[ Arturo and the Magic School Bus, by D.B. Hughes ]

Lost between dimensions from friends and family alike, Professor Maximilian P. Arturo tumbled through his sliding tunnel like some untethered kite. Can you just imagine what his life was now like? The solitude of Arturo's long journey had taken its toll on the English gent; the rigors of worry for his missing companions leaving the man physically and emotionally spent. Hope in a hopeless situation was what he needed; hope was what he would have. As the sliding tunnel spat him into a new existence, Arturo would stand and stare as he gasped.

Over the meadow and beyond the bush an amazing event was taking place with a whoosh. Yellow in color and flying like a bird, Arturo gazed in disbelief as the school bus landed mocking the laws of gravity as something absurd. Arturo would break his stunned silence as the bus transformed to conventional form with amazing speed, "What wonder. Surely this world has the technology I need!"

With speed unbecoming such a large man, Arturo sprinted to his salvation in that glorified yellow van. Like a child on Christmas morning, Arturo sped for all he was worth; and the occupants of the bus watched entranced as he stumbled and fell with his girth. The children in the bus immediately and uncontrollably burst forth with laughter and mirth. Rolling and rolling like a boulder out of control, Arturo came to rest no more than five feet away from his ego.

"Oh Ho Ho!" a frizzy haired woman burst from the bus with some alarm. "Hey there fellow! Have you come to any harm?" Somewhat embarrassed, but ever armored in pride, Arturo spoke sheepishly while watching the children giggle inside. "Ah yes. Well, I'm fine. I could use your help on another matter, though...if you don't mind." For a moment the woman examined Arturo as if she were sizing him up, and then with a musical burst she exclaimed "You're in luck!"

Tugging and pulling with excited exhilaration, the woman led Arturo back to the child infested yellow transportation. "But madam! You have not yet heard my plea!" Arturo screamed as she entered the bus and began flipping switches like a busy bee. "Ah Ha! But your problem is obvious to the watchful eye." The frizzy haired woman said as she looked below Arturo's tie. There in hand and held with much protection, Arturo's timer lay against the fatty cushion surrounding his digestion. A smile broached Arturo's face; after seeking so long, it would seem his solution may truly be in this wondrous place.

The bus door slammed shut and the woman told Arturo to have a seat; but turning to find his way, Arturo realized quickly that his salvation was bittersweet. There before the seasoned Professor were over a dozen pair of peering eyes; a collection of the brats he had so long despised. Red haired and freckled, blonde and pig tailed, Arturo walked slowly down the aisle like a big game hunter expecting to be assailed. Finally before him, an open seat lay exposed; and Arturo moved to sit cautiously ever mindful that his companion was clearly snot nosed.

Seated and snug, Arturo noticed something in the rear of the bus quite quizzical. There, all alone, was an unconscious boy lying in a bed that belonged in a hospital! Arturo exclaimed without much a thought, "Good Lord! You go on a field trip and this is who you brought?!" The child beside Arturo sat up in a huff, "That's my cousin Timmy. He won't wake up; but that's no reason he can't come along and see stuff." Arturo was taken quite more than aback, "So you are telling me his doctor is some type of quack?! Clearly this child needs at least some type of medical sitter." Flatly the child said, "You got something against coma patients, mister?"

With a roll of his eyes, Arturo realized that avenue of reason was lost; however, his scientific mind could not ignore other questions with which to joust. "So tell me, lad," Arturo started as the other children began to gather, "Exactly what do you do on these field trips other than blather?" With a sparkle in their eyes, the children began to talk, "Oh! We've been shrunk and back in time and even on a space walk!" Arturo was inclined to believe them given what he had already been shown, but his pride also would not allow him to be outdone. "Ah yes," Arturo described while attempting to conceal his ire, "Well, in my travels I've seen zombies and dragons and even vampires!"

Collectively the children began to moan until the red headed boy responded in a disappointed tone. With a shake of his head and a sigh from all the air he could suck, the boy said "Aw mister, now you're just making stuff up." "Like hell I am!" Arturo belted as he begun to stand. The children's eyes widened as they began to ooo, for children see bad in language that would never offend me and you. And just as the children were almost finished responding the only way they can, the little girl with blonde pig tails looked to Arturo, "My research says you're a bad, bad man."

Just then, the bus went dark! Clearly the frizzy haired woman was not doing her part. With a rush and a stammer, Arturo ran to the front of the bus to see what was the matter. To his surprise and even his glee, Arturo was astonished by what he did see. Through some miracle of scientific marvel, this woman had managed to open a red sliding tunnel! Almost in tears, Arturo relayed "My dear lady, I owe you a debt that can not be repaid." Though flattered for certain, these statements left her somewhat confused, "But sir, you haven't even yet seen the reason we were reduced."

Smiling still to thoughts of reunion, Arturo was about to give reassurance when he realized now he too was struck with confusion. Arturo knew he was inside the familiar tunnel only now crimson, but reduction of any kind was not part of the sliding equation. Just at that time, the woman brought the bus to a stop. With a turn of the headlights, she began to point to a part of the tunnel that held a clot. "Ah Ah! Here is the help that you seek! Look at how eating fatty food can make you weak." A dawn of realization crossed Arturo's face as he deduced his true venue, but despite that fact the frizzy haired woman did continue.  [ The Magic School Bus ] "You may think those unhealthy foods are tasty to your chops, but continued abuse of your health can lead to arteries full of clots!" As she smiled blankly at Arturo, he felt a headache coming on that was going to be quite a doozy. With face red, he screamed, "Let me off this instant you frizzy headed floozy!"

The woman still smiled blankly as if devoid of life, so Arturo slammed his fist to the counter accentuating his gripe. The contact of his fist made sirens begin to sound, and with a "Woop woop woop!" the woman was gone. Through a tube in the ceiling her chair did fly; Arturo had pressed the eject button. It was almost enough to make a grown man cry.

Frantically Arturo ran to the controls. The bus was now moving to and fro. The kids gathered round while Arturo tried to retain his cool, but the red haired boy still interjected "This never happened at my old school!" A knob turn here and a flip switch there, Arturo tried to regain control of the bus with both haste and due care; and Arturo had good reason to feel rushed. He believed their current course was carrying them to the heart where they would surely be crushed.

Time grew short as the current began to speed up its pace. Sweat poured from Arturo's brow, but his efforts were not solving the case. Faster and faster the bus plummeted to its doom, the children huddled together as the lack of control began to tilt the room. Little did they know, little could they guess, the back of the bus held the relief for their stress. Still ever present, unwatched and unsung, the restraints on Timmy's bed had come undone. Slowly at first and then ever faster, Timmy slid from his bed with much clatter. Hitting the floor in that coma way, Timmy's weight caused the bus to shift course and Arturo to hit the button for the reduction ray! Shrinking, shrinking to the level of the atom, the bus passed through the body and free of harm.

Bemused and befuddled, Arturo watched with disbelief. As he re-enlarged the bus outdoors, the children had gotten Timmy to his feet. Even though unconscious and still completely unaware, the children cheered Timmy's name for what he did there. The hero of the hour, the saviour of the day; Timmy had proven that even coma victims could help in their own way.

"Bah! This world is mad!" Arturo cried with contempt, "How can you cheer someone for a deed done while they weren't cognizant!" Flinging the bus doors open, Arturo was done; but the children followed behind their faces now glum. "What about Miss Frizzle?" one of the children asked, "It's your fault she's lost and now none of us can pass." Arturo began to speak, but to his surprise, that frizzy haired pest began to float down from the skies. Her ejector seat intact, her smile unchanged, the children began to cheer as she explained. "Ha Ha Ho and Ha Ha He! The flow was never a danger, you see! While the current understandably had force, all you had to do was wait in the kidney for nature to take its course!"

Defeated and beaten, depressed and upset, Arturo flung his hand and huffed at the whole mess. Traveling between dimensions always led to unpleasant surprises; this was but one. But for whatever wonder this world held, Arturo was more than done. With a slouch and a grumble, he did depart; to wait for his slide window and hopefully a new world with some sanity to impart. But the lesson he learned, he would soon not forget. Never run to the unknown unless you want to get your cholesterol checked.

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