Monday February 8th, 2016

The exercise:

Write something that takes place on: the bus.

Today was Family Day here in BC, a recently created holiday brought about by... the need to have a holiday in February. Sounds good to me.

Spent most of the day with Kat and Max, though he did go play with his cousin at her house for a while this afternoon. Topped things off with pancakes (with blueberries and coconut whipped cream) for dinner. Not a bad day.


"Is this seat taken?"

We're on a bus, dude. If somebody was sitting here where the hell do you think they are right now?

"Ah, you've got your music cranked up too loud to hear me. Typical kid. I'll just plop right down then, shall I?"

Nope. I can hear every word that comes out of your filthy face hole. My earbuds are just in for emergency use. You know, crank up the volume in case of dumbass seatmate? Yeah, time to enact that protocol.

"What a beautiful day for a bus ride in the city, huh? Sun's shining, girls are flashing more skin than even decent males like us can politely ignore. Glorious stuff."

Like us? Don't bring me aboard your crazy train, dude.

"Makes me want to hit the beach, you know?"

Why am I still listening to this? Time to bust out something with some seriously heavy guitar. Let's see...

"Just walk right up to the front there and tell the driver to take a hike. Maybe push him out the door while we're still moving. Get behind the wheel and take everybody on this bus to the sand and surf. I'd be a real hero, man. All these people would worship me."

Uh... no. This dude can't be serious. He's just running his mouth, doesn't mean a word he's saying. Right?

"Maybe it wouldn't work out though. I've never driven a bus before. Might crash into something, maybe even drive off the bridge by accident."

This is not reassuring.

"Still be a hero though. Always wanted to die a hero. Maybe today's the day? It is a beautiful one out there. Sky couldn't get any bluer."

Should I say something? I should say something.

"Well, here I go! I hope you're a good swimmer, kid. You know, if we make it to the beach, or... just in case."


morganna said...

He stands up and rushes down the aisle toward the driver. I tackle him just as he grabs the driver's shoulders.

"He's trying to kill us," I yell.

He writhes under my hands and tries to stand up. "Let me go, kid!"

The driver pulls the bus over to the side of the road.

I won't let him go, even though he insists I have completely misunderstood what he was doing.

Someone must have called 911 because the bus is surrounded by cops. The noise of the sirens is deafening until they are turned off, one by one.

The driver opens the door. An officer comes up the bus steps, gun drawn. I don't want to die today. I hold very still. He says, "Put your hands up."

I put my hands up. The man bolts to his feet. He sees the gun and freezes. He puts his hands up. Another officer comes up and puts handcuffs on him. I guess he didn't want to die today, either.

Kyle said...

(Reposting, I forgot HTML)

Stanley had never ridden a bus before - school, public or otherwise. When he was a child, his father's driver had always taken him to and from his very exclusive (and very expensive) private school, which didn't even run buses of its own - how burgeois to think otherwise!

Yet now, here he found himself - shoes that cost $500 sticking to the same gum-and-soda-stained bus cabin floor as the rough store brand high-tops of the utterly uncouth person next to him. So degrading, so humiliating.

At 22 years old, Stanley had come from big money - his father had two doctorates because he got bored, kind of big money. He never had to do anything for himself, and expected that the world would continue to treat him as such his whole gilded life. But Dear Papa expected grandchildren, heirs, to keep the family strong. Stanley backed out of his all-but-arranged-marriage mere days before the exorbitant ceremony was to take place. Nice girl though Rochelle was, Stanley . . . well, Stanley didn't feel a connection with her.

"Why in the hell would that matter, Stanley? You think I married your mother for a 'connection?' Our families each had things the other could use, and we both knew it!"

"Papa, it's not that. It's just . . . well--"

"Well, what, boy? You would do well to speak up, especially about this! Mr. Hendrickson and I both have a lot riding on this, you know!"

Stanley swallowed hard, the stone that had grown in his throat unmoving. "Papa, it's not just Rochelle. I-I don't like any girl."

And that was the end of his entitled life. Out of the house, have no son, never come back; all that and more. All Stanley had was a small portion of the trust fund that his mother convinced Master Osterman to let him keep, and his outfit that was entirely too nice for a dirty city bus.

It was probably too nice for the dirty city apartment he was on his way to check out, too. And the dirty city office job he got through a family friend.

Worst of all, though - Francis, the boy who had taught him polo and . . . other things about himself . . . was kept from him. Maybe by his father, maybe because Stanley wasn't part of that world anymore.

It didn't really matter now, Stanley supposed. The commoner next to him - he of the shoddy store brand sneakers - asked Stanley if he could "bum a square, dude?"

Stanley, perplexed and upset, wept. Mister Cheap Shoes changed seats.

Greg said...

It's the Feast of St. Paul's shipwreck here in Malta today (sorry about posting late; my post on your tomorrow's prompt should explain it a little... assuming you can figure my temporal gyration out of course). Apparantly this shipwreck is attested in the bible, though I'm still not sure why it should be a holiday. I'm fine with waiting till Easter, personally.
I like the interleaving of the speech and the thoughts, and the slow buildup of panic until the guy gets up and starts moving. The tension is nicely maintained (and sustained in Morgana's follow-on, which is a definite treat!) and the whole thing was a joy to read. Thanks to both of you!

The bus
The subbus was palindromic, terrifying and a necessity. The years of global warming had taken their toll on the ice-caps and the sea-level had risen until Sixticton found a number of its streets under water. Other structures had also drowned, but pragmatism had taken hold and though the vineyards were elevated into lush, wasp-ridden islands and the vintners used gondoliers to punt the grape-pickers around, the church was left underwater and visited by scuba-divers and tourists who believed the tales that it was haunted by drowned parishoners. The sculpture park was elevated in parts – the asbestos problem was left to drown, but the statues with the sodium-metal cores were hauled out so fast people said they could hear the miniature thunder-clap of the air being displaced. There were arguments over the school, but the adults prevailed and the school was built up so it stood clear of the water. There was talk of hiring Miss Snippet to seal the building below the waterline and pump it dry, but fear won out in that case and she was never contacted.
The subbus was driven by Sixticton's skinny thug, mostly because he'd been intending to steal it and joyride it and the town had found it expedient to hand him the keys and a route and tell him to keep doing it. He alone enjoyed driving the bus along a dry street for fifty yards, then plunging down into an eighty-foot sinkhole and steering the bus until the wheels gained traction again on Main (for all Main was really now Two-Thirds) and emerged from the water, sometimes with a bemused duck sitting on the roof or a desperate fish attempting to evolve legs fast enough to get back into the water. No-one would have ridden the subbus at all, if it weren't for the fact that it was simply dangerous to swim between the various Sixticton islands.
No-one really understood where the alligators had come from, though there were rumours that there'd always been an alligator hatchery out at Prana Farm. They were there though, floating peaceably between islands like mossy logs until they spotted something that might be dinner, whereupon they moved fast enough to capsize canoes and kaibosh kayaks. The local dog population had formed something of a symbiosis with them, so the locals could usually spot an alligator because a dog would be sleeping on its back, waiting for a share of dinner, but sometimes the dog was off swimming or chasing the subbus happily.

Marc said...

Morganna - thank you for continuing mine! That was a most satisfying conclusion :)

Kyle - fantastic details and characterization here. I like the way you started us off in the present, went back to fill in the backstory, and then brought us back to the present for the end.

I'm not sure Stanley is going to be able to recover from all this, but I find myself hoping that he does.

Greg - a holiday in honor of a shipwreck? Sounds like pirate talk to me.

I love yours so much. All the details and the setting you've created. Not sure about that reference to the alligator hatchery, but I'll let it slide for now :P

This sounds like a really interesting place to live, and I hope you bring us back for another visit soon :)