Saturday, April 06, 2019

Day 5 - The Night Bus

Steve Ralph tumbled out of the doors of Ritz's nightclub laughing, broken pint glass in his hand still dripping with the blood of the man whose face he'd just slashed for spilling his drink.

"That'll teach ya, ya fuckin' twat." he said under his breath as he staggered out onto the pavement, before noticing an old man with a dog up the road staring at him. "What the fuck you lookin' at granddad?" 

The man immediately, turned about and walked quickly back down the road, dragging his dog behind him. "Yeah, that's right," shouted Steve after him, "run away before I give you a fuckin' smack."

It had been a good night and he was well gassed; hitting on a couple of thots, a few hours of chasers and tequila, then the night ended with a punch up. Fucker was lucky he wasn't strapped tonight. Now he just had to work out what to do next. For a moment he thought about heading into town and trying to get a taxi, but most of the firms had banned him. Then he remembered about the night bus that stopped around the corner; he hadn't used it for years but it would drop him off just down the road from where he lived.

He veered out into the road, legs rubbery, and was suddenly blinded by the lights of an oncoming taxi, its horn blaring even as he felt its bonnet smack into him and he was thrown back across the tarmac, tumbling until he finally ended up lying on his back and looking up at the stars.

He clambered to his feet, a little unsteadily but unhurt, and gave the taxi driver and his passenger the finger while they were still trying to get out of the car. Turning away from them and staggering off down the middle of the road even as he heard them shouting “You alright mate?”

They didn’t follow and he made it around the corner without further incident to the bus stop, feeling that maybe someone was looking out for him after all. His head felt clearer after the taxi, that was for sure. Nothing like a brush with death to sober you up. In the distance, he could make out the lights of a bus approaching.

It was a double decker, one of the old ones that he hadn’t ever seen in real life, and as it pulled up alongside him he could see that the driver looked like he was even older than the bus. White hair, cap, the guy must have been eighty if he was a day.  The doors opened slowly with a hiss.

He stepped up. “Look, mate, I got mugged”, he lied, “I ain’t got no money. Can I get like a ticket I can pay for another day?”

The driver smiled at him, “No worries, lad, you just get on board.”

“Thanks,” Steve said, and looked down the aisle of the bus. He could see a load of people were sat in the seats on the lower deck, none of them looking at him, so he decided to climb the stairs to the top deck.

The top deck was empty and he walked all the way to the back of the bus and sat down in the middle of the back seat. As the bus started to move, he fished into his pocket for his iPhone. It wasn’t there.


He felt in all his pockets; it wasn’t just his phone that was missing, he’d somehow lost his wallet and his keys. Was it in Ritz’s? Had someone pick-pocketed him? Or maybe it was when he’d got hit by the taxi? Could everything have come out of his pockets when he’d rolled in the road? Shit, he needed to go back and look.

“Steve,” said a voice from a few rows ahead of him the bus, and he looked up to a see a man in a black suit staring at him. Steve tried to work out how he could have missed seeing the guy when he got on the bus, then he realised the man knew his name.

“Who the fuck are you?”

“Now, now,” said the man, “No use for such language with me; not that I have anything against profanities, obviously.”

The bus slowly edged to a stop.

“I don’t who you are, but I’m getting off this bus,”

“No,” said the man, with a wistful shake of his head, “No, you’re not Steve. Take a look out the window.”


“Go on,” said the man, gesturing to the left window of the bus, “take a look out the window and tell me what you see.”

Despite himself, Steve slid across the back seat and looked out of the window. He could see flashing blue lights, an ambulance, a paramedic turning away from a body with a defeated look on his face.


“Look closer,” said the man.

A second paramedic came to cover the body with a sheet, slid it up over the man. Steve recoiled from the glass as if it were hot.

“What the fuck,” he shouted, “What the fuck is this?”

“That’s you, Steve,” said the man, “That’s you hit by the taxi, dead in the middle of the road.”

“This is a bad dream,” muttered Steve to himself, “A bad trip, something…”

“No Steve; this is what death feels like” said the man, his face seemingly stretching and contorting beneath the waxy yellow light of the bus. “Well, for someone like you anyway.”

“This can’t be real.” said Steve, trying to stand up;, but even as he tried to get to his feet, the red leather hand straps that hung from the ceiling elongated and snaked out towards him like tentacles, wrapping themselves tightly around his arms and then pulled him taut so that he was held in place, spread-eagled. He cried out in agony, the straps stretching him to the point that it felt his arms would be pulled from their sockets.

“Oh, but it is Steve; and there are people here who’ve been looking forward to seeing you.”

Trapped in place, Steve was forced to watch as a stream of hooded figures emerged from the stairwell and walked slowly down the aisle of the bus towards him. Finally, when the leading figure was no more than a few feet from him, it stopped and tugged back its hood.

“That’s not possible,” Steve gasped, “That’s not possible.”

The man before him had a jagged cut across his cheek, fleshed splayed open all the way to his eyeball. It wasn’t possible, but Steve knew it was the man that he’d glassed at Ritz’s.

“These,” said the man in the black suit, his eyes now almost crimson, “are all those that you’ve wronged. There are an awful lot of them.”

The man from the nightclub stared at him in silence, blood pulsing from his ruined face, and then slowly raised a shard of broken glass. He brought it closer and closer to Steve’s face and, although he tried to turn away from it, the glass only came closer until Steve could feel it pressed cold against his skin.

“You’re on the Night Bus, Steve, said the man, and as he smiled Steve could see a twisted smile that revealed row upon row of needle-like teeth. His eyes glowing bright now. “We never charge a fare, and we only have one stop.”

Steve felt the glass bite deep into his flesh and finally began to scream.

“But we’re going to have a hell of a time while we get there…”

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