Babies on the Bus
Posted On March 25, 2021
There had been a rumor running around our little town for as long as I could remember. Sometime in the late 60s, a bus full of “free-loving hippies” had come through our part of the country, but got lost in the woods to the south.
In 1972, their bus had been found at the bottom of the gorge. It was about an 80-foot drop from the road to the bottom and there had been dozens of accidents in that area. But this is the one that kept the townsfolk talking
Because of its size, the sheriff couldn’t get it out. The weird thing was that it didn’t seem to have been damaged. It was as if the bus had driven straight down the side of the cliff and parked about a hundred yards into the trees. Even weirder was that there were no signs of the group who’d been in that bus. Other than some personal effects, it had been abandoned.
A search party had gone out and they did find the bodies of a man and a woman. According to the newspaper transcripts I’d read at the library, the woman’s body was covered in bite marks thought to have been caused by wild animals. The man’s body, however, looked as though it had been sliced repeatedly by a very sharp, thin blade.
It didn’t take long for the case to run cold and nothing much else was ever said. Nothing except those small-town rumors. Rumors that ranged from an escaped lunatic who ate the rest of the group, to a strange creature with a deadly bite and razorblade fingers. But it was the rumor that the six children on that bus had not only survived but had been rescued by the townsfolk, that held my attention.
As a little girl, I remembered hearing my mother and aunt talk about “the babies on the bus”. Though I don’t remember the entire conversation, I do remember the words “had to be done” and “for their own good.”
I had always thought it strange that both of my parents had blue eyes, while mine were dark brown. Mom said it was because her grandfather had dark eyes, but I never believed that. I’d always felt there was something more. Something I wasn’t being told.
As I drove south toward the gorge, I wasn’t sure what it was I thought I’d find. People had been down there a million times over the past 50 years. They’d never found any more bodies and that old bus was still sitting where it had landed. The tires had all been stolen, any valuables had been picked clean, and it had been used as target practice by just about every kid in the county. But I still had to see.
I parked my car just off the road and made my way to the cliff’s edge. Over the years, people had gouged out a rough path that made it easier to get up and down. However, I was still shaking so badly that I had a hard time keeping my balance.
After nearly half an hour, I’d made it to the bottom. I walked the rest of the trail into the woods to the old, rusted-out bus. I’d seen a thousand pictures of it, but this was the first time I’d seen it in person.
All the windows had been busted out and it was covered in graffiti. I ran my hand across it as I walked from one side to the other. The doors were still open and I couldn’t help but step inside.
There were papers scattered all over and a ton of broken beer bottles. I kicked things around, not really knowing what I was looking for. I guess I was hoping for a giant sign that said “They went that way.”
At the back of the bus, I noticed a pile of clothes. I didn’t know if they’d been there since the accident or if they’d been left there over the years. I knew I didn’t really want to touch any of them, so I just kind of tossed them around with my foot. Then I saw something that chilled me to the bone.
Under a dirty pair of jeans was the edge of what looked like a baby bib. I dragged it out of the pile with my boot, then went ahead and picked it up. Though dirty and stiff, I could see three letters embroidered at the bottom, “TNA.” All I could think was that somewhere out there was a little kid whose name started with the letter T.
As I stood there staring at that bib, I thought I heard something in the distance. I stopped cold and realized that it was starting to get dark. I shoved that bib in my pocket and ran out of there as fast as I could.
I got to the cliff face and made my way back to the top. The whole time I couldn’t help but feel as though I were being chased. I moved faster up the cliff than I had going down. Once at the top, I ran at full speed to my car, jumped inside, and locked the doors. It was then that I finally gave myself permission to breathe.
After I regained my composure, I headed back to town. Just before dark, I heard my phone ring. I looked down to see that it was my mom so I went ahead and answered. “Hey, mom, what’s up?”
I could almost see her toothy little grin when I heard her speak. “Hi, Tina.”
This story came from a writing challenge I put upon myself. In need of something new to write about, I sat down and wrote out several random words on a sheet of paper. I had 6 words per rows and 11 rows in total. I contacted 2 of my writing buddies on Twitter and had each of them give me a number between 1-6 and then choose a letter between A and K. Oddly, at first they both chose the exact same word, but we got it figured out and the two words they chose were “BIB” and “BUS”. And this is what I came up with. It’s not my best work, but it did make me think. And I had fun.
Now it’s your turn. I challenge you to do the same. What story can you come up with just by using a couple of random words?
Image by tlford from Pixabay
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