2 - Day One

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Emma pulled her jacket on and slipped quietly out of her hotel room. She stood outside Geri's door, considering whether she should wake Geri or go on alone. She'd never been comfortable on her own and soon found herself tapping lightly on the door until she could hear Geri moving around within the room.

The door was pulled open a crack and Geri peered into the corridor, squinting against the light.

"Em?" Geri croaked sleepily. "What's wrong? Did they find them?"

"No," Emma replied solemnly. "The rain stopped. I want to go out and look for them." Geri nodded and pulled her door open to let Emma into the room.

"Let me change into something warm," said Geri. "We'll call a taxi and go together. What time is it?"

"Almost five," Emma replied. She followed Geri into her room and let the door close behind her. She walked over to the window and gazed into the distance at the rising sun and the dissipating clouds. Geri quickly retrieved a pair of sweatpants and a jumper from her bag before calling for a taxi and getting changed. The two girls walked quietly downstairs and waited in the empty lobby until their taxi arrived.

"Do you think they're ok?" Emma asked, close to tears as she looked over at the TV, situated in the corner of the lobby. There was a reporter on the screen, standing at the side of the road where the bus had crashed. Photos of the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys appeared on the screen as the reporter described the accident and the current situation involving Melanie, Brian, and AJ.

"I hope so, babes," Geri replied. She wrapped her arm around Emma's waist and pulled her close. "Maybe they're all together and keeping each other safe."

A yellow taxi pulled up in front of the hotel and the driver got out to open the back door for the girls. Emma and Geri crawled into the back seat, gave the driver directions, and sat in silence as they watched the passing scenery out their windows.

As they arrived at the scene, police officers immediately approached the taxi to direct the driver away from the accident. As soon as the girls stepped out of the taxi, the officers immediately backed off and let them through the barricade.

"Good morning, ladies," Officer Daniels greeted them as they walked toward him. "How are you holding up?"

"We're not," Geri replied honestly. "We want to go out and look for them."

"Of course," Officer Daniels replied. "Quite a few people have already gone out looking for them. We also have our search and rescue dogs coming in a few hours. If the search party can't find your friends, the dogs will."

"Thank you," said Geri. She squeezed Emma's hand tightly and adjusted her ball cap to block the rising sun, as well as to conceal her identity from the press.

"I'll set you up with the team that's about to head out," Officer Daniels stated. "We've got the woods sectioned out so we aren't missing any possible locations where your friends might have ended up. It's light enough now that it shouldn't be too hard to see."

He led the two girls over to a group of six people that were gathering water bottles, first aid kits, flashlights, and flare guns for their search. A few people in the group seemed to recognize the girls, but avoided saying anything, trying to show the girls some respect.

"All right, your team is going to head this way," Officer Daniels announced, pointing toward a section of the woods between two wooden posts with red tape wrapped around the tops. "Make sure you talk to one another during your search. John is your team leader." Officer Daniels motioned toward the man standing next to him. He smiled and tipped his hat to the group. "We will be communicating regularly with two-way radios. If you see anything, that includes clothing, personal objects, the like, you tell John and he will radio back to us. Keep an eye out for wild animals. Make a lot of noise and you should all be fine. Any questions?"

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