How about another school bus name tag?
All calm now, the kidoodles floated about, talking quietly to each other about what they’d just been through, and they took the opportunity to look around outside – at space, at the moon, and at the Earth.
At the same time, Clive the driver leaned forward. He seemed to talk to the dashboard for a few moments before putting both hands on the wheel. He held on while the bus rolled slowly to the left, and he looked out the window as the earth rose up before them.
“Wow,” said Michael.
“That’s awesome!” agreed Daisy.
“That one’s England,” said Leah, pointing.
“And look over there!” added Pedro, with a giggle. “We’re not alone!”
A space craft of some kind floated by quite quickly. All the little kidoodles got themselves over to the left side of the bus just in time to look out and see four startled space KerDoodles staring back at them.
“Their school bus is a very strange shape,” said Gabby with a giggle, and they all watched as it slid slowly away behind them.
Just then Clive’s radio crackled to life. He picked up the mike and exchanged a few words with the dispatcher.
“Ok kids,” he said, “it’s time to head to school. We’re the last ones to arrive. Now, everybody hold on!”
Connie the bus picked up speed as she rolled further left and pointed herself back toward home. It became quite loud inside, and there was a faint red glow around them as they headed back down to the big blue planet, to their country, their neighbourhood, and their school. The deep, deep black of space turned gradually blue again, then it was a bright, bright blue. Most of the kidoodles covered their eyes when it was at its brightest, but then in only a few moments they were surrounded by a grey-white mist of clouds which made the windows wet. They were pointed at the very same road from which they had taken off.
The ground rose up toward them, but no one was scared. Connie raised her nose to the sky and seemed to be feeling around with her hind end for the ground. All the kidoodles watched their progress out the windows. Then at last there was a bump, a clunk, a bump-a-clunk-a-lunk, and a whine of spinning tires as the bus resumed her regular road-bound duties.
“There’s the school!” hollered Pascal.
“There’s Señora C!” added Daisy as the bus slowed to its regular crawl.
After a minute Connie pulled up to the school and Clive flipped the switch to open the doors.
“Ok kids, have a great day. I hope you learned something this morning.”
“Sure did,” said Juan as he turned to go down the stairs. “I learned to always share my potato.”
Señora C was greeting the kidoodles from the ground as they got off the bus.
“Good morning, children. You’re a little late. Is everything ok?”
“Sure is, Señora,” said Daisy. “We had an adventure!”
“Oh?” she said. “What kind of adventure?” She looked over toward Clive. Clive rolled his eyes.
“Oh, you know…” he said. “Traffic.”
A couple of kidoodles giggled, and went into the school
One by one the kidoodles left the bus. Señora C checked off her clipboard then waved at Clive. He got up and checked all the seats for sleepers – as if anyone could have slept through this morning’s adventure! – then sat down in his seat and sighed.
“You were magnificent, Connie,” he said. “I never tire of that one.”
And Connie, with a delightful harrumph of well-deserved self satisfaction, revved her happy motor before Clive took the wheel and steered them back to the yard.
The bus lurched forward and started soaring again, sweeping left and swooping right. All the little kidoodles did what they could to hold on, but it was difficult.
One by one they reached out their hands to hold on to each other. One by one they held fast and would not let go, and soon all the kidoodles were holding hands, except for little Juan and Pedro, who were still frowningly scowling at each other.
“Take his hand, Pedro!” hollered Pascal.
“No!” cried the little boy.
“Juan, grab hold!” ordered Alyx, one of the smallest and fiercest of the bus’s passengers.
“I don’t want to!”
“You have to!” they all shouted. “Now!”
But the brothers were so mad at each other that they just wouldn’t – couldn’t – hold hands, even if it put themselves and all their little friends in danger.
Meanwhile, Connie just kept getting more and more upset. She swooped left now, and swept right. She soared up, and dove down. She lurched, heaved, groaned, grumbled, grumped and skidded sweepingly both left and right, high in the big, beautiful black of space, but still the brothers would not take hands.
Suddenly, the front door opened, and Clive flipped the OXYGEN switch on his panel.
“Argh!” cried Pedro. “I’m being sucked toward the door!”
“Hold my hand, Pedro! Quick!” cried Pascal.
He was indeed being sucked away from the group and toward the front door. He tried to grab each seat as he passed, but he couldn’t get a grip, and in only moments he was passing his brother, looking into his eyes as the vacuum of space was starting to take hold.
‘Help me!” he hollered. “Please!”
Juan held firm to the nearest seat. He looked at Pedro. He was still mad at him, but with that look in the eyes something triggered inside him, and he realized that even though he was angry he actually kind of liked having a brother. In a flash he recalled all the times they’d just sat and talked, finished each others’ sentences and laughed about it. Then he remembered all the times that Pedro had stood up for him in the playground, or steadied him while they were riding their bikes, and from there it was the work of only a moment for him to decide that yes, he needed to do something to save his little brother.
“I’m not your little brother!” cried Pedro, who, it would seem, had somehow heard his brother’s thoughts.
“Yes, you are, I was born ten minutes before you, so…”
“Okay, okay, fine. But help me!”
Just then Pedro’s grip on the last seat loosened.
“Help me, please!” he hollered. He was scared now, and the wide-open door was looking really, really big.
Just as Pedro slipped toward the door, Juan sprang into action. He dove headlong toward the first row of seats, past the bus driver’s outstretched hand, and grabbed hold of the handrail. Then he lunged toward his brother and reached out. The force of the vacuum of space tried to take them both, but he held tight to the hand rail and would not let his brother go. He would never again let his brother go.
“Auggghh!” cried Pedro. He was scared – very scared – but he felt okay now because he had his brother’s hand in his and somehow he knew he was going to be alright. As mad as his brother had made him, he knew he could rely on him, no matter what.
Just then, Juan felt other hands behind him. Daisy was holding him from behind, wrapping her arms around his waist so he could let go of the hand rail and use both of his hands to grab hold of Pedro. Somehow he knew that his friends had gathered behind him and were keeping him safe, so he held fast to Pedro and slowly dragged his brother back into the bus.
They slipped back inside, and just as they cleared the doorway, the doors magically snapped shut and the tired little kidoodles floated back up inside.
Juan and Pedro hugged each other and cried.
“I’m sorry, Pedro, I shouldn’t have been so mean.”
“Well, I’m sorrier,” blubbed Pedro. “You can put your foot wherever you like.”
“And you can have my potato any time!”
All their little kidoodle friends were smiling at this wonderful development, and as Connie the bus settled back down again and stopped rumbling and grumbling and soaring all over the place, Clive the driver somehow managed to conceal a little smile as he flipped the ADV TIME switch on his panel to OFF.
He looked down toward the earth and took the wheel.
Yup, he thought. It’s time to get these little kidoodles to school.
Meanwhile, back at the school, just as the Sun started rising behind her, Vice Principal Señora C was checking her watch.
All the other kidoodles were already in class, but where was Bus 234?
The kidoodles were all pressed back in their seats as the bus roared skyward. They were looking outside now. Most were scared, but a few looked like they were actually having fun!
“Bus driver, did my mom put you up to this?” hollered Clarissa, holding on to her little teddy bear. She had a wry grin on her face.
“It’s got nothing to do with me, sweetheart!” cried Clive, gripping hard to the motionless steering wheel. “This is all Connie.”
“Why’s she doing this then?” bellowed Michael. He did not sound amused.
“I think, if you look very honestly at yourselves,” said Clive, “you’ll figure out exactly why this is happening.”
“I know,” said Nathan, who seemed to think he knew everything. “Hey, I can see my house!”
“The sky up here is really blue!” cried Jessica, excitedly looking out.
“It sure is,” agreed Gabby. “And it’s getting darker,” and a chorus of kidoodles agreed that they had noticed this too.
“It’s pretty,” said Lexie.
“We’re pretty high,” added little Jace, looking around.
“There’s an airplane!” hollered Sophia, pointing,
All the kidoodles craned their necks up to try to see.
“I don’t see one,” grumped little Marcos, but he was looking up, and Sophia was pointing the other way.
“It’s down there – behind us,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“It’s really getting dark now!” said Ryleigh.
“I’m floating!” yelped Emily!
“Hey, I’m floating too!” cried Leah.
“We’re all floating now!”
As they all started lifting gently off their seats and floating into the air, all their little voices rose up too, and still Connie the magic bus just flew and flew and flew. Way up high, she flew, through and past the earthbound blue, into the wider reach of space – the silent reach of space, for just at that moment Connie’s engine cut out and as all the little kidoodles floated toward the roof of the bus, everything suddenly turned quiet.
“I’ve never been up this high before,” said Anna, in the big, quiet bus. She was upside-down, clinging to her seat with all the strength in her little fingers, the rest of her floating up into the air.
“I don’t think any of us has,” said Pedro, gripping the back of his seat and kneeling down, looking out of the window.”
“Look at the stars!” breathed Anthony. “So beautiful.”
“Look at the Earth!” cried Chelvy, and everyone did, pasting their little faces to the windows to look at the Earth, far below.
“Wow, it’s big,” said Miguel, slack-jawed.
Then everyone went quiet. They stayed quiet for several minutes, in absolute awe of the beauty of this enormous and quiet place. Then their silence was broken:
“Hey! Quit stepping on me,” hollered Pedro.
“Get your stupid foot out of my way!” yelled his twin brother Juan.
“I’ll put my foot wherever I want to!”
And just like that, the glorious majesty, the great serenity of the enormous planet, Earth, was forgotten. It’s funny how such things are pushed aside by life’s little problems.
“Boys, boys, try to get along now,” said Clive. “Have you forgotten where we are?”
“I don’t care! He does this all the time! He’s always putting his big, fat foot where mine is, and taking my stuff, and jumping line for the bathroom, and taking my potato and…”
“I never take your potato – I take my potato. And ask mom – it’s not your stuff, it’s our stuff! Ours! And I don’t care where we are, that will always be the same!”
“Boys, boys, boys…” Clive tried again to interject. Ordinarily, on the ground, he would park the bus for this kind of thing, get out of his seat, and mediate. But here in space, where could he park?
“Sometimes he makes me sooooo mad!” seethed Pedro.
“Well, I don’t like him, and I wish he wasn’t my brother any more!”
There was a brief moment of silence, but then Connie the bus grumbled back to life again. A deep, rumbling roar grew from her belly and in a moment she lurched forward, and was moving again.
“Uh-oh.” said Pascal, turning to try to sit in his seat.
“Now you’ve gone and done it.”
Connie rumbled and she shook, she shook and she rumbled – and oh boy did she rumble! She rumbled low, then lower, then even lower yet – almost as if she was boiling inside! It’s a special time when the bus gets mad.
From the back of the bus Clive heard Michael say “Uh, guys, I think we’d better hold on now.” He’d clearly been through this before.
All the kidoodles grew quiet. Little hands gripped the edges of the seats and nervousness rippled through the group as Connie’s trembling and rumbling grew more and more intense.
“I don’t like this!” whined little Maisie, looking all around her.
“Me neither, nuh-uh,” agreed Rufus, one of the tiniest kidoodles.
“Just hold on,” said Michael – “and hard!”
And he was right, for just at that moment the shaking grew stronger yet, and the bus started to move.
“Hold on!” cried Clive the driver as he gripped the wheel. “This isn’t me, guys, this is Connie, taking charge!”
A sudden surge of moaning and groaning passed amongst the passengers as the front wheels started to lift off the ground.
“What’s happening!?” cried Lucy. “I’m scared!”
“We’re taking off!” hollered Pedro.
“Well, it’s your fault!” replied Juan, his brother.
The front of the bus lurched forward and up, and a high metallic shriek grew from under the hood.
“We’re floating!” hollered Emily.
“We’re moving!” bellowed Leah.
And moving they were. Forward, and up, into the sky, toward the high, thin clouds of early morning. They gathered speed, grew faster and faster, and when the kidoodles finally found the strength to look outside they saw that everything below had gotten so very, very small! The houses, the cars, the people, had all fallen away, and it wasn’t long before they were completely left behind.
And that’s when the kidoodles started to realize what was going on.