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?’
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.’