The railway line was always down whenever they traveled. It just seemed to happen. Disruptions that required them to wait for hours on end for the service to resume. Or if they were lucky, until a bus service took the place of the dilapidated trains.
Today was no different, they sat together near the back of the bus, as it trudged along through the night. She lay her head on him, tired and annoyed at the incessant misfortune they always had when traveling. He stared out the window, daydreaming with his headphones in. His thoughts fluttered and passed – none sufficient enough to harbour for more than a minute.
The dim lights in the cabin caused his reflection to stare back at him. The bus was full, as one would expect due to problems with the train, and yet it was oddly silent. His bag between his legs, he continued to stare vacantly out the window.
Something sped past the bus. It caused him to jolt out of his semi-conscious state. He looked around the bus at the other passengers. No one had seen or noticed anything. It was dark outside, maybe he had dozed off and had a dream.
As they drove through Winchester, he laughed at the way the fog gathered around the old lampposts. As a horror fanatic, it dawned on him that the fog and antique lampposts were eerily similar to those you would imagine when Jack the Ripper walked the streets of Whitechapel. Would he be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an ominous figure skulking in the fog? One could always hope.
He glanced over at his travel companion. He smiled at her as she slept. She shifted in her sleep and he slouched slightly, so she could position her head better on his shoulder. He shifted his head back to the window, and met the gaze of something. Something that was moving on par with the bus and was now looking in to the vehicle.
Shocked, he stood up, causing Delilah to wake. She looked up at him in a daze and he babbled to her about what he saw. They both turned to the now empty window and he sat down confused. He was sure he had seen something. And something had seen him.
He looked out at where they were, hoping to see the name of the town they were passing through – but all he could see was thick masses of trees outside the window.
The bus began to slow down. He could see the other passengers look around in confusion. William stood up and looked towards the front of the bus to try and see why they were stopping. Outside, the night was still and dark – and It moved towards them.
A tree had fallen across the road and considering they were driving through a woodland, it was hardly a shock. The bus driver turned the lights in the cabin on and the loudspeaker began to crackle.
“Uh, good evening ladies and gentlemen. Sorry to inform you but unfortunately our trip has been delayed due to a tree obstructing our path. Woodlands services has been contacted and we can expect to be moving within the next hour or so. Your patience is appreciated. Thank you.”
The loudspeaker went dead again. Murmurs rose throughout the bus as people grew agitated. A few individuals stood by their seats while some began pacing the length of the bus. William looked out the window yet again and caught but a glimpse of It. The hairs on his arms stood up as his heart began to race.
Nobody knew what It was. All they knew was that the bus driver was now dead. His body lay dissected and spread over the tree that blocked their way. They didn’t even see It place him there. The body had simply fallen from the top of the bus. He had stepped outside to have a smoke, and all everybody could hear were his screams.
One brave gentleman had rushed off the bus to help but returned immediately, pushing the button to close the doors behind him. He sat on the floor by his seat, shaking violently. People crowded him and asked what he had seen, but he simply sat there shaking his head.
Shortly after that, the body hit the tree. Intestines draped over the wood, with blood painting a grotesque picture on the road. His body had been ripped apart and put on display for everyone to see. Arms and legs separated from the torso, stomach slashed open from end to end.
Everybody crowded at the front of the bus and looked on in shock. Prayers were heard throughout the bus as footsteps thumped heavily above them. Nobody moved… Everybody was too scared to move.
Delilah gripped William’s shirt and cried… He held her…
For a while, nothing more happened. Whatever, It was, had stopped walking on the bus. People began to discuss what to do. The consensus reached was, it must have been a wolf. Or a bear. Maybe both? But whatever It was, they were almost certain it had left them now. The man who first stepped off the bus, Gerry, finally stood up.
“It’s not a wolf.” He said. “Nor is it a bear.”
The crowd quieted down and gave their joint attention to him.
“Whatever the hell It is, it isn’t anything anyone has ever seen” he told them.
“It knew what it was doing while it ate him. I saw it in Its eyes. It’s waiting and watching us. It has a plan.”
Panic set in as people did not know what to do. Some wanted to leave and try to run towards town. But if It was still out there, that would be a death sentence.
William saw how fast It moved. It would catch and kill them all. Cellphones were of no use, they were surrounded by shrubbery and trees.
Finally, Gary, a fellow passenger suggested they try and radio in the situation to get help. The crowd agreed with him and he walked tentatively towards the driver’s cockpit.
He opened the door that stood between the passengers and the driver and sat in the dead man’s seat. He picked up the radio that sat on the dashboard. He pushed the button and as he spoke, the window immediately to his right shattered.
People screamed and before anyone could react, Gary was pulled, screaming, out into the darkness. His body followed the example of the driver and ended up in bloody pieces spread out over the tree. They were all going to die. William knew that now.
People sat huddled together, hoping that being in a group would protect them. With the speed and ferocity that It moved with, nothing would protect them. They could but hope death would be quick and swift.
William continued to hold Delilah as she cried. He didn’t console her or tell her “everything would be okay”. Things definitely would not be “okay”. The bus engine had been left on. The lights from it illuminating the mess of bodies set in front of them on display.
However, the battery had been left on for too long without the engine running. The lights dimmed and flickered before giving up. They sat now. In darkness.
The people’s cries grew, with the increased fear that came with darkness. The doors to the bus shook and creaked. Silence prevailed in the bus as shock descended on the masses. With a loud shriek, It came crashing through the bus door. It was not from this earth.
“The next stop is Portchester!” The bus driver shouted over the loudspeaker.
“This is our stop. Come on, wake up, let’s go!” Delilah shook him gently.
Almost screaming, William woke from his slumber. He never seemed to be able to stay awake on bus rides. He had goosebumps when he woke up. Man, had that dream felt real. He had to tell Delilah about it. She’d probably just chalk it down to the nonsense movies and books he enjoyed. He picked up his bag and cast one more look out the window. Fog had just begun to roll around the bus yet again.