Small Sam was playing in the car park behind Waitrose when the grown-ups took him. He’d been with some of the little kids, having a battle with an odd assortment of action figures, when it happened. They weren’t supposed to play outside without a guard, but it was a lovely sunny day and the little kids got bored indoors. Sam wasn’t the youngest of the group, but he was the smallest. That’s why they called him Small Sam. So they could tell him apart from the other Sam, Big Sam, who was about two centimetres taller. Big Sam had been killed a few months ago, but Small Sam was stuck with the name.
It was probably because of his size that the grown-ups went for him. They were like that — they picked out the youngsters, the weaklings, the little ones. The rest of Sam’s gang got back safely, but Sam was cut off and the roving pack of grown-ups trapped him in a corner.
They had come over the side wall, led by a big mother in a tracksuit that might once have been pink but was now so filthy and greasy it looked like grey plastic. She had a fat, egg-like body on top of long skinny legs. Her back was bent and she ran stooped over, but surprisingly fast, her arms held wide like a scorpion’s claws, her dirty blonde hair hanging straight down.
Small Sam was too scared even to scream or call for help, and the grown-ups made no noise, so the whole scene was played out in horrible silence. The mother blocked off the route back towards the building while two lanky fathers ran at him from either side. Sam dodged them for a few seconds, but he knew they’d get hold of him in the end. By the time help came from inside, the grown-ups were gone, back over the wall, with Sam stuffed inside a sack.
Maxie led the group of bigger kids out into the car park. Even though they were armed with spears and clubs and good throwing rocks they moved cautiously.
“We’re too late,” said Callum, scanning the empty car park. “They’ve got him.”
“Shame,” said a stocky, dark-haired kid called Josh. “I liked him. He was funny.”
“That’s the second attack this week,” said Maxie angrily. “What’s going on? Either the grown-ups are closing in on us or they’re getting braver.”
“They ain’t brave,” said Josh, spitting on the ground. “If they was still here I’d show them brave. I’d mash their ugly faces. Nothing scares me.”
“So why were they here?” asked Maxie.
“They’re just hungry,” said Josh.
“We’re all hungry,” said Callum.
“We should have been here,” said Maxie. “We should have been watching over them.”
“We can’t be everywhere at once,” Callum pointed out. “There’s not enough of us, not with Arran out with the scavs. Our job’s to keep a look-out from the roof. The little kids knew they weren’t supposed to be out here. We should all stay inside.”
“We can’t stay inside all day,” scoffed Josh. “We’d go crazy.”
“It’s good inside,” said Callum.
To be continued
Extracted from The Enemy; by Charlie Higson;