The yellow school bus drew to a halt behind the school in the parking lot reserved for staff. It was empty except for the driver and the teacher assigned to supervise the third-graders on their home delivery route. The driver and the duty teacher, Rebecca Allen, climbed from the vehicle engrossed in their chat about making cupcakes. Becky’s eyes roamed across the almost empty expanse of asphalt in a gesture which had become automatic in the last six years. No internal alarm bells rang; no falter in her step.
“Guess we’re the last ones again, Becky,” remarked the tall woman at her side.
“Yeah, seems at times like those kids conspire to take their time getting on and off the bus.” She chuckled.
“And they don’t get any quicker as they grow up either. All the time in the world. No thoughts this is the end of a long day for us. Still, they ain’t as rowdy as they will be in a few more years. Wait ‘til you get a bunch of fourteen year olds; talk about trying your patience. Each one’s a prima donna! Sheesh!”
Both women laughed.
“Can I give you a lift to the mall? Gotta pick up my kids there.”
“Thanks, Becky, but my Joe is supposed to be here to pick me up. Late as usual, too. He was probably one of these third-graders back in the day.” The driver waved at Rebecca as she headed toward the low-slung building that housed the school. “Just gonna drop off the keys to the bus and wait for that man to get his ass into gear.”
Becky smiled and turned toward her car, parked near the entrance to the parking lot. Being on school bus duty had its advantages; arriving early for the pick-up run, she was sure always to get a great spot to leave her Toyota. As she reached her car, her ingrained training kicked in and she examined every direction in a complete circle centered on her. Only her friend, now disappearing into the school building, could be seen. She inserted her key into the car door and pulled it open.
As she sank back into the driver’s seat, her thoughts strayed to her two daughters and the routine they had adopted since moving here. The daily mall pickup was a good compromise. It gave them something to do when she was late, like today, and it also allowed her to run a little countersurveillance before heading for home. It had been eight and a half years in all, but precautions were going to be necessary for many years to come if not for the rest of her life. However she hoped the bane would not be inherited by her offspring.
Rebecca sighed and leaned forward to insert the key into the ignition switch. She twisted the key and the small engine revved into life. Becky clicked her seat belt into place and selected drive.
As the compact car rolled forward, its offside front wheel lifted from the short sheet of thin wood hidden under an errant piece of crumpled newspaper. The wooden slat held down a tight spring that in turn depressed a lever maintaining two circuit contacts apart. The release of the pressure from the car’s tyre, allowed the circuit to be completed.
Inside the school, the school bus driver was thrown to the floor by the shock wave from the explosion. Shards of glass lanced through the air impaling themselves in her body and in the wall opposite. She survived with a few deep gashes.
Rebecca Allen, not her real name, died engulfed in a ball of flaming hell.