Shelly was a deer frozen in the path of the bus as it turned the corner. She couldn’t move. Even the loud screams all around her did not seem enough to get her to jump out of the way. Her eyes found Dodd who was close but not moving…is he in shock? Is he too far away to save me? He’s nice looking, she found herself thinking, scolding herself for wasting her last thoughts on some boy who was not only a stranger but also strange. Those damn eyes!
The bus roared toward her. Trying to move, she stumbled, her ankle giving way. The ground was rushing toward her. The bus was about to crush her and throw her broken body a mile. Good-bye Shelly, she thought, closing her eyes before the impact and laughing irrationally inside.
She heard the brakes screaming on the bus. It isn’t real, she thought as she waited for the collision and night. It isn’t real. It isn’t real.
None of it seemed real. The bus was almost here, the shining metal front about to hit her. It isn’t real. It isn’t real. Shelly was unable to move or scream as the bus seemed to be coming for her in deadly slow motion.
She believed she was going to die and there was nothing she could do about it. Her eyes hit on Dodd’s face. Was it real or a vision? Was his face a smile or a grimace of paralyzing fear.
He was wearing his sunglasses and she saw her body falling in the reflection of his silver lenses. Crazy last thought: I want to see his eyes before I die.
Suddenly a strong pair of arms grabbed her from the path of the bus and flung her hard onto the grass.
“My back,” she screamed, “You could have been more gentle.” She wasn’t making sense.
“That was too damn close,” she heard a voice gasp as the bus screamed to a stop a few dozen feet away. “Do you make these things a habit?”
The voice, male, struggling to breathe, seemed weak, as if exhausted from saving her, she thought. There were tears in her eyes and she felt her body stinging from the impact against the grassy earth. “What things,” she murmured, still in a daze.
“Needing me to rescue you.” It sounded like a whisper now, tender, gentle.
Shelly struggled to sit up, but fell back again, looking for her savior, and saw a face through blurry eyes. “You’re real? I didn’t imagine you?”
“Of course I’m real,” Dodd said, gazing down at her with a puzzled look on his face. “You’re alright? How did you do that? How did you get away from the bus?” He looked all around to see if he could find any explanation for her amazing escape from what looked like certain death. “I was too far to help,” he mumbled, wondering why he hadn’t noticed the rescuer before the bus arrived. He’d seen everything else.
“You saved me,” Shelly said, her lips forming into a weak smile as the tears flowed down her cheeks.
Dodd didn’t reply. He was studying the faces in the crowd.
Shelly was slowly coming to. She recalled how surprised she had felt when she hadn’t seen Dodd rush to her aid as the bus careened toward her. He must have been too far…or maybe he didn’t see? But then he miraculously did it. “I thought you were too far,” she said. “Thank you.”
Dodd nodded. His eyes still searching the crowd, his mind trying to understand how she managed to escape what he was sure would be certain death under the wheels of that bus. “You have to be more careful,” he said. “You should rest.
A stocky man in a bus driver’s brown uniform was bending over her. He smelled of perspiration, and his breath in her face was sour. “I’m so sorry! I don’t know what happened? I don’t know.”
Dodd hadn’t anticipated him. What do I do now, he thought, trying to figure out how he should react. “Are you the driver,” Dodd roared. “What the hell is wrong with you? You could have killed her!” He glared furiously, his eyes blazing.
Shelly wondered why he was so angry. She was still dazed, but wished he would stop shouting, wished his eyes would be less sharp and look down at her again. She wanted to see a caring look, not this angry, frightening…yes, frightening…
The driver, a black man with dark eyes that shouted his guilt, could have pulverized Dodd with one hand tied behind his back under normal circumstances, but he was allowing Dodd to shout at him, bully him, as he tried to see if the girl was okay. “I don’t understand it,” he said,
“It was like the bus was aiming for you. I couldn’t control it. I had no control at all. I’m so sorry.”
“Bull,” Dodd spat, wanting to cut off this driver before he convinced Shelly the bus had not been under his control. “You’re the damn driver! What the hell were you doing? Are you drunk?”
The driver shivered under Dodd’s glaring eyes and brutal scolding. “I’m telling you something was steering my bus! I don’t drink! Not for years! I’m telling you the truth. It was like the bus was driving itself straight toward her. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me.”
“Get the hell out of here,” Dodd said in a menacing voice. “It was your fault. How else can you explain it?” He was pulling the driver away. “They should arrest you for what you did.”
The driver shook his head, walking a few steps away as if in a trance. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He turned to Shelly, tears streaming off his face. “I can’t believe it. Are you okay, Miss? Please, tell me you’re okay?”
Shelly felt strange. She felt sorry for him even though he had almost killed her. “I’m…okay. Please, don’t worry about me? I’m okay. ”She tried to lift herself off the grass.
“Stay down,” a voice she recognized said softly. She quickly searched for its source.
Why couldn’t she see who said that? And then she remembered Allen. She searched for anyone else who could have said that, but there was nobody near except Dodd and the he was busy with the driver. It had to be Allen’s voice. Had he pushed her in front of the bus? She had felt someone’s hands shoving her in the path of the bus. Allen? “I want to get up,” she said, but sank back onto the grass, her legs still rubbery.
“Can you walk? Maybe you should wait for an ambulance?” The driver was staring at Dodd with sweat pouring down his face. “Best play it safe. You don’t want to be hurting more. I’m so sorry.”
Dodd stared hard at the driver. “Just get in your damn bus and wait there for the cops.
They’ll know what to do with you.” His voice was stone cold.
“Don’t go on the bus,” Shelly heard that same soft voice warn. “Don’t trust him.”
Shelly shook her head to clear it. A voice was warning her not to trust the driver. Was it him? What was he doing here? “So I should trust you?” Shelly asked, searching for any sign of the ghost.
The driver looked as if he’d been slapped. “I’m sorry Miss. I didn’t mean it. You can
trust me. I ain’t goin’ anywhere. I’ll tell the cops it was my fault. The damn bus wouldn’t stop. It was like a missile aiming for you. I’m so sorry.”
Dodd needed time to think. “Shelly, you look weak. I’ll take you back to your dorm so you can rest.”
“What about the police,” Shelly asked.
Dodd aimed cold eyes at the driver. “They’ll talk to you in your room. You need to get some rest. You, driver, tell the cops her name is Shelly Adams and she’s on the third floor of this building.” Dodd’s eyes were drilling into the driver’s brain.
“I’ll tell them it was my fault,” the driver repeated as if in a trance. He had already forgotten the young girl’s name and what she looked like.
Shelly felt Dodd take her arm and help her to her feet. It felt good to have someone to lean on. She suddenly realized how tall and strong he was, and found herself gazing into his eyes. He’s taking care of me, she thought, letting herself be guided by him, supported by him.
“Don’t trust him,” she heard Allen’s voice warn again. Or was it her brain still recovering from the shock.
“Oh shut up,” Shelly said, tired of the voices without faces, suddenly feeling completely drained from her close call with the bus.
Dodd dropped her arm. “I was only trying to help!”
Shelly pursed her lip. “I didn’t mean you,” she said, wishing she could see her ghost who kept getting her into trouble so she could tell him to get lost. “Dodd, I didn’t mean you.” Believe me, I didn’t mean you, not after you saved me.
Dodd looked confused, but grasped her arm again. She’s weird, he thought, but that was exactly what he had expected when he came to find her. After all, every Ecto in the Parapsychology Department was unusual in their own way. You might say it was a departmental prerequisite.