The sight of the machete in Tall Guard’s hand got Amy flailing again. Almost at once she managed to wriggle out of the unbuttoned shirt, and suddenly she was free. The floppy white sunhat still clung to her by the string under her chin, but now it covered half her face instead of her head, and partly blocked her sight.
The barrel-shaped guard was between her and the drop-off. When she tried to get around him, he moved with surprising speed for his size, recovering her left arm with one sweep of his own. He calmly grabbed at the air in pursuit of the other, like a sleepy bear shooing away flies.
Amy kept moving and twisting enough to prevent him from retaking the fugitive right arm, but could not free her left again.
Tall Guard stopped a few paces away, maybe waiting for Barrel Guard to hold his prey still.
“I’ve got money,” she shouted in English, trying anything that might slow down whatever was going on.
No response. She quickly glanced at Tall Guard again and saw that he’d set down the machete and was fumbling in his pants pocket. He pulled out a transparent plastic bag that held what looked like a miniature liquor bottle, the kind served on airplanes.
Amy had no idea what he was doing and no time to puzzle over it. She concentrated on keeping her right arm as far as possible from Barrel Guard. The effort kept her squatting, with the free arm sticking straight into the air as though she were trying to fly.
She shouted her offer again, this time in French, and now the guards exchanged a look. She was right; Barrel Guard had only been feigning incomprehension earlier.
“I have money in the capital,” she said. “You can be rich by tomorrow morning.”
That seemed to get Tall Guard thinking. He stood still and looked again at Barrel Guard, who only barked angrily in a language that Amy could not even identify.
“You’ll have the money by morning,” she repeated, and continued spitting out her offer in telegraphic bursts as she struggled: “Cent mille euro! Argent liquide!”
This time Tall Guard spoke at length, but Barrel Guard only snapped at him again, with more words and greater venom. Barrel Guard also looked away from Amy while he scolded the other man, giving her time to try something new.
She leapt a couple of feet off the ground and pulled her knees up against her chest. The huge man kept his grip, but didn’t realize how far Amy’s body would drop this time. The sudden downward force on his arm was enough to pull him a little to one side. It wasn’t much, but she had managed to move him against his will.
Planting her feet, she twisted around and drove herself backwards into his side, pushing him further in the direction he was already tilting. That upset his balance more, and he had to take another couple of steps to keep from falling.
When he turned back to face her, he stood at perfect striking distance and she jabbed her right fist at his windpipe. The impact would probably have made him gasp, might even have done some real damage. But Barrel Guard, still off balance, bent forward an instant before she struck. The blow landed against the side of his nose, and Amy was sure she felt something give way when her knuckles connected.
He let out a muffled honk, but still did not let go of her wrist.
Then came bubbling, and he started to cough explosively through his mouth and nose.
Small droplets, almost a mist, peppered Amy’s cheek and arm. The guard’s face was partly toward the headlights now, and she saw blood running down to his chin. He bubbled some more and used his free hand to swat the choking flow away from his nose.
Amy twisted her left arm again and this time the guard’s grip slipped. She lurched away from him.
Even as he struggled to breathe, Barrel Guard managed to swing a big palm down onto her head and clench hard, but the hand was slick from wiping blood off his face, and his grip on Amy’s hair slipped. She kept moving, and between the guard’s fingers nothing remained but a few dozen long strands of medium brown hair.
She threw herself toward the drop-off and began tumbling, sliding, crashing through thick undergrowth that spattered her with cool water. A knot on a fallen branch dug viciously into her back as she skimmed over it.
It was a steep, uncontrolled descent of thirty feet or so, and Amy kept rolling hard even after the ground under her leveled out. She got to her feet and tried to charge further into the darkness, but her head was spinning so badly that she couldn’t keep from slamming straight into an enormous tree trunk, though she saw it coming a good five feet before impact.
There were rifle shots, but no one followed her down that sharp drop. She stayed still, not giving the guards any clue where she was. Barrel Guard was still roaring away. The strap of the sunhat had somehow stayed hooked around Amy’s neck.