The bell rang and school was finished. Liberated in body, but not in mind. Chained and still captive, ‘the leader’ owned me in the summer months too.
The days and nights gave way to games and loitering; football and ambling. The longer evenings a platform for finer youthful shenanigans, playing out until the later hours. As the sun lowered and twilight became, the old stables were a wonderful setting for lost boys to intrude and explore. Perfectly hidden in its entirety behind a great grey wall. To the left, a hinged entrance stood tall; a black steely gate, magnificent in capacity. The ideal challenge for dirty hands and legs to overcome. The gravel ridge three feet from the floor provided the easiest starting point to boost the climb the top. Then came the bolted U-lock; the next stage in angling a solid leverage up and over.
One by one we scaled to break an entry. The leader always went last: ‘I’ll keep watch in case someone comes’. A single street light cast an amber hue of subtleness across the darkening yard. We whispered and wondered about what game to play. ‘The leader’ said that ‘hide and go seek’ was the game of choice.
A splendid stage with hay bales and horseshoes; traps and carriages; barns and sheds. Six bolted doors, half and half, beautiful animals known to be grey, black and brown sheltered inside. Our feet trampled the dry straw rigged against the tarmac. The mystery and sensation, a maze of adventure in this forbidden courtyard under an empty sky. There was perplexity all around; bunkers for breeding; hovels for cleaning; troughs for food and water.
But one shed in the corner haunted me. A castle of intimidation. No amber shade reached this point; far away from horses that were heard, but never seen. The castle was small but huge. Black doors rusted and pinned with continuous shudder. One window pane to the side which was coaled and unclear, thin and veiled in dust and shadows. No view in and no view out. It was powerful. The castle pulled reigns and placed blinkers, I was scared.
The game unravelled and my turn to count came quickly. Face the pole with both hands over your eyes and count to 10. I counted. ‘1.…2.…3.…’ the silence broken by howls from the young, footsteps and shouting. Feet slammed the ground in quick succession, like racehorses gunning for the finish line. I was the finish line: “GRAB HIS HANDS” “GRAB HIS LEGS”.
Exciting screams led by ‘the leader’, all getting louder as I squirm like an animal trapped behind a door. I’m face down, fluttering in panic as I look to the ground. Pulled and dragged and kicked. I scream. I cry. They laugh and laugh louder. I'm suppressed to the backdrop of 1000 heartbeats. I don‘t like it. The more I resist the harder they pull, the harder they kick.
“Open the door quick”. The castle door creaks open. I get thrown and released, like a jockey thrown from a horse. BANG! The castle doors are closed. Darkness. Blackness. The bolted lock closed in my aftermath as their laughter grows. They bang on the door. They bang on the windows. I can’t see. It’s small. It’s dark. The stench. Oil and diesel I think. I might go on fire. I could die. I'm frightened. I bang hard on the door. I bang harder. My eyes are closed. I can’t see even when they’re closed. Tears stream. “LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT” LET ME OUT!” I'm shaking. I'm scared.
“If you stop shouting we’ll let you out ye fat cunt” I stop shouting. The laughter and commotion subsides, footsteps lesson. They’re walking away. Where are they going? Let me out. I can’t move because I can’t see. They’re gone. They’ve left me. I’m scared.
My bitten nails file the steel, eyes water and flutter. Heavy breaths. Very heavy breaths. Dark clouds lower, demon dogs of desolation emerge from the blackness. Walls of worriment close on in. The panic animals attack; biting, scratching, tearing away at every breath. Archfiends of angst crushing my chest and breast. Heavy breaths. The prevention pulls me, tight around my ribs and torso. Brutes of botheration poking eyes and holding breaths. “I can’t breath’. The messyrs of misery prod and protrude through all that is already disturbed. Unwished away to an unknown place. A suffocating sauna of silence and stillness. Celled and chained in the invisible embers and fires that burn, chafing and charring the rational of straight thought and innocence.
I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE.