Father vaulted over the turnstile and Maya followed. Now they were back
in the long tunnel, heading down to the trains. It's all right, she
thought. We're safe now. Then she realized that men wearing red had
forced their way into the tunnel and were running beside them. One of
the men was carrying a wool sock filled with something heavyrocks, ball
bearingsand he swung it like a club at the old man just in front of
her, knocking off the man's glasses and breaking his nose. A gang of
Arsenal thugs slammed a Chelsea supporter against the steel bars on the
left side of the tunnel. The man tried to get away as they kicked and
beat him. More blood. And no police anywhere.
Thorn grabbed the back of Maya's jacket and dragged her through the
fighting. A man tried to attack them and Father stopped him instantly
with a quick, snapping punch to the throat. Maya hurried down the
tunnel, trying to reach the stairway. Before she could react, something
like a rope came over her right shoulder and across her chest. Maya
looked down and saw that Thorn had just tied a blue and white Chelsea
scarf around her body.
In an instant she realized that the day at the zoo, the amusing stories,
and the trip to the restaurant were all part of a plan. Father had known
about the football game, had probably been here before and timed their
arrival. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Thorn smile and nod as if
he had just told her an amusing story. Then he turned and walked away.
Maya spun around as three Arsenal supporters ran forward, yelling at
her. Don't think. React. She jabbed the walking stick like a javelin and
the steel tip hit the tallest man's forehead with a crack. Blood spurted
from his head and he began to fall, but she was already spinning around
to trip the second man with the stick. As he stumbled backward, she
jumped high and kicked his face. He spun around and hit the floor. Down.
He's down. She ran forward and kicked him again.
As she regained her balance, the third man caught her from behind and
lifted her off the ground. He squeezed tightly, trying to break her
ribs, but Maya dropped the stick, reached back with both hands, and
grabbed his ears. The man screamed as she flipped him over her shoulder
and onto the floor.
Maya reached the stairway, took the stairs two at a time, and saw Father
standing on the platform next to the open doors of a train. He grabbed
her with his right hand and used his left to force their way into the
car. The doors moved back and forth and finally closed. Arsenal
supporters ran up to the train, pounding on the glass with their fists,
but the train lurched forward and headed down the tunnel.
People were packed together. She heard a woman weeping as the boy in
front of her pressed a handkerchief against his mouth and nose. The car
went around a curve and she fell against her father, burying her face in
his wool overcoat. She hated him and loved him, wanted to attack him and
embrace himall at the same time. Don't cry, she thought. He's watching
you. Harlequins don't cry. And she bit her lower lip so hard that she
broke the skin and tasted her own blood.
Kenn Nesbitt is new Children's Poet Laureate(Jun 12 2013) Kenn Nesbitt has been named the new Children's Poet Laureate: Consultant in Children's Poetry to the Poetry Foundation, which noted that the two-year position...