William David



(West Country England)

The rain is hammering down, I am soaking wet, and vaguely aware of the drips running down my neck and seeping in to my shirt collar. As I lie on the grass verge my eyes become accustomed to a darkness that is only slightly relieved by the young moon, and slowly, I regain a sense of my surroundings and what has happened. Looking down I see that my right jacket sleeve is torn, and wiping my forehead I see the smear of blood on the back of my hand. It's not only rain that is giving me that trickling sensation on the forehead.

I need to get up bu t feel stiff, and looking down see that I am covered in mud and that my left trouser leg is torn, almost shredded. On my feet I am unsteady but I turn around; below, down the slope, away from the road I can make out the remains of two cars. Mine, a silver Range Rover upside down with the engine still running, the exhaust fumes puffing out of the tail pipe, and to the left a blue Volvo estate car on its side with it's badly crushed nose half way up the base of a large tree.

There is an overwhelming smell of petrol mixed with the pooling rain and, as I look, the driver’s door of the Volvo moves upwards. The driver is alive and trying to get out. I automatically move forward to help but there is a lick of flame which instantly engulfs the car and driver, then with an almighty bang the car explodes and a blast of hot air knocks me to the ground again, seconds later a second explosion as the Range Rover goes up as well.

As I come round and open my eyes, there is the flash of blue and red lights, a blazing arc light from up by the road and people in fluorescent yellow jackets scurrying around and talking in loud voices. Two figures are leaning over me and I feel a jab in my right arm, then I am hoisted up, and the image blurring, I am moved towards the open doors of an ambulance.


Three thousand miles away across the Atlantic Pete r Asimov waited for his guest. H e lay back in an armchair near the window sipping a Scotch that he had just poured out of a crystal decanter. He was tired and jet lagged, it had been a long flight from Kiev.

Looking around the room he mused; this is a nice place, shame that there isn’t the time to stay here more oft en. The Penthouse is quite extensive: a large living room, big enough to be furni shed with five lounges, a sixteen — seater dining table, and three large screen TVs, a bar, and three en-s uite bedrooms, each of which have balconies overlooking the city. The only fly in the ointment was the city, Washington! It all happened here so he had to be here sometimes to look after his various interests but he did not like the city.

There was a knock at the door and before he could respond it opened.

“Good morning Jack, thought you might not be coming,” said Asimov.

“I got held up and I only have ten minutes even now.”

“Where's your detail?”

“Outside the door, we need to talk in private.”

“Well, what can I do for you?”

“Don't piss me around Asimov, you know what we are here for. How are you going with that problem of mine?”

“Relax Jack, have a Scotch,” he said pouring him a large measure from the decanter and passing it to him. “In reality you should let Dalrymple go to the wall, someone would pick up the pieces. Unfortunately you and all the other shareholders would lose their money in the process, but that's life, you win some, you lose some.”

“It's all right for you Russian billionaires who robbed the state blind in the nineties, you can afford to lo se a few million here and there; for us poor politicians this kind of investment represents our pension!”

“Now I am feeling sorry for you,” Asimov goaded, but seeing that his guest was about to erupt with rage hurriedly continued. “I have a plan for one of my finance arms to acquire one of your competitors that happens to be a British company called Control Networks based in Bristol, England. We have already approached them and if we are successful and acquire them we can lose your cash issues in the funding for the acquisition and the future development requirements of the merged entity. The secondary benefit is that this other company has the technology to potentially solve your technical issues as well.”

He looked at Asimov in stunned silence, then, “what made you select them?”

“Why, is there a problem? Our research shows t hey happen to be a company that is doing very well, have a lot of upside potential, need money, and could provide the product solutions you need.”

“I agree they could, it ’ s just such a coincidence.”

“What is the coincidence? I don't get you.”

“Never mind,” he said quickly ignoring the question and hastily gathering his thoughts changed the subject. “H ow quickly can this be made to happen? Things are becoming critical. The CEO briefed me a few days ago and he was very down beat on the prospects.”

“Well, suggest to him that we could solve his cash flow problems at the same time as providing the funds for this acquisition; that should cheer him up. You will of course need his help and enthusiasm to make the acquisition work.”

“OK, I will do that, in the meantime you need to make sure this happens. You owe me, so don't let me down.”

I won't,” said Asimov.

There was a tap at the door, “ I need to get going,” he said looking at his watch as he moved towards the door.

“Nice seeing you again,” said Asimov, but the door was already closed and he was alone again. The truth was that there were still a few hurdles in the way of the acquisition, more than he had admitted. Getting over those hurdles would require a robust approach, to put it mildly! What could the ‘coincidence’ have been that his guest was reluctant to talk about?

Asimov resented the need to be involved in this. Over the past 15 years he had built up a large and vastly profitable business based on his acquisitions in Russia in the nineties. Those had been tough times and had frequently required extreme measures to ensure survival, but over the last 5 years he had been progressively cleaning up the corporation until it was now squeaky clean. The last thing he needed was an involvement in other peoples problems, although he acknowledged that there were favours to be repaid and more importantly favours that might still be needed in the future.


Somebody is trying to poke my eye out, I jerk my head, open my eyes and see a startled figure in a white coat leaning over. I slowly look around, I am in bed, and a nurse is standing next to the doctor who has tried to look at my pupil and in the process woken me up. I have a bandage on my head and right arm, a drip in my left arm, and I feel really sore as I try to move. The nurse moves to restrain me. “Please lie still”. It all becomes a blur as I lose consciousness again.

Some time later I wake and the room is empty. I lie there with my eyes closed, feeling sore and fragile, and not too concerned about where I am, just pleased to drift in and out of sleep. Hours later I wake again and start to think again and remember what has happene d, the memories are vivid. The repeated crash and bumping of the

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