This story started here.
“Excuse me,” Kelly said, her voice raised to fill the waiting room. “My name is Kelly Fraser, and I’m in charge of this facility at the moment. I just heard from the home office in New York, and I’m afraid that we’re all going to be here for a while. Because of the storm, it’s not safe for the bus to continue on its route at the present time. Also, the bridge that you would have taken to get back on the interstate has been closed because of high winds.”
“So, what does that mean?” the older man asked.
She spread her hands wide. “We have shelter, we have heat, and we have food and water.”
Billy thought that the electricity might not last — it had flickered in storms which were less intense than this one — but he understood that this was probably not the best time to mention that possibility.
“So, they’re not sending help?” asked the woman in the yellow rain slicker.
“Emergency services are dealing with the real emergencies. We will be fine if we shelter in place. If our situation changes, we can call for assistance.”
At that moment there was a big gust of wind and the glass in a couple of the floor-to-ceiling windows rattled. This may have been a factor in how calmly the passengers took the news.
Billy was to say later, when telling the story, that he half expected that everybody there would introduce themselves at that point, but of course they didn’t. A couple of people went over to the newsstand and took magazines.
After a minute or two, the older man raised his head and looked around. “Somebody should tell the driver,” he said. “That we’re not going on. He should come in here with us, where it’s comfortable.”
Stephanie, the blonde girl, had come out of the office, and Kelly was leaning over to listen to something she was saying, so Billy went to one of the front windows and looked out, shading his eyes with his hand.
“Billy,” Kelly called, “what’s happening out there?”
“The bus is still there. No sign of Cody.”
The woman with the huge purse stood up. “He said he was going to take the bus around back, for gas and maintenance.”
“Well, it’s still right there,” Billy said.
“I’ll check it out,” Stephanie said, and she was out the door.
There was a pause, and then the “rich girl” (in Billy’s assessment) went after her. Her two compatriots followed behind, with perhaps somewhat less enthusiasm.
Kelly caught Billy’s eye and he held back.
“That girl told me that the phone just went dead,” she murmured. “If we get into real trouble, we’re sunk.”
“What about Mr. Randall’s phone?”
She shrugged. “If one line is out, the others probably are, too.”
“Why did they want to talk to her? Does she work for the company?”
“No idea. They said there was somebody there who wanted to talk to her.”
“Well, we should–“
“Go outside and figure out what happened to Cody. Then we can check the phones, and see what the girl has to say. Come on.”
The bus, the only one parked on that side of the station building, was silent and dark, and there was no sign of Stephanie. The “rich girl” was standing in front of the bus, trying to see inside. Her two companions were a bit off to one side, under a No Smoking sign, lighting cigarettes. All three were under the overhang of the building and protected from at least some of the rain.
For some reason, Billy went around to the far side of the bus, and there, obviously getting soaked to the skin, was Stephanie. She was clinging to the side of the bus, peering in one of the windows. Her hands were gripping a lip above the windows, and her feet were supported, at least somewhat, by some decorative grooves in the metal as she tried to see inside.
“What…” Billy started to ask, but she hopped down to the ground and moved quickly around to the other side of the bus.
She looked at the closed door for a moment, apparently trying to figure out how to open it.
Billy stepped around her, grabbed the edge of the door with his fingertips, and pulled it out and open. He was about to step onto the bus, but Stephanie held his forearm for a moment so she could get inside first.
“Nobody come in!” she called.
The bulky body of the driver was crammed awkwardly into the well between the two rows of seats.