It’s time for chapter four of our book of the month, Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins. Although the chapters are short, they are perfectly formed to deliver you one of our fine debuts…
A messenger was standing near the back exit of the Sviatopolk, white-faced, gripping his bicycle. Kantor dragged the machine out of his hands and rode off in pursuit of the dying horse,
the money and the giant. He found them in a lane off Broken Moons Prospect. Vaso had begun to unload the satchels of roubles, stacking them neatly in the gutter. The horse was dead. Vaso was inside the back of the car, filling it almost completely. Kantor leaned his bicycle against the wall and peered in.
Vaso looked back over his shoulder.
‘They were waiting for us,’ he said. His huge blue eyes peered into Kantor’s face as if from deep under water. ‘Inside the bank. They knew we were coming.’
Kantor looked away a fraction too late. In some odd instant of rapport, some unprotected momentary honesty, there was a flash of communication between the giant and the man which neither had intended. Kantor saw the start of it in the giant’s huge eyes and the changed way he held his massive shoulders.
‘You,’ said Vaso. ‘It was you that told them.’ He began to pull him- self backwards out of the strong-car.
‘Vaso,’ said Kantor quietly, ‘wait. It’s not how you think.’
But even as he spoke, Kantor had already taken the grenade from his pocket and shoved it hard into the crevice between the thighs of the giant.
Three pounds of explosive filler encased in a sphere of brittle iron. The release lever of a standard grenade is held in place by a pin. Once the pin is removed, only the grip of the bomber prevents the lever from springing open, firing the primer and igniting the fuse, which detonates the main charge with a ten second delay. But when Kantor thrust the grenade between Vaso’s legs, it was squeezed tight. The lever couldn’t spring open.
Vaso, alarmed but uncertain what had happened, hastily tried to back out. Kantor retreated until he was pressed against the wall of the building behind him, watching the giant reversing into the light. At the last moment, the bomb dropped free, rolled forward into the vehicle, and exploded. The force of it struck Kantor like his father’s fist used to. It cracked his skull backwards against the wall and the world slipped sideways. When it righted itself, the remains of Vaso were on the ground in front of him. The giant’s head, as big as a coal bucket, was smouldering. There was no skin on his face, but his lidless eyes still had life in them. He looked up mutely at Kantor and the big gap of his mouth moved slightly.
Kantor reached inside his coat for the revolver tucked in his belt. He brought it out, showed it to the giant, and fired two shots into his head.