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Sally-Anne, thats me.

Sally-Anne, thats me.

 

Chapter 21.

LittelBaby and LittelBrudda had looked up from there werk. Neether of them cried owt. May be thay had known we were on borowed time. Suddernly the copper biside me let go my arm and dropt to his nees. I thort that was odd. Then he let go of my hand cuffs and fell flat on to his fase, his hare in the edgis of the streme. I looked up the streme. LittelBrudda had anuther large flat stowne in his hand and was bringing his arm back. Thwack! The stowne hit the humungus thug what was sitting on Duncan, on the side of his hed. I saw it all in slo moshun as LittelBrudda aimed again and down fell a massiv police woman, who topperled side weys, mowth opern in mid showt. The larst man, a mussly skinny chap not in uniform, ducked but not farst enugh. LittelBaby had parsed LittelBrudda anuther rock, wich sored owt of his hand and thuded hard in to skinnys cheke. Down he went.

There was a silence. Jus the gergling of the streme and the tweating of berds.

LittelBaby clapped her hands. ‘Oo good atta trow de stownes!’ she said.

‘Yeh,’ said Duncan faintly. ‘Not bad, LittelBrudda!’

A car dor slammed bihind us. Three more men stood there, with guns, glaring at us thrugh goggels. The guns went kuh chi kuh, kuh chi kuh, like geting redy to fiyer. You often here that sownd in the moovies but not often in rele life. LittelBrudda had anuther stowne in his hands. ‘Dont, LittelBrudda!’ scremed Duncan.

It was such a high screme that I wantid to showt ‘Your a gerl, your a gerl,’ but I realised it wasent the moment. Quite often I have to kerb my inpulsis.

‘We give are selvs up!’ I showtid. ‘Plese dont shoot.’

There was a crack of a gun. Three cracks. I thort ‘oh shit, have I bene shot?’ But I dident fiyul eny pane. I looked at Duncan. He was still standing. I looked at the babies. They were still standing in the streme. The three men buckeled at the nees. One of there guns went of, but in to the trees. Who had brogt them down? It was a mistery. The leves jus shimmered in the silence.

Then there was a cracking of twigs. Some one walked owt of the bushis. It was CrazyStranger with a gun in his hand. ‘What…?’ I croked. He terns up all over the plase.

‘Iyum sorry, Sally-Anne,’ he said, ‘that I apere to be following you arownd all over the plase.’

‘Well, it is a bit weerd,’ I said, ‘but thank you, eny wey.’ I noddid at the three flatterned blokes.

‘There not ded,’ he said. ‘Its salt. Theyull come rownd in a bit, we shoud move.’ He put owt his hand. I shook it. ‘Iyuv bene looking owt for you for a long time, Sally-Anne,’ he said.

There was more crackling of under growth bihind him and a dumpy lady with a rownd red fase was standing there. I thort I was having one of my vishuns. ‘Mum?’ I wispered.

‘Well, Yes, and No, Sally-Anne, my love,’ she said.

She all weys has been a bit odd, so I jus ignored that strange rip lie. ‘What are you doing here?’ I arsked, not berlieving my eyes.

‘Me and Prefeser Snow go back a long wey,’ she said. ‘To nine munths bifore you were born, Sally-Anne.’

‘Weyull explane in a minit. Get in your car and follow us,’ said CrazyStranger.

We quickly swept up are blankits, tent and food and rammed it in to are crappy car. We followed CrazyStranger along a windy root for abowt forty minits. All the time, I was saying to Duncan, ‘What? What is that? Why woud Mum know CrazyStranger all this time?’ We went owt of the woods and on to a bigger rode, along anuther windy lane, thrugh a cupel of villigis, thrugh a ford, parst a farm and we parked bihind a pub where there was a littel play grownd and got owt and let the babies play in the swings.

CrazyStranger sat on the botterm of the slide. He sihged. He lookt quite old and tiyerd. ‘Your muther was the surogut for my very ferst, originle, succes full attempt to bring a neyanderthal being in to the werld, Sally-Anne.’

‘What?’ I was gob smacked. ‘Was she? Why did I never mete that neander thingy then? Did it ever live at are howse?’

Duncan garsped. He was looking at me. ‘Oh my god,’ he said, ‘Sally-Anne, its you!’

I stared back at him. ‘Am I a speri mint?’

‘Yes, you are,’ he said.

‘Wow,’ I said. Lucky it dont still mene chewing gum then.

‘Well, it dont make no diffrence,’ I said, ‘seeing as how I dont evern get properly what one is!’

‘Thats why your dad left,’ said my Mum, ‘He coudent cope with you being so…diffrent. Thogh Iyud only agreed to do it for him! To pay of his dets, the un grate full….’

‘Is that why Iyum a freek? And why pepol dont make eny sense…?’

‘Your not a freek,’ said CrazyStranger staring at me with….love, I think it was, ‘you are a wonder, and thats also why you were chosern to bring LittelBaby into the werld. The sientists had tried again and again but the babies were all weys miscarried or still born. They figered you were the only one who coud do it.’

I thort back to how it all startid. ‘So Jess was pade to get me to Wantababy….’

LittelBaby was in the swing, going ‘Weeee! Weeee!’ My mum was pushing her. It made me nerely die of happy ness wotching them, so I coud hardly consentrate on all this stupid speri mint stuff.

‘Oh, yes…thay pade Jess, thay pade Wantababy, thay pade Frances…it was a teme effert.’

‘You were manipulatid,’ said Duncan. ‘It menes cuntrolled,’ he addid, ‘like a puppit.’

Ooh, it made me feyul weerd that pepol had been wotching me, and plotting me like that. And oh shit, Frances was NarstyLady….Still, I was glad she wasent LittelBabys rele mum…who was LittelBabys rele mum then?

‘Who is LittelBabys rele mum then?’ I arsked CrazyStranger.

‘Her rele mum? Her rele mum….and your rele mum…two different wimin, lived sixty thowsand yeres ago, in a cave in Romania, in a big famly group of Neyanderthal. But you, and the babies, you are cloned….’

‘Cloned menes like copied, Sally-Anne,’ said Duncan.

‘…yes, like copied, from three of the children of those two wimin. There remanes were fownd in a beautifle cave on a hill side. It was luvley, tidy, all the speres lined up, pichers on the walls and a harth, or fiyer, in side.’

I knew that. I had sene the cave, I had sene the piols of fer, the fiyer, the brambels at the entrunse, the view. I had smelt the smoke, the animuls, the children, the love. In those vishuns I must of been seeing memries parsed on from my rele, aynchent muther and farther, or memries parsed on from my oridginle self. Was it like I was getting eccows of her feelings? Iyum not clever enugh to know.

‘Does that mene I have lived bifore?’

‘Not quite. Some boddy pritty much ixactly the same as you lived bifore.’

‘Why did you help us get away from the laboratry?’ I arked. ‘Do you…not like,’ I coudent really say Bludshoteyes, ….’ that Procter Docter man what kept the babies in cagis?’

‘I dont like them precisely bicause they kepe babies in cagis,’ he ansered. ‘Docter Procter wantid to kepe you in a cage, for your hole life, Sally-Anne. ‘

My hart clenched with horrer. If I coudent be owt side and fiyul the brease on my fase evry day, I think I woud die. He continewed: ‘I had a massiv falling owt with Procter and his stupid son, with me insisting on having you broght up by your suragut and having your freedum. But I never dremed they were hatching a plan to get you to be the surogut for a new generashun of battery caged neanderthal. They were one step ahed of me there.’

‘So you fownd owt I was pregnunt…’

‘And I vowed to help you kepe your baby owt of the cagis….’

‘But I woudent lisen…I thort you were crazy!’

‘I dont blame you for that,’ he laughed, ‘but I all weys had watched you from afar, taking notes and injoying the fact you were loving the owt dors, loving to darnse. You are a true oridginle, Sally-Anne. No boddy else sees things the wey you do.’

Who else had said that to me? It rang a bell. It was the lady who gave me the book to write in. This book. ‘The lady…’ I said, ‘The lady who gave me the book…’

‘Yes,’ said Prefeser Snow. ‘My wife, Cecilia. We were really hoping you might rite some of your advenchers down, as it woud be a fasinating rede.’

‘Shes going to,’ said Duncan.

I dident even know then that I really coud rite it all down. But see, I nearly have, and Iyum nearly at the end of the story so far. My hand akes fit to bust I hope you know.

I lookt over at my mum pushing the babies in the swings. ‘I have one more queschun,’ I said, wispering. ‘Why did you choose my mum/not mum? Like, shes not…..’

‘Bicause ferstly, she agreed to do it. You dont find meny who are brave enugh. Also, she had a high persentige of neyanderthal genes,’ said Snow. ‘Her blud test rejistered highist in the like leehood stakes of being abel to bring you in to the werld.’

Duncan carried on talking to CrazyStranger. It was to sientific for me so I went over to the swings. My mum was laughing. I dident think Iyud sene her laugh in yeres. ‘Look, Sally-Anne!’ she said. As the babies came for werd in the swing she was hi fiving there littel swinging fete. ‘Hi five! Hi five!’ Thay were screming with dilight.

‘Mum…do you want to buy them littel rabits?’ I arsked her, with teres prickeling bihind my eyes.

‘Oh, yes,’ she said, blinking rapidley like she had jus wokern up, ‘I do! I want to buy them rabits, and books, and ice cremes. I just had to come with the Prefeser, and see my grand childrun, and say good bye, cos….your going of… for a time?’

‘Yeh, were of to an ilund,’ I said.

I hugged my mum/not mum good bye. She felt wunderfley sollid and warm. ‘Dont eat too meny donuts and thanks…for being brave enugh to bring me in to the werld,’ I said.

‘Your a very speshul gerl, Sally-Anne,’ she said, ‘and dont you ferget it.’

‘I carnt ferget it, Mum,’ I said. ‘Its jus part of being speshul, you dont ever get to ferget it!’

On the way up to the top of Scot Land we terned up the radio and sang along lowdly. We sang ‘I want to brake free-hee!’ and ‘Were all Going on a Sunny Holiday!’ Are crappy car was back firing and fucked up but we trundeled along happiley, and sloley.

‘We can get up the top this time for shure, Sally-Anne,’ he said.

‘To the Orknees?’ I said. We had talkt abowt this a lot.

‘Yes, the Orknees.’

As we drove, I streched in to the back and held LittelBabys hand often. And LittelBruddas. I wantid to explane to them that we woud for ever be in danger but I thort may be thay all redy knew. Thay are so clever. Thay know things. More things than I do.

‘You know, Sally-Anne,’ said Duncan.

‘What Duncan?’

‘You dont have to wurry eny more abowt NarstyLady. There not going to be arfter us no more.’

‘How come? I thort thay woud be arfter us for ever.’

‘CrazyStranger, he said that as soon as we were of, he was going to hand his self in.’

‘Hand his self in?’

‘Yes, he said hes eighty two now and he dusent mind being in prison for NarstyLady if it menes that his speri mint, thats you, and the babies, can be wiold and free.’

I startid to cry with gratty chood. What a gift. I realised that if CrazyStranger loved us that much then it ment I was kind of his dorter.

Duncan startid laughing. ‘He arsked me what he shoud say if thay arsk him why he set light to her hare.’

‘What did you tell him?’ I arsked.

‘I said, ‘just say you gave her a fag so she coud have a larst smoke on her wey down the river.’

We coudent help it but we chuckeled and chuckeled abowt NarstyLady and her por berning hed all the way up to the top.

We stopt in a wood to camp, the night bifore are crossing on the erly morning ferry. When ever the babies were in naycher to gether, its like we coudent kepe are eyes of them. Thay had a beautifle bright grene shimmering light arownd them. You coud see spex of dust darncing in this light. It was like enerjy, like as if I was seeing enerjy. It moved in curves, like waves. I was addictid to wotching the babies.

LittleBrudda had soft gowldern hare all over his boddy. It was soft and moved in the wind, like the wind was brushing it. He gazed up at the sky, up at the moon. He only moved when abserlutely necisery. He charntid softly, like ‘oom, gana, wana, gana, oola moona noooog.’ He coud clime trees really well. I dident see no harm in it. I let him clime. Theres no sense taking some one owt of a cage and puting them in to anuther one, bisides wich, he was making up for lost time. ‘You go as high as you can, LittelBrudda!’ I called. So up he went, hand over hand, foot over foot. Duncan came back from finding wood for the fiyer and he looked arownd and saw LittelBaby sitting in a littel nut tree picking cob nuts. ‘Where is LittelBrudda?’ he arsked.

I pointid up in to an inormus beech tree. ‘Sally-Anne,’ said Duncan. ‘You are completley barmy! He is a baby!’

I saw that LittelBrudda was right at the top. Oops, it was bit high. ‘He might be a baby,’ I said, ‘but he is very strong and very good at climing. Bisides wich, I know what he nedes bicause I am a neander thingy and so is he.’

‘LittelBrudda!’ showtid Duncan. ‘Are you all right?’

‘Me or righ Dung Dung!’ the baby charntid back, swinging from a brarnch, miols abuv us. ‘Me high, me high, wid di berdies, no wurri!’

Duncan startid climing up. LittelBrudda showtid down to me: ‘Sally-Anne! Sally-Anne! No wurri, me hi five di toptop leves fo oo, Sally-Anne!’

Duncan went up as high as he coud to help LittelBrudda get down, but Iyum telling you, pepol like LittelBrudda…. not that there are eny, as he is uneke…. dont nede no help. He was a jenius climer, a proper legend.

We realised that night that it was LittelBabys, and there for LittelBruddas, ferst berth day, the 31st of Octoba, 2023. We lit a fiyer and sang ‘Oh dragen fly with your wings so blue,’ and ‘I….have bicome…comfterbly num,’ and ‘Happy Berth Day to you hoo.’

Next morning at dawn, porpusis lept all arownd are bowt. Slanting sun light berst thrugh clowds to glint on the dark cherning waves. Seles poked there heds owt of the water to wotch us go by and uther sele famerlies viewed us from rocks. LittelBaby was fasinatid. ‘Ooh, ooh, LittelBrudda!’ she said again and again. ‘Sele for oo. Sele for oo. Baby sele dere!’

The bowt stopt a cuple of times at rimote, wind brushed ilunds but we did not get of. We were heding as far awey as possibel from the sivel eyes ayshun. ‘Vanish, LittelBaby,’ I said, ‘thats what we nede to do, even if that CrazyStranger Snow is hanging owt in prison for us.’ I squezed her. We had a sete on the deck. She kissed my cheke and cuddeled in side my red puffa what I got from Oxfam. I looked at my luvley famerly. Duncan was in his big grene jumper with moth holes in it. LittelBaby was waring her hat with the fer lining, grene flowerey dungarees, and wellies. LittelBrudda was waring red trowsies what Duncan fownd in Sue Ryder for him, a brown fleese and a tartan hat with furrey ear flaps. They were all so gorjus I wantid to hug them tight to me for ever.

LittelBrudda was clutching on to the rales, wotching the fome bihind the bowt and the gulls weeling over the sparkeling sea. He had that far awey look in his eyes. He crooned on a mono tone: ‘Goo nana wolla noo noo….Flana gonoo omma wooooo.’

‘Spirit is evry thing,’ translaytid LittelBaby, popping her hed owt of my puffa, ‘life is a fract chured sperience, but in the end, we are all one.’

‘Duncan?’

‘Yes, Sally-Anne?’

‘Whats fract chured?’ we said together. We laughed.

‘It menes brokern,’ Duncan said.

Its lucky that I can under stand Duncan, and Duncan can under stand LittelBaby, and LittelBaby can under stand LittelBrudda, uther wise in are famly there woud be a bit of a langwidge baryer.

The End

Wantababy: Chapter 20

Duncan, why carnt I go on my fase book?

Oh Duncan, stoppit! I jus  want to go on my fase book!

Chapter 20.

Are tires squeled as Steve had to yank the van rownd in a cercle rarther than crash in to the gates. A littel car was roaring along biside us. I wotched as it drove right up clowse to the men shutting the gates.  An arm came owt the windo and sprayed some thing at them. Thay recoiled in pane, screming. A skinny old man, oh my god it was CrazyStranger, how dus he get in on evry thing, then lept owt of the car and heved on the metel gates to opern them for us. We saled thrugh and Steve stepped on it. I strapped LittelBaby in to her sete and kept LittelBrudda on my nees. I operned the fridge and got owt some donuts as I coud tell the por babies had been pritty much starved in that horribel lab.

Arfter less than a minit, Zoe showtid from the frunt. ‘Weve got cumpny!’

Duncan looked owt the windo. ‘Shit, there trying to ram us in the arse,’ he said.

I looked at the sticky donut in my hand. I had a good idear. Some times I am jus brillyunt like that. I have really good idears like owt of no where.

The Dunkin Donuts van is very cool as you can serve donuts owt the side and coffees owt the back. Still clutching on to LittelBrudda, I flipped the hook on the cownter at the back and it dropped down. We were ram paging along back werds, looking straight at BludShotEyes and Monobrow who were  driving like the clappers and looking right in to my eyes. I picked up a nice sticky creme filled donut and threw it with all my strenth at there wind screne. Sadley, I missed by abowt a miol and hit a por man riding a long on his bisickle. I always was shit at throwing.

LittelBrudda lent side weys from my arms and swiped a donut. I thort he must be hungry. ‘Yeh, you go ahed and eat one, LittelBrudda,’ I said. He jus looked at me like I was crazy and threw the donut smack into BludShotEyes wind screne. He picked up two more in each hand. Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack evry donut hit its targit and berst its jucy in sides, custerd or jam, all over the glars. I handid LittelBrudda a cupel more custerd filled ones. Bulls eye, bulls eye dispite BludShotEyes car swerving abowt like mad. Oh, yes, he had a good eye, that baby.

‘Good skillz, LittelBrudda,’ yelled Duncan who had sene evry thing in his mirrers. The wind screne of the car bihind was smery custardy yello with red jammy splogis. Thay put there wind screne wipers on wich dident help, as it jus made the hole wind screne yello and red mixed, so a sort of disgusting browny goo. BludShotEyes wownd down his windo and stuck his hed owt of it in a desprit bid to see where he was going. LittelBrudda was redy for him with a jammy one square in the fase. That was the larst straw and thay veered of the rode in to the ditch.

I lent back and rilaxed. I strapt LittelBrudda in next to LittelBaby. He was looking less ugley to me by the secund. ‘Whats your rele name? WunderBoy?’ I arsked him.

‘He LittelBrudda!’ cried LittelBaby, dis mayed again (she all weys sownds dis mayed) at the thort he might have anuther name.

‘Me One Nine Tree,’ he said. ‘But now me LittelBrudda me tink.’ Wow, his fase when he smiold was jus extrordinry.

We stopped at a super markit car park. Steves friend was there with a car. Zoe and Steve helped us piol the babies in. I still thort it was weerd that Zoe was Steves sister. Zoe said ‘Hey Sally-Anne. I can see why you wantid to kepe your baby. Shes imminensly cool, thats why.’

‘Thank you, Zoe,’ I said. ‘Thank you for helping us get the babies owt.’

‘Iyum sorry,’ she said, hugging me, ‘that I forsed you in to all this.’

‘Zoe,’ I said, ‘if you hadent, LittelBaby woudent be in the werld, and LittelBrudda woud be in a cage for the rest of his life, wich woud be a massiv tradgerdy.’

We waved them of. I got in the frunt next to Duncan. The car was quite crappy but more nippy than the van at least. I got a crick in my neck staring rownd at LittelBrudda. He was abserlutely captivating. Gorjuss. Intellijence radiatid owt of his eyes. The babies fell aslepe all most at the same instunt, as we got onto the M6. The car was ratterling and banging, but thay dident care. I saw there hands creeping over to wards each uther in there slepe. The next time I looked rownd, thay were clutching each uthers hands.

Duncan was looking in the mirrer. ‘Some ones following us,’ he said. ‘Look,’ and he pulled owt past a red Toyota with a granny driving it, and pulled in again arfter. The car bihind us followed us smoothly. It was uncomfertably close bihind us. I peped over my sete.

‘Two pepol,’ I riported. ‘Looks like two men.’

‘Shit,’ said Duncan, ‘Shit, shit, shit, how did the wankers find us?’

‘You can get awey from them,’ I said. ‘You are clever and strong and brave.’

He looked at me. ‘Sally-Anne,’ he said, ‘you only think I am clever and strong and brave bicause in relashun to you I am.’

‘Your not my relashun,’ I said. ‘You are jus my boy friend.’

Duncan pulled owt into the therd lane. ‘What you doing?’ I said.

‘Wotch this,’ said Duncan. He continewed in the therd lane, crusing to the right of a grene minni in the secund lane. The car following us came quite clowse bihind us in the therd lane too. ‘Hold tight,’ said Duncan. ‘Theres an exit, Sally-Anne, what Iyum gonna take, but, right now, Iyum prertending Iyum not gonna take it, OK?’

The next secund he had yanked the stereing weel to the left and zipped in frunt of the minni what beeped, then cut across the ferst lane in frunt of a lorry what honked and zoomed left up one of those lanes that you are not ment to go on un less you are an imergency. The car following us had not had time to do all that and was stuck on the moter way.

‘Oh, your so clever, Duncan!’ I brethed in admirashun. He is a grate boy friend aksholy.

We kept driving as farst as we coud. It felt grate to have two babies insted of one. I kept looking rownd at LittelBrudda. He was so intreaging. We were still heding North. This time we woud get the bowt to the far ilands.

‘Thayull be arfter us, Sally-Anne,’ he kept saying, checking the mirrers, ‘we carnt stop.’

‘Who is thay?’ I arsked.

‘Who knows?’ he ansered. ‘But the police for one. Bicause of you know who.’ We dident like talking abowt NarstyLady, so we tried not to menshun her name. ‘And then, sientists from LittelBruddas lab. You carnt jus waltz in, grab some ones clone speri mint and not ixpect reeper cushons.’

‘Duncan?’ I said.

‘Yes, Sally-Anne,’ he said.

‘Whats reeper cushons?’ we said to gether.

I laughed bicause Duncan all weys knows what I am going to say.

‘Its like when something happerns bicause of what you did,’ he said.

‘But evry thing happerns bicause of what some boddy did,’ I said.

He smiold. ‘I guess thats true,’ he said.

So dus that mene evry thing is a reeper cushon then? So insted of saying ‘Hows things?’ you woud say ‘Hows reeper cushons?’ Onistley, why pepol have to go using really long werds to explane some thing really quite simpel I will never know.

I looked owt of the car windo at the grars vergis going by. Sheep, and horsis, probly with werms in there lungs, and fiyulds. Littel towns, rows of howsis. I wundered what evry one was doing in those howsis, in the towns, in the werld. Can eny one ever know what goes on in pepols howsis? No, is the anser. Thay carnt. I wundered if pepols thorts all kind of add up and make one big wall of muddel and wether we can may be change things with are thorts.

‘Duncan?’ I said.

‘Yes, Sally-Anne,’ he said, pulling owt parst a lorry and changing into fith gear and squeezing my leg like all at once.

‘Can we change things with are thorts?’ I arsked.

He was quiert for a bit. Sometimes my queschuns are so hard that even Duncan carnt anser them.

‘I think so,’ he said. ‘Some times. Uther times, no.’

I looked at him. He nodded in to the back setes at LittelBrudda. ‘See, are thorts got him owt. We magined how it woud be and we thort it thrugh and then we did it.’

I laughed. ‘I dident magine it quite like that thogh. I never thort Iyud get to have a go on that chare on weels.’

‘When we have a howse,’ said Duncan, ‘Iyull buy you a chare on weels like that.’

‘Thay are quite hard to get owt of,’ I tolled him. ‘If I hadent come up against the wall ivensholy, I woud still be going back werds and trying to get up.’

‘Iyull get you one with a brake,’ he said.

We picked up some rolls, cheese, termartoes and lettis at an MnS, left the A rode arfter abowt an awer and took a winding lane thrugh a forist. Ortum was in full flud arownd us, gowld and yello and red leves tumberling down. We stopt by a river. We had to, to let the babies have a wee. They hardley needid nappies as they liked to wee owt in naycher. We had a pick nick. I jumped up and down and did a bit of darnsing cos I was stiff from siting in the van so long. LittelBaby stomped up to the streme. LittelBrudda followed her. ‘LittelBrudda!’ said LittelBaby, pointing at the streme. ‘Ook. Big big iver.’

‘Ooh,’ said Brudda, ‘Wotta dat?’ stufing cheese in his mowth like he hadent eaten for a munth. Thay padeled in the streme. Thay splashed each uther. Thay dident seem to fiyul the cold. Thay picked up pebbels. LittelBrudda terned his fase up to the sun and looked at the shimmering leves in wunder.

We drove on. We had joined up with the M6 again. It felt like are hole life was going to be spent on this rode.. Are next stop was of the moter wey. We went along side a fiyuld with cows and stopped by a ford. LittelBrudda woke up and blinked at the sun light. ‘Oh, oh,’ he said when he spottid the cows.

LittelBaby looked at him. ‘Cow,’ she said.

‘Cow,’ said LittelBrudda. ‘Oo, big dat.’

LittelBabys eyes filled with teres. ‘LittelBrudda never seed a cow bifore,’ she exclamed. ‘Por LittelBrudda. Mama we gotta showshow LittelBrudda evry ting. All de hole werld.’ She took LittelBrudda by the hand. Thay toddeled of to gether. ‘You knowknow de rose hip?’ LittelBaby picked a rose hip and gave it to LittelBrudda. You knowknow de blatt berris?’ She picked a black berry for him. She picked up a pebble. ‘Peddel,’ she said and parsed it to him.

‘Peddel,’ he said.

‘Ha ha,’ said Duncan, weeping with the funny ness of it. ‘Pebbel, pebbel, LittelBrudda.’

We had to let them have a rest. We had been driving for awers. We were nere the border. I sat by the streme on a rock. I put my toes in the water and wotched LittelBaby and LittelBrudda picking up pebbels and throwing them plop into the streme. It was like perfict. We were a proper famly. I wantid these moments to larst for ever. I wantid to kepe LittelBrudda and LittelBaby safe. Bu I under stood suddernly that these moments are so preshus bicause there are not aloud for there to be too meny of them. I was scared. ‘Duncan?’ I said.

‘Yes, Sally-Anne,’ he said. He was lying on a bank in the long tangerled grars and daysies and moss, hands bihind his hed, his eyes clowsed.

‘How can we kepe things like this, Duncan? How can we hold on to LittelBaby and LittelBrudda?’

There was a pause. All I coud here was the rushing of the water in the streme and the squeles of dilight of the babies. ‘Sally-Anne,’ he said.

‘Yes?’ I said.

‘Im not shure we can,’ he said. ‘I think thay are some pepol very cross abowt us having LittelBrudda. Thay are angry with us. Crazy angry probly and trying to find us.’

I felt teres going down my chekes, farster and farster, plopping and plopping on to the erth. ‘I know,’ I said, ‘I know, Duncan.’

I went over to him on the bank and lay biside him. I put my hed on his arm pit. We held each uther tight and warm. Duncan was kind. Its like he coud fiyul my down hartidness. We wotched LittelBaby and LittelBrudda padeling in the streme thrugh harf shut eye lids. My teres made evry thing split into rane bows. Big arcs of meny culours sored across my vishun. LittelBaby and LittelBrudda were un bareabley beautifle suddernly. My boddy gave a sob. Duncans arms hugged me harder. ‘Dont be sad, Sally-Anne,’ he said, ‘Whatever happerns, no one can take this awey from us, what weyuv had all redy.’

‘But LittelBaby and LittelBrudda nede us,’ I sobbed, ‘and thay nede each uther.’

Arfter anuther four awers driving we put up the tent in a cops near Inverness. We were of the rode in thrugh a mass of brambels in a real thickit. No boddy coud of spottid us even if thay were looking.

The babies were talking to gether in there own non sencicol langwidge. ‘A gogo gotta peddle for youyou.’

‘For meme! Peddel! Tank oo.’

‘Me trow dat peddel farfar wayway.’

Thay waddeled abowt with there littel nakid boddys in the dapply evening sun. I went in to kind of a trance with the beauty of it. The berds were signing, the grarses were softly sweying and the erth semed to be brething. The light was pulsating softley. The babies ate more bred, sardines, appels and black berris. Then thay crawled in to the tent and fell aslepe with there arms arownd each uther. I crept in biside them. LittelBaby opernd her eyes and looked at me. ‘Mudda,’ she said, ‘I lub LittelBrudda. I lub hib so much.’

‘I love LittelBrudda too, LittelBaby,’ I said, ‘and I love you too, very very much.’

She nuzeled in to my arm and fell aslepe.

Next day, we left at five in the morning and drove and drove. ‘LittelBaby,’ I said. ‘The truth is, the pepol who had LittelBrudda in the cage will want him back. Thay are looking for us.’

‘I know dat, Mudda,’ she said, solemley. ‘But I tell dem, dey can not hab de LittelBrudda. He my Brudda. I need hib.’

I cried again, looking at her and how luvley she was. How coud I tell her that her needs had nuthing to do with it? How coud I tell her how evil the werld was?

‘Mudda,’ she said. ‘LittelBrudda made me fiyul bedda. I fiyul hole proper. I fiyul me. I am me.’ She gazed at LittelBrudda with love. He looked at her owt of his massiv black eyes. When thay looked at each uther there was like a flash, a spark of elexrisaty. You coud see it.

We all weys tried to stop at farst flowing rivers as they loved water so much. At abowt eleven in the morning, we stopped nere Aberdene, and wotched them in growing wunder as thay played to gether. Thay were scooping up the sandy mud from the botterm of the streme and slopping it into piols on the rocks. ‘Me make an ‘owse,’ said LittelBaby. She piold sticks and pebbels on to it and scooped owt the middel. She stuck things in the top. LittelBrudda did the same. He smoothed the big piol of wet mud with his hand. He fetched water in a big flat lefe and pored it over the top to make it smooth. He cuvered the owt side with leves. He made a dor. He was so abzorbed in his tarsk and we were so abzorbed wotching him, even LittelBaby, who was fetching piols of leves and grars, that we dident see them approche. We dident here a thing until we were sarowndid by and hand cuffs snaked rownd my rist and clicked. I exclamed and looked rownd. Duncan had been pinned to the grownd by a humungus uniformed thug.

I dont know what eny of that menes

I had maniged to fuck his brane up again.  Good.

Chapter 19.

Two of the chaps had wite cotes over soots and the yunger spotty lad was in a wite cote open over a check shert and jenes. The two older ones had graying hare. One was tall, his cote smered with yello with a brown blud stane on the frunt. His eyes googeled and were horribley blud shot like heyud bene up all night smoking pot. His hare looked like it had been cut using a bowl. The uther chap was short, with one big fat black eye brow going right across his for hed. He bobbed abowt from foot to foot and had had a nervas laugh. Us being there made him nervas, so he semed to chuckle the hole time. This was un forchunat bicause when uther pepol laugh I find it infecshus and I have to laugh too. So the both of us were cackerling awey.

Bludshoteyes said: ‘Now, now, sorry, chaps, but there must be a miss take here. Plese…’ he pushed for werd an offis chare on weels for me to sit on…’theres nuthing a littel…discushun carnt sort owt.’

I love those chares. Love the wey you can go rownd and rownd at the same time as side weys and back wards. I coudent risist so I sat down. He held owt a hand. I shook it riluctently. It was dry and crackley like silver berch bark.

‘Iyum Docter Procter. My speshiality is palio lithic ginetics. So, are you arfter infomashun? Do you know eny thing abowt what we are trying to do here?’

Duncan said, thrugh grittid tethe: ‘I know this is no life for a baby. There…’ he looked abowt, ‘…there arent even eny windos.’

Monowbrow man hopped abowt and giggerled so I giggerled too. (I just carnt help it.) ‘But the mane thing is…’ I said, ‘…are baby needs to be with her muther.’ Then I addid, ‘Thats me,’ in case they dident know. I spun arownd on my chare, I coudent help it, with LittelBaby in my lap. She said ‘Weeee!’ She loved the chare too. She all weys loves what I love.

‘Ah, yes, but these babies are not jus eny babies,’ said Bludshoteyes Procter Docter. ‘Thay are neyanderthals. Thay are extremely rare and difficult to berth. Amazingly,’ he turned to me, ‘this lady here did manidge to berth the female of the two.’

Monowbrow man jumped in littel circals and laughed his hed of. I laughed to all thogh lord knows that berth thing was nuthing to laugh abowt, it hert like crap.

Bludshoteyes carried on: ‘There deeyenay is 60,000 years old, priserved by perticuler condishuns in a cave. This is why the babies are so immenserly preshus to us, and why we can not let them have a normel, dangerus life. In here thay are safe. We need them to be priserved, looked arfter and kept in a sterile invirenment, safe from diseses.’

Juring most of that littel speech, Monowbrow man chuckeled and I chuckeled in risponse.

‘You took her of us thogh,’ said Duncan fiercely. ‘And your pepol left us for ded.’

‘Erm, well, you had taken her of us ferst,’ said Bludshoteyes Procter Docter. ‘We did pay for the servisis of the surogut. We plased an order that was not forth coming. We had to take acshun.’

Monowbrow cackerled. I obviusly cackerled to but was going to have my say. ‘Yeh, but, no but, yeh but I took her of of you bicause thay had taken her of of me when thay shoudent even of done that, bicause my friend Fler says eny way it was my right to kepe my baby if I wantid to, its all weys on the side of the muther.’ I startid twerling the uther way. I wished I had a chare like that.

I think I had maniged to silence Bludshoteyes. Monowbrow took over. ‘What you must under stand is, (chuckle chuckle) we have been trying to create these babies for twenty two years. A full time job it was for a teme of six (he he hoo hoo). One hundred and ninety two pregnunsies to date, all most all of wich all endid in miss carrige or still berth.’ (giggelr giggerl).

‘Yes, we know,’ said Duncan. ‘And LittelBaby was the hundred and eighty seventh.’

‘Dus she have a name?’ arsked Bludshoteyes Procter Docter . He had recuvered a bit.

‘Err, yes,’ I said, like durr. ‘Shes called LittelBaby.’

‘Littel…Baby?’ he said.

‘No,’ I said. ‘LittelBaby, its all one werd.’

‘Oh, I see,’ he said. There was quite a long paws. I had maniged to fuck his brane up again. Good.  Then the yung chap gave a serpressed giggerl and Monobrow a proper giggerl and I laughed owt lowd, but Bludshoteyes carried on: ‘I need you to know…these children, when older, coud have the potenshal for extreme vilence….thay coud be owt to in danger the human rase.’

I looked down at LittelBaby who was twiderling my sleve and sucking on my nipperl under my shert. She stopped slerping and popped her hed owt. ‘Itta notta troo dat, Mudda,’ she mermered carmly. ‘I notta hurtig eny boddy, me, nor de LittelBrudda, he notta hurtig no boddy, not now, not when he big.’

No boddy laughed then. The sientists stared at her in abserlute fasinashun. ‘Elevern munths old and talking in senternces,’ Bludshoteyes marveled.

‘LittelBaby coud talk to me bifore she was born even,’ I tolled him.

He stood up and came to wards me, holding owt his arms for LittelBaby. She clung to me like a munky, and I prerpelled my self back werds on my chare in to a metel tray on weels full of needels. I grabbed a needel. ‘You kepe awey from us,’ I said, brandishing it at him. Unforchunatly my chare spun arownd so I was pointing at the wall. The chare had a mind of its own.

I swiverled my hed rownd. Bludshoteyes was smioling induljently. ‘Now, best not to make a fuss. Were all on the same side here. Weyull arrange for you to be abel to visit evry munth. Parental visits woud help inormusly with the childruns divelopment.’

With a lot of side to side hip wiggerling, I had maniged to swiverl back rownd. I poked my needel to wards him. I notised it had a grene plastic shethe on it. I ripped of the shethe. ‘Stop,’ I said. ‘You carnt take awey LittelBabys freedum. She, abuv all pepol, nedes to be free.’

‘But, my dere, the babies will have a wunderfle, stimulating time here,’ he said. ‘Abuv all, thay will be safe. You want your baby to be safe, dont you?’

‘Of corse I do,’ I said. ‘But the only rele danger we in cowntered in all these munths, was you.’

Oo, well said, Sally-Anne, I thort to my self, bowing again to an in visibel ordience.

‘With you thogh, the babies woudent be safe,’ he said. ‘Too meny pepol are intrestid in them, too meny pepol are owt to get them. My partner, Reginald Snow, ironiusly bileved that allowing the clones there freedum was essenshal, but I knew better. The babies need constent monitering and care full intensiv ejucashun to pripare them for the owt side werld. Bisides wich, owt there, they woud be bullied! You, of all pepol, know what being bullied is like, dont you, Sally-Anne?’ He was looking at me clowsley.

‘But…’ I said, ‘but….’ I looked arownd me despritly. I wished that I was one of those pepol who can talk so easily, and with long werds and cleverly. I looked at the horribel cage LittelBrudda had been in. It was lined with paddid plastic and there was just one blankie, one plastic toy and one sippy cup. ‘Do you ever let LittelBrudda owt of his cage?’ I said. ‘I dont think you do! I think the por boy has been in there all this time.’

Bludshoteyes tried to apere shocked. ‘No, thats not true. One nine thr…erm, I mene, Littel Bruther…has lots of long walks and, erm…swiming and….trips to the farm and luvley things like that. Hes…you know…as free range as possibel.’

LittelBrudda looked at me from Duncans arms. His eyes bored depe in to mine right in to my soul. I knew that what the man was saying was not true.

‘That is not true,’ I said. ‘LittelBrudda, do thay take you owt side?’

‘Oh, he dusent talk,’ said Bludshoteyes. ‘Only gobbel de gook.’

LittelBrudda looked down. He was still. His littel fat chekes wobberled. Then he looked at me. ‘I me hedda me gogo at, plor de wold,’ he said.

‘What did he say?’ I arsked LittelBaby.

‘In his hedda he gogo owt, to explor de werld,’ she ixplaned. ‘I tink he meanig in his maginashun.’

‘Udda duff, doni de blanki de cup a de doy an dolway de dage.’

Evry boddy looked blankly at LittelBrudda. Thay all terned as one to LittelBaby for the translashun.

‘Other stuff is only de blankie, de cup and de toy and all weys de cage,’ said LittelBaby sadly. ‘LittelBrudda, oo no see de cows? Oo no see de caterpiller?’

‘Whatti de cow? Whatti de catertiller?’

‘Oo no see even de butter fly?’ LittelBaby arsked, horrified.

‘No!’ exclamed LittelBrudda morn fully, ‘me no see dat butter fly! Me oni see de butter on de tosti.’

Por LittelBrudda. He had never bene owt. He had bene stuck in that cage all his littel life. All that time when LittelBaby had been stomping thrugh the puddels, climing on the ferny banks, exclaming over dewy spiders webs and rolling in the moss, he had bene in this ugley plastic dessert. I clenched my fists. Thay were rong, so rong to inprisen LittelBrudda.

The three men looked a bit shame fased I thort. They dident argue with me eny more at least. LittelBaby spoke with such orthority you coud tell she was speking the truth. Do you know, I have realised some thing inportant. I am no longer gullibel, nor naïv. It was easy. I jus dident bileve what those men said, even thogh thay had wite cotes on. I bileved my self in sted and I bileved the babies.

‘How ever,’ said Bludshoteyes Procter Docter owt of the blue, ‘we still have the littel problem of what you did with are Mrs Collins.’

My hart all weys bitrays me. It thumps so lowd that evry one can here it. Plus, I dont know what was going on with that chare, but I spun rownd on it so farst I got a bit chare sick.

‘We thort you might know what happerned to her.’

‘She wasant even called Mrs Collins!’ I showtid, spinning rownd wioldley.

‘Yes, but how do you know that?’ he arsked.

‘And she dident even know LittelBaby was a gerl!’ I said. ‘She thort LittelBaby was going to be a boy, the silly cow.’

‘Oh,’ Bludshoteyes Procter Docter looked a bit sorry and gilty. ‘That was my folt aksholy. We got LittelBaby and LittelBruddas doqumunts mixed up, as thay endid up being due on the same day, so she thort she was picking up the boy.’

‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Wow.’ He had maniged to shut me up now.

‘By the way….did you mene to set light to her hare?’ Bludshoteyes said, all most conversashunly.

Luckerly, as I dident really have eny sootabel anser for that queschun, and telling him abowt Duncan putting the fag in NarstyLadys lips woud not of bene the best idear, Bludshoteyes stopped talking bicause peirsing sirens startid woop wooping and water startid dripping owt of the ceiling. The yung spotty boy legged it to opern the dor. Smoke billowed in. We coud here thundering fete coming a long the coridor.

Big Steve and Zoe berst in to the room. Steve smacked the yung chap in the jaw and bashed Monobrow in to the wall while Zoe hit Bludshoteyes with a taser and terned and zapt anuther chap who had come up the coridor arfter them. ‘Come on,’ yelled Zoe. ‘Whats with the delay? Are we getting these babies owt or not?’ Her hare was definetley not nete now. It was really messed up. She looked like she was in an acshun moovie.

I had a bit of difficulty getting owt of the chare. ‘Yes, Iyum coming,’ I said but evry time I pushed with my feet to get up, it weeled back werds with my bum still on it. Ivensholy I maniged by wedging my self against the wall, and we ran up the coridors and clattered down the stares and squeezed opern a metal fiyer dor to the owt side. The sirens were still waling. Duncan went on a recky and came back in quick. ‘Not that way, sicurity men rownd the corner.’

‘This way then,’ said Steve, rushing down some stares with a grene exit sing.

There was a boltid base ment dor. We slid the bolts back and came owt into a mowldy, fluddid yard with twenty or so stinky bins, a cement ramp and slimy steps up to grownd level. We swiverled are heds arownd looking for pepol. There were some running abowt but there was nuthing for it, we had to leg it across the car park. We lept in the van, all four of us and the two babies. Steve got bihind the wheel. We screeched of to wards the exit but in frunt of us a teme of hi viz sicurity pepol were showting in to walkie talkies and heaving at the grate big metel gates wich clanged shut right in frunt of us.

 

 

 

I smiold so as to look normel

I smiold so as to look normel

Chapter 18.

We pulled over. The Police stopped bihind us. Duncan wownd down his windo. We were redy for the end. This is it, I thort, weyull be eating gruel in prison to night.

A copper lent on the dor. ‘Two coffees, wite, one shuger, one chocolat donut and a jammy donut, please.’

I coudent bileve this. Duncan got in the back and pored them some coffees, got six fifty of them and gave them the donuts. They waved us on are way. I dont think my harts going to servive much more of this.

We got to an industrial istate thingy with low bildings and piols of bricks and stuff, then got to anuther terning with lots of huj signs, like ‘Rentaspace,’ ‘The Range,’ ‘Veternery Hospitel’, ‘All day Caff’ and the like. Duncan looked at the list and the map. Hes clever like that. ‘Look,’ he muttered. ‘Second one up on the therd colum. Elmlea Laboratries. Its on Level 2 in that massiv bilding bihind the caff,’ he said. ‘Come on, lets get are baby back.’

‘Duncan, Iyum scared. What if thayer wating for us?’

‘Thay dont know we know abowt the lab,’ he rip lied. ‘Thay wont think we will of fownd them so quick. Come on, Sally-Anne, we gotta get LittelBaby back and this is the only wey.’

‘I jus, dont know if I can… act.’

‘Look,’ he said, ‘Iyuv dilivered donuts bifore, its easy. Jus prertend you really are going in to diliver donuts… for some ones berth day. You dont want to dissapoint the por berth day gerl, do you? We go in, all confidant, and swipe LittelBaby.’

I thort abowt when I had gone and bustid LittelBaby owt of the neo natel. Its not easy but you jus got to forse your self on werd even if you are shaking with fere. Thogh some externel fors had semed to power us that day. It was the power of LittelBabys soul I think. She had needid her mum, thats me, to find her, piure and simpel. And now she needid me again, so yes, we had to do it.

We got owt the van, carrying one inormus card bord tray of donuts each. I thort I woud wet my self I was that angshus. Then I cort a glimps of us riflectid in the dark glars of the bilding. With are uniform and littel hats on we really did look good. I woud of done a selfie so you coud of seen what we looked like but I was carrying my inormus flat box with both hands and eny way Duncan had takern the battries owt my phone cos he dident like me going on fase book.

We tried the frunt dor. It was locked. We rang on one of the meny bells. It took a wiol, but then a buzzy womans voice said: ‘Yes?’

‘Donuts for Level 2,’ said Duncan confidantly.

She buzzed us in. ‘Wow that was easy,’ I brethed. ‘LittelBaby is in here, I can fiyul her…shes clowse.’

Oh no. We were in a resepshun airea, with a hole semi cercal of pepol with fake smiols in smart soots bihind compiuters. Thay looked like thay were getting redy to opern up. A groomed yung man came rownd the desk, arms owt stretched. ‘Donuts?’ he said. ‘For whoom?’

‘Its Level 2,’ Duncan said, holding his box tight.

‘Elmlea, wasent it?’ I said.

‘Yeah, Elmlea,’ he said. ‘Some ones berthday.’

‘Its a serprise,’ I wispered but lowdly. ‘Apparerntly.’

‘Yeah,’ said Duncan, ‘We gotta tip toe.’

‘Well, how abowt you leve them here on the desk?’ said the man, ‘and Ill let them know theyuv arrived.’

‘No,’ said Duncan. ‘We have to take them up.’

‘Yeh,’ I said, ‘bicause the person you speke to might be the berth day gerl. Also,’ I addid as an arfter thort, ‘they are quite hard to carry in a wey that dus not mangel them.’

‘Let them go thrugh,’ said a gerl. ‘Jus follow the sings,’ she said.

They let us go up. Wow. I am an actriss, I thort to my self. Next thing I know Ill be on the West End or in the Royerl Shake a Spere Cumpny. I had a littel fantersy of a massiv ordience throwing red rosis and shakin there speres, or what ever ordiencis do, at me as I bowed again and again. I followed Duncan along a coridor, terned left, then right and he pushed opern anuther metal dor.

‘God, these donuts are hevy,’ I said.

We clattered up some stares to Level 2 looking all arownd us. Evry where semed to be thick, strong, derty grene metel. We walked a long coridors, Duncan looking in to rooms. Most rooms were empty. Some were officis with bored secetaries who looked quite ixitid that the donuts might be for them. If there were pepol in them Duncan said ‘Donut dilivery? Oh, sorry, rong room.’

I felt some thing like a fors, like graverty but side weys, pulling me the uther wey. I lisened with my soul. She was there. ‘This way, Duncan,’ I called softly.

We walked the uther way up a long coridor to the very end. There was a sicurity man in black siting there. He saw us coming and got up. Duncan dumped his donuts and ran, head down and buttid him in the stumuch against the wall. The man groned and clapsed. We pushed opern the metal dor. The room was quite bare, like a hospitel examinashun room. There were charts and medical suplies. I garsped. There, in a cage, in the midderl of the room, was LittelBaby. She was sitting quiertly. She saw us and put a finger to her lips. Her hand was sticking owt thrugh the bars, holding on to the hand of ….LittelBrudda, also in a cage. He had huj black eyes like LittelBaby, a shock of black hare sticking only owt of the very top of his hed, and the same hi fore hed with rinkles. He kind of looked like a sad, fat punk. He was standing up like a stocky warrier, clutching on to the bars of his cage with one chubby fist and holding LittelBabys hand with the uther. No one was in the room with them. A clock ticked on the wall. Machines hummed.

LittelBrudda looked at us, a deep crese in the middel of his for hed. ‘LittelBrudda,’ wispered LittelBaby, ‘me tolled oo me mudda an de Dung Dung cummin a bust oo owtta here!’ Then, sloly, the most fantastic smiol spred over his fase. ‘Mudda,’ wispered LittelBaby, ‘Come on! Quickee. Godda gogo scapig oudof here!’ Most things LittelBaby says are dis mayed exclumashuns.

‘Key dere,’ said LiddelBrudda, pointing with one hand at a hook nere the dor and with the uther at the clock on the wall wich showed ten to nine. ‘Huzza huzza, brekka nine a cockcock.’

‘Oh my god,’ said Duncan, ‘thay speke the same blinkin langwidge!’

Duncan rummidged the keys. He fownd the right one and opernd the cagis. LittelBrudda put him self in to Duncans arms, care fully, bringing his blankit with him. LittelBaby in my arms felt like the most warm, wunder full, buttery gorjuss ness. I meltid with love and kissed her joy fully.

We terned to the dor, but it opernd bifore we coud get to it. There stood three frowning men in wite cotes.

 

Look normel, Sally-Anne

Look normel, Sally-Anne

Chapter 17.

Duncan got the spare can of petrel owt of the boot and pored it into the tank to the larst drop. ‘This wont even give us fifteen miols,’ he said. ‘So pray for a petrol stashun.’

There was one abowt forteen miols along so that was lucky. My showlder was agony. And I coudent bare to think of them having LittelBaby. I missed her with a terribel ake in my boddy and my hart. Evry time I looked at Duncan it was a shock. His fase dident look like his fase, it was so brused and his biyerd was so full of mud it looked black. We filled up, bort some bars of chocolat then stopt of the rode to wosh the blud of are facis in a streme and make a plan. Duncan was rummidging arownd in the back of the car. He coud hardly see as his eyes were so swollern. He got some papers owt of his bag. ‘Look, Sally-Anne,’ he said. ‘NarstyLadys papers…. That letter from….Elmlea Laboratries, it says…orthorising her to pick up Item 187 from Wantababy? So what dew wanna bet, that labull be where theyuv taken LittelBaby….’ He frowned at the papers. ‘With these, who knows, we can probly find LittelBrudda too.’

He got back in the car. ‘Come on,’ he said, ‘No time to loose.’

‘But how do we even know LittelBaby has a brudda?’ I arsked, leping in biside him. He drove like the clappers, sqeeling rownd corners and making the car shudder and screme.

‘Why woud LittelBaby make it up? Shes not having vishuns for nuthing…and shes right abowt so meny uther things.’

I stared at Duncan and sihged with love.

He went on: ‘And that CrazyStranger weirdo tolled you she was not the only one….member? He said there was anuther one. And theres the number 193 that had ‘issue’ to, like LittelBaby.’

Oh yes, I did member. My memry came and went. I some times fownd it hard to member eny thing bifore LittelBaby was born, or arfter. ‘CrazyStranger dusent know eny thing!’ I said, ‘Hes mene. He said LittelBaby was stinkey and french.’

‘What, Sally-Anne? When did he say she was stinkey and french? You never tolled me that.’

We went soring over a hump in the rode and my stumuck got left up in the air.  ‘Stedy on, Duncan, youl make me throw up. The uther day, in the markit. He must of bene up here on holiday, I thort.’

‘Sally-Anne, if CrazyStrangers up here, its not bicause hes on holiday. Its bicause were up here.’

‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Well, he said she was french stinkey colone so I dont like him eny more.’

What did you jus say?’

‘I dont like him eny more.’

‘No, bifore that.’

‘French stinky colone?’

‘Colone, colone,’ wispered Duncan. ‘Oh my god.’

‘What?’ I arsked, in a panic. He was looking so weird with his black eyes and so freeked and his driving was so manic he was like some sort of terrerist sewer side bomba.

‘Jesus! Iyum so fucking stupid. LittelBaby is a ….clone!’ he said. ‘A clone, Sally-Anne. Thats why thay want her.’

‘But Duncan,’ I wispered, ‘I dont even know what clone menes, or that issue stuff, or that neyander thingy stuff. I carnt think like you.’

He looked even more freeked and swerved the car, hitting the bank and screeching back on to the rode. ‘Neyander thingy….’ he garsped. ‘Is that what CrazyStranger said?’

‘Yes, he kept going on abowt it… tolled you he was bonkers. Neyander some thing this and neyander some thing that.’

‘Sally-Anne, your baby must be a neanderthal clone, thats it, thats it….oh fuck, no wunder NarstyLady was in a panic to get her back…shes uneek! Shes an anthoperlogicle marvel…’

‘Yeh, CrazyStranger said she was that to,’ I waled, ‘but I dont know what eny of it menes, and I perticuly hate thinking abowt NarstyLady.’

‘Sally-Anne,’ he said, taking one hand of the weel and putting it on my hand. ‘She was a bitsh. She wantid to take LittelBaby and do speri mints on her, like have wires in her hed.’

Oh, so thats what speri mint ment. Wires in the hed. Nuthing to do with chewing gum. Who woud have thort it?

‘So is it all right that we killed her?’

He sihged. ‘I think its better that we killed her than them herting LittelBaby in some lab some where.’

‘But even thogh we killed her, thay still got are baby and thayer still doing speri mints on her! We have to rush, we have to stop them.’

‘We are rushing, Sally-Anne, but we have to think, to. We have to get it right.’

The car was back firing and sownding really lowd all of a suddern, roring like it was a sports car. Duncan said the ixorst pipe probly had a hole in it from going up the bank and from going so farst over bumps. Duncan was forsed to go a bit slower.

‘So, if LittelBaby is speri mint a hundred and eighty severn, and her brudda is speri mint a hundred and nintey three, then when was he made?’ I arsked. ‘What was the date on that one?’

‘That babys number and the werd ‘issue’ were all redy on these doquments what NarstyLady had with her right arfter LittelBaby was born. So he must all redy of bene born by then.’

‘And is he LittelBabys bruther?’ I arsked.

‘Well, if they used deeyenay from the same famly grupe to create his clone, then he woud be.’

Oh, god, long inoying werds like deeyenay jus make my eyes glaze over. I sihged.

‘Sally-Anne,’ said Duncan. ‘I will try to ixplane it to you, in a wey that you will under stand.’ He screeched to a halt at a serprise traffic light: ‘Shiiiiit….OK, an ixact copy of LittelBaby lived a long long time ago, like thowsands of yeres ago, in a cave. OK? Can you magine that?’

I shut my eyes. I coud magine it. Only to well. I had sene it with my own eyes. The fiyer, the lumbering beests, the piol of fers, the beautifle view from the cave.

‘Can you magine her growing up? Picking black berries from the bushis?’

I noddid.

‘Watching her daddy chase the woolley mammuths down in the vally? Helping her mum tend the fiyer? Catching rabits with her tame wolf or dog? Making arrows for her bow that her daddy gave her?’

Oh, easy, easy as pie. ‘Finding flints?’ I arsked. ‘Collecting shells? Picking up shepes wool and sticks? Digging holes?’

‘Yes, all of those things,’ he said softly. ‘She was a slightly diffrent tipe of human from us. She lived then, had a wunderful life, and then later,  dide, as you do, and now cells from her dried up boddy from long, long ago have been used to create an ixact copy of her, which was then grown… in your tummy.’

‘LittelBaby,’ I brethed.

‘Yes. LittelBaby.’

‘So her rele mummy is ded.’

‘Her rele mummy and daddy are definiteley ded. Very ded.’

‘Oo,’ I said. ‘Wow. Por LittelBaby. Her mummy is ded.’ I had had my mind blown. I shut my eyes and sat quiertly for a wiol.  I thort of some thing. ‘But why did these lab pepol want to bring a neyander thingy baby in to are time? Shurly thay are only sootid to there own time.’

‘Who knows?’ he said. ‘May be thay wantid to know what thay were like. Lots of pepol make guessis from neanderthals fossilised remanes and from dried up boddies priserved in caves….but thay dont really know what thay were like.’

‘Or may be thay want to make muny owt of her being diffrent.  Duncan….what happerned to all the uther por speri mint babies?’

‘May be thay all died. May be thay were miss carried or still born. That list jus says ‘no ishue,’ again and again.’

We stopped on the banks of Loch Lochy to have a pee. ‘Duncan, all those papers, you shoud of throwed them awey agis ago,’ I said. ‘What if pepol find them on you, theyull know we…..’ I wispered, ‘…done in NarstyLady.’

‘OK, OK, Iyull throw them awey,’ he said.

He ripped up NarstyLadys pars port then and there, hacked it in to tiny peicis with his nife and berid them under some brackern. ‘Shes gone,’ I said with satis facshun.

‘Yeh, but pepol are still owt there looking for her killers,’ Duncan said.

‘We look really diffrent now,’ I pointed owt. ‘Your biyerd has changed your fase, and my hare is shorter now and I look older.’

‘Your only a yere older. Thayull be ixpecting you to look a bit diffrent. And there aint nuthin you can do abowt your nose,’ said Duncan.

What did he mene? Do I have a funny nose? It looks normel to me when I look in the mirrer.  ‘What do you mene? Do I have a funny nose?’

‘Nah, nah, your all right….’ said Duncan. ‘….May be a bit funny,’ he said.

I punched him in the arm, not in the fase, that woudof bene mene, and we rolled abowt on the grownd. Ow, ow, it hert cos of my showlder. Its fun being with Duncan thogh. Hes so strong and big and cumfy to lie on.

‘Duncan?’ I said.

‘Yes, Sally-Anne.’

‘Do you think por LittelBaby has wires in her hed right now?’

‘I bluddy hope not, Sally-Anne…..but lets get a move on. The less time thay get with her, the better.’

We drove on and I slept cos I had so much to take in. We got as far as the botterm of Loch Lomund when the ixorst pipe fell off. We dicidid to hitch rarther than wate. Duncan phoned Big Steve wiol we were wating for a lift.

A great big fat man in a lorry took us as far down as Carliyul. He dident say much but he stared at Duncans brusis, grinned a lot, ate sarnies and slerped from a massiv bottel of diyet coke. I wantid to tell him that the diyet coke wasant doing no good for his diyet, but I dident bicause some times its not best to tell the truth, if its not nesisery. Like, you dont abserlutly have to tell the truth. We are not ablydged, as my teacher once said when I tolled her her teeth were wonky. I do not know what ablydged menes, nor am I likely to know ever. Unless I arsk, that is.

‘Duncan?’ I said. My head was resting on his showlder.

‘Yes, Sally-Anne,’ he said.

‘What does ablydged mene?’

‘It menes you gotta do it,’ he said.

‘Oh,’ I said. ‘So not ablydged menes you dont gotta do it?’

‘Yes,’ he said.

Anuther lorry, carrying nappies, took us ferther down. I wantid to arsk that driver if I coud have a lode of free pull ups for LittelBaby, this was asyuming we got her back, and I coudent magine not getting her back, but Duncan had said I musent talk too much, so as not to be noticed and not to be membered. The lorry driver stopt at the Manchister servicis at arownd ten, to slepe. We were starving so we bort some cwussons and coffee. We fownd a crappy two persen tent for a tenner then got anuther lift in a van.

The Italien driver said he was glad of the compny uther wise he woud fall aslepe. He did kepe falling aslepe but then so did we. We were nackered. The rode went on and on and on. We had to keep pokeing the driver to kepe him from vering into the central reser vayshun. Avensholy he had to stop and have a slepe nere Bermingum. It was nearly mid night by then. We had eggs on towst and tea at the servicis. We needid to get to the juncshun that cuts across from the M6 towards Kettering and Corbey so we got anuther lift of a cuple in an istate car with four gray hownds in the back. I stared at the dogs all the way. Thay stared at me too. Thay looked jentel. I think thay liked me. I wantid to stroke them but thay were bihind a baryer.

The cuple left us at the juncshun. We stood there for agis under an oringe light. I felt ixpowsed. Not meny cars went parst. It was dark. We were tiyerd. Duncan said he woud put up the tent when we got nere enugh. Finerly, a posh bloke in a Mersaydes gave us a ride up the A14 to the owt skerts of Corbey. Rownd abowts, rownd abowts, so meny rownd abowts. Dont like them, thay make you fiyul ill. It was abowt two in the morning. We trudged into a fiyuld of winter whete and put up are tent in the shelter of the hedge and crawled in side are slepeing bags, ixorstid. It felt horribel not having LittelBabys cosy form in there scrunched up with me. I realised how much I was use to having her with me all the time.

The next day, Duncan woke me jus as the goldern septemba rays were sliding side weys over the fiyuld. Big Steve had terned up in a Dunkin’ Donuts van.   ‘Its moran me jobs werth,’ he moned and ‘Fuckin hell, look at your fuckin fase!’ but he handid over the keys to Duncan and slapped him on the back. ‘Ill need it back arfter,’ he said.

‘Thanks, mate,’ said Duncan.

‘Your not doing no dodgy bisniss are you?’ said Steve.

‘Only getting back what is right fully ares,’ said Duncan.

‘Wheres the baby?’ arsked Steve, looking arownd.

‘Ixacley,’ said Duncan.

Steve took us in the back, showed us clene piols of uniform, hats, flat boxis and the fridgis full of fresh donuts. We had a quick coffee and put the uniforms on then and there. Telling you, I look well buff in dark blue with a wite aprun and wite cap. Duncan laid owt rows and rows of donuts in the huj card bored trays.

We dropt Steve of at Corbey stashun at seven therty, then got a bit lost rownd the ring rode as it was complicatid in the morning traffic. We endid up going rownd the rownd abowt three times and getting dizzy.   Duncan swore and cut left in frunt of some one and we iscaped on to the right rode.  We parsed a parked police car.  ‘Look normel, Sally-Anne,’ Duncan said.

I dont know abowt you, but if eny one tells me to look normel, I just carnt.  My fase went in to a spasum and my tung poked owt and my eyes went cross eyed.

The police car pulled in to the traffic just bihind us.  ‘Bluddy hell,’ said Duncan giving an in voluntery swerv of panic.

We drove a long with them right on are tale for a fiew minits.  I felt like I was going to wet my self with the strane of looking normel. Coud thay see my fase in the wing mirrer?  I smiold niceley in to it in case thay coud.  I shoudent of bothered eny way as there blue flashy lights went on and the sirens startid going.

‘This is it, Sally-Anne,’ said Duncan as he pulled over.  ‘Thayv finerly rumbold us.’

Wantababy: Chapter 16

Chapter 16.

Duncan looked in his mirrers. He startid the enjin, yanked the steering wheel to the left and axeleratid farst owt of the kew. We zoomed owt the way we had come in, bersting thrugh a baryer and flying the rong way up a one wey bit. ‘Weyull take the Ullapool rode and get a ferry to the Hebrides in sted,’ he said. ‘Bastard losers, wont get us.’

He kept checking his mirrers. ‘Sally-Anne,’ he said, ‘if its abowt NarstyLady then dont brethe a werd. We never saw her.’

‘I think they want LittelBaby,’ I said. ‘Thay look like the pepol what bete Steve up.’

Arfter abowt harf an awer he said tensely, ‘Sally-Anne, weyer being followed.’ There was a black car bihind us wich did evry thing we did. The rode was disertid so it was really obvius. Duncan did a larst minit swerv at a juncshun. Thay screeched there brakes but still followed us. He tried and tried to throw them of, but thay were still right bihind us.

On a straighter bit of forist rode, Duncan tried axelerating right up to are crappy cars limit, but they were still effert lessley glued to are bumper. They had dark windows so we coudent see how meny they were.

‘On the plus side,’ said Duncan…

‘Yes?’ I said.

‘…they havent shot us…. yet. But on the down side…we havent got much petrul.’

He wantid to get some where more populatid so thay woud be less likely to hert us as thay might be being wotched, but it was a lownly rode. Evensholy we ran owt of petrul. The car just went slower and slower, then petered owt and stopt. The car bihind stopt to. I had un straped LittelBaby from her sete. ‘Iyull hold them of,’ he said. ‘Run, Sally-Anne.  There isent nuthing else we can do.’  I got owt and startid running across the mor with LittelBaby in my arms. I knew it was hope less thogh.  Thay were going to get her of me. ‘I love you, LittelBaby,’ I wispered to her hed. ‘Dont ferget, I love you.’ The black car had stopt. Oh bugger, there were four blokes got owt. Two were running arfter me. Two more were heding for Duncan. I looked back as I ran, garsping in fright.

Duncan got owt the car with the wheel jack. He held it bihind him and slammed it into the ferst man who reached him. Thay tusseled and punched.

Duncan made to bring the jack smacking down hard on his hed, but bifore he could, the man rolled really quick and brought a foot up, real farst into Duncans balls. Duncan dubled over with a horribel grone. Oh my god, thats agony, I thort to my self. Duncan still had the jack in his hands. He brought it rownd in a big arc, smacking the guy in the fase. I thort, ‘Run, run, Sally-Anne,’ but I knew the uthers were catching up with me. It was hope less. I was grabbed by the leg and fell for werd. I manijed to prertect LittelBaby from the fall thogh, by spinning rownd on to my side. The man gripped my leg hard, really hard, it hert massis. I saw anuther man coming up at the dubel. I hit owt at the ferst man, scremed as I felt LittelBaby being twistid owt of my grasp, then felt my self flying thrugh the air and to wards the rocky grownd. My hed and showlder hit it with an inormus crunch. All the breth was nocked owt of me. I felt gritty erth in my tethe. I jus lay there and wantid to slepe.

I woke up, god knows how long arfter. Coud of bene minits, coud of bene awers. It semed darker, and was spitting with rane. My showlder was throbbing. My hed hert. All was quiert. Jus sickley spinning hether and erth and gray sky in my line of vishun. Midgis were in my hare. I lifted my hed to quickly and threw up. I moved very sloly awey from the sick. Owt of one eye I wotched a beetel walking a long the edge of a crack in the grownd for a wiol.  I wotched the drizzel come down, tiny drops all most like mist. My brane felt empty.

Then, bam, I membered LittelBaby. Oh, god, what had happerned to LittelBaby? Pray that she is there, I thort. Pray, pray. I tried to opern the uther eye but it was crustid up with blud. I crawled over to where I had got hit. I knew, thogh, bifore I got there, that she woud be gone. And she was. She was gone. I lay back down and howled and howled like a mummy wolf whose cub has got washed awey in a flud.

Then I thort, shit where is Duncan? ‘Duncan!’ I called, in a panic. ‘Duncan!’

I fownd him crumpeled biside the car, blud coming owt of his eyes and mowth. He was completely owt. His fase had massiv black brusis. I put my ear to his chest. I coudent here eny thing. I took his rist and felt for thumping there. I thort I coud feyul a faynt puls. I kissed his for hed. ‘Come on Duncan,’ I cried. ‘I nede you. You carnt die.’

He jus lay there with the wites of his eyes showing. His arms were floppy. It dident look as if he was brething. I put my cheke to his nose and coudent fele eny breth.

‘Oh, think, Sally-Anne, think,’ I thort. My mind had gone intirely blank. I did tip him over to the side thogh. Its not good to drink your own vommit. I member lerning that when one of my sisters, Jo, use to put my uther sister, Elsie, all weys on her side when she got so pissed on a Saterdy night that she went un conshus. I operned Duncans mowth. A bit of blud trickerled owt the side into the hether. Oh, shit, may be he had all redy drowned drinking his own blud. What else coud I do?

Thay had tried to teach us that brething in to some boddy else thing in Ferst Ade at the center. I dont think I had bene consentrating to well. And there fake persen put me of, because it had no legs, and no arms, and no hed, so it looked like a dis imboddied chest what had bene in a terribel trane crash. If your going to have a fake persen, you might as well have it looking like a persen. Thats what I think eny wey.

I tried brething in to Duncans mowth but the air jus came owt his nose. Then I tried holding his nose and brething again in to his mowth. Then I tried cuvering his hole mowth with my mowth. I took a massiv breth and sent it all in to him. That werked better. His chest rose up. I did like five breths then I did that thing where you press down ten centi meters on the middel of the chest, hard, with both fists. I was scared it mite hert him, but then I thort, no, hes owt, so its not going to hert and eny wey, herting is better than being ded, so I sat with one leg on eether side of him and went for it. I tried and tried. I did five breths again, then the pumping thing. Then five more breths and pumping again. He jus lay there.

If he was ded I coudent bare it. I thort I woud die of greef. After abowt twenty minits brething and pumping I clapsed. I put my hed on his chest and cried bitter teres. If Duncan was gone, I mite as well die. ‘Duncan,’ I waled. ‘If your gone, I will have to go to, and then what will LittelBaby do?’

His chest gave a littel crackel and spasum under my hed. He pulled in a depe breth, opernd cracked lips and croked, ‘Iyum …not… gonna…die, Sally-Anne.’

‘Oh, thank god, thank god,’ I said. Rilefe woshed over me. ‘But Duncan….’ I said, and I all most dident want to tell him, as it woud be to sad for him, ‘…thay…thay got LittelBaby. Shes gone.’

He pushed him self up with his arms, groning. ‘Fuck…fuck them,’ he said, spitting blud.

BTW I have found a brilliant track for the movie, (if the wondrous Ben Sommers will allow me to use it) for when Sally-Anne is skipping along hi-fiving the leaves near the beginning. All the lyrics seem to go pretty well with my Sally-Anne, strangely.

Chapter 15.

Duncan woke up to with all the screming. ‘Woh, woh, LittelBaby,’ he said. We took terns cudderling her til she was carmer. After that night, she talked abowt her brudda evry day.

I thort it was a bit odd that she shoud dreme of having a bruther. And I wasent even shure she had ever herd the werd bruther. But then, we all dreme weerd things. I some times dreme of donuts. Making them and droping them in the hot fat. Or I woud dreme I was back in my cooking clars, rolling owt pastry or choping up lekes. LittelBabys night mares became more and more often thogh. All most evry night, LittelBaby was dreming of the pane of her brudda. Some times in the day too, she woud stop playing and crese up her fase and say, ‘where my brudda, mudda, where he?’

May be she had made up her bruther because she needid a friend. But I knew she probly coudent have a friend. Uther kids woud think she was to weerd. She looked to diffrent from them. Some times uther muthers woud see my chiold, from a disternse, and there fasis woud light up, then drop as thay got clowser, when thay took in her high fore hed, her large ears, her wide flared nostrels. It was a bit better when she was waring her hat, but if she took it of, her aperance frighterned pepol. We took to making her ware a hat most of the time.

Eny wey, I all weys thort she was abserlutely beautifle.

It was finerly summer. LittelBaby was nine munths old. In are villige there was a farm shop. We picked rars berries there and took them home to eat owt side. Duncan was wotching LittelBaby signing. She was balancing rars berries in a littel tower shape and signing lustily: ‘uppa tower uppa tower, in a awer in a awer, fiddle de doo, fiddle de dee, weeee,’ again and again.

‘Shes jus…not normel, is she, Sally-Anne?’ he said.

I frowned. Not Normel. That kind of rang a bell some where in my hed. Oh, yes, it was what that CrazyStranger man on the sea frunt had said when Id bene choking on my ice creme. What had he said? Had he said I was Not Normel? No, I thort it must have been the baby he said was Not Normel… and, yes, he had said she was a cone. ‘Duncan?’ I arsked him.

‘Yes, Sally-Anne?’

‘What is a cone?’ I said.

‘Its what you get your ice creme in, you numpty,’ he laughed.

‘Well, that CrazyStranger, you know, he once said..when I was pregnunt..he followed me all the way up the frunt…’ I frowned trying to member, ‘..he said my baby was Not Normel and he said she was a Cone.’

Duncan propped his hed up on his hand and lay side ways in the bed. ‘Well, she woudent be normel if she was a Cone, woud she?’ he arsked.

We both laughed and laughed. I thort of a good joke. ‘She woud have hare made of ice creme,’ I said.

‘Oh…. ice creme cone, thats good that is… I thort you ment traffic cone!’ he said. We laughed again.

LittelBaby did not like towns. She was freeked by them. But some times, like once a fort night, we had to go in to town to get stuff. I woud say, ‘Today, LittelBaby, Iyum afrayd theres nuthing for it. We have to take the bus in to town.’ LittelBaby woud start grinding her teeth. She only had five on the top and five on the botterm, and the canines were quite long and sharp, so it was a weerd iffect. Thay sort of clicked and clacked against each uther. ‘LittelBaby! Stop that,’ I said to her. ‘You will hert your teeth… ‘ I tried to be a littel bit feerce abowt inportent things as some times you see kids in the super markit who are wining and you think, thats not right. There mum shoud be more feerce.

In town she woud hold my hand and toddel along, hed down. If we terned a corner, she woud look a long the next strete in fere and hold an arm over her hed as she walked a long, as if the bildings on eether side were clowsing in on her. I coud pick up on her fiyulings, as my hart woud pownd too and the gray ness of the ciment woud way hevily apon me. I woud carry her parst shop windos and some times stop at a pritty display but she woud cuver her eyes and say ‘notta gogo town notta gogo, no likey.’ She was scared of eny thing new, aspesholy shiny bildings. If we tried to take her in side she woud mone softly. A low creakey sownd, like a tree creking in a gale.

One day in July, I had forsed LittelBaby in to town. She was in the back pack on my back and we were buying orangis at the markit. Talk of the devil, there was CrazyStranger right next to me. I coudent bileve my eyes. He fell in to step biside me as I walked awey. He did not look at me. ‘Sally-Anne,’ he said. I stopped. He stopped too but carried on looking straight ahed. ‘Please carry on walking,’ he said. ‘Its better if pepol dont realise we are talking.’

I walked on sloly. ‘So what is it this time?’ I muttered. ‘And how do you know my name?’

‘Umm, we have friends in commern,’ he said quiertly. ‘I need to tell you…there are pepol arfter your baby…your baby is very inportent to them.’

‘Is this abowt my baby being a cone?’ I said. ‘I dont under stand what you ment by cone.’

‘Um, shes a colone, a colone,’ said the man, his eyes darting abowt. ‘Look, I carnt tell you more right now, but please, wotch owt. What ever happerns, dont let them get the baby.’ He startid talking rapidly, quick fiyer. I dident under stand much of it. He kept looking up and down the rode, nervasly, then bruptley veered awey from me. I was mistified. What a weerdo! And what was he doing all the wey up here? May be he was on holiday. Pepol do come up on holiday because of the lovely seenery.

‘Duncan?’ I said later.

‘Yes, Sally-Anne,’ he said.

‘Whats colone mene?’

‘Colone? Its stinkey, isent it? French,’ he said.

Well, CrazyStranger was getting frankley in sulting. Talking bluddy french, as if Iyum gonna under stand eny of that, and making owt my baby is stinkey. Por LittelBaby. Shes not at all stinkey.

A fiew days later, Duncan was owt bilding for are land lord so I was jus hi fiving leves with LittelBaby on are way to the swings. I had to pick her up evry five secunds as she wantid to hi five all the leves. ‘Hi five! Hi five!’ she said. A BMW parsed by us. I terned my hed to wotch it, as it was going so sloly it looked like may be the driver dident know where he was going. Then I ducked my hed farst because I thort I had seen Zoe from the center looking owt of the passinger side. I pulled LittelBabys hat down over her eyes, scooped her up and raced into an alley. I ducked into a dor way, my hart hammering awey in my throwt. I felt like I might faint. Shit, well, if thay were arfter my baby, thay were getting her over my ded boddy, I was shure of that. I pulled my phone owt of my pockit and phoned Duncan. Jus as he picked up and said, ‘Yeh? Sally-Anne?’ two pepol came rownd the corner to wards me. It was Zoe and…Big Steve.

‘It’s OK, Sally-Anne, you dont have to be afrayd,’ said Zoe. I notised her hare dident look nerely as nete as ushul. ‘Were on your side. I herd you were here, and Ive come to warn you. There are pepol arfter you and…’ she hesitated and looked at LittelBaby, ‘the baby.’

‘Its Zoe and Big Steve,’ I pantid in to the phone. ‘What sort of pepol?’ I arsked. ‘Do thay know where we are?’ I notised Big Steve had a yello and perpel bruse all over his eye.

‘Thay dont know you are here, but thay might know soon,’ she said. ‘Thay came and thretened us at the center. You shoud get ferther awey, ferther awey! Onistly, thay were…horribel, Sally-Anne. Terifiying. The bloke has titchy eyes in a fat face, dusent he, Steve?’

‘Yeh,’ said Steve, ‘and the yunger one is vilent, in sane. He took me owt when I woudent tell him where you were. ‘

‘But…’ I looked from one to the uther of them. ‘How did you find me? And,’ I looked at Zoe, ‘how do you know Big Steve?’

Zoe sighed. ‘Hes my bruther, Sally-Anne. Iyum sorry, but he said Duncan coud spy on you for me.’

‘Those Collins pepol werent even the parents,’ I tolled her.

‘How do you know that?’ she said.

‘I saw her re…’ I said, and stopped because LittelBaby had pinched my arm. I had nerely said, ‘I saw her real name on her pars port.’ Shit. That woud of been a massiv fale.

‘I jus do,’ I said.

‘She was fownd merdered, that Mrs Collins,’ she said.

‘Oh dere. Was she?’ I said. LOL.

Duncan-in-the-phone was showting in my ear. ‘Its OK, Duncan, thayr being…OK,’ I said.

Zoe backed off, pulling Steve by the arm. ‘If we fownd you,’ she said, ‘thay can find you. Come on,’ she said to Steve, ‘lets get owt of here. Look arfter your self, Sally-Anne.’

The next day, Duncan got up erly and spent the two hundred quid what had bene in NarstyLadys hand bag, on a very crappy car from a deeler. We had gathered quite a lot of stuff over those munths, wich we wantid to take with us, like LittelBabys stick collecshun, her fossil collecshun, her shells, her flints and her buckit of moss and buckit of sheeps wool. The car was red, but one dentid dor was grene and the bonnit, also dentid, was gray. ‘Oh grate,’ I said, ‘were not going to stand owt much in that, are we?’

‘Its better than nuthing,’ said Duncan.

We did not get tax or inshurance for the car. It had two munths emoty on it. All that morning, we looked at the map wiol we packed and dicidid we woud go to the banks of Loch Loogal, because I liked the name. At around midday there was a tap at the dor. We thort it was the land lord as we had tolled him we had to leve. We operned up. It was Fler, my friend from the center.

She had a grate big belly again, and was back in baggy dungarees. ‘Yeh, working again,’ she said, patting her belly. ‘Iyum visiting my grand farther, in Ullapull, so thort Iyud find you owt. Took quite a bit of arskin. Hey, nice baby!’ She hi-fived LittelBaby and smiold at her.

‘Who did you arsk?’ I said.

‘Dont panik,’ she said. ‘Only Zoe. She tolled me where you were but she dident know the ixact villige nor the ixact howse.’

We had packed the tea pot all redy but we got it owt again and made some tea. LittelBaby was unpacking her sheeps wool, laying the tufts owt in lines. ‘Dont unpack it, LittelBaby,’ I said, ‘You gotta pack it. Weyer moving on, Fler, ferther in to the wiolds.’

Fler pored her self a cupper and said, ‘Sally-Anne, you obviusly never knew this, but I jus have to say it: you had evry right to hang on to your baby.’

I stared at her, dum fowndid. ‘What do you mene?’ I arsked her.

‘Well, in a cort of law, thay woud of ruled that you had evry right to kepe the baby if you wantid to.’

I felt big things that I thort were true come crashing down in shardy splinters, dust and rusty nales. ‘That carnt be right,’ I wispered. ‘That jus carnt be right, can it?’

‘Yes, it is,’ she said. ‘I know, because it has been happerning in the news some times that the surogut wants to kepe the baby, and she dus all most all weys have the right to kepe the baby.’

I felt like I was going to claps in a hepe. I was thinking ‘We dident have to kill NarstyLady. We coud of jus tolled her to fuck of in sted.’ I stammered: ‘But …thay kept saying it was not my egg… not my sperm, thay kept telling me I had singed the papers…thay never said I coud kepe the baby.’

‘Well, thay dident want you to know,’ she said. ‘Of course, its better for them if all goes acording to plan, as thay get there fee, the ‘parents’ are happy, thay avoyd the corts. Far less hassel. But thay make an effert to hide the truth, because thay know full well that if one of there suroguts wants to kepe the baby, thay carnt stand in her way.’

I had bene to scared to arsk. I asyumed I had no rights because I was so use to not having eny, I serpose. What I wantid had all weys, as long ago as I coud member, bene not very inportent.

But then, a thort struk me. ‘Shurly, having the baby in the beach hut shoud of tolled them that I wantid to kepe the baby…I even said it then, I member saying it, to the nersis.’

‘Well, for some reson, thay really really dident want you to kepe the baby.’

‘May be because shes speshul,’ I said, smioling at LittelBaby who had broght me a fer cone from her fer cone collecshun. ‘Pack them. Dont unpack them, LittelBaby.’

‘May be. Or thay were being pade massis for her because she was speshul,’ she said.

‘Why dident you tell me I was aloud to kepe her, Fler?’

‘You never tolled me you wantid to kepe her,’ she said.

She was right. I had been too afrayd that pepol woud tell on me. ‘But why did thay choose me to have such a speshul baby? Coudent thay tell I woud be trubbel?’

‘You must of bene the only persen who matched the baby. Member when you start at the center you have blud tests, smeres? Thats testing you for compat erbility.’

‘Fler?’

‘Yes, Sally-Anne?’

‘Whats compat erbility?’ we said to gether, then we laughed.

‘You can do it to!’ I said to her.

‘Do what?’ she arsked.

‘You can guess what I am going to say next!’

‘Only some times,’ she said, smiling. ‘Compat erbility is like how you match,’ she said.

‘Well, thay were clever at it, because me and LittelBaby do match. We match so well that we carnt be a part.’

‘Yes, you do,’ she said, with a smiol, looking at LittelBaby who had left of the packing and was doing her darnsing in her wellies with a fer cone in each hand and a twistid garland of sheeps wool rownd her neck. Fler had to run, so we hugged. ‘Good luck, Sally-Anne,’ she said. ‘I jus had to let you know you got a friend.’

We followed the map to Loch Loogal. We stopped for a fiew wekes in a beautifle berch wood on its banks. It was mid Orgust by then and really warm. Duncan had bort a tarp so we made a littel shelter in a cops. All of us felt more normel there because there were no pepol and because LittelBaby, at eleven munths old, was all most all weys happy there, apart from when she got upset abowt her brudda. She liked dark, woody plasis. Even when rane was thudding on the tarp jus inshis from are fases, she was happy. She broght moss and ferns in for the flor and fell aslepe with her fase in a pillo of leves and petels. Often, we woud wake up in the morning and find LittelBaby owt side, digging holes or jus sitting, looking up at the canerpy of leves abuv, lisening to the berd song.

In the larst week of Septemba we dicidid that for the winter it woud be safist to move to an iland. We packed up again and drove to Thurso to get the ferry to the Orkneys. We bort a tickit for the mid day crossing. The sea looked rugh and gray. Waves were ixploding against the key. We sat in the car in a long kew of cars. Duncan smoked owt of the windo. It was boring wating.

‘Duncan?’ I said.

‘Yes, Sally-Anne,’ he said.

‘I think those pepol over there are wotching us.’

‘Over where?’

‘Only look with your eyes. Over there, by the caff thing.’ I pointed with my finger, but bilow the level of the car windo, surrup tishusly and with owt looking that wey. See, I had lernt some things from my life on the run… and quite a lot of niew werds like surrup tishusly. ‘A bloke in a black hoody with a huj fat fase and a yunger ugly chap in a gray cote. They kepe looking over here but prertending thayer not.’

Duncan looked for a minit. ‘Sally-Anne,’ he said. ‘I think your right.’

‘Are they arfter the baby?’ I arsked. ‘Are thay the ones Zoe and Steve said were arfter us?’

‘I dont know. But we dont want to be stuck on a ferry with them, thay look dedly. Strap LittelBaby back in her sete and get your sete belt back on, Sally-Anne.’

I did so, my hands shaking.

‘Howld tight,’ said Duncan.

 

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