His entire body felt as if it were mere moments from falling apart.
Slowly he forced his eyes to open, painful a struggle it might’ve been. There was light though it was quickly fading, the sky a beautiful hue of pinks and reds from the setting sun. Now he knew it was almost nightfall. His next goal was to get himself to move. Despite knowing the hurt that it could cause he forced himself to sit up. He brushed off grass and dirt from his arms. Focusing on the insignificant details felt more helpful then. Nick’s mind was a jumble of mixed images as he struggled to reorient himself with his surroundings.
Fuck, what happened? His head currently resembled a pounding tribal drum more than anything else. He reached up to rub his temple and was surprised to find it sticky and wet. His pulled his hand down to stare at it, at the redness spread along his fingers. Blood.
The shock caused him to take in a sharp breath where more agony followed. His hands moved down to his sides and he jerked them away after the softest of touches caused practically blinding misery. Nick pulled up his torn, now bloody, t-shirt and stared down at the black and blue patterns traveling down along his chest. I bet at least some of my fucking ribs are broken.
Immediately he reached for his iPhone and blanched when he couldn’t find it. That was when Nick fully realized what had happened. The images started to make sense to him. He’d been on the phone with Kevin, who was on his way to Seattle as well for the night’s show. Kevin had wanted to make up for missing the LA show the night before. Jordan had been sulking over the fact Nick had reminded him he was too busy in 2015 to commit to a run of Nick and Knight in Japan. The rain had even been letting up.
Then the driver couldn’t control the bus. He’d held on as long as he could, struggling to dodge the flying objects as the bus slid down the shoulder and rolled down into the heavily wooded area. Jordan wasn’t so lucky. He’d seen the other singer get tossed around like he was one of those NKOTB Barbie dolls from back in the eighties.
I’m lucky to be alive. He remembered how finally, just before the bus met its final stop against a tree Nick had lost his grip on the bed railing and flew out one of the broken windows. His eyes shifted down towards his arms that showed the various cuts and bruises between the fallen glass and the impact when he finally hit the ground. The ground, while not as soft as it could’ve been, must’ve been wet and mossy enough to cushion his fall. He reached up to the back of his head, the source of the persistent throbbing despite what he assumed to be a somewhat shallow wound along his forehead. A large lump confirmed his growing suspicions and was tender to the touch. I might have a concussion.
That meant no sleep for awhile, if he could manage it.
He got up cautiously, afraid of hurting himself more. His arm started to feel sore when he’d used it to push himself up and he wondered if maybe he’d sprained something. Nick knew it couldn’t be broken if only because for the most part he’d been able to move it with no problems so far. As sore as he was though, he was reminded yet again of how lucky he was. I could’ve broken my neck. Or fractured my fucking spine. But I’m alive. I can walk.
Now that he was done assessing his own injuries for the moment, his eyes tracked the area around him. An owl hooted solemnly in the distance. There were trees everywhere. He looked to the left up him and could see the steep hill the bus must’ve rolled down to get here. The road was up there but Nick wasn’t so sure he could climb up it in his condition. He looked around again for the bus itself and it took a minute due to the fading sun but then he saw it. It was a long tube of mangled and twisted black metal, smoke rising slowly from the front. The glass was shattered in the front window and Nick shuddered at the dark splatters coating it as well.
At the sight of that he suddenly stopped caring about his own injuries and raced for the vehicle. He had to see if anyone besides him was alive. They had to be. It wasn’t a question. It’d landed on its side but fortunately with the door side up. Nick rubbed his hands together and took a deep breath before wincing, remembering his ribs. He knew climbing in was going to hurt like hell but what choice did he have? Their driver, Dave, was inside. Jordan was inside. For all he knew the bus could blow at any moment. He couldn’t leave them there to die. It was the easy solution and could keep him alive longer. But in the end being alive meant living with yourself and the choices you’ve made. He knew he couldn’t do that if he just ran off to save himself.
Smoke still hissed from the hood of the bus as Nick jumped and grabbed onto the side. His shoulder instantly screamed in protest and confirmed that he had in fact pulled something if not sprained it. Ignoring it, he grit his teeth and used every bit of energy to pull himself up onto the side of the bus. The slid slightly but was able to shift himself around and sit up. His feet used the mighty trunk of the now bent tree it’d crashed into to brace himself. For a few moments he simply sat there, catching his breath from the bits of exertion. That’s how he knew he was worn out. Years of performing nonstop had taught him he was capable of far more endurance than this in normal situations.
“Hello!” Nick screamed. He needed a sign of life, anything.
“Is there anybody alive?! Somebody?!”
A soft groan was his reward.
“Hang on!” He struggled to shove the folding door open. “I’m coming!”
Spinning his body around on the bus he used his feet and finally managed to get enough space so that he could slip inside. Lying on his stomach he slid through the hole while hanging on till he could drop without injuring himself further. Nick knew he needed a doctor but nothing was life threatening as far as he knew. And even if something was, there was simply nothing he could do about that right now.
“Da-holy fuck!” Dave was still in the driver’s seat. His eyes were open and staring off into space at something Nick nor anyone else could see. A branch had come crashing through the window, presumably from another tree. It had been thick enough to burst through the window and impale the man directly through the neck. Blood was everywhere – on the seat, on the windows, a grotesque final spray paint of death. His head danged to the side off the branch. Remnants of tissue and skin were what kept it still attached rather than a complete beheading.
Nearly Headless Dave. He couldn’t help thinking. Too many weekends on tour being stuck watching ABC Family’s “Harry Potter Weekend” he supposed. His fingers gently pushed the eyelids shut partly out of respect but mostly because the unrelenting gaze from beyond the grave chilled him to the bone. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you. Rest in peace.
Nick didn’t want to move any closer but the thought occurred to him. The guy had to have a phone. He’d lost his and even if he found it, odds were that it was broken. Reaching towards the already cold body, he checked his pockets. The first one was empty of anything useful. Just what he assumed to be house keys and a wallet. He leaned over, trying not to vomit as he shoved his hand into the other pocket. There was so much blood. There’d been other wounds Nick hadn’t seen. Finally his grip found smooth plastic and he pulled out the phone only to sigh once he saw it. The screen was shattered and there was red beneath the glass. He pushed the button anyway, praying for a miracle.
He threw the phone down furiously, trying not to stumble as he moved forward. It was a hard task with trying to avoid shards of glass and cabinet doors wide open. Nick almost wanted to give up. This place reeked of death and it felt cursed. He didn’t want to be brought down along with it. He stepped towards the mini kitchen and looked around. Before the bus started swerving this had been where Jordan was last. He looked around, unable to quickly spot his friend amongst the debris.
Did he get thrown out like I did? Maybe he should’ve taken more time walking around the crash first.
“Jordan!” He yelled. “Jordan if you can hear me, I need you to make a noise so I can find you!”
“Nick?” His voice was soft, almost inaudible but it was enough.
He hurried forward, practically tripping over the fallen table but kept going. Pain radiated throughout his body in immediate protest but he didn’t have time for that now. No, that could wait. He skidded to a stop. “Oh god.” He murmured.
There’d been a reason Jordan wasn’t so easily seen. His body had been thrown in the end to the back of the bus where the little entertainment area was. The TV had fallen toward on top of him along with the couch. He was pinned right into place. Shards of glass from the shattered TV screen stabbed into his abdomen as if they were extra latches in case he tried to escape. Debris covered the rest of his body. His face was pale and damp with perspiration along the splatters of blood that dotted his cheeks. He gazed up at Nick but his dark eyes were unfocused, his pupils heavily dilated despite the bright lights still flickering within the vehicle. Jordan’s fingers twitched from beneath another branch that had torn through a window.
Do I move him? Does that help or make it worse? Fuck I don’t know what I’m doing! Nick kneeled down beside him. He felt almost in a panic. What was he supposed to do? For what felt like a lunatic moment he actually found himself reaching for his smart phone so he could try and Google what he should do with someone so seriously injured. Then he remembered his phone was a destroyed piece of trash somewhere within this bus of death. He again took in Jordan’s many injuries. Moving him meant trying to remove the glass embedded within. Glass that wasn’t causing a lot of blood loss. Nick idly wondered if maybe he’d had the luck of the glass cutting and therefore helping staunch the blood in the arteries they’d been slicing. The knowledge came from watching 1000 Ways To Die in the middle of the night when he couldn’t sleep.
“God, I…I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I should try and move you out or what?” Nick said though he didn’t really expect an actual answer.
Jordan coughed violently, his body racked by them. “Nick…”
“I’m going to go get help okay?” He wondered just how aware the other man was. So far all he’d said is his name. Did he really know Nick was there? Was the pain too much for him to try and say anything more? He had so many questions.
He shook his head. “No…” More coughs followed. “Don’t leave me.”
He doesn’t want to die alone, Nick realized. He frowned at Jordan. Negative thinking wasn’t going to get them anywhere. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen. But he couldn’t let himself think the worst. Otherwise they might as well give up now. “No, I gotta go man. If I don’t we’re both gonna die out here.”
You definitely will. He added mentally. Fuck! No. Stop that! We’re both going to live! If I don’t think positive we’re both fucked and we’re both going to die!
Nick pulled himself up and sighed deeply. This was hard but he had no choice. “I’m going to come back as soon as I can with help. I promise you, it’s going to be alright. You’re not going to die. Not here! There’s gotta be someone who I can get to. We’re gonna get out of this.”
Finally as if in defeat, Jordan nodded.
“I’ll be back.” He called as he made his way carefully to the front of the bus.
He didn’t know how far it’d be to the road since the one they’d careened off of was too steep to reach. He wasn’t sure how he would find his way there without a map, GPS or any real clue of where they were. But they were living in a century where everyone was connected thanks to technology. Someone had to be out there, nearby. Nick didn’t care who that person was. He didn’t care how hurt he was himself. Nor did he care that Jordan needed immediate care. Somehow, someway, he was going to get the help they needed. Somehow, someway, he would find a way to save him. He’d promised Jordan he’d come back. He’d promised him that they were both going to make it out of this alive.
And Nick never went back on his word.