Time’s Ticking by Laura Cobb

Do you believe in ghosts? I certainly don’t. Who would?

But I just hate it when people talk about them. I feel a shiver run down my back.

And it’s coming up to Halloween, I’ve been invited to this Halloween party. But I’m rather nervous because I’m the sort of person who gets scared easily, and when I get scared, I don’t forget in a hurry!

By the way, my name’s Jeremy and I’m thirteen. I live with my Dad, my Mum and my sister, Jane. She’s ok compared to some sisters my friends have.

“Jeremy, I’m taking Jane to school now and I won’t be back ’til late tonight, but you’ll be able to fix your tea, won’t you?” shouted Dad.

“Yeah, sure Dad. Bye.” I called back.

Dad has this new job as a director of a soon to be released film ‘The nightmare’. So he now has to work late hours for the shots that have to be filmed at night. I think he’s amazing.

“Come on, Jeremy, you’re going to be late for school. In fact, I’ll drop you there, just let me unload this washing.”

One thing you must learn about our family life is that we are always in a hurry. It’s a wonder how I get the time to see my friends after school. Dad is always out filming, either in the day or night. Mum works at a hospital, as a nurse, and she usually swaps her shifts to night-time ones because she gets more money that way. And, I’m supposed to look after Jane all the while. Even though she doesn’t need to have someone looking after her all the while. She’s a year younger than me.

“Are you ready yet?” I called to Mum. I sat on my bed anxiously looking at my watch realising I had just five minutes to get to school.

“Wait a sec,” she called to me.

I sat on my bed wishing my life could be so much more interesting than it was, when I heard the cry, “Help!”

Suddenly, there was a big crash and mum was sent flying headfirst down the stairs. The cat from next door had come bounding in and without any warning, ran straight into Mum. Then there was silence. I waited a few minutes feeling suddenly cold, waiting for mum’s cheerful voice, calling: “I’m ok.” But nothing could be heard apart from the birds chirping noisily outside. I jumped up and ran down the stairs.

“Mum!” I shouted exasperatedly.

I could see Mum lying motionless at the bottom of the stairs. I tried to remain calm, I had had lessons at scouts at what to do in an emergency. I dialled 999 to get an ambulance. I was shaking; I could barely hold the phone. At last, a reply! I was asked what service I would like. It said press 2 for an ambulance, so I did. Soon, someone answered and spoke to me. I told him my address and my phone number. I also described the accident. They said that they would be there soon. I then hung up.

I decided that if I watched more shows like ‘Casualty’ and ‘Heartbeat’ then I might have had an idea of what to do. The ambulance seemed to be taking its time. I had waited fifteen minutes already. But it soon came, speeding down our lane with the flashing lights and then coming to a halt as it neared our door. They lifted Mum onto a stretcher with white linen sheets. Then she was lifted into the ambulance. I wondered whether to follow. I raised my courage enough, and jumped in beside Mum. One of the men helping, sat down beside me and spoke to me. “I wouldn’t worry too much, this sort of thing calls us out all the time, and nearly everyone makes a full recovery.” He said confidently. I felt a little better after that comment.

She was lifted carefully into the ambulance and we were taken off to Mulberry Hospital in Cambridge. The journey wasn’t really that long, but it was lucky we stopped when we did, I was feeling dizzy, looking through the window you could see trees flying past, and from the open window you could feel the breeze, making me shiver violently. Mum was taken into the Accident and Emergency, while I went off to telephone Dad. He said that he’d be on his way immediately with Jane.

I was lonely all by myself, and dad seemed to be taking his time. I ran upstairs and made myself a steaming hot chocolate. Although it was warm in the hospital, I was shivering. I wondered back down to the main hall, where I soon met dad. He rushed to see me at once.

“How’s your Mum?” asked Dad worriedly.

“I don’t know yet, no-one has said anything.” I said.

“How did she fall down the stairs?” he asked.

“It was and accident, the cat from next door…” I began.

“Ruddy cat. I’ll shoot it.” He exclaimed angrily.

I sighed because I knew what Dad got like when he was in a state. But I knew that a cup of tea was a cure for his bad temper.

“Wait there, Dad.” I said.

I ran upstairs and brought back a steaming of tea to calm him down. Dad sipped it gratefully. I slumped down beside him and watched him take great gulps of his tea, and then swearing because it spilt all down his front. I began to look around curiously. Everyone seemed to be bustling around; nurses were always on the run round the hospital. Doctors were rushing round sending messages. A hospital was a busy place to be. Then a nurse came up and asked if Dad could come this way immediately. He followed with a worried expression on his face. Jane and I were left puzzled.

Dad came back in ten minutes and spoke to us. He said that there might be a chance that Mum may not come through. He said that she had fallen into a coma and that some people don’t come through. He then said he thought it best if we went home and if there was any more news then he would contact us. I didn’t want to stay at the hospital so I decided to go home.

We headed off down the quiet main street where hardly a soul was in sight. But I didn’t want to go straight home, I was feeling daring.

Come on Jane,” I said. “Let’s go down here!”

We were both feeling very worried, so I thought a walk may do us good. I had been down this road before. It led down into the woods. Jane and I used to go down there often and have some fun. But Dad forbade us to go down there anymore after Jane made up a ridiculous story about us being chased. Dad believed us, and was convinced there was someone chasing us, and said we were no longer to go down there. But we were older, and it wasn’t as though there were weird people down there. It was only a story. Soon I was beginning to feel hungry, so I shared half of last week’s break-time snack between Jane and me. It was only an orange, but it was something.

“There, there’s the woods. Come on. Let’s have a walk,” I said to Jane. I turned round, to see no-one there.

“Jane, Jane! ” I shouted worriedly, if anything happened to her, it would be my fault.

Suddenly a great white sheet came dangling down on me. I screamed and ran, but in the process I tripped and was sent sprawling across the muddy woods. Then there was a giggle behind me. I suddenly realised that Jane had played a trick on me.

“Now do you believe in ghosts?” she asked. Still laughing.

“That wasn’t funny, Jane. Your jokes are not funny!” I shouted.

“You’re just jealous because I scared you and it was my joke.” She laughed.

I swear I will think of something to scare her. Still laughing her head off, she walked on. We had walked quite far through the never-ending trees when I stopped. Suddenly, I heard the hooves of a horse coming closer towards us. I looked behind me and noticed that Jane had done her disappearing act again. I thought that it must be another one of her pranks.

“Very funny, Jane!” I shouted.

I walked on and pretended not to be scared.

“What?” asked Jane coming out behind a tree. I was just finding my glasses, I dropped them. She made her point by dangling a pair of muddy glasses in front of me.

“Jane? Hang on, you’re here.” I said slowly.

“Brilliant deduction!” she exclaimed.

“Then, If it wasn’t you, then who was it making that noise?” I asked.

The noise was coming nearer, so Jane and I hid behind a tree. We watched as the horseman went by.

“Get a grip on yourself, Jeremy. As you’ve just seen, that was a normal horseman. Stop thinking that everything that you see is going to be scary!” she said.

I prayed desperately that she wouldn’t mention this to her friends, or I’d be a laughing stock. Now, I wished more than ever that we were home. We had walked for ages and I was really tired. We had walked all day and my shoes were really rubbing me. I thought we might have to set up camp for the night. But very soon we found a way out of this place. I made a promise that I would only ever go where I was going. I’m not someone who likes to be out when it’s dark. Especially when we’re in a wood. You never know what may suddenly jump out at you! Soon, we reached our street. Our house was just down the road. I was so thankful. I nearly started singing, but I was too tired and my voice sounded shaky. Very soon we reached our front gate; we went to the door and unlocked it. I had never been happier to be home!

“Dad won’t even know we were late home,” said Jane.

“Right,” I said.

Wrong! It turned out he had rung three times before. He rang ten minutes later, and that cup of tea I gave him hadn’t worked too well!


“Hi dad.” I said, cheerfully, pretending everything was normal.

“Jeremy, you have had me worried all day. Why didn’t you answer the phone?”

“Umm, I don’t remember hearing the phone.” I lied.

“How’s Mum?” I asked.

“She’s no better, but I have faith.”

“Can I trust you to make dinner without burning the house down?”

“Yes, Dad.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, I’ve got to go.” he said.

Our luck changed, and I have plenty of good news to report. The best news is that Mum came home a few weeks later, and is looking a lot better. Her coma was only temporary, and she is now as right as rain. Dad has finished his shooting with ‘The Nightmare’ and it’s being released in a month’s time. It’s going to be so exciting. I’ve watched the trailer. It looks great. Jane and I don’t go down to that wood anymore, we don’t dare!

Copyright Laura Cobb 2002

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