“I’m going to catch that bastard,” said Broke. “We know where he was headed, after all.” “He can’t simply come back here after murdering Sheridan,” I pointed out. “And there aren’t any other settlements on the island, as far as I know. That means he must have access to a ship of some kind.”
“You’re right!” Broke hurried to the door. “I’ll inform the Ramsgate-tell her to locate the vessel. Then I’ll go after McCafferty.”
“I’ll assist you, of course,” I said, following him out. He was already halfway back to our quarters, where he kept the signal lamp.
Malcolm and I had just left the hut when two things happened almost simultaneously. First, I heard a thunderous detonation; immediately thereafter, I sustained a heavy blow that knocked me senseless.
Somewhere in the cold darkness, I heard a dull murmur. It quickly grew louder, speeding toward me and metamorphosing into a flood of words.
A voice was calling me. “Arthur! Hello, Arthur, can you hear me?”
I forced my eyelids open and tried to marshal my thoughts. At the same time, I became aware that I was in severe pain.
It was Malcolm who was bending over me. He was bleeding from a wound in the cheek-a long, deep gash but seemed quite unconscious of it. I urgently needed to point this out. The cut should be dressed at once. “You’re bleeding,” I told him. “Ah,” he said, “you’re back with us again!”
Colin Broke was standing behind him. I tried to get up, but my vision became blurred. When it cleared, I saw that Kinnock and Young were there, too. “Easy does it,” said Malcolm, helping me up.
I instinctively put my hand to the back of my head, which was the source of the throbbing pain, and felt warm
the blood beneath my fingers.
“It’s not too bad,” Malcolm said soothingly. “Nothing that can’t be patched up with a few stitches.”
“What on earth happened?” I asked. There had to be something wrong with my eyes. I seemed to be looking through a semitransparent sheet of glass.
“McCafferty left a delayed-action bomb behind,” I heard Broke say. “To cover his tracks and gain time. Unfortunately, you and Dr. Hurd were still near the hut when it went off.”
“McCafferty!” I blurted out. “We must get the swine. I’ll help you—I’m all right.”
“Your health comes first,” said Broke. His voice seemed to come from far away.
All at once, everything fell into place. “I know what’s going on here,” I cried. “The respirator!”.
The word reverberated inside my skull. And then, to my surprise, everything suddenly went black again.
Two weeks later I was sitting on the veranda sipping a cup of Earl Grey brought to me by Jean, my charming wife. The wound in the back of my head had been sutured by Malcolm on board the Ramsgate and had almost completely healed. It had been caused by a piece of debris from the explosion on Prins Karls Forland. I had an also-by way of a bonus-suffered concussion, but I’d recovered from that, too.