The constant brushing of the curtains over her face was annoying her. The whisking of the wind from a tiny creak in the window was to be blamed; along with the poor locking system which let window to slide open with the inertia of bus movements. It was an overnight journey and she had to have a sound sleep, for the next day was gonna be hectic, she knew it.
Initially, she had woken up frequently to fold those curtains up or to shut that window tight, but then she just let it be. It was better that way that she stopped bothering about that. It almost felt as if the wind had stopped gusting through the gap; as if the bus had stopped and she was at peace… Wait, why was it feeling like the bus had stopped?
She woke up with a sudden suspicion.
The bus was, indeed, at rest. She peeked out through the half-open window. There was darkness ahead as far as she could see. She let out her head from the window a little further to see behind the bus and ahead. The roadside was covered with dark, huge trees and the road had no lamps or street lights. There must be some problem ahead on the road and she had expected there to be a long line of vehicles standing on the road resulting in a jam. But, no. The road was empty and only her bus stood there.
She immediately opened her compartment to talk to other fellow passengers, but to her bewilderment, there was no one else in the bus. All the sitting seats were empty, and the other sleeping compartment doors were open. There was no movement or sound inside the bus. She looked towards the driver compartment, where she could not see any movement either.
She stepped down from her compartment and moved towards the exit. On her way, she saw that all the compartments were normal, showed no sign of hurried evacuation. Personal effects and baggage were kept as is as they were supposedly kept by the owner.
When she reached the driver seat, she saw that the engine was off, but the headlamps were on. Even the key was hanging near the ignition switch.
She stepped down from the bus. She could see a few meters ahead on the road due to the bus headlights pointing ahead. It was pitch dark all around except that.
The bus passage lights were not on, which was weird as they were supposed to be switched on every time the bus stopped.
The bus was parked in a weird fashion, as if it was hurriedly stopped, without properly parking it at the edge of the road.
One after other, she could see weirdness around her and her mind seemed to be quite conversant at finding such spooky things.
She moved around the bus for some clues. She even called out in the open for someone to come, but all she got back was her echo. She couldn’t find anything around the bus which could explain the stoppage of the bus in the middle of nowhere and the disappearance of other passengers and crew.
She continued walking away from the bus with anticipation to find some help. She kept on looking back at the bus. She didn’t want to go farther than the point where bus tail lights would not be visible.
She thought of informing her family and friends about the situation. She got out the phone, turned it on and checked for the reception. However, there was no network. Even the emergency numbers did not work. She couldn’t connect to the operator or anyone for that sake, and her phone was useless at that point with respect to the communication.
She left a message in her outbox saying “URGENT” for testing purpose, sent to her own number. She thought that when the reception will be back, she would know it and will call someone for help; as it was late and no one would be awake to see her message at this hour.
She was startled by that sound. It was the sound of the horn of the bus. She turned back to see the bus. It stood there without any motion. She waited for some time looking at the bus. Was that horn real or just her imagination? If it was real, who was that?
She started moving towards the bus but then slowed her pace as she approached the bus. Still, there was no sign of movement around the bus. And who could have blown that horn!
She stopped for a while before glancing inside the bus through the entry door. Then gave a quick glance at the driver seat.
It was empty.
She climbed up the bus and checked all the compartments, and all the seats. There was no one. She moved outside the bus again, and moved around the bus to see who it was while screaming out loud “Who’s there?”.
No one answered her call, neither did she find anything peculiar.
Exhausted with fright, she moved back inside the bus, went towards her compartment. But then she suddenly realized that the key to start the bus was there in the jack. She ran towards the driver’s seat, saw that the key was still there. She managed to get in the driver seat.
She saw the surroundings of the bus through the side mirrors. There was no sign of anyone. She took a deep breath and turned the key to start the ignition. The engine made a few desperate sounds of starting and then stopped. She tried again, and again, but the engine didn’t start.
She hit on the driving wheel hard with her hands and put her head on the wheel. She started crying. After a while, she gathered hope again and decided to try one more time. She pulled herself upright again and moved her hand towards the key, when suddenly the lights of the bus, those which were on, went out with a snap.
It was complete darkness now. She couldn’t see anything. She tried her luck with the key, but it did not work. Probably the power was out. She started crying again while desperately trying to turn the lights on by switching random switches on and off on the dashboard. But nothing worked.
She slowly got up from the driver’s seat and turned on the phone’s flashlight. She could see a few meters ahead, but not so much. Sobbing, and frightened at the same time, she moved towards her compartment, taking each step carefully, looking around her while moving her flashlight in different directions.
When she had reached her compartment, she turned back to see towards the exit door, and as soon as she turned, her flashlight fell on that dark thing standing right behind her all this while.
Her heart stopped beating, she was aghast till the core and she dropped the phone on the floor. The flashlight revealed several parts of that thing but not fully, while the phone was falling, rotating on the way, towards the floor.
As soon as the phone hit the floor, the flashlight turned off and it was dark again.
She raised her hand to see if the thing was there still. She couldn’t feel anything. So she tried hitting hard in front of her with her fist, thinking to hit the thing hard on its chest, but her hand hit only the air. There was nothing in front of her.
She thought she must have been dreaming all this due to fright and tension. She bent down to pick her mobile phone, just when she felt a push from behind and came collapsing on the floor.
She yelled in horror and struggled to get up from the floor. While she was scrambling on the floor, she felt that something touched her stomach on the floor. Probably an insect, she quickly crawled ahead in alarm.
But it wasn’t any insect. Something grabbed her feet and pulled her back. She turned over to see what it was when suddenly a hand-like thing came out of the floor and grabbed her by her waist. She struggled to move out of it, but the thorns like things in the hand-like thing pierced her and gave her terrible pain.
She pulled hard to get out of that thing, but the pointy things were stuck in her T-shirt. She tore apart her T-shirt and came out of that thing. She had gotten hurt at several places on her chest and blood had started rushing out of those wounds.
She felt terrible pain at those wounds but ignoring that she ran towards the bus exit. She slipped on the steps at the exit door and fell on the steps and hit her head on assisting poles near the steps. She gathered herself on the floor while gasping difficult breaths, she pulled herself up using the poles and turned towards the door. But the door was closed.
She tried pushing the door and hit it with her hands several times, but it just won’t bulge. She felt miserable. With blood rushing out of the wounds on her bare chest and with new cuts and bruises on her bare thighs, she had a hard time staying up on her legs.
She shouted at that thing to show itself and asked her in desperation as to what it wants from her and why is it hurting her. Nothing happened. No reply came from the darkness inside the bus. She started crying again and asked the same questions to darkness.
She decided to break the glass and move out of this damn bus. She looked around for some object to use to break the plastic glass. Just then, she felt a strong sensation of heat over various parts of her body – her legs, her shoulder and her waist. She couldn’t move at all as if something was having a tight grip on her.
The plastic glass in front of her started cracking. It started bulging and came out of the hooks of the frame. And then it turned into a shape of a cone, with the pointed thing pointing towards her. She shouted with all her might, whatever was left of it, for help. But that wasn’t gonna help her much. The pointed cone glass moved towards her fast and went straight into her stomach…
She woke up clenching her chest and yelling. She was panting and sweating while in her compartment. She pulled her T-shirt upside to see if there were any cuts on her front. But there was no sign of any injury. She quickly glanced outside the bus window. The bus was moving.
Relieved that it was just a dream, she cleared perspiration off her face and drank some water. She was still traumatized due to the disgusting dream and felt as if the pain was real. This time, the wind, the moving curtain or the smell inside the compartment didn’t bother her. She went back to sleep while praying to God.
Just then, the bus slowed suddenly and stopped with a light jerk.
Immediately, she sat upright and was about to look outside her window, when a notification popped up on her phone’s screen: “URGENT”.