The weird looking character slumped down in the back of the bus, took out a long, green glowing, cigar shaped object from his backpack and held it firmly on his lap. Maybe he was a man, although with all the red curly hair, huge sunglasses and one dangling gold earring, not to mention the baggy pants, who could tell?
The bus driver eyed him suspiciously and tried to discern the green object as its light seemed to pulse. She had been watching him closely ever since he got on at the last stop. His pants were so large it was a wonder he didn’t trip coming up the steps and his hair had actually grazed the bus ceiling when he lumbered to the very last seat. He had to be at least 7 feet tall.
She had peculiar or scary riders before. Some seemed poised to steal, some talked to themselves, others were obviously drunk and many were drugged out. Once she’d even had a guy who rode the bus all day, eating his lunch while staring at his phone, and then finally exciting at the last stop, saying as he went down the steps, “Well, the call never came.” The driver had called the police several times when riders seemed they might to rob her, waiting for everyone else to leave before pulling a gun or knife. But this guy made those others seem tame. She made a quick quiet call to dispatch. “Suspicious man on bus.” The rider behind her heard the call and abruptly turned around. He had been looking at his cell phone and had missed the latest boarder, even though every other head had turned as the stranger lumbered down the aisle.
At the next stop many of the riders got out, providing a better view for the driver through the inside mirror, the one intentionally placed there so that a close watch could be kept on what
the company called undesirables. A creepy, foggy dusk had snuck up on the drive and the dimming light brought out the eerie glow from the round green object, illuminating the stranger’s face, making him look surreal. The bus driver stared into the mirror and watched the man move closer. She shuddered.
“I am starting to imagine things,” she thought. Again she transmitted quietly, this time for backup. “I think you should send someone,” she told the dispatcher, “quickly.”
As the bus creaked to a halt at the next stop, the driver realized it was now quite dark outside. There were only a few dimmed lights on the bus and she couldn’t see the stranger unless she flipped on all the lights. He hadn’t really done anything yet and she didn’t want to alarm the other passengers, but she couldn’t see him in her mirror either. Suddenly the bus was empty except for him. Everyone else had gotten off.
Now she was alone with him. Why hadn’t the company sent help?
Again she called dispatch but this time the radio only crackled then died. A creeping fear emanated from the rear of the bus, slipping down the aisle and resting right behind her. The man was now right behind her waving the green object. His breathing seemed menacingly labored, insidiously synthetic and followed the movement of the glowing object. The driver forced herself to turn and face him. “I think you should get off,” she managed to say as she stared into a white bulbous face with bushy black eyebrows.
His red eyes behind the glasses bore into her. In a voice so deep it might have come out of a cave he said, “I’m getting out at the next stop.”
Reluctantly the driver put her foot on the gas pedal and pulled out into traffic. Bizaroman sat directly behind her breathing heavily and continuing to wield the glowing object. The driver could feel his uncanny presence, hear deep rumbling unintelligible speech and see the waving object in the mirror.
Getting to the next stop took forever.
Finally, the bus halted. The rider noiselessly trudged out the door waving the green glowing object. The driver sighed as the door shut behind him. She watched as he got to the corner and turned right.
A sign with an arrow read Circus- this way.
Carol Murphy, MA, is a writer, consultant and speech-language pathologist who has written essays, interviews, stories and poems about children, language development, learning disabilities, the therapeutic and almost mystical influence of animals, and the many ways language, or a lack of it, colors life’s experiences. Two recently published stories are “Whiffs” by Reddashboard Press, and “Dispersion” by Solarwyrm Press. She finds daily inspiration for writing through her experiences with the interplay of communication and the many ways lives can go awry, or be set straight, simply by a precise word at a pivotal moment.