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Smith glanced towards the Ladies' Toilet to confirm that the girl had not yet appeared, then, controlling his inner sense of terror with all the strength he could muster, walked very deliberately up to the door of the red channel and placed his hold-all on the desk. The young uniformed officer came over to meet him.

"Good evening," Smith began with an affected cheerfulness.

"Good day, Sir," said the young Asian in perfect English. "Do you have something to declare?"

Smith casually unzipped the hold-all and started to take things out, beginning with the Chinese sweet-box. "Well, yes," he said in a matter-of-fact tone, "I thought I should talk to you because I bought this cam-corder in Hong Kong, and I'll be taking it back to England when I leave. I have the purchase receipt..." He fished around in his breast pocket, "Ah yes. Here we are!" He handed the document to the young official. "I thought it was better to let you see it than to take it through the green channel," he added.

The man took the receipt and looked at it. "Yes, Mr. ....Smith. You are very conscientious. This is what we call a temporary import. There is no problem whatever. I shall give you a note of authorization..." he started to fill-out a small docket, "you must show this to the customs officer as you leave the country, together with your Certificate of Purchase. There will be no problem whatever." He smiled and handed the docket to Smith. Then he started re-packing the hold-all, beginning with the cam-corder, then the sweet-box. "You know," he said in a confidential tone, "you could probably have bought that for even less here."

"Really? Well thanks for telling me. I'll remember that the next time."

So saying, Smith stepped through the channel with his two items of luggage and strolled innocently across the main concourse. He whistled tunelessly as he went, mainly to calm his nerves. If he still smoked, he thought to himself, he would light one up right now.

Out of the corner of his eye he fancied that he caught a glimpse of the girl from the 'plane emerging from the green channel. He was careful not to turn around or give any indication that he had seen her.

Naturally she was going to follow him. After all, he had her heroin. But there was a good chance that she didn't know that he knew. If she got to him he might be able to bluff it out. But it would be better if she didn't get to him.

He hurried along as briskly as he could, out of the main doorway, where he felt the full blast of the still intense evening sun and drew in his first lungfull of the warm tropical air, no longer processed through the terminal block's air-conditioning. It made him stop for an instant and catch his breath.

Outside was a broad service road crowded with taxis, passengers, and three-wheeled motor-rickshaws and across from that was a coach-park, and beyond it a large multi-storey car-park, and the beginning of the main road in to the city. He walked smartly across towards the car-park and the main road, ignoring the shouts of: "You want taxi, Sir?", "You want Rolex watch, Sir?", "You want nice girl, Sir?", "You want chicken-wing on stick, Sir?" and all the rest of it until he got to the road. There was a bus-stop in front of a line of food-stalls, and after that a line of parked motor rickshaws plying for hire, their drivers shouting for him to "Sit down please!", "Get in, please!", "Where you want to go?!", "Very cheap rickshaw!" and other things in this vein. The people who worked these terrifying little devices had a reputation for driving like suicidal lunatics, so Smith reasoned that they would be difficult in the extreme to follow. He selected one driven by a particularly noisy and excitable-looking young man and flung his bags into the cage at the back.

"Just get moving!" he shouted to the youngster as he climbed in, "Towards the city! As fast as you can!"

This instruction delighted the driver, especially as Smith had not even bothered to bargain with him about the fare.

"Yes very much, Sir!" the boy chirped eagerly, "You the boss. We really get moving!"

The little machine roared into life, bucked like a frightened horse, and sped off at break-neck speed, weaving through the traffic and the pedestrians like a drunken Hollywood stunt-man trying to win a bet. It was all Smith could do to hold on and keep from throwing-up.

"Okay! Okay!" he repented, "That will do! Will you slow down, please? Please! For God's sake slow down!"

Reluctantly, the driver slowed down slightly and the vehicle stopped swaying. With a relieved lurch all three of the wheels made contact with the ground at the same time. Smith scoured the road behind. He could see no sign of a following vehicle.

"Thanks," he breathed more quietly. "I thought somebody might try to follow us."

The driver was delighted. "Somebody follow? Like in James Bond? I know all James Bond films. Dr. No, Goldfinger, Man with Golden Gun....." he continued to recite titles until Smith interrupted him.

"Can you take me to a hotel? Nothing too big. Just somewhere ordinary, this side of the city."

"No problem, Mr. James Bond. I take you very good hotel, very clean, very cheap. My brother work there, behind bar."

Smith relaxed slightly and started to take some account of the scenery they were passing through. It was a new dual-carriageway, most of it raised on concrete support-towers above older, meandering dirt-roads and wide overgrown canals sided by houses on tall bamboo stilts. People fished or commuted in long graceful row-boats and in the distant rice fields he could see men and women tending the crop, their heads protected by the traditional circular disk-like hats. On one minor road a cart pulled by a water-buffalo progressed so slowly with its burden of what looked like red gas-cylinders that it was quite difficult to tell whether it was moving at all. It was a pleasant, endlessly interesting succession of unfamiliar sights, but Smith was far too preoccupied to give it any real attention.

He was carrying a bloody great wadge of heroin! How much, he wondered? It was quite heavy. He tried to imagine what a one-kilo bag of tea or sugar felt like. He decided it was probably an even kilo. So how much was it going to be worth? He really had no idea. He tried to remember news reports on the radio that he had barely listened to: "Today customs officers seized one kilo of pure heroin, estimated street-value...." He was making it up. He couldn't really remember. And even if he knew what the price should be, how was he going to get rid of it? For that kind of thing you needed contacts.

He remembered reading somewhere that the price of hard drugs in this city was very high, as a result of a recent major clamp-down on the trade. A kilo could be worth millions of dollars. He could live well - very well - just on the interest. It could go into a numbered Swiss bank account. He could pay a crooked lawyer to set it all up for him. There was no hurry. The thing was to go slowly, cautiously. Not to make any mistakes. But first, he had to find a buyer. And to watch that he didn't get cheated. Or murdered. That was the most important thing. Not to get into a panic and start getting careless.

As the journey in towards the city center continued, Smith felt his breathing return to normal and his pounding heart settle back into its normal rhythm. He needed to be calm now. Calm and sensible. He needed to think out what his next move should be.


The hotel to which the driver took him was relatively old and quite traditional in appearance, and the heavy hardwood doors led to a high vaulted lobby with a worn genuine marble floor. There were dusty oil-paintings of local rural scenes on the walls, and the receptionist sat within a heavily-paneled hardwood booth, with wooden pigeon-holes and a huge board of numbered keys hanging from hooks behind her. There was a tall display of dried grasses which had been died in muted tones of blue and purple in a vase on the desk, and everything smelled faintly of disinfectant and furniture-polish. Smith would not have chosen this place left to his own devices but at this moment anywhere would do.

He checked-in and insisted on carrying his own bags upstairs. At least the place was quiet, he saw only a handful of people in the downstairs lounge and nobody in the elevator or anywhere on the landing or the corridor that led to his room.

He locked his door, took the sweet-box out of the hold-all, and sat on the bed staring at it.

There were decisions to be made right away: only little ones, perhaps, but important ones. Where was he going to put the box? In the hotel safe, perhaps? No, that would look odd. A man doesn't store a box of sweets in the hotel safe. Just leave it in the drawer of the bedside table? No, too dangerous. What if the chamber-maid decided to steal a few sweets when she was cleaning the room? The only safe policy seemed to be to keep it with him at all times. He needed some kind of secure shoulder-bag. He didn't really have one. The camera case, perhaps?

He unpacked the new cam-corder and found that the box of sweets fitted quite snugly in the leather case that had been supplied with it, and it had a strong neck-strap. That was good. It wouldn't look too suspicious to go around with a camera. Most tourists did that.

He sat on the bed once again. What was he going to tell them at Orion Air? They would expect him to report for training in the morning. He would probably need most of the day tomorrow to make arrangements about finding a safe place for the money. He mightn't even have sold the stuff by then. He used his bedside phone to call the local office of the Airline and reported himself ill with a tummy-upset. No awkward questions were asked. That might even buy him a couple of days if he needed them.

He lay back on the bed and an indeterminate time passed while he tried to imagine the details of his new life. Where would he live? Would he give up work and become a playboy? Would he take flying-lessons and perhaps buy a light aircraft as a weekend toy? Should he put the bulk of the money into some kind of business that would make it grow, maybe something that would amuse him as well? He had recently become interested in scuba-diving. Maybe he could set up a little diving school in some hot country, employ instructors, buy a boat and a compressor.... properly run it could be very lucrative....

Outside the window, dusk was beginning to fall. He pulled himself up from the bed, took off his clothes, and, naked but still comically carrying the leather camera-case, made his way to the en-suite bathroom and had a shower. He hung the case on the towel-hook by the door, where he could watch it every second of the time.

This is no good, he thought to himself, I'm getting paranoid about that thing. I have to relax. Have to act naturally. So, what would be the natural thing to do next? Have some food, he supposed. It was a good many hours since he had eaten. When he had eaten, he would give his attention to the question of how to sell his merchandise.

He put on some fresh clothes, planted the strap of the camera-case firmly around his neck, and made his way down to the lobby, this time using the stairs. The staircase was old and wooden and creaked in a friendly well-used sort of way as he descended.

As he came out into the lobby and glanced towards the open door of the lounge, he stopped dead and uttered a profanity. There, nursing a cocktail and looking straight back towards him, was the girl from the plane. She was still wearing the same blue business-suit and her face bore an expression of almost unbearable anxiety. There was no point in walking away. She knew where he was and she could follow him, or come back, perhaps with friends. The situation needed to be resolved here-and-now.

He cursed again under his breath and walked up to her.

"I think we need to talk," she said timidly, her voice trembling slightly and the glass in her hand very faintly shaking.

"Not here," he replied gruffly, "come up to my room."

She meekly followed him to the elevator. There was another man waiting to use it, so that when it arrived the three of them got in together. Smith and the girl maintained complete silence until they reached Smith's floor. He ushered her out of the elevator and in to his room.

"Okay," he said with an air of distaste, closing and locking the door behind him, "talk."

She seemed dumb-struck. Smith decided he had better begin. "How did you find me here?" he demanded.

"I got a good look at the taxi that you left in. One of the other drivers knew whose it was. I managed to talk to the driver, and he remembered where he had taken you. He called you 'Mr. James Bond'."

Smith nodded.

"I... I think you know that you have something that doesn't belong to you..." she stammered, obviously finding it very difficult to broach the subject.

"I didn't ask for it."

"No, that's true, and I don't know what you intend to do with it... but the truth is, it's no use to you. It can only get you killed. If you take it... from the man who owns it... he's going to follow you forever until he kills you. I'm not trying to frighten you or threaten you. It's simply the truth." There was something about the girl's face that made Smith think she wasn't lying. "And he'll kill me as well. There's no question about that," she added in a voice that was little more than a whisper.

"Is that what you've come here to tell me?" Smith sneered, "that some drug-dealer is going to hunt me to the ends of the earth if I don't give it back? Not very original, is it?"

"I don't know what you mean. It's the truth. That package belongs to a man named Harry Miller. He's an American. He's one of the most feared men in this country. If he doesn't get it back he's going to kill us both, no matter how long it takes him, even if it costs him more than the package is worth. That's the kind of man he is."

Smith thought quickly. Obviously she would not have told this Miller person that she had fouled-up. At this moment, the only person who knew that he had the package was the girl. There was absolutely nothing to link the two of them. They had traveled separately, they had left the airport separately, even the man in the elevator probably wouldn't have realized that they were together. There was no way Harry Miller could connect Smith to the disappearance of his heroin. Not if the girl disappeared too. Smith had come this far, was he going to give in now? Did he possess the stomach for what had to be done?

"I don't want to die," he said in a flat monotone. "stay there and I'll get it for you."

He turned and retreated into the bathroom, pretending that this was where he had hidden the package. It gave him a moment to think. He opened the camera-case and took out the sweet-box.

It was perfectly obvious. If he wanted to keep his windfall, the girl would have to die. She was the only one who knew who he was or what he looked like. The only one who could link him to this affair in any way whatsoever.

As he emerged from the bathroom he handed the box to the girl and stood behind her as she gently eased open the flap to examine the contents. He saw her shoulders slump down, heard her breath escape in a gentle sigh of relief as she saw that the plastic bag of white powder was intact.

Smith reached towards her with his right arm, measuring the distance between her slender neck and the bend of his elbow.

In one swift movement he looped his arm around her neck, his elbow beneath her chin, and tightened the lock with all the strength at his command. She could make no sound, but for a few crazed seconds she tore at his arm with her finger-nails, flailing wildly with her legs. He tightened his grip even more, hurting his own muscles with the effort, hoisted her little body into the air by bending his own to one side, and felt some delicate structure in her neck snap. Then she became totally limp and still.

Smith stopped dead in his tracks. He could not believe what he had been about to do. Sweat broke out on his forehead and an involuntary shudder went through his body. He stumbled forward and almost collapsed on to the bed, felt his stomach begin to retch. He had never even touched that stuff, merely looked at it through a piece of transparent plastic, and yet it had almost turned him into another person.

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