I considered sharing a story that’s not, how shall I say…um, creepy? Thrilling? Scary? Because I do write those, too. But then I thought, it’s October! It’s SPOOKY SEASON! So I offer you another short story to tingle your senses.
You know the moment it all changed. You remember it exactly. The beginning of the end, the creation of the conclusion, the birth of your demise.
You were staring through the bus window, your forehead pressed against the a/c vent-cooled glass. Yes, it occurred to you that many a traveler before you may have done this same thing and that you were potentially sharing head sweat with total strangers, but you didn’t care. The pane felt good, comforting as you watched the city blocks roll by.
You know the bus actually takes longer than hoofing it, but it had been a long day. Your legs were achy from a ten hour shift and the thought of walking was out of the question. Your back was sore and the hot summer humidity was weighing heavy, draining. The $1.25 was a small price to pay to ride in comfort. You just wanted to get to your house, put your feet up, and watch the news.
You never wanted to be the news.
You don’t own a car so when you don’t walk, you take the bus. You have the route memorized. When the driver turned left on Ranchero Boulevard instead of right, you sat up, suddenly concerned. You looked around, wondering if by some crazy and unnatural law of forgetfulness you had ventured upon the wrong bus.
You weren’t the only one wondering. Heads raised, arms waved, jaws flapped. Overall a very disconcerting shift in the usual limp after-work bus din.
“Quiet, ya’ll,” the driver yelled, flapping an arm behind him to hush the crowd like you were five-year-olds on a family road trip.
When you didn’t shush, that old driver actually had the audacity to jerk the steering wheel, sending quite a few riders either into the windows or the aisles. You were a window victim, your head connected briefly. The glass that had brought such comfort a few moments ago suddenly bringing pain.
You were one of several whose hands were yanking the cord. One of many whose voices hollered “Stop!” or “Let me off!”
And yet the bus drove on.
You took this opportunity of mobile unrest to close your eyes and take a deep cleansing breath. The others may lose their heads, but you knew there had to be a logical explanation. The driver’s wife just went into labor, and forgoing his civic duties, you were all on your way to the hospital. That would be acceptable, yes? You wouldn’t mind making the evening news as part of a fluff piece. Or maybe he just found out his mother had a heart attack. Or his dog was hit by a car. And then you considered, are there any worthy justifications that don’t involve medical emergencies?
You regulated your breathing, stretched your neck, and watched through the window trying to figure out where you were heading. You assumed once you figured out the where, the why would eventually reveal itself. You’re smart, not like most of the yo-hos that hang out on the city bus, if anyone was going to figure this out, to save the day as it were, it would be you.
As you were staring out the window, trying to make sense of this nonsensical adventure, you realized the driver was behaving quite erratically. Maybe it’s his own heart that had attacked. You stood, prepared to slow the bus and perform CPR, if necessary. I mean, you did take that class at the Park District last summer. Again, you had mental images of a feel-good local news piece and a smile curled the corners of your mouth.
You took only two steps down the aisle on your life-saving venture, your hero’s journey, when suddenly you knew the why. The gun in the hand of the passenger directly behind the driver was exposed, if only briefly, through one of the driver’s too fast turns.
It was then that you noticed the others on the bus. Sure, a couple of familiar faces, the regulars—oddly quiet at this time, but what you really noticed were the new faces, seated sporadically, each with more baggage than a city bus trip requires. You’d seen enough television shows and movies to know that the large duffel bags were filled with no good. Illegal weapons, drugs, or ill-gotten money.
Yes, you suddenly recall–the sirens in the distance as you had stepped aboard, swiping your card, and finding your seat. How were you to know you’d be connected to those whoops and wails? Who takes a bus as a getaway car?
You realized you were still standing in the aisle and all the faces, familiar and potentially dangerous, were staring at you. Time stood still. There was no sound, no air rushing through the a/c vents, no bus chatter or rude cell phone users. Then there was a click. Followed by a multitude of clicks.
The scream in your throat halted while you backpedaled to your seat. Too late, as several of the gun holders, deceptively pleasant looking young men with broad smiles and cheery bright t-shirts, swung their guns in your direction.
Sit down, you fool! you’d thought at the moment the first bullet crashed through your solar plexus, punching your body with remarkable precision. You dropped to the floor accompanied by the shouted announcement heard over the chorus of riders’ screams. You had just become a warning to others. You resented their learning at your expense and then chastised yourself for wasting your last conscious consideration on drivel like that as you were bleeding out in the aisle of Bus 213, Northern Route.
First person, I, and third person, he/she, are the most common ways to show point of view in a story. Second person deals directly with YOU. It’s a tricky way to write and I don’t do it very often, but I find it interesting to tackle every once in a while.
I hope you enjoyed this, er, wait a minute…
You enjoyed this story.