This short story was for a Gold Star Writing Prompt.
Once Upon a Bus Crash
Once upon a time? I don’t know what means. My story doesn’t begin like that. It began with me being stupid enough to think I could fit in on a night out with a group of friends. By ten o’clock they were drunk and partying, and I was still sober and bored. I preferred my solitude not this noisy old place and so I jumped on the double-decker bus and headed home.
I sat upstairs, there was only one other passenger up there with me – a young lady with mahogany hair and by her sombre expression; she’d had a bad night too. The normal journey home went south in a hurry.
A sudden flash of overly bright halogen headlights.
The bus lurches off the road. Crashing through bushes. Hitting the old derelict building. I remembered my world flipping upside down in a cascade of brick rubble and then darkness.
I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face when next I opened my eyes. I panicked; fearing I was blind until I found and used my phone to illuminate my mangled surroundings. The light glared upon the buckled chrome bars of the seatbacks and I felt my chest tighten. I wasn’t on the floor of the bus – I was lying on the ceiling!
Trying to shift into a sitting position was agony. I realised through all the blood on my arm that I’d broken my left wrist and maybe a rib. Reaching with my good hand, I shone my light out the nearest window. How its glass was still intact I didn’t know.
“Shit!” The beam revealed nothing but brick rubble and darkness. “Well done, bus driver. We’re in the bloody building!” I said aloud while groaning my way to my feet. Crunching glass and rubble beneath my trainers, I staggered into the wall of the bus and used it to stay upright.
“Help! I’m stuck!”
The other passenger!
I moved quickly toward where she’d been sitting. “I’m here. Stay calm, I’ll get you free.” I saw her hanging from her seat with her disrespectful black dress over her head. I noticed her leg was stuck between the two seats in front.
“I’m buggered if I know,” I said positioning myself under her body. Despite my protesting ribs, I lifted her weight and relieved the pressure. Somehow I was able to manoeuvre her free. She cried out but I was able to set her down on the floor – or rather roof. “There’s that’s better. Sit a minute.”
“Thank you, that was so scary,” she said.
“Glad to help. Are you okay?” I asked while feeling mesmerised by her portal-deep green eyes and demure features.
“My ankle hurts but I‘ll be fine. Thanks for saving me erm…” she replied with a small embarrassed yet searching smile.
“Andy – We’re not safe.” I put my light to a window again. “See, we’re not outside anymore.”
She looked terrified at the darkness beyond the bus. “I’m Harriet. What do you mean?”
“It means we went right into the derelict house. We need to get out fast, somehow.” I kicked out the remains of the nearest window and climbed outside. Above me, splintered rafters and the remains of walls hung like jagged teeth and wrecking balls waiting to crush my skull.
Something groaned and the derelict house shuddered. A brick hit my arm.
“Shit!” I yelled as I threw myself back into the bus amid a cascade of dust and rubble which thundered over the bus, breaking more windows and rupturing the fuel lines by the sudden change of smell.
“Are you, okay?” Harriet asked.
I coughed the dust from my lungs and rolled about in pain for a few moments before I could answer. “No, I’m not. We need to be somewhere else in a hurry.” Staggering to my feet again. I took her hand and led her to the inverted steps.
“You know, I’ve decided I don’t like upside-down busses very much,” Harriet said.
I shot her a disbelieving look.
She let out a charming giggle as we peered into the darkness above.
“Hmm, me either, I’m walking in future! We have to climb up and get out through there somehow.”
“I don’t think I can climb up there.”
“Sure you can, Let me help, ” I encouraged. Dropping to a knee, I respectfully hugged her legs and boosted Harriet into the well. “Argh! Use the rails to haul yourself up.”
“I can’t get higher!”
“Sure, you — Oh, shit!” I saw a flash and flames racing through the rubble outside. “Unless you want a barbecued arse – get up there!” I jumped and grabbed the rail with my good hand. My other was pretty useless so I was forced to splay my legs and bounce my way up the stairwell walls. Harriet’s flowery shoe pressed hard into my shoulder making me swear as she levered herself onto the ceiling of the lower floor of the bus.
“Sorry!” she breathed with a pained expression as she put her hand down and pulled me up alongside her. Smoke was already spiralling up from below.
“It’s okay. I’m glad you made it up.” Getting to my feet I looked about and grimaced. A passenger here was well and truly dead thanks to the safety rail breaking his neck.
I felt the fumes burning my lungs and choking me as I whirled around and headed for the front of the bus. The driver and the cab were missing. Only jagged metal and a gaping hole remained.
“Bloody hell!” I gasped as I saw the fire boiling below and the carnage all around me. I felt like I was in a movie.
“Andy, come on! We have to move or we’ll die!” Harriet’s hand grabbed mine and she held tight.
“You’re right. Erm … The bus is in the cellar by the looks of it. We need to keep going higher to get out …”
“How?” Harriet motioned to the bottom of the bus above her head.
“That way.” I crouched beneath the gaping hole where the drivers seat used to be. “Use my shoulders to reach up there and climb onto the chassis.”
Harriet shook her head, her pretty eyes filled with tears. “What about you? Your wrist? I’m not leaving you behind, just like you didn’t leave me down there!”
“Don’t worry, just — ” something detonated rocking the bus amid shattering windows and a fireball that ripped through the back of the bus. “Get up there, please!” I begged.
Harriet nodded tearfully and clambered onto my shoulders.
I rose to my feet causing tearing pains in my ribs. Still, I propelled her toward the torn floor of the bus above us. I watched as she reached and clawed her way out of sight between the front wheels.
“I’m up, can you reach —”
A second explosion caused the bus to lurch. I fell to my knees but clambered up just as fast. I stepped onto the steering wheel, then the remains of the driver’s door frame and the back of the seat. From there I was able to reach the wheel and haul myself out of the bus in a cloud of smoke.
“You did it!” Harriet looked pleased to see me.
I nodded while catching my breath. “Oh, Brandon I’ll kill you!” I managed while cradling my broken wrist.
“Did he crash the bus?” Harriet looked confused.
No, he’s my mate. The reason I came out instead of staying home writing.”
“Did he abandon you like my date did?” Harriet helped me stand.
“Gah, that hurt! He sort of did. I just decided I don’t like nightclubs.” I squeezed her shoulder. “Sorry, you got stood-up. Your date missed the chance to be with a beautiful lady this evening.” I smiled and received a bashful one back.
A split-second later the bus lurched across the cellar slamming us both into the wall. Brick rubble and timbers rained down on us. Something hit my head, leaving me bleeding from yet another place. Harriet screamed and all I could do was thrust out a hand and catch her. The bus was now leaning at a perilous angle across the flaming pit of hell that used to be the cellar.
“Oh! Fate definitely wants us dead today!” Harriet groaned, descending into a coughing fit.
“I’m sorry but that’s not happening.” I pointed above us at the highest point of the bus. Beyond it, through the smoke was the gaping hole in the building the bus had made on it’s entry to the building. “Fancy going for a walk in some fresher air?”
“Yeah, lets!” Harriet limped to her feet beside me.
“Run!” I yelled as the bus trembled beneath us. Together we sprinted up the metal hill, jumping the suspension tubes and brake lines. Passing the double row of tyres, we leapt from the bus –
A gas line in the building ruptured in the most spectacular fireball. The roof caved in with the remains of the building, burying the bus as rubble flew a hundred-feet in every direction. Then silence fell amid the gentle crackle of flames.
Removing my hands from my head, I coughed and shook myself free of debris. It took all my strength to lift a joist from my back so I could roll over and sit up. As I did, I beamed at the sight of Harriet sitting beside me. She was bleeding from a head would but mercifully alive
“Whoa! That was too close!” she said with wide-eyes and a hand holding her head. “You couldn’t go back down there and get my handbag for me, could you?”
I must have gawped at her by the way she giggled at me.
“I have paracetamol in it you see. I could use a few tablets right now!”
I laughed and then so did she in a bizarre but mirthful moment that lasted until a fireman appeared through the smoky air with a paramedic at his shoulder.
“What’s funny? It looks like a nightmare over here,” he asked while aiming his hose at the burning rubble that used to be the building and bus.
“You wouldn’t understand,” I replied as I helped Harriet stand. We were soon sitting together on the back of the ambulance and being seen to by the medics. My wrist was broken. Amazingly it would be the worst of our injuries. “Harriet, you told me you were stood-up, right?”
“I was. What of it?” she looked at me with interest.
“Well …” My stomach filled with butterflies. “I know we just met in a fiery pit of hell, but if you’ll allow me too. I’d gladly give you the date night you deserve.”
“I accept.” Harriet took my hand in hers. “Just promise me, we’re not taking the bloody bus!”
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!