Ravi’s phone was tucked into her jacket pocket, left on a bench at the side of the wall, with all the others jackets and bags. The girls were preoccupied with their climbing, so none of them heard it complaining about its low life. Ravi herself was halfway up the grey rock face, hanging off as she spoke to Simi below her.
Her fingers were latched into a hold on the rock, and she was leaning back to look below her. Sim was pressed hard against the rock, clinging on with all her effort.
“Was it you who said to stay close?” Ravi asked with a breathless laugh, “keep up!”
Simi grunted in reply. Her headscarf was clinging to her face and heating her a little more than she had expected. If she’d thought about it, she would have taken her headscarf off.
Tiana knelt down with one leg stretched back. She leaned back against her own leg, like she was folding herself into a tripod.
Zangi reached for a hold with her hand, and almost lost the hold her foot already had. She swore loudly.
“WHY DO I KEEP ALMOST DYING TODAY?!” She yelled.
“God keeps calling but you keep hanging up!” Ravi called back, laughing.
“This would be a lot safer with ropes!” Tahati called.
“Ropes are for real challenges, don’t be a wuss!” Tiana called back.
“Screw you fam, you ain’t even climbing!” Tahati yelled back.
“Yeah fam who’s the real wuss!” Ravi called.
“I’ll climb as soon as one of you come down to watch your stuff!” Tiana said.
“I doubt it’s gonna be nicked in a town like this,” Simi said.
“Yeah well, I’m from Croydon, you gotta watch your back or you’ll get robbed,” Tiana said.
She accidentally pressed the flash button on her camera before taking a photo. The LED bulb burst a flash onto the grey wall, bleaching the photo and blinding the girls. Ravi yelled in alarm. Tahati almost slipped from her hold. Simi screwed her eyes shut.
“Dammit Tiana!” Zangi shouted.
“Sorry, sorry, let me turn that off!” Tiana pressed a button, “sorry, go back to climbing!”
Ravi reached the top before Simi, which deeply annoyed Simi. Until she made a lunge for a worn handle that came away in her hand. If Ravi hadn’t darted forward to catch her wrist before she fell, she’d at least broken a leg. At worse…
Simi and Ravi sat side by side atop the pile of rocks, with their legs dangling over the edge, to get their breath back.
from the top you could see acres of land. Green grass stretched in rolling waves of hills, broken up by little trees and dark hedges. Leafy trees reached up almost as high as the rocks, but too far away to reach. Tuffs of burnt red and brown bushes dotted the area around them. From this high up, Tiana looked tiny.
“Damn,” Ravi breathed.
“Yeah,” Simi muttered, “damn.”
Up here there was a cooler breeze than back down on the floor. It was slightly colder, but it felt more fresh.
“You were right y’know,” Ravi said.
Simi looked confused and surprised as she turned her head to smile at Ravi. “When aren’t i?”
Ravi chuckled and nudged her sideways. “y’know what I mean man.”
“Say it. Out loud, say it,” Simi smirked.
Ravi couldn’t bring herself to look at Simi’s smug look of expectation, but she also couldn’t stop herself from laughing at it.
“Alright fam, alright. You were right. Rock climbing is…” Ravi wrinkled her nose when it came to judging this view.
She had liked it. A lot. A lot more than she was willing to admit. Especially to Simi. But how to convey that without giving in a saying she loved it? Eventually, she came up with:
Simi looked slightly offended, and slightly confused.
“Yeah, and Shakespeare’s a pretty alright playwriter. What you on man?”
Without missing a beat, Ravi said, “weed.”
There was a split seconds silence as Simi did a double take. And then both girls burst into laughter.
“HEY! YOU TWO!” Tiana yelled.
The pair of them looked down to see that she had climbed to the top of a smaller peak, just to yell at them. The others were already back on the ground.
“If you don’t hurry up we’ll leave you here!”
Simi and Ravi shared a look.
“Race you to the ground?” Ravi asked.
“You’re on fam!” Simi grinned.
“You’d better stay close though,” Ravi warned, “We don’t want you falling.”
As they headed back to the car, they came to a corner that they had to go around before they could get to the car park. Nearby was the railway station. Tahati had stopped to watch the steam train chug by, so she and Tiana had began to lag behind. (Tiana wanted a photo of the train emerging from it’s own steam, and she got it. She got it good!)so Zangi went around the corner first.
The usually unobservant girl happened to glance ahead, and spot a familiar face within the crowds. She gasped in surprise, and turned on her heels, slamming into Simi who was directly behind her. Zangi shoved Simi and the other girls back around the corner and out of view of Tristan.
“Hey!” Ravi cried in offence.
She was told to shut up in hissed words by Zangi.
“What’s got you so worked up?” Tiana asked.
“Tristian is over there,” Zangi whispered, as if he might hear her over the blazes of traffic.
But Zangi was always unobservant, and had been known to cry wolf a lot. So instead of believing her right away, the girls rolled their eyes.
“No, seriously!” Zangi hissed.
She still wasn’t believed.
“Go and look if you don’t believe me,” she huffed.
“Go on Tiana,” Simi shoved her forwards so that she didn’t have a choice.
Tiana shot her a deathly glare as she headed for the corner. Zangi appeared behind her, peering over her shoulder.
“Over there. By the station,” she whispered.
Tiana turned her head. Sure enough, there he was. He had his eyes shielded from the sun with his hand, but even so it was too bright for him to see.
Instantly the girls fell into panic mode. Except for Tahati. No one noticed as Tahati crept over to the corner of the road, and peered around to try and see him. She glanced from him to the carpark. It was to the left of the station. She looked cross the road. A large orange brick building was directly across from them. Beyond that was a bend in the road that lead to just beyond the station. If they followed that road one by one, they could sneak into the carpark without being noticed. Tahati told the others her idea. Simi scoffed.
“That’d never work!” She said.
Tahati scowled at her. “Shut up fam, yeah it would! What’d you think Tiana?”
Tiana glanced down the road and tried to figure out where it would come out along the main road.
“I think she’s right. If we go one by one and try not to let him see us directly, it might work,” Tiana said.
Tahati gave Simi a smug nod.
“Might,” Ravi repeated with a hint of aggression, “and if not we have to go back to the schedule!”
“I can promise you we will not be going back to the schedule,” Tiana insisted.
“Yeah, there’s no way Tristan’s gonna continue to work with us. He’ll take us back to Sutton and ditch us at school!” Tahati agreed.
Tiana gave her a long stare in that kind of “sigh. Really?” Way that you see disappointed but not surprised people give a lot.
“Tiana, you go first. That way we’ll know how best to avoid him,” Ravi said.
Tiana looked at her urgently. “Why have I got to go first?!”
“You stole the van,” Ravi said.
“You invited us,” Simi said.
“You drove us here so he could find us,” Tahati said.
“You’re eldest,” Zangi said.
Tiana took a moment to try and think up a response to these accusations. It would have been easier if any of them had been a lie. But none of them were. So the best she could come up with was a sigh, and:
“I dislike all of you intensely.”
Sneaking around the corner and across the road was a little more nerve-wracking that you’d think. Especially when being caught meant being dragged home. It was still two days before they were officially no longer high school students, and they might be forced to attend.
That was not something they wanted to do.
Once across the road, she glanced around the corner to figure out if he’d seen her or not. He didn’t seem to. He also wasn’t looking in their direction. Tiana beckoned to the others to follow, one at a time.
Ravi came next. She clutched onto her pocket to make sure she didn’t drop her phone. In the panic of the moment, she was running pelvis first, and vaguely resembled a cross between crazy frog and Wario.
even with her ridiculous run, Tristan didn’t see her.
“If he sees us, we need to run away from the others, so stay close,” Tiana whispered as if he might hear.
Ravi nodded. Both of them peered around the corner like something out of a cartoon, and checked he wasn’t paying attention. He was looking down at his phone. This was their chance. Tiana signed for two of them to run. Zangi and Simi set off immediately.
Zangi ran like a gazelle. Long legs and high speeds to try and get away as fast as possible. Simi ran like one of those cartoon characters who’s legs move in a whirlwind but their upper half don’t move at all. that just left Tahati.
all of them were glancing around the corner now. Tristian seemed oblivious to the line of heads creeping up a wall, watching him. The others were obvious to Tiana stepping back to get a picture on her phone.
Zangi was laying on the floor, Ravi was kneeling over her, and Simi was clinging to the wall, leaning her shoulders across like she was stretching her neck. It made Tiana giggle. That is, until she caught the red-hot glare from Tahati. Tiana gave her a sheepish look, and glanced back to check Tristian wasn’t looking.
While the girls were distracted, they didn’t see a grown man sneaking up behind Tahati. No one knew who he was. He was just some crusty white dude in his late twenties, and a full length black jacket, and dusty looking hair.
Tahati’s chest turned to ice as she felt a presence creeping close to her. She hoped it wasn’t Tristan, and then realised it couldn’t be. He was still being watched by the others.
then who the hell was this?
He lent in close and whispered “BOO!” straight into her ear. In the same kind of primal fear that all women have or will experience at some point in their lives, Tahati lashed out.
Her knuckles collided with his jaw, knocking him back. He was so surprised that he staggered backwards and tripped on an uneven paving stone. There was an all mighty crash as he fell.
and then he started yelling.
The girls stared either at him or at Tahati in a lingering shocked silence. That is, until Tahati went racing across the road to where they were hiding.
Tristan saw that.
Tahati shoved Simi’s shoulder to the left so that Simi was shoved into running. Tiana followed at her side. Her camera bounced against her chest as she went. Zangi half dragged Ravi who was frozen in surprise.
they had barely gotten away from the corner before a /very angry creep got there, followed by a furious Tristan.
Within moments five girls were racing through the tourist filled streets of a town they didn’t know, slightly lost, and on high alert.
“STAY CLOSE! DON’T GET LOST! STICK TOGETHER!”
The order was repeated by each of them in turn so much that they couldn’t remember who first started the cry. It was definitely Ravi who first yelled about the carpark though. It had to be, because they were following Tahati, who was about to go past it.
Tahati skidded to a halt, which caused the girls behind her to crash into her like something out of the breakfast club. They hurried backwards, with Tristan and the creep hot on their heels.
“GET IN THE VAN! FORGET SEATBELTS! EVERYONE IN!”
The cry did not go ignored. Zangi tore open the door, Ravi shoved her in, Tahati threw herself in, barely managing to land on the seat, before Simi leaped in and slammed the door shut with such vigour the van shook.
milliseconds Before the door was fully shut, Tiana had cranked the engine on, and the van had jolted forwards, stalling costing them vital seconds.
the girls in the back cried out in alarm and desperation. Some of them were encouraging, if fearful, most were insulting in alarm. Tiana stamped on the acceleration again, sending the van zooming forwards. A huge s-c-c-c-r-r-r-r-r-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-c-h shook them to their core as the van scraped past the car beside it. The car was left with huge claw-like scratches, and a missing wing mirror.
the van was already zooming around the corner on two wheels, before crashing back onto four as it left the carpark and down the road.
Tristan’s run slowed into a jog before he stopped. The creep (with a bruise forming on his jaw) came to a stop behind him.
“Damn!” he yelled. “Damn! Damn! Damn!”
Tristan frowned at him in bafflement. “What did they do to you?”
The creep glowered at him. “To me? What did they do to me?! That little Muslim bitch punched me is what they did!”
“Excuse me?” Tristan felt a flash of anger for something new now.
The creep began to over annunciate in a condescending way, “I said, you deaf twat, that that little Muslim bitch-”
Yep that was enough.
Tristan was already seeing red, and now here was a fully-grown man calling a child a bitch. And bringing race into it for no real reason.
that was it.
Tristan pulled back all his weight with his shoulder, balled up his fist as tight as it would go, and ploughed it into this guy’s face with everything he had.
once again, the man was sent flying.
only this time, he had a bit more than a bruise on his chin. Because this time, there was a loud SNAP! And a broken nose.
As the man stumbled to his feet two contradicting thoughts came into Tristan’s head.
1) I should not have done that.
2) BRING IT ON.
The next thing he knew, his head was striking something cold, faintly smelling of petrol and his eye was throbbing like the cheese of a lasagna fresh from the microwave. But that was just before as everything went back.
“TAHATI YOU MELON!” Zangi yelled when she got her breath back, “WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR?!”
“WHAT THE HELL DID I DO WHAT FOR?! I PUNCHED SOME CREEPY BASTARD BECAUSE HE WAS CREEPY AS SHIT! THIS DUDE CAME UP RIGHT BEHIND ME AND WHISPERED RIGHT INTO MY EAR, RIGHT THROUGH MY DAMN HEAD SCARF! WHAT KIND OF CREEP DOES THAT?!”
“NEVER MIND THAT HOW THE HELL DID TRISTAN KNOW HOW TO FIND US?!” Tiana yelled frantically.
“OH MY GOD WHAT IF THIS VAN HAS A TRACKER?! WHAT IF HES FOLLOWING US ON GPS BECAUSE WE WERE DUMB ENOUGH TO STEAL A VAN WITH A TRACKER?!” Ravi yelled fearfully.
“HOLY CRAP WHAT IF SHE’S RIGHT?! WHAT IF THAT’S HOW HE FOUND US?!” Simi panicked.
“THEN WE’VE GOTTA FIND IT! START LOOKING!” Tiana yelled.
While she drove up into the hills again, the others began to tear apart the van. The seats went up and down several times. Bags were emptied. Clothes were thrown about. Even the new camera equipment was torn apart. Tahati clambered over the front seats, into the passenger seat, and dug through the dash board. She checked everything from the ash tray to the glove compartment. She even pulled the sun visor away from its hook to make sure it wasn’t hiding any kind of tracker.
Over the course of an hour the enthusiasm died down.
“Nothing,” Ravi declared finally.
Simi appeared from the boot, where she had been digging around in the walls for hidden compartments.
“Yeah, there’s nothing here,” Simi agreed.
“It’s gotta be under the car. Or in the bonnet or something,” Tahati insisted.
“Maybe it’s not a tracker,” Zangi said.
She was on the floor behind the passenger seat, since she had been looking underneath the back seats. Now she unfolded her legs and sat on the chair like she was supposed to.
“What if it’s not a tracker on the car? Have any of your parents got a tracker on your phone?” Tiana asked.
“Nah there’s no need to. My dad picks me up from school and my brother drops me off. I don’t have the chance to be somewhere I didn’t say I was going,” Zangi said.
“I got too many aunties to need a tracker,” Simi said.
“Yeah same,” Tahati agreed.
“Mine might. When I first started high school mum kept having nightmares that I’d get kidnapped on the way home. She was really worried about me for ages, and then she just stopped worrying, maybe she put a tracker in my phone,” Ravi explained.
“Have you got any charge?” Tiana asked.
Ravi pulled her phone from her pocket and shook her head. “Nah must-a died.”
“It might still transmit when turned off in case you go missing. Charge it, just in case we can find where it’s installed,” Tiana suggested.
Ravi held her phone out for Tahati to put on charge. It beeped as it accepted the phone. She left it in the empty change pot to charge for a while.
“I say we search the engine anyway. Cars get jacked all the time, if I had a fleet of vans I’d put a tracker on it to make sure it never got lost,” Tahati said.
The more they talked about tracking devices, the more all of them became convinced that someone – or something – had a one stuck on them in some way. During the argument, they forgot about the phone charging in the front of the vehicle. It took almost an hour and a half of driving through the hills to decide that they definitely had to stop and strip the van, just to be really damn certain.
Tiana pulled into a patch of grass in a relatively flat part of the hill, off the road. She parked there, and turned the engine off. then spent almost ten minutes looking for the button that popped the bonnet open. Zangi had gotten out of the car and was nagging from the open driver door, and Simi was leaning though the middle of the two front seats, to “help”.
Tahati had the common sense to google it. Once she’d found it on wiki-how, she and Ravi climbed out of the van, leaving the rest of them to bicker in the front. Tahati read out that the latch could be found beneath the lip of the car. After a couple of minutes looking, Ravi decided that it wasn’t there, and that they needed to use the option underneath.
Tahati and Ravi pushed all their weight onto the front centre of the bonnet. When that didn’t help move the latch, they moved to plan C.
Ravi pulled the area above the latch as Tahati groped beneath the passenger side of the dashboard for the rope that connected the latch to the interior lever. Tahati yanked it, Ravi pulled the bonnet, and up it went.
The bickering girls paused as they realised what had happened.
“Team work and common sense. You lot should get some,” Ravi suggested.
Zangi’s elegant, witty, and cutting reply, was to blow a raspberry at the pair of them. The other girls clambered out of the van, and gathered around the bonnet. All five of them stared down into the black, sooty coil of metal pipes, and oily wires.
“Anyone see anything out of place?” Tiana asked.
“Anyone see anything they understand?” Simi asked.
There was a low mumble of negativity as they realised no one had ever bothered to teach them what to do if something went wrong with your car. Or your stolen van.
That’s the trouble with schools these days.
There’s not enough time spent on how to fix hijacked cars.
None of them wanted to touch anything. Everything inside was covered in a thin layer of oil. Fortunately, their rock climbing dress code had been “things you don’t mind tearing in an emergency” and really, stains weren’t as bad as tears. Usually. Depends on the stain.
“What’s that?” Simi asked.
“What’s what?” Ravi asked.
“That!” Simi pointed deep into the van.
“A sheep,” Tahati stated.
“Don’t be sarcastic!” Simi spat.
“I’m not. That’s a sheep,” Tahati said calmly.
All the others looked up at the same time. Sure, enough a sheep had wandered over to see what they were doing. It was still some distance away, standing on a rock, watching them. Its woollen coat was straggly and caked in mud, and its face was black with a few white blotches on its forehead.
“Huh. A sheep,” Zangi said with a kind of impressed tone.
“Go make friends Tahati,” Ravi said, giving her a nudge.
Tahati whimpered a little and shook her head. Ravi, Simi and Zangi went back to staring at the engine and trying to see what Simi was pointing at.
It turned out that what she could see was a small red light, glowing between two pipes at the back of the engine.
“Why’s a light there?” Ravi asked.
“I have no idea,” Zangi said.
“What if it breaks? The spark of it breaking could light the oils fumes and blow up the van! That’s so stupid!” Ravi said.
“Unless it’s not meant to be there,” Simi said.
“You think it’s the tracker?” Zangi asked dubiously.
Simi shrugged. “That would make sense, wouldn’t it? You wouldn’t put a light near all this oil if you were building a van. If it’s just a little tracker the light isn’t likely to burst, right?”
Ravi wrinkled her nose uncertainly. “Dunno. Kinda suspicious.”
“Tiana what do you think?” Simi asked.
Tiana squinted suspiciously as she watched Tahati stare at the sheep. Every time the sheep moved, Tahati flinched.
“Tahati... are you seriously scared of sheep?” she asked slowly.
Tahati threw her an urgent and annoyed look. “YES! I’ve told you that a million times!”
“I know, but I didn’t think you were serious,” Tiana bit her lip to stop herself from giggling.
“Why wouldn’t I be serious?!” Tahati squeaked as the sheep turned its head.
“Because it’s a sheep! Look at it! Its known to be super stupid and its only useful for wool and meat. I don’t see why it’s scary,” Tiana laughed.
“I told you! I had a traumatic incident when I was little,” Tahati insisted.
Zangi glanced back at the light, and then at the sheep a couple times. “What if we tied the tracker to the sheep so Tahati always knows where it is?”
“Why would I want that?” Tahati asked.
Zangi shrugged. “Then you’ll always know that the sheep are far away from you and you don’t need to worry about them.”
“And Tristan will be following a sheep rather than us! Genius!” Tiana gave her a playful punch in approval.
The others couldn’t help grinning at the idea of Tristan chasing a sheep around the peak district.
“Tahati, you get the tracker out of the van. The rest of us will catch the sheep,” Tiana decided.
Now they were looking at the sheep with the same cautious alarm as Tahati.
“That doesn’t sound possible,” Simi said.
“It won’t be easy. I tried to catch a lamb when I was little and its mother was not happy. She still gives me nightmares,” Tahati muttered.
“It’s a little fluffy baa lamb,” Ravi scoffed.
“In prehistory, there was a creature fifteen feet long with three feet of jaw, brimming with teeth, faster than a velociraptor, and smart enough to surprise its prey before attacking. The closest living relative to it is standing right in front of you,” Tahati explained with a cold tone to her voice.
The other girls looked back at the sheep. It turned its head to see them better, and bleated a warning at them. Its high pitched “baa” made Tiana scoff.
“Good going evolution. You ruined a perfectly good killing machine!” She tutted.
“It’s got monocular vision now. That means they’re a secondary tier. Secondary are herbivores. We aren’t plants. It can’t hurt us,” Ravi pointed out.
She reverted to her science GCSE to reassure herself. Tahati opened her mouth to tell her about the video she and Simi had watched in ICT, where a sheep pushed a woman over a cliff and killed her. Then the sheep began to turn it’s back on them, and Tahati didn’t get a chance.
“Don’t let it get away!” Tiana yelled.
She half dragged Simi behind her as she began chasing after the sheep. Ravi and Zangi followed automatically, leaving Tahati by the van. The sheep glanced back to see four teenage girls screaming towards it. It bleated in alarm and took off running.
Sheep are a lot faster than we give them credit for. Whenever we see them, they’re standing around in herds, eating the grass, laying around, and being lazy. When they go, they go. Some can go up to 50 kph when they get going. The average speed of these four girls was about 20 kph. But there were more of them, they were more brash, and they were stubborn as mules.
They were chasing it around in circles for a good half hour, before they finally managed to surround it. Ravi, Simi and Tiana tried to box it in, and Zangi leaped on its back. The sheep reared up in alarm, trying to kick her off. as it bucked and kicked and bleated, it threw up a lot of mud and dirt. Rocks from underneath the surface burst through. They hit into the girls, dotting them with bruises and cuts.
Simi showed off her intelligence by jumping back and giving up as soon as it started head butting.
Tiana and Ravi darted forwards to try and sedate it. Ravi got it in a head lock, and Tiana grabbed it around it’s underside, like Zangi. This just angered the sheep. It started kicking and trying to bite Ravi.
it managed to get a hoof into her stomach, causing her to cry out in alarm and let go. As soon as she let go of its head, it jolted forward as fast as it could. Tiana was dragged off of her feet and thrown forwards into the dirt. Zangi tripped over her feet, and crashed down on top of her.
with an angry bleat, the sheep strode off, back towards its herd. It left Tiana and Zangi tangled in the dirt, and Ravi clutching her stomach in agony.
“How do rustlers do it?” Zangi sighed.
“With sheep dogs I guess,” Tiana said.
“We should have stolen one of those first,” Ravi grunted.
“You lot ok?” Simi called.
They looked over to see her beaming as she filmed them for her snap chat story. Tiana collapsed back into the dirt, groaning in defeat.
Tahati was leaning so far into the van engine that they couldn’t see her head. she’d taken off her hijab to stop it getting dirty, but now the rest of her was covered in oil. There were black streaks across her face from where she’d pushed her hair from her eyes. She still couldn’t dislodge the tracker.
“I swear to god I’m this close to just blowing up the car, but I’m sure that it wouldn’t even come off then!” her voice was muffled by the van.
“Don’t you mean you swear to Allah?” Ravi asked.
“No. I swear at your gods, not mine, I respect mine,” Tahati tutted.
“What do we do if we can’t get rid of the tracker? If Tristan’s always a step behind us, it won’t be long before he finds the van while we’re gone, or while we’re sleeping, and we wake up back home,” Simi sighed.
None of them really wanted to admit that she was right, but they all knew it. They were running low on ideas of how to get out of this situation. As the feelings of inadequacy set in, they needed to sit. Tahati leaned against the bonnet, above the front wheel. Simi sat on the chair, beside the open door. Ravi sat on the edge of the door, at Simi’s feet. Zangi lounged across the grass, basking in the sun to try and dry of some of the mud she was covered in. Tiana sat, cross legged, beside her, pulling up clumps of grass as she thought.
“We’ve got Tristan’s company card,” Zangi said suddenly, “we can pack up the van and start walking until we find somewhere to rent a car from.”
“They’ll know we’ve run by now. They’ll either cancel the card or use it as a paper trail. That’s why we had to pay in the café with cash, remember?” Tahati said.
“Yeah. That was pointless,” Zangi huffed.
She could have used that money for something more important. Like sweets. Or McDonalds. Or Netflix.
“She’s not wrong though. We can still use the card until it gets cancelled,” Ravi said.
“What are you saying?” Simi asked.
“If it’s not cancelled what’s to stop us taking out a few thousand quid and using that?” Ravi asked.
“That won’t leave a paper trail either,” Zangi said.
“But we can’t rent a car because I don’t have a licence,” Tiana warned.
Tahati grinned to herself. “We could hijack a car.”
“No! Police would be looking for the licence plate. If they found us running away from a company, in a stolen car, without insurance or a licence, we wouldn’t be taken home, we’d be arrested,” Ravi said sharply.
Tahati wrinkled her nose. With a tinge of disappointment, she said, “good point.”
Zangi groaned, “we’re going to have to walk, aren’t we?”
“Yeah. We need to walk into town, get some money somehow, and find a train or something,” Tiana said.
Zangi and Simi groaned. Simi was aching all over from the rock climbing. Zangi just didn’t like walking. Ravi sighed. She reached back into the car, and grabbed her empty bag. Their make-up, clothes, chargers, and everything else that had once been in their bags were now scattered over the back seats.
“Do we have time to sort this crap out?” Ravi asked.
Tiana glanced across the mess that filled the back seats. Everything that the five of them owned was mixed into a hodgepodge of clutter. Then she glanced at the clock on the dashboard. They had already wasted half the day, almost died once, and almost been caught once. They’d been here almost three hours. With every passing second Tristan was getting closer.
She shook her head. “No, we’ve wasted too much time already, he could be close. Just grab everything, stuff it into a bag, and let’s get gone.”
All the girls worked together to gather up the mess, and force them into the bags they had originated from. Simi’s bag was biggest, so they piled all the clothes that they could into it, until it needed two people sitting on top to get it zipped up. Even then they had to throw the rest into Tahati’s bag. Tahati ended up with at least nine hijabs and three different sized bras in her bag.
Zangi was given the make-up, hair brushes, oils, skin creams, hair extensions, zit-cream, spray and deodorant. She was also given everyone’s tooth brushes because she had a special pocket for them inside her bag.
Tiana’s bag was filled with everything technical. All the phone chargers, spare headphones, spare batteries, camera lenses, cleaning equipment, plugs, and everything else that they had thought was necessary while packing, and now were beginning to wonder if they really needed.
Ravi was given literally everything else. The “emergency” money, Tristan’s credit cards, all five of their passports, their house keys, and even Tahati’s three books for “in case you’re all boring and I need entertainment”.
By the time they were done packing, the van was spotless, but their bags were like lead.
“Follow the road. It’s gotta lead somewhere,” Ravi said.
“No shit,” Simi replied sarcastically.
Ravi flipped her middle finger at her.
“It’s a long walk girls, save the fighting for when we’re halfway down it,” Tiana said.
As she spoke she pulled Tristan’s coat on to cover up how dirty she actually was. It came to her knees. It didn’t cover up how filthy her legs were below her knee though. Simi sniggered at that.
Tiana headed off down the path first. The others followed begrudgingly. Except for Zangi. She opened the passenger door to steal the van keys, but realised Ravi had left her phone on charge. Zangi rolled her eyes. She unplugged it, and stuffed the charger into her pocket. As she picked up the phone, it buzzed to let her know it had a notification.
Zangi, being Ravi’s best friend, knew her passcode, so checked it out.
And saw the text from Sapphire. Zangi’s face fell. She locked the phone and stuffed it into her bra. No one needed to know about this until she could warn Ravi.
“Oi! You coming?!” Ravi warned.
“Yeah! Hold on!” Zangi called back.
She left the keys in the ignition, and slammed the door shut. She didn’t notice that the back door was still wide open. It wasn’t any of her concern anymore, after all.
“You need to learn how to stay close,” Ravi smirked as Zangi got closer.
“I went back for this,” Zangi pulled the phone from her bra.
Ravi pulled a sheepish face, laughed, and thanked her.
“Stay close you two! This hill is steep!” Simi yelled back at them.
Ravi latched her arm through Zangi’s and made her hurry up to join the others before Zangi had a chance to tell her what she’d seen. She’d just have to wait.
Tristan found the van about three hours later, when he drove past in the Uber he was paying for with Mr Edward’s PayPal money. His driver was more than happy to abandon this strange man with a black eye and bad attitude that he’d found sitting on the floor of a carpark. Especially when he could abandon him in the middle of nowhere. On a hill.
Tristan’s heart sank to see that the van was empty. Well, not empty. Empty of humans. It was not, however, empty of sheep. When he came into view of the open sliding door, a very suspicious sheep leapt into view, and head butted him to the chest, sending him sprawling backwards. The sheep bleated at him angrily. Without another incident, the sheep jumped out of the van, and strode off with its chin up, pointedly.
Tristan had no idea why this sheep seemed to be angry at him. For a moment, he had wondered if the girls had somehow been turned into sheep, but that may have been because of how hard his head had hit the car park.
Tristian examined the van to see what evidence he could find. There were dirty hoof tracks across the back seat, but fortunately the sheep had not used the van as a toilet. Except for some oil marks in the back seats, there was no sign of any trouble.
The bonnet had been left upright, but there was nothing noticeably wrong with the engine. The key was still in the ignition. When he twisted it, the engine rumbled into life, no problem. Everything worked fine. The van seemed to have been abandoned for no reason at all.
This felt like a mixed blessing. On the one hand, he had his van back, working properly, so he wouldn’t have to phone up the teacher and beg for more money, but on the other, he still couldn’t phone up the teacher with any good news.
since Mr Edwards was the only one in the same boat as him, he didn’t want to disappoint the man. And yet, he would have to.