Taken for a Ride
April 11, 2019
For the challenge this week, we were given a setting and five words to include in our story. You awake on an empty bus, lights flickering. End of the line. The words were from a random word generator. I got: insight, wing, concern, coincidence, and evolution. My story is well under the 1000 word limit, at only 789, but I like it as is. I used second person POV, just for something different too.
Taken for a Ride
It’s the silence that wakes you up. It seemed like only minutes ago that you’d managed to snag the last run of the day, settle into your regular seat in the back of the bus, and close your eyes. After a long day at high school, then four hours working in the diner, you only needed to rest them for a bit.
But it was more than a bit. Looks like you’ve missed your stop, all the stops. The bus seats are empty, the motor just a faint rumble, and only a few dim lights still on.
"Hello?" you call. "Driver?"
Another light flickers, then goes out. You rub a clean space on the window and peer outside—dark. It must be really late. You try to check your cell-phone, but the battery is dead.
"Just peachy," you say. "Maybe I can find a payphone and call mom for a ride."
As you walk to the front, you notice your regular bus seems to have been a victim of reverse evolution. Gone is the sleek vehicle you regularly take. Now, aside from the poor lighting, the windows are dirty, one of them cracked, the ads above them are faded and torn, the seats marked with cuts and repair tape, and the smell—well, like it had been the last party bus home from the bars. You try the back door—stuck.
You shake your head. "Maybe the front is open."
"Don’t worry my friend, the driver just stepped out. You can wait with me."
The voice comes from the back.
"Hello?" You see a tall figure—a woman? "Who’s there? Where did you come from?"
"Didn’t you see me? No matter. I was sleeping here, just like you, tucked in my regular corner. Please, come, let's you and me chat."
Your parents had always warned of ‘stranger danger’ but she seems harmless. And you are almost 16, for God’s sake. It will be good to have some company while you wait. Hopefully not too long, or your mom will be pissed.
"It’s been a long day," you say. "School seems to just go on and on. I guess I was pretty tired."
"I hear you," she says. "Sometimes what we need takes forever to happen. But I’ve learned to be patient. And look, I woke up and now here you are."
You smile back at her. "Well, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that missed all the stops."
She chuckles, her voice a bit lower. "It does happen from time to time. Not too often, but often enough. But come, we can wait together and talk."
She seems to be taller now, in the dim light, as she beckons.
You back away. Your insight is sending warning signals now. "I think I’ll check the front. Maybe the driver left a note."
She shakes her head. "I wouldn’t do that if I were you."
You ignore her and go to the front. No note. There is something jammed in behind the driver's seat though—is it a parka? You reach down, and feel something wet. You jerk your hand back—blood. It’s the driver, as best as you can tell, somehow crushed and jammed into that small space.
"I told you not to look."
You straighten and turn—she’s already halfway up the bus, even taller, her coat billowing out behind her like wings.
Shit, shit, shit. You push at the front door. Closed. There must be a button on the dash, a lever. You try them all until there is a hiss of air and the door opens. You feel a hand grab your shoulder as you rush down the steps. You twist, fall, and your head hits the door frame.
There’s a hand on your shoulder, shaking you. "Hey there, wake up, end of the line. You have to get out, now."
You gaze up into the face of a bus driver stooping over you, concern on her face.
"You were having some dream," she says. "Twitching like a dog chasing rabbits in its sleep."
It’s your regular new and shiny bus. Empty, but surrounded by the bright lights of the depot.
"Where do you live?" she asks.
She smiles. "What a coincidence. So do I. Let me drop you off at your place; you’ll never get a cab to come this far. Once we get going, I’ll lend you my phone to call your folks. Reception is terrible out here in the middle of nowhere."
You settle into the corner of her car, as you pull out of the depot. You rub the back of your hand absently, then examine it in the light of the last lamp-post.
Is that blood?
What a dream! Or was it? Or did he go from one dream into another? As soon as the lady said 'I've learned to be patient', I got a chill. I love how dangerous her casual conversation made her appear. He was lucky to get away from her and off the bus, but did any of that actually happen? Whether it did or not, does the driver who offered to take him home look eerily familiar? He did hit his head, after all, and is most likely confused. It's like one of those moments when you're watching a horror movie, and you say out loud 'Don't get in the car, Jim. You'll be sorry.' I have the feeling he's in for a long night...
Great suspense here, and the changing images of the lady on the bus made my skin crawl. No more bus rides for me!
Posted by: Joyce Juzwik | April 12, 2019 at 03:12 PM
Thanks Joyce, glad you liked it. He, or she, might not have escaped yet.
Posted by: Ravens | April 12, 2019 at 03:46 PM