|The Number Eleven
Author: Firefly88 PM
This is based on a dream I had a while ago. It is about the mystery surrounding a bus.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Mystery/Supernatural - Words: 1,180 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 12-18-05 - id: 2071807
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Number Eleven
There was a faint rumbling and I looked up the road to where the bus was coming into view around the corner. The same bus as usual, I thought. It was the first day back at school and already it seemed as though the summer holiday, my trip to Japan and my sister's wedding had all happened years ago. I waited in the chilly shadows of the trees and thought 'it's probably the same old bus driver too'. The number eleven stopped in front of me and after a lot of puffing and hissing the door snapped back and I got on. The elderly lady that used to drive the bus had been replaced with an immense young man. That was the first thing I noticed. The second thing I noticed was the smell of damp, mouldy chairs – that at least had not changed. The thing that struck me the most however, was when I turned to sit down and found myself facing an empty bus. Where were all the regulars? Where was the lady who always read? Where were the businessmen with their tweed coats and briefcases? What about the old ladies and their twittering voices? And what about –
Suddenly I stumbled forward as the bus made a sound as though it were inhaling and enormous breath and shook into motion again. I found a seat near the back where the pale morning sunlight came through the windows and dappled my hair. 'And what about the good-looking man that's on it everyday?' I thought tragically. The bus service always made changes to their timetable during the summer holidays. I sighed when I realised that the other passengers must be catching a different bus.
The journey was silent and I became rather lonely after a while. Even though I had never spoken to the people on the bus, I liked their company. I was surprised to find that I actually missed them. Meadows, trees and bus stops whizzed past and still nobody got on. That was the problem with living in the countryside; nobody from my school ever caught the bus. Eventually the scenery turned into the familiar shops near my school and I was glad to get off and join my friends outside the library. We admired each other's new haircuts and talked about the holiday.
"Oh you poor soul!" they cried in mock horror when I told them about the good-looking man.
The bus journey home was exactly the same: I was the only one on the bus, excluding the driver. The people who usually caught the bus in the morning were also the ones who caught it when I finished school. 'Another bus?' I wondered, 'but why?'
Weeks went by and the monotony of going to school and coming home from school sank in again quickly. I adapted to the constant emptiness of the bus by bringing a book with me each time. The sky began to get dark earlier in December but I hardly noticed when I was in the bus because I was too absorbed in my books.
"Please be late! Please be late!" I muttered one morning as I ran to the bus stop five minutes later than usual. I leapt over the remains of some trees that had apparently fallen in a storm whilst I was in Japan. The bus arrived just as I did. Delving into my school bag I discovered that I had left my reading book at home.
"Shoot!" I whined and took to staring blankly out the window instead. I wondered again about the other passengers.
"Excuse me," I said to the driver when it came to my stop. "Could you please tell me what time the other bus comes in the morning and evening?"
"Eh? This is the only bus."
"Oh. I was only wondering because… Never mind." Outside my friends were beckoning me eagerly so I gave up and got off the bus.
When I left school later that day the sky was throwing down torrents of rain and the clouds threatened thunder and lightning. The buses headlights leered out of the darkness and rain and I staggered on, leaving a puddle of water at my feet.
"Bad weather!" I remarked to the driver.
"Yes… It's just like it was when…" his voice trailed off vaguely and he started the bus moving again. I stumbled to my niche at the back of the bus. Since I had no reading book, I took out my biology textbook instead. However, a sudden explosion of lightning in the western part of sky took out the lights in the bus and so it became too dark to read.
With the black clouds behind them, the windows only reflected the inside of the bus. I looked at my face in the window and stifled a gasp. In the reflection there was a man sitting on the seat beside me. I recognised his handsome face but when I turned to face him I realised that it was nobody. Yet the reflection was still there when I turned back. I looked at all of the windows and saw the faces of other people I recognised. There was the lady who always read, the businessmen, the old ladies, the tattooed woman, the nurses, the doctor and the Chinese couple: the old passengers. The faces in the reflections were pale and had shadowed eyes, just like my reflection, but the reflections belonged to nobody because the bus was completely empty. I looked at my knees and concentrated on the rain drilling on the roof of the bus. I pretended that the faces were not there. "It's your stop!" the bus driver called to me. I stood up and hurried to the front of the bus. My heart was beating fast underneath my wet jumper. The bus driver let me off and I stepped out into the rain. As the bus drove away I thought I saw faces in the dark windows.
Turning to go home, I spotted something I had never noticed before. A square plaque had been placed on the stump of one of the fallen trees. I stepped closer and read it. Rain dripped from my hair and forehead and ran off the end of my nose. Shock immobilised me for a while once I had read:
David Crimshaw, Mayor of Whitley, erected this plaque on 18th August 2005 in memory of the 17 passengers of the number eleven bus, that crashed here in a storm on 16th August 2005
So they were dead. The faces on the bus came back to haunt me many times after that. I looked at the plaque every day and always felt a twinge of guilt because, being in Japan at the time, I was the only passenger to have escaped the crash.
"Think of it this way," said my sister comfortingly when I took her to see the plaque one morning. "They're not dead. They simply got off a stop before you, that's all."