23rd June 2000 at 01:00
By Jessica Behan, age 10, Colman middle school, Norwich

It had been a cold, rainy day and my family and I were on our way back from London. We were passing a tall, dense forest when suddenly, our car started to shudder. All the cars behind us started tooting their horns because we were going at a speed of about two and a half metres per minute. Then, suddenly our car would barely move at all and we started to pull off into a lay-by.

In the lay-by next to the forest I started to shiver. It was a cold, cloudy night and as I was eight I was still very afraid of the dark.

My dad said he thought there was a telephone kiosk about three quarters of a mile back so he started to look for his manual to find the AA telephone number. When he found the telephone number he quickly set off for the telephone kiosk.

When he had gone I felt really frightened and I started to look warily around me, half expecting someone to be hiding in the thick undergrowth. I looked at my mum and my brother, they didn't look in the least scared, which made me even more frightened.

"Are you all right?" my brother asked me. "Yes," I replied.

I started to feel sick. I felt as if this was the end of the world. I sank back into my seat, horror stories my friend had told me about thick forests like this one swirling in my head. I tried to shut them and other thoughts out of my mind, but I couldn't, they just kept creeping back in.

My mum suddenly put the radio on and I screamed in fright because I thought there were murderers outside our car.

"Are you sure you're all right?" my brother asked me again.

"Yes, I was just surprised when the radio was put on," I said. The radio didn't help my nerves because the news reader was talking about the murder of a young child.

I started to wish I was as small as an ant and that the whole world would swallow me up, there and then.

A man suddenly laughed loudly on theradio and caused my heart to give a sudden lurch. It started beating faster and faster and it seemed like it was beating so loudly that I began to feel as if people in Australia would be able to hear it beating.

My mum remarked, "Daddy will be back soon!" I felt some comfort but not much. I stared out of the window, the trees and bushes looked like monsters everywhere and I felt as if I was being watched all the time. I gulped and waited, anticipating the arrival of my dad.

Just then my mum remarked "There he comes," glancing at the rear view mirror.

I gave a weak smile, my dad was coming up, that meant the AA would soon be here to tow us home. I heard the tap tap of his shoes and then the car door swung open and in stepped my dad, looking tired, he smiled at me.

"The AA said they'll be here as soon as possible," he said reassuringly. I sighed in relief, perhaps, I thought, we won't have to spend as much time here as I had feared.

Just then the radio said HALF PAST TEN, I'd never been up that late before.

I looked out of the back window of the car and then I saw flashing, yellow and orange lights, piercing the darkness in the distance. "They're here. They're here" I shouted, bouncing up and down in my seat!

Just then the bright van pulled up beside our car. A man stepped out.

"Are you the people whose car had broken down?" he asked.

My dad stepped out of the car, "Yes," he replied.

The man was quick at his job and soon we were being towed home.

Two days later our car was fixed, I had recovered. Even so I will never forget being next to that dark forest on that cold, cloudy night, and whenever someone mentions it I still feel tremendously embarrassed by my over-reaction, then I remember that really frightening feeling of being so scared I could barely move.

I wonder if anyone has broken down there since and been haunted by those same scary thoughts?

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