Helped In The Snow
The weekend had been a lovely break. It was the first time I had taken my nephew away and he had thoroughly enjoyed it.
He had seen Liverpool play at Fulham in the early kick off, had a quick tour of the British Museum, then a film of his choice - one with cars flying through the air and no one hit by the thousand of bullets fired. We rounded this off with a late Greek meal, and he slept soundly all night.
We woke to find that there had been heavy snow fall, and the start of the journey was quite worrying. The traffic reports advised against using motorways so I planned a journey through towns and villages that would not be too crowded.
By 8 o clock I realised we were in trouble. I could not go more than 20 miles an hour and in some places less than that. Eventually I admitted defeat and broke it to James that we were going to have to pull over and spend the night in the car. At 12 he was worried, but tried not to show it. "Have we got anything to eat and drink?" he asked, and luckily we had. As I travel with work I always have a mini kettle, packet soups and lots of coffee. I had bought a few extras as well - crisps, sweets and a big box of cakes, so we would be fine for the night.
At about 10 o clock we heard a car in the distance. I was partly relieved and partly worried about who it would be. In the rear view mirror I could see a police car, and was immediately relieved. We were only about five miles from Oakley Heath and there must have been a station there.
Then it registered that this was a car that was more than 30 years old. What Police Force used such out of date vehicles? Maybe they are not real policeman and we have problems I thought, or it may be they don't want to ruin the good cars so used a more sturdy one. They pulled up in front of us and the driver got out.
Again, I was fearful for a moment as he seemed out of place, but I could not put my finger on what was strange.
"What are you two doing out here in this weather?" he asked. He had a lovely gentle accent, and seemed really concerned so I relaxed for the first time in hours. I explained how I was finding it difficult to drive and he nodded.
"You must have driven passed us at Oakley Station - pity, you could have stayed there if you had realised."
"If you follow us, I will lead you to the new road - if you follow that you should find a couple of hotels about 10 miles away"
"Follow us for about 2 miles, and when I pull over to the right, you take the turning on the left."
And with that he returned to his car and started the engine. Quickly, I started mine, and gingerly followed him along the road. It took us about twenty minutes to travel the two miles, but eventually the police car indicated to the right and pulled over. As I passed them I looked across to acknowledge them for their help, but instead put my foot on the gas and pulled onto the motorway.
The passenger side of the car was smashed and the officer in the passenger seat was covered in blood. Nothing had happened while I was following, and I let my fears and imagination get the better of me. There was a temporary barrier on the slip road, but I maneuvered between the cones and headed North.
James quietly asked "What was wrong with the policeman?" so I tried to reassure him that was nothing to worry about. "They must have been using an old car that had been in a crash". "But what about the blood?" he asked. I denied seeing any blood and drove a little bit faster. After a few minutes I started to relax and slow down, but my heart raced when I heard the unmissable sound of a police siren getting closer. They flashed for me to pull over, and I hoped James did not pick up on my sudden panic.
As the car pulled over I was relieved to see the car was only a year old, and two really friendly officers came to us.
"How did you get on the Motorway - it was cordoned off?" I told him how we had pulled over for the night and about his colleagues helping us.
"They told us we should have stopped at Oakley Station, but I missed it when driving through".
The officers exchanged glances, and said "Must be a different station as Oakley closed five years ago. What did these officers look like?"
I glanced at James and the officer seemed to understand.
At this point a vehicle started reversing down the motorway towards us. "That's the vehicle we were following" he explained. "It's a gritter and if you follow us and that we will be at Colvern Services in about 20 minutes. If you are lucky the motel might have a room."
Gladly I followed and within the 20 minutes were were booking into the Motel. The quiet officer - P.C. Walters had disappeared and the driver explained that his girlfriend worked in the service station, and he liked to check that she was OK whenever he could. James settled in front of the TV and Officer Holloway asked could I tell him a bit more about the other officers.
By then I knew something was wrong and asked him to tell me the story, but he wanted my version first.
I told him what I had happened, and what I had seen as we drove onto the motorway. He nodded throughout, and when I had finished said
"I can't really tell you much that you have not already realised. Oakley Heath Station closed 5 years ago, and no officers work from Oakley at all.. Thirty years ago on a snowy night, two Officers, Reid and Baines were driving round looking for lost people and those who were stuck in the snow. The Motorway was being built, and all the machinery was there. In the snow they did not see a digger, and they ran into it. Baines side of the car was caved in and he hit his head on the windscreen. He died within seconds. Reid looked unmarked but his seat belt caused internal injuries and he died an hour later. He was stuck in the car as no one could find them. They timed his death from when his radio contact ended.
Since then they drive round on snowy night looking for people to help they way they used to do. They have never been known to harm anyone, just lead them to safety as they always did. They could not take you onto the motorway as that was not completed while they were alive. They just travel the few miles from Oakley Heath to the Motorways entrance - they cant leave the surroundings they knew."
I felt safer knowing they could not go further than that road, but impressed that despite losing their own lives they still wanted to help other people.
I still have not told James the full story, but one day when he is older, I might tell him him we were helped by friendly ghosts.