Stacey Wyatt is a gifted pianist, also a competent mercenary soldier. But at the moment, he is sojourning in an Egyptian prison. A story of foreign intrigue
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August 31, 2000
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Excerpt from In the Hour Before Midnight by Jack Higgins
I SUPPOSE HE must have died during the night, but I only became aware of it in the heat of the day.
Not that it made much difference, not even the stench of putrefaction. In that place everything died except me, Stacey Wyatt, the great survivor. There had been times when I would have greeted death as a friend, co-operated with him actively, but that was long ago -- too long. Now, I waited in a limbo of my own devising, proof against all they could do to me. I'd been in the Hole for three days now, which was what it was called by prisoner and guard alike -- a place of darkness and furnace heat where you rotted in your own filth and died from lack of air.
It was the fourth time I'd been put down since they'd brought me to the labour camp at Fuad, each dose coinciding with one of Major Husseini's inspections. In the June war he had been one of the thousands whipped in Sinai and left to stumble home through one of the worst deserts on earth. He had seen his command crumble, men die around him by the hundred from thirst and the sun had burned its way into his brain, starting a fire that could never be put out, leaving him with a hatred for Israel which had developed into a kind of paranoia.
He seemed to see Jews everywhere, a constant threat to Egypt's safety. As I was an enemy of his country, tried and convicted by law of subversive activities, I too must be a Jew who had somehow managed to conceal the fact from the court.
The previous July I'd brought a forty-foot launch in from Crete with gold bullion for a gentleman from Cairo who was supposed to meet me on a beach at Rýs el Kanýyis, part of a complicated exchange process by which someone, somewhere, finally made a fortune. I never did find out exactly what went wrong, but a couple of U.A.R. gunboats appeared rather inconveniently, plus a half company of infantry on the beach. The economy benefited to the extent of half a ton of gold and John Smith, this year's unknown American citizen, went down for seven years.