The walk since has amazingly yielded no more obstacles. The rain soon stopped and the path was clear. I have no idea where the thugs from earlier ended up going as I half expected to encounter them coming back the other way. I remain wary that they’re still hiding somewhere and waiting to ambush me; however, the further down you go the less trees there are to hide behind. The place becomes an actual valley: quite steep on either side and a fair distance to the top.
I decide to get back over onto the other side of the river as soon as I can and climb up the side of the valley. While there’s no beaten path up here, there are decidedly few obstacles and it gives me a good vantage point looking down onto the path that follows alongside the river. I’ll be able to see anything before it can see me from up here.
I dig into my backpack and take a drink of water. It immediately refreshes me, both mentally and physically. I can see a bridge up ahead. I know this is where I would’ve left the path if I was still on it.
I’m getting near now. The estate that Caroline’s mum lives on is close by here.
I approach the bridge with caution. This could be an ideal spot for an ambush from TDN. I head into some nearby bushes and creep my way up towards the bridge. A couple of birds flap their wings and fly away above my head; my movement must have scared them. I can’t see anybody on the bridge nor on the path at either end of it.
I’m becoming a little disturbed by the fact I’ve not come across the people who were searching for me before. Where the hell could they have gone? There’s definitely nobody on the path that I want to join and there’s really nowhere they can hide and ambush me aside from the bushes I’m in right now. It’s like they’ve just disappeared.
I remove the AK-74 from my shoulder and step out onto the path. I’ll be exposed here and I need to make sure I see them before they see me. The houses on the estate appear before me as I step onto the path. The alleyway leading onto the estate is at the end of this path some five hundred yards away. The path cuts across a large field that people use for everything from dog walking to playing football. There’s literally no cover. Unfortunately, I have little option and so begin the walk across the field. If I’m lucky, TDN haven’t spread to this area yet; I won’t hold my breath in that regard.
I want to avoid using the alleyway as I have no idea what awaits me at the other end and I’ll be going out blind.
Halfway across the field now.
It’s eerily quiet. All I can hear is the slight blowing of the breeze. That means one of two things: TDN aren’t here or they’ve already done their work. I break into a jog and close the gap between myself and the alleyway a little quicker. I can’t stand being out in the open like this.
When I reach the alleyway I push myself up, back first, against the fence of the house on the right and peek down the dark passage. I can see right the way through to the end; there’s nothing there save the dim glow of the street lamps.
It’d take me a couple of minutes to walk from here to Caroline’s mums on a normal day; today is anything but normal! I wonder if I should scale the fence and cut through the garden so I can use the house as cover and look properly out onto the street. The fence is high and I might make a bit of noise. That said, I don’t feel safe walking down the alley.
The garden it is.
The varnished wood of the fence is slippery and makes the going difficult as I climb it. I won’t be beaten by a fence! I try again, taking a bit of a run-up this time. It works and I sort of hug the top of the fence as my legs scramble to pull the rest of my body up. I’m quite relieved nobody’s here to see me looking so pathetic. Ten years ago, I’d have vaulted this fence in seconds. Simple things are getting a little trickier now I’m the wrong side of thirty-five.
I manage to pull my fat arse over the fence and drop over the other side into the garden. It’s a nice and manicured place with a little rock pond, decking, and a lawn that’s better maintained than my own hair.
I walk through the garden and down the side of the house. There’s a gate at the end of the passageway that’s locked from my side. I slide the bolt across as quietly as I can and inch the gate open. It leads out onto a driveway; a Mercedes is parked next to a shiny new SUV. It’s hard to see beyond the driveway because it’s surrounded by privets as manicured as the garden I just came through. The gateway goes out onto the street, but I’m not getting much of a view out onto it. Silence is still all that greets me, yet something is telling me all isn’t well around here too.
I come through the garden gate and step onto the driveway. I check the front door and can see there are bullet holes in it. That tells me everything I need to know and I’m immediately overcome with a sense of foreboding. If they’ve been here then they’ll have been to Caroline’s mums. I can only hope their ideology is killing only adult males; then I remember my downstairs neighbour, Sharon. Perhaps not! I don’t even want to contemplate what they might’ve done to Caroline and Eloise. I have to get there fast.
I step around the SUV and towards the driveway gate. Almost adjacent the driveway is a street hanging off the main road and that’s the way I’ll need to go. I look up and down the main road and, sure enough, I can see small pockets of TDN hanging around. They’re close enough that they’d see me going across the road.
I’m stumped now. What do I do from this point?
I need to create a distraction. I have literally no idea what I could do though. The house might have something inside I could use, so I go inside.
It’s a lovely house. If not for the broken glass on the floor near the front door it’d be show-home worthy. I don’t know what I’m looking for. It’s most certainly not the dead woman I discover in the kitchen! Her clothes are riddled with holes and soaked with blood, her eyes glazed over.
What a shameful waste! She looks to have been in her late twenties and a very attractive woman. I’m obviously getting used to the sight of death now as my gag reflexes haven’t kicked in. I suppose once you’ve seen one dead body you’ve seen them all.
I can’t see anything in the kitchen and move into the living room. The curtains are drawn, so there’s no worry of being seen by the murderous scum outside.
I can’t find anything in here either! There’s a cabinet filled with all types of booze; that isn’t going to serve me too well unless I want to get steaming drunk.
Then I have an epiphany.
Back into the kitchen to check the cupboards under the sink. There I find a few rags. I grab a couple then return to the cabinet. I pull a bottle of vodka and, with regret, a single malt whiskey from it. After unscrewing the bottle caps, I douse the rags slightly and stuff one in the neck of each of the bottles. After that, I find a lighter and then head back outside.
There’s every chance this plan could go horribly wrong and I’ll be dead in a minute or two. That doesn’t bother me as I’d meet the same fate if I legged it across the road anyway. I’d rather die trying to do something than just letting it happen.
I psych myself up a minute before lighting the first rag. It goes up quickly and I throw it with a hint of panic. Luckily, the distance on it is good and it smashes on the driveway of a house about three doors down: the very house the three TDN happen to be standing outside of. It immediately attracts them.
I quickly light the second and throw it the other way. This one hits the front of a house and the flames burst into life. I hear the shouting and exclaiming from the men stood near there and I head over to the gate to see what’s going on.
I can hardly believe my luck! It’s worked!
They’re attracted to the diversions like Odysseus to the sirens on the rocks. I don’t even take time to think about it and run as quickly and quietly as I can across the road and down the street I need to go down. The whole way, I’m expecting to hear gunfire and to feel bullets rip through me; it doesn’t happen.
I make it to the cover of the fence of the first house on the street and duck behind it, peeking out at my handiwork.
Nobody saw me. I’m stunned!
This is an omen. Something up there wants me to find Caroline and Eloise. I’m going to find them safe too. Caroline is a resourceful woman; she’d have found a way to keep her and Eloise from harm.
I keep myself away from the street and walk along the fronts of the houses, ducking all the way. There’s yet another alleyway at the end of this street that leads onto the grove Caroline’s mum lives on.
I’m almost there.
There are just another couple of front gardens to traverse now. I can hear the shouting behind me as those TDN present try to work out what’s gone on.
I have the time to reflect on what has gone on tonight. Very little of it makes any sense. I’m soundly asleep one minute, then climbing down from my third floor flat in an attempt to save my life the next.
The clouds have parted and a bright full moon reveals itself along with several twinkling stars. The dark night ain’t so dark anymore!
I’m at the end house now and head into the alleyway. I take a peek down it and see what I can see on the grove. Caroline’s mum’s house sits at the end of the cul-de-sac and I can see it ahead in the distance with a silver car on the driveway. The grove bends around to the right from the end of this alleyway; that’s where it opens out onto another road. There are no TDN to be seen and I dare saunter down the alleyway. Once again, I stop at the end and look around.
There are no sentries at the entrance to the grove and none to be seen anywhere else. I remove the AK-74 from my shoulder and walk slowly up the grove towards where I know my ex-girlfriend and my beautiful daughter await me. There’s a slight spring in my step because I can feel that everything is going to turn out alright.
I’ve beaten TDN. They couldn’t stop me getting to the two people I love most in the world. Love is stronger than hate and I am living proof.
The house is dark. They’re probably hiding in the attic. I know her mum had it done up a few years ago to create some extra space. I’m imagining the scene in my head as to how this will all work out for us. After all I’ve been through the past hour and a half or so I think I can afford to romanticise a little. The driveway with Caroline’s mum’s silver car is just a few feet away now.
Wow! that’s bright!
What on earth is that?
There’s another now.
Are those…? No, it can’t be! They are; they’re spotlights.
Confusion is replaced by crippling fear. Two spotlights shine directly on me. I point the AK-74 at either one of them in turn. A voice calls out. It sounds like it’s coming from a megaphone. They tell me to drop the gun and put my hands in the air. I hesitate briefly, but eventually do as I’m told.
What choice have I got?
I tell them that I just want to see my daughter. I try to barter with them. Once I’ve told her that I love her they can do with me what they wish, just please don’t deny me seeing my little girl one last time.
The next sound I hear is loud; the loudness of the sound can’t compare to the sudden pain I feel, both emotionally and physically. Several pops ring out and I fall to the ground like a sack of potatoes. I can’t pick one place on my anatomy that hurts the most; however, that isn’t what concerns me. What concerns me is that I’ve failed. The evil bastards haven’t finished yet and I can feel more bullets tearing into me. Oh well, at least I tried.
Goodbye Caroline. Goodbye Eloise, my sweet darling daughter. I love you both so much.
Image header from in5d.com