The shadow was still there.
Willing the shadow to go away, he spoke louder. One car. Two cars. Three cars. Four cars. But it was no good, it was still there, and a deep booming voice rolled over him. He shrieked again, clutching his hands tightly over his ears, rocking, backwards and forwards. He shouted, one car, two cars, three cars, four cars, again and again.
The shadow moved away.
Nicholas looked up, and saw his cars. They had been in a neat line, as he had just spent the last hour moving them, one at the time, throughout the room. But now, they’d been moved… The order that he had managed to put into his little world, was gone. The cars were lying in a jumble, where a giant’s foot had unwittingly pushed them over…
He shrieked again, and again, louder and louder. His arms swung around, around and around, his head went round too and he screamed, a long, agonising sound. On and on he went, till he was so tired that he stopped. Once again he saw his cars, all in a jumble, and a new shriek welled up in him, but he had no energy left and sat on the floor, exhausted. He rocked himself, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, a familiar movement, one that made him feel safe, backwards and forwards, one that brought chaos back to order, backwards and forwards.
He heard a voice, his mother’s voice, but he was still too distressed to react to her, so he continued rocking, backwards and forwards. He felt a hand on his head, his mother’s soft, gentle hand, but to him it felt like a huge, heavy weight and he jerked away, emitting another shriek. His mother quickly took her hand away and started putting the cars back in a line, but no, that wasn’t right, she could not do it the right way, only he could do that; he lunged forwards and pushed his mother away angrily, picked up a car and threw it at her, then picked up another and threw that too. His rage grew and he picked up car after car, throwing them all over the place, till he stopped and sat there, rocking, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, whispering, one car, two cars, three cars, four cars, one car, two cars, three cars, four cars, on and on, till he was so tired that he just sat there, staring into space, rocking backwards and forwards.