Tag Archives: bus

Up the Ranks. Flash Fiction.

Bloods came back and everything seemed to be fine which is both reassuring and worrying. I’m glad there isn’t active disease but I’ve lost 5 pounds in two weeks which isn’t a good sign. Hopefully I’ll find out what it is soon enough.

Also I had the weirdest experience while getting the bus last week. A homeless guy tapped me in the back and I turned around, I told him I only had bus fare and he starts shaking his head and unzipping his jacket before he starts to pull out a bottle of red wine while trying to sell it to me. I mean who buys wine at a bus stop? Obviously it must work for him but I was just so baffled by it!

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Up the Ranks. Flash Fiction.

“How many did we lose?”
“Six.”
Mark tapped his pen on the desk for a moment, “Send in another six.”
“Are you sure?”
“No, but we can’t just ignore it either. We need to figure out what that damn thing is before it gets taken away from us. If we know what it is we can control it.”
Stacy nodded, “I’ll have a list prepared for your approval, I’ll have it to you in the next half hour.” She stood and left the room, Mark looked down at the print out on his desk, he didn’t understand any of these readings and it seemed no one else did either. They found the hole by accident, a worker had fallen in two days ago, Mark still couldn’t get a clear answer as to what the worker had been doing out there. Witnesses said he’d been walking along and then he was just gone. No screams, no dropping from sight, he just vanished. One of the workers had moved to where he was and she had vanished too, the rest were smart enough to stay back. So far twenty people had been sent through, including the original two and the witnesses, all would be reported dead due to a tragic accident. They couldn’t get any recordings of what it looked like on the other side, but they were able to maintain radio contact with exploration teams, though each team reported different findings. The first team in had reported a shallow ledge with a long drop, they’d needed ropes to get down safely, and a large cave system, about half an hour into their journey their radios went silent. The next team in reported no drop and wide open fields. The first few minutes of the recordings were a confusion of voices trying to figure out where they were and why everyone else had seemed to vanish. The other two teams reported a large lake and dark, frozen tunnels. All lost radio contact after half an hour exactly and with no reports of distress, one moment they were talking, the next all radio contact was lost. If they could figure out what it was maybe they could harness it, just think of the limitless applications and they’d be the only company with any access, at least until the government came along as it always seemed to do. Mark sat back and started scrolling through the reports on his computer, Stacy would be back with those names soon, in the mean time he wanted to try and make sense of some of the reports.

Mark yawned and stretched, two hours later and still he could barely follow along the reports. He’d just get someone to summarise it for him so he could summarise it to the higher-ups. They hadn’t put him on it specifically, he’d just gotten lucky by being the most senior person in the vicinity. No doubt they’d people on the way, ready to bust in and take things over from him, and he was fine with that, first though, first he wanted to show he wasn’t useless. Stacy had come back with the names and he’d signed off on them all. No one too important or indispensable, but they’d good experience, enough that a short trip into the wilderness shouldn’t kill them, in theory anyway. Stacy burst into his office, panting, “What the hell?”
“You have to hear this!”
She ran around his desk and shoved him unceremoniously out of the way, his chair sliding into the wall behind him, he was about to protest again but the look on her face silenced him. Stacy was pale, her eyes wide and staring. A second later she clicked play and the room was filled with screams.
Stacy jumped, then lowered the volume, “What the hell is that?”
“That’s the team we just sent through. They started babbling about creatures, didn’t know what they were then they just started screaming.”
The screams were dying out one by one, a panting, desperate voice, “Oh god.” And there was silence.
Mark felt shaky, but he had to remain strong, he couldn’t show weakness. He took a slow deep breath. “Analyse any recordings that were made and prepare a list for the next team.”
Stacy opened her mouth, then closed it and nodded, “we won’t be able to keep this under wraps for long. People have already stopped volunteering and there’s been talk of people quitting.”
Mark thought for a moment, “Tell them anyone who quits will be first on the next list to go in. Anyone tries to run they’ll be thrown in.” Stacy didn’t object, she knew that their security would have no problems following Mark’s orders, at least until someone else took charge. Out here in the middle of nowhere the security teams were the law.
“I’ll get you that list.”
Mark went to the small cabinet in his office and pulled out a glass and a water bottle, they didn’t allow booze on company property, he filled it then took a long, slow drink. He needed to maintain control and he needed to find out what the hell that thing was, even if it cost the company a thousand workers. He only had a limited window to make a name for himself, he didn’t want to spend years clawing his way up through the company, not when he had a golden opportunity like this in front of him.

One Rainy Afternoon. Flash Fiction.

Cindy stared out at the rain, the gentle pitter patter of it against the window was surprisingly relaxing. The day itself was dragging along, normally people would be coming in every few minutes but with the rain it seemed like everyone had decided to just stay home for the day. She stretched and yawned, tomorrow she’d be snowed under and wishing for a break, might as well try and enjoy it for now. A couple walked past, huddled under an umbrella, Cindy was not looking forward to going home in this weather, usually she drove but Michael needed the car today so she had the pleasure of taking the bus. She didn’t mind it most days, but the bus stop had no shelter and she knew that she’d be getting soaked despite the umbrella she had brought with her.

“Hey Cindy, why don’t you head off for the day? There’s only an hour left and I don’t think things will pick up before then.”
“Are you sure? I don’t mind hanging on the extra hour.”
“Nah, you might as well go and beat the traffic!”
“Thanks. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“See ya then.” Doug ducked back into his office, Cindy smiled and started gathering her things.

She stood at the glass doors for a moment, steeling herself for the wind and the rain, she pulled open the door and stepped outside, opening her umbrella as she did so. The rain and wind lashed against her, she struggled against the wind for a second then started walking. The traffic seemed light enough though she knew it would get worse in the next half hour, she walked quickly with her head down.

She arrived at the bus stop just as her bus was pulling up, with a quick jog Cindy managed to catch it. The day was turning out way better than it started. After paying her fare, she quickly found a seat and settled in for the half hour trip.

Cindy stepped off the bus, shivering slightly as the cold wind hit her, the raining had become a mere drizzle now, she put up her umbrella and started walking. It was only a short walk but it always seemed to take forever on days like this. Already she decided she would have a nice hot shower when she got home, she’d change into some pyjamas then get dinner started. She turned onto her road and stopped, there was a large puddle stretched across the street going up onto the footpath on both sides. The shores must be blocked again, Cindy groaned, there was no other way around, she’d just have to go through. She moved closer to the puddle, it didn’t seem that deep, but she knew there was a curve in the street, she’d had to walk through puddles like this on more than one occasion. After a second of indecision she slipped off her shoes and picked them up, she was going to hop into the shower right away anyway, no point in ruining them. She took a step forward, the water was warmer than she expected but still cool, she started taking slow steps but after the first couple she sped up a little. She jumped slightly as something brushed against the side of her food, she didn’t look down, she didn’t want to see what it was, because she was certain it would end up being something gross. It’s just a leaf, that’s all. It happened again, Cindy looked down just as the hand reached from the water and gripped her ankle, Cindy gasped in shock and pain as the hand tightened its grip, it pulled once and Cindy was falling, she stretched out her arms to break her fall, her hands hit the water but they didn’t hit the ground, she was still falling, her face hit the water and still she went deeper and deeper. Cindy struggled against the hand, bubbles streamed from her mouth, up above she could see the light of the puddle fading, she looked down into the growing darkness. She screamed as she saw the decaying corpse that was gripping her ankle, it leered up her through rotted lips. She struggled against him, growing weaker with each passing second, her lungs ached for oxygen, there was a sudden flare of pain in her ankle, Cindy inhaled, the water filled her lungs as she began to choke. Darkness crowded her vision, she could still see the dying light from the puddle, it seemed so tantalisingly close, her vision went black and her body lay still as the corpse dragged her deeper.

Hunted. Short Story.

Debbie sipped her drink, she always hated places like this, loud music, expensive booze, assholes everywhere you looked. If it weren’t for Abby they would have just gone to their usual spot, but she wanted to try something new, something fun. They had stood outside in the cold, for what seemed like hours waiting to get in, then almost as soon as they got their drinks Abby went off with some guy. Not that Debbie should have been surprised, Abby always ended up with some guy. Normally it wasn’t a problem, but everyone else had cancelled tonight. Debbie took another drink, maybe if she got drunk enough she’d be able to enjoy this place.

Debbie stood outside in the cold night air, cigarette in one hand. Normally she didn’t smoke, but it always seemed to happen when she was drinking. There was no sign of Abby, though Debbie hadn’t particularly looked for her. She took a drag from her cigarette, then a sip from her drink. She was definitely getting drunk, but the usual feelings weren’t kicking in. Normally she felt relaxed, smoothed out with a desire to dance, but tonight she felt off, on edge. This place just wasn’t for her and it seemed like everyone there knew it. She had tried to start conversations with a few people but each time she was shut down, most places she had been before were welcoming enough. She took another drag, she felt like people were looking at her weirdly, like she wasn’t welcome, even getting the cigarette had been a damn hassle. Her phone buzzed, Debbie grabbed it out of her bag, “Hey, I’m heading off with someone, hope you’re enjoying your night. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow xx” Debbie rolled her eyes and stubbed out her cigarette, of course Abby had gone off with that guy, she should have just left the moment Abby did her vanishing act. Debbie downed the rest of her drink, put the glass on a table and went back inside to grab her things from the coatroom.

As she walked Debbie felt a bit better, it wasn’t an amazing night but at least it got her out of the house, and she did get to have a bit of a chat with Abby. Checking the time she was pleased to see the buses were still running, it was earlier than she had expected, time had seemed to drag in that place.

Debbie stood at the bus stop, coat pulled tightly around herself to protect her from the cold breeze. She was surprised at how empty the road was, normally the place was busy up until four or five am, but tonight there were only a few people hurriedly making their way to where ever they were going. Debbie sighed in relief as she saw the bus turn onto the road, at least she wasn’t waiting too long. The rest of the night was a no brainer, she’d go home, stop into the chipper on the way, grab some food for soakage then watch some TV before going to sleep.

Debbie felt a little nervous, there was no one else on the bus, something that had never happened before, there was always at least three or four other people scattered about. She took a deep breath and told herself not to be silly. She was on a bus, what could happen? It was brightly lit and there were cameras. She looked out the window into the darkness as the bus continued along its route, Debbie smiled to herself, at least she’d get home quickly.

Debbie wanted to move seats, but that seemed like it would be a weird thing to do. The bus had finally picked up another passenger, a man in a long coat, he didn’t look dirty, but there was a musty smell that hung about him. She had sat upstairs out of habit, a habit she regretted. He had come up the stairs and looked around at the empty seats, his head swinging slowly from side to side, he moved down the aisle and took the seat behind her. She could hear him breathing, it was heavy and had a kind of thick quality to it, like he was breathing through a cloth. Behind her she could hear him shifting and movement of cloth, a second later the smell became stronger, a smell of damp and rot, of mould and of things that liked to live in the dark. Debbie’s heart started beating faster, there was something wrong with that smell. She felt something against the back of her head, faint and ticklish, Debbie stood up and turned around quickly, his hand was still in the air, right where he head had been, he had been stroking her hair. Debbie turned and without saying anything went downstairs. As she sat down again she noticed she was shaking slightly, she took a calming breath and told herself it was fine, it was over. She would get off at her stop, grab food and get home, maybe have a shower. God only knew where that man’s hands had been and he obviously hadn’t showered in a long while.

A few seconds later the man came down the stairs, Debbie felt relief flooding through her, he would get off at his stop and he wouldn’t see hers. He scanned the bus, as he had upstairs, then he moved down the aisle and sat behind her again. His breathing was heavier, the smell stronger again.  Debbie was frozen in place, she had always thought if something like this happened she would be proactive, she would shout or yell, but there was no one else around but the driver. She breathed slowly, she was ok, he hadn’t really done anything and if he did do anything again she’d march right up to the driver and tell him exactly what was going on. Feeling a little better with a plan of action she counted the stops until hers.

The man still hadn’t gotten off the bus and her stop was next. It wouldn’t be safe to get off at her stop, he could follow her. She considered getting the bus to the next stop then if he followed she would have time to lose him. The only problem with that plan was that getting off at the stop after hears would mean walking through some empty residential streets and alleys. No, better to get off sooner, where there were shops, people. Debbie waited until the last second then she quickly stood and pressed the stop button. The bus stopped with a sudden lurch, as she got off the bus driver glared at her. Debbie didn’t care, the man hadn’t followed he was still sitting in his seat. She laughed to herself, she was just getting worked up over nothing, as she walked towards the chipper she decided that she needed a glass of wine to help calm her down after that, her hands were even shaking a little bit.

By the time she had gotten to the brightly lit chipper Debbie was feeling almost normal again, she had just over reacted, that was all. She ordered her food and with the bag held tightly in one hand she left the shop. The walk home was only five minutes but she felt a little nervous, the streets were emptier than usual, she wondered if perhaps there was a match on tonight and she just hadn’t heard about it. Debbie paused, there was something wrong, but she couldn’t figure out what, she looked around herself but saw nothing. She started walking again, then it hit her, that smell, stronger than ever. Without thinking Debbie started to run, once she was home she’d lock to the door and call the police, she knew she couldn’t go back towards the shops, there was no way he had gotten ahead of her.

Debbie slammed her door closed and collapsed against it, breathing heavily. That smell had followed her, she never spotted him, but she could feel him chasing her, and she had known that any second his hand would reach out and grab her. After catching her breath she stood and looked out the peephole, there was no one in the driveway, but it was dark out and hard to see. She looked down at the bag of chips, still clutched tightly in her hand, she laughed a little, there was a faint edge to it, at least she hadn’t dropped her dinner.

Debbie sat in the sitting room, the TV was on and it made her feel a bit better, like she wasn’t completely alone. She had decided against calling the police, after all nothing really happened, she didn’t see him following her, and the smell could have come from anywhere. There was a knock on the door, Debbie froze, her heart thudding heavily. What if it was him? She stood slowly and carefully walked to the door, making sure to avoid any creaky floorboards. She looked out the peephole but there was no one there. Her hand reached up towards the lock, realising what she was doing she snatched it back. What the hell was wrong with her? Obviously she had drank more than she realised, especially considering she was just about to open the damn door to have a look around. She stepped back from the door, a thin thread of unease was slowly growing in her stomach. How long had it taken her to get to the door? If it was a wrong address or someone delivering food they might have left. She looked out the peephole again, trying to see through the shadows, to see what was actually there.

After a few minutes Debbie felt better, there was nothing out there that she could see and she had been looking. Just as she was about to go back to the sitting room she saw something, nothing more than an outline. Debbie watched as it detached itself from the shadows of a bush and slowly made its way into the street, Debbie’s heart thudded loudly in her chest, she knew it before he stepped out into the streetlight, it was him, the man from the bus. He took one last look at the house, then he turned and started to walk away.

Debbie didn’t sleep that night, anytime she dozed off she would snap back awake almost immediately. She had a bat beside her, a relic left over from a previous tenant, and her phone gripped tightly in one hand. The man had left so there wasn’t much point calling the police, and she felt silly calling someone to ask them to spend the night. She had a cup of coffee to help perk her up a bit, at least it was a Sunday so she didn’t have work. Feeling a bit more comfortable in the daylight Debbie carefully opened her door and peered out into the garden, there was no one there, there weren’t many places to hide now that it was bright out, the bushes were ragged and she could see through them. She sighed in relief and felt a little better. Maybe it had all been in her head? Just her own fears and a drunk imagination conjuring the rest. She stepped outside to look at where she thought he had been standing, there was something on the ground, glinting slightly in the light. Debbie moved closer and saw a knife. Immediately she turned and ran back into the house, locking the door behind herself and with shaking hands Debbie called the police.

 

Fresh Start. Short Story.

Sandra let the passing fields blur into one, they had distracted her at first, watching the buildings turn to trees turn to expanses of green, but now they were boring. Long stretches only broken up by the occasional cow or sheep. Even then they were gone in a flash, whisked away before she could truly look at them. She wasn’t entirely sure where she was going, she had no plan when she arrived at the bus station. It was simple, take the first bus that was leaving and wherever she arrived would be her new home, the names of places had blurred together, all she knew for certain was that she needed to get the bus from Bay 8. She had been on the bus for about six hours now, it seemed longer.

She hadn’t planned on leaving when she woke up that morning, she hadn’t planned on anything really. She had been fired the day before, the company was downsizing and they didn’t need her anymore. Not that she blamed them, it wasn’t like she was doing anything important, the most she ever did was reroute phone calls or direct a visitor to the bathroom. Everyone in the office took care of their own appointments for the most part, she didn’t really understand why they needed a secretary, but it was a cushy job with good pay. It had seen her through eight months and now the search for a new job would begin. She had never really had a career, mostly she just flitted from job to job, whatever took her fancy. Paul had been supportive, comforting her, though she didn’t really need comforting, and buying her Chinese food on his way home from work. It was a nice gesture, but at the end of the day it wouldn’t solve her problem. She wasn’t overly upset by the firing either, Paul had expected her to be in tears, to wallow for a day or two, that was never her style. They’d been dating for six months now and living together for two. That was probably a mistake, moving in so early, but her lease was up and he needed a new roommate so it seemed like a good idea. After all it wasn’t a bad relationship, they got along well, the sex was good for the most part, but there was something missing. She didn’t know what it was, but she knew it wasn’t there. Paul was a pit stop, not the destination, she could feel it and she assumed that he felt it too. They hadn’t had any of the big talks yet, marriage, children, that stuff, nor had they had any big arguments, they just floated along. They didn’t even really know the little things about each other. After all he still didn’t know about her siblings and she only learned his mothers name a week ago. All those little things that one learns naturally just never seemed to come up in the course of the relationship.

So when she woke that morning and listened as Paul got himself ready for work she thought about her life. Was she really happy here? Or was she just staying because it was convenient, after all her life was here now, a job, Paul, the few friends she had made since she moved her almost a year before. She had never really stopped to consider if she was happy here, if this was what she wanted. She had all these things and so she never stopped to question it. When she thought about it, really thought about it, she realised that she wasn’t happy, but neither was she sad. She was just existing, doing what she was supposed to do while she waited for something better to come along. Better job, better friends, better life. And that was no way to live. So she got out of bed, showered, dressed and packed a bag. When she was done packing she was surprised to find that all of her things fit inside a single suitcase. When she moved in with Paul she hadn’t really brought anything from her old place, he already had furniture and decorations and there was nothing she had gotten that she particularly wanted. She was never one for a large wardrobe, she had enough clothes to keep her going, buying new ones and donating old ones when needed. She had a few bits of jewellery, most of it was fake anyway. She had left her keys on the counter and a note. Perhaps it was cowardly, but there was no other way to do it. She knew if she waited, if she told him how she felt he would talk her out of it. He’d tell her to wait a few weeks, look for another job, and she would and she would find herself exactly as she was the day before. Tied down, unable to move. Now was the time to start fresh, when she wasn’t tied down by a job or family. Paul would be fine by himself, he might struggle with the bills for a month or two, but she had left him money with the note, enough to get him through until he could find someone else to take the spare room that was full of random crap.

Occasionally Sandra would feel a pang, a sharp stab of anxiety telling her to go back, that it wasn’t too late. Sandra ignored these feelings, the bus kept going, she would stick it out to the end. It was an adventure. When she got to wherever she was going she would get a hotel room and look for a place to rent. She had enough savings to support herself for a few months while looking around, once the place she ended up in wasn’t too expensive. She checked the time on her phone, Paul would be out of work soon, she didn’t want to deal with that, especially not while she was still on the bus. She didn’t want to be one of those people having personal conversations entirely too loudly in an enclosed space. She turned it off and slipped it back into her bag before she turned and continued looking out the window.

When the bus finally stopped Sandra gathered her things and stepped off, the air smelled good, clean and fresh, the sun was shining and she knew she made the right choice.

The Bus. Short Story.

Tabitha looked out the window resolutely, the bus trundled onwards, slowly making its way to her destination. Her neck was starting to feel a little sore, but she didn’t want to turn it. Her headphones were firmly placed over her ears, but she wasn’t really listening to the music anymore. She was just waiting until she could finally get off the bus. She shifted slightly in her seat, moving closer to the window. Beside her the old woman didn’t move.

Tabitha didn’t know why the woman chose that seat of all the others, the bus was practically empty, when the woman got on there were only two others sitting upstairs. She had been surprised when she saw the old woman at the top of the stairs, the woman looked to be at least in her late eighties and seemed to be very unsteady on her feet. If Tabitha had of been her she would have sat downstairs, and at the very front. The woman had scanned the upper floor and started walking down the aisle. Her skin was wrinkled, more deeply than Tabitha had seen of someone outside a care home, thick furrows lining her mouth, eyes and forehead. She didn’t look like a pleasant woman either, the wrinkles looked as though they had come from years of frowning and pursing her lips. The woman had a smell about her too. Not a smell of body odour, it was a smell of old books and dusty rooms. She was bundled in layers of clothes too, thick jackets that seemed to go on and on. If Tabitha had seen the woman on the street, she would have thought she was homeless. The woman had tottered over to Tabitha’s seat and sat down next to her. Pulling her coat around herself a bit tighter and placing her handbag in her lap. Tabitha had moved over when the woman sat down, but she could still feel the coats bushing into her and an elbow that was uncomfortably jabbing into her side every time the bus turned. It was always a short jab though, never long enough that she could reasonably complain. The woman hadn’t spoken to her at least, that was something, she always found bus talkers to be the worst, always going on about people she had never met and would never meet. There was never a polite way to tell them stop talking either. Tabitha hadn’t minded the smell a whole lot when the woman sat down, it wasn’t pleasant but it wasn’t actively bad either but the longer the woman sat beside her the worse it got. There were layers to the smell and the dust and old books were only the top of it. Underneath there were wafts of some old, stale perfume, a the scent of mildew and damp and a low smell of a rotting sea creature. Obviously the woman was old, so she probably wasn’t washing herself all that well, then there were the piles and piles of coats on top which most likely hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in decades.

The old woman opened her bag, Tabitha was jostled a little bit as she was opening it. A deep stench of old cigarette smoke emerged from it as the old woman started to dig through it, looking for something. Tabitha took shallow breaths, breathing through her mouth rather than her nose. She wondered why the woman didn’t smell like cigarettes, but the bag did. Maybe she’d stopped smoking and the bag just never got the message. The woman finished rummaging and closed over the bag again, as far as Tabitha could tell she didn’t actually take anything out or put anything in, she seemed to be just having a good look around. Tabitha stared out the window, it would only be another fifteen minutes until it was her stop and who knew, maybe the woman would get off before then too.

Tabitha’s stop was coming up, finally. The woman hadn’t gotten off the bus, but that didn’t matter, soon she’d be free and outside in the fresh air. Though she was worried about the smell of the old woman clinging to her clothes. As the time had passed she had started to feel a little bad for her, after all she was so old, maybe she didn’t have anyone else. Maybe she sat beside Tabitha because it was just a bit of human contact. Of course Tabitha hadn’t tried to start a conversation with the woman, that would be taking things a bit too far for Tabitha’s liking. She shifted slightly in her seat, getting ready to stand, the woman didn’t pay any attention, “Excuse me?” The woman stared ahead. “Sorry, but my stop is coming up and I need to get off here.” The old woman didn’t move and gave no indication that she heard Tabitha. Tabitha sighed, she was probably deaf, as well as mostly blind. She reached down and tapped the woman on the shoulder, trying not to shudder as she did so. The outside jacket didn’t look too clean, but she could find a bathroom and wash her hands once she was off the bus. The old woman didn’t react. Tabitha sighed, trying not to get too angry, if she didn’t get out of here in the next few seconds she would miss her stop, but the woman was too old to just barrel past, what if the old woman fell out of the seat or something. She reached down and gripped the woman’s shoulder and shook it, hard enough to get her attention but gently enough that it shouldn’t cause any problems. The old woman slowly turned her head to look up at her. Tabitha gasped and fell back into the window, she collapsed into her seat. The old woman moved her head back and continued staring forward. Tabitha’s heart was beating wildly, she didn’t notice as the bus pulled out from her stop. She forced herself against the wall, as much as she could to be as far as possible from the woman. The seats were too high to climb over and if she tried she might attract the old woman’s attention again. Tabitha was shivering uncontrollably.

The old woman heaved herself up from her seat about ten minutes later, she made her way down the aisle and finally started going down the stairs. Tabitha didn’t look at her, she stared straight ahead. As the old woman turned for the stairs she looked back at Tabitha. Tabitha could feel the old woman’s eyes on her skin. She didn’t look, didn’t glance. She watched out the window as the old woman stepped off the bus and started walking, as the bus doors closed and the bus pulled away Tabitha shuddered. Her hands were still shaking, her breathing was laboured. Tabitha reached up and opened the windows, hoping, praying it would get rid of the smell that still lingered. Tabitha stayed sitting where she was, waiting until the bus had passed a few more stops. She didn’t feel strong enough to stand and she wanted to put as much distance between herself and that woman before she got off the bus.

Outside in the fresh air she felt a little better, though she was still shaken. She looked around, unsure of exactly where she was. She looked back up the street, where the bus had come from, half expecting to see the old woman toddling towards her. Suppressing another shudder, Tabitha walked to the small shop nearby, there she bought herself a can of coke and a chocolate bar. She was in shock, sugar was supposed to be good for shock. Outside she unwrapped the chocolate, as the smell of it hit her so did a wave of nausea. She quickly threw it into the nearby bin. After a few deep breaths she opened the coke and took a sip. That seemed to help settle her stomach. There had been a few things she wanted to get done today, but there was nothing important. Tabitha crossed the road and hailed a taxi. She would go home, go straight there and lock her doors. Already deciding that she wouldn’t be getting that bus again. She got into the taxi and gave her address, she didn’t look out the windows, she was afraid she might see the old woman. When the taxi pulled up outside her house, Tabitha paid and ran to the door, not worrying about the strange look the taxi man was giving her. She opened the door and locked it behind her, then she slid down it and onto the floor. She was shaking again. She got a flash, a brief flash of the woman’s face when she looked at her. What ever it was it hadn’t just been an old woman, and it had seen her, actually seen her and Tabitha prayed to god it never saw her again.

Snap. Short Story.

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine went pretty well. Some friends came over on Saturday, then we headed out. There was much drinking and reveling to be had. It was a pretty good birthday celebration.

On with the show!

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Sylvia always hated this part of the day. The bus pulled to a stop and everyone crowded on. She paid her fare and moved towards the back, hoping for a seat but knowing there would be none. She was crammed in the centre aisle, three people pushing against her body. The few times she had managed to get a seat in her three years of taking a bus, someone would invariably stand in front of her, their crotch being directly at eye height. Once, a terrible once, the bus braked suddenly and the young woman’s crotch hit Sylvia directly in the face. The young woman was mortified, Sylvia wanted to die. She had spent three hours in the shower that evening. The bus made it’s slow, steady progress onwards, people jostling against one another. She breathed shallowly, the smell of body odour and perfume was thick and heavy in the air. It was disgusting.

The trip took thirty minutes and at the end of it, she wrestled her way to the front and almost fell from the bus in her haste. She walked a little bit away from the bus stop and paused, allowing herself to breathe and relax. She always hated the damn bus, but it was the only way to get into work. She could bike in, but the last time she tried that a car had hit her, her wrist was broken in two places. She couldn’t drive. Wouldn’t drive. It was a decision she had made at seventeen and would she wouldn’t go back on. Her only other option was walking, but that could take an hour and a half, she didn’t have three whole hours to waste every day. So that left the bus.

The light breeze felt good after the sweaty confines of the bus and it carried with it the faint scent of flowers. Now she just had a short walk and she would be at home. She lived alone, of course. She had never really dated, dating would lead to sex and that was something she didn’t think she would be able to stomach. Something about it just seemed so inherently wrong. She didn’t understand why more people couldn’t see that. She didn’t have any animals, dogs drooled all over and cats shed fur. No, she preferred to be alone. It was the best option for her.

When she got home, Sylvia went straight into the kitchen to turn off the radio. She left it on to deter burglars, but while she was home she couldn’t stand the useless drivel. It was nothing but complaints and dreadful music. She couldn’t fathom how some people enjoyed it. She went upstairs and changed out of her work clothes, carefully hanging them, and changed into her house clothes. A long skirt and a long-sleeved, baggy shirt. It was still an hour before it was time for dinner, so she decided to knit until then.

She found her rhythm quickly and the clacking of the needles became a soothing accompaniment. She was knitting a sweater for herself. Something warm for winter, that was she could keep her heating costs down.

After an hour she went back into the kitchen and prepared dinner, a grilled chicken breast with some steamed vegetables. It was delicious. After, she cleaned her dishes, then went back to her knitting and all too soon it was ten thirty, time to begin her nightly routine.

When she had finished, she got into bed and picked up her book. She read five pages, then closed it and placed it carefully on her bedside locker. Sleep came quickly, and as usual, it was without dreams.

Her life continued on like this, as it had for the last ten years, for another three months. There had been slight deviations in her behaviour, in her thought patterns. Ones that were so slow and so insidious that she never really noticed. Of course she needed to get a gun. She was a woman, living alone. A prime target. After all, she had no family or friends, no one would notice her missing except for work, if anything happened on Friday evening, she could be lying in a pool of blood come Monday morning. It was for protection. That was all.

Then she began to carry it with her through the day. She had seen how people looked at her, men leering, women laughing and making crude remarks. She could ignore it all in work, but not on the bus, not when she was in such close proximity to them. One day a man even groped her buttocks when the bus stopped suddenly. He apologised to her, but she knew he didn’t mean it. He had only pretended to fall. She knew what people said about her now. That she was a slut, damaged, dirty. All because of that one hand. There would be no escaping it, she knew that everyone knew.

The bus stopped and she stepped on, paying as normal and, to her surprise, there was an empty seat. She sat down and placed her handbag on her lap, crossing her legs at the ankles. The bus stopped and a few people got off. A young man stepped onto the bus and paid, then he moved down the aisle, there was a spare seat. Sylvia watched, the young man made eye contact with her and smiled briefly before sitting down. She was shocked, appalled that no one said anything about his open leering. He was all but ready to attack her. She looked around the bus, no one would say anything, no one would do anything. Sylvia casually and calmly reached into her bag and, before anyone could stop her, she shot the young man in the back of the head. As those around her were screaming, Sylvia smiled and placed the gun back into her handbag, then she looked out the window. Everyone would know now that they couldn’t mess with her, she would be completely and utterly safe.