The Dying Light: A Short Story
I was flung violently forward as the driver crushed the brake pedal. The tires howled a pain of burning rubber as the bus came to a halt. I slammed against the seats in front of me, my shoulder taking the brunt of the impact before gravity reached out and dragged me to the floor. Recovering from the blow, I glanced at all the windows to understand the cause of this sociopath injuring all of his passengers. But with the dizzying effect of such an abrupt collision, my vision began to blur; I could only see dark patches of movement in the bus. My ears picked up the echoing bellows of Serbian voices and, sensing an all-too-present danger, my sight began to center autonomously on the windscreen. A huge, white wave of snow was engulfing the mountain ahead of us, a mere kilometer up the road.
As those around me began to glimpse the avalanche that was flooding towards us, the driver immediately shifted gear into reverse, turned his head to the back window and, alongside the crescendo of screams, started slithering between the snake of traffic behind us. As he peered back at the windscreen to take another look at the enclosing liquid solid, the expression he gave as his cigarette dropped from his lips told me there was no evading this immense body of ice. His foot flattened the accelerator, smashing and squealing against every car that lay behind our path.
Then, silence... The vehicle was deadlocked amongst them. Every pair of eyes drew towards the enclosing bearer of eternity: They all knew it was the end, and so did I. The sheer power of each crest crashing down to consume the earth led to every house, every building, shaking itself to pieces even before the snow came close; every plate of glass meant to shelter us shattered into thousands. Our only thoughts as we cringed away from this uncontrollable, unfathomable, unyielding magnitude of boundless force revolved around returning to the people we love. Even as life as we knew it exponentially dissipated with every crumble of building in front of us, our one momentary desire enveloped us into an eternalized hope: ‘Survive.’
Looking down to the end of the bus, I could see this gargantuan titan mere feet away from us, and, for a brief moment, time stood still. For the first time, I heard nothing but a single beat of my heart before blinking a lonely tear down my cold, rosy cheek. I was about to be separated from my own life.
The first thing… The first thing to hit us was the sound wave of the torpedoing mass—a thunder so intense it flipped the bus on its side like a candy wrapper caught in an updraft. I wrapped my body around one of the upright silver poles and squeezed tight with every ounce of strength I had; I knew flinging from side-to-side would kill me. The unstoppable momentum ingested us in a matter of moments, rolling the yellow bus down the hill as if it were a pile of rocks. Twirling and being churned by the ice, the inside of the vehicle took the shape of a scrunched piece of red paper; people were torn apart by the shrapnel of airborne metals. I held tight. It wasn’t enough. The violent convulsions caused my head to hit the pole repeatedly. I was conscious up until the point where the bus jammed into an enormous tree that would not be overwhelmed by the snow. I flew from one end to the other and struck my head on the baggage compartment. Bleeding out and desperate to survive, I twisted myself within loose clothing from broken baggage and passed out.
I awoke with nearly all of the bus filled with snow, and with only a sole sparkle of light shining through the other end of the shredded metal. With my fingers blue and my arms numb, I crawled through the wreckage. I dug my way out of what I had anticipated to be my tomb, scraping the shrapnel with my whole body as I forced my arms out of the illuminated hole and pushed my torso out of the bus. Reaching the source of my rebirth, my only reaction was to give a roar of release of having endured. But, as I turned my eyes towards the mountain to give this sigh of survival, I was left muted by the deafening roar of the second sound wave.