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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Untitled for now

The Beastie Boy’s “Triple Trouble” bled through Emma’s ear buds into her ears. She had been sitting in the soft leather bus seat for what felt like over an hour bouncing up and down. The Australian horizon bobbed off in the distance, with the sun sinking behind the mountain range. Off to the left of the mountains she could make out some vegetation but she wasn’t sure if there was much too the greenery. Maybe a giant dinosaur sized crocodile lurked there. At least that is what her guide Alphie would have spouted off if she had asked him. Alphie was a tall man, with broad shoulders and a very brown tan. He was native Australian but he was born in England. His parents were both archeologists, having both died while mining in Ethiopia for some rare artifact.   Since their death he decided to be a guide to the Australian Outback, taking clueless tourist to the edge of the desert and back again without a scratch on them. In all his seven years of being a guide he had yet to lose a tourist yet.
“Make sure you all drink some water.” He said to everyone on the bus.
He had been spouting that same sentence off for the last three hours. Along with a person could die within an hour of not having water when in the Outback. Really Australia was a stern mistress, almost like a black widow. She offered many treasures and pleasures but if you tried to take them she could try killing you in ways you never imagined. From tiny jelly fish you can’t see to large crocodile.
Emma or Emmalina to her mother, decided to take the death defying journey to the Outback as a birthday present to herself. She had never been out of the United States. Australia was the furthest she could go, getting away from the pain of losing her dad. Her mom had since abandoned her when she started college some sixteen years ago. There was no one else and there wouldn’t be if she continued living in the shell she created for herself at the mere age of fifteen right after being raped by an uncle.
Alphie tapped her on the shoulder after plopping down beside her. He smelled strongly of coconut sunscreen and was holding the tube in his hand. Since she had gotten on the bus he had been bugging her to make sure she reapplied regularly. There were only seven of them on the bus, but he paid close attention to each and every one as though they were the only ones. She pulled her ear buds out of her ears offering him a wide smile. He nodded at her then turned his head towards the front.
“There is a storm coming in.” he pointed to an angry wave of black clouds heading in their direction. The darker clouds almost seemed to suck up what little light the sun had left behind and the closer they got to them the colder the temperature seemed to get. “It’s gonna be real hard to seen in a bit.” He said. “You have a poncho in that pack of yours?” he pointed to her purple backpack sitting between her feet on the floor.
“I do.” She had read the rules over and over in her hotel room before going out and buying all the recommended equipment for the tour. She was not about to die out in the Outback.
“Good.” He nodded his head. “I want you to keep your seatbelt on, ok?” he turned his face to hers, looking his eyes with hers. She saw a hint of worry in his soft brown eyes but he quickly masked it with a smile. “There is water fall not too far from in here in the vegetation.” He  pointed to the tiny jungle looking green patch she had looked at earlier.
“I wondered if there were crocodiles in there.” She snorted.
He shrugged his shoulders. “Could be, lots of people go missing in there.”
“Lots of people tend to go missing in the cities too.” She pointed out.
Suddenly the bus drive slammed on the breaks sending Emma and Alphie into the back of the seat in front of them. Alphie reached his hand out grabbing her by the shoulder pulling her back against him. The bus leaned to the side, the tires squealed in protest and the frame sounded as though it was cracking. Above them fat water droplets slammed against the metal of the bus sounding more like bullets then water. Alphie pulled Emma closer to him tucking her head near his shoulder protecting her from the flying debris.
“Everyone keep calm!” He shouted. “Make sure you have your seatbelts on.”
As soon as he finished giving out instructions two people were tossed into the air and launched forward toward the front of the bus. One of them was a woman, her screams pierced right through Emma’s flesh marking her brain so she would never forget. The woman was then silenced when her head slammed into the leaver for the door. The driver swerved the bus to the left then to the right as though he was trying to not be hit by bombs. He cussed loudly, then shouted, “Hold on!”
The bus hit a boulder sitting in the middle of the road. It was sent flying into the air off of its front wheels. For a moment it felt as though they were flying. Alphie dug his nails into Emma’s arms, he tucked his head next to hers as the bus landed hard on its side. Shards of glass flung from the window frames hitting anything or anyone near it. Most of the glass on Emma’s side hit and bounced off of her and Alphie.
“My eye!” someone shouted in the back.
“Oh my God. Tom!!” a woman shouted. “Help Alphie Tom has been stabbed in the neck.”
The bus was still sliding along the hard ground, people were still screaming. There was no way Alphie could help anyone. He remained in his position protecting Emma with his body. She heard him whispering some kind of pray, she couldn’t make out the words, but when he was done the bus finally came to a halt.
“I need a head count.” He sat up ready to take charge.
“My husband bled to death!!” the woman in the back yelled.
Alphie took his seat belt off and before he stood up to check the rest he pressed his hands against the side of Emma’s face. “Are you ok?” he asked in a soothing voice. She was shaking and still trying to process what had just happened. Her eyes darted around the bus taking in the bags piled near the front where the bus driver was. He was now slumped over in his chair, his head resting on the steering wheel but the horn wasn’t blasting. The two people who hadn’t been wearing their seat belts were nowhere to be seen. The only other people moving around were the two people near the back. There was the woman who was weeping for her husband and the man who was holding his hand to his right eye.
“I’m fine.” She answered in a harsh voice.
He nodded. “Good. I need you to check the bags that are in the front for water, food. Anything that we will need.” He instructed.
“What about the driver?” she said in almost a whimper.
“Emma, he is probably dead. Either way if he is injured there is nothing we can do for him. No cell reception out this far.” He said so only she could hear. “Just go through the bags, and try not to look at the bodies.”
He left her then after she assured him she was ok to do what he instructed, and she did. Not once did she feel sick about going through other peoples things. She held her own back pack on her back while she dug for supplies. As suspected no one had followed the suggestions given by the tour company. No one had a poncho or even sunscreen. It was a good thing Alphie was adamant about having extra sunscreen some of these people would have just died from sunburns.