Students steadily file into the waiting bus. It hums gently as we quickly fill up the seats. The winter air seeps through the thick glass as we huddle together. We bathe in each other’s warmth, trying not to die before we even leave the school grounds. We refuse to die before reaching our destination. Our much awaited school trip.
The school trip was a five-day-four-night celebration of winter. Every night, there will be a themed dance. First night is the masquerade ball. My ears buzz with the whispering excitement of hope and rejection. Someone slumps into the seat beside mine. Michael. I welcome him with a smile, ‘Hey, lucky you to have my company for the entire bus ride.’ Michael chuckles, ‘That’s three hours of torture.’
Outside, snow covers the ground. The sky. The glass windows. We are in a cocoon of white. Michael leans his head towards mine, trying to get his voice heard over the chaotic background. ‘Hey, have you found a partner yet?’ I cringe and shake my head, ‘Don’t remind me. I’m pretty much out of options.’ Michael looks around the bus and points to someone in a red jacket, ‘What about that guy?’ I shake my head, ‘I think he has a girl friend.’ Boy wearing green beanie, ‘He stinks of cigarettes.’ Boy with his head behind a book, ‘He reads more than I do, can’t have that.’ Michael laughs, ‘Now, I think you’re just being picky. Okay, what about Paul? I heard that he might have a thing for you?’ I laugh, ‘He has a thing for every girl in school. Anyway, he’s not really my type.’ Michael sighs in defeat, smirking as he wraps his arm around my shoulder, ‘Seems like you’re stuck with me then. Please, don’t step on my feet.’ I let myself smile, ‘I guess I don’t mind having you as a partner but make sure you wear iron boots.’
‘Hey lovebirds, we’re here.’
I wake up to Rachel watching me from the seat in front. I wipe the sweat off my forehead even though my body is freezing. An omen. Somewhere along the three hour drive, I fell asleep. And so did Michael. His warm head is heavy on my shoulder like a thick blanket. I nudge his arm, ‘Michael, wake up. We’re here.’ He straightens up as he realised that we’re the only remaining on the bus. The three of us jump out of the bus in joy, relieving our sleeping limbs. All around us is blinding snow. White reflecting off white. A winter wonderland.
We hurry into the welcoming resort. Rachel and I parted ways with Michael. Our room is on the floor above with the rest of the female student population. We share room 401 with two other girls. Samantha and Wendy. Their bags have been abandoned with their contents scattered across their beds. They must have left to prepare for the masquerade ball. Good. We need privacy. I dump our bags on the floor as Rachel checks outside our window. ‘Looks like a storm is coming. I feel their presence increasing as we came closer to the resort. We might have to perform an exorcism after all.’ I nod in agreement and grab my mobile to call for Andrew and David. ‘It’s better if we lure all the demons into our room and deal with them before they attack people.’