Десмонд Бэгли: Wyatt's Hurricane

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Десмонд Бэгли Wyatt's Hurricane
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    Wyatt's Hurricane
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Wyatt's Hurricane: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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On a lush Caribbean island, a group of four men and two women find themselves caught between a hurricane and a revolution. Meteorologist David Wyatt knew the hurricane would hit. The West Indian natives were never wrong when they began tying down their roofs, regardless of what his tracking instruments showed. What Wyatt couldn’t forsee war the tumultuous conjunction of force — both natural and man-made — the was about to make Mabel his personal hurricane, one that would sweep his either to death or glory. Wyatt’s hurricane! It comes just as the island’s rebel leader, unaware of its approach, is massing his forces in the mountains for an attack on the city below. As the wind and the war near each other, Wyatt becomes the one person who can save the island from destruction, the inhabitants from death. To do it, he must beat a two-fold onslaught in a near-fatal race against time and terror — a tale of imaginative adventure and suspense.

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Desmond Bagley

Wyatt’s Hurricane

To my father-in-law,

Jimmy Brown

With the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as a heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.

The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.

Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them, they sank as lead in the mighty waters.

EXODUS: ch. 15, vv. 8-10




The Super-Constellation flew south-east in fair weather, leaving behind the arc of green islands scattered across the crinkled sea, the island chain known as the Lesser Antilles. Ahead, somewhere over the hard line of the Atlantic horizon, was her destination — a rendezvous with trouble somewhere north of the Equator and in that part of the Atlantic which is squeezed between North Africa and South America.

The pilot, Lieutenant-Commander Hansen, did not really know the exact position of contact nor when he would get there — he merely flew on orders from a civilian seated behind him — but he had flown on many similar missions and knew what was expected of him, so he relaxed in his seat and left the flying to Morgan, his co-pilot. The Lieutenant-Commander had over twelve years’ service in the United States Navy and so was paid $660 a month. He was grossly underpaid for the job he was doing.

The aircraft, one of the most graceful ever designed, had once proudly flown the North Atlantic commercial route until edged out by the faster jets. So she had been put in mothballs until the Navy had need of her and now she wore United States Navy insignia. She looked more battered than seemed proper in a Navy plane — the leading edge of her wings was pitted and dented and the mascot of a winged cloud painted on her nose was worn and abraded — but she had flown more of these missions than her pilot and so the wear and tear was understandable.

Hansen looked at the sky over the horizon and saw the first faint traces of cirrus flecking the pale blue. He flicked a switch and said, ‘I think she’s coming up now, Dave. Any change of orders?’

A voice crackled in his earphones. ‘I’ll check on the display.’

Hansen folded his arms across his stomach and stared ahead at the gathering high clouds. Some Navy men might have resented taking instructions from a civilian, especially from one who was not even an American, but Hansen knew better than that; in this particular job status and nationality did not matter a damn and all one needed to know was that the men you flew with were competent and would not get you killed — if they could help it.

Behind the flight deck was the large compartment where once the first-class passengers sipped their bourbon and joshed the hostesses. Now it was crammed with instruments and men; consoles of telemetering devices were banked fore and aft, jutting into promontories and forming islands so that there was very little room for the three men cramped into the maze of electronic equipment.

David Wyatt turned on his swivel stool and cracked his knee sharply against the edge of the big radar console. He grimaced, reflecting that he would never learn, and rubbed his knee with one hand while he switched on the set. The big screen came to life and shed an eerie green glow around him, and he observed it with professional interest. After making a few notes, he rummaged in a satchel for some papers and then got up and made his way to the flight deck.

He tapped Hansen on the shoulder and gave the thumbs-up sign, and then looked ahead. The silky tendrils of the high-flying cirrus were now well overhead, giving place to the lower flat sheets of cirrostratus on the horizon, and he knew that just over the edge of the swelling earth there would be the heavy and menacing nimbostratus — the rain-bearers. He looked at Hansen. ‘This is it,’ he said, and smiled.

Hansen grunted in his throat. ‘No need to look so goddam happy.’

Wyatt pushed a thin sheaf of photographs at him. ‘This is what it looks like from upstairs.’

Hansen scanned the grained and streaky photographs which had been telemetered to earth from a weather satellite. ‘These from Tiros IX?’

‘That’s right.’

‘They’re improving — these are okay,’ said Hansen. He checked the size of the swirl of white against the scale on the edge of the photograph. ‘This one’s not so big; thank God for that.’

‘It’s not the size that counts,’ said Wyatt. ‘It’s the pressure gradient — you know that. That’s what we’re here for.’

‘Any change in operating procedure?’

Wyatt shook his head. ‘The usual thing — we go in counter-clockwise with the wind, edging in all the time. Then, when we get to the south-west quadrant, we turn for the centre.’

Hansen scratched his cheek. ‘Better make sure you get all your measurements first time round. I don’t want to do this again.’ He cocked his head aft. ‘I hope your instrumentation works better than last time.’

Wyatt grimaced. ‘So do I.’ He waved cheerily and went back aft to check on the big radar display. Everything was normal with no anomalies — just the usual dangerous situation ahead. He glanced at the two men under his command. Both were Navy men, skilled specialists who knew everything there was to know about the equipment in their charge, and both had flown on these missions before and knew what to expect. Already they were checking their webbing straps to see there would be no chafe when unexpected strain was thrown on them.

Wyatt went to his own place and strapped himself into the seat. As he snapped down the lever which prevented the seat turning he at last admitted to himself that he was frightened. He always felt scared at this stage of the operation — more scared, he was sure, than any other man aboard. Because he knew more about hurricanes than even Hansen; hurricanes were his job, his life study, and he knew the ravening strength of the winds which were soon to attack the plane in an effort to destroy it. And there was something else, something newly added. From the moment he had seen the white smear on the satellite photographs back at Cap Sarrat he had sensed that this was going to be a bad one. It was not something he could analyse, something he could lay on paper in the cold symbols and formulae of meteorological science, but something he felt deep in his being.

So this time he was even more frightened than usual.

He shrugged and applied himself to his work as the first small buffet of wind hit the plane. The green trace on the radar screen matched well with the satellite photographs and he switched on the recorder which would put all that data on to a coiled strip of plastic magnetic tape to be correlated in the master computer with all the other information that was soon to come pouring in.

Hansen stared ahead at the blackness confronting the plane. The oily black nimbostratus clouds heaved tumultuously, driven by the wind, the formations continually building up and shredding. He grinned tightly at Morgan. ‘Let’s get on with it,’ he said, and gently turned to starboard. Flying in still air at this particular throttle-setting the Super-Constellation should have cruised at 220 knots, and so his air-speed indicator showed, but he was willing to bet that their ground-speed was nearer 270 knots with this wind behind them.

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