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Bus Story: The Consequences of Action – Parts I and II

December 10, 2014

The seemingly solid barriers between realities can be easily shattered by the most innocuous of events. A baby’s cry. Knocking on wood. Whistling in the dark. Each may result in a veil being pushed aside and not without sometimes substantial consequences. But put many of them together, a veritable symphony of invitations, and the result is nothing short of spectacular.

The bus careens along the dampened streets, flinging sheets of muddy water in its wake, like some great amphibious leviathan. Packed tightly aboard, the ridership jostles and sighs, as a typical weekday commute continues. As it does practically every day, the great metal caravan slows to a crawl in one spot in the journey and, despite this being a regular occurrence, the anxiety aboard palpably increases.

Then, breaking the quietly tense mood, a baby starts a piecing, tea-kettle scream. At the same moment, a woman in hushed conversation on her phone says, “Don’t jinx it!”, as she knocks on her wooden umbrella shaft. In the back, juggling her breakfast snack, a matronly woman in all tweed and leather accents, sprinkles salt on her hard boiled egg, and tosses some over her shoulder.

The invitations have been extended and accepted. The curtains are raised and the gates are flung wide

At first, there was only silence. All sound ceased being heard. It was, as far as anyone knows, still sounding, but the riders heard nothing, not even the beating of their own hearts. The sound vacuum lasted just a moment, less time than it would take a hummingbird to hiccup. 

But it was long enough.

Without being quite sure how, the ridership noticed that there were more people on the bus than just before. Not so many as to be shocking, but where there were previously gaps between people, there were now more people. Shoulders bumped where they didn’t before. More often than not, there was the hot breath of someone standing too close. And the new people smiled. They were the scouts; the advance team, sent ahead to make sure that the way was clear, now that the gates were open. Somewhere in the back of the crowded bus, a singularly beautiful and clear voice started to sing. The song, ancient and powerful, was joined by others, harmony building to a crescendo of glory and deep longing. As it reached the end, the interior of the bus lit up as with a hundred floodlights, as it rolled along the expressway. Brighter and brighter it grew, and then, with a final, terrible musical finale, the bus, and all aboard, vanished from the road. And our world.

The Faerie are, by nature, polite beings. They don’t come without being invited. But once the door is open, they take what they want. And that, at times, includes commuters.

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From → Bus Stories

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