An Excerpt from The 25th Hour (Book One in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):
Tucker Bryant darted to the rear of this bus and tugged on the lever. He grunted. “It’s wedged in there tight. I can’t move it.”
Vanessa Carlyle screamed. The red crossing gate lights flashed and the warning bell had sounded, signaling the approach of a train. The red and white striped wooden crossing gate swooped down, smashing onto the front of the school bus, before breaking off. “I see the train!” Vanessa cried. “It’s coming right toward us.”
The train’s shrill whistle pierced their ears each time it sounded.
Mackenzie gazed out the window. “It’s half a mile away. He won’t be able to stop in time. That’s why he keeps blowing the whistle. He wants us off the track.”
Tucker grunted, as he pulled the lever. “This won’t budge. Even if we could get it open, there’s no way we’re getting seventy kids off this bus in a few minutes.”
“Break the windows,” Marlene suggested.
“With what?” Tucker asked.
“We can’t squeeze through the windows,” a girl in the row in front of Marlene said. “Besides, the broken glass would slice us up.”
The train whistle blew three more times, momentarily drowning out the ringing crossing gate alarm.
Mackenzie turned to Marlene. “There’s only one thing left.”
“You can’t,” Marlene said. “Your hour’s up.”
Mackenzie gritted his teeth. “I can bypass the safeguard.”
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Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!