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Fantasticoe 1997

"Dead Man's Curve"

Laura Holub

When Russell stepped out of Mickey's Diner, the weather was just what the warnings promised. The snow was now up to Russell's knees as he plowed his way through the drifts to his car. He felt the sub-zero wind smack his weathered face, chapping his rosy cheeks and lips. His eyes watered as he approached his unreliable grey 1979 Ford Tempo. He had a feeling that his car wouldn't start. He put the key into the ignition, crossed his fingers, and the car just barely moaned, started to catch, and died. He waited a moment and then closed his eyes in a silent prayer, turned the key once more, and sighed as the old car started right up.

Russell craved for a cup of hot chocolate, his cozy warm bed, and his favorite show M.A.S.H. that came on at 8:35. He reached in his pocket and pulled out the pocket watch that was given to him after his great-grandfather passed away. He rubbed his cold fingers over top of the engraving that read R. J. Melville. Russell loved his watch. It had a lot of sentimental value, after all, he was named after his great-grandfather. The watch was very old and the engraving was a bit worn off but to him it still shined like it had been bought yesterday. It never skipped a tick, a bit more reliable than his car. As he glanced at the watch, he noticed that he would have just enough time to get home before M.A.S.H., allowing a few more minutes for bad weather.

On his way home, he couldn't believe how much the snow had drifted in the past couple of hours while he was working at Mickey's. Russell payed close attention to the roads. The last thing he wanted was to be stranded outside in the cold on such a horrible night and freeze to death. He couldn't believe how abandoned all of the roads were. There was not a single car in sight. A few minutes later he noticed a faint red light coming from the side of the road. He was amazed that he could even see the light because of the harsh blowing wind and the flurry of snow. As he slowly drove past, he thought he should stop and check it out. He pulled his car over to what looked like an enormous snow drift, he left his car running so it wouldn't stall. When he got near it, he noticed that it was a school bus from West Middle School, the only school in town. The red light that caught his attention must have been the tail lights from the bus. He noticed the bus's snow tracks that went off the road. Russell suspected that the driver didn't realize how sharp the curve was and lost control. The bus was leaning on a guard rail that protected the bus from a steep, dangerous fall. Russell knew that the guard rail wouldn't be able to support the weight of the bus for very long so Russell needed to hurry.

He could hear the muffled sound of kids crying for help. Russell ran back to his car and grabbed a jack from the trunk, a necessity due to the many times he had to pull over to fix his car. He then plowed his way back to the bus through the wind and snow. He went around to the back of the bus and used his mitten to push away the abundance of snow that had accumulated in front of the emergency door. When he noticed that no kids were in sight he took the jack and hit the door as hard as possible. The glass shattered. He carefully reached his hand through the glass and pulled the lever down to open the door. As soon as he did, three small children ran straight for him.

The sudden movement by the children made the bus tip even more, allowing more weight to rest on the guard rail. "Don't run!" he screamed loudly. "The bus isn't very sturdy. We must be very careful. "Stay on this side of the bus," as he motioned to his left, "and come slowly toward me." The kids did just what he told them. Once he rescued them off the bus he pointed to his car up ahead and said for them to stay in his car and try and get warm. "How many more people are still on the bus?" Russell asked.

The biggest kid spoke up, "I think there are two more kids and the bus driver."

"How long have you been out here in the cold?"

"I'm kind of confused, all I know is that our music program got over around 6:00."

"How did this happen?"

"The bus driver said that this would be safer to take these roads instead of taking gravel roads."

"Just get in my car and I will be back with the others."

Russell ran to the bus to search for the missing children and bus driver. He lifted himself into the back of the bus and walked slowly down the left side, searching for the children.

"Help us mister. We are right here. We can't move our legs," they pleaded.

When he got to the two children they were holding each other for body heat. The two kids were shivering. He took his coat off and wrapped it around the kids and led them to the exit of the bus. As they slowly shuffled their way to the exit, it began to tip. Russell made them jump out of the bus before the bus tipped down the huge hill that was once protected by the guard rail. He pointed to his car and told them to stay there until he came back.

He proceeded to rescue the bus driver. Russell shook the old man but he wouldn't budge. He thought he was unconscious due to bad circulation. He grabbed the old man and threw him over his shoulder and for the last time would make his way to the back of the bus. It was hard for Russell to balance the man on his shoulder because of the cold weather but he knew that this would be his last trip. The bus groaned now even more unsteady. He didn't have much time. He tried his hardest to run down the isle. Once he got to the door he jumped with the old man on his shoulder and from the fall and the crashing sound of the bus rolling down the steep hill, the old man was now conscious.

When he had rescued everyone and had double checked it with the driver, they began to hear sirens. Russell knew now that it was time to go. So while everyone was staring at the emergency vehicles coming to their rescue Russell disappeared. When the bus driver turned around to say something to Russell, he was no where to be found.

A light only visible to Russell came down and took himself up to heaven. He realized why he hadn't been transported to heaven right after his death. He had a job to do on earth and now it was completed. He wasn't going to let the helpless children die the same way he did. Now that he rescued them, it was time for him to be in heaven.

When the police discovered Russell's coat on one of the children he had saved, inside one of the pockets was a pocket watch with the initial's R. J. Melville. The next morning the police and a reporter with the WVB television station went to Russell's house to give him a check for $10,000 dollars and a metal of honor for the rescue of James, Sue, and Timothy Butler, Angie and Kyle Swanson, and the rescue of Donald Cooper the bus driver. But when they got to the door to Russell Melville's home, it had been abandoned for at least ten years. The detectives that found the address did some more hunting around and found out that Russell Melville had died on a cold night similar to the one they had the night before, on the same curve the bus lost control, and the same incident happened except for no one found Russell until three days after the horrendous storm.

Acknowledgments: I would like to thank my entire Fantasy Writing class for all of their help in getting my story in final draft form. You all had great ideas and I enjoyed reading them. I would also like to especially thank Terry Heller for all of his comments and Melanie for giving me an idea on how to improve the ending of my story.

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Fantasticoe 1997