At the start of Friday morning, August 17, Tampa county cheerleaders age 15 -18 were excited to be heading to Florida for a competition but everything went downhill as they entered a winding valley. The bus driver had tried to stop but the freshly fallen snow sent them plummeting down the hill into a clutch of trees and grass below. Twelve girls were hopelessly lost. For the past seven hours, twelve city stickers wondered about being scared and alone. At some point, they circled back around finding the bus once again. Deciding to stay, they weep for the adults. The bus driver died on impact and the coach was unconscious by the bus. The oldest girl Sarah had taken charge. Dishing out instructions trying to bring everyone together and keep them alive as night approached. The fire was their top priority as they had rounded up all the snacks and drinks hidden throughout the bus. Managing a group of hormonal and frightened girls was chaos. Each grabbing, pulling for what they wanted.
“Ladies please we have to make it last!” Sarah began laying everything out everyone could have one chelate bar and a bag of chips and still eat a chocolate bar in the morning. After talking it out the group agreed to the rationing. However, that didn’t stop the bitching of some people. Britney the gossip began saying how she bet Lindsey’s fat ass would eat them all in there sleep. Kitty had promptly slapped her. The two rolled around fighting for a moment before Gabriella and Katie pulled them apart.
“Please just eat your dinner” Sarah grumbled running her temples she was officially the only adult. It had only been two day since her 18th birthday. Yet she still felt responsible for the others. Especially Jamie who was only a child. It was beginning to get dark as they eat in a bitter silence only matches by the cold of the freezing snow below them.
The sun was beginning to set as the twelve girls stared at each other. None were all to close except the Bollinchi twins who were huddled up next to each other.
“They come for us right?” The youngest Jamie asked pulling her jacket tight.
“I hope so” Sarah replied softly.
“Check your phone again, maybe we have a signal” Amanda, a usually peppy brunette said fearfully. Britney, the tallest member in the group, snorted at her. Saissily she spat.
“Yeah right we’re gonna die” Britney said slapping the phone out of Katie’s hand.
“Shut up your such a bitch” Katie said grabbing her phone from the ground. The two began yelling back and forth bickering like children.
“Will you just shut up so we can eat in peace? '' Aaliyah the teams strongest cheerleader, said firmly.
“If we stick together we will get out of here” Britney rolled her eyes receiving a snickers bar to the face.
“Hey!” Britney yelled gettin go ready to attack Katie when she realized it had been thrown by Aaliyah.
“Eat up, I think we’re going to have to walk back to town in the morning” Aaliyah said determined.
“Are you insane Porter!” Britney growled calling Aaliyah by her last name.
“Yes now zip it or go over there by yourself, your toxic attitude is not wanted here” Aaliyah snapped harshly pointing at a fallen log in the distance. Britney bit her lip turning away sulking as she eat her chocolate bar. Mia and Gabriella, the only to Spanish speakers, were hatching there own plan to signal for help. They had taken the flare gun and we're attempting to walk up hill when suddenly Mia screamed tumbling back down the rocket snow covered terrain. A flurry of girls ran to help clamoring about. Gabriella tried to help her up.
“Were getting help she slipped”
“Get her back to the bus” Sarah said shortly checking for a pulse.
“Shes alive just knocked out”
“Im so sorry”
“Its fine, this is a shot situation let's just get her back to the bus” Aaliyah said grabbing Mila’s feet. The group carefully made there way back to the bus with the help if the flashlight and their show prints in the snow. Sarah made a spot for Mia on the bus and bundled her uptight. The other ten waited out in the snow.
After the chaos that was Gabriella and Mila’s idea, they set down in the dead of night and ate the last bits of food. Everyone was too tired to fight or bicker.
“This is like a sleepover, dinner party I’ve always wanted one” Jamie admitted softly leaning on Kitty. The twelve strangers had bonded in the six hours they had been lost. The makeshift dinner serving as a neutral commonality. Britney even started coming around making a joke about Lindsey.
“Dollface don't worry I'm sure a helicopter is on its way” Lindsey smiled.
“I bet it is, ” she said a cold shiver running down her spine.
“When we get home we’ll have a real party with little cakes and fancy warm teas” Lindsey, the resident applied rich girl said, wrapping her arm around Jamie who beamed childishly. The young one clung to Lindsey and Sarah who were seated on both sides of her.
“I have some nail polish if you guys want to pass some time” Jamie offered to jump to her feet and climbing back on the bus. The time passes slowly before the decision to sleep. The twelve girls tried sleeping in the bus but the metal contraption sucked away all the heat. At what one would assume was midnight they huddled back around the pile in a pack and drifted off to sleep as a fresh blanket of snow began to fall. Dropping the girls to a critically cold level.
The cold of the night wiped out the fire, in the morning only Jamie woke buried under her cold friends. Gently shook them, not one awoke. Mortified she shook them harder a low groan came from Kitty who struggled to wake up her face frozen and lips blue. Jamie tried one last time to wake up the others before managing to pull Kitty to her feet. Following the girl's plan from the night before she heads up the state hill back to the main road. It was quite the fight getting to the top. Once they were there Jamie set the limp Kitty on the ground to catch her breath before she began The long daunting journey down the winding road back to town. Limping the whole way she prayed, the chocolate bar and chips from dinner would be enough to sustain her through the cold snowy walk back home. With each step, she pushed on harder remembering the coach's words.
“If you're not sweating then your not working hard enough” With an inhuman drive she forced her feet forward the town coming into view as she collapsed with Kitty into the snow. Thirsty she chewed on the snow. The sound of tires skidding to a stop was the last thing Jamie saw before being airlifted to the nearest hospital. Both girls survived and remain thicker than thieves. They also both remember the sacrifice made by the other men who held them tight keeping them alive through the worst night of their life.