Updated date:

City Bus 352: Short Short Fiction

Chris has written more than 200 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

City Bus 352

city-bus-352-flash-fiction

I am sitting in one of the passenger seats of city bus 352 looking at the interior of the ruined vehicle. Presently, it is the home of rodents and insects. Before that, homeless people used it to escape bad weather, even though all the windows were broken out. Fifty years ago, it was carrying passengers around the city.

Sometimes I come here to reflect on what happened that day. I rise from the seat and brush the dust off my pants. The floor in front of me has partially caved in so I exit through the passenger door in the middle of the bus.

city-bus-352-flash-fiction

Outside, the grass grew so tall it has fallen over, partially burying whatever may have been lying on the ground. After a few steps, I linger, staring into the blue eyes of a child’s doll. An image invades my mind of a young mother climbing aboard the bus holding a small child who was clutching this very doll.

Along with that mental image, a children’s song begins to play in my head. I try to stop it but the music and lyrics are relentless. 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.

city-bus-352-flash-fiction

Shoes lie buried in the tangled grass. The dolls and shoes are reminders of what happened here and to whom. At the front of the bus, a tree has grown around the bumper. It’s been that long.

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 them away. My mind continues to drag out the old memories against my will and shows me that night long ago during an ice storm. The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish.

city-bus-352-flash-fiction

The street is covered with glare ice. The driver applies the brakes, but the bus picks up speed as it slides out of control. The bus, full of passengers, slides across the lanes of traffic. Cars and trucks bounce off each other like pinballs. The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep.

Lighter weight vehicles slide off the street and stop, but the heavy bus has too much momentum. The tires leave the pavement, and the driver cries out to God. The bus tips and rolls, and rolls, and rolls. The people on the bus go up and down, up and down, up and down. I scream for the song to stop but I can’t stop the song any more than the driver could have stopped the bus. People are flying around in every possible, horrific position. Upside down, sideways, young mothers, children, old ladies, babies are tossed like rag dolls. All who needed the bus were betrayed, not by the bus, but by one man—the driver.

The bus comes to rest just outside the treeline of the woods, sitting upright. Some of the little ones are crying, but not nearly enough of them. Shattered glass covers everyone and everything like glitter mocking the horror of the scene. A cold wind blows through carrying with it the smell of diesel.

Misery and mayhem surround me. Moans and screams enter my head where they will remain for eternity. I climb back into the bus and make my way to the front. I turn around and face the devastation. I am sorry, so very sorry.

I slide into my driver’s seat and try to fall asleep, my only respite from the screams, cries, and the song.

#

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, RN. And below that, Northwood Asylum.

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

© 2016 Chris Mills

Comments

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 21, 2017:

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

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on March 20, 2017:

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

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 15, 2016:

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!

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 13, 2016:

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.

Lawrence Hebb on July 12, 2016:

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

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 28, 2016:

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.

Deb Hirt on June 26, 2016:

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

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 18, 2016:

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

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 18, 2016:

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

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 18, 2016:

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

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 18, 2016:

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.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 18, 2016:

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 from Hereford, AZ on June 18, 2016:

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.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 18, 2016:

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 from london on June 18, 2016:

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