Around him, everything was wet and cold and he could clearly hear the roaring thunder above his head. A haunting memory flashed through his head and his eyes widened. Why was it so damn dark here?
He remembered being on the bus, pissed at Kevin for making them take a single bus to drive to Orlando. The prospect of four hundred miles with just the five of them had not gone over well with Brian. Of course, he didn’t hate their company, but lately, he just enjoyed being left alone, it worked better that way.
He winced; panic slowly creeping up as he recalled how he’d gone to talk to Toby, their bus driver, asking how much longer it would be to Orlando. He’d stared out of the front window, mesmerized with the loud thunderstorm outside. The rain had come down gallons at a time, it seemed. He’d asked Toby if it was really safe to drive in this type of weather. Before the older man had a chance to answer, it had happened. An incredible loud clap of thunder, followed by a terrible crunching noise, and then the tree had come down. The bus had swerved to avoid it and Brian had felt his body become completely weightless as the large vehicle collided with the base of the tree, toppling over and making a rapid, tumbling decent down the hill next to the road. He believed he’d screamed for his life as he bumped against every part of the front area in the bus, like he was nothing more than just a limp ragdoll. He’d tried to brace himself, curling up into a ball, waiting for the final blow. When the bus had finally stopped, he’d felt his whole body aching, but had breathed in relief.
That could have gone down so much worse, he’d thought. He hadn’t lost consciousness and his head seemed to be the only part that wasn’t dangerously bruised. Apparently curling up into a ball had been good thinking. He’d tried to slowly get up, smelling the awful stench of gasoline getting stronger and stronger.
Just when he’d slowly gotten to his feet, determined to find out how the other band members had fared, he saw the flames. There was no warning, no sound that preceded the explosion and he’d had just enough time to wonder if he should duck, run, or both when the fire suddenly had seemed all around him and he was thrown backwards violently. He may have gone through the already crystallized front window, he didn’t remember. All he remembered was telling himself that these were probably the last seconds of his life as he knew it and that he should be glad that at least, it would happen quickly.
They said you would see your entire life flash before your eyes when you were about to die. That didn’t happen. The only thing that flashed in his mind was his family, and he’d felt a quick stab of regret. Then he’d felt nothing anymore.
He still didn’t feel anything, and if this was heaven, it was darker than he’d imagined. Maybe it was hell, he wondered. What had he done to deserve hell? He’d been devote, hadn’t he?
He could feel the soft snow under his fingertips. It was still fresh, untouched. He could still smell the smoke and the gasoline, but that might just be his memories playing with him. He tried to move, but gave up after a few attempts.
He still needed to pee, though.
He carefully lifted his head and instantly panicked. He’d kind of felt the incredible pressure on his lower body, but hadn’t been expecting this. A large piece of front bus was crushing his legs, all the way up to his pelvis.
Without another thought, he planted his hands in the freezing snow, trying to pull himself from underneath the piece of debris that looked most like the underside and front wheel of the tourbus. It was then that he felt the tearing, searing, ripping and crunching pain soaring through every last part of him. This time, he was certain he screamed for his life. His stomach burnt and he gagged, leaning as much to his left as possible and spilling the contents of his dinner into the perfectly white snow. He coughed a few times, the unmistakable coppery taste of blood in his mouth.
God, he wanted to cry.
He lay back down, whimpering miserably like a sick dog. If he’d ever imagined an exploding bus accident, he’d thought it would have been more… spectacular. More final too. And maybe just a bit more heroic.
Damn those stupid Bruce Willis movies!
Just when he wondered if Bruce Willis would have experienced pain like this if his action movies were real, he heard a voice call out.
Maybe he wasn’t alone in hell.
He couldn’t quite make out where the voice came from and what it was yelling about. It was too far away to hear properly and by the sound of it, it was moving away from him. He couldn’t let that happen. He did not want to be alone.
“Hey!” he called, his voice hoarse and just a bit more than a whisper.
“Here!” he tried again, a little louder this time. “Hello!”
The voice stopped, but Brian kept screaming, coughing violently every few seconds. He’d propped himself up on his elbows the best he could, trying to see anything past the large piece of metal weighing down on him. “Help!”
“Anybody there?” the voice was back, closer now and he recognized it instantly.
“Brian!” Kevin exclaimed, “Brian, where are you?”
“’m Here! I can’t move!” Brian yelled, a sob of relief invading his voice. He’d been so damn sure he was alone.
And now Kevin was there! Kevin would find him, Kevin would help.
“Brian! Keep talking, I can’t see you! I need to follow your voice!”
It was hard to breathe through the smoke, but it was clearing somewhat. He could hear Kevin coming closer, his feet crunching the snow beneath it. “The bus crashed,”
Brian commented, a bit dazed.
“I know, where the fuck are you?”
“’m Here,” he repeated softly, suddenly exhausted. Kevin was so close, he’d find him. Talking hurt like a bitch after all. He’d just wait for his cousin here.
“Brian? I can’t… I can’t see you, man! Where the hell are you?” Kevin yelled. He didn’t get a response. “Brian, answer me!”
It was completely silent for a few seconds and Kevin’s heart dropped about ten feet before he heard the weak reply, “’m Here, Kev… Jeez, just hurry up!”
In a flash, Kevin turned to his right, stumbling over a few pieces of metal, “Brian!”
The younger man looked up, into his cousin’s face and smiled slightly. “That was the worst hide and seek ever,” he commented with a cough.
“’s Not funny!” Kevin breathed, taking in the situation Brian had gotten himself in bit by bit.
“It’s a little funny,” Brian shrugged, trying to get upright a little bit more.
“Oh my God, Bri,” Kevin said, kneeling down beside his cousin. He was almost too afraid to look at the spot where Brian’s body was hidden from view by the enormous piece of metal. “Are you okay?” he asked anyway.
Brian sighed and stayed silent for a few moments, then shook his head, “I don’t know, Kev.”