On A Bus

Entry by: Seth Dinario

11th October 2018
Jeeten, his bloated blimp of an uncle, always said he'd never make anything of himself. Maybe he was right. What is a bus driver, after all? In the day, an enabler for the elderly to reach their fix of bingo or afternoon tea. Like driving a giant mobility scooter, innit? At night: a chauffeur of chavs. Like tonight. Davs looked in the rear view at the assortment of punters strewn throughout his ride. Either lobotomised silent scum, absorbed into the obviously more compelling world of their phones, or deviants with the vocal chords turned up to eleven. There is one figure on its own, nearer the front, he thinks it's a girl, but you just can't tell these days, with the huge variety of haircuts and similar clothes. Not like when he was a boy.

Bad business, a bad business, what happened on the X34 the other night. Being threatened is one thing, but assaulted? That new driver, Billy something, hadn't even been out of his seat ten seconds before the evil buggers stomped him good and proper.

Suddenly uncomfortable, Davs sticks a finger inside his collar and loosens his shirt away from his hot skin. It's drenched in sweat. He's not feeling great; it must be the unusually warm evening. He wipes his face and tries to concentrate on the road.

Marsha shifts uneasily and tries to concentrate on the small writing nestled in her lap. She knows the book is the answer, the key, the portal out of this shrieking nightmare. But it's not an easily digestible fantasy or an absorbing detective story. It's Dostoevsky, The Brothers bloody Karmazov. She reads the same tiny sentence five times, while wondering if Fyodor had to put up with this level of noise while he was writing the thing.

On the sixth time, the words begin to crawl across the page like minute spiders, leaving glistening trails of spider-blood which somehow make as much sense as what she's tried to read so far. She used to be able to read in the midst of a worse din than this. She smiles as she recalls a distinct memory.

The lounge of her youth, on a winter night, her bedroom far too cold to sit in. Her brothers are throwing toys and cushions at each other, telly blaring away like a unstoppable public service announcement, ma and pa arguing over god knows what. And yet she rests, curled up in a corner of the sofa, surrounded by this unholy racket. She's in the world of Cooper, or Garner, or Le Guin, she can't remember the exact book. The point is, it's not actually their world any more, it's hers. So utterly, completely hers, that she's climbed into this psychic equivalent of a hazmat suit and is able to block out all extraneous threats.

Back on the bus, she shakes her head, smiles. The smile fades as she considers who she's going to see and what she might say to him. If her boyfriend knew about this...but she was going to end it with Ivor, she was determined.

Jayden loved to touch women. Well, girls, in practice, but in theory, he'd poke any female form, clothed or unclothed. Again, in practice, to be fair, it was mostly clothed. But occasionally, like now, he can see expanses of bare smooth midriff around him as the girls jump in and out of each other's seats, swing round the orange poles with the ding-y buttons on ("I'M FACKIN POLE DANCIN, INNEYE?" shrieks Denise as she wildly pitches around). He manages to smack his hand on her exposed haunch, a lovely swell of tanned flesh above what, he imagines, are the two perfect globes of her arse.

"Hey gerroff you perv!" yells Denise, but he can tell she likes it really. He scans around for another girl he can poke, prod, or - even better - cop a feel with. Nothing. So he slams his elbow hard into Danny, who's been morosely looking at his phone for like, ever. Danny drops his phone on the floor of the bus and shouts that he, Jayden, is a daft cunt. He alleges that the elbowing is more like assault, but Jayden just laughs, getting his mate in a choke hold and pulling him back so he can't get his phone. Danny splutters and thrashes, making strangulated noises loud enough to get the attention of Denise and all them.

Jayden shrugs off their protests and all the yelling for him to stop. He looks up at the driver in case he's clocked what's going on.

He is therefore only one to see the driver slump over the wheel. Jayden's scream is cut short as the bus smacks into the oncoming traffic...one, two, three cars, and then oblivion.