At 3 am, a ton of party people, my friends and I returned home from a like, totally sick Drum ‘n Bass party in Newtown, Joburg.
It was a wonderful evening, with a final course of jokes, pop-culture references (I was called a hunky Harry Potter) and we listened to so much D ‘n B that all the ambient noise had rhythm.
Slowly the bus seemed to drift slightly to the right, someone yelled “Woah!” when the windscreen faced the right road barrier and a violent counter steer made the bus lose traction on the road. We aquaplaned in a semicircle and veered to the left barrier.
It felt like it happened in slow-motion as my internal danger gauge went slowly from an avacado green “meh” to a red “Oh dear God”. I stuck out my arms and legs like a starfish, thinking what a major design flaw it was that buses didn’t come with seat belts. I braced for impact, hoping that hollywood once again exaggerated the spectacle of auto mobile crashes.
Yeah, no dice. It was hellish. We struck the barricade, the lights went out, gravity seemed to become oddly nomadic as glass rained from all angles and people floated in a swirling vortex of “this fucking sucks”. My brain went to limbo, while my endocrine system probably played violins a la Titanic and clinked glasses to the year end party that was my life. The CG was pretty good too.
We stopped, I was was still standing, rationalising my excellent posture to the cartwheel-esque formation that I adopted prior to impact. I screamed for my sister, Calene and her boyfriend, J.P, who originally sat next to me, who called “Okay” from below the bussy bowels. We were ex-seated in front, a seat or so separating us from the front-front, with the bus now lying on its left side.
I turned my head and looked back to check if everybody else was okay. Not so much. I could hardly see anyone, except my friend Mea who was threaded between the seats. She seamed okay, but my other friend Nena was AWOL. I roared her name, thinking that if I yelled loudly enough I’d get an answer. Nada.
I screamed for anybody that needed help, the back of the bus returned with an echo “We need help.”
I ran the length of the bus, found a lady with what I later found out to be her boyfriend. Her legs were pushed through the broken back window, with the weight of a bus lying on them. Her boyfriend was hysterical, and as far as I can remember, she was consoling him. I tried to free her by trying to lift the bus by the window’s frame, but as I have yet to be blasted with gamma rays I failed, like an idiot. I grabbed her hand, rambled off a few potential lies akin to “It’ll be okay, I promise”, and shoved her boyfriend’s hand into hers. I dashed off to find Nena and in the corridor I met guy with plugs, a shaven head and a headwound radiating blood down his face. He was staring glassy-eyed into the distance. He wasn’t moving. My brain lovingly cut me off before any conclusions and I tubed through a broken window into a ditch. I saw Nena stumbling towards me about 15 meters away while wearing the current headwound chic. I ran headlong toward her, grabbed her, took her to my sister and guy, who were already making base next to the bus. As I got there Jean-Pierre’s eyes rolled back into his head, despite my sister’s “Nee babe”, and he gave the ground a hug.
I returned to ditch and hoisted Mea out of it. Her leg was pretty messed up and she couldn’t walk. I carried her to my sister too.
I took of my shirt and pressed it against the cut that sourced Nena’s new found-fashion sense. And God, did I hold her.
It started to rain, and there was a general consensus that shock, injury and hypothermia weren’t the greatest cocktail at this particular after-party. We walked to a nearby bridge.
Everybody huddled together and I ran back to the scene to see if I could help and possibly get blankets from the quickly arriving paramedics. All the while shirtless. What a fucked up time to try and look sexy.
I helped a lady yank a stretcher out of an ambulance, jumped a ditch and got to a girl who I think had crushed ribs.
The men tried to lift the bus of off the lady’s legs, but buses have that particular kind of inertia where it wanted to stay where it was a lot. Eventually, I think they took a blowtorch to the wreck, but I didn’t stick around to see the result.
I found a lady who was looking for her son, took her daughter by the hand and led them to the bridge where mostly everyone who could move, had already moved to.
My phone’s was K.O and asked her if I could phone my Dad, and then subsequently direct the parental to the scene.
I waited with my posse under the bridge, trying to warm and comfort and light cigarettes to calm nerves while our parents were en route.
Okay, here’s the mothereffing lesson.
When you’re in a swirling metal deathcage (who thought that it was smart to design a really heavy metal thing to turn into a Saw 87-esque hall of sharp of objects when it hits something, why can’t they use taught cling wrap or something for windows?) all your problems get their volume turned down.
All that bullshit you think is important just isn’t. Petty squabbles clear up like sinus after a kilogram of wasabi.
Never hold grudges, love your friends, even if they don’t love you, and tell that someone that you love them before you need the near-death experience wake-up call. I didn’t plan my Sunday like this, and neither will you.