1 - The Accident

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Dozens of cars traveled along the dark Oregon highway as torrents of rain poured over them, creating a thick screen of precipitation that made it difficult to see much further than the vehicle ahead of them. The only light came from the multitudes of headlights, temporarily lighting the area around the road. The mountains, cliffs, and thick crops of trees were shrouded in darkness, standing invisible and perilous just out of sight. Cliffs and steep hills along either side of the road made it appear as though the pavement was hovering over an empty abyss, the trees and shrubs scattered through the ditch were the only indication that the road was still connected to the ground.

Three tour buses drove in succession amongst the other vehicles. The occupants inside had finished a performance earlier that evening and were now headed toward the next venue scheduled for their combination world tour.

All of the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls were crowded into the boys' tour bus, too amped from their performances to even attempt to sleep during the journey. The band and the crew were in their own bus and a few were occupying the girls' otherwise empty bus.

Nick, Howie, and Emma were at the back of the bus playing Super Mario Cart on Nick's N64 console; Victoria, Mel B, Kevin, and Geri were sitting at the table playing a game of cards; and Melanie, Brian, and AJ were standing next to the table watching the game.

Dennis, the bus driver, gripped the steering wheel tightly as the fierce wind outside pushed against the vehicle. He kept his eyes on the road, looking back in the rear view mirror every once in a while to check on the group in the back as they burst into fits of laughter and rowdy conversation. The rhythmic back and forth of the windshield wipers kept time with the song on the radio as they removed the droplets of water that obstructed Dennis's view.

"Grab me another one of these, Melanie," Mel shouted over the conversation at the table. She held up her empty bottle to show Melanie what she'd been drinking then shoved Geri, who was trying to peek at her cards. "Oy! You cheeky bitch!"

Melanie turned to the fridge and grabbed a vodka cooler for Mel, handing it to Geri to pass to Mel. "Anyone else?" Melanie asked, holding the refrigerator door open.

"I'll have another beer," replied AJ, crushing his empty can and throwing it in the sink.

Melanie tossed him a beer, waited to see if anyone else wanted a beverage, then closed the door with a water bottle in hand for herself.

"Bullshit!" Victoria shouted as Kevin set his cards in the pile. Kevin rolled his eyes and flipped his cards over for everyone to see before pulling all of the cards from the middle of the table toward him.

"I love this game!" Mel B giggled. "Three aces." She set three cards face down on the table and looked at Geri expectantly. "I'm going to call bullshit before you even get your cards out."

"You've looked at my cards!" Geri snapped irritably.

"You looked at mine!" Mel B exclaimed matter-of-factly.

Dennis looked back at the commotion through the rear view mirror and smiled. As he looked back at the road his smile faded and he quickly veered the bus to the side as an oncoming semi drove into his lane. The semi smashed into the side of the bus with enough force to send everyone flying. Everyone at the table fell to the floor along with the playing cards, cans, bottles, and snack foods. Melanie was thrown back against the door, which shot open and sent her, AJ, and Brian flying outside the bus and down the hill. Emma, Nick, and Howie crashed into one another and tumbled onto the floor as another vehicle collided with the bus from behind and pushed it off of the road. The bus was hit by two more vehicles, sending it reeling in multiple directions. The bus rolled onto its side, sending everyone in the bus flying in a mass of confusion. Multiple oncoming vehicles began swerving and screeching to a halt around the accident.

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