Up and over this fence and I’m into somebody’s back garden. I have no idea whose garden it is; if these people dressed all in black are following the method they’ve used up to now then the people who live here are probably dead.
The house is dark and the bottom end of this garden is even darker, so I’ll wait here a minute while I get my bearings. I need to make sure I head the right way. If I was on the street I’d be fine; there’s something disorientating about not quite being on it.
This house is on George Street. To make it to the valley, I’d normally walk down George Street and then turn left into the alleyway connecting it with Fir Tree Grove. From there, it’s a walk to the top of the grove and then right onto Prince Street. After a walk of about roughly six hundred yards it’s another left onto Chiltern Drive and there’s an alleyway at the end of there leading onto a dirt path down to the valley. On the streets I could make it there in five minutes or less. As I’m garden hopping, it’ll take substantially longer. I’ve also got to hope there are no TDN in the houses to see me as I go.
Alright, there’s no time to waste. It’s a couple of miles to Caroline’s mum’s house and the sooner I get there the better.
I hop over the first fence and land on the ground. Immediately, I’m taken back to my childhood. I remember when doing stuff like this was fun; there’s nothing fun about it tonight!
Keep going; it’s not going to get any easier from here, Andy.
The next fence is dealt with. More screaming and gunshots nearby. I wonder for a moment if they’re killing children too. I can’t recall having heard anything sounding like the scream of a child yet. I’ll take solace from that because there’s nothing else I can take it from right now!
Next up is a privet and it’s not going to be quite so easy to scale this one. I’ll have to see if there’s anywhere I can cut through. This looks likely.
As I attempt to negotiate my way through the bush, I’m suddenly greeted with the sound of a barking dog. Perfect! That’s just what I need right now! I carry on regardless, but I’m going to need to up the pace in case any of these terrorists are alerted by Fido here. Stupid dog!
I run through this garden and over the next fence. Sure enough, I can hear TDN on approach; their voices are muffled by the helmets they all wear.
I can see a lamppost up ahead. That’s in the alleyway I’m searching for. A few more gardens to hop before I get there. The dog is still barking as I clear yet another fence. It begins to growl and I hear the voices of the black clad men. The dog isn’t making noise for much longer as a short burst of gunfire shuts it up.
They’ve actually just shot a dog! It was a little West Highland Terrier for god’s sake! I have to resist the urge to throw up now. These guys are absolutely ruthless.
I’d better take a minute. If I move now they’ll probably see me and then I’m in trouble. They’re in no hurry to move on and it sounds like there are three of them conversing. I can hear the odd word they say. Something about the flats being locked down and civilians neutralised. They’re talking as though they’re military.
What is this all about? Why would anybody want to break into the homes of normal working people and kill them in cold blood? What sort of statement are they trying to make?
The three TDN are moving on now. They’re still talking as they move onto George Street. I’ll stay here a minute. The breather can only help. I need to stop thinking about how scary this all is and how I’m probably going to die. If I think like that then I definitely will die.
It’s time to crack on. Off I go, over yet another fence. A second privet lies in wait here; it’s shorter and better maintained than the other, so I lever myself up and over. The sound of breaking twigs is so loud. One more garden after this and then I’m at the alleyway. The fence isn’t tall and I negotiate it with relative ease. Just a fence separates the alleyway and I now.
I poke my head up and take a look both ways. There doesn’t appear to be any TDN nearby. I negotiate my way over the fence as quietly as my out of shape body will allow me to and land in the alleyway on my feet. From here, I can still see my block of flats.
I sneak my way up the alley and onto Fir Tree Grove. There are TDN present on the grove and I quickly head back down the alleyway and over the fence adjacent the one I just came over from. Fir Tree Grove is a no go. I’m going to have to carry on along the gardens on George Street before nipping over the fence and onto the alleyway between the gardens of George Street and Prince Street. I can’t imagine there’ll be any TDN there.
No messing around; over these fences and onto the alleyway. It’s actually more of a dirt road than an alleyway. I can’t see anybody up ahead; a lack of street lighting makes it hard to tell. I know this alleyway comes out onto Nuffield Crescent, the street adjacent Chiltern Drive. I used to play around here all the time as a child.
I make my way up the alleyway and standing at the entrance of it is one of the TDN. Damnit! This presents a problem. I can’t garden hop anymore as I need to get across Prince Street to Chiltern Drive. What do I do now?
I can’t see if there are more black clad men nearby, so it wouldn’t be wise to sneak up behind the guy with my kitchen knife. Wow! As if I’m actually contemplating it like murdering people is something I do all the time. Needs must I suppose.
I’ve had an idea. Maybe I can bring the mountain to Mohammad. This had better work or I’m down for an eternal snooze. There’s a gate into somebody’s back garden that’s slightly ajar. Through here and slam the gate.
That was louder than I’d expected. I just hope curiosity gets the better of him. The only problem with this idea is I won’t be able to see him until he comes through the gate; however, I’d risk being seen if I were to stand anywhere else.
I hold my breath involuntarily. I can hear footsteps on the uneven and gravelly ground of the alleyway. He’s coming. My heart is beating so loud and fast.
The gate opens.
In my head, this all seemed so simple; now I’m really not so sure.
There he is.
I’m not thinking; I’m doing. Bloody hell! I really am doing it too. I can actually feel the knife sliding inside. I’m killing him! He lets out an odd noise as he crumples to the ground with me on top of him. I’m not entirely sure of where I stabbed him, but I do know I’ve buried the knife in right up to the handle and he’s not moving.
After a few seconds of lying there, I work up the courage to look down and immediately wish I hadn’t. It’s not what you’d call a pretty sight. The knife has passed straight through his wind pipe and severed the jugular leaving a rapidly growing pool of blood on the ground. There’s no urge to throw up this time; I just do it instead.
I can’t believe I’ve just had to kill somebody. On a computer game, killing is easy; in real life, it’s something that requires a massive amount of psyching up for, even if necessary. Even as you’re doing it you’re talking yourself out of it.
I take a moment to collect myself and let the gag reflexes settle. Moment taken, I have to carry on now. I check the corpse to see if he has anything that could be of any use. A pocket knife; definitely more convenient than a kitchen knife! He has a better torch too, one you clip onto your clothing.
The other thing he has of great interest is the gun. It looks like an AK-74 if my time on video games has taught me anything. I’m extremely tentative about picking it up. I’ve never held a real gun before in my life and there’s something strange about it. It’s intoxicating and terrifying in equal measure; a lot lighter than I was expecting. What would be perfect is if I could squeeze off a few rounds to get used to it; not a good idea in the circumstances. It has a strap, so I put it over one shoulder and then check the dead guy again. He has extra ammunition in his pocket so I take that as well.
Chewing gum? I find it ironically amusing that this killer felt it important his breath remain fresh whilst taking innocent lives. Was he expecting to find himself a woman along the way or something? I’ll take that. A bit of minty freshness would be nice given as I can still taste the vomit intermingled with ‘I just woke up’ foulness in my mouth.
I have everything I could need now. It’s time to carry on. I’ve at least given myself a fighting chance now I have the gun.
As I stand I notice something printed on his combat vest and kneel down to take a look. It’s the TDN logo: a gruesome looking beast motif. Then I see the writing beneath the logo.
The Dark Night.
That answers the question as to what TDN stands for I suppose. I won’t lie; it’s a crap name and not massively intimidating. The head honcho must be a Batman fan or something. Anyway, I must press on.
Out of the garden and close the gate before I head back up the alleyway and towards the opening onto Nuffield Crescent. Pressing up against the high fence of the last house, I sneak a look around the corner and see what’s up ahead.
A car drives by on Prince Street; it looks like a 4×4. How original! We’re in urban Britain and they’re using a 4×4 because that’s what they’d use in the movies. It’s quite pathetic when you think about it.
I can’t see anybody nearby on foot after a quick reconnoitre. I keep myself close to the fence and as low to the ground as possible without compromising speed too much. The shadows are my friend right now, without wishing to sound too clichéd to myself. I despise clichés!
Prince Street lies up ahead, a road I’ve crossed with consummate ease countless thousands of times in my life. Right now, it’s like the most treacherous grey river I could wish to encounter and one wrong move could see my corpse swept away down it.
I’m not dying tonight. I’m going to reach Caroline and Eloise and get them to safety.
I feel a droplet of water land on my hand and instinctively look upwards. It’s starting to rain. Of course, it is! In a way, this could work to my advantage. The sound of rain once I’m in the valley will drown out the sound of my footsteps. Then again, the same could be said of any TDN I come across. The difference is they won’t be expecting me.
I look up and down Prince Street again and again. There doesn’t appear to be anybody around; it doesn’t make any sense to me that there’d just be that one guard I took out lingering around. No; there are more of them nearby. I’m going to play it safe and wait for a few minutes to see if there’s any activity.
The rain is starting to come down hard now. It kicks up that all too familiar smell as it hits the asphalt on the road, the smell you get after a few days of dry weather before the heavens open up.
Headlights are on approach, so I move behind a PCP in order that I’m not seen.
There’s shouting from down the road and the sound of gunfire. I can’t resist taking a look, though I can’t see anything. I really wasn’t expecting to see Prince Street looking so desolate.
Sod it! I’m taking my chance. I can’t wait any longer; if this is my undoing then so be it. I mentally prepare myself and ignore the nagging voice of doubt.
Go, Andy, go!
I leg it over the road quicker than I think I’ve ever ran. It’s about fifty yards to the relative safety of cover on Chiltern Drive—it feels like five hundred! The sound of gunfire I half-expect to hear as I’m running never comes.
I’ve made it. I haven’t been seen.
Either I’ve got really lucky thus far or I’m doing a great job. I’m leaning more towards the former if I’m being honest with myself.
Chiltern Drive: a very familiar little street for me. I lived here as a child for a few years. A lot has changed though. I don’t recognise any of the residents anymore, but that doesn’t stop the colour draining from my skin when I see a body laid upon the driveway of the house across the street from where I’m standing.
That explains why it’s so quiet; TDN have already cleared up here. Nonetheless, I have to remain on my guard. These guys will shoot me on sight; they’ve made that fact only too clear.
Alright, the alleyway down to the valley is just at the end of the street. I move on as quickly as I can whilst keeping as low a profile as possible. The alleyway isn’t illuminated by streetlamps. In fact, the entire valley will be shrouded in darkness.
As I enter the alleyway, the world turns black and ominous; more so even than it already is. I’ve made it this far somehow. The valley awaits me.
TO BE CONTINUED
Image header from in5d.com
Read Chapter 4: Valley of the Shadows now!