It takes me several seconds before I figure out what is happening.
We are off of the highway… or any main roads. I see no street signs or landmarks. Not a bus stop. Or even a cow pasture.
Our driver has gone rogue.
I scream at him when the realization hits me.
“Hey! What the hell is this?! Where are we?”
The overweight chauffeur looks at me through the rearview mirror, waving a quick hand. “We’re taking a shortcut that’s not on the map. I’ve been down this way before. Trust me!” he yells across the expanse.
Not like this, you haven’t. This path, if you could even call it that, is a small strip of dirt winding around the base of a rocky, green mountain. We are surrounded by water: above us… below us.
There is a lake that sits directly to our left, nearly twenty feet below. The downpour pelts us with large, sweeping sheets of rain.
What was once, at some junction in time perhaps, a winding slither of dirt is now a sea of mud and rock. And the wheels of our bus hit every jagged edge, every sunken hole. We bobble up and down like a corkscrew.
I glance over at the icy girl to share in this unsettling surprise when it dawns on me that she is still fast asleep, her head tucked safely in the corner where her seat meets the window.
How anyone can sleep amidst this is beyond me, but I think little of it very quickly.
We are in very real trouble.
Our fearless leader seems oblivious to the danger. He heads through the “unbeaten” path at a speed that is too quick, too careless.
The terrain is too rough to take at this velocity, and yet he is plowing ahead with little regard: not for the rain or this impossibly tiny spit of land on which we roll.
We slide a bit on the “road” before regaining traction, and now… I am furious.
I grip the seat in front of me. “Take it easy!”
“I’m taking it easy!” the grease ball retorts. “It’s slick out here, slick! I’m doing my best!”
“Well, try harder!” I bellow, shifting the bag in my seat. I start to take my grey hoodie back off when a violent bump underneath our feet almost knocks me into the aisle. My hold on the seat has saved me, though I thump loudly against the chair in front of me as my bag and I lurch forward.
Icy Eyes is now up, though if you were to judge it by the noises she makes, you would have never guessed it.
Because she makes no noise. She is sitting there tensely, her palms pressed firmly against the back of her own seat and the one in front of her. Her fingers are splayed, white-knuckled against the cushions.
The only alarm that registers from her direction is that which emits from her eyes. They are wide: panicked. Her heart-shaped lips are closed. Her face is stone.
But her eyes? Those eyes. They’re frenzied. Every bit of the emotion that she seems to bottle up is shining right through them. And in a matter of an instant… they’re beaming right towards me.
I’m up and out of my seat almost immediately. God himself couldn’t have stopped me if he tried.