The minibus lurched forward and halted. Aside from the driver, we were fourteen in the minibus; fourteen teenagers with happy faces that were now contorted with worry. The driver tried again, this time, the tires screeched, and the engine died.
“What seems to be the problem?” Ashley who was seating at the front asked the driver. I strained my ears to hear what he would say even though I had a hunch of what it was.
“The bus wouldn’t move,” the driver, a middle-aged man with beards and dark hair said. “I think we are kind of stuck.”
“Stuck?!” a voice rang out beside me. It was Rachael, and while she exclaimed, I turned and stared at her with surprise at her sudden response.
I thought you were asleep was what I had wanted to say to her, but I remained mute and tried to observe what was going on. I was one of the seven boys that were in the minibus and situations like this when there was a problem, I try to think ahead of the rest and proffer solutions.
College kids on a camping trip to one of the rainforests in South America were stuck in a clump of snow in the middle of nowhere was all I could surmise.
“What do you mean stuck?” Ashley asked confused.
“Yes, we are stuck, and I think we need help,” the driver’s voice was calm and resolved now. He sounded like one that had gotten it all figured out now—the problem—but had no solution yet.
It was cold outside, no, it wasn’t just cold, it was snowing, and the cold outside was nail-biting. Clumps of snow clasped on the glasses of the minibus while I tried to stare outside. Even though all the glasses were shut, it didn’t stop the cold from penetrating, thus making the ambiance of the minibus to be cold.
The driver opened his door and got out to check how grave the situation was. We waited in the minibus while he checked.
“We shouldn’t have plied this route,” Rachael complained, “I heard it’s always deserted and lonely, tad dangerous, too.”
“Huh?!” I turned to her. “You knew this, yet you didn’t mention it earlier?”
“Well, it’s the shorter route to follow during this period to avoid the gridlock in the major roads now this festivity period.”
“But this is worst than a gridlock, Rachael, this is a cul-de-sac,” Ashley panicked, “did you guys hear what he said earlier? We are fucking stuck…in the middle of nowhere in the woods!”
“He said he thought,” I corrected. “He wasn’t sure nor was he being conclusive on it.”
“I hate situations like this!” she yelled. “Someone get me out of this fucking cold!”
I was seating by the sliding door of the minibus. I slid it open, and the gust of snowy wind that billowed was harsh even though we were all suited up for the weather. I hated this time of the year; I hated the month of December and January because those were the months that had the high level of snowfall.
“Where are you going?” Rachael asked.
“To check around, you know, for help or anything to get us out of here.”
“ Can I come with you?”
“No, it’s too cold outside…remain here I’ll be back.” I slid the door shut and got down from the minibus. The snow on the ground was high; it swallowed my boots and almost ate half of the tires of the minibus. I trudged towards the driver who was clearing clumps of snow from the tires of the minibus.
“Do you think this would work?” I shouted trying to be loud enough for him to hear me over the bellowing sound of the snowy wind.
“Do you have a better plan?” he asked.
I shook my head; arms in akimbo, I scanned the environment. Three guys climbed out of the minibus and trudged to where I was.
“Ashley was right, man. This is indeed a dead end; we are stuck,” one of the guys said.
“What do we do?” the other asked.
“I have no idea,” I replied curtly and turned to the driver who was still busy with the tires—he was on the right front one now. “Dude said that would make wor—”
My eyes caught a glim of light farther down; it was a house and whatever assistance we need right now, I think we would get them there.
“Guys, lights,” I pointed.
I set off towards the house before he could finish what he wanted to say.
“Kid, be careful,” the driver said to me.
Halfway to the walk into the woods towards the house with the splendor of lights, I stepped on a glacier ground. I took a glance on the ground, and it dawned on me that I was standing in the middle of a lake and the only thing saving me from being drowned was that the lake was frozen shut.
I could see the house a few yards from me now, and if not for the billowing wind, they could hear me if I bellowed.
“Chris!” I heard my name being called by my friends back at the minibus. “C’mon Chris, we have to go now, the road has been cleared!”
“Oh, nice,” I whispered to myself and turned back to meet them.
Just then, as I made the first hastened few steps towards them, I heard a cracking sound. The frozen lake was breaking due to the effect of my weight on it and my hastened strides.
“No!” I exclaimed when I saw the ice breaking fast before me. “I can’t fucking drown!”
I trotted towards the end of the lake, dodging the breaking ice as they broke under my feet, my heart racing faster than my feet. I was a few steps to the bank of the lake when I twisted my ankle was about to be drowned in the lake before a hand caught me; it was the driver. He pulled me up from the freezing lake, and a gave me a stern stare.
“Thank you,” I managed to utter.
“Thank your stars,” he said sternly and strode to the minibus while I followed.
I got in and sat by the window as the minibus accelerated while I stared at the house. I saw a figure of a man with a hat over his head standing by the window. My eyes blinked once, and then the light went off and never came on.