<h2>Prologue</h2> <h2>BUS STOP</h2> <h2>One</h2> <p>THE OLD CHROME-YELLOW school bus crawled south on Market Street at half past seven that May morning. Its side and back windows were blacked out, and a hip-hop hit throbbed into the low- lying mist that floated like a silk veil between the sun and San Francisco.</p> <br /> <p class="ext">Got my ice</p> <p class="ext">Got my smoke</p> <p class="ext">Got my ride</p> <p class="ext">Ain’t got no hope</p> <p class="ext">Hold ya heads up high</p> <p class="ext">Don’t know when</p> <p class="ext">Ya gonna die. . . .</p><br /> <p>The traffic light changed to yellow at the intersection of Fourth and Market. The stop-sign arm at the driver’s side of the school bus swung out, the four-way hazard lights burned amber, and the vehicle came to a halt.</p> <p>To the right of the bus was a shopping mall, a huge one: Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, the windows papered with large Abercrombie posters of provocative half- naked teens in black and white.</p> <p>To the left of the bus was a blue Ford van and then one of two islands splitting the road — a staging area for bus passengers and tourists.</p> <p>Two cars behind the school bus, Louise Lindenmeyer, office manager, late for work, braked her old gray Volvo. She buzzed down her window and glared at that goddamned school bus.</p> <p>She’d been stuck on its tailpipe since Buena Vista Park, then watched it pull away from her at the light at Fifth and Market as a stream of traffic took the turn and pulled in front of her.</p> <p>And now that bus had stuck her at a light . . . again.</p> <p>Louise heard a shout. <em>“Hey, asshole!”</em></p> <p>A man in his shirtsleeves, tie flapping, face bunched up, dried shaving cream under his left ear, walked past her car to give the bus driver <em>hell.</em></p> <p>A horn honked, and another, and then a cacophony of horns.</p> <p>The light was green.</p> <p>Louise took her foot off the brake and at that instant felt a concussive shock, her ears ringing as she saw the roof of the school bus explode violently upward.</p> <p>Chunks of burning metal, steel-and-glass shrapnel, shot out in all directions faster than gunfire. A mushroom cloud like that of a small A-bomb formed above the bus, and the box-shaped vehicle became a fireball. Oily smoke colored the air.</p> <p>Louise saw the blue van in the lane to the left of the bus bloom with flame, then blacken in front of her eyes.</p> <p><em>No one got out of the van!</em></p> <p>And now the blaze rushed at the silver Camry directly in front of her. The gas tank blew, and fire danced over the car, consuming it in vivid, leaping flames.</p> <p>The bunch-faced man pulled himself up off the pavement to the hole where her passenger-side window had been. His shirt was gone. His hair was black frizz. The skin of his face was draped over his collarbone like tissue paper.</p> <p>Louise recoiled in horror, grappled with her door handle as fire lapped at the hood of her Volvo. The car door opened and the heat rushed in.</p> <p>That’s when she saw the skin of her own arm still on the steering wheel, as if it were a <em>glove</em> turned inside out. Louise couldn’t hear the businessman’s horrified screams or her own. It was as though her ears had been plugged with wax. Her vision was all dancing spots and blurry shapes.</p> <p>And then she was sucked down into a well of black.</p> <BR><BR><i>Continues...</i> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>The 8th Confession</b> by <b>Patterson, James</b> Copyright © 2009 by Patterson, James. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.