I pressed my face to the cold, misty pane of the window and looked out into the countryside beyond. It was rare to have such bad weather like this, especially in the summer. What baffled me the most was of how the storm had occurred. It had been a fine, sunny day and I was sat on the swing in the garden. As soon as I felt the first drops of the wild rain I darted inside. The rain had this burning feeling about it. It was a strange thing nature.
“Ger’ away from the window!” My Uncle bounded across the room, furiously tearing me away from my position at the window.
“What’s the matter Uncle?” I was confused as to why my Uncle was acting like this. He was a very sweet man, into his late fifties and he always had a welcoming smile upon his face. Today, however was a completely different story.
“Storms a brewin’.” He gave a deep sigh and resumed his position in his recliner. I wandered aimlessly around the house, looking for something to do. There was nothing worth keeping my attention so I sat opposite my Uncle, trying not to look at him.
The few times my Uncle had been mad he would have the most sinister look on his face. An aggressive smirk would replace his welcoming smile and his eyes would widen. Then he would go quiet and go about his day as if it had never happened. It was creepy, in a way, the way he responded in these events. What scared me the most was the fact that it was happening right now.
I didn’t realise I had angered him until he spoke.
“When I say stay away from the windows, I ruddy well mean it.” He didn’t even lift his head up to look at me, continuing to stare at the dirty floor. I knew he felt ashamed of me and I didn’t have a clue what to say. After a short while of silence he looked me straight in the eye.
“Your mother would have been so proud o’ you Lee. I just wan’ to keep ye safe is all.” He steadily pointed to the window.
“Yer mother used to love playing on that swing o’ yours. Every day, dawn ‘till dusk. Me and your Auntie-“My Uncle put his head down, silently wiping away tears. My Auntie had passed away recently, the doctors didn’t know what she had but whatever it was it was too advanced for normal medicine. There was no hope.
“I’m sorry.” I looked at my grieving Uncle.
“It’s not your fault, it’s not anyone’s fault, well maybe the doctors.” He gave a quiet, but hearty laugh and looked out of the window. I followed his gaze and found him staring upon the old, battered swing. A plank of wood with two, tattered ropes attached to it. It was lovely to sit on when it was a warm summer’s day. But today was not the case.
The hours droned on and on, no amusement to be found. My colouring book and crayons lay in the corner, finished with no more use. As if out of nowhere, there was a harsh knocking at the door. I could hear a muffled noise, almost like a moan coming from outside. I went to run towards the window but my Uncle held me back. He crouched down and looked me straight in the face.
“Something isn’t right. Nobody sane would be out in the middle of a storm! Stay here, and do not make a noise, hide behind my chair.” My Uncle took me by the hand and led me to his chair which was a mere two or three feet away.
“You always were a brave kid.” My Uncle winked and began walking to the door. He picked something up, out of the shadows. It was in the shape of a large, metallic object. A metal bat. My Uncle approached the door, took a deep breath and opened it up a crack.
I heard my Uncle’s deep voice, followed by another muffled voice. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman but whoever it was didn’t sound too happy. My Uncle grunted and began to close the door, but the shadowy figures foot blocked the door from closing. My Uncle looked straight into the eyes of the shadow in front of him. He gave a sickening grimace and opened the door. The shadowed figure entered, briskly pacing towards the kitchen, where my Uncle followed him, slamming the door behind him. My Uncle shuffled along the floor until he reached the entrance of the kitchen, where the two men spoke in whispers.
The man or woman, hadn’t seen me, hiding in the corner just yet but I had the strangest feeling I was being watched by them. As if they were in more than one place. I was old enough to know that was impossible, but the thought wouldn’t leave my head. I thought about sliding across to the kitchen, where I could eavesdrop on the conversation but I thought against it. Whatever was happening wasn’t my business and I certainly didn’t want to be a part of it. I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about, but I heard small amounts of the conversation.
“He isn’t going to be able to cope Stan. He needs to be safe, it’s better if he comes with us.” The voice was a man’s voice, it sounded gentle and calm, unlike my Uncle at the time.
It was then that I heard it. The gunshot. The shadowed figure staggered out of the kitchen, clutching his bloodied shirt, trying to keep his blood inside instead of on his shirt. My Uncle soon followed, holding the weapon. A pistol. My Uncle was a good person, he wouldn’t harm a fly. But then I got a completely different image of him when I saw him do this. The man in the suit saw me and looked me straight in the eye. He mouthed something to me, I don’t know what, but he sounded panicked and his eyes flared up. That was when the deed was done. My Uncle brought the bat around the man’s head, shattering his skull into pieces. The lifeless body fell to the floor and my Uncle placed the metal bat on the floor. He looked at the body, tilting his head to the side in a strange way and then he grunted. He opened the door and rolled the body outside, blood dripping from the once white shirt.
The sheer terror on my face said it all. The blood drained and I turned a sickly colour of pale. I looked on at my Uncle, a demented look on his face as he slammed the door shut, blocking any view of the body. There was blood all over the floor and the walls from the gunshot. As I looked at my Uncle I felt a feeling of untrustworthiness. My Uncle, well, the Uncle I had known before all this was a kind and gentle person who wouldn’t harm a fly. This event gave me a whole new look on my Uncle and so many questions popped into mind. Who was he? Why did my Uncle have a gun? What were they saying?
My Uncle approached me, kneeling down to my height. He slicked his hair back with his hand and began to cry.
“I had to. It was to keep you safe. I’m sorry ye’ had to witness that, it was ‘fer the best though.” My Uncle breathed in heavily. He looked me straight in the eye and said: “We need to go somewhere else. It’ll be safer up north now that they know we’re ‘ere. I’ll answer you later, in the car.”
“Who was he? What do you mean safer?” I began wondering if there was a dark side to my Uncle, something in his past. It wasn’t something I was familiar with and it made me uncomfortable.
“It’s best not to ask questions. Go grab your stuff, we’re leaving.” My Uncle stood up and briskly walked away into the kitchen before I could say anything else.
I rushed upstairs and began packing all of my things into the suitcase my Uncle gave me. Clothes, shoes, games. My Uncle said I could take whatever made me happy. I packed my bag full of anything important, I fit the majority of my stuff in the bag, leaving behind a horrific cardigan my mum had packed for me before I got to my Uncle’s house. I also left behind a packet of sweets which tasted like sawdust and made me feel ill. I returned down the stairs to find my Uncle in the kitchen, packing food into a rucksack. He smiled at me and asked me to wait in the living room, telling me to turn on the TV if it pleased me.
I did as he said, pleased to see my Uncle return to his normal mood, I slumped down in the chair and flicked on the TV. I wasn’t surprised to see BBC 1 as the channel that came up. My Uncle would always watch the news whenever he could. It was a hobby of his. I smiled and shook my head, tapping the buttons to get me to the right channel. The bright flare of the cartoon channel shook me and made my head sting, it seemed a bit too bright. I shrugged off the headache as quickly as it had came and enjoyed watching the reruns of some old cartoons such as Wacky Races and Top Cat. After a few hours my Uncle stepped into the living room and asked me to turn the TV off. I was half expecting him to ask me to come outside with him, but he sat down in the chair next to me and began to speak.
“I know you’ll be wondering why I did such an awful thing, it’s a very good question but you’re only fourteen. I’ll tell you when yer older, but for now don’t dwell on it. I know it must be scary but you’re a brave kid Lee. Things are about to change.” He ruffled my hair and offered to carry my bag. I gladly accepted the offer and we approached the door. My Uncle was carrying quite a few bags along with mine. One of which, the black rucksack, contained all of the household food. Another contained odd bits and ends such as cutlery and bathroom items such as soap and shampoo. I clenched the door handle and braced myself for the storm outside.