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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11. Olthwaites

 

October 20th

Morning

It felt cold as I pulled my carcass out of bed on Saturday morning, autumn was in the air. A fine frost mist clung to the ground in the field opposite. As I watched, the mist started to dissipate rising slowly revealing the grass below. The pale blue sky indicated it was cool but yet promised a warmish day to follow.

Saturday usually meant a day spent at home studying and completing homework, but today I was off to Whitby with Joyce and Lily. I could feel a kind of excitement building up in my body, like the start of a journey or a holiday. Well it was a holiday in fact, yesterday we’d broken up for half term. ‘Spud Picking’ week was how we all called it. A week where a lot of people went potato picking in their families. I shuddered at the thought. A week spent on your knees in a muddy field wasn’t my idea of fun. When I was twelve, mum had given in to my protestations and allowed me to sign up at Arkwright’s farm for a week. I’d lasted a day before vowing never to subject myself to such torture ever again. Every muscle in my body protested for well over a week. Mum had smiled knowingly and would mention it whenever I had a wild idea.

I’d heard dad leave earlier, as it was just becoming light. Last night he was in at the usual time, which was unusual. Mrs Hendry had been in during the day to clean and left us a meat and potato pie for tea. We’d eaten it with gusto, and a healthy dollop of Henderson’s, one of dad’s home town delicacies. Then dad had fallen asleep in front of the TV. However, he promised me that on Monday he’d have the day off as it was my birthday. I’d be turning eighteen and he planned to take me to York for the day. I’d take the promise with a pinch of salt. I didn’t blame him, the project he was involved with was nearing completion and he was under pressure. 

I got dressed quickly to keep warm, the room still chilly. On the kitchen table were two notes along with a ten shilling note.

Tom,
Sorry I fell asleep.
Haven’t forgotten about going to York on Monday.
Have a good day in Whitby.
Here’s some money to spend today.
Get some food if you can from the shop and I’ll pay her later
Dad

I smiled and put the money in my back pocket. Maybe buy that new book that I’d promised myself from Holman’s if Joyce let me go in there. The other note was a list of groceries to get from the shop. I’d drop it off at on the way to the bus stop.

Joyce had arranged to meet us both at the bus stop but when I got out of the house Lily was waiting for me at the gate.

“Morning Tom. Isn’t it great to get out for the day. Can’t wait for you to show me Whitby. I’ve been up since soooo early waiting for everyone to get up so they could drop me off. Isn’t it a beautiful day. Can we get fish and chips? Can we go to haunted abbey? Dad says it’s where Dracula lived? Come on quickly or we’ll miss the bus.” Lily blurted out with her hundred mile an hour way of talking.

Her mood was infectious though and she was the sort of person who made the world seem like so much of a better place. We wandered along the street towards the green with her skipping by my side and chattering twenty to the dozen all the way. I had no idea how she managed to breathe at times, she talked non-stop hardly pausing in between sentences even when she’d asked a question. Today it was all about her mum and dad taking her walking on the moors and the things they saw. They’d been up to the Hole of Holcomb and she was telling me all about how a giant had made it. I smiled, inwardly, as I knew the story, but she was so excited to be telling someone about the legend that I let her go on.

We arrived at the green and Joyce was stood waiting at the bus stop.

“Oh, look there’s Joyce” Lily exclaimed rushing over to meet her. I waved at Joyce and made hand gestures that I was slipping into Olthwaites. Luckily the shop was empty.

“Morning young Tom,” Mrs Olthwaite said welcoming, wiping her hands down her apron, “now what can I get for you today?”

“Just a list of things. Can I leave it and pick it up later?” I asked.

She pulled out her glasses and examined the list at close quarters, her eyesight must really be bad. ‘Old Ma’ Olthwaite was a legend among the village kids. One minute she’d be shouting at us to not to touch anything, the next she’d be slipping us broken biscuits or if we were really lucky a gobstopper. There were always delicious smells permeating from her back room, stews, bread and cakes. Always a smile on her face, she greeted customers like family, her door forever open while her and her husband were awake. She was three times the size of him and ruled the shop like a queen ran the country, with a smile and a sense of duty. That duty included spreading the village gossip as well. I lost track at the times I’d stood there and tell mum something about someone, always using the quiet voice as if telling in confidence. ‘I never tittle tattle, you know me Mrs Hukin but …’

“Yes I can do that for you, I’ll get our Bert to drop it off later. Off to Whitby are you? With that nice Joyce? You two courting?” she asked smiling in the way that adults do.

I could feel my face redden in embarrassment.

“Thanks Mrs Olthwaite, that would be good. The bus is coming, must go…” I said as I bid a hasty retreat from the shop. I heard her laugh as I left. No doubt later she’d be telling someone all about it.

“Run Tom run,” Joyce said. She already had her foot on the bus step and was signalling frantically for me to get there. Jogging across the green I stepped on behind her and found a seat behind Joyce and Lily.

“Lucky for you son that she was here, otherwise tha would have missed bus,” Harry the conductor said, a cigarette hanging from his lip, “so where’s tha off ter?”

“Whitby please” I asked proffering my money.

He took it and gave me a ticket from his hand cranked machine before heading for the front of the bus, the smoke following down the aisle.

Lily’s smiling face appeared over the top of the seat.

“Where are we going in Whitby?” she asked excitedly, “ I want to see evvverryything, Whitby sounds so exciting.”

I sat back and watched the moors trundle past. I had a feeling today was going to be a good day.

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