The story so far: Danny heard a man’s voice coming from a disused railway tunnel and goes to help. He finds Joe and Nulla: Joe has a broken leg and Nulla is heavily pregnant. Joe asks Danny to call a friend to help them – he doesn’t want the police – but when Danny does so, Andy, the friend, doesn’t appear to have their best interests at heart.
For the complete part 1 to 4 click here and follow the links back.
A Christmas Miracle
I suggest to Beth that maybe I should check on Nulla and Joe but she tells me not to be stupid. ‘You want to get out as soon as you can, don’t you?’
‘Yes, but I’m worried that…’
‘Look, wait until Mr Sense is here and then…’
Suddenly Hound starts barking. But it’s not the bark of recognition he’d give Liam. It’s a warning. I just know it’s Andy before anyone appears. ‘Beth, hide. It’s them. I’ll go and tell Joe and Nulla and then try and hide too. Oh crap.’
Andy is already climbing over the bank. There are three men with him. They can’t see Beth who’s already by the containers. One has a door which is part open though held with a chain. She somehow manages to squeeze inside. The door makes an awful squeak but Hound’s mad barking probably hides it. I start to move back into the tunnel but the man calls out
‘You. Boy. Wait.’
I want to run, but I’m more worried about Hound if he jumps at the men. They may hurt him. Maybe if I’m nice they’ll let me go.
It doesn’t take them long to open the gate. I’m pressed against the wall, holding Hound’s lead tight. He’s growling in the back of his throat and it’s taking all my strength. The first man I saw, who I assume is Andy – no one says – stands a few feet from me. ‘Danny yes?’
‘Don’t be frightened. Ok? We just get friends and go. But I need phone.’
‘You good boy, yes? You not call police?’
‘I check ok? Your phone?’
Still holding Hound I pull it out and toss it to him. He quickly checks. ‘Ok, you call me and Beth. Who Beth? Mother? Girlfriend? Police?’
I’m struggling what to say. Then I have a moment of sheer genius. At the far end of the road to the woods is Mr Gold’s bakery. He might be old but he’s famous for helping foreigners who come to England, like the lady by the Post Office. He has them working in his shop and he’s always in Croydon, where they’re registered, so Dad says. Dad helps too, driving his van to Calais with Mr Gold some weekends. Maybe Joe and Nulla are just like the people he’s been helping recently. In a loud voice, hoping Beth can hear I say. ‘She’s Mr Gold’s, er colleague. He helps people. I thought she might help. Bring some food. But she’s probably busy.’
Andy smiles. Sort of. ‘Gold? The Jew who runs bakery? He old fool. What she do? Bring cake? Kuchen?’ He says Kuchen with a spit at the end. He turns to the other men and says something I don’t understand. They all laugh.
‘If she come, we speak. You and dog, you wait. You keep dog hold, yes?’ And then he petrifies me by slicing across his throat and laughing. He drops my phone on the floor and stamps on it several times.
One man – with a big leather coat – stays on the other side of the tunnel opposite me. He starts smoking and checking his phone. Beth’s face appears by the gap and, when I hope the man is looking down I give a thumbs up. Just for once Hound remains quiet, with his gaze on the man, his hackles raised. He ignores Beth as she squeezes out – no screech this time – and scoots away.
Andy and the other man have taken a large bag with them. After ten minutes or so the other man returns. He speak to his friend and then points at me and then back down the tunnel. ‘You. Come. No Dog.’
There’s no way I’m leaving Hound. ‘He’ll go mental, you know bark. People will come.’
The men talk again and finally the one who spoke to me says, ‘Ok. Bring.’
Andy is talking to Joe. Nulla is squatting on the other side of the tunnel. On the ground is a stretcher. As we approach Andy stops talking and turns to see me and Hound. He shouts at the man and they argue. I think about me having Hound. I have to do something so I drag Hound and tie him to a metal bar jutting from the wall. I hold up my hands, showing what I’ve done. Andy nods and says, ‘Here. Come.’
Andy beckons me over to where Nulla is crouched. Close up I can hear her sort of groaning and whining. Maybe that’s singing where they come from. Only when I get close do I see her face, twisted with pain.
‘She have baby. Here. You stay. Help.’
I goggle at him and then her. She ignores me and continues to rock and make her funny sounds. ‘I… I can’t… I don’t…’
In one quick movement he grabs me by the shirt. Hound immediately goes bananas but Andy doesn’t let go. ‘It no matter. If baby die, good. You do what she say. I take Joe. He need help. Much pain.’
I know I have no choice and Nulla does look like she needs help. While I stand a little apart hoping she can do all she needs by herself and the screams and panics you see on ‘Call the Midwife’ aren’t real, Andy goes back to Joe. Joe begins to shout and curse as Andy and the other man force him onto the stretcher, but he can’t win give the state he’s in. Finally he calls out something to Nulla who doesn’t respond and then to me. ‘Dan, you good boy. You care my Nulla, my baby.’
As soon as they’ve gone I fetch Hound and make him sit near us. Nulla doesn’t care. The moaning is getting deeper and more frequent as is the rocking. Whatever is happening with Liam and Beth, it’s taking ages.
The one thought that keeps coming back to me is Andy saying it doesn’t matter if the baby dies. Does that mean he’s gone to kill it? That’s just so horrible.
And then everything happens at once. Nulla starts to stand and then really really scream and there’s a lot of grunting and she’s on her back and…
Last year we had Biology about reproduction and there was a film so I know what happens. But the film doesn’t help when you’re in a tunnel with a weak torchlight, a woman who doesn’t speak English and you’re worried someone might want to kill the baby. There’s blood and a lot of liquid and finally a small child attached by the cord thingy. In the film it was cut but I don’t have a knife. Nulla sort of drags herself to the wall and cradles the child, wiping away the goo with her coat.
I know this is amazing but I feel ill and want to sit down. Hound hasn’t moved while all this has happened. He’s as amazed as me.
Cries echo up the tunnel. For a moment I think it must be Mr Sense and my cousins but quickly I realise it’s Andy and his friend. My panic about the baby returns. I have to do something but what?