Lost World of the Wends (50)
Dan groaned, ‘I think I’m going to barf.’ He cupped his hand over his chin.
‘Sorry, mate, try not to. Look, I have to get out and find help,’ Arthur said. He wished Dan was well enough to accompany him. But for some reason, the so-called space travel had drained Dan’s physical resources more than his own. He studied the rest of the travellers. They’d been stuck in this bus longer than he had and so were weaker from dehydration and lack of food. It was up to him. Arthur kicked the window again. His foot slipped on the glass.
‘What’s this stuff made of?’ Arthur grumbled. ‘Think! Think! What can I use?’ Perhaps Dan had a gun.
He glanced at Dan. His skin appeared pale and beaded with perspiration. ‘Do you have your pistol on you, Dan?’
Dan groped around his hips where his holster would be. He wriggled and squirmed in the midst of the crush. ‘I don’t know.’ He frowned. ‘They might’ve, I mean the aliens might’ve…’ He patted his chest and ran his fingers down the outside of his trouser leg.
Arthur held his breath. Sweat like salty rivulets trickled down his cheek. ‘You mean you think the aliens took it?’
Dan continued to writhe in his confined space like a child in detention.
Arthur turned to the rest of the passengers. ‘Anyone got a gun?’
Twelve heads bobbed left and right. No guns.
‘Any heavy objects?’
Antony Wurst shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He looked guilty possessing two seats while the rest of the passengers crammed in the back few rows three people sharing two seats.
‘Just wait a minute,’ Dan said. ‘I remember, now. I hid it from the cockroach man.’
‘The alien that looked like an over-sized cockroach—up there,’ Dan said. ‘I hid it from him.’
Dan squinted as he scanned the bus. ‘I think, I was sitting where the rather large man is, now. I pushed it in between the cushions in the middle.’
‘Hey, Fat Tony,’ Arthur yelled, ‘Can you feel anything in the crack?’
Antony Wurst ignored Arthur.
‘I mean, Mister Wurst, can you put your hand down the crack—’ Fleischer said.
Wurst bent over, the top of his track pants slipped half-way down his backside.
Adam snorted again and then held his mouth trying to control his laughter.
Arthur glared at his son, and then asked Wurst, ‘Is there anything like a gun in the crack of your seat?’
Adam bent over. His shoulder blades jiggled as he muffled his mirth.
The dozen Germans narrowed their eyes.
‘I’m sorry,’ Arthur said, ‘It must be that my son’s heat-affected.’
Meanwhile, Antony Wurst pushed his hand into the split between the seats. ‘Ah, sometink.’ He pulled his hand out and attached to it was a standard issue police revolver. ‘Is this it?’
‘Yes!’ Arthur reached over and grabbed the gun.
Fleischer turned the revolver over in his hands. ‘Is it okay Dan, if I use this?’
‘As long as you aim at the window and not us,’ Dan replied.
Arthur knew Dan, despite feeling the effects of post-traumatic space sickness combined with heat-stress, was managing to display a sense of humour. ‘Of course,’ he said. ‘Right, everyone down. Cover your heads with whatever you can to protect yourselves. This could be messy.’
Arthur cocked the revolver and aimed at the window. ‘I hope it will be messy…for the window.’
Gulping, Arthur pressed the trigger.
Dan raised his head. ‘Did it work?’
‘I don’t know.’ Arthur gazed at his reflection in the glass. His reflection was marred by a bullet frozen in the middle of his image. No mosaic of cracks. No shattering.
‘Hit it, see what happens,’ Jakob said.
‘We’ll see.’ Arthur braced as he stabbed the pane with his elbow.
Nothing, but a sore elbow resulted.
‘What have they done to this glass?’ Arthur rubbed his elbow.
‘I guess they made it space-worthy,’ Wurst contributed more Euros worth of wisdom.
‘I guess they did, Fat Tony,’ Arthur said. ‘I guess they did.’
‘I vas just saying…’
Fleischer examined the glass or whatever silicon-based compound it was. ‘Now how are we going to get out?’
A woman with auburn hair wailed and then collapsed. The men around her fanned her face with sheets of newspaper.
‘Schnell! Wasser!’ a balding man, probably her partner, cradling her called.
A middle-aged man with a bulbous nose passed a flask.
The balding man tipped the flask over her lips. ‘Nein! Nein!’
‘It’s all gone,’ Jakob translated for the Australians benefit. He looked at Arthur. ‘You better find a way out or we’re all going to die.’
‘But how?’ Arthur scratched the top of his scalp. ‘You’d think if they made the bus space-proof, they would’ve made it heat-proof.’
The woman began to fit. Her legs vibrated, and her arms thrashed. ‘Is there nothing you can do?’ her partner asked. He and the big-nosed man held her. Carol picked up a terry-towelling hat and fanned the poor woman’s head.
‘Get down!’ Arthur said. He then punctured the pane with five more bullets.
And still the glass-like substance did not shatter or break.
Arthur locked the weapon and handed it to Dan. ‘Useless,’ he said. He stared at the scuffed floor. Perhaps we’re all going to die. I feel so useless.
‘Dad?’ Adam’s almost-broken voice pierced his father’s sense of doom.
‘Have you tried unlocking the window?’
‘Unlocking? What do you mean?’
‘There’s a rubbery thing at the bottom of the window,’ Adam said. ‘Perhaps you have to lift that to unlock it.’
‘What rubbery thing?’
Adam sighed. ‘Dad! Sometimes you are so dense.’
Before Arthur had the mental space to respond, Adam had scrambled over the baggage and was fiddling with the base of the window pane.
Fleischer peered over his son’s shoulder. ‘What are you doing?’
‘I told you, unlocking the window.’
‘I doubt a space-worthy vessel would have windows that lock and unlock.’
‘Who said it’s space-worthy? It’s just bullet-proof, crack-proof glass. And this lock will open the window.’ Adam tugged at the plastic lever.
‘No, son. Bullet-crack-proof sealed glass shatters. No, this is definitely out-of-this-world technology.’
‘How do you know?’ Adam’s fingers worked over-time trying to lift the lever.
‘I’ve never seen bullets stick in glass like that.’
‘You’ve never shot a bus window before, Dad.’
‘Don’t be smart, son.’ Arthur moved to yank his son out of the way.
‘But Dad, let me just try.’ Adam pressed one side of the lever. There was a click. All the eyes of the people on the bus fixed on Adam as he dragged the window to the side.
‘So that’s how you do it,’ Carol said. She reached over to the rear window opposite, unlatched it and pulled it open. A cool mountain breeze rushed into the cabin.
‘There, Dad, what’s stopping you,’ Adam said.
Carol hugged her husband. ‘Go for it, Arthur, go rescue us.’
All the people on the bus cheered as Arthur climbed out the window.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Land Below Liebig © C.D. Trudinger 1981