It had been a fine sunny day when Jack had first sneaked out of the back door, whilst no one was looking. But, when you are five years old and having fun, time travels quickly. Jack had ran so far, that now, has he looked about him, he didn’t have a clue where he was and he started to feel the first pangs of fear.

As he looked up, he suddenly realised how much the weather had changed, the wind had freshened and black clouds were starting to fill the sky. Large raindrops started to fall, then got heavier.  Jack started to run, he hated the rain. There was a sudden flash of lightening to his left and a memory of a previous storm made him brace himself for what he knew would happen next. Still, a few seconds later, the tremendous thunderclap came as such a shock, that he tripped and rolled down a slope at the side of the road.

He grabbed wildly at the grassy bank but in an instant, he was being carried along by rushing water. The normally shallow drainage ditch was turning into a raging torrent due to the storm and there was nothing Jack could do but try and keep his head above water. Has he was swept along. he thought of his family and tears filled his eyes, several times he went completely under the water and thought he would drown, but each time he would resurface and gasp for air. He went under once more and when he came back to the surface, his heart sank even further, if that were possible. He found he was disappearing into a black tunnel, and when he glanced back over his shoulder, a patch of daylight was getting smaller and smaller as he was swept further into the drain.

Jack could feel himself getting weaker with the effort of staying afloat, every now and again the tunnel would light up  has he passed underneath the roadside drainage grills. He looked from side to side for something to grab on to, he knew if he couldn’t find something soon, he would never see his family again.

Whilst Jack was fighting for his life , only a few feet above him, things were returning to normal. The storm had passed as quickly as it had arrived and people splashed through the puddles, too absorbed in their own problems to hear Jack’s screams has he floated past beneath them.

Suddenly a short distance in front of him, Jack saw his chance. A tree branch had got wedged across the pipe, if he could just grab it he may be saved. Has he reached the branch, he grabbed at it with and held on. He was relieved to find that he could now touch the bottom of the pipe, so he just stood there for awhile, shivering with the cold whilst he got his breath back. Surely his parents would be searching for him he thought, but then he realised, despondently, there was no reason anyone would think to look down a drain for him.

Indeed, just has he had hoped, a frantic couple were running from house to house, asking neighbours if they had seen Jack, but every anxious inquiry was met by the same answer.

A little above where Jack stood shivering, the sun shone through a drainage grill, which was in the gutter of the road above. He couldn’t see anything but could hear passing cars. Here goes, he thought, and screamed at the top of his voice. Then he listened.   If only I get back to my mom and dad, I’ll never run off like that again; he thought to himself.

Suddenly Jack’s thoughts were interrupted by a young voice. “Down here, this is where I heard the noise”, then he could hear the scrapping of the grill as it was dragged away. Hands reached down from above and he was gently pulled up through the hole and into the sunlight.

People were cheering, someone wrapped a towel around him. a woman ran from the crowd , “Jack,Jack, we thought we would never see you again”

“you naughty cat”

Jack, purred happily, and thought, “what I need is a good meal, then I can go off playing again.”

Copyright of Stephen Ainley

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