Dad and Eric are visiting the Bad Side Of Town. Or so I assume, because I see some litter. Dad starts coughing, but assures Eric that he's okay. Foreshadowing! Dad raps on a door and a grizzled guy immediately pops up holding a shotgun aimed at them. Dad sighs, "Oh, Oliver, would you stop that. Oliver apologetically lowers the gun, but explains, "We're under attack! By aliens! Don't you know?" Dad genially says that they're aware of that, which is why they want to borrow Oliver's ham radio. Oliver sighs, "For you...fifty cents." Eric sighs, "Oliver," but Dad reaches into his pocket and pulls on a dollar bill. Oliver takes it and says, "Okay. I'll get your change." Heh. Getting the change almost makes up for the small-town wacko thing.
The lights are on dimly as Dale sits slumped over the counter, listening to the message on the answering machine. A woman's voice says, "Hi, Dale, sorry I didn't call sooner, angel, but we decided to stay in the city an extra couple days." In the background, a man tells her to put the phone down and come to bed. The woman laughs and says, "Stop that, it's my kid!" Then she says, "Baby, what are you staring at out the window?" The man tells her to come look at something. She says, "What is that?" There's a low rubble, she gasps, "Oh my God!" as it gets louder and then glass shatters and the message ends. Dale hits play, and the message starts again. He rewinds and listens to the first part over and over.
The Texaco station is crammed with cars. And then all the lights in town go out.
Some fireman discuss the situation. Someone speculates, "The bomb could have fried the relays." Hawkins wanders over and says, "It was probably just a drain on the system from Denver." The fire chief asks, "You a science teacher?" Hawkins grins and introduces himself, and the chief identifies himself as Chief Carroll.
The Sheriff drives along. The cop in his passenger seat watches the dial of the Geiger counter. Another cop calls in and says he hasn't spotted anything.
The kids lead Jake up to the school bus, which I think is in a dry riverbed, but maybe it's just a dirt road. A dead deer lays directly in front of the bus's right front tire. The girl sniffs, "The deer went crazy and started running all over the road!" Jake tells the kids not to look at it, which is kind of hilarious since the boy is aiming his flashlight straight at the deer as they all rush up to the bus. It's also funny because they're probably farm kids, right? Dead animals shouldn't be much of a shock to them. While Jake climbs aboard, let's pause and discuss a few things. First of all: if you're driving and a deer jumps in front of your car, don't swerve. You're just going to lose control, and you may well hit the deer anyway. Here ends the safety message. On to my first question, which is: how the hell did this crash happen? Clearly the driver swerved, but the bus didn't hit anything except the deer. And maybe some bushes, but it's not like it smashed into a tree. As we'll see, the bus works just fine. And the deer isn't, well, smooshed, so they didn't run over the deer and then hit something else. So apparently the bus swerved, went into this riverbed/side road, hit the deer somewhere along the line, and then stopped. With the deer neatly placed just under the tire, but whatever. Which sets up my final question: what happened to the driver? They only thing they hit was a deer. In a school bus. I'm not a physics genius, but is hitting a hundred pound deer in a five-ton bus really going to hurt the driver somehow?