All I could hear was 20 people breathing. I wanted to know what a mudslide would feel like without actually experiencing it. Ali huddled into my chest, waiting for impact. It felt weird being her protector. I was only a bit taller, and not much stronger or even older than her but I felt I belonged in that role. Even if nothing would really protect her, I could at least be her comfort. The worse thing was that the bus became slowly darker as the mud approached.
“It’s nothing but a metal coffin.” I heard Louis mumble behind me. I let out a trembling breath. “Ali,” I started “I think we should…” My voice left as we were hit with the mudslide. It pushed the bus forward and up at the same time. I felt Ali tighten her grip around me and I thought about closing my eyes, but I couldn’t.
The mud seemed to be covering the whole bus, and I thought we might be buried underneath before a surge pushed us off again. My stomach dropped as I realized something. “The bus is tipping.” I said under my breath and I pulled Ali away from me. “Hold onto the chair!” I said to her and she readily agreed. I noticed Louis had already thought of that and that time I really did close my eyes.
I kept my eyes clenched shut as the bus completely flipped forward. I managed to hang on for a while, but when the bus was upside down it stopped moving and I let go. Reluctantly, I opened my eyes to see that everyone else was still in the bus. I sat up and looked around at the groaning teens around me, searching for Ali. It turned out she was behind me, and she grabbed my hand.
Sighing with relief, I squeezed her hand and turned around. “I’d lie back down if I were you.” One boy said as he stared out the window. I didn’t bother looking outside, instead I just did as he said and kept my hand firmly in Ali’s. I looked over at her and she looked at me. She looked really scared, something I hadn’t seen from her yet. “We’ll be alright.” I said to her. “Can you promise that?” She asked. I shook my head, “No, I can’t.”
Ali nodded and looked back up at the ceiling. I shut my eyes and prepared for impact. I won’t let go of your hand, Alice Mclean. I thought as the bus started to rock again. It tumbled four or five times, down a hill I suppose. It felt like being in a tumble dryer. After the third roll my hand was ripped away from Ali’s. Suddenly, I heard glass breaking, and a high pitched scream. The bus stopped rolling and I hit the ceiling before crumpling on the side of the bus that was now the floor.
My head was throbbing and I was pretty sure my leg wound had been re-opened, but I couldn’t move. I lay there until Louis came up to me and shook my shoulders. “Are you alright, man?” He asked me. I nodded, “What’s the damage?” I asked. If anyone knew it would be Louis. “Five are gone, plus the driver. They must’ve fallen through the broken window.” Louis began. He had a weird look on his face, like he wasn’t telling me something.
I sat up, “What else?” He shrugged, “Not much. Everyone else is just battered and bruised.” I looked around nervously. “Where’s Ali?” I asked quietly. Louis cleared his throat but didn’t answer my question. I stood up and looked around frantically. “Where’s Alice?” I asked louder. Louis grabbed my shoulder but I shrugged it off. “I- I don’t know she- she’s gone Sam.”
“Those five people you mentioned…” I started, “Ali was one of them?” I shuddered. Louis nodded slowly, not wanting to look me in the eye. “I let go of her hand.” I said under my breath. I sunk down against the ceiling and stared at nothing for a minute. It didn’t take long for the lump in my throat to disappear and give way to tears. Crying like that physically hurt. I felt in pain as I cried and I didn’t care who was watching.
I could hear Louis trying to comfort me but I couldn’t care less. After I finished with the ugly sobbing I put my face on my knees and tried to breathe. The people around me were chatting about the hole in the window above, and their plans to climb up to the top. I could actually feel my heart ache. I was missing Ali so much already.
Louis sat down next to me and patted my shoulder, “I’m sorry man, and I know she was your- Alice.” He said and I actually smiled, remembering the day I first introduced Louis and Ali. I pushed my hair back off my face and sighed. “You never know, she could have survived.” Louis suggested.
“Well, if anyone can live through that it’s Ali Mclean.” I agreed.
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