Quickly I crossed the top of the container and clambered down the pile of rusty pipes. As I hit the ground I suddenly realised what I had done. On a wire cage next to me was a notice. It said: “Danger. Keep Out.”
I stood there for a moment, looking and listening. There was no sign of anyone, just the constant hissing from the dozens of chimneys and pipes around me.
I tiptoed over and looked carefully at the stack of drums. They were rusty, with peeling paint and the writing on them was unreadable. The bottom of the pile was half buried in the creeping grass. I made sure my rubber gloves were on properly and pulled some of the grass away. There! Now I could see what was happening. One of the rusty drums on the bottom had cracked around the edges and the yellowish liquid was slowly seeping out.
I squatted there, watching the stuff as it oozed onto the ground. I sniffed. There was that smell again, only stronger. I bent closer and sniffed again. Pew! Nail polish remover – that‘s what it reminded me of.
Suddenly I heard a footstep. I froze, then carefully peered around the stack of drums. Oh, no! A man was standing at the corner of a building with a dog on a leash. As I watched, he bent down and unclipped the leash from the dog‘s collar.
I dodged back. Quickly I replaced the grass and leapt back just as the dog came sniffing around the edge of the drums. It stopped and looked at me and its lips parted in a snarl. A deep growl came from behind sharp, yellow teeth and the hairs on the back of its neck stood straight up.
I stared, unmoving, as stiff-legged, it came slowly towards me. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and I wondered if I was going to faint with terror.
I took a deep breath and tried to stop worrying. That was when I noticed the sharp smell of the chemical again. It caught in my throat and made me cough. Oh, no! Now that the doors were closed again, the shed was filling up with the poisonous gas. I couldn‘t stay here much longer; I wouldn‘t be able to breathe!
I panicked! I had to get out! I grabbed the piece of wood again and banged the door wildly. Harder and harder I banged, calling out at the same time. “Help! Help me!”
I moved from the door to the tin wall beside it. I didn‘t care if my fingers hit the corrugations – it didn‘t matter if they hurt. “Somebody help me! Let me out!” I was so frightened I wanted to cry but I had to keep trying. “Can‘t you hear me? I‘ve got to get out!” At last I gave up. I dropped the piece of wood and collapsed onto the ground, panting and sobbing.
Thunder rolled overhead and the rain pelted down onto the tin roof so loudly I couldn‘t even hear myself crying.
At last I stopped and tried to dry my eyes with a soggy tissue. They were stinging and my head was starting to ache. I sniffed – the smell of the chemical was getting stronger.