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The wind was blowing; we could hear it through the windows and feel it as well. The bus was only dragging forward. The snow was heavy and what was worse was it was unexpected. We were surrounded by thick forest of tall evergreens. Yet the chatter was deafening, no one seemed concerned of the iced road. People’s music was blaring, and others complained because of a lack of phone service. The sky was grey, or what was visible of it through the trees and there was no sight of the sun or moon. If it had not been for the watch I had I would not have known or been able to guess the time. It was early winter and soon it would be dark.
All colored leaves were gone and buried under the snow. Many trees looked like mere skeletons, bare of all signs of life.
The bus sputtered as it caught in a snow bank up to my knees. We waited as a teacher came in from the bus behind us and whispered the driver. Some boys volunteered to leave the bus and dig away the snow, some pushed on the bus. Nothing moved. We were ordered to get off the bus with what things we could carry. The bus moved but a little. The wind was against us. We all piled back in.
It was quiet now; no one knew what was happening. The snow continued to fall and the sun’s light was failing. People bundled up in the one bus with heat. I sat in-between two people, Lee and Ari. Ari had fallen asleep, her iPod in her gloved hands. Lee, well he looked like a deer in the headlights. “What is going on?” He whispered with a soft voice.
“We are stuck,” I stated plainly.
“I see that,” He huffed. His normally smiley face had dropped and he then spread out as well as he could on the floor, then fidgeted and came back into the seat.
The sun came back. The bus had gone cold. Some people left to find shelter and others went to get wood. Lee, Ari and I huddled together within in one Spiderman blanket and waited. We were all hungry and tired; the food that had been brought was all gathered up as well as the bottles of water. No one knew how long we would be waiting out here.
Lee and I soon became antsy and left to search. The wind was still blistering. Lee was pressing ahead convinced that he saw something. We were shin deep in white snow, hopping along like rabbits. All I saw was a hill and a dark hole. Lee ran ahead, his thin frame was surprisingly upright. “Come here!” He cried out,” Look at this!” I came forward. He opened up a door to a very small tunnel and we crawled through. It was dry inside although the metal was icy.
At the other end we had entered into a large room. It was dark, we could hardly see but we found an unlit fireplace. “We could bring everyone here!’ He said, and he led me out of the room and we ran to the buses feeling excited. He told the teachers and we began to carry things toward the open tunnel.
We were bringing in firewood by the twin and the fireplace was lit. We all sat around it trying to defrost ourselves while bottles of water were distributed and snack packs of trail mix and candy vars. It was better than nothing but it sure did not kill the hunger. No one spoke much after we ate, just tired to warm up. Some had board games with them and were playing to keep our minds off the hunger.
Later in the day apples were handed out, frozen by now and hard, but they were food. Cores soon filled the fireplace.
“We cannot stay here forever,” I said.
“You could be surprised,” Ari answered. She was never one for much optimism. I believed in her mind we would stay in the dungeon for some time.
The air was heavy and stuffy. It smelled horrible and of smoke. We had been out of food. All were hungry and of need of a bath as well. Lee and I had left, looking for food or help. The snow had ended although it was still bitterly cold. “How far are we going?” I asked.
“Not too far. We do not want to get lost,” He laughed. He wore a striped hat, a sweatshirt and a grey coat. He shivered still, having a lack of natural insulation. “But there has got to be something around. It is not like we are in Canada or anything,”
“Might as well be… there might be more homes in the middle of nowhere. On the bus we still had four hours to go until we would be in Greenwich. I have never been there before though so I am not sure what exactly would be close…”
“What do you mean?”
“We got stuck on a road. Somebody has to go by eventually. If someone sees two empty school buses, they should be concerned,” I laughed, “Wouldn’t you?”
“Of course!” He answered, “Do you see anything yet?”
“”No,” We walked along for a time before coming along a cabin in the distance. “Let’s hope they have a worked phone!” I cried out.
We heard footsteps though, soft in the snow, not heavy like a person and then a howl. It shot through my core bright and hungry. I came to realize two things, one we needed to run and get into the cabin if we wanted to wake up well tomorrow and two; we were going to be stuck there for a while if we got there. I urged Lee forward. The sound of many footsteps inflamed. We ran forward to the cabin. In fear we did all we could, the wolves were visible now, teeth bared and coming toward us. Many barked loudly, madly.
The cabin seemed so far off and getting father. Lee’s hand was on my back and I continued. My legs went as fast as they could, but the wolves were getting closer. They were not going to quit, so neither were we. It was not a choice, but with an empty stomach and against the wind it was not easy.
They were so close I could almost feel the bite, but so was the door of the cabin, Lee pushed me in and slammed the door. We sat against it with all our might, the lock was weak. We could hear the growling and anger in the voices of the wolves. The bodies hitting the door sent jolts through us both. A howl broke out and the dogs left us. I looked out through the single window. They were not in sight. I sat on the floor, my lungs burning, and heart audibly pounding. “That was close,” Lee said.
“It sure was,” The howling was still clear as day outside. Many blankets were in the cabin, we each took a few and bundled up and waited, “Will they go away?”
“Well yes, eventually. Maybe something nuclear will wipe them all out,”
“Good luck surviving that,”
“You asked if they will go away. I gave you a solution, you did not specify if we would live,”
I laughed and said, “Well you should assume-“
“You say never to assume. It makes an-“
“I know, I know how it goes, but since when?”
He crossed his arms best he could inside the blanket, “Since, well, two days ago. Remember in the library I said to assume that the author was biased,”
“And your point is?”
“You told me not to assume,” He made an overly comical smiled, “So there.”
“You are just being difficult,”
“That was not random at all. That had absolutely nothing to do with the conversation,”
“It did so. It was the truth. It IS the truth by gosh and by gum!”
“I thought there was no such thing as complete truth!”
‘I am prettied sure that it is true that if I had a brick and drop it right now and right here, it will fall and hit something,”
“Once again, right here and now. There. And it is true that no one knows everything,”
“No one you dingbat!”
“And that if there were no wolves outside right now than we would be heading back. I am also sure that it is true that a non-injured horse could run faster than you or I. That you would be pretty bad at football and pretty happy to see a box of Captain Crunch right now and that if I had a big bowl of ice cream despite the cold I would eat it,”
He laughed, “That is all true,”
“I am sure that it is true that you are a true skeptic, a bit jumpy and a people person who lies to draw with Sharpies on just about everything living or inanimate. You love cupcakes more than cake itself. All true.”
“Alright, alright,” He chuckled, “But what is also true is we need to leave. It may get dark soon,”
We stood up and we both opened up the door and began the long walk. We were both wrapped up in the blankets. He had an arm on my shoulder. Our ears were on alert for the wolves, “I am angry,”
“Why is that?” He smiled.
“We did not find anything,”
“Blankets. That is something,”
“And it is better than nothing. You are a whole lot warmer now that you were,”
“More truth,” We both laughed although half-heartedly. The walk seemed much longer than it did the first time. Snow had begun to fall. We hurried further along.
Suddenly a sharp pain wrapped around my left leg. I screamed out, a trap had clasped around me. “Stay still!” He screamed while I held my breath and closed my eyes, “I will get it,” He said quieter. I felt the pressure lighten up and I opened my eyes. The pain was sharp and he ripped up part of the blanket and wrapped it around my bloody ankle, “Come on, you have got to stand up. I am not sure I can carry you that far,” I nodded and grasped his arm. He pulled the trap out of the ground and picked up a large rock and smashed it,” Let’s go,”
He helped me to walk. I looked behind; a red trail was left in the footsteps.
The sun was still up and surprisingly bright. I was dizzy and struggling on, “Keep going.” He said, “You stop and I am leaving you here,” He was joking I knew but I listened.
The tunnel was in sight. Lee said, “Come on, almost there honey,”
The fire was of great relief. Lee placed me by the fire and propped me up on some things. “I am going to get someone who can help,” He stated and patted my shoulder. A woman heated up some water and I drank it, feeling almost too hot now, “She stepped n a trap,” He said to her, “Will she be alright?”
“Should be as long as it does not get infected,” She looked toward him, “Where is this trap?”
“Well, you could follow the blood, but I broke it. So it’s under a rock,”
She nervously laughed, “Good job,”
For the next few days we had still stayed in the tunnel. Bottled water was g one and snow was instead melted for our water. Always, though, someone was outside in hope that we would be found. People were looking we knew, they had to be. A hundred people, a quarter of a high school could not be forgotten simply. We would be found. All they had to do was find the school buses and follow the blood. But we could not wait forever. We needed foods badly. All of us were filthy and hungry and cold had not eaten in close to a week. Some had gotten ill and kept us up all night with their coughs and sneezing, not that we could tell night from day any longer. All just found it blending together in one long and miserable day.
A few boys had gone out to hunt, but were always unsuccessful coming back either running from the wolves or disappointed. Another two said they were going to leave, we were far away from people, but they were not staying. We could only hope that they came back with help, or at the least, food.
This was something us as privileged people were not used to with our heating and running water. I figured if we came out of this, than we would all respect everything more. Even nature and its power.
Yet all I wanted at this point was all of those luxuries: to go home and lie on the couch with some hot cocoa and watch a movie. To go back to school and eat the nasty food. That would be a luxury at this point.
The boys had been gone for two days. More were getting sick. Two more had set out in the hope of finding something. A day later we had got it. A loud whirling noise beat through the walls of the underground room. We all stood up, someone screamed, “It’s a copter!”
Some cheered, others cried out, “They won’t find us!”
So many rushed outside and gathered as many twigs and logs as possible and began to burn them. It would be impossible for them to miss us then. Others greedily hoarded their things in fear that we would still not be saved.
The bonfire grew larger and brighter and hotter. We had not truly felt heat like this for a while. Some called out. The copter landed and Lee and I hugged. The man came out with a smile and said into a radio, “We got um’,”
We would not be the same. I would never look at snow again the same way, nor the sacredness of a ratty old blanket or a hot cup of soup. I would always have a scar on my left ankle to remind me and I would always try to think of more truths.