The lake shore had vanished and even the lights from the few houses had faded away. Clouds had covered the stars and the night was pitch black. From beneath the bus came the ominous sound of cracking ice and Arwin slammed on the brakes. The bus started to spin, faster and faster and faster, until Arwin blacked out.
Arwin opened her eyes. It could be worse. Not black and icy, no flames or demons, . In fact it looked quite pretty out of the window, and the tropical fish seemed happy enough. FISH! She was underwater and she wasn't in Manitoba any more, unless there had been serious and rapid global warming. The water lapping round her feet was quite warm. WATER! The bus was sinking!
“HELP!”, Arwin yelled. There was a quiet electronic bleep and Pepper Minstix the elf stood beside her. “I'm PM, your holo-cabin-crew, how can I help?” the slightly fuzzy edged, partially transparent, elf smiled at her. Arwin thought for a second, “Can you stop us sinking?” The hologram looked up thoughtfully and replied “Certainly. If you restart the engine the bilge pumps will cut in and I will go and check for open windows and other leaks.” Arwin doubted that the engine would start underwater, but there was nothing to loose. Much to her surprise the engine started first time and the water around her feet started to gurgle away. Arwin put the bus in gear and it responded to the steering wheel. Soon she was nearing the surface of the waves and PM returned to stand beside her. “All hatches secure captain leaks plugged with barf bags.”
As Arwin turned the bus she could see a large green shape and a yellow stripe on the sea bed below her. She rubbed her eyes in disbelief. An Emerald City and a yellow brick road, she certainly was not in Manitoba any more. In the distance she could see land rising above the waves and steered the bus in that direction. Soon the bus broke the surface and rolled up onto a sandy beach. Glad to be on dry land she opened the door and stepped out into the sunshine and the sound of birdsong.
Arwin turned to PM who was standing in the bus doorway and asked. “Are you going to come and join me?” PM looked doubtful, “I've never been outside the bus. I don't think my projector will work.”. Arwin thought for a moment and replied, “If this place is where I think it is then scarecrows can walk and talk so I don't see why you should be stuck in the bus. Just take another two steps and feel the sand between your toes.”
After kicking off her turned up toe elf slippers,very gingerly, PM took first one step and then even more slowly touched a toe to the sandy beach and giggled. “The sand tickles.” Once totally outside PM started to run around like a little child, up and down the beach and even paddling in the water. “This is bliss.”, she said, “You can't imagine how much I've wanted to really see and feel what was outside the bus.” Arwin joined her in paddling in the waves and they walked along the beach exploring. As they neared the end of the bay PM gave a tiny yelp, “Ouch! What was that? I stubbed my toe.” Arwin looked down and saw a yellow brick poking through the sand. Then she spotted another and another further up the beach towards the trees. As they followed the trail of bricks they became more numerous and eventually through the undergrowth they could see an overgrown yellow brick road leading up a valley. Despite herself Arwin found she was humming a refrain from the Wizard of Oz, Follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road......