On The Bus One Night
I wrote this story based on the old urban legend about someone who is riding the bus home and finds a strange man sitting between two other men disturbing because of the way he keeps looking at him or her. You can read an example of the above urban legend, which I've heard told around quite a few campfires, here. I won't go into much detail because I don't want to spoil my particular ending for you.
Emily's heart jumped when the bus finally rolled into the station like Elijah's chariot to heaven. She gathered her hair into a sopping wet rope in her fist and wrung it out on her way up the steps and out of the eerie darkness of the bus stop. She fished through her wallet, gathered a few shiny (and wet) silver coins, and paid the fare. How idiotic of her to forget her umbrella when the forecast clearly called for rain.
She scanned the length of the bus and frowned. It was packed save for one lone seat. Emily shrugged, made her way past the rows of feet, and plopped down between two irritable patrons.
"Sorry." she muttered. "Forgot my umbrella."
The woman to her left huffed. The man to her right shook his head.
Emily dried her ears out with the inside of her shirt and plugged in her earbuds. She had at least an hour long bus ride ahead of her, and she'd best get comfortable. She set her gaze on the man in front of hers shirt buttons and let Freddy Mercury take her away.
Once a few moments and a couple of songs on her iPod had passed, she noticed something peculiar about the man in front of her. He'd brought with him a ventriloquist dummy given it its own seat beside him.
'How inconsiderate.' Emily thought with a frown. Oh, well. At least it had only been one seat, and there was another one available when she needed to sit down. Otherwise there would have been a problem.
The dummy was an ugly looking thing, with a round face, a hole where a nose should have been, and two foggy grey glass marbles for eyes. Its mouth flapped open and closed with what Emily assumed and hoped was the rhythm of the moving bus.
She moved her gaze to her shoes. Ugh. How creepy.
A couple more songs passed, and Emily soon forgot the strange dummy. How silly she had been. After all, it was only a glorified toy! She chanced a glance back up at the thing and smirked. Yes, the repulsive thing was only a grown man's toy, after all.
Then it raised its eyebrows at her. Twice, and in a deliberate fashion. Emily bit her lip and looked at the man sitting next to the dummy. His eyes were shut and his head was down as if he was asleep, but his arm and right hand sat suspiciously behind the thing's back. What a creeper.
She looked at the dummy again and squinted her eyes under the false impression that doing so would somehow give her a better look. What was the thing's skin made out of? Clearly not wood. It stretched over its sharp angled jawbone like a medical glove stretched over hands that were far too big for it. Emily shuddered. Who on Earth would want something like that?
The dummy raised its weird translucent skinned hand and waved. Emily could see the string beneath its wrist connecting its palm to whatever the man was using to make it move. She shot him a quick glare even though he wouldn't see.
A prickly, eerie feeling crept up her spine. Emily closed out her music and opened up one of those games where you have to match three of something enough times to move on to the next level. Maybe it would be better if she could hear what surrounded her.
Emily broke through a few levels when she heard a high pitched and yet deceptively soft cackle. She didn't have to sit and ponder where it might have come from, but glanced right up at the dummy. Its mouth dropped open and the cackle came forth again, this time just a few decibles louder.
Emily looked to the woman to her left and the man to her right. They sat perfectly still, their eyes on their laps. Did they not hear?
Her head snapped back toward the dummy one more time. It raised its eyebrows and cackled again.
This bus ride would be much longer than she had thought.
One by one the number of passengers waned. The people to her side had long gotten up and left, and still Emily sat with her knees in her seat watching the dummy and his puppeteer. The last passenger other than the two of them left, and her heart sank into her shoes. So it was going to be just the two of them all the way back, then.
What if he hadn't gotten off yet because he intended to follow her all the way back to her apartment?
Emily swallowed a hard lump in her throat and wished she had remembered her tazer. It was back in her apartment and likely sitting next to her umbrella.
As soon as the door shut behind the last passenger the dummy raised his eyebrows at her again. Maybe she should say something?
The bus lurched forward. The sleeping man toppled forward into the aisle. Emily's chest turned to ice.
Someone had plunged a knife deep into the man's back. A small, detached arm held that knife in an iron grip.
The one-armed dummy's mouth dropped open again. His foggy grey marble eyes rolled forward, revealing bloodshot red irises.