanging noise.”

“Probably kids or crack-heads.”

“That’s what they pay us to find out isn’t it.”

The beam swings through the darkness, frozen fog a-glitter in the air as it moves, then passes over the
trash bins.

With a yowl, a cat streaks out from between the bins, knocking one of the cans flying as it goes. Then
darting between the legs of the recoiling guards, it vanishes into the night.

“Fucking vermin. I’ll tell Finchby he needs to put down some poison.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to poison the rats instead?”

“Well that’ll take the cats too, won’t it.” He tosses his cigarette butt at the trash, a small red ember
arcing through the darkness to fall glowing to the ground by the bins. “C’mon, I’m fucking freezing.”

As the bootsteps recede, I draw breath and then realise I'd been holding it. There’s a distant clunk and
all falls quiet again. “Want to give it another try?”

Klempner is already reloading: a fresh canister of cord; a fresh cartridge. He stands where he stood
before, then eyeing upwards, repositions himself, aims and fires.

Again, the projectile whistles upwards, the cord unravelling to follow behind. At the top of its arc, it
hangs, glittering, then falls…

… and this time drops squarely over one of the brackets.

“Not two?”

“Can’t have everything.” Klempner is already taking a coil of rope from his pack. As cord and projectile
touch ground, he’s already knotting one end of the cord to the rope, then hauling on the other, up and
over the ancient bracket, then down again. In under two minutes, our climbing rope is in place.

Klempner tugs experimentally, then hoists himself, his full weight on it. Nothing much happens.

“Off we go,” he mutters. “I’ll go up first. Once I’m up, I’ll re-anchor, then you send the bags up next.
Then you come last.”

“Fine. Be careful. With the freeze, it’s probably icy.”

He sniffs and nods, then, one hand over the other, feet propped against the brickwork, ‘walks’ up the

I watch as he ascends.

How old are you?

Old enough to be Charlotte’s father…

And you climb that wall like a monkey…

The dangling end falls still, then jerks. Quickly I attach Klempner’s bag of tricks and tug. In a series of
jerks, it rises, vanishes into darkness, then the rope falls back. My bag next. That too is hauled
upwards and the end of the rope drops back.

It's been a while since I last did any climbing, several years in fact. The rope feels unfamiliar in my
hands as I haul myself upwards.

And as I crane upwards, the wall, sheer, vertical, smooth, looms vertiginously above me.


Klempner’s voice hisses down. “Michael, move your ass. We don’t have all night.”

He did it…

So can I…

My pride stinging, I grab at the rope. Feet propped up against the wall, knees flexing as I ‘walk’ up,
hauling myself, arm-over-arm up and ever up the brick surface.

At about the half-way point, biceps beginning to burn, I stop for breath.

Klempner’s voice hisses down from above. “Michael, what the fuck are you doing down there? This
isn’t a sight-seeing tour.”

Smart bastard…

And, filling my lungs again, I pull up from my right arm, reaching, and pushing up from the feet again…

… and my feet skid...

I don’t know if the brickwork is iced or just sheened in condensation, but the soles of my boots slide like
some old slips-on-the-banana-skin joke, lose contact with the wall and abruptly, I'm dangling…

Caught in mid-movement, my left arm reaching up, my entire weight drops onto my single right hand.
For a heart-stopping second, the rope slides, the leather of the glove hot against my palm and my

heartbeat accelerates from andante to allegro in the space of a couple of beats before I snap my left
hand into place and regain my grip.


For a moment, all I can do is dangle, spinning. The darkness below me, which I had taken to be a kind
of uniformly black pit, is revealed as a mosaic of light and dark and grey which swirls under me
alarmingly. All around, the lights of the City draw streaks of red and amber and white across my

“Michael!” The voice is a hiss from the darkness above. “What’s happening?”

“Wall’s iced. Gimme a minute.”

“I’m coming down…”

“No, just give me a second…”

“You alright?”

“Got a stick handy?”

“A stick?”

“To push my heart back down my throat.”

A snort, then, “You coming or not?”

“I'm coming.” And with that, shifting my grip…

Thank the fuck for gloves…

… I swing my feet back to the wall propping myself once, continuing my ascent. And this time, instead
of arm over arm, I inch my way up, first my left hand, then my right, both hands on the rope all the time.

The metal prop emerges from the darkness…

No Klempner…

“Where are you?”


From a couple of feet above me, he reaches down, offering his hand. I take it, and as he hauls me up,
my other hand snaps reflexively onto the edge of the roof.

“Swing up and over. You can stand on the other side.”

Hooking my heel up over the edge never felt so good. I find myself on the inside of a small wall and
standing upright.

“We’re in luck,” says Klempner. “Walkable roof and what looks like ready-made access…” He follows
my downward gaze. “You weren’t supposed to stop to admire the view you know.”


He crooks his arm, winding the rope around between hand and elbow in a neat coil then stows it back
in his rucksack. “Of course, it’s harder for you. You have at least thirty pounds on me.”

My teeth ungrit…

“On the other hand,” he continues, a spark in his eye, “… You also have twenty years on me.”

“Klempner, if it had been James with you instead of me, would you spend your time needling him like

He seems to consider. “No,” he says at length. “But then I don’t think James would have made it up that
wall. He was right, that leg of his would have disabled him for this.”

My ire rises again. “That leg as you put it…”

“… was a wound honourably received. But he needs to be more careful. I’ve been in far more gun
battles than he has, but I spend my time dodging bullets. Not putting myself in the way of them.”

There’s no moon and only the crystal glitter of winter stars above. Below us, the odd cracked
streetlamp reflects orange from the canal before vanishing behind other similar warehouses, mainly
derelict. And beyond, the City lies, in a sparkling mosaic of buildings and moving traffic.

But up here, it’s dark.

The footing beneath us is slick with more than just ice. In the torchlight, moss or algae coats lead and
slate, a sheen of slime under the boots.

Klempner’s ‘access’ is a straightforward dormer door, built-in between slates and lead flashing.

The door’s pretty solid. Reinforced steel and with the kind of lock that says visitors aren't welcome.

Even if he didn't expect burglars up here, he was prepared for them. Barred from the inside at the very

“Can you hear anything?”

“No. Does Finchby have anything on this top level?”

“Not that I’m aware of, but as I said, I can’t claim to know the place well. My visits were limited. But how
many would try to escape this way? What would they do? Fly?”

Klempner kneels, fishing in his rucksack.

“What are you looking for?”

“Semtex. Blow the lock out.”

“That's likely to make quite a bang, and it'll be inside the building. They won't mistake that for a cat and
a trash can. Can’t you shoot it out?”

“You’ve watched too many movies. Firing a gun at a metal lock’s just a good way of getting a bullet
bounce back in your face.” Klempner starts fiddling at the door. “It’s only a small charge and he’s on the
lower levels. We'll have to risk it.”

I cast my eyes over the surrounding roof section. “Klempner, wait a minute.”

He straightens up. “What for?”

Sometimes people don't see the obvious.

Unslinging the axe from my shoulders, I slip the edge of the blade under the end of a tile, then ease in
and twist. And the whole thing lifts, pivoting on a single nail on the top edge.

And below, there's not so much as under-drawing. I'm looking directly down to an empty space.

Klempner chuckles. “Well, fuck me. They fit a door like that and…”

“… and It doesn't occur to them that a slate roof is essentially a series of overlapping flaps. Get your
rope out again.”

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