“The wheels on the bus go round and round –“ children’s voices were shouting and laughing through the words as the bus made its way downtown. Mrs. Johnson conducted the song to her first graders from the front of the bus. The three parent chaperones were trying to keep the kids in line, smiling and singing with them. They were just so excited to go to the zoo.
Without warning, the driver slammed on the brakes, sending all the passengers forward in their seats.
“Hang on!” he yelled as the back end of the bus swung to the side as he tried to avoid the pileup in the intersection.
Children screamed and parents grabbed the ones that they could to keep them from flying across the seats. The bus smashed into a light pole and it shuddered to a stop.
“Is anyone bleeding?” Mrs. Johnson yelled over the cries, pulling herself up to her feet. The parents helped her check on the kids one by one. None of them appeared to be injured, even the ones crying and shaking.
“Okay everyone, we need to exit the bus in a single file-“ Mrs. Johnson began but a piercing shriek cut through the air.
Everyone on board the bus cringed and covered their ears. The windows shattered and children screams were added to the noise. The bus rattled and creaked. But then just as quick as it had begun, it was over.
Mrs. Johnson got back to her feet and rubbed her head.
“Where are the children?”
The parents whipped around and realized too late that all of the kids were missing from their seats.
Mrs. Johnson was the first out the door to check in the street, even though she couldn’t rationalize even to herself how all twenty-four of the children could have gotten past her to the door in only a few seconds. The parents following behind her all bumped into each other as their feet hit the pavement and they saw the scene around them.
Twelve cars were piled in the intersection, all in various states of wreckage. All of their windows were broken. The street lights were hanging awkwardly over the incident, all of their bulbs were blown out.
There was no sign of any of the kids.
People were pulling themselves out of their cars, looking dazed but not injured.
“Did you run that light?”
“No, my light was green.”
“But so was mine-“
They began to argue over whose fault the wreck had been until a soul-shattering cry ripped through them.
“My baby!” a woman was on the ground next to her car. “My baby is gone! Who took my baby?” She had a pink blanket clutched to her chest as she began to sob.
Mrs. Johnson ran over to her. “Your baby was in your car?” she said gently, kneeling next to the woman.
“Y-yes. In her car seat… But she’s g-gone…”
Mrs. Johnson stood back up and looked around at the others listening. “Did anyone else have kids with them today?”
The parents and the bus driver looked at her uneasily as she connected the dots.
“Something took the children.”
To be continued…