The Clandestine (A Short Short Fiction)

The truck juddered to a start and threw him hard against something large and bulky in the darkness of the trailer.

They were on the move again.

He wasn’t sure how long he’d been in the back. After an hour or two he’d lost all sense of time completely. Maybe it was the darkness. Or his thirst. Or the way his head throbbed. However, he was relieved they were moving again.

From outside he could hear faint voices, the odd word of English, amongst the clanking of vehicles and squawking of seagulls.

His heart leapt. He was in England now. Everything was going to be ok. It was all going to work out. Yes he’d carry the memories of all he’d been through but now he was safe.

They’d come in the darkness, as he slept. He knew it was because of who he was, what he represented. It was happening more and more to men like him – alone in the dark. Vulnerable and exposed.

He never heard them until it was too late. He should have run before now, but this would be the last time, there could be no going back now.

As they hauled him from his makeshift bed into the cold night air, he thought of his family. Would he ever see them again?Then the crowbar came down on his head.

The lorry stopped again, the engine idling. Was it for passport control? Customs checks? He fumbled through the back of the trailer, desperately clambering over boxes of goods in the darkness. He cracked his knee on something, but he had to get out. His chest had tightened and he was convinced the air in the trailer was running out. Maybe it was just a symptom of the claustrophobia that was making him panic.

Finally he felt the cold metal of the trailer door and he began banging as noisily as could on it, pain searing through his clenched knuckles.

“Please…help…in here. In the name of God, help me please.”

Voices outside came closer.

He heard the clanking of locks and slowly the door opened, light so bright he suddenly felt blinded.

“There’s one in here,” he heard a voice say. “A clandestine, no doubt.”

His eyes adjusted, and he saw a couple of UK Border Force officers peering up at him, their blue uniforms both a temporary relief and a symbol of authority to fear.

“Come on matey, lets be having you.”

“No, you have it wrong,” he explained, his accent northern, perhaps from Manchester. “I’m the driver. Those bastards beat me senseless outside of Calais as a I slept. I was waiting for the first ferry of the morning – I’ve got to have this fresh produce in Widnes by midday.”

The two officers looked at one another, confused. “You mean the three in the cab aren’t the crew…shit…” exclaimed one of them.

“Bring the driver and his crew back,” yelled the other. “They’re clandestines!”


This short short fiction was inspired by word-of-the-day “clandestine” at www.dictionary.com on 18 September 2017.

My Short Short Fiction series first started in 2005.  The aim to write a short piece of fiction (500 words or less) inspired by the word of the day and have it posted the same day.

The blog won an award or two along the way, but feeling I had reached the end of the road with it around 2010(ish) I took it down.  However, I am now resposting all the old short short fictions here – in addition to adding a new one – such as this – every now and then.

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