It had been three days since Prez and Ahlaam had been killed. Two days since we'd left EH and Kylie Not a moment had gone by when we didn't think about them, look for their faces in our midst. The hole that they had left in our small community was gaping. It was as though they'd taken the soul away from us.
There was however a hint of optimism in our small group. Jacqueline had come up trumps with a car that actually looked as though it would work. She'd took me aside before we left and given me a huge amount of cash along with a new wristband.
'Look Squonk, if you ever need anything, just let me know. This wristband is some new technology which they say is uncrackable. Keep in touch and look these girls. Crissy is strong but the other two have been through so much.'
'Thanks Jacqueline, I'll keep in touch, I promise'
'In a few days they'll be holding funerals for Prez and Ahlaam. The government is determined to keep these quiet, but the word is getting out slowly. people are starting to hear about what is happening. Prez being American is already causing shockwaves abroad, add Sinead and Ahlaam into the equation and you've got a groundswell movement that if we get it right will cause Govians real problems. We're planning protests to coincide with the funerals. I'm afraid though you won't be able to attend. Their families know about you but don't want you to get arrested, they know you will be executed. I may be in touch for a piece that can be read out by you four. Also Prez asked me to give you this package in case anything happened to her.'
She produced a small box wrapped in brown paper and handed it to me.
'What's in it?' I asked
'None of my business, she wanted you to have it, she gave it me the day before the raid for safekeeping asking you to look after it.’'
We'd left Jacqueline and headed back north. I drove through the night parking the car on the cliff top above the sleepy town just as the sun was rising over the sea in the east. It wouldn't be long before the days would get colder as autumn came. However, it looked like being another good day. I eased myself out of the driver’s seat, a little stiff after the journey. I stretched feeling a light breeze hit me. I knelt down looking out at the beautiful bay. White limestone cliffs to the south and the boulder clay of Filey Brigg to the North. This was a place I felt happy, memories of my childhood, a place I knew I could be safe for a while, whilst I hatched my plot. I picked up something off the ground that was blowing across my path. As I thought about my plan again in my mind, I absentmindedly stroked them.
I heard the car door go and a moment or two later felt a presence behind me.
'Penny for them?' I heard Crissy say.
I stood up next to her.
'Just thinking' I said
'What are you stroking?' she said. I looked down for the first time at what I'd picked up.
'Hens feathers, I said smiling. She laughed slightly and smiled, her hair blowing gently in the wind, the red from the sunlight turning her light hair even redder.
'Seem to have seen a lot of sunrises since we met' she said looking past me out to sea, 'It's a nice place though, looks sleepy'
'We'll be safe here. Need to get some tents and stuff, but I thought camping was a better way of staying off the grid. it's nice camping up here if the weathers good, I used to …' Memories of those childhood holidays with Sinead flooding back.
'it's OK' Crissy said stroking my arm in support, 'as I said, it's OK to remember'
The car doors went again and we were joined at cliff edge by Zee and Lily halting what I was going to say.
'What was that Squonk' Crissy asked.
'Oh nothing, I'll tell you later'
We spent the day in a nearby town buying camping equipment and the like from shops. It was fun and gradually during the course of those hours we all relaxed a bit. A meal at a pizza parlour was a laugh, all of us challenging ourselves to order the weirdest combinations we could eat. The laughter was infectious and soon we were all smiling. We were back to being teenagers without a care in the world. That was until you saw the profusion of GS goons on street corners. There had been a marked increase in their presence in recent months. occasionally down a dark alley we saw posters announcing 'Avenge Sinead' with that lovely picture of her. New ones were saying 'Don't let Prez's sacrifice go to waste' and 'Ahlaam gave her life for You' We stood in front of them remembering, grasping for each other hands, the mood swinging rapidly the other way as we remembered the events of the night. We skirted past official posters with huge photos of our faces on, scared someone might recognise us. Everyone who looked at us, we imagined knew who we were, would turn us in as sure as drop their hats.
The journey back to the cliff top was sombre, each of us lost in our thoughts.
That night I'd taken the package that Jacqueline had given me and headed on my own to a spot out on the top of Carr Naze. It was a quiet evening, down below I saw a few people walking their dogs on the beach in the evening sun, waves breaking with whitecaps onto the rocks of the Brigg. I thought saw a seal out on the end but may have been mistaken. I took out the box out from under my hoodie. I'd taken it out of the car and sneaked away from the other three on the pretence that I was going to the toilet.
I looked down at the package in front of me. Gingerly I turned it over, examining it. It was a small box covered in brown paper. I looked out to sea, contemplating opening it. This had been the fourth time in the last couple of days I'd done this exercise. My fingers trembled as I held it, afraid what the contents may be.
I untied the neat knot on the top and eased the string away. I thought how neat and tidy it all looked, quite a contrast from the Prez that I knew. I eased away the brown paper. Underneath was a small blue box. Instinctively I shook it slightly, Nothing much moved.
I held my breath as I eased the lid off the box and looked at the contents inside. There was a piece of paper neatly folded in half with my name neatly written on it with green ink. Underneath were a set of photos. A quick glance at them revealed Prez along with three younger boys, her brothers no doubt. there was nothing else. I unfolded the paper and saw rows of neat writing, again in the same green ink. I took a deep breath, aware that the words I were reading were written when she was still alive, aware even more that the only time she intended for me to read them were when she was dead. I felt a welling up in my eyes and a shudder through my body. This was going to be hard to read.
If you're reading this then it means that either I'm dead, badly injured or Jacqueline has let you read it. If it's the later then don't read any further.
Squonk I think I might not come back from this raid, I had a dream the other night and that's why I've decided to go back home. if you're reading this though it's probably just my body that'll be going. I want you and those left not to be too upset. I knew this might happen one day and to have lived and fought with you guys was well worth it. Without you movellians, I don't think I could have survived life for so long, you gave me purpose in my life, you were always there when I needed you, always there with kind words and thoughts, that’s why I came to fight alongside you guys, that and the thrill of it all.
I stopped and looked up to the horizon. tears were streaming down my face. I took a few moments to compose myself before continuing.
Anyway Squonk, the photos are of my brothers William, Eric and Garry. I loved them so much and in these last few days realised that whilst you lot were my family, I missed my real family more and more. I fear though I may never see them before, will never ever be there for them, never to play Batman to them. Please contact them and let them know that I died doing something worthwhile, that I did it for them that it might never happen in America.
Tell them Squonk that their Erica died a hero’s death and will always be with them whenever they need me, all they need to do is wish.
Love you all
There was a number written underneath, obviously a wristband.
I slumped over after reading it, tears streaming down my cheeks and my body wracked with sobs.
'What's up Squonk' a voice behind me said.
I looked up through blurred eyes and saw Crissy stood there, a concerned look on her face. I passed her the letter to read and stood up. I saw her eyes scanning the paper from left to right. I saw the cloudiness come over her eyes, then the first pricks of water appeared. In less than a minute the tears fell down the cheeks, her hands trying to wipe them away.
'Oh dear Squonk, what are you going to do?' she said eventually.
'I'm going to carry out her wishes and ring them. She would have done the same for us.'
'Do you want to be alone, or should I fetch Zee ?' Crissy said.
'No, please stay' I said holding my hand out. She took it and moved to my side.
I spoke the number into my wrist and soon I could hear the call being connected. It would be routed and re-routed to disguise my position. eventually the call connecting
'Hello' I heard a young American boys voice.
I gulped a bit and felt Crissys hand tighten around mine, her smile encouraging me.
'Hello, who's that?' I asked.
'Garry, who are you?'
'I'm Tom, is there anyone else there?'
'Williams here' I heard him say and then another voice could be heard.
'Hello William here'
'Hello William, this is Tom, I'm... , I was a friend of Prez, Erica's in England'
'Erica's dead, she'd been killed,' I heard him say, the sadness in the voice clearly evident. I sensed he'd been crying.
'I know,' I said a lump appearing in my throat, 'I was with her when she died...'
'Is that Squonk?'
'Yes, Erica wanted me to ring you. She died a hero'
'Like Batman' I heard a voice say
'Yes like Batman, she was a hero to the end. One in a million...' I said, the superlatives difficult to express, how do you tell them what you really feel when you don't know them.
'She was the sort of friend you wait all your life to meet, she brightened our days. We miss her so much' I said before I broke down. Crissy took the wristband off me and spoke quietly and confidently into it for a few moments. She eventually hung up and turned towards me tears in her eyes. She wrapped her arms around me and buried her head in my chest, her tears wetting my t-shirt. I stroked her hair, tears still rolling down my face. Tears for Prez, for Ahlaam and for Sinead.
After a while I felt her pull away.
'I'm, sorry Squonk, that was awful. Those poor boys have to live without their sister for the rest of their lives, that is tragic. This bloody conflict'
I pulled her back towards me and we stood still in the breeze that was picking up from the sea. It was a while before we eventually made our way back to the campsite. On the way back I told Crissy of my plan and what I was going to do. She listened without comment deep in thought.
'Are you sure,' she said eventually.
'Yes, I need to work out the specifics but after what they've done to harm all those people in that camp, to Sinead, Prez, Ahlamm, Meg, I want to hit them harder than ever before' I answered
'What about you?'
'I don't matter, in the long run if I can hit them hard and at this time, then it will be worthwhile, my life is stuttering on at the moment, not sure that anything good will happen now.'
She was quiet for a moment. Then she stopped walking and faced me
'What about those left behind? What about Zee, your future? , Lily looks to you as her real brother, this will break her apart' she said pausing appearing unsure of herself, 'what about me?'