City Bus 352: Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on June 19, 2016
cam8510 profile image

Chris has written more than 175 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

City Bus 352

Source

I step out of the city bus onto dry, matted grass. Vehicles speed down the hill and come to a stop at the traffic light. It’s a busy street. Has been for years. The bus is not on the street and isn’t carrying any passengers. It’s an abandoned wreck that the city hasn’t gotten around to hauling away.

The bus shows the damage caused in the accident and deterioration due to time. It’s been that long. No other buses of this year and model are even on the road now. For a while, vagrants and the homeless made it a temporary home. When it was too far gone for even those folks, raccoons, rats, opossums, skunks and mice took over.

Source

I still can’t get that damned song out of my head.

The wheels on the bus go round and round.

round and round.

round and round.

The wheels on the bus go round and round,

all through the town!

I walk around the entire vehicle and examine the remains of city bus 352. It’s been sitting here a long time. The tree growing onto the front bumper is proof enough of that fact.

Empty window panes tell of the violent nature of the its last day. Shoes–shoes everywhere if you have eyes to see them, lie in their hidden niches produced by the passing years. Not many who come here notice the dolls, but I can see them. I know where each one hides.

I walk back a few paces and bend down. The face peers through blades of grass, barely visible. The image of a young mother climbing aboard holding a baby who clutches this very doll, comes into my head along with more lyrics. The babies on the bus go waa, waa, waa….I put my hands over my ears.

Source

I leave the wreck behind for a moment and walk toward the street. The summer sun beats down on my bare head. Sweat from my forehead runs into my eyes. I blink. It’s night and snow is falling, a wet, heavy snow. The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish.

The driver applies the brakes, but the bus picks up speed, and he tells everyone to sit down and hold on. They slide across the lanes of traffic. Cars trucks and the bus bounce off each other like pinballs, spinning on the slippery pavement like Holiday on Ice in a salvage yard. The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep….The lucky ones slide off the street and stop. But the bus is too heavy, has too much momentum. The tires leave the pavement, and the driver cries out to God. Tipping…..and rolling……….and rolling……..and rolling……..

The people on the bus go up and down.

up and down.

up and down.

No, stop. But I can’t stop the song anymore than the driver of this bus could have sto….I don’t want to think about that. People are everywhere, in every possible, horrific position? Upside down, sideways, young mothers, children, old ladies, babies, tossed like rag dolls, all who needed the bus, betrayed, not by the bus, but by the dri…..Stop it.

Source

The bus comes to rest just outside the tree line of the woods, sitting upright. Some of the little ones are crying, but not nearly enough of them. All the windows are gone, and a cold wind blows through the dark interior. The smell of diesel permeates the air.

Misery and mayhem surround me. Moans and screams enter my head where they will stay for eternity…. Eternity in hell will be heaven after witnessing this. I walk to the front and turn around. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I slide into my driver’s seat and try to fall asleep, my only respite from the sounds that death makes. The wheels in my head go round and round, round and round, round and round………

I open my eyes. I’m in a wheelchair. A woman dressed in white wipes up something on the table in front of me.

“No need to apologize, Charlie. It’s just a little spilled milk.”

Her name badge dangles in front of my face while she works. My name is Rhonda, R.N. and below that, Northwood Asylum.

"I know how to cheer you up," said Rhonda. "Let's sing your favorite song together. How does it begin? Oh, I remember. Ready? The wheels on the bus go round and round........"






Author's Note: Regarding my use of the children's song, The Wheels of the Bus, I contacted ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. The song is not in their repertory and is therefore not under copyright at the present time. I have the complete transcript of my brief conversation with them on file.

Questions & Answers

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      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        20 months ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Nadine, thank you. The dolls are what got to me. That bus could tell several stories.

      • Nadine May profile image

        Nadine May 

        20 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

        Wow, you do know how to spin a tale. Very good!

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        2 years ago from Central Florida

        Chris, the ending came as a surprise, but I'm not surprised that the driver of city bus 352 would have been driven mad by his hand in this tragic accident.

        Your creative assessment of the life this bus may once have had is testament to the fact that just about anything we stumble upon in life has a story behind it - or in this case, in front of it.

        Nice job!

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        2 years ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Lawrence, Thank you for that real life story that had real people and real consequences. It is a good reminder that stories are just that, stories. Thanks for reading.

      • profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        2 years ago

        Cam

        As a Bus driver I can relate to this story. It's not just snow you have to watch out for, rain can be just as lethal!

        We had one a few years back where a bus was coming through a traffic light. The lights were green so the driver went.

        A car fails to stop for its red and went straight into the side of the bus pushing it off the road, through a fence and into a car yard!

        Six cars totalled, the driver badly shaken and a couple of passengers seriously hurt.

        This was a good story and a reminder to take extra care on the roads.

        God bless

        Lawrence

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        2 years ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Deb, when I stopped to look around the the bus and the surrounding area, I was immediately wondering what happened. I have not attempted to find out why the bus has sat there for so long, but was happy to just tell my own version. Yes, sickening is a good word to describe how an accident like this would make us feel.

      • profile image

        Deb Hirt 

        2 years ago

        A very powerful story, yet sickening in a way, and it WOULD be enough to drive the operator of this mangled heap insane.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        2 years ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Ruby, Thanks for reading. It is a sad story. It makes me wonder what really happened to that bus that sits along the road.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        2 years ago from Southern Illinois

        I feel for the bus driver, how very sad. Well done Cam...

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        2 years ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Eric, I'm humbled by your comment and by your choice to once again read one of my stories. Thank you.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        2 years ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Becky, what a terrifying situation to have been in. What could she do? Sitting and waiting for a vehicle large enough to inflict casualties would have been a true horror story. Thank you for sharing.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Bringing to life our worst fears. Both the bus full and the man. I am not only entertained by your stories I learn something from each one.

      • Becky Katz profile image

        Becky Katz 

        2 years ago from Hereford, AZ

        Horrifying story. My mom drove a school bus and came home from working on a snowy day. She had stopped to chain up, like she was supposed to. She then would not get off the bus to chain up, because the cars around her were sliding into her because they could not stop. She was really shaken and was so happy that none of the children in her charge were hurt. At heir best count, 46 cars and trucks ran into her while she was sitting alongside the road. She did not chain up because her bus was totaled out and had to be towed away. The busful of children were not even moving. The cars and trucks did not even slow down, they were still trying to go the speed limit.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        2 years ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        manatita, I saw this bus in the trees along the street at the edge of town and knew there was a true story behind it. I will likely never know the true tale, but hopefully it was not so dramatic as this one. Thank you for reading.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        2 years ago from london

        Another awesome story! You tell them so well. Much Love this weekend.

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