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The White Sea

Extract

The floor of Kostas Gatsos’s cell was uneven and he could feel that the brick walls were unplastered. There was no light or furniture, and no window frames. He had tried pacing with his arms outstretched and the space seemed to be about seven metres by five. Was he in storeroom? A basement? An oversized grave?

He had been pushed inside what must have been some weeks ago. Without a watch or a view of the sky, he had no idea of how many days had passed. His captors opened the steel door at the far end from where his stinking mattress lay and left a chunk of bread and a bottle of water, but he had the suspicion they did so at irregular intervals. Were they deliberately disorienting him?

He tried to remember what had happened after Pavlos was shot. He had been rushed through the house to the front door, where a hood had been put over his head. He had seen Boris in a pool of blood on the marble of the hall and one of the maids was sprawled in the corner, he hoped only unconscious. A heavy hand had pushed him down to the floor of a vehicle, his shoulders jammed between the front and rear seats. The driver was skilful and the engine smooth. At times he thought they were going uphill, but he couldn’t be sure. Then they stopped and he was pulled out. Someone took his right forearm and led him to what he soon realised was a boat, though he had no idea of its size. He could smell the sea from the loose bottom of the hood and hear the roar of a powerful engine. His hands were cuffed behind his back and he was pushed into what he assumed was a cabin. He could only feel about with his head. It seemed he was on a mattress.

‘Lie still, old man,’ came a coarse voice in heavily accented English. The man who had shot his son spoke Greek. ‘Or it’s a bullet in the leg.'

He did as he was told with alacrity. He may have been known as the Pit Bull because of his aggressive negotiating, but he knew when he had no room for manoeuvre.

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