Before we discussed business Bumper had an invite for me.
“Look mate, I know it’s short notice but I’m getting married next Friday. One of my Aunts has dropped out, varicose veins playing up or something. Anyway there’s a meal going to waste. I’d be chuffed if you could make it. Elvis and Marie will be there.”
“I’d love to. Congratulations. Who’s the lucky girl?”
“Bernadette McLaughlin. She was a couple years below us at school.”
“Bumper and Bernie’s bananas. I can see why you’re marrying her.” We both laughed. “Are you having a stag night?”
“Just a couple of pints with Gilbert and Elvis on Saturday, you’re welcome to come if you’re up for it,” Bumper replied.
“Definitely, I’ll be there.”
“You said you had something that might interest me,” said Bumper, “what was it?”
“It can keep.” I didn’t want to upset him before his big day. I was also a little concerned about seeing Elvis again. He had been quite upset the last time I had seen him and I hoped he hadn’t told Marie of my plans.
Nobody spoke. Only the breathing and whimpering could be heard.
“This is serious,” I broke the silence. “We’re trapped. We’re going to die.”
“Have you not got a p p p plan?” said Elvis with a little too much stuttering sarcasm for my liking.
“I’m scared Elvis. More than I ever have been before.” Not only was there an angry dog baying for our blood outside but it was also pitch black and like a furnace inside the skip.
“You said there weren’t any dogs,” Gilbert shrieked. “You promised! It’s all your fault.”
I was choked by the accusation but the stories about dead kids became more feasible now. I started to think of the children’s bones I might now be standing on.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” I felt the air being drained from the skip. My throat was getting drier. Every breath we took was one breath closer to our deaths. “I’ll think of something.”
“Well make it quick, I can’t breathe,” Bumper shouted.
“Ok give me a chance. I’m thinking.” I slumped down against the wall of the skip and tried to collect my thoughts. I racked my brains for ideas but could only come up with one.
“We’re going to have to make a run for it,” I said.
“It’s the only way. What else are we going to do? If we don’t do something we are all going to die. Can’t you feel the air disappearing?” Somebody coughed. My chest tightened. “Everybody get as many programmes as you can and stick them down the front of your pants. That way we will be protected if the dog goes for us.” I was desperate for a response but didn’t get one. “If one person gets attacked the rest of us might able to fight it off.”
“And if we can’t?” Gilbert asked.
“I don’t want to think about that,” I was struggling to get the words out now.
“Jesus Christ, Pete,” Bumper shouted.
“It’s our only option. If we don’t go now we’ll all suffocate within the next ten minutes. It’s your choice. Are you with me or not?” I knew I was going regardless of the reply. As it happened nobody spoke. I took this as a sign of agreement. “Is everyone ready to run?” I shouted as I edged towards the door. “This is it.”
One voice spoke up. It was Elvis.
“What do you mean you can’t?”
“My leg. It’s b b b b broken. I can’t run.”
“Shit,” I never thought. “But you have to come, Elvis, you’re my best mate.”
“We can’t go without you. It’s everyone or no one. You’re coming with us,” agreed Bumper.
“You g g g go. I’ll distract the d d d dog while the rest of you get away.”
“You’re not serious. You’ll be killed.”
“Like you said, we’re all going to d d d d die anyway. It’s the only way.” I fought back the tears as I shook his hand.
“I’ll never forget you, Elvis.”
“We can’t leave him here. We have to go together,” Bumper was now screaming hysterically.
“No, Bumper. I’ll go out first to d d d drag his fire. You just run as fast as you can. D d d don’t look back. You m m m might not like what you see.” We were all sobbing now. Elvis shuffled towards the door.
“Let’s d d d d do it!” Elvis slung open the door and jumped outside.
A mass of fur and fangs leapt towards him and he screamed. I ran past him as fast as I could with the others following me. My legs were turning to jelly but I had to keep on running. I had my eyes shut but the tears still streamed down my face. I couldn’t imagine what was happening to Elvis.
“What am I doing?” I shouted. “Elvis is my best mate.” I stopped running but couldn’t look back. Gilbert and Bumper passed me without a second glance. I shouted after them. “What’s the dog going to do after it’s finished with Elvis? It’s going to come after us. We can’t leave him.”
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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