As she scrambled clumsily down the bank, her M&S skirt snagging on the tangle of brambles, she wondered again at the madness of what she was about to attempt. Her sandals slid in the greasy clay underfoot, causing her to veer backwards. Her teeth dug into her bottom lip and she propellered her arms out to steady herself, before arriving precipitously at the wooden door.
The paint was peeling and there was evidence of a rodent gnawing the bottom edge. The hole where the handle had once allowed access enabled Jen to glimpse the dingy interior. She poked her finger into the gap and leant back to tug, expecting great resistance.
Surprisingly, the door gave easily as she pulled, snagging only on the briars that had overgrown the bottom edge. Kicking gingerly with her sandaled feet, Jen cleared an arc, sufficient to allow her to squeeze through, and let out a gasp of satisfaction once she was safely inside.
A sudden rumble made her duck down. The 9.47. She glanced at her watch. She had meticulously studied the timetables this past week and made a log of the different times she needed to be careful. If this was to work at all, it was imperative no-one knew she was there. Driving round the area at odd hous, she had identified a suitable place to leave her car, where it would not cause too much suspicion. She had also tried out a few different routes to the siding, which was on an embankment that backed onto a trading estate. A wall of brambles had rendered the concrete hut near-invisible from any direction.
She had found a couple of access points, just so she could vary it a bit as she came and went. Not that she was planning to move about too much.
She unpacked the rucksack she had brought with her containing essential supplies. Her Pilates mat would suffice as a mattress, its garish pink at odds with stark concrete shell. A couple of litre bottles of water – these would have to be replenished at some point but she had pictured herself topping them up in a local pub toilet if the need arose.
Jen continued her unpacking, hoping that she had all the essentials for her stay. What had she calculated? Well, she had booked a week off work, telling her boss she had a family emergency up in her home town of Stoke. They hadn’t questioned it, knowing that she was an only child and therefore the sole support for her elderly parents. Actually, they were both long dead, but Jen had never shared that with her employers and accountants are remarkably uninterested in the lives of their staff, just as long as they do a good job and enhance the reputation of the firm.
It was much as she expected when she first spied the concrete bunker on her way to London last week. Staring dreamily out of the carriage window, studiously avoiding eye contact with the retirees opposite, who were chattering excitedly about their trip to the Olympics planned for that afternoon, Jen’s eye caught the dilapidated bunker nestled deep into the embankment, almost obscured by bushes.
At what point her idle musings about it being a perfect hideout for a tramp turned into this – what was it? Jen wasn’t exactly sure. In her mind, on that day, it was conceived as more of a social experiment. What if? And here she was. Surveying the detritus of a previous adventure, perhaps by neighbouring teenage gangs – although there had not actually been any neighbourhoods nearby.
Jen had done a recce after her London trip, which had been a perfectly ordinary business meeting – little thinking that she would end up on this hair-brained venture. Was it hair-brained? Let’s see, she thought, as she used a bit of cardboard to scape a clearing in the junk and dust surrounding her sandalled feet.