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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Flash Fiction Competition 2012



Tour Bus


by John J. White




Consider a tour bus full of senior citizens working its way through a congested Washington D.C. street, but no, the street is actually the North Yungas Road in Bolivia, and there’s no room to spare as the wheels hang perilously over the edge while the occupants rush one side to view the magnificent rainforest below, but no, they scream for the driver to stop the bus and let them out and the bus driver understands English and stops the bus, but no, he knows no English and keeps going, the road narrowing as they ascend the mountain until a police car blocks their progress and flags the bus to a stop, but no, a small truck edges between the bus and the sheer rock wall, forcing the bus and its hapless occupants over the edge and down the embankment, the bus stopping its death slide after a few feet, stuck securely by huge boulders, but no, it topples hundreds of feet to the bottom, gray-haired passengers thrown out broken windows to their death and hours later, rescuers remove the survivors, including Claire and her shih-tzu, Penny, but no, Bolivian agents kidnap the injured Claire and deliver her to the secret police where the interrogator complains to his colonel that he cannot torture an old woman, but no, the man screams for Claire to tell him where it is, the blade of his small knife working its way up her fingernail, yet she refuses to answer and kicks at him, but no, she begs him to stop as the torturer pours gasoline on her beloved Penny and holds a lighter over the beast while Claire crumbles, whimpering, revealing everything, but no, she stands fast, silently watching her dog explode in a conflagration of fur and flesh, and Claire sobs, hours later, blindfolded, bound, and laid across the transmission hump of an old truck or car, she feels weightless as the vehicle falls hundreds of feet down a hill, her body thrown violently against the interior, but no, she slides effortlessly into the bus seat next to a young man who looks like her father had looked when he was that age and fought in the great war.