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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The day the bus caught on fire

Monday started off as any other normal Monday. Sleepy, cold, a thousand reasons not to go to work. As usual I reluctantly pushed those reasons aside, and dragged myself out of the snuggly warmth of bed.

The day went on, also as any other normal Monday. Every man and their dog wanting something done by yesterday, a looming deadline, and masses of weekend trademe to catch up on. Ooh, national headlines - they finally caught Jin the Otter! Hooray!! Italy won the cup! Hooray!! - and slowly the day continued, until 4.15pm, time to leave.
I catch the 4.40pm 243 - New Lynn (via Sandringham and Owairaka) Express bus, which usually gets me home by 5.15/5.30 ish, and as per any other normal Monday, I got on this bus without a hitch.

As it was a day like any other normal Monday, I pulled out my book (As you can see by the image in my sidebar, I'm currently reading Jane Austen's "Emma"), but as per any other normal Monday, this bus driver was a violent one, flinging us around corners and slamming on brakes to pick up poor, unsuspecting souls at each stop. This was not to be an "Emma" reading day. Instead I just try my hardest to stay awake, which is hard given the abnormal amount of Carbon Monoxide I appear to be inhaling... Dodgy window seals I bet. Inhaling Exhaust fumes from outside...

Wait a minute - the buses engine, and thus exhaust, is in the back.

What's that? The back seat's smouldering?

*cough cough* Hmm, something's not right. Better move to the front.

And so the bus came to a grinding halt at the next stop, and everyone was ordered off. Just as well too, I was getting sick of everyone driving past waving frantically at us. Did ya think we didn't notice? Did ya see how the inside was full of smoke? Yeah, did ya think we hadn't seen that? Or perhaps we might have been having a party inside the bus, and let the smoke machine go a bit wild.

Anyway, the fire wasn't so much a fire, but all the smoke pouring out from the back, and the fact that the busdriver burnt his hand opening the hatch, indicated that perhaps it wasn't long until there was a fire, and we assume this with good reason, shown at these articles about previous bus fires here, and here. By my count this will be the 5th bus fire in Auckland in 13 months.

Anyway, here's part two of the wonderful story that I found on Addie's blog. Enjoy!

Full dark comes before he knows it. He must have dozed off. He stands back
up and turns all the way around. He sees nothing but stars.

He wakes up the next morning feeling absolutely lousy. His eyes are gummy
and his mouth and nose feel like they’re full of sand. He so thirsty that he
can’t even swallow. He barely got any sleep because it was so cold. He’d
forgotten how cold it got at night in the desert and hadn’t noticed it the
night before because he’d been in his car.

He knows the Rule of Threes - three minutes without air, three days without
water, three weeks without food - then you die. Some people can make it a
little longer, in the best situations. But the desert heat and having to
walk and sweat isn’t the best situation to be without water. He figures,
unless he finds water, this is his last day.

He rinses his mouth out with a little of the windshield wiper fluid. He
waits a while after spitting that little bit out, to see if his mouth goes
numb, or he feels dizzy or something. Has his mouth gone numb? Is it just in
his mind? He’s not sure. He’ll go a little farther, and if he still doesn’t
find water, he’ll try drinking some of the fluid.

Then he has to face his next, harder question - which way does he go from
here? Does he keep walking the same way he was yesterday (assuming that he
still knows which way that is), or does he try a new direction? He has no
idea what to do.

Looking at the hills and dunes around him, he thinks he knows the direction
he was heading before. Just going by a feeling, he points himself somewhat
to the left of that, and starts walking.

As he walks, the day starts heating up. The desert, too cold just a couple
of hours before, soon becomes an oven again. He sweats a little at first,
and then stops. He starts getting worried at that - when you stop sweating
he knows that means you’re in trouble - usually right before heat stroke.

He decides that it’s time to try the windshield wiper fluid. He can’t wait
any longer - if he passes out, he’s dead. He stops in the shade of a large
rock, takes the bottle out, opens it, and takes a mouthful. He slowly
swallows it, making it last as long as he can. It feels so good in his dry
and cracked throat that he doesn’t even care about the nasty taste. He takes
another mouthful, and makes it last too. Slowly, he drinks half the bottle.
He figures that since he’s drinking it, he might as well drink enough to
make some difference and keep himself from passing out.

He’s quit worrying about the denaturing of the wiper fluid. If it kills him,
it kills him - if he didn’t drink it, he’d die anyway. Besides, he’s pretty
sure that whatever substance they denature the fluid with is just designed
to make you sick - their way of keeping winos from buying cheap wiper fluid
for the ethanol content. He can handle throwing up, if it comes to that.

He walks. He walks in the hot, dry, windless desert. Sand, rocks, hills,
dunes, the occasional scrawny cactus or dried bush. No sign of water.
Sometimes he’ll see a little movement to one side or the other, but whatever
moved is usually gone before he can focus his eyes on it. Probably birds,
lizards, or mice. Maybe snakes, though they usually move more at night. He’s
careful to stay away from the movements.

After a while, he begins to stagger. He’s not sure if it’s fatigue, heat
stroke finally catching him, or maybe he was wrong and the denaturing of the
wiper fluid was worse than he thought. He tries to steady himself, and keep

After more walking, he comes to a large stretch of sand. This is good! He
knows he passed over a stretch of sand in the SUV - he remembers doing
donuts in it. Or at least he thinks he remembers it - he’s getting woozy
enough and tired enough that he’s not sure what he remembers any more or if
he’s hallucinating. But he thinks he remembers it. So he heads off into it,
trying to get to the other side, hoping that it gets him closer to the town.

He was heading for a town, wasn’t he? He thinks he was. He isn’t sure any
more. He’s not even sure how long he’s been walking any more. Is it still
morning? Or has it moved into afternoon and the sun is going down again? It
must be afternoon - it seems like it’s been too long since he started out.

He walks through the sand....

What will happen tomorrow?? Will he find the town that he's looking for, or will he find his DOOM?