Koponen was being violently sick, the acid stench of his vomit nauseating over the bitter reek of blood in the radio room. Jarglebaum had been a cop all his life. He’d seen things, bad things. He didn’t like what he was seeing now but he could cope. Nevertheless, there was a claw of fear in his gut, gripping, twisting.
The radio was wrecked. It didn’t take a detective to work out it had been wrecked by the radio operator or that he’d had an accomplice. That was because the radio had been destroyed by systematically pounding the operator’s face against it.
When he was young Jarglebaum had taken firearms training with the Sussex Constabulary. For three years he’d been on call, attended armed robberies, sieges, and gang fights all without firing a single shot. Then he’d got the promotion he’d been angling for all along and never touched a gun again. There was no glamour, no cachet attached to weapons in Jarglebaum’s mind. They were tools. The furthest he’d go was to admit there was a kind of beauty to their uncompromising design. Like anybody who knew guns he had an intense respect for them. Guns were good for one thing and one thing only.
How he wished he had one now.
Jarglebaum put his hand on Koponen’s heaving shoulder. ‘Come away, Markus. There’s nothing we can do here.’
He helped Koponen down a sloping corridor. The dip to stern had increased even in the few minutes it had taken them to reach the radio room.
Sea Cucumber began to roll in the swell as she lost way. As they passed the crew’s mess the door swung open. It was dark inside, the open door felt like a gaping maw.
Just through the door Jarglebaum saw a single overturned chair. He knew what he should do: he should step inside that dark and ominously silent room and take a look. He didn’t want to. He could smell that sickly metallic blood-reek again. He knew what he would see.
Jarglebaum’s knees were shaking, he could taste bile in his mouth. He told himself he had seen enough, that there was nothing he could do. It was more important to get Koponen safely away.
To be continued…