Set back from the lip of the opening was a metal-runged ladder that ran the depth of the shaft. The vertical tunnel terminated in a cool grey corridor of rough concrete. Anyone expecting to smell beer would have been disappointed. If anything the cellar smelt of mice and their doings. And something human.
“Come out,” he said to the empty corridor. From his standpoint he could make out a series of openings two to the right and the same to the left. “Come out,” he said again, with less conviction this time. His shirt stuck to his skin. A little way off to his left, a man coughed in a concrete room.
The words, “I’m unarmed,” echoed down the corridor carried by a voice Quinnell did not recognise. It sounded nothing like the man he and Sparks had found in the Guild Hall. Its accent came from several rungs higher up Bamtree’s social ladder.
“Well, I’ve got a gun,” said Quinnell. “Are you going to come out now?”
“Alright,” said the voice. The man appeared in the corridor. The vigour he had displayed in the chase replaced by a sullen shuffle. The dirty fingers of one hand were held aloft in a gesture of surrender. “I know you from somewhere,” said the man, nodding in Quinnell’s direction. The other hand clutched a wretched carrier bag to his chest.
“I want you to answer some questions,” said Quinnell.
“You’re a policeman?” said the man. He squinted and shuffled a little closer to Quinnell, sniffing all the while. “I’ve had enough police for one day,” he said. There was an extra sibilance when he said the word police. “Where’s your gun, then?” he added.
“There is no gun,” said Quinnell. “I’m impatient, I’m sorry.”