nowflakes the size of quarters swirled around Jeanette as she pounded on the door of the bus station. The interior was as dark and silent as the woods surrounding the tiny building. She grew afraid. It was now apparent that the bus station was not going to come to life, no matter how hard she knocked. Typical. What a strange little country. She wanted badly to go home.

Dark Carpathian myths swirled with the snow. She could feel both fangs and eyes on her. The cold began to work through her heavy parka. She sat down and lit a cigarette, grimaced and flung it into the snow. It was very dark and very cold.

In the distance, a set of headlights began to slowly crawl toward her down the mud strip which passed for a road. Was it Bobby returning to retrieve her, a corrupt local official, a rogue Serbian soldier, or the twentieth century incarnation of Vlad Dracul? She was seriously creeped out.

Her imagination continued to spin dark fantasies until Bobby's deep green Land Rover splashed up in front of the deserted depot. The snow was falling harder.

She gratefully jumped into the front seat. The heater blasted toasty air as Randy Newman's Faust roared from the speakers. She loved assignments with Bobby. He was a born adventurer, dragging a little bit of America around the world with him and comfortable wherever he was.

"Now what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" His long gray hair was pulled back into a pony tail which draped over his right shoulder. He was the oldest hippie she'd ever met. And the best news photographer as well.

"Which level of hell was the frozen one? The seventh. Wasn't that the seventh level?"

"I'm not sure actually. I could log onto the net for you-I'll bet Yahoo has a URL for a Dante site..."

"Why don't you log on to the net and look up Balkan bus schedules. I gather you didn't have any luck?"

"No ma'am. Sorry. The burgermeister..."

"That's not what they're called..."

"...was in no way pleased to see me."

"Imagine."

"The buses do not run in such weather."

"Great. What are we gonna do now?"

"Well, let's see. The military refused to accommodate your request, the civilian transport-both rail and bus-is not running, there's at least three feet of snow on the ground and Bosnia's last taxi was destroyed by a mortar shell several months ago. I would suggest you find a nice hotel."

"Look. I have to get to London for Christmas. I missed Leslie's last birthday, the fourth of July and Halloween. I cannot, repeat cannot, miss this Christmas!"

"I don't know what to tell you, kid."

"How much gas do you have in this thing?"

"Almost a full tank."

"Can you get me to Bihac?"

"Over the mountains? Not likely."

"What about Split? Split's a hundred miles or so, right? I could get a steamer from there."

"That's Croatia, you know."

"I know."

A wide grin split his beard. "Luckily for you, my papers are in order, my snow chains have been tightened and I suffer from a child-like inability to resist adventure. So, fasten your seatbelt and get that thermos of coffee out of the glove box."




1995 Hyperbole Studios Inc.