‘You going to eat that piece of pizza, Tay,’ Crissy asked reaching across to grab another slice.
We were sat in the back of a van in a busy retail park on the outskirts of Barnsley. Because we were all togged up in our camp uniforms we couldn't eat inside the pizza place and so we were stuck in the back of the van. Even though the heat had dropped, the van was still like a sweatbox, the smell of the uniforms combined with the smell of sweat created a rich aroma that permeated our nostrils and made us feel like retching at times.
The tenseness of the group was evident, the pizza and soft drinks were helping but everyone was still lost in their own thoughts for much of the time. Crissy appeared to have a never ending appetite for pizza.
It was under the cover of darkness that the van eventually pulled down a country lane and stopped. A thud on the side of the van made us all jump out of our skins. Then the doors were thrown open and a group were stood in the doorway, their clothes black and black ski masks covering the faces. Automatic weapons trained on us. I took a sharp intake of breath, wondering who they were. My first thought was the GS or some rogue unit. If you've never seen the barrel of a gun pointing at you, you'll never realise how big the barrel end appears to be.
After what seemed like an age one of the hooded figures slowly pulled their hood off. Underneath a tussle of blond hair fell down and a middle-aged woman's face appeared from within.
'So you're the movellians, eh' the voice said, a north-eastern accent clearly evident. She dropped the muzzle of the weapon, 'pleased to meet you all, I'm Jan and these are all members of the resistance. We're here to help you get in and out of the camp'
You could audibly hear the relief from us as we all exhaled at the same time.
'Sorry about that, couldn't resist the little charade. You know that you're wanted all over England at the moment' she carried on throwing a poster into the van, 'A million pounds for your capture, you're quite becoming underground sensations'
We passed the flyer around between ourselves. We were all there; photos captured through social media or school photos, even Prez and Zee, who weren't even English. One million pounds for information leading to arrests, capture or death. The last one made us all take a sharp intake of breath. It seemed that maybe they weren't bothered if we were dead.
'There's a lot of people who are coming over to our side by the work that you small band have done. The death of Sinead may not have made the news but it's been talked about the length and breadth of the country. She's become a cause celeb amongst people. Questions have been asked high up in government about it, foreign heads of state are now questioning the governments human rights. Look at these.'
She threw a selection of newspapers at us. They were all foreign papers. Plastered over the front pages were pictures of Sinead and myself, an old picture from a year ago at a scout event. It had been a really happy camp and the joy could be seen in our eyes as we were looking at each other. Obviously someone had found it on a website and reproduced it. Most of the papers were in foreign languages but the general message was the outrage felt by her shooting.
'British papers know about it but they're forbidden from printing or distributing it. The internet fire wall keeps most of it out, but people are finding out all the time. There are protests every week now. It's sad that Sinead died, but her death is starting a revolution.'
I felt myself well up and tears started to fall. This time they were tears not so much for her death but for the effect she was having on people. Through her death, she’d started a ground swell movement that was apparently igniting the consciousness in people and turning them against this wretched government. Zee squeezed my hand in support. You could see the shock on our faces, we never realised what was happening, it came as a massive shock to the seven of us.
'Anyway come on and let’s get going. Meg needs getting out of there as soon as possible, Auntie says that they will soon be moving her to London. There's talk of a trial.'
We followed Jan down into the woods.
After a trek of about twenty minutes we crouched down in the woods looking at the camp. It hadn't changed much since the day we'd been there a few weeks ago although at night the place took on a sinister air. I couldn’t believe in this era of electronic devices that they were still using barbed wire and searchlights. I suspected however there was sophisticated devices being used and this was all a bit of window dressing, a kind of statement of impregnability. As if to back my point up, one of the ski masks started tapping away on a screen.
‘We’re going to disrupt the power to their lights and electronic surveillance devices in a short while, we’ve been doing it for a few nights now so they think it’s just a glitch in their software. When we give the signal, Tim will lead you over to the fence and you’ll be able to get in through an area we’ve cut already. ‘
‘You need to find Meg as soon as possible and then come back to this point and we’ll get you out. We’ll disrupt the power for five minutes every hour. That’s the time to come out. If after two hours you haven’t found her, you need to get out fast. OK?’
We all nodded in unison, tensions rising.
‘Be about five minutes now, just got to align the flux on their defences, keeps changing but we crack it every time. They think they’ve got power problems,’ he finished smiling, his white teeth appearing in sharp contrast to the black of his mask.
I could feel my pulse rising as I stood waiting. Instinctively we came closer together, nodding at each other. The sisters embraced, both looking a little apprehensive. Prez was like a jack in the box, you could sense the nervous energy crackling in her slight frame. Ahlaam looked serene and self-assured as always, the haunted look of the past few days dispelled. EH stood a little terrified next to Lily. Her eyes twitching from side to side, I wondered for the first time how a girl so young could cope with what was going on. I saw Lily hold her hand. I embraced Zee as if it was the last time I would ever see her. We must have a discussion about our future, but that could wait until the morning. As the minutes ticked away we came together for a group hug, holding each other for those final few moments.
‘Time’ the ski mask said as another started to lead us towards the fence just as the lights went off plunging the entire area into an eerie darkness. We could hear the guards shouting to each other. There was no alarm in their voices only friendly banter. They were obviously used to these power outages by now, the effect the resistance wanted.
I have to admit I was terrified at the thought of entering the camp. It wasn’t so much the mission, but what if we became stuck there, unable to leave, what would happen to us? At the fence, Tim carefully pulled the wire back and ushered us under the wire. We crawled through one by one and crouched low at the other side in silence. Tim re-attached the wire to the fence and motioned to us to move. We gave each other a quick glance and half ran towards the nearest hut. We had less than a minute to try to find the entrance and enter before the lights came back on and we were spotted.