The Bus that Took Her to the Stars
Something was not right about that man. Marianna watched him warily from the corner of her eye. He sat a few seats behind her on the opposite side of the bus. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but it was there. The back of her neck itched from his stare; it took all that she had not to reach up with a hand. It took more not to move. She would have liked nothing more than to do that. But that would mean having to look at him, and that’s what he wants, isn’t it? she thought to herself. Perhaps she could out-wait the stranger? She had already toyed with the idea for the past hour; it was lucky she was on her day off. Lucky! She coughed.
Once she had read somewhere that the thing you were afraid of was the thing you knew you had to do. With an inaudible groan she pressed a button and before she knew it her feet were carrying her off of the bus. It felt as if she weren’t entirely there.
The decision to get off had been rather abrupt.
She did get a good look at the man however. Or a good look at his clothing–his face was buried beneath the shadow of a bowler hat and a thick woollen scarf. Again she had the odd, sickening feeling that she had seen him before. Or, if not exactly him, then someone of his ilk.
A large part of her, the reserved part, raged against the idea that there was a conspiracy against her. Not that would-be friends and family had never done something so ridiculous before, but because absolute strangers doing it to her was stupid, idiotic. Marianna grimaced at the idea. I can’t believe I’m actually considering that kind of bull shit!
Her thoughts returned to the man. No one else seemed to want to look at him on the bus, as if he made them uncomfortable. Even she shuddered to think of the memory. The way he had sat, hunched in as if he were larger, was what caught her attention in the first place, not his unwavering stare. He wore a trench coat, which wasn’t really odd; everything about his dress was normal. The stranger just stuck out like a sore thumb, like he was out-of-place.
“Or out of time. Shit!” It was already late in the evening. I must have lost track of time, she thought. She looked at her watch, then checked her phone. And groaned. Both the watch and the phone were dead.
There is a logical explanation for this, she told herself. Her heart rate increased just a little, regardless. The phone had been left to charge last night, this morning the batteries had been at full capacity. It hadn’t charged properly. The watch on the other hand had been bought brand new, just last week in fact. The battery needed to be replaced. Marianna told herself those two things over and over, as if she were trying to convince herself of the fact.
What the matter boiled down to was coincidence. It was strange, and frightening, but it was still just a coincidence.
The whole time this had gone through her mind Marianna had walked down the street, looking around in every possible direction. With a sickening feeling in her stomach, she realized that she had never seen this neighbourhood before.
This wasn’t even the same town.
She stopped dead in her tracks. Her beating heart was the only thing she heard. Even when the light snapped out of existence, she could still hear the sound of her heart.
Thump, thump, thump, thump. Thu-thump, thump, thump. Thump, thump, thump, thump. Thu-thump. Thu-thump.
Thousands of stars began to wink in and out around her. They were cold stars, hard stars, and they were all grouped in pairs.
Eyes. I can see their eyes. Marianna closed her own eyes against the stars.
She felt her life turn to nothing.
She was nothing.