Secret - 'Everybody's Got To Die Sometime'

October 1962

The World hangs on the precipice of annihilation. Russian weapons on discovered on Cuban soil. The world holds it's breath as the United States squares up to Russia. It seems we are only seconds away from destruction.

Meanwhile in North Yorkshire, Tom and his Dad are facing life without Toms mother. Meanwhile the new early warning buildings are rising up from the moors above their home. Do they provide security or threat ? Threats seem to be both near and far and dark days roll across Tom's world. His world has been turned inside out leaving him a short step from disaster.

As Tom's Dad says "Everyones got to die sometime".

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7. Darkness

October 17th 

I woke up screaming and in a sweat, ironically as the first rays of sunlight hit my face. The sun bringing light to the darkness of my mind. Darkness to light, dream to reality. Always inexplicitly linked. How the brain takes its time to familiarise itself again with the reality of the day, after a night spent wandering around the extremities of my imagination and memories, bringing it to my attention through a series of images shown to my subconscious. Sometimes it's good memories, decent imagination but lately it had been traumatic images, awful sensations that haunt my nights and even the days thinking about them. 

Last night I witnessed my father mowed down by a car... 

At first it was like one of those films with me watching this scene unfold. You know the type, some post war spy thriller. I'm looking at it as if I'm sat in the cinema, maybe I am? I seem to be eating popcorn or is that something I dream up about the dream? The world of imagination is so strong. Anyway back to the dream before those thoughts start to confuse me and make me forget the real dream.  

It was inky black, darker than a coal'ole would have been how Granny would have called it. There was a dampness to the air, a coolness so it must have been autumn or winter. I was at a bus stop in Whitby wearing my school uniform. Leaning against the post reading a book by the meagre yellowing light of the streetlamp, as usual. I try to remember which book but it escapes me. I'm engrossed in the pages, no surprise there.  

Then I'm in my body looking at the page when I hear two men arguing. It's loud enough that I can hear them, but far enough away that I can't quite make out what is being said. I look down the street in the direction of the commotion trying to see what I can see. There's a huge red and white American car. It was way out of place in Whitby.  

I focus on the two men who are arguing. You can see that the taller of the two is the aggressor by the way he is poking the other man in the chest. I focus in on the smaller man. I suddenly realise it's my dad.  

"Dad" I shout. 

The taller man pushes my dad and he bangs his back into the wall of a shop.  

"Dad" I scream and start to move towards him, in the hope I can protect him. 

The two men stop and I see my dad move away from the wall and towards me. 

"Tom, run", he shouts. 

I stop and see dad coming towards me, as if his life depended on it. The other man gets into the car and tries to start the car but it just turns over. 

"Run now, up the ginnel" dad says as he comes towards me. 

The car catches at the second attempt and I hear the squeal of wheels behind me. 

Looking back the car is getting closer... 

Closer … 

I can hear my dad puffing behind me … 

Closer … 

I look over my shoulder to see the car is closing in on me. My dad pushes me to the side and I tumble into the ginnel. I fall to the ground feeling the wet, bizarrely for a dream. I look up to see my dad reach the entrance to the ginnel but not quite in time as the jaws of the car, well it seemed like that, hit him pushing him to the floor. 

That's when I woke up sweating and screaming. It seemed so real after the event. Sitting there, panting lightly as if I'd run a mile, I tried to see remember who the driver was, but he'd had a trilby hat on which hid his features. The dream seemed so real. Maybe it was the memory of my mums death and the proximity to the anniversary that made it so vistal at this moment. I trembled slightly, the warmth of the suns rays starting to penetrate the coldness of my inner.  

Pulling the curtains back I let the warmth flood into me. It's funny how an object ninety two million miles away can make such a difference. How the heat travels all that way and still feels hot when it bathes my body. I remember my teacher telling me that it takes eight minutes and 20 seconds to reach Earth. The heat and light actually affecting us from the past across the vacuum of space, experiencing history both in sight and touch.  

Somehow the rays carry a kind of tranquillity, once again light replacing dark. Heat substituting cool. Effects of nightmares ebbing away like the tide from a sandy beach, still leaving a mark but no longer in the foreground. I rub my eyes and stretch like a flower affected by first light.  

Dad had already left when I came down the stairs, ready for school. He'd left the radio on and I listen while I eat the toast. There's nothing much happened that interested me. Apparently America has found a missile site in Cuba but that's half the world away, nothing too much to worry about. There were tensions along the Indo-Chinese border with fears about invasions. Why did the worlds population seem to want to annihilate each other ? A new band called the Beatles had been on the TV last night. Apparently they were going to be the 'next big thing'. I'd have to ask Joyce about them. I'll stick to my Buddy Holly I guess. 

As I was putting the plate in the sink I noticed a piece of paper with my name on. My fathers writing. 

Tom,  

Have a good day, we'll talk more at the weekend. I'll try to get some time off and we'll go into Scarborough if you want?  

Look after yourself. 

Dad 

I reread it and shrugged my shoulders. Maybe he would, but what was the betting something turned up and we couldn't go? Ah well that was two days away. Tomorrow I had a test in chemistry and that was taking my thoughts. I had an after schools class where we were going over some of the work. 

Leaving the house I found Joyce sitting on the wall, her legs swinging as she sat. 

"Thought you were never coming out," she said as she jumped down back to the ground. 

"Gardens looking better, you got round to doing it then," she carried on, "it's a lovely day, pity we have to go to school. Fancy bunking off and going to Scarborough?"  

Joyce was always tempting me to take time off from school. Before the summer she finally convinced me that a day away from school would be a good idea and we'd caught the train to Scarborough.  

"Remember when we did that?" she said as if reading my mind.  

"Yeah it was a good day,"  

"So, should we do it?" 

"I've got a test tomorrow and I've extra classes tonight. You might not have to get decent grades to do English, but I've got to get ones" 

"You're just a swot, Hukin" she said, "won't do anything to help a poor girl out." 

I bit my lip. Even though I knew she didn't really mean it but it still hurt playing on all my old insecurities. The constant bullying at school in the early days had still raw open wounds in my mind, even if these days it wasn't as bad. 

"Sorry Tom," she said linking her arm in mine. This girl, my friend since infant school, had the uncanny art of being able to read my mind. 

"So lets go to Scarberoo" she said, "be fun to get away from it. I'll buy you a milkshake from the Harbour Bar." 

She dangled the thought of a cool milky drink in front of me and I almost grabbed it with both hands. Would it be that bad to miss one day?  

"Sorry, I've got this test, I need the extra work." 

"Spoilsport Tom," she replied, "did you see the Beatles on TV last night? They're amazing." 

"No, Dad came home early and we talked." 

"Love love me do," she sang as we walked along, "you ought to listen to them, they're good. Buddy's dead you know, you have to move on." 

"Buddy's dead... I never knew... Wow you could break me the news better than that," I replied sarcastically well aware my favourite singer had died three years before. 

"You're too sarcastic for your own good," she said. 

We turned the corner and walked straight into Billy. 

"Ah look, if it isn't the swot and his girlfriend" he sneered. 

"Shut it Billy," Joyce said forcibly. 

"What you going to do about it Whitall?" 

"Well a boot in the right place'll bring thee down. I did it before and I'll do it agen." When she was angry, the broad Yorkshire accent came out in vengeance.  

Billy stood back perhaps remembering that time when Joyce, defending me again, had hit him on the nose, exploding blood everywhere. For a five foot person less than six stone soaking wet she packed a powerful punch. I seem to remember then that she was defending me as well. Me a six foot tall boy and her a five foot girl.  

"Hiding behind your little girlfriend, Hukin," Billy spat at me. 

"He's worth five of yer, yer nothing but a bully" Joyce lashed Billy with. 

She stood up to him, a rather uneven contest as it would seem. He was at least six and a half feet high and with a girth to match, a veritable man mountain. Built like a brick shithouse as my grandad would have said. However there was steel in Joyce's body, a hardness that wasn't visible, except at times like this.  

Billy raised his clenched fist.  

I thought at one point he was going to launch it in the direction of Joyce. For a second his hand quivered, the veins on his arms visible even more as the fist clenched tighter. Then he dropped it slowly to his side. 

"I'll get you Hukin, when your girlfriend isn't around," he snarled. 

" Mummies boy." He said as he turned his back. 

That did it. I aimed a weak punch at his head. Lucky for me it didn't connect and Joyce straight away was between me, holding me back. 

"DON'T", she urged, "he's not worth it." 

Billy turned round and laughed. 

"See you can't even do anything" he laughed.  

Joyce kept pushing me back as rage took over me. I've heard talk about the red mist that descends on people but never experienced it first hand. It's a feeling of being cut off. All I could see was the smirk on his face. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I tried to connect with him. 

"STOP" Joyce shouted at me. 

"Listen to her Hukin," Billy said. 

"You'll keep," I said more out of bravado than anything. I was seething inside but knew I'd be just fodder for him to beat to a pulp. I was never sure why he took so much delight from bullying me, but it was obvious he did. 

At that moment two buses showed up. One was to Whitby, the other one the daily service to Scarborough. 

"Come on, lets go to Scarborough" I said not taking my eyes off Billy. I couldn't face forty-five minutes on the bus with him. 

"You sure?" Joyce said. 

"Yes" 

I kept eye sight with Billy until we boarded the separate buses. Sitting down I started to quake, tears pricking my eyes as I thought about what had happened. I trembled slightly wondering how I let myself get once again wound up by Billy. It'd been a while since the last but the wounds he left were still raw. 

With Joyce rubbing my arm I settled back and blindly watched the moors pass as the bus wheezed it's way towards Scarborough. 

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