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Stowaway
by Len Curle

 

The van roared up the drive and came to an abrupt stop outside the kitchens. The driver jumped out, opened the back and grabbed a container. He carried it into the building, returning a minute or so later with an empty that he threw onto the back of the van.

His routine never varied, five containers were delivered and five empties collected. After dumping the last empty, he climbed into the back of the van, tidied up and then went back into the building for a few minutes. The doors of the van were always left open and that’s when I would make my move.

Today was no exception and everything went to plan. I waited until the driver disappeared into the building for the last time and then sprinted across the concrete. Getting aboard presented no problem and in the depths of the van I found a space large enough to squeeze into. If I was spotted then I was sunk. Breath held, knees pulled up to my chin, I sat as still as a statue when I heard approaching footsteps. The back door slammed shut leaving me in total blackness. The vehicle rocked as he climbed into the cab, the engine rumbling into life almost immediately. I had made it, so far so good.

The empty containers shook and rattled as the van rocked and rolled down the drive, I was afraid that something might fall on me but stayed exactly where I was. Moving about in the darkness was out of the question.

After a short time the van pulled up. I didn’t know where I was, but this was my stop. Sunlight streamed in as the doors were thrown open. The driver grunted as he picked up a container and then silence. I scrambled out of my hiding place and jumped down, ready to make a break for it only to find myself grabbed from behind and held in an iron grip by the driver, who had been hiding behind the open door.

"Got you!" He crowed as I wriggled and squirmed trying to escape. "What were you doing in my van?". I struggled frantically but it was no use, there was no escape, the game was up.

"I did it for a dare I wanted to know where you went next," came rushing out all in one breath.

"Thought you were clever, but I spotted you through the canteen window." I kept quiet, not knowing what would happen next. I was very frightened but determined not to show it. "Do you know where you are?" asked the driver.

I had a quick look around. "Yes, the girls grammar school."

"On your way then," he said, giving me a not too gentle clip around the ear to help me on my way. " And don’t do it again."

I was eight years old, and had succeeded in my daring plan to find out where the dinner van went after it’s call to our school. What’s more I had gotten away with it, apart from the clip round the ear which was a small price to pay. My recent adventure gave extra strength to my legs, as I ran all the way back to Mowbray Road Junior school.

 

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