It was another early morning in the winter. Her and the other students waiting for the shuttle were completely enveloped in darkness, despite it only being 06:20. She had her earphones in and so did everyone else. She noticed a regular: a tall pale girl with the wavy long hair. She recognised her from the maths tuition that she had gone for in high school. It must have been pretty good, considering both of them would’ve had to pass the subject to get into this university. The bus eventually came, and as was ritual, she sent her mother a message: “Just got on the bus.” Each day meant four bus trips, and her mom liked to be kept up to speed. Their land wasn’t exactly a haven of safety. She took a seat in the second row, on the right. The early shuttles always had the most space. She could sit in any seat she chose.
The bus took a right turn and continued straight, driving past the petrol garage on the left and a swanky hotel on the right. They were fast approaching an intersection that made her extremely nervous when she had to cross it because of the various directions that cars came from. There were separate lanes as well as robots for the Myciti Buses. This meant that the minute the cars stopped, the buses drove. Great for controlling congestion, bad for helping pedestrians.
Now, though, she breathed a sigh of relief. She was in the shuttle as a commuter, rather than a pedestrian. The zebra crossing she ran across on other days, was the one the shuttle cruised past now. The robot had just turned green when they heard the screeching of the tyres as the bus driver suddenly braked. The inertia flung her forward, as well as the long haired girl sitting in front of her. The girl’s bag had been open, and now her belongings lay sprawled on the floor. Her grade eight natural sciences textbook flashed before her eyes, her Romanian teacher explaining ‘inertia’ to them in her Eastern European accent coupled with a few South African idiosyncrasies. When she looked up, she saw that she was no longer in high school, but staring at a metre taxi that had crashed into the robot opposite them. The white car’s bonnet was now a piece of crinkle paper.
The bus driver turned around: “Is everyone okay?” Everyone looked beside them and murmured in the affirmative. Whoever had been dozing off was now awake. Whoever had been savouring a great album on iTunes had already removed their earphones. Meanwhile, she helped the girl from Maths pick up her stationary on the floor.
“That guy, in the white taxi, he jumped the robot.” A blonde girl sitting on the left said, pointing a shaking finger in the direction of the white car that had collided with the robot. The shuttle driver left them to themselves and went to speak to the driver, who was surprisingly not seriously injured. They could see that the guilty party was not going down without a fight. They could tell from their body language that an argument was going on. The passengers picked up on this, with everyone taking different sides:
“These guys work all night… maybe he fell asleep behind the wheel.” Someone at the back said sympathetically.
“Well… if the shuttle driver didn’t break, we would’ve crushed him.” A guy in a beanie stated, his jaw stiffening.
She pulled herself away from the speculation and began to text as fast as she could: “Just got into an accident. No one was hurt badly, alhamdullilah.” Almost immediately, her phone began to vibrate. It was her mom calling.