Siege
too good, and it was making him cough, but to be honest, he no longer cared.
    He looked at the rope with noose attached that he’d hung from the large picture hook on the opposite wall. In hindsight, he wished he hadn’t put it there since it was constantly in his field of vision – an annoying reminder of what was coming to him – but there’d been nowhere else suitable, and even so, he still wasn’t sure the hook would take his skinny ten stones.
    Typically for a man who’d always liked to keep his options open, Martin had chosen two different ways to die. Hanging was the quick method, although, thanks to the height of the hook, it would mean him keeping his legs bent and off the floor as the rope either throttled him or broke his neck, something that would require the kind of self-discipline he wasn’t at all sure he possessed. The slow, more painless method was the drugs – a combination of barbiturates, oxazepam and aspirin that he’d been assured would send him gently to sleep.
    The disadvantage of an overdose was that it would give him time to think about what he was doing, therefore opening up the possibility of a change of mind. At least if it was quick he’d have no choice in the matter. His preference would have been a gun, but this was England, so that was impossible. So, after much thinking, he’d come up with a simple plan: take the pills, lie back on the bed, and keep the rope in sight as he drifted off, so that he’d always know how painful the alternative was.
    His coughing subsided, and he took another deep drag on the cigarette, trying hard to enjoy it. Strangely, he’d been looking forward to this afternoon. He’d always been prone to melancholy. Dreaming of happier days, and viewing them through the inevitable rose-tinted glasses. So to have the opportunity to relive blow-by-beautiful-blow the happiest two weeks of his life, and to savour all the things that could have happened if he’d followed his dreams and made a life with Carrie Wilson, rather than taking the sensible option and marrying Sue, was a guilty pleasure indeed.
    But so far his reminiscing had been disturbed by the constant noise of sirens going past the window in both directions. A few minutes earlier there’d been a lot of shouting inside the hotel; he even thought he’d heard some shots, although he wasn’t entirely sure. As he lay back on the bed the sound of the sirens grew louder, and they now seemed to be stopping directly outside the hotel.
    He thought about getting up to see what all the fuss was about, but quickly dismissed the idea. The world outside the door to room 315 was no longer relevant, especially when he had a date with a young, gorgeous Carrie Wilson, with the gap-toothed smile he’d missed so much.
    He picked up the wine glass and took another long sip of the Pinot Noir.
    Soon it would be time to start taking the first of the pills.

23
    17.11
    ROOM 1600, THE Operations Control Centre on the sixteenth floor of the New Scotland Yard building, was bedlam. Of the twenty or so officers and staff crowded inside, many of them talking on phones, DAC Arley Dale was the most senior, and she had the Herculean task of coordinating the evacuation of the entire London transportation system, as well as all major public buildings, in response to the bombs at Westfield and Paddington Station. No one knew where the next bomb would strike, or how far to extend the evacuation, and now matters had been further complicated by multiple reports of an attack on the Stanhope Hotel in Park Lane.
    Arley knew she had to clear some of the people out of the room if she was to impose a semblance of order on the situation. She remembered all too well the criticism levelled at the Met following the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. Huge mistakes had been made in this very control room because there were too many people inside, many of whom didn’t seem to know what the others were doing. But the scale of this operation, coupled

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