Short Story 1:

People on the Bus

A business man hurries along the sidewalk to work, swinging his briefcase ever so slightly. On the corner, a coffee shop worker prepares a latte for a young lady. Outside the coffee shop a homeless man begs for something, anything, because he hasn't had a meal in days. By the coffee shop is the bus transit center, with buses screeching and crowds swarming to pack on to their ride. Old gum sticks to the sidewalk and the air is tinted with the smell of vehicle fumes. The crowd is an interracial mix, with people of all skin colors and body sizes, and people dressed in various ways.

As one particular bus glides into the long, indented curb, another swarm of people race to the bus door, their bus passes and fees clutched in their hands. After being pushed back by the group exiting, they almost push each other on. The first one on is a young man in his early twenties, and he is a singer for a local band called Blue Flame.

Another person gets on, this one another young one too, a lady this time. She is studying for a degree in Performing Arts at college. For this reason, her family dislikes her. They all are lawyers or engineers, why couldn't she be something like that as well?

More people get on; a pregnant women expecting in a couple weeks; an old retired marine; a mother with her five year old son; a couple of older teenage boys bobbing their heads to dubstep; a couple on their first date; a mysterious man in a trench coat; and an assortment of others. The bus quickly fills up until the bus driver cannot let anyone else on. He gives his stale apologies to an irate man who will now be late for work, and then closes the doors. Within a couple minutes, he pulls away from the plaza on his daily route.

There is something that only one of them knows. It is a horrible, devious plot. Their palms are sweaty, and they keep playing with their hair. But then again, several people on the bus have sweaty palms. And a person playing with their hair is not an uncommon habit.

The bus is very noisy. Twisted computer sounds boom out of earphones that are hooked up to iPods turned up far too loud. People that stepped on together talk sometimes in soft whisper, sometimes in loud shouts of laughter. Some people do not talk at all- they sit there staring out the window. Screeching sounds echo off of car's breaks outside, adding to the bus's own screeching and puffing. Someone with a rare flu that they contracted whilst travelling coughs and sputters, and the man seated next to them becomes disgusted and decides to stand up rather than sit next to them.

If one was observant, they would notice the overweight bus driver coughing and rubbing his arm every minute or two.

The man in the trench coat runs his hands through his blonde hair. He taps his foot impatiently. He has something that he needs to do, and soon. If he waits to long, then it will to be late.

Outside, a crack of thunder rings out. The five year old boy clings to his mother, scared. She hushes him and gives him comfort. When she was younger, she was afraid of thunder storms too. Ah, when she was younger. She remembers when she was young, when she was a teenager and the world was hers. She was the Homecoming Queen in her senior year and graduated that year with a 4.0. Her dream was to be a lawyer, but that ended when she met a cute boy and became pregnant. Now she is a mother tending to the dreams of her son. Currently, he wants to be an astronaut. At home, his room is decorated with glow in the dark planets and stars. Will he ever be able to fall asleep staring at those planets again?

More minutes pass by. More people depart from the bus. Soon, so soon, it will happen. Somebody coughs, a piece of gum drops; a Rolex ticks, and outside thunder rolls. The bus has taken a rather eerie silence. It is curious how storms cause that effect. Is it the storm causing the tension? Or is it the unspoken evil lurking in the air? Passengers begin to glance at each other, untrusting. Then again, no one in a city trusts another person entirely.

The driver begins coughing rather loudly. A glance, a stare, a worried gasp- Is he ok?

For the past month the driver has felt sick. The combination of a tough cold and asthma is a rather unforgiving couple. He is hacking and hacking and hacking… And then, berrrr! A flash of light engulfs the bus. A girl screams. The bus driver, suddenly white-knuckled, yanks the steering wheel to the right, but there's a pole. He yanks it to the left, and now there are oncoming cars! Finally, he straightens out the bus and everything becomes calm. Over the speaker, he apologizes: "Sorry for the inconvenience, please enjoy the remainder of your ride."

After some serious gasping, the passengers stop grasping their seats. However, they all are shaken. Attempting the calm down more, the passengers pick up on talking to each other, shakily at first, but then in roaring stories of the near death experience from just a minute ago. Everything is going to be okay; nobody on this bus is going to die today…

Then the plotter's plan begins. They have finally built up the courage. They throw their self to their feet and rip a gun from under their jacket. Initially, no one understands what is happening. After all, they aren't expecting anything. They already just lived through a near-death experience. Then a person screams again. Another person moans in despair. The plotter shoots one round, and then there is silence. They bark an order towards the bus driver to stop the bus.

But he doesn't.

The plotter hesitates. Why didn't the driver comply? He should have, if he had sense. If the driver held any intelligence, he would have complied. However, the driver doesn't hold sense or intelligence. He can't even think.

If one was observant, one would have noticed the bus driver rubbing his arm. One would also notice that the bus driver had stopped coughing. And if one was very observant, they would have noticed the bus driver clutch his chest and let out a gasp before becoming still. Furthermore, of one was keen, one would have figured out that the bus driver had just died from a heart attack. However, if one was paying attention to that and not the man with the gun, one would have been stupid.

Everyone on the bus is now looking at the bus driver. Even the plotter watches in horror as the bus goes over a bump and the bus driver slumps onto the steering wheel. Then, the bus is filled with a different horror as the front left wheel runs through a large pothole and sends the bus lurching to the right. An oncoming car is impaled by the large, out-of-control bus, which in turn causes the bus to groan and flip onto its side. It is then, at that moment, the retired marine leaps at the plotter. Bang! Another shot rings out, and then the bus is rolling and sliding down the hill that the bus is on. People come out of their seats and get thrown up and down like dolls. The bus finally comes to its resting spot at the bottom of the hill, where it lays on its side. Everyone lies still for a moment, as if paralyzed.

Finally, the man in the trench coat pulls himself upwards. Dazed, he looks around and spots the plotter. There is a pool of blood forming around their body. The man in the trench coat is suddenly overwhelmed by his training and experience as a doctor, and moves over to assist them.

The plotter is a young lady. Her hair is cut short, dyed pink and black. On her nose she adorns a piercing, and on her eyes she has black eyeliner caked on. Her skin is pale from a lack of sunlight, and the black clothes hanging on her thin, bony body just add to the effect. She hasn't always been this skinny, or this scary. Once upon a time she was a sweet, young girl who wouldn't ever hold a gun to a bus.

But now, she is classified as a filthy criminal who is dying. The man in the trench coat tries desperately to save her, but it's no use. Her lip is quivering, and tears are streaming down her face. For some reason, the man in the trench coat feels sorry for her. She is no longer the criminal that she was a few moments ago. No- she is a scared young girl. Through the pale skin, the thick eyeliner, a rather beautiful, innocent person has appeared.

The plotter doesn't want to die like this. All she ever wanted was to besomething. To show everyone that she isn't just a failure. The plotter didn't want to resort to stealing, but it was her last resort. But now, she can feel warm blood pooling around her. The wound hurts so badly. She can't recognize the face of the man who is next to her. What is he doing? She wonders. Then, it strikes her: He's helping me.

For once in her life, the plotter has someone that almost seems like a friend- and as the light fades in her eyes and the world seems to grow cold and dark to her, she almost feels happy. Almost.

That night, as people come home from work and sit on their couches, safe and sound with their families, they watch the news and learn the story of the tragic bus incident on Doomsday Hill of Spokane, Washington. The watchers send bad omens towards the soul of the plotter as they learn what she did, what a bad person she was. They feel sorry for the bus driver who died at the wheel. The old retired marine receives cheers of heroism. And the rest of the people, well, they receive happiness that they survived. Happiness is what they receive, for two people died to give them hope to live to die on another day, some other twisted way.