Bus to Oblivion

A short story by Fleur Helsingor

It was still dark when Bethany gave up on getting any more sleep. Even though she needed her rest, her worries about the upcoming meeting had kept her awake and fretting in spite of her efforts to get to bed early the night before.

Since she felt a little queasy, she decided to get dressed and head out the door as soon as she could. After all, she could treat herself to a scone and a mocha at the coffee shop near work.

After her shower, she tackled her hair. Here she wanted to look her best, but that unruly wave kept popping up next to her right cheek. She finally gave up, and stuck in a couple of bobby pins in to keep her hair tucked behind her ear. She wanted to show off her new gold earrings.

Her makeup caused her no end of problems. The pimple that erupted last week still hadn't healed, so she plastered on a thick layer of foundation to cover it up. Her mascara chose that morning to clump up, and she hadn't had a chance to buy a new tube. Fortunately, she still had some of her favorite bronze eye shadow, so she put on a little extra to make her eyes shine.

When she put on her favorite pair of slacks, she discovered a spot on the right knee. She tried to clean it off, but that just made the spot look worse. After twenty minutes of trying on other slacks, tops, belts, and jackets, she finally came up with an outfit that wasn't too horrible.

When she pulled on the boots that went well with that particular pair of pants, she broke a fingernail. She had to glue on a replacement and touch up her nail polish.

Finally Bethany felt ready to face the day. Since she was already running late, she grabbed her portfolio and purse, and clattered down the stairs and out the door.

She arrived at the bus stop on the corner just in time to see her usual bus roar past without stopping. Since the next one wouldn't be due for half an hour, and she could catch another bus on Broadway, she decided to walk the extra four blocks.

As she was walking, Bethany remembered why she had always hated that pair of boots. They were so cute and she loved the feeling of wearing high heels, but even a short walk made her feet so sore.

When Bethany arrived at the bus stop on Broadway, she saw that the bus was packed. There wasn't even standing room, so she decided to continue to the corner of Broadway and Main. There was sure to be another bus there.

Bethany checked her watch and was horrified to see that it was already after nine o'clock. She had to do her presentation in less than an hour!

As she crossed the street, she pulled her cell phone out of her purse, and called her boss. "Christine, it's Bethany. I'm running a little late, but the presentation is ready and I'll be there as soon as I can. I can see the bus coming now!"

At that moment, Bethany felt a little dizzy and stumbled on the pavement. She was dimly aware of brakes squealing and a horn honking in the distance.

When her vision cleared, she pulled herself to her feet and collected her belongings, including the cell phone that she had dropped. She tottered over to the bus stop just as the coach was pulling up.

When the door opened, Bethany hesitated. The bus driver looked so strange, with a face that looked like a skull and skeletal hands clasping the wheel.

"Hurry up, get on board!" the driver rasped."I haven't got all day!"

Bethany paid her fare and collapsed onto the seat by the door. There was only one other passenger on the bus, a pale woman shrouded in gray.

Bethany shifted in her seat to look out the window. All she could see was a deep fog. The other vehicles and the familiar buildings had vanished. I could swear that it was sunny when I left my flat, Bethany thought. Where did this fog come from all of a sudden? Where am I?

Bethany shivered as she pulled the cord to get off at the next bus stop.

"You won't be getting off," the wraithlike woman said. "You're on the bus to oblivion!"

Genre: horror, when an ordinary bus ride turns out to be something else