The Iron in Blood (Chapter 6, page 1 of 15)

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Chapter 6


I woke earlier than usual that day, and I felt a kind of whimsical satisfaction when I put the alarm off before it could start screeching at me. Mum was already up, of course, and I went downstairs to have breakfast with her. We sat at the table in companionable silence until it was time for her to go. She hugged me as she left, wishing me good luck for the encounter with Mr Parker. I thanked her and kissed her cheek, and then she was gone.

I had a leisurely shower, and stood ironing my school uniform in my terrycloth bathrobe, listening to Radio 1and humming a kind of off-tune accompaniment to a few songs. Mark eventually stuck his head around the corner and grimaced at me, so I shut up. No point torturing people at this time of morning. Not even brothers.

I dressed, tied up my hair and brushed my teeth, and stood waiting for Mark to get ready. I had to confess - I was nervous. School was going to be so much more of an ordeal than usual today, and I needed his comforting presence. Plus he could stop me if I decided to bite somebody's neck. Ha ha.

We walked the mile or so to school with Harry, who had arrived a bit earlier than usual too, and had grunted a kind of greeting. Harry was a strange one sometimes. It was almost like he was evolving backwards. Speech, now grunting. I imagined him knuckling about and hooting, and I chuckled.

We arrived at the school gates at ten minutes to nine, and I was hanging about just outside them, apprehensive about going inside and facing the day. Then out of nowhere a white van drove up, and three guys in balaclavas sprang out. I turned to face them, surprised at the screeching brakes and sudden activity behind me. I should have run, but I didn't. I guess I wasn't expecting them to grab my arms and twist them behind my back, and lift me bodily into the yawning cavity of the van. The door slid slamming into place behind us and the van took off, all revving engine and squealing tyres. I didn't even have time to scream.

The men worked fast, cuffing my hands behind my back and wrapping cable ties around my ankles. They draped a pillowcase over my head, and then they shoved me in a corner of the van and left me to my growing terror.


They came out of nowhere. I was standing about ten yards away from her, talking to Harry, when that van slammed on brakes, and those three men in balaclavas snatched my sister off the pavement, while we all stood watching in open-mouthed astonishment. Then they were gone, the tyres of the van swirling in a cloud of smoke. I tried to make out the number plate, but there was none. Make of van? I wasn't sure. Maybe a Ford Courier, or something like that. They all looked the same to me. I tried to remember its general shape so I could maybe try and identify it later if the police asked me. Police! I hauled out my mobile phone and dialled 999, and waited for seven long rings before I was put through to a bored operator who promised to send a couple of officers around to talk to us. Talk! I felt the panic rising in my throat. I had to do something. I glanced frantically around me at all the shocked blank faces, seeing no help there. Who could I call? Mum? No. She would lose her mind there and then. I couldn't do that to her. Let the police do that. And that's when I thought of Angus.

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