CHERUB: Divine Madness Outtake
Chapter 5 – Excerpt with added violence by Bruce Norris!
Robert Muchamore’s comment:
‘My editor said that Bruce beating someone up on a train platform was unnecessarily violent so the section below in blue was removed from the final edit. However, Bruce is back to his savage best with the violence reinstated in this outtake!’
Kyle grinned at Bruce as he pocketed his phone. ‘John’s got the jitters, but we’re on.’
‘Mission controllers always get the jitters,’ Bruce grinned. ‘I think it’s in their job description.’
‘And we’ve got ourselves a nice easy mark.’
The Australian’s blonde head stood out in the crowd, and because he didn’t know Kyle or Bruce they could follow more closely than John and Kerry had been able to follow Clyde. Still, the boys couldn’t get cocky: two teenaged Europeans stood out wandering the streets of Hong Kong after dark.
After walking a kilometre, the bobbing blonde head ducked into an underground MTR station, down a flight of steps and into a gloomily lit ticket hall. The Aussie had a pass and entered through the electronic turnstile. The boys didn’t.
‘Shiiit,’ Kyle said, as he headed up to the ticket machine with a hand burrowing down his pocket looking for change.
An elderly man stood in front of them, trying to feed in a twenty dollar note. It was agony watching the note whirr in and out, with a red LED flickering above the slot. Finally, the note got sucked in and a paper ticket and a flurry of coins clanked into the dispensing drawer.
‘Come on, granddad,’ Kyle said impatiently, as the old codger scooped up his change.
Bruce pushed in and began feeding his coins. As soon as the first ticket popped out, Kyle grabbed it. He raced through the turnstile and began sprinting down an empty fixed staircase that ran between two crowded escalators. Bruce was fifteen seconds behind him, but there was no sign of the Australian when they met up at the bottom.
‘Which way?’ Bruce gasped, as the crowds bustling around them divided off towards platforms for trains heading east and west.
‘We’ve gotta split,’ Kyle said anxiously. ‘You try eastbound.’
The boys headed through the crowd on to separate platforms. The metro was packed out and Kyle got jammed into a slow moving crowd on a short flight of steps leading down to the westbound platform. The crush made it impossible to see anything beyond the head of the person in front and no amount of pushing was going to help.
Bruce had an easier time making it on to the other platform, but a distant rumbling and rush of air meant a train was arriving at any second. If the Aussie was on the platform, he had to identify him fast.
Bruce scanned the platform, but couldn’t see the distinctive blonde head. To get a better look, he pushed through to a drinks vending machine at the back of the platform, wedged his trainer in the drawer where plastic bottles dropped out and used it as a step to raise himself above the crowd.
It only took a second to spot the blonde head, fifty metres down the platform. Meanwhile, the wind coming through the tunnel was blowing back Bruce’s hair and the two lamps on the front of the incoming train lit up the tunnel.
There wasn’t time to fetch Kyle. Bruce stumbled forwards as he stepped down, clattering into the back of a rough looking dude with punkish hair and slashed up jeans. He turned on Bruce with an angry face.
‘Watch it you piece of shit.’
‘Yeah, sorry,’ Bruce said, nodding apologetically as he tried to push by and head towards the Australian.
But this wasn’t enough for the punk, who moved to block Bruce’s path. The train had just erupted from the tunnel and everyone on the platform was surging forwards.
‘You wanna mess with me you little turd?’ The punk asked. ‘Show some respect…’
Bruce didn’t have time for an argument, so the punk never got to finish his sentence. He thrusted a palm under the punk’s chin, making his head whip backwards and followed up with his other hand, driving an explosive fist into his stomach.
Bruce always enjoyed a good bit of violence and the sight of the stocky Asian punk crumpled up against the vending machine gave him a real kick. But there wasn’t time to stand around gloating.
The train doors slid open and Bruce ploughed against the crowds of people exiting the train towards the Australian. He managed to get fifteen metres along the platform, then cut into a carriage as a recorded voice told him to, Mind the doors.
The air-conditioned carriage was cooler than the stifling interior of the station, and Bruce felt a hint of relief as he grabbed a pole and the train began to move. It was standing room only, but the carriages weren’t packed out, so he began moving towards the front of the train, politely asking people to make way.
‘Sorry, I’ve lost my auntie… ‘Scuse me… Coming through.’
The design of the Hong Kong metro gave Bruce a huge break: instead of separate carriages, the train was made up of an unbroken tube, with a bendy section every thirty-five metres to enable it to turn corners. The train was slowing up for the next stop by the time Bruce made it to the front section, which was less crowded than the centre.
The Australian had found an empty seat and as people stood up to get off, Bruce grabbed one for himself, squeezing between two fat ladies twenty metres away from his target. It was close enough to eyeball the Australian, but not so close that the Australian would pay any attention to him.
Bruce took out his phone, hoping to contact Kyle, but there was no signal in the tunnel, so he grabbed a discarded newspaper off the shelf behind. The text wasn’t English and while six weeks in a Hong Kong school had brought his conversational Cantonese close to the level of a native speaker, he still found the weird little squiggles the language was written in hard work. After a couple of lines, he gave up and stared at a car ad.