Shadows of Tomorrow
A Samuel Light Junior Story
By John Pirillo
He kicked up his heels. Literally. School was out. No more crazy days trying to get homework done while fending off earthbound spirits, no more students trying to copy his homework, no more teachers grousing about how horrible they have it. Not that they didn't. He just thought they ought to get together and actually do something about it, instead of always complaining.
"Today's the day I have fun, fun, fun." Sammie told himself as he stepped into Bus 101, the bus he always took home.
"Howdy, Samuel." Mister Faraday told him. He was the bus driver. He had a green aura that bobbed around when he laughed, but lately his aura had sprouted a large dark area around his heart. Samuel wasn't quite sure how to relate to that. Usually, a dark aura meant the person was being negative, or mean, or both. But when it was just a tiny area. He'd have to talk to his mother about it when he got home. She was up to that kind of stuff. He was still learning.
"Hey Mister Faraday! How's life treating you?"
"It's great to be alive." He answered, his smile somewhat fading, but then he perked up. "But actually, it's just great. Get seated, Samuel, I'm closing the door and leaving."
"Gotcha!" Samuel said, climbing into the seat next to raven-haired Wendy. He called her Wendy, but her real name was Petunia, which she hated, so he called her Wendy after the witch that Casper befriended. She liked that. It made her feel special.
"Sam." She greeted, not looking up from the phone in her lap, on which she was flicking through a series of WebPages.
"What's cool?" He asked.
"Getting home." She answered a bit too shortly.
That sent off an alarm bell. Her father must be drinking again. No wonder she was riding the bus.
"Alive." She finished.
"I'm sorry." He told her.
She looked up, startled by his words. "What do you mean?"
Her eyes began to water. "Bug off, Sam; you're starting to get on my nerves."
He took the hint and slid over to the other side of the bus. It was an empty seat. He wasn't afraid of her; he just respected her desire to be private. Before he had slid over, he had touched her binder and felt a shiver of information stream from it up his arm and into his brain. It took only a couple moments to decipher it.
She was in a heap of deep doo doo.
He kept his eyes on her, not sure exactly how to help her. You see, Samuel's problem is that he doesn't like to see anyone sad or hurt. It's something he picked up from his Mom, who was always helping the luckless, the unloved and the unwanted. She worked as a volunteer at the local hospital and went to Old Age homes to read stories to the elders there who couldn't get about, and to comfort the ones who were sad. This pretty much fitted the description of every one of them. Alone and feeling abandoned by their loved ones and betrayed by life and the God they had believed in.
He knew most of it was surface and they didn't really feel that way, but sometimes their loneliness over rode their heart and good sense. That's where his Mom came in. She told them about what death was really about. A transition. That's all. Just like stepping from one car into another. Many of them laughed when she said that, and he smiled at the thought of that. Some grew angry, saying it was blasphemous, they were going to hell and she was leading the way. But most of them felt comforted by her words, less fearful.
"I'm sorry." Wendy said to him from across the bus.
He looked over.
"No problem. Wanta talk?"
"No!" She growled and looked away again.
She looked up and scowled at him. "Why are you laughing at me?"
"I'm not laughing at you; I was just thinking how silly we human beings are."
"Well, you for one, Samuel Light Junior, are one of the most silly of them all. You're..."
Her next words were lost because Mister Faraday slumped over in his seat, gasping in pain and the bus swerved hard to the left. The kids up front saw and screamed. Samuel looked over and saw what was happening. The bus was about to slam off the road and it was a good forty feet down from there.
He dove off his chair and dashed to the seat where Mister Faraday sat and grabbed the wheel. The bus stabilized, but Mister Faraday's foot was still on the gas.
The kids grew more panicked when they saw what Samuel was doing and screamed even louder, making it harder for him to concentrate. Finally, he was able to see Al beside him.
"Steer right gently." Al said.
The bus rounded a curve gently, but still a bit fast.
"Samuel, you'll need to hit the brakes next."
"But he's in the way."
"I know." Al said, his white hair flopping into his eyes as he spoke. "But I know you can do it. Use your imagination!"
Samuel was about to complain about doing it when he saw why he would have to brake. The lights ahead turned to red and railroad guards began descending as a huge train began rolling up. "Holy!" Samuel started to say.
The kids around him screamed even louder yet, guaranteeing that Samuel would lose his hearing for the next two days.
"Now, Samuel!" Al shouted.
Samuel reacted like a frightened puppy, but instead of running away, he threw himself on Mister Faraday's lap and slammed both feet on the brake.
The bus swerved right and left as he tried to hang on and steer at the same time while pressing the brakes. Mister Faraday was crying out in pain behind him.
The railroad guards neared rapidly. They were ten feet away, then six, then one, then...
Amidst the chaos of screams and brakes that sounded like they were going to explode and streams of fire and smoke hurtling up from the overheated brake hubs, the bus came to a stop, its nose barely touching the train railroad guard.
Samuel flicked off the engine, and then got off Mister Faraday.
Not a voice anywhere in the bus.
Then he turned around. The kids were all looking at him, as if seeing him for the first time. He raised his hands. "I'm going to open the doors. I want all of you off the bus immediately."
He opened the doors. Everyone flew past him at the front and debarked from the bus.
Samuel leaned over Mister Faraday. The black spot had grown over his heart. Samuel felt Al looking at him, but didn't pay him any further attention, but instead pressed his right hand over Mister Faraday's heart.
He could feel the warmth building there, and then a green light of a soft lambent nature began spilling out from between his fingers and into Mister Faraday's chest. As green light intensified Mister Faraday's eyes flickered open. He looked into Samuel's face and smiled. "You always were a good boy."
Then he sighed and stiffened.
His eyes didn't blink. They remained open.
Samuel was frozen in that moment when a grown man's hand touched his shoulder. "Son, better let me get to him."
Samuel backed away and a tall policeman with a warm face and a thick mustache leaned over Mister Faraday and felt his pulse. He then put his keys near the man's nostrils and looked their surface. A fellow policeman looked in.
The tall policeman shook his head at him.
Samuel forgot most of what happened next, because it didn't really matter. He had tried to save Mister Faraday, but it didn't happen. He had died.
Samuel sat on his bed late that night, his Mom seated next to him, her arms around him, holding him as he cried. "I loved that man, Mom. He was so funny and so kind. Why did God take him away like that?"
She kissed his hair and brushed it lightly, trying to soothe him. "God has a plan and it doesn't always fit our pictures."
"I don't think I like that plan."
His Mom started to laugh, and then she stifled it and held him closer. "You will, Samuel. You will. You just need some years to absorb everything you're learning now."
Samuel wiped at his eyes and leaned back into her more. As he did so, he saw Al standing before the foot of his bed, smiling.
"You did well, Samuel."
"No you didn't." Al and his Mom said at the same time.
"I couldn't save him. What's the point of my having so much power if I can't save someone when they need it?"
His Mom held him tighter.
Al spoke. "You can't save everyone, Samuel. Remember that!"
Al faded away, still smiling, but his eyes filled with warmth and kindness.
Samuel hugged his Mom and she held him tight. He had a lot of growing up to do yet. A lot!
The next morning he got on the bus and Wendy was there too. He looked at the new bus driver and began to shake a little inside. He felt a hand touch him lightly. It was Wendy. "Sit with me, Sam."
She took one of his hands and squeezed it. "I'm sorry I was so mean to you."
She put a finger to his lips to shut him up. "Shut up and let me apologize."
He laughed so hard; she had to take her finger away so he didn't accidentally bite it.
And even though yesterday had been terrible in some ways, this morning was a new day and right then that moment, he was having fun sitting next to Wendy, who began telling him everything that had been bothering her. And in those moments they were as close as any souls could ever be or want to be.