They reached the bus stop with only seconds to spare. The more time that went by, however, the more worried Phillip became that maybe, just maybe, they had been too late. Gene sighed, and Jeanne fiddled with a loose fitting on the bench.
Eventually, though, a bus did arrive. It wasn’t their bus, however– this looked to be an abomination against Henry Ford. The poorly-maintained bus had patches where it was not rusted, as opposed to where it was, which was all over. The glass was criss-crossed with spiderwebs from impacts and bullet holes, and when the door cycled open, the air inside reeked faintly of blood.
The driver, a gaunt figure, looked over and beckoned to the children. “We’re on a sshedule,” he rasped, the pronunciation losing the hard consonant, as if he had no throat with which to produce the glottal stop.
“We’ll, uh, catch the next one.” Phillip grinned and took the kids’ hands.
“Won’t be a nesht one,” the driver said. “Last bus.”
“Phillip, this is really weird,” Jeanne said. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“This isn’t funny,” Gene sighed.
“Wait, wait,” Phillip said. “You mean to tell me…?”
“Bad storm last night,” the driver said. “Lightning stri’e near here. Bad fire.”
Phillip glanced over to Gene, then to Jeanne. Silently, he pulled them closer into a hug, which they returned with vigor. He felt the hot tears soaking into his shirt.
Jeanne looked up, her eyes nearly obscured by her crying. “I told you so,” she sobbed.