Interstate 72

Interstate 72

By Matthew Bines

He’d been talking to a perfect girl called Emma. It had taken him nearly a year to build up the courage to talk to her. But now he was, and he couldn’t stop smiling. Neither could she. Amid a sea of voices, they lost themselves in each other’s stares. He loved her hair, her eyes and her bouncing laugh. His stomach fluttered; he hadn’t made a girl laugh before. Then it happened. The air rushed from his lungs. One moment they were chatting, the next they were flying.

He scrambled to find Emma as party balloons tackled him, but she had flown too far. Jacob called out for her. He didn’t get a chance to speak again.

Their bus toppled, blasting glass shards at frozen pedestrians with morbid prowess, and then twirled, building momentum each time it seared the tarmac, until slamming into the front of a bustling store. Innocent people blinked out of existence. The bus wheezed as it was cradled in the store’s gut. Its exhaust popped dying breaths. Blood travelled its tarnished yellow walls. All was silent. No one screamed. The realisation was yet to hit.

Wailing sirens approached.

Jacob lay among the dead and injured. Their groans of pain indistinguishable from his own. He was dazed, faintly aware of what had happened, like it was someone else’s dream. His head was heavy, and a pain pressed against his eyes. He feebly fought off strangers that grabbed him, he wanted to find Emma, but he faltered. It hurt too much to move. The crash couldn’t sink in. Wouldn’t sink in. Even as his torso pooled a dark crimson, from his blood or another’s.

As he was dragged onto the road, his body tensed. His heart sizzled like a Catherine wheel as it crawled up his throat. The burns were worse than touching the stove, worse than scraping his knee after falling from his bike, worse than the scolding of his concerned mother. It made him want to scream. It forced its weight against his uvula and choked him.

Voices were blurs. Someone yelled but the words trailed off as a gargle of sounds. A pool of red circled him. Strangers rushed to him, covering his body with their clothing and he wondered why they did that. Every thought was shrouded in a thick mist.

The flickering flames, the blood splatters, the mangled yellow bus that he was being dragged from were twinkling flames upon a candle. A single puff and he could blow them all out. Yet, he couldn’t breathe. His parents emerged from the darkness of his fading sight with faces that beamed with tangible love. They held their arms out for a hug, but Jacob couldn’t move. His body would not move.

The flashes of red and blue lights stopped beside him. They seemed joyous and he tried to smile at the paramedics dressed in reflective green. They wore such goofy colours. They had to be here for a celebration. It must be his birthday. These people were here to celebrate for him. He couldn’t think of the bus. He couldn’t think of Emma. He couldn’t understand why everyone looked so worried. Happy. Worried. Happy? No, they were worried. They surrounded him with frowns and tears. But why?

This story originated from a yellow bus smothered in flames. Sometimes starting with imagery can make for a nice writing piece.

Matthew Bines

An avid writer, Matthew Bines has had a tendency to write flash fiction during the early hours of the morning since his early teens. His preferred genres are Science Fiction and Horror due to their absurdism. However, he also dabbles in other genres because staying in one gets too dull.

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