Sammy needed to pee. John had advised him to use the bathroom at the café, and Sammy had dutifully made his way there with every intention of emptying his bladder. When he got to the tiny, one cubical, toilet, somebody was already in there. The person grunted and Sammy heard a splash and smelled a smell. He washed his hands and left without using the facilities.
Now he needed to pee really badly. His bladder was full and he had a pain in his stomach from holding it in. He knew that they were hours from home and he couldn’t hold it for much longer. It was hurting him. The men would often veer off from the group and disappear behind bushes or rocks. He knew what they were doing. It was disgusting. He was just glad that none of them ever tried to touch him after handling their dongle, and not washing their hands afterwards.
He needed a toilet and a wash basin and soap. He was agitated and his eyes flickered from side to side in their sockets. His dad was too busy talking to Martin about discipline in the classroom, to notice. They were at the front and John had Carthenage on his lead because there were sheep around. Sammy was at the back of the men and had been talking to Mr Athersmith. Gordon had been telling him about what it was like in the army and Sammy had been enjoying the talk with Gordon, until his bladder had felt too full and it had become too distracting to listen. Gordon realised that he’d lost his audience's attention. He knew that sometimes Sammy got overloaded with stimulus and needed to be left alone. He’d said that he was going to catch up with Ian because he wanted to ask him something about his photography group. He left Sammy to walk on alone.
The men were all up ahead. He looked behind him and his Mum and Martha were still around the last corner, they hadn’t come into sight yet. Sammy knew that he was going to pee his pants, soon. He had to find some water to wash his hands in so that he could pee. He left the path and quickly disappeared into the slate quarry searching for a rock pool or a small waterfall so that he could relieve himself. If he was quick, he could re-join the group before they even noticed that he was missing. He knew that he should have told somebody, but he wasn’t going far.
He heard them shouting him but he didn’t want them to find him. He’d be embarrassed to tell them that he needed to relive himself. It was a shameful thing to have to tell somebody. And Ian and the others might not mind, even his dad and the old ladies had done it sometimes, but Sammy couldn’t bring himself to tell anybody that he needed to pee behind a bush.
He climbed high and soon the voices were less audible. He wasn’t worried, he could catch them up. He still hadn’t found any water to wash his hands. He was going to wet his pants. He had to get his dongle out, no matter what. There wasn’t a soul in sight but he couldn’t just do it there, out in the open. He made for a gorse bush half way down a shingled scree. And then he was falling. He lost his footing in the loose stones and fell onto his side. He was rolling down the steep mountainside and he was all wet down his leg. He felt himself peeing in his pants, but he couldn’t stop. He stood up, he wasn’t hurt, but he was still peeing. He had a very full bladder. He felt it going inside his hiking boot and it squelched when he walked. He looked down at his trousers and they were light blue—and they were partly dark blue. Sammy was ashamed.
Ian turned around to check on the progress of the rest of the group and noticed that the lad was missing. Martha and Shelly were just coming into view. He shouted to the men ahead, and John ran down to him asking where Sammy was. ‘I don’t know, mate, he was here five minutes ago. They called out to him, and Shelly and Martha broke into a run up the mountain.
‘Where’s Sammy?’ she screamed at John as she drew level with the group. She was huffing and gasping for breath but the rising panic was evident in her voice.
‘Don’t fret lass,’ Gordon tried to calm her, ‘We’ll find him, he can’t have gone far.’
They all shouted for him, but their calls came back to them as echoes on the wind. They scanned the area, far in the distance two people, wearing cagoules, were nothing more than specs on the horizon, neither of them were Sammy. Despite the grazing sheep John let Carthenage off his lead and told him to go and find him. The dog thought that it was a new game and leaped up at John, barking and grabbing at the lead in his hands. Ian said that his dog was a working dog, and therefore had superior intelligence. He let him off and gave him the same command, but off their leads, both dogs just chased each other across the countryside, glad to be free to run again.
They knew that Sammy hadn’t doubled back towards Shelly and Martha and he hadn’t got ahead of the men in the front. He had to have left the path at some point. The men split into two groups, leaving Martha and Shelly on the path in case Sammy came back looking for them. Ian and Gordon went down the mountain in search of him while John, Martin and Bill broke off to the right to climb the mountain and search the slate quarries and the fells behind them. One dog went with each group.
Sammy was hot and tired and ashamed. He couldn’t go back to the ramblers with pee stains on his trousers. He didn’t think about the worry that he’d bring to his parents. His mind didn’t work that way. His only concern was not to be seen in his shameful state. He decided to go home. He could remember the way into Keswick and then it was only another forty miles to Barrow from there. Every year they had a Keswick to Barrow run, and people did it all in one day. It couldn’t be that hard, and once his pants had dried, he could get out his maps and his compass and navigate his way home.
But he’d strayed a long way from the path. He came to some thick bushes that went a long way in the direction that he wanted to go. They had thorns and prickles and he had to walk all the way around them. His legs were aching and he missed his dog. He wished that Carthenage was with him. And then he was in a deep gully and he walked a long way, all uphill. At the end of the gully he came to a face of sheer rock. He couldn’t climb it. He’d have to go all the way back to the start of the prickly bushes and start again. He looked around him. Sammy was lost. And now he didn’t know which way he had to go to get back down the mountain and into Keswick.
There was a big ledge sticking out of the rock. Underneath it was a carpet of thick green grass. It was shaded under the ledge. He climbed beneath it and sat far back into the shade. He was covered from view and it was like being in his own little cave. He took his bottle of water out of his rucksack and had a drink. He closed his eyes and thought about being a cave man. He could be a caveman and Carthenage could be a cavedog and they’d hunt dinosaurs and drag cavegirls around by their hair.
It was cool and it was nice. Sammy fell asleep.
They met back on the path after an hour. Shelly was weeping and Martha did her best to comfort her. Several walkers had passed them and they’d all promised to keep their eyes open for Sammy. Shelly stopped crying long enough to shout at John. They had an argument in front of everybody and John was seething that Shelly could blame him for this. It wasn’t his fault.
Ian called Keswick Mountain Rescue on his mobile phone. The lady in the control room that day kept them on the phone while she mobilised the unit. Shelly took the phone and gave as many details about Sammy as she thought would help. She didn’t mention his condition, though. He was a child, lost, what difference did it make that he was autistic? At last, she felt that she was doing something constructive to get her son back.
Soon, they saw a helicopter circling overhead and spreading out in widening circles from their point of reference in search of Sammy. Ten men with mountain rescue dogs had arrived at the café in two range rovers, and more were going to get there as they could. They separated into groups and spread out over the mountain, sending their dogs ahead, to search. One man, William Bates, followed the path to find the family and reassure them that everything possible was being done to find their son, and that he was confident that they’d find him very soon. He assured them that men were already searching, further down the mountain. He stayed with them, talking on his walkie-talkie to the teams of rescuers.
Johnny peat and his dog, Valour, were searching scrub on the north western face of the fell. The dog found a scent and he kept his nose close to the ground as he followed it straight up the scree wall. He entered a gully and Johnny followed, noticing immediately that the bushes either side had recently been disturbed. The dog whined and looked at his master for confirmation that he should continue on the new path. ‘Good boy, Valour, go on lad. Find.’ The dog put his nose back to the ground and set off again. His pace was rapid, and Johnny knew that the scent was strong.
Sammy woke up and heard a dog barking. He smelled wee and remembered his shame. He was dry now, but the top of his legs were burning and sore where they’d chaffed with all the walking that he’d done in wet trousers. He rubbed at his eyes and felt a warm snout and hot breath in his face. ‘Get down, Carthenage,’ he said. The dog barked and Sammy opened his eyes and saw that it wasn’t Carthenage, at all, unless Carthenage had suddenly all grown up. Sammy didn’t think he’d turned into Rip Van Winkle, but a great big German Shepherd was looking at him with big amber eyes. This wasn’t his dog.
Johnny broke into a sprint on the rough ground. He was already thumbing his walkie-talkie. ‘Delta Charlie Three. Delta Charlie Three. Over’
Static noise filled his ear and then a calm voice replied, ‘Delta Control. Receiving you, Delta Charlie Three. Go ahead. Over’
‘Code Green,’ he shouted into the handset. ‘Found something. Going to investigate. Over.’ Valour was a seasoned dog. He didn’t make mistakes. But there was no movement coming from under the shelf of rock that the dog had indicated. He looked up; there was a sheer face of rock above him. If the kid had fallen from that height, it didn’t look good. He wasn’t dead on contact, because he’d managed to scramble under the shelter of the rock, but he could still be seriously injured. Johnny guessed unconscious, normally, a terrified kid would be yelling the place down. It didn’t look good. He made this initial assessment as he ran, hoping that he was in time.
He got to the shelf covering—what? The body?—and hunkered down. He patted the dog briefly and told him he was a good boy, before telling him to move back. The dog, his work done, wagged his tail and obediently moved out of the way of the niche. A pair of solemn brown eyes, wide and curious stared up at Johnny. The kid didn’t look hurt, but he didn’t say anything. Although curious, his eyes had a vacant expression. Johnny’s training took over and he reassessed the situation. He came to the conclusion that the boy was in shock.
‘Hey there, Son. My Name’s Johnny and I’m a first aider. I’ve come to help you. Looks to me like you’ve got yourself in a bit of a pickle, there. It’s okay, don’t be scared. Are you hurt?’ Still the boy didn’t speak. Oh Jesus, thought Johnny, it looks as though he’s had a knock to the head. Trauma. His eyes were doing a rapid St Vitus dance from one side of the socket to the other. The kid looked as though he was suffering a heavy concussion. Brain Damage? Johnny swallowed. The adrenaline was on overdrive through his body. He took a deep breath to calm himself and the boy who was pressed against the wall of the niche, mirrored him. ‘We need to get you out of there, Son. It’s going to be all right, now. I’m here to look after you. Your parents are very worried about you, but we can tell them that I’ve found you and that you’re safe. Can you give me your hand, Son, and I’ll help you out. It looks pretty cramped in there for a tall lad like you? Can you do that?’ Johnny wasn’t as bothered about getting the lad out; he was still trying to assess his medical status. He kept his voice very low and soft,while maintaining a steady stream of words. ‘Can you tell me your name, Son?’
The eye-flitting stopped as suddenly as it had started. He was looking at the rock to the top right of his line of vision. ‘What is your surname, Sir?’ asked the boy, politely. He made no attempt to look at him as he talked and his eyes didn’t move an inch. He spoke in a dull monotone.
Peat. My Name’s Johnny peat, Son, but you can call me Johnny. What’s your’s?’
‘Samuel May is not Johnny Peat’s, son. Samuel May is John Bell’s, son. Samuel May realises that Johhny Peat may be confused on the matter due to the John forename. But Samuel May comes from a long lineage due to the heritage of John May. In seventeen ninety-six, Benjamin Alfred Bell, married Agnes May Coulthard. They bore nine children, six boys and three girls with, Emily being the eldest followed by Alfred Henry—the boy continued reeling off names and dates. He gave Johnny a run down of what each person died from and their dates of death, and ages at the time.
‘Well I’ll be dammed,’ Johnny said, thumbing his walkie-talkie. He’d been about to call an ambulance. Now he was angry. ‘Control,’ he said, tightly into the receiver. He didn’t give the correct call signs. ‘I’ve found the boy. He’s alright—I think. Dammit, Gaynor, why weren’t we told that this kid has problems?’
The boy suddenly stopped reeling off names and dates. He was only up to Eighteen Sixty-four.
‘Samuel May has indeed got problems. Oops. Samuel may has got big problems.’ His eyes dropped from the roof of the cave and met Johnny’s for a split second before darting back again. ‘Samuel May is a dirty, dirty bad boy.’
‘Why don’t you come out here into the nice sunshine and tell me about those problems, So—Samuel?’
‘Samuel can not come out of this hole. Samuel May lives in this hole forever now. Samuel May is a dirty bad person and must live in the hole. Samuel May is fifteen years five months and sixteen days old. Samuel May peed his pants.’