BRUGES BLOOD

ONE

HE WAITED UNTIL dark. The water from the canal slapped against the stone arch outside the wrought iron bars, the lights from the buildings opposite reflecting off its surface. The tour boats and their amplified spiel on historic Bruges had finished for the day and the canal was quiet. He looked over at the dark shape hunched in the corner of the basement and shivered in the dank atmosphere.

It was going to be a struggle getting it under the bars, but once it was beneath the water natural buoyancy would lighten the load. He slid into the clammy neoprene of his wet suit, strapped on his tank, checked his regulator and ran through his pre-dive ritual. He wasn’t exactly diving the Mariana trench, but it didn’t take much water to drown a man, and he’d learned recently that if a thing could go wrong, it usually did.

 

He wasn’t going far, it was a journey of less than half an hour. Once he’d reached his destination and finished the job, he would make his way further along the Dijver canal passing under the Bonifacius bridge next to the Arentshuis garden.

He’d checked the CCTV coverage and located a blind spot encompassing a drainage conduit that gave access up into the garden hidden by overhanging trees. He would be able to make his way from there to where his van was parked in the building

site in front of the Gruuthusemuseum. The museum had been undergoing a massive refurbishment for years and it had been easy enough to gain access to the site earlier in the day.

Once there he would change out of his diving gear, stow it in the van and drive away.

He strapped his facemask on, took a few breaths through the regulator and began work. As he’d expected it was an awkward maneuver to gain access to the canal beneath the iron bars.

Once he was underwater things got a lot easier and he used the sealed UWIS, an Under-Water-Information-System, like GPS for divers, to guide him down the Groenerei, towing his load behind him.

Ten minutes later he was moving under Peerdenstraat bridge, and then beneath Meestraat, passing the fish market on his left hand side before swinging left and then right under Woolestraat and on into the Dijver canal. Fifteen minutes later he was in position opposite the old police station in Kartuizerinnenstraat.

His underwater flashlight revealed the murky shape of the concrete stanchion that supported the beer pipe on the bed of the canal. The pipe ran beneath the canal for over three Kilometers, pumping the beer from the brewery to the bottling depot across town. He’d brought the rope and used it to tie the special knot. He’d practiced tying it underwater, and with his eyes closed. He knew how important it was that the system he was putting in place functioned flawlessly.

She’d been very clear. If he let her down then things would not go well for him. He ‘d seen what that meant while working for her. The power she wielded and the way she punished failure was beyond belief. She hadn’t told him any of the real details, he’d just followed her instructions to the letter. But he wasn’t ‘t stupid. A lot of resources were being employed to ensure her plan would succeed. He knew one thing for sure. If she was settling a score then God help the person she was settling it with.

He checked the knot for the third time and slowed his breathing before looking around. His flashlight illuminated the dark shape in its powerful beam. The reason for his journey.

He’d been responsible for many deaths in his time, but this wasn’t one of them. He turned away, and headed back up the canal towards the Bonifacius bridge, leaving the headless torso further behind with each stroke.