Collision Course

COLLISION COURSE

BY EDWARD DRAKE

 

Warning: This story contains scenes of fear and horror.

En route during a school trip tragedy strikes and the survivors of the class will be forced to pull together and rely on people they barely know if they are to live through the day. 

 

It was the fourth period on Tuesday afternoon, double History for the A Level class. Whilst there were those who generally wanted to study and gain a qualification, a vast majority of the sixteen and seventeen year old students had taken the subject as they had been told it was easy, the teacher a walk over. That all changed when Mr Radford began work at the college, replacing old Mrs Hill.

‘To all those who thought this was going to be a walk in the park you are mistaken!’ announced the teacher as he paced in front of the class enthusiastically. Mr Radford was in his late thirties, with dark receded hair, an almost Hitleresque short moustache and narrow eyes that darted across the classroom. He kept himself in slim condition, doubling as a PE teacher when needed, and kept his classes in check with a stern authority. Fair but definitely firm would be how his peers described him, tyrannical is how his students would.

‘There will be essays, there will be coursework and there will certainly be exams!’ Mr Radford continued, lecturing the pupils who groaned in annoyance. They quickly quietened though as he gazed at them.

‘You will need to study and you will need to work hard!’ he continued. ‘Now we are four weeks into the term and already there are those of you who are falling behind! Those of you who have scored below fifty percent average so far, or have yet to hand in last week’s essay will need to fulfil some extra-curricular work!’ The football players in the class and the girls who followed them around chuckled at this, making crude innuendos, but again silenced as their teacher approached.

‘You will be joining me next Saturday for a trip to the Victorian children’s workhouse in Cambridge where you will be expected to write an additional essay on a topic of my choosing following the visit!’ Mr Radford declared and the groan sounded again. Complaints were uttered loudly by the students about losing their weekends.

‘Silence or you will all be joining me!’ Surprisingly enough the classroom suddenly hushed. ‘I have already sent letters out to your parents and will be following these with telephone calls so there is no chance of you lucky few escaping the trip. It’s name and shame time. If you don’t like it, make sure your grades are higher next time!’ The children were then all on the edge of their seats as their teacher picked up a piece of paper, the list of the ‘lucky few.’

‘In no particular order, Christine Adams for a grade average of forty-two percent.’

Christine, Christie to her friends, was the epitome of the popular girl. Long blonde hair, stick thin, fashionable clothes and make-up, lip-balm and the latest mobile telephone. Her best friends, all blonde, all thin and unlike Christie all with skin covered in fake tan sat with her, right beside the footballers. They were what people viewed as the ‘cool group’ the most popular of the college. Christie complained bitterly stating that she had important plans that weekend, ignoring the laughter of some of the lads nearby for her low grades. Mr Radford continued on, ignoring her wining.

‘John Sutton for a grade average of thirty-six percent.’

Nobody laughed then, nobody dared to. John was a big guy, tall and broad. As the percentage showed he was not the brightest of lads, but no one messed with him, his fuse short and temper great. He was one of the footballers and took great pride in mocking anyone he set his eyes on. If they dared stand up for themselves he resorted to his fists. John looked bitter and furious and swore loudly. None were shocked by their teacher’s response.

‘That’s a week of detention for you as well Mr Sutton! Next is Jenny Marison. You have managed both to average a grade of thirty nine percent and failed to hand in the last two essays. You are most definitely in need of catching up on work.’

She was one of Christie’s friends and apart from Jenny looking like she had bathed in a tub of fake-tan the pair could have been twins. She was not bothered by college work or anything really and merely replied with a sarcastic ‘whatever.’ 

‘Thomas Jacobs,’ Mr Radford continued. ‘You have yet to hand in last week’s essay and being off ill with migraines is not an excuse.’

Tommy blushed as another chorus of hushed laughter spread around the room, whilst some called out ‘geek.’ He had glasses, ears that protruded out a little too much, brown hair that stuck up no matter how much he brushed it down and freckles. He was a clever lad, but found himself on the end of ridicule from some of the bigger and more attractive members of his class. He folded his arms on his desk and rested his chin down on them, ducking low to avoid being seen.

‘Shane Anders,’ called out their teacher. ‘Likewise I still have not received last week’s essay.’

Shane sat beside Tommy, across the class from the footballers but amongst numerous other small groups. He was bigger than his friend, tall with dark hair, a scar across his right eyebrow and had a far more relaxed attitude. He did not talk much, but was fiercely loyal to Tommy. When his name was called out he did not react at all, merely leaning back in his chair and delving his hands into the pockets of his black faded jacket. At his side though Tommy appeared happy, glad he would not be alone on the college trip.

‘Andrew Tully,’ the history teacher announced which drew a cheer from all. ‘Your essay was of such a poor standard you managed to earn yourself a place on the bus!’

With a cheeky grin Andy stood up and took a bow to the applause of the rest of the class. He was a cocky and funny lad, not quite the class clown but definitely the most entertaining. With gelled hair that was spiked at the front and modest good looks he was a favourite in the college and was one of the popular footballers. Taking his seat at the order of Mr Radford he picked up a pen and began to twirl it around in his fingers.

‘And lastly Lauren Shear,’ the teacher announced as most of the class turned to look towards the girl near the back of the class. ‘I know you have only just transferred to the college but you need to catch up on the rest of the class.’

Lauren had moved to the city only a few weeks ago, relocating because of her mum’s job. She was thin yet not as rakish as Christie and her followers and had a pretty face beneath the dark hair that rested upon her shoulders and hung in front of her face. Lauren sat alone, not knowing anyone at the college, and felt the eyes of the class upon her and heard them whisper. She focussed merely on her notepad though, doodling on the cover.

 ‘Now that that’s taken care of, on with today’s lesson!’ Mr Radford happily said as he opened a textbook. ‘Continuing on with last week, we begin the reign of Queen Victoria…’

xxxxx

 

The minibus hurtled down the road, the old, rusted vehicle shaking its occupants horribly. The driver, overweight and overage Larry swore repeatedly at every set of red lights and every bit of traffic they met. Beside him, dozing uninterrupted was Mr Radford who had been asleep as soon as they left the college. Both adults were oblivious to the goings on of the students behind them.

‘This is so unfair!’ Christie said yet again. ‘I’m supposed to be shopping in London with my father this week!’

‘Enough with the complaining!’ cried Andy as he clutched his head. ‘Your moaning is actually melting my brain!’

‘You’re just upset cos you don’t get to be kicking that stupid ball around all day!’ retorted Jenny.

‘FOR THE LAST TIME IT’S CALLED A FOOTBALL!’ he yelled back.

‘Whatever, you’re just acting annoyed to mask the fact that you fancy Jenny!’ laughed Christie.

‘She wishes,’ laughed John teasingly. ‘Andy don’t want that fake-tan all over him!’

‘Tangerine ain’t the best look in the world,’ added Andy.

‘At least I take pride in my appearance,’ replied Jenny, looking to the back of the bus where Lauren sat. Andy looked back too and his gaze held for a few moments.

‘True, at least she aint one of those pathetic goths!’ John said cruelly.

‘At least you can see I’m female!’ added Jenny, as she pressed her chest out. Along with Christie they laughed loudly, all except Andy.

‘Hey Timmy!’ called out John, still laughing.

‘My name is Tommy,’ he replied, frustration in his voice.

‘Whatever,’ the bigger guy shrugged before pointing at Lauren. ‘Even you might have a chance with that one!’

‘Nice and original of you to pick on the new kid to the class, especially when it’s a girl,’ retorted Tommy, pushing his glasses back up his nose.

‘You talking back to me Timmy,’ John said menacingly as he stood up, never having done up his seatbelt. Tommy did not reply though, shrinking in the face of the bully.

‘Leave him alone,’ uttered Shane from beside him who was leaning back, wearing the faded jacket again and a pair of black sunglasses.

‘Uh-oh silent wonder has woken up!’ chuckled John, the girls laughing loudly with him. ‘Worried that I’m hurting your boyfriend’s feelings?!’

‘Sit down before I knock you down,’ swore Shane as he blew on his hands, warming them.

‘Come on John leave it,’ said Andy, standing up and stopping his friend before he took it any further.

‘Whatever, coward,’ the big thug said at Tommy before slumping down in his seat again. ‘We nearly there or what?!’

‘Still got to reach the motorway yet,’ said Christie. ‘I should have been down the motorway earlier, on my way to London.’ Andy then buried his head in his hands with a sigh.

‘You missing anything by being on this so called ‘trip’?’ Tommy asked Shane as he then stared out the window.

‘Nope,’ muttered Shane as he leant back, his sunglasses covering his eyes still. Tommy knew that would be all the talk he would get from his mate and was not surprised. Shane could have even been asleep, so unfazed by the world. Tommy then thought back to what the others were saying. Turning in his seat he saw Lauren a few rows behind him, looking down and scribbling in a notepad.

‘Hi,’ he said, loud enough to rouse her from her work. ‘I’m Tommy. How you getting on?’

‘Ok,’ she replied uncertainly as she closed her notepad and rested her hands upon it, wearing dark purple fingerless gloves. ‘Not loving being on a college trip on a Saturday!’

‘Same,’ Tommy agreed with a laugh. ‘Would be better if we were heading somewhere interesting! How you settling in at college?’

‘Not great I’ll be honest,’ Lauren said in embarrassment as she brushed her dark hair back out from in front of her face. ‘It’s difficult when I don’t know anybody in the city.’

‘Well now you know one person,’ Tommy said with a sheepish smile. ‘Shane here makes two but you won’t get much conversation from him.’

‘Timmy’s making his move!’ called out John from the front of the minibus, making both Tommy and Lauren blush as the other two girls shrieked with laughter.

Just then the minibus reached the motorway and due to the pathetically small engine of the vehicle and the fact that their turn off was only a few miles away, Larry kept them in the first lane, right next to the hard shoulder. The large coach in front blocked most of the view ahead and obscured what would begin a few minutes later.

All passengers of the minibus heard it, an unreal roar of colliding and tearing metal and smashing glass. The students fell instantly silent and even their teacher awoke. None saw the car beside the bus turn, trying to avoid the building chaos ahead, and head straight for them.

Their world was turned into oblivion as the car smashed into the bus near to where the driver sat. Both vehicles were sent hurtling across the hard shoulder, through the barriers and down the verge a few metres high that evened out near the beginnings of a wood. At its speed and angle the student’s vehicle tipped more and more until it finally toppled and rolled.

Inside was a blur of twisted metal, shattered glass and pain as they fell and span. At the bottom of the verge, having rolled over completely once, the minibus settled on its right hand side, steam rising from the damaged engine. The car that struck them followed down the verge and slammed into the bus again before both vehicles finally came to a stop.

xxxxx

It was almost a minute before the first inhabitant of the twisted metal casket moved. It was Shane, moaning in pain as he raised his head. There were small cuts across his right cheek, his sunglasses smashed and his chest hurt from where the seat belt secured him. He coughed horribly before turning to Tommy beside him.

‘You alright mate?’ Shane asked as he shook the shorter teenager awake.

‘God my head hurts! We get hit by a truck?!’ Tommy exclaimed as he brushed shards of glass off his coat and checked his cracked glasses.

‘Car I think,’ Shane replied as he undid his seatbelt.

‘You alright Lauren?’ Tommy asked, pushing himself up.

‘Yeah I’m okay,’ she managed to say as she struggled to unfasten her seatbelt. Two long cuts were upon her left cheek and her knee hurt horribly from where it had slammed into the seat in front of her.

A scream came from near the front of the bus where Christie had awoken to a nightmare. Her arm was cut deeply, but she did not notice, she only saw the others. Jenny, her head slumped against her shoulder, eyes closed, the top of her head covered in blood, not breathing. John, slumped down nearby, crushed by the fall down the verge having never fastened his seatbelt, his eyes glazed over and staring up at Christie. Blood covered much of his face, his skull cracked open, killing him.

She screamed again and again before Andy, his shirt torn and bloody checked both Jenny and John’s pulse. He then shook his head and fought back tears before slamming a fist into the chair in front of him. Turning then to Christie he tried in vain to calm her, the screams eventually dying but her breathing fast and panicked.

‘Mr Radford!’ called out Shane, but like the driver the teacher was not moving either. Grabbing onto the chairs he climbed up and then squeezed through the smashed window above, emerging on top of what had been the minibus’s left side. The first thing he saw was the blue Ford Focus that hit them, its driver alive. He was a man in a business suit, nursing his arm that hung limply at his side as he staggered out of his vehicle.

Standing up upon the bus, Shane looked out in horror at the scene still playing out across the motorway. Trucks, cars, coaches, vans, he could not even count them, some burning, a few completely destroyed, their metal and glass forms torn apart over twenty metres and more. Smoke was rising over the scene from the fires and already Shane could smell the unmistakeable stenches of petrol and burnt rubber. People were screaming, some in pain, some for help, whilst car horns sounded out all around.

It was a horrendous scene that looked like it had been taken straight out of one of those ‘end of the world films’, or from that nightmare Shane had again and again, the one of his parents and the flames. The worst of it was the children’s cries that seemed to echo across the motorway. He suddenly felt horribly sick.

He then heard movement below and stepping aside he leant down and helped Lauren and then Tommy up. Both were shaken and then gingerly lowered themselves down to the grass below. As they checked on the driver and teacher Christie, still shaking and breathing fast and loud, was passed up by Andy before he then followed her.

‘The other two are dead!’ Andy exclaimed as he tried to catch his breath. ‘We won’t be able to move them!’ He was pale and looked as if he was swaying slightly.

‘Fire crews will get them out,’ Shane said as the two lads helped Christie down from the bus before jumping onto the grass themselves.

‘I can’t believe she’s dead!’ screamed Christie hysterically. ‘Jenny!’ Beside them Andy then collapsed to the ground, still awake but appearing in a lot of pain.

‘What’s wrong?!’ Shane demanded but he saw as soon as he approached. Andy’s torn football shirt was soaked in blood just beneath his ribcage to the right. Carefully lifting it up revealed a shard of metal embedded in his flesh, blood pouring from the deep wound.

‘Why didn’t you say anything?!’ Shane swore at him.

‘I didn’t want to be in that metal coffin any longer!’ Andy said, fear in his voice. ‘Claustrophobic!’

‘Mr Radford’s alive but he’s out cold!’ called out Tommy as he and Lauren, who still held her notepad, approached. ‘The driver’s still not moving and we couldn’t reach them. The doors are jammed and the although the windscreen and windows are cracked we still couldn’t get in.’ Both of them stopped in their tracks as they saw Andy.

‘Don’t touch it!’ Lauren called out, quickly falling to her knees and inspecting the wound. After a few moments she gently placed her hands on the metal, sending a wave of agony through Andy.

‘It’s not in deep, pulled mostly out by the crash,’ she explained. ‘I need to pull it out completely so I can put pressure on the wound and stop it bleeding. This is going to hurt, a lot.’

‘How’d you know all this?’ asked Sean.

‘My mum is a nurse and I want follow in her footsteps,’ she replied as she lightly pressed her fingers on the shard. ‘I’ve learnt all I can from her in the past few years and in first aid lessons.’ She then looked Andy straight in the eyes and gave him a reassuring smile.

‘This is going to hurt…’ she said as she yanked the metal shard free before he could tense up. Inspecting it she had no idea where it could have come from but it was the size of a thumb nail. The blood then gushed forth and Lauren pushed down hard on the wound, using her gloves as a bandage.

‘I have to keep pressure on it!’ she said with an effort as she pressed down hard. ‘You’ve lost a lot of blood already and I need to slow the loss or you will pass out and…’

‘Keep pressing down then!!’ Andy managed to joke through gritted teeth as the pain soared through him.

Shane walked to the engine of the minibus and then walked around so that he could see the underside clearly. Checking the fuel tank he was thankful to see it was not leaking and that the steam from the engine was beginning to slow also. The minibus was utterly destroyed, all the bodywork caved in and every window cracked or utterly smashed. The driver’s door had been crushed, the wheel arch below badly damaged, both from the initial collision that had thrown them off course.

He saw the driver and Mr Radford and that they were slumped down, neither moving. Shane could barely make out that his teacher’s chest was moving with each breath, but nothing from Larry. If they were still alive they should be fine for now, Shane thought, at least until the emergency services arrived.

Shane then looked to the Ford Focus but the driver had disappeared from sight. Returning to the others he heard the children crying from the motorway again and it shook him, but made the decision for him on his next course of action.

‘You lot should be safe here,’ Shane announced as he took out his mobile phone and threw it to Tommy. ‘Call for ambulances, fire department, all of it.’

‘Where are you going?’ Tommy asked.

‘See if I can help anyone,’ Shane called back over his shoulder as he paced up the verge.

‘Are you going to be okay with him?’ Tommy asked Lauren.

‘If I keep the pressure on the wound he should be alright,’ she said as blood slowly seeped between her fingers. Tommy then turned to the still hysterical Christie and forced Shane’s phone into her hands.

‘Call 999,’ he instructed but she was still panicked and lost amongst the chaos, tears streaming from her eyes.

‘Christie!’ Tommy shouted, snapping her out of the daze. ‘Call 999!’ She simply nodded and then began dialling with shaking hands before waiting for an answer.

‘Where are you going?!’ Lauren demanded.

‘I’m gonna help Shane!’ he called back as he followed after his best friend.

‘Bring some beers back with you!’ chuckled Andy who regretted it instantly as more pain wracked his wound.

xxxxx

‘You should have stayed with the others,’ Shane warned Tommy as he caught up.

He did not reply though, simply looking aghast at the chaos still raging across the motorway. There was so much destruction, across both sides of the large road, and neither of the teenagers could see where the devastation ended, only able to see more cars and vehicles terribly damaged, their drivers and passengers trying desperately to escape.

The first car they came to, a people carrier, had already been evacuated, its family of occupants standing nearby, shaking and looking on in shock.

‘Get to the grass verge!’ Tommy called out, snapping the family out of their daze as he guided them on.

‘Hurry!’ added Shane, still smelling petrol in the air from all around. It was like being at a petrol station, only there were far more dangers on that motorway threatening sparks to ignite the fuel.               

The next vehicle was empty, its passengers seeking safety already. The state of the next two vehicles was far worse though and both Tommy and Shane struggled not to wretch violently. The cars were totalled, burning, torn apart wrecks, their highest point being barely a metre high. Bodies were amongst the carnage, but none showed any sign of life, their remains hideously contorted and burnt from flames. Tommy’s glasses fogged up with the heat and he tore them off and just stood there, stunned by what he was seeing.

A screaming nearby pulled their attention away and although sickened and disturbed both Shane and Tommy hurried on, trying to push those horrific images to the back of their minds. Proceeding through the abandoned wreckage they found the source of the crying, a woman trapped in her car, struggling to open the door and escape. Beside her was a boy upon a booster seat, crying, afraid.

‘I can’t open the door!’ the woman cried out. ‘I can’t get out!’

‘It’s okay we’ll get you out!’ assured Shane, but then both teens saw another reason why the woman was trapped. Her stomach was huge, clearly pregnant and nearing the end of her term, and there was no way they could make her clamber through the car out another door or window. Shane and Tommy grabbed onto the dented door, hit by some other vehicle, but it did not budge despite their efforts.

‘Jack!’ the woman called out, tears and panic in her eyes as she too could smell the petrol all around. ‘Please get my son to safety!’

‘No mommy!’ called out Jack, her son of four or five years.

‘Please get him away from all this,’ she pleaded to the boys and through the fear in her eyes they understood. Tommy circled around the car and yanked open the door, its window cracked and close to shattering. Jack cried and reached out for his mum as Tommy undid his seatbelt.

‘Now you go with that young man Jack,’ she tried to reassure him. ‘I’ll be along in just a minute.’ She was lying to calm him and even managed a brief smile through the tears. It did not quieten her son though and Tommy had to physically pull the boy out and carry him away, leaving Shane still battling with the damaged door.

xxxxx

‘So how are you finding our lovely city?’ chuckled Andy again through gasps of pain. His face had become paler and he longed to sleep but Lauren kept him awake, constantly talking to him.

‘Lovely scenery,’ Lauren replied, looking to the destroyed minibus and car nearby. She tore the sleeve from her jumper and swapped it for the bloodied gloves as a bandage.

‘If I keep bleeding maybe I’ll get to see even more of you!’ Andy chuckled.

‘I don’t think you’ve got enough blood in you for that,’ Lauren replied in worry, but still she pushed down, keeping pressure on the wound and slowing the blood loss.

‘Stay awake!’ she said in a raised voice as Andy’s eyelids began to lower.

‘I just want to rest for a while,’ he said.

‘You sleep and I don’t know if you’ll wake up again!’ she warned him, slapping him hard across the cheek.

‘That’s the first time a girl’s slapped me to help or save me,’ he said with a grin, bringing a laugh from his saviour as well.

‘What’s with the notepad?’ he asked, looking to the book that was still at her side. Across its cover were patterns and symbols, all swirling together and flowing like the Northern Lights. 

‘Just some drawings and sketches,’ she replied sheepishly. ‘They’re not very good.’

‘I’ll be the judge of that, let me have a look.’

‘My hands are a bit busy at the moment!’ she said with a smile and even Andy had to laugh at that one.

‘Hey guys!’ called out Tommy from the top of the verge as he ran down, Jack still in his arms.

‘Who’s that?’ Lauren asked but Tommy did not answer. He headed straight for Christie who was sitting down on the grass, back against the turned over minibus, head buried in her folded arms. She had struggled to speak with emergency services and had sunk down when the call was over, dropping Shane’s phone as her legs suddenly felt weak. She felt like she would be sick, the lifeless faces of Jenny and John staying in her mind. She still hyperventilated.

‘Christie I need your help,’ said Tommy as he came to stop beside her, but she did not look up. ‘Christie!!’

‘What?!!’ she snapped back before seeing the young afraid boy in Tommy’s arms. He set Jack down and then looked Christie straight in the eyes.

‘I need you to look after Jack here,’ Tommy said slowly but forcefully. ‘His mum will be here in a moment but he needs someone to look after him for a few minutes.’

‘I can’t…’ Christie began to say as more tears came to her eyes.

‘If he can be brave,’ Tommy said looking to Jack, ‘then so can you. I need you to do this. He needs you.’

Christie was about to argue, but seeing the look of terror on the boy’s face she simply nodded. Jack stepped forward and she wrapped her arms around him, both comforting each other.

‘Thank you,’ Tommy kindly said before he turned and ran back up the verge.

‘Where’s the beer?’ Andy tried to call out, but his voice was weak and fading.

‘Please don’t,’ Lauren warned him as she saw more of his blood emerge from the wound. Their eyes met for a moment, but then Andy’s began to close again.

‘Andy! Andy!’ Lauren called out, trying to urgently wake him.

xxxxx

Shane pulled again and again at the damaged door, cutting his hands on the metal. He was covered in sweat and exhausted, still aching from the initial crash, but he would not give up. Inside the pregnant woman was pushing desperately as well but the door simply would not budge. Shane could hear the crackle of flames and he knew they could spread to them any moment. Thinking of his own parents and their fate he heaved yet again with an even greater renewed effort.

A centimetre, then another, then another. The cuts in his fingers grew, blood beginning to drip down but the pain was forgotten. He yelled, roared from his efforts, sweat dripping down from his face.

‘Almost! Almost!’ cried out the woman as she pushed from inside, until finally the door gave way and swung open. Shane helped her up with haste but as carefully as possible. He saw the flames approaching and hurried her, pushing the pregnant woman on. He then heard Tommy’s voice somewhere in the distance.

‘Shane! No!!’ The flames reached the car behind them and before they reached the leaking petrol tank Shane pushed the woman on, no time for gentleness. He was then thrown forward by the force of the explosion, heat and pain wracking his body before darkness claimed him.

xxxxx

Tommy saw the flames speed towards them and shouted out a warning. He saw Shane push the pregnant woman, but then his friend was hit by the full brunt of the explosion. The woman stumbled to her feet, unharmed except scuffed knees, but she was forgotten as Tommy hurried to Shane’s unconscious body and patted out the flames on his jeans and the back of his faded jacket. Turning him over, Tommy saw blood cover the injured teen’s face from a deep wound above his left ear, his eyes closed and body completely limp.

Hearing ambulances in the distance he shouted, screamed again and again for help. They heard him and one pair of paramedics sprinted towards them. 

‘You saved me before!’ Tommy swore to his friend. ‘I won’t let you die now!’

 

xxxxx

 

‘I thought you had left,’ said Andy, sitting up in the hospital bed. His wound had been operated on and closed up and several bags of blood were replacing what he had lost. He still looked pale but much better.

‘I didn’t want to go without seeing that you are okay,’ Lauren said, plasters over her cuts, stitches in the worst ones. She had washed her hands thoroughly but still there was a faint pinkness to them, stained from Andy’s blood.

‘Have your parents visited?’ she asked.

‘They came but had to go and pick up my little sister,’ he replied, shifting in his bed to get more comfortable. ‘They’ll be back later though.’

‘I can stay with you until they come back?’ Lauren offered.

‘Sounds good to me,’ Andy said with a smile. ‘Hang on what about your folks?’

‘Out of town for the weekend.’

‘Then definitely stay. Is that your notepad?’ Lauren still had hold of the book, never letting it leave her side. ‘Can I have a look at some of your artwork?’

‘I’ve never shown anyone any of my work before,’ she said, becoming shy again.

‘There’s always a first,’ reassured Andy. Although unsure at first, she passed him the notepad and watched him with trepidation as he opened it.

‘Wow these are really good,’ he said as he flicked through the pages slowly, looking carefully at each sketch of a person or scene. ‘I mean it! You should do art instead of nursing!’

‘Without my nursing knowledge you would probably be dead,’ she replied.

‘True,’ he agreed, looking up into her eyes. ‘Thank you for saving me.’

‘You’re not a total class clown are you?’ she asked with a smile.

‘Well, not totally!’

xxxxx

Tommy sat outside the operating theatre, alone in the waiting room, his eyes upon the clock. He had been there for over two hours now and despite his parents trying to encourage him to go home he still stayed put. They had left but told him to call when he needed a lift home. He could not leave until he saw him again.

‘Hi,’ Christie said as she walked up and sat beside him. ‘Shane still in there?’

‘Two hours and thirty-five minutes,’ Tommy replied. He then looked to her and saw that her arm was bandaged, the deep cut stitched closed.

‘You really care about him, don’t you?’

‘He’s the only one who has ever stood up for me,’ Tommy explained. ‘A few weeks ago a bunch of the footie guys were picking on me and one had hit me. Shane was new to college and we had never spoken or even met. He stopped them and defended me and we’ve been mates ever since. He saved me and I can’t ever repay him for what he did. He’s the best friend I’ve ever had.’

‘Sounds like real friendship,’ Christie remarked, looking sullen. ‘I don’t really know if I have that.’

‘Are you kidding you have loads of mates!’

‘Not like you and Shane! You really look out for each other and you were heroes today.’

‘Shane’s the real hero, he saved that woman!’ replied Tommy.

‘You saved them too,’ added Christie, ‘and you snapped me out of my panic. You’re not a coward like John said.’ They then fell quiet having mentioned John.

‘I know what you lot think of me,’ said Christie, breaking the silence. ‘You think I’m an airhead, a dumb bimbo.’

‘No we don’t,’ Tommy argued.

‘Yeah you do,’ she replied with a sad smile. ‘But there is more to me.’

‘Well you lot think I’m a geek and a coward,’ he replied, although he wasn’t angry or annoyed.

‘Not anymore,’ she said. ‘I guess you can never know what people really are like when you only see them briefly a few times a week and never talk to each other.’

‘I guess,’ agreed Tommy. Christie then saw Tommy’s hands and that they were shaking.

‘Are you alright?’ she asked.

‘I can’t get the images out of my head,’ he said sorrowfully. He was shaken, haunted by all the death and destruction he had witnessed.

‘I know what you mean,’ Christie said, the faces of John and Jenny still in her mind. She took his hand and it calmed him, the tremors ceasing.

‘I hope they didn’t tear up Shane’s jacket,’ Tommy said, changing the subject. ‘It was his Dad’s before… let’s just say he’ll be furious!’

Just then the doors to the operating theatre opened and a surgeon stepped out clad in blue scrubs, blood covering them.

xxxxx

                 

‘Be seated! Be seated please!’ called out Miss Woods as the class filed into the room. As always they were loud and talkative, especially with a supply teacher. They had just had the morning’s assembly where there was a minutes silence for Jenny Marison, John Sutton and Larry Anderson. Mr Radford had also put in an appearance, his first since the accident, but he was still not ready to teach yet.

Christie sat amongst her friends, deep in talk about clothes and boys as usual. Her arm had healed well and every time someone saw it she would be forced into retelling the entire story all over again. The attention was good, but each time she explained she saw the horrors and the faces.

Andy walked in, limping as he moved, his healing injury still causing him some pain. It was his first day back and his mates fussed over him and gave him a hero’s welcome. They created a seat amongst them but he walked straight on by and sat beside Lauren. The others in the class, especially the football players and Christie’s group gossiped madly, but the pair did not care, holding hands beneath the table. Christie then told her mates to shut up and leave the two alone.

Shane was the last to enter, Tommy holding the door open for him. It was his first day back too and he walked with the aid of crutches, but showed no pain or discomfort. He wore his repaired jacket again and a new set of sunglasses replacing those lost in the battered minibus. Across the room they walked and sat beside Lauren and Andy. As he pulled his books and pens from his bag Tommy looked across and caught Christie looking over to him. She flashed him a smile and instantly he turned red in embarrassment, but managed to grin back at her.

xxxxx

They had survived their ordeal, but scars and nightmares would stay with them. Although some things had remained the same, others had changed forever. The five of them were now bonded by what they had been through and would never forget that they had relied on each other that day to survive.

Copyright. Edward Drake. 2011

Comments
  1. Dave says:

    I liked the varied characters who all had their own personalities. Any thoughts of a follow up?

  2. Blondie says:

    Love your new short story!! It was very exciting and made me feel like I was there and wanted to read more!! Now I know what I will be doing tomorrow, reading the other ones! Keep it up!

  3. Petey says:

    A really good read.

  4. PrinceHector says:

    Good characterisation given the short length, making us actually fear for the class.
    Realistic action too for the crash scene and the chaos.

  5. CherylC says:

    Good action and suspense – really enjoyed it!

  6. Ash says:

    One of your longest and definitely one of your best!!

  7. Edward Drake says:

    Dave, There is an idea for a follow-up but with other things planned its going to be a while I’m afraid.

    All, Thanks for all your comments and good words. I wrote this one with a bit of uncertainty to the reaction it would receive so am glad to hear the positive feedback.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s