A rickety bus dopples its heavy back end up and down while traveling over the dirt roads. The purple sky begins to dance and twists into a veil of darkness dominating the cotton filled sky. A swollen moon peers its face through the clouds and spills its glow upon the valley and crooked road. The bus driver, a portly man named Ted Rochor, handles the bumps and dips the best he can in the absence of light. Trying not to wake up the students that are already asleep, he proceeds with caution and continues to glance at the mirror. Out of fourteen students, only two were still awake, Amy Hall and Becky Bolster.
Amy being the one to send the goal winning point into the net and narrowly avoiding the goalie, was treated as a hero when they got their trophy for soccer. Becky was the class geek so-to-speak, but she could hold up her end of a fight in soccer. The bus bounces over a rigid bump and causes them to lean into each other, they had gotten the same seat on the way back home. Amy opens up Snapchat and says,”So we’re on our way back and guess who’s going to the tournament? We are!”
Her squeal wakens a nearby student who slowly rolls his head the other direction and falls back into his slumber. Ignoring her boisterous manners she continues on saying, “So I did the winning goal, yay me, and this skank from the opposing team wants to call me a hoe. Like really?”
Becky clears her throat to show she’s uncomfortable with the language, but only receives a cold glare from Amy. She looks out the window and does her best to ignore the mundane nonsense being spewed out. Another bump jolts their seat and Amy slides into her while recording. She pushes away with one hand on her shoulder and another with the phone aimed her direction while mouthing “Ew”.
Becky continues to get lost in the shadows of the far away woods. They all seem to blur together in one motion looking like wooden pickets of a comb. The bus screeches to a halt catching most of the bus off guard. Becky throws her arms up instinctively to brace for the impact, Amy unfortunately hits the seat in front of her with the bridge of her nose. The other students all follow the route of hitting the seats and dropping belongings onto the floor. The coach, almost sliding off his seat with his blue shorts that were just a tad too short, stands up and makes his way to the front. Irritated at this point, mainly from being half asleep, he goes to ask why the sudden stop. Ted puts the bus in park and points a sausage finger to the middle of the road. A torn deer lay in the road, it’s mouth leaked blood and the doughy eyes cried more mercy. Slits ran down the side of its belly and up around the throat, it wasn’t enough to kill it instantly, but enough for it to suffer through to the end.
Coach Mark stares in disbelief at the poor animal and mutters, “What the hell?”
A boy named Gene stands up to ask what’s going on, alerting the rest of the children to the front. Turning around and holding his hands up, Coach Mark responds, “Nothing is wrong, it’s just an animal crossing by. Everything is fine.”
Becky slumps into the hard seat and checks her phone to see a text from mom. It read: Hope you had fun at your big game, love you! Can’t wait to see you, princess!
She clicks the power button and hopes Amy didn’t see the message. So embarrassing to be going to sixth grade soon and still having your mom call you “princess”. She thinks of a reply while some students try to look past Coach Mark and gawk at the soon to be roadkill. Amy continues to look into her phone recording a video.
Becky takes advantage of her being distracted and replies: I love you too mommy.
A zippo clicks shut as smoke whisps away in a huffed breath. “What do we got?” Detective Harland asks while stepping out in a brown suit. With his free hand he slips a protector onto his shoe and takes a step away from his police vehicle and onto the dirt road. The sun was high exposing all of the scene in all its glory.
“Excuse me, you can’t smoke that over here. It’s a crime scene.” A asian man wearing a cop uniform stares with angled eyebrows. Harland takes one last puff and tosses the cigarette before stepping into a murky puddle eluding from the center of the scene. His shoes coat in the luke warm blood as he gets closer to the back end of the flipped over bus. The vehicle layed on its side with the emergency release door hanging on by a few screws. Embedded grooves were scarred across the handle and around the frame of the shattered window. The man ducks his head and peeps into the bus, a slew of body parts and chunks of meat were splattered among the inside. On the floor in front of him sat a scalp, partially chewed.
He avoids it and climbs up into the shallow river bed of blood. With the bus being sideways he had to walk along the windows and look into the seats for anything that might help explain what happened. The right side of the bus was crushed in, it looked like a truck had side winded into it. Between seats were nothing but puzzle pieces of flesh and bone, who belonged to who? He whips out a rag and covers his mouth with it, the stench was really hitting him now. The insulated heat was basically baking the remains. He reaches over a seat and catches a twinkle of light from the reflection of the sun. Floating in a glop of body fluids was a cell phone, still intact.
He slides his hand into a plastic bag and reaches for it, after clutching it he turns the bag inside out. Stepping out he stuffs the rag in his back pocket and gulps in a fresh breath of air. Holding up the cell phone he says, “Someone get this to the lab. Maybe there’s some information on here.”
Sara sits outside in her night robe, although it was broad daylight, and rubs her thumb across the screen of her phone. Her hair was oily, her face unwashed with stains of tears that jerked down her cheeks. She looks at the last message she got from her daughter, the last she would ever receive. The message simply said: I love you too mommy.