A Wartime Evacuee

by Andrew Passey

Part 5

As I stood outside the house ready to leave I tried to compose myself. I had a fearful thought that as I had no idea where Wilfred actually lived if I wasn't careful I could end up at his house. But I then tried to stay calm. I just had to get as far away from here as possible and worry about everything after that. That was easier said than done but I knew leaving now was vitally important.

Luckily for me it was a dark moonless night with a heavy cloud above which meant anyone looking out of the bedroom window wouldn't have seen me. Although who would be looking? I hoped against hope that everyone in the house was fast asleep like they were a few minutes ago. For a moment as I looked back towards the house I thought I saw the bedroom curtain move but after another deep breath I realised it was just my imagination.

While at first the lack of moon was a positive, on the downside it also made it difficult to see where I was going. I didn't really know where to go direction wise. So I just pointed my feet away from the house across the fields towards the distant wood I could see from the view from my bedroom window. Then the escape was on!

I ran as fast as I could at first before I got out of breath and then just walked as quickly as I could, occasionally breaking out into a jog. I realised I had to be careful in the poor visibility. If I turned my ankle in an unseen hole or something like that then I'd be buggered. Limping my way to freedom didn't seem a plausible outcome so I had to be careful.

I also didn't know how long I was going to be able to walk before exhaustion took over but putting as much distance as possible from the house was the main thing. However it was certainly hard going over the fields. The hedges between them were tricky to get through as I couldn't always find a gate or stile. I went as fast as I could but wasn't convinced I was making much progress.

I was also very scared. While I might have been running from a bad situation it didn't mean that the uncertainty of where I was heading didn't scare me. The countryside was also an intimidating place for a city boy like me. It was full of strange noises and my overactive imagination didn't help. However what was driving me on was to get as far away as I could. I had no plan really, just keep walking until I found somewhere to rest. Then keep on going after that. This was a reactive rather than proactive strategy. If I'd have realised I'd have to flee in the middle of the night I'd have paid more attention to where things were! I eventually made it to the woods and my heart was beating very fast. I was mainlining adrenaline and it seemed like my senses were hypersensitive. I'd at least made it out of the fields but the woods initially felt even scarier. However, they were my way out of here so I took a deep breath and ploughed on into them.

I soon heard a stream running in front of me and watched where I was going as much as I could. I didn't want to get wet or fall in. I quickly realised that on a dark night such as this it was virtually impossible to see where I was going in the woods. I needed to find a footpath or maybe a road. It would be riskier with the lack of shelter but who would be out and about at this time of night? I didn't like to think that anyone who was almost certainly was up to no good.

However the immediate priority was to put as much distance as I could from the house of pain. It was slow going through the woods and I decided to follow the stream which I hoped would lead somewhere. I got bashed by branches a few times but managed to follow it up to a small bridge. At that point I scrambled over a gate and onto a small country road.

As I walked along I was suddenly convinced there was someone in the field just to me right but then I relaxed a bit when I realised it was just a horse. As the hedges were quite high if I did run into someone I probably wouldn't notice until the last moment.

I continued to walk along the road and I had no idea what time it was. I wasn't really sure what time I'd run off and no way of working out how long I'd been on the go for. I started to feel tired which made me think it was a good hour or more but it was tough to be sure. I also had no idea if my absence had been noted yet. I suspected that it wouldn't be noticed until daybreak as they usually didn't check on me but I didn't want to take any chances. Of course if I'd been thinking logically it was likely someone as lazy as Mr Arse wouldn't do anything until the morning even if he'd noticed I'd left but I was escaping an abusive situation and thinking logically was proving difficult.

Although all my muscles still screamed with pain I broke into a jog and followed the road as it weaved in and out of the trees as quickly as I could.. It wasn't too long until I hit a collection of houses, not enough to be called a village really. It was dark and no lights were on. Everyone was asleep and I was relieved about that. The sight of the houses made me pause for thought though. What actually was my plan? How long could I walk and run for until I got tired? At some point I'd need to sleep and eat and drink. I couldn't really just knock on a door and ask for help. Who knows who it might be? What would happen if it was Wilfred or someone like that?

I took a deep breath and tried to think. I realised getting as much distance was important but that I had to be sensible. I couldn't totally get out of there that night. I could make some progress but Mr Arse could certainly cycle further and quicker than I could walk. So stopping somewhere safe at some point would be a sensible move. As I left the village following road signs towards a place I thought would be more substantial size wise a light rain started to fall. I had a brief thought that if I could make it to the main town around here I could go to the police. However I knew from my experiences in London that the police weren't really interested in kids and what went on behind closed doors. They'd be just as likely to take me back to Mr Arse as they would to help me. There was only one person I could trust and that was myself.

The rain started to get heavier and I began to get wet and cold. I wasn't going to stop and shelter just yet though. While I knew I couldn't go all night, I wanted to go for as long as I could before exhaustion kicked in. I could try and sleep during the day if I found somewhere safe and then go further the next night. Part of my problem was it was impossible for me to tell how far I'd gone. It was disorienting at night and I didn't even know if I was heading in the right direction. I had a worrying thought that it was quite likely a lot of the distance I'd made getting away was being reduced as I followed this winding road. Maybe it was winding me back towards trouble? I just hoped it didn't lead me all the way back to Mr Arse. I passed random houses dotted on their own and I began to feel that I was making good progress. I certainly hoped I was anyway. The adrenaline that had been flooding my body had now run out and I started to feel incredibly tired. I pushed on as best as I could though but knew I would have to think about stopping soon.

It wasn't much later when to my relief I could see some very distant lights over what must have been the other side of a big valley and I guessed that the River Severn wasn't a million miles away. There would be a town there and so finding somewhere close to where I would probably be a good place to stop before things got too busy with houses. Initially there was nowhere I thought suitable. The woods were sparse here and wouldn't provide enough shelter either from the rain or from anyone looking for me.

As the road dipped downhill I passed a wide path or maybe a drive off to the side. I looked where it went and took a few steps up the path. I could see it seemed to lead towards what looked like it might be a decent sized house in the darkness. There was some sort of building to the right of it that I wondered might be a barn. I now felt confident that if I could find someone to hide and shelter until tomorrow night then that would be the best option.

I slowly and quietly walked up the path and as I got closer I could see it was a very large shed with a decent size opening. I couldn't hear dogs or any noise at all really so I guessed it was probably safe. I sneaked right up to the shed and I went into the darkness wet and dripping. It was hard to tell where I was as it was pitch black but I could feel a pile of something that might be straw. I walked behind it hearing something scurrying away that I hoped would ignore me.

I couldn't tell if where I was behind the straw was out in the open or not so my plan was to wait for the first light of morning and then try to move to a better and safer hiding spot there. I lay down and waited...

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead