It was dark. There was only one faint light visible through the glass-panelled door, providing just enough illumination to see that I was in a gym.
I pulled again at the handcuffs securing me to the wall bars; futilely, knowing there was no way I could get them loose.
I couldn't believe how easily I'd been caught. I'd never hear the end of it from the lads, and I couldn't imagine Cowley being amused. I wondered sourly if he would send me on a refresher with myself.
I've been putting some of the lads through it for the last two weeks. Cowley drives them hard, but they're good. For all the complaints and moaning they're fit; fit enough to take everything thrown at them although I don't know what's next on the agenda any more than they do. Cowley doesn't need to keep me informed; and he always did play his cards close to his chest.
Anyway, their threats are part of the normal routine. If they didn't threaten to do for me, or get their revenge, I'd know I hadn't been working them hard enough. They have to hate me. Learning how to focus their hatred is what gives them their edge.
Training was over earlier today. I knew I was taking a risk going with them to the pub; get the lads tanked up and they think they can take on Hercules. But I never anticipated that they'd get me like this...
I pulled again at the handcuffs. Two pairs; one per wrist, pulling my arms up above my head, holding me flat back against the wall bars. It was bloody uncomfortable. I'd kill them when I got my hands on them.
It had to be Bodie and Doyle. None of the others would have the nerve. What I couldn't work out was how they'd managed to grab me. I know they left the pub first, but not that much ahead of me. And they were both three sheets to the wind, so they must have had help.
Anyway, they jumped me as I headed for my car. Clocked me one and got a bag over my head before I knew what was happening. I know I managed to land a few blows - someone would be walking with a limp, and I made a bet with myself that it would be Doyle - before I caught another blow to the head.
I woke up here; handcuffed, alone. I have no idea how long I've been here, or how long the lads are going to leave me here. Could be morning before they sobered up enough to come and release me. I gloomily surveyed what I could see of the gym. Could be a lot longer, given that sadistic pair George Cowley called his best team.
I thought I heard movement. The bastards had obviously had enough fun for the night. I called out. "C'mon, you lot! Come and let me go. A joke's a joke; my arms are killing me!"
There was no response, although I thought I heard murmurs, so I tried again. "Come on, lads! Let me go."
The lights suddenly came on overhead, and I closed my eyes hastily, blinking rapidly as I tried to get used to the harsh brightness. It was a gym all right; but not one I recognised. I'd thought I was in the one at CI5 HQ; I saw now I'd been mistaken.
Just as well the lads had come back to release me. I wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of being found by whoever owned the gym.
This time I definitely heard footsteps. "Bodie, Doyle? Come on! This is getting beyond a joke!"
Voices beyond the door. Quiet voices. Not the sort of voices exhibiting drunken glee at having caught their tutor out.
Not the lads.
I felt an icy chill run down my spine as the door opened. The three men were Chinese. The first two into the room carried metal rods. The third was a face I knew; a face I never thought I'd see again. A face that, the last time I'd seen it, had been gloating; just before his men had broken my arms and dropped me in the water.
It was still gloating. "Macklin. I believe we have some unfinished business."
I jerked violently at the securing handcuffs, as the two with metal rods approached...