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.Trout spotted the flash of dark red in the boat’s stern.Gamay!There was no mistaking that hair, especially with the sun glinting off it in rusty highlights.There was also no doubt in his mind of what was about to happen.Within seconds the helpless boat would pick up speed and be sucked into the toothy maw and ground to pieces.Trout yelled at Morales, “Tell the pilot to push them back with the helicopter’s downdraft!”Morales had been watching the unfolding disaster with fascination.Now he tried to relay Trout’s statement to the pilot.The translation was beyond his grasp of English.He shot off a few words in Spanish, then shrugged in frustration.Trout pounded the pilot’s shoulder.He pointed emphatically at the helpless boat, then twirled his forefinger in a circle and made a shoving gesture.To Trout’s surprise the pilot caught on right away to his crude sign language message.He nodded vigorously, nosed the chopper into a glide, and cut speed to a walk until they had positioned themselves between the drifting boat and the crest of the rapids where the river narrowed.The hovering copter descended until the downdraft from the rotors whipped the surface like a giant electric egg beater and created a frothy dish-shaped depression.Waves rippled out in great concentric circles.The first undulation hit the pram, slowed its speed, then stopped it completely and began to deflect the light boat toward the shore above the rapids.The long whirling rotor was ill fitted for a surgical operation.Waves produced by the powerful air blast rocked the pram and threatened to capsize it.Trout, who’d been leaning out the window, could see what was happening.He yelled at the pilot and jabbed his thumb upward.The helicopter began to rise.Too late.A wave caught the boat and flipped it over.The craft’s occupants disappeared beneath the surface.Trout waited for their heads to appear.But he was distracted by a sharp rapping noise and a shout from the pilot.He turned to see a spider’s web of shatter lines in the windshield, which had been clear when he last looked.At the center of the lacy pattern was a hole.They were being shot at! A bullet must have passed right between them and hit the bulkhead inches above the head of Ruiz, who was staring bug-eyed.The chiclero began to shout in rapid-fire Spanish despite the warnings of Morales to shut his mouth.Morales stopped wasting his breath, leaned over, and crashed his fist into the man’s jaw, knocking him unconscious.Then the Mexican policeman drew his pistol and fired away at the boats.Another sharp rap came against the fuselage, as if somebody were banging the metal skin with a ball-peen hammer.Trout was torn with indecision.He wanted to wait and see what happened to Gamay, but he knew the chopper was a sitting duck.The pilot took matters into his own hands.Cursing angrily in Spanish, he set his jaw and pushed the throttle ahead.The helicopter surged forward and homed in on the other boats like a cruise missile.Trout could see the men below frozen in disbelief until they were blasted out of the boats by the powerful rotor thrust.The downdraft tossed the empty prams as if they were balsa woodchips.At the last second the pilot pulled the JetRanger up in a sharp climb, then banked it around for a second sortie.The maneuver was unnecessary.The overturned boats were sinking.Heads bobbed in the water as the men struggled fruitlessly against the current that was drawing them into the rapids.Gamay’s boat had already started its passage through the foamy hell, and a chill went up Trout’s spine as he thought of what could have happened.He was still worried about Gamay.There was no sign of her or the other figure, whom he assumed was Professor Chi.The pilot made a couple of quick circles, then pointed to his fuel gauge again.Trout nodded.There was no place to put the chopper down.He reluctantly gave the pilot thumbs up, and they headed away from the river.Trout was busy formulating plans in his mind and didn’t notice how long they were airborne before he heard the engine cough.The chopper lost speed for an instant, then seemed to regain it, only to have the engine cough again.The pilot fiddled with his instruments, then put his finger on the fuel gauge.Empty [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]