Lewis saw Jackson raise the gun, and even as the first shot fired, he was moving. He crashed into Morse, tackling the older man and taking him to the ground as a second shot whizzed overhead, and a third smacked into a fence-post behind them. Lewis dared to raise his head, in time to see Jackson moving towards Hogan, who was still lying face-down on the opposite towpath.
How many bullets had there been in the gun? Eight? Jackson had already expended five shots… with three left, that could be a bullet for each of them, assuming that Hogan was still alive… Lewis winced as he recalled watching Tank topple backwards into the canal.
"Sir!" he hissed, shaking Morse's shoulder for emphasis, "Sir! Are you alright?"
"Lew-isss," Morse groaned, "For goodness' sake, get off me!"
Lewis quickly shifted to one side, allowing Morse to raise his head slightly; they had the advantage of being slightly hidden by the long grass and weeds between the footpath and the canal; Jackson obviously thought his shots had hit home. Morse gave a low moan, rubbing an emerging bruise on his cheek from where he had hit the ground.
"What do we do now, sir?" Lewis asked, a little despairingly, "I can't get a signal on me phone, not here…"
"And it seems that both of our bodyguards are out of commission," Morse growled, "we need to draw him out, Lewis… back-up should be on its way here; we need to play for time."
"Aye, sir – but he's still got three bullets in that gun, by my reckoning."
Morse nodded, to show that he had heard, and then reached out, parting the grass slightly to get a better view. Jackson was in the process of trying to drag the unconscious Hogan onto the boat; Morse realised, at that moment, that the sergeant was obviously still alive, if Jackson wanted to take her with him.
"Jackson!" he shouted, making Lewis jump, "You've failed, Jackson! I'm still alive!"
On the other side of the canal, Jackson dropped Hogan in surprise, snapping up the gun and glancing around wildly. Morse ducked, watching him through the reeds, as he called out again; "Over here, Jackson! Come and finish the job!"
Jackson raised the gun, wavering, his gaze sweeping the opposite bank for movement. A movement must have caught his eye, because he whipped around and fired, once. Morse flinched as the bullet ricocheted off the bank of the canal less than a foot from his face. Jackson stared around, and then flung back his head, laughing wildly.
"It's the end, Morse! The fucking end! Come out and finish it!"
Morse exchanged a look with Lewis; the sergeant was shaking his head, slowly, eyes wide. Looking back up, Morse wondered what, if anything, they could do… two bullets left. And then what? A mad dash at Jackson; hoping that between the two of them they could overpower him?
"Come on out, Morse! Come out or I'll kill this bitch, right here!"
"Sir! He's still got Hogan…"
"Damn," Morse growled.
Peering through the grass, he could see Jackson aiming the gun down at the ground, presumably at Hogan. Slowly, Morse raised himself to his knees, and then to his feet, hands held in front of him, ignoring Lewis's hiss of protest. Jackson turned to face him, and even across the distance between them, Morse could see the twisted sneer on the man's scarred face.
"Die now, you bastard!"
Jackson raised the gun, and Morse flung himself towards the ground as another shot sounded, but he was not quite fast enough. He hit the ground with a shocked gasp, as hot pain lanced through his arm.
"Sir!" he heard Lewis yelp, as Morse groaned, clamping his right hand over the wound.
He could feel his own blood, warm, beneath his cold hand, and that sensation, combined with pain, made him feel sick to his stomach. He felt, more than saw, Lewis scramble over to his side, as the sergeant pulled off his tie, applying it as a bandage to the wound. It was then that the first drops of rain fell, icy-sharp, soaking and freezing at the same time.
Jackson's laugh, however, still rang clear in the air.
"Morse! Are you dead, you old bastard? Are you?"
"Keep down, sir!" Lewis hissed at him.
Morse had no difficulties in obeying the order from his sergeant; his head was swimming with shock and blood-loss. Lewis gently patted his shoulder reassuringly, but then whispered something that alarmed Morse almost back to full wakefulness.
"One bullet left, eh? Let's see what you can do with it, you bastard…"
"Lewis! Don't!" Morse gasped, but it was too late.
Lewis launched himself to his feet and ran towards the bottom lock in a full-tilt sprint. Jackson screamed a curse at him, raised the gun, and fired.
"No!" Morse shouted, as he saw Lewis trip, stumble and fall.
Horror turned to relief when Morse saw Lewis scramble back to his feet, apparently unhurt – Jackson had missed, but only just... For a long moment, Jackson and Lewis stared at each other. Morse managed to get to his knees, hand still clamped to his wounded arm. Then, suddenly, Jackson swore, and flung the gun into the canal violently, drawing the hunting knife from inside his coat. He advanced, slowly, towards the lock. He went to the far end of the lock, and slowly began to cross.
At the nearer gate, Lewis was torn with indecision; should he cross the lock to assist the unconscious Hogan, or remain this side to protect Morse?
"Don't come any closer, Jackson!" he shouted, "Just… just don't move!"
Jackson paused, half-way across the lock-gate, and laughed at him in that wild, high-pitched cackle. The rain continued to fall, and Lewis wiped it from his eyes with a shaking hand and Jackson threw back his head and screamed his rage at the sky.
"I'm going to kill you, Lewis!" Jackson screamed, pointing the knife at him, as the rain streamed in rivulets down his scarred face and dripped from the brow above his sunken eyes, "You bastard! I'm going to kill you for what you've done to me!"
Jackson suddenly whipped around, as if distracted by a sound or movement behind him; Lewis grabbed the opportunity and lunged, reaching for the knife in an attempt to disarm him, but Jackson lashed out, catching Lewis with a back-handed blow across the face. Balancing on the narrow walk-way across the front of the lock-gate, Lewis reeled backwards, grabbing the hand-rail across the top of the lock arm to stop himself from falling into the canal below.
"Give up, Jackson!" he called, blinking rain water from his eyes, "you can't win, man!"
"I have won! I'm going to kill you!"
Jackson swiped at Lewis with the knife, forcing him to take a step backwards. Lewis risked a glance behind him; Morse was staggering to his feet, looking around wildly, searching for assistance, his right hand still clasping his wounded left arm. Lewis turned his attention back to Jackson, who was staring at him with hate in his wide eyes.
"You're going to die, you bastard!" he shrieked.
"Not if I get you first, you son of a bitch!"
Lewis whipped around at Hogan's furious yell; she was on her feet, swaying, eyes fixed on Jackson. He turned to look at her, as she raised her arm. Her aim was just shy of the mark she had been aiming for; it was only when Lewis saw the hilt buried in Jackson's shoulder that he realised she had thrown her knife.
With a pained yell, Jackson released his grip on his own knife – Lewis heard the distant splash as it landed in the water beyond the lock. Jackson teetered on the edge, reeling. Lewis reached out to grab his flailing hand, but Jackson slipped out of his grip. With a prolonged scream, the vicious killer fell into the turgid waters several feet below.
Hogan met Lewis half-way across the lock-gate; he was staring at the churning waters below, while she clung fiercely to the hand-rail across the top of the lock. Beneath them, in the frothy waters of the canal, a hand appeared and Jackson clawed his way to the surface, spitting and coughing. Hogan grabbed Lewis's arm as he began shrugging out of his suit jacket. He met her gaze – there was a deep wound, somewhere just above her left temple, and blood mixed with the rain water running down her face.
"What the hell are you doing?" she gasped, holding on to him with one hand and the rail with the other.
Lewis pointed to Jackson, struggling in the water; "We can't just let him die!"
"That bastard was going to kill you! He killed Tank!"
Lewis met her gaze, torment written on his face.
"Aye," he replied, sadly, "but I cannae just let him drown... Inspector Morse has been shot in the arm – will you help him?"
Hogan glanced down at the water, scowled, and then looked back at him and nodded. Taking a deep breath, Lewis handed her his jacket, nodded back, and then jumped.
Despite the ice-cold rain, the water was even colder. Lewis had to fight every reflex he had not to gasp when he hit the canal. Kicking hard, he managed to break the surface, but in the driving winter rain it was almost hard to tell. Reaching out, Lewis realised that he could not see Jackson anymore. He took a breath, and dived, reaching out blindly. With grasping hands, he eventually felt his fingers close around a solid object. Fighting his way back up to the surface, he managed to drag Jackson up with him; the other man was unconscious, whether through blood-loss or oxygen-deprivation Lewis could not tell.
With a one-armed stroke, Lewis swam to the edge of the canal. Clinging to Jackson, he managed to haul himself out with one arm, hooking his leg onto the canal-side and pulling himself out. With a strength born of desperation, he pulled Jackson free of the water, laying him out on the towpath. Three quick chest compressions and the savage killer coughed, spitting out water, groaning wordlessly. For good measure, Lewis dragged the semi-conscious man over to the fence, heedless of the knife still in his shoulder, and, taking handcuffs from the inside pocket of his now soaking-wet jacket, he cuffed Jackson to the fence by his good arm and then left him there.
Getting to his feet, Lewis staggered up the sharp slope of the footpath, but before he was half-way up, Hogan materialised at the top, her long coat billowing in the cold wind that drove the freezing rain at them like needles.
"Is he alive?" she shouted.
"He's fine. Is Jackson alive?"
"I should kill him, you know!"
"Do you think you could stop me?"
Lewis shook his head; "You won't kill him. You're better than that."
"He killed… he killed Tank," her voice broke slightly.
"I know," Lewis climbed to the top of the slope, "and he'll pay for that, in time…"
It took some time for the rest of the police force to catch up with them. Hogan removed her leather coat and sat on the floor next to Morse, using it to shelter the two of them from the rain as best she could. Morse was terribly pale, and blood still oozed from the wound in his upper left arm. Lewis and Hogan had dressed it roughly with the men's ties and handkerchiefs, but both were relieved when the air ambulance finally returned, and landed in the field next to the canal. It took some time to assist Morse over the fence, but he was soon safely in the hands of the paramedics.
"You should go with them," Lewis told Hogan, gesturing to the blood on her face.
She hesitated, glancing across at the canal; "I… I'd rather be here… for Tank…"
"I'll take care of it," Lewis assured her, "Go with them."
Hogan complied, as Lewis gestured to two paramedics bearing a stretcher. He led them down to where Jackson was slumped against a fence post, to which he was still handcuffed. Lewis had applied a rudimentary dressing around the knife blade, using his own jacket, in an attempt to stem the bleeding, but could do little else. The paramedics quickly took over, as Lewis unlocked the handcuffs and, for good measure, cuffed him to the stretcher.
"Careful with this one," he warned the medics, "keep him restrained."
"Yes sir," one of them nodded, and Lewis watched as the helicopter took off, coming overhead to air-lift the stretcher aboard.
He turned away, scrubbing a hand through his wet hair, shivering slightly. As he turned, he saw a familiar, white-suited figure approaching, carrying a bulky silver case in one hand and an umbrella in the other.
"Hello again, doctor," Lewis greeted her, as she set down the case, and flexed her fingers.
"Hello, Lewis," she replied, glancing behind her, "Sorry I'm late. I had to walk – all six miles. My car is now nine miles away…"
"Mine, too," Lewis realised, "and I've no idea where Inspector Morse's car is…"
"Where is Morse? I was told there was a body down here…"
Lewis quickly summarised what had happened, gesturing to the divers who were combing the bed of the canal between the two locks. DC "Tank" Silverson's body was soon drawn to the surface, and Hobson made only a cursory examination before arranging to have the remains removed, as the rain fell relentlessly.
Eventually, a large four-by-four came bouncing across the field, and DC Spencer, another of Hogan's team, stepped out.
"The Boss called and said to give you a lift home, Sarge," he grunted at Lewis, "She said Tank's dead – Jackson killed him. That true?"
"Yes," Lewis nodded, "I'm… I'm sorry."
Spencer just stared across the canal and then said, in a brittle voice; "So did you want that lift home, sir?"
"Just back to my car will do, thanks," Lewis replied, shivering and wiping rainwater from his face, "Dr Hobson – would you like a lift back to your car?"
"Oh, yes! Definitely," she nodded, hefting her case, "Lewis – I suggest we both go home and change before we catch our deaths..."
"Aye, I will..."
Hobson caught the look on his face, and smiled at him; "Morse will be fine. Once you've changed, go over to the hospital... I'll tell them to expect you, okay?"
"Okay," he returned her smile, "thanks, doctor."
True to his word, Lewis did indeed go home and change, sparing only a few minutes to confirm to Val that Jackson was safe in custody. She had wept with relief, but was horrified to hear of the injury to Morse. Lewis had reassured her that all would be well, and confirmed that the constables on guard would remain there until after Jackson's trial, just in case. He then went out to speak to the two guards, who were sitting in a car outside the front of the house. He broke the news of Tank's death to them as gently as he could, but he saw the same cold, hard anger in their eyes that he had seen in Hogan, and Spencer, and that he knew he felt himself. Jackson had killed a cop; the ramifications would be felt throughout the station.
Lewis then drove over to the hospital, and was surprised to find Hogan waiting for him in the main reception.
"I thought you'd be along soon," she commented, "I sent Williams – one of my boys – out to retrieve Inspector Morse's car. He loves old Jags; don't worry, he'll be careful with it. I wouldn't be surprised if he delivers it washed, waxed and tuned to perfection!"
"How is the Inspector?" Lewis asked, quickly, as Hogan gestured for him to follow her.
"He's fine," Hogan replied, "he was lucky, from the sounds of it – the bullet only nicked the skin and passed right by. A few stitches and a transfusion – he'll be back on his feet tomorrow."
"Fine, too," she gestured vaguely to the side of her bandaged head, "four stitches, don't get them wet, plenty of rest, and all that rubbish. How the bloody hell am I supposed to wash my hair if I can't get them wet? Silly buggers. Hey, do you fancy a pint when we're finished here?"
"Aye, okay… but, seriously…"
"Ah!" Hogan held up her hand, "Don't go there. You should've let me kill the bastard… but… thanks for stopping me. Okay?"
Hogan led Lewis to a private room and, opening the door, let him inside, before closing it and assuming a guarding position in the corridor, granting him some privacy. Lewis was pleased to find Morse sitting up in bed, wearing a warm dressing down and covered by a thick blanket. His left arm was in a sling, but with his right hand he was completing a newspaper crossword on his lap in front of him. He glanced up as the door closed, and Lewis suddenly felt oddly uncomfortable.
"Oh… ah… hello, sir," he said, quickly, "I just dropped by to see how you were doing."
"Much better, thank you, Lewis," Morse set the newspaper aside, "Sergeant Hogan informs me that you arrested Jackson?"
"Well… he was somewhat incapacitated at the time, sir."
"So I hear. Hogan seemed somewhat evasive when explaining how he came to be injured. I can't say that I'm all that interested as long as he's behind bars, but get a written report on my desk for the Chief Super, will you? Tomorrow will be fine."
"Aye, sir," Lewis suppressed a sigh, "have they said when you can go home yet?"
"Tomorrow morning," Morse replied, as he picked up the newspaper and shook it open with one hand, "You can collect my car and pick me up. Hogan has my car keys, but don't let her drive…"
"No, sir," Lewis decided not to tell Morse who was actually driving the car, "I'll swing by in the morning, then."
Morse grunted by way of acknowledgment, already engrossed in the newspaper. Lewis smiled slightly, mumbled his goodbye, and quickly left the room. Hogan saw his expression, and grinned at him, flinging an arm across his shoulders.
"Now, about that pint you owe me…"
Jeremy Jackson was indicted by a magistrate in his absence, having refused to enter a plea. Two months later, Morse, Lewis, Hobson and Hogan gave evidence against him at his trial. As with their previous encounters, Jackson merely sat in the dock, handcuffed; head bowed, his back to the public gallery where a crowd of people had gathered to point and murmur.
Morse listened as the jury, after only twenty minutes of deliberation, returned a unanimous guilty verdict and Jackson was sentenced to life imprisonment. The prisoner was led from the dock and Morse unconsciously rubbed his left arm. The wound had healed, but there was a red-raw scar still apparent, one that would never entirely disappear.
He watched as Jackson was led away without a backward glance. Dr. Jefferson, Jackson's psychiatrist, had spoken as a witness for the defence, attempting to plead insanity for the man's actions, requesting he be sent to a maximum security psychiatric institution. Jefferson had gone so far as to submit that Jackson's 'ordeal of capture' and his injury had robbed him of his capacity and inclination to murder. He described Jackson's almost catatonic state even in his waking moments. However, this had been entirely dismissed by the jury and the Judge, to Morse's profound relief.
Once Jackson had been led away, the Court rose. The Judge left and the jury were filed out. The public and press gradually dispersed, and Morse found himself drifting with the others until they were stood outside in the cold winter sun. It was Dr Hobson that finally broke the silence.
"Well, I don't know about you boys, but I could certainly use a drink."
"That sounds like an excellent plan, my dear," Morse replied, absently.
"I am not 'your dear', Morse," Hobson reminded him, but there was a hint of a smile on her face as she spoke, "Come on – in honour of women's lib everywhere, I'll buy the first round."
She looped her hand through Morse's elbow, and then did the same to Lewis, adding; "Come on, Sergeant – you too. Hogan?"
"Right behind you, Laura."
"Excellent. Right then – to the pub!"
A/N: As I was writing the final confrontation with Jackson, I realised (rather selfishly) that this was not how I wanted the story arc to end. Jackson just wasn't scary enough in this story; he was almost too damaged, in a way. His composure in the first two stories were what made him (to me) an interesting character to write, but he always had that undercurrent of unpredictable rage. So, instead of becoming the final chapter, this story is a stepping stone to a much more detailed story... I have already got the first 24,000+ words down; that is the story that I wanted to write, I just didn't realise it until I had finished this! Still, I hope that you enjoyed this, and I hope you will leave me a review to let me know that you've read it...!
Until next time... thanks for reading.