Easy Pickings

Easy Pickings

I don’t see why I even signed up for this. “We learn about it in class but this is the real thing.”

That’s what our teacher Mr. Dane has been telling the class for the past month, and after praying to God I wouldn’t have to hear his obsessive squeaks. What happens? Mike’s Mum falls ill. Now I have to listen to him boring the class with his folk tales.

Fortunately, the bellowing storms drowned out his voice so we were unable to hear him.

It always relaxed me when storms brewed. It felt to me like the sky was simply letting off steam. Plus, it was always funny to see the twins quiver in sheer terror! The only other thing to do was count the seconds before our heads flung forwards, when the bus sank into the small pot holes.

The earth was cracked and dry yet the constant streams of rain protruding from the dark skies made the atmosphere humid and wet. It was different from other storms. An eerie presence surrounded the clouds. It made me feel depressed, and slightly drowsy. I could feel my eyelids slide. Drifting away, I fell into a deep sleep.

* * *

I heard a voice… Muttering, slurring its words. Always the same mumbles. The words were so disfigured; I couldn’t make out what it was saying. The voice grew louder, more sophisticated. It was a woman. Trying so hard to concentrate on the words, I made out her chilling speech. “I’m coming for you!”

I woke up.

Gasping for air, I struggled to come to terms with why I would dream about such bad things. Though unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to think, as the hard terrain shook the bus, sending my thoughts in all directions.
The vehicle seemed to drag itself across the drowned path, slowly passing the crippled trees that hung its decrepit branches so low to the ground. Looking back out of the window, trying not to look above at the dismal atmosphere, I noticed the landscape travelled slower and slower past my blood shot eye. The heap of junk driving our innocent bodies began to choke and cough. A thick blanket of smoke engulfed the dying contraption, sealing us in a murky dome, with no vision whatsoever. All of a sudden the dying contraption stopped. Dead. A once healthy machine had been reduced to a corpse silent and still. The continual squeaks and humming had grown to a complete halt. My bewildered heart sank to think we were stranded in such a deprived land with nothing and no one around us.

Mr. Dane insisted we would be back on route soon enough, but the gallons of sweat pouring down his face, immediately told us he was lying, and just made the class panic even more.

I pushed past the heaps of weeping bodies and tried to ease open the broken doors that kept me from what seemed to be sanity. At first I could just about prize the stiff mouth of the bus open, but I soon had to retire as they shut tight its tough jaws so that I couldn’t squeeze my aching fingers into the joints.

By now the pathetic whimpering was becoming unbearable, and I knew that if I didn’t get out of this torturous hellhole soon I would surely lose it!
Dragging myself across the sticky floor I noticed a tool box under the worn seat that parked the rather large rear of the bus driver now curled up mourning his trusty vehicle. Opening the tool box, my frown withered away into a hopeful smile. The sparkling crowbar glowed, as if a halo had surrounded its rusty head, glistening in my weary eye.

For my own safety I had to quickly grasp the heavenly tool and thrust it into the door’s gap, letting humid air pour into the metal cage. A beam of light struck my body and it grew. It grew larger and brighter, more and more. Air drowned into my tight nostrils, causing me to have a sudden rush that swept down my entire body. I started feeling light and dizzy. I could feel my eyelids getting so heavy; I had to battle to keep them open. Gravity started to pierce my weak skin, pulling me down. As I hit the ridged floor my knee caps cracked. My person felt it was draining, sucking precious life force away from me. Slowly but surely, I drifted away.

* * *

My head pounded! Thumping like an angry woodpecker. I got up. Still on the floor I pushed and strained my injured legs until I was standing. I tried to open my eyes but it was no use. I could only see a thick black. I lifted up my struggling arms until I reached my sealed sockets. I tried opening them but soon stopped, and immediately rubbed my stinging pupils. They were already open.

But they couldn’t be, could they? Could they? A once screaming bus, filled with such childish people had now become nothing. Nothing!

Filthy walls of thick black surrounded me, engulfing my deceitful eyes. I turned around. In all directions there was nothing. I turned back. The vile backdrop was blocked by a silhouette. A human form, I think. I couldn’t see the face, but from the still pose and silent voice, I could tell I was in trouble.

My spine, still recovering, immediately turned and creaked as I ran-trying to escape the figure and this dark prison. I didn’t even know where I was going but it seemed that anywhere was better then where I was. I turned back to see if I was being followed, and I wasn’t, I don’t think. The sinister being was gone, vanished from sight.

My stomach jolted and turned as blood spurted up to my face. A knife or dagger of some kind had been twisted into my stomach. A gut wrenching scream followed, but I stopped, knowing I would waste the air so dear to me now. My skin screeched in pain, as the knife was twisted, annihilating my blood drenched stomach.

Instead of looking down at the immense pain I looked up at my killer, so determined to torture me in anyway it could. It was blank. Even up close, it had no features; I couldn’t even feel its breath on my dying skin. It was like a shadow, everything you hate, everything you would expect in a nightmare. It was right in front of me, and I could see the face. Even if the features weren’t there. You could imagine it, snarling an evil grin. Fixed eyes, devilish and evil.

I couldn’t look at its horrible shape anymore, so I fell to the floor. I could feel the knife tear my flesh as it sliced its way out of body, harming me even further.

A pool of blood guarded my dying corpse, staining my hair and clothes. The nightmare loomed over me. I blinked. The silhouette had vanished and I could not feel its presence anymore. I had always read about the supernatural but never anything close to this.

To stop any further pain I shut my eyes, and waited for time to take its toll.
Just as I started waiting for death to take over, I heard voices again. Clear, gradually getting louder and louder, and these were familiar too. I tried to ignore it, thinking that in my last few minutes I had left, I was hallucinating. But these were different; I knew exactly who these voices were, and I concentrated hard, to hear them, over my agonising throbbing.

“Sara, wake up.”

“It’s ok we’re looking after you, just please wake up.” My Class mates whispered under their breath. It then hit me, that confrontation was only in my head, and I’m still alive. Knowing that, I gently slipped out of unconsciousness, and back into reality…

My body filled with warmth and life, and I could feel the weight lifting off my eyes. The immense agony, which once befell my dying carcass, had left. The only thing that remained embedded in my clueless mind was the figure, the nightmare that would haunt me for the rest of my days.

After eventually getting up I noticed that the moon was full and shining, which must have meant I had been out cold for at least 4 hours. The twins, Mike and Mr. Dane all watched over me, but I had to look away in disgust, as it reminded me of the tyrant, who last I saw looming over my lifeless person.
“Are you okay Sara? Do you need anything?” Mr. Dane’s voice reassured me that I was being looked after, and he and the class had finally calmed down. That in itself was a total relief. I could see why he asked. I had been told by a lot of the class how white my face looked, but it didn’t bother me and I didn’t need anything at all - except for us all to leave this retched place, and go back home! Thinking that made me feel so home sick that I felt like breaking down it tears, but as not to cause a scene I just stood up and went to sit on the bus.

Later that night, I felt ready to join the rest of my class mates, but unfortunately the ghost stories they were telling each other, after the events that had taken place today, just made my stomach turn, so I stayed put.
A sharp irritation seemed to pierce my starving body, but I tried to ignore it. Though as I did so, the pain got worse, and I had no choice but to scratch it. Just then I discovered a startling truth that couldn’t possibly happen. My scratching made me feel ridges on my skin, like someone had badly stitched my flesh, so it left huge marks that raised about 4mm from my pale exterior. I knew for certain that these had not been there before, or after I had passed out. But how? One idea crossed my mind that completely terrified me, and the overpowering astonishment of such thoughts made me shift my whole body, making me face the back of the bus.

I froze, squinting my eyes. A horrific sight made me silent, not even breathing. I couldn’t believe it. It had started again, but this more real then ever before. I couldn’t do anything but stand and slowly walk out of the bus that had seemed to be the source of all my bad luck. Stepping off onto the wet cracked earth, I ran. Tears started to stream down my face. My stomach still hurting fell straight to the back of my mind, as I had much worse things to worry about. I stumbled, but carried on until I met with Mr. Dane. “I found the driver!”

It was hard for me to say it, and I broke down in mid sentence, knowing that I would have to see that creature again.

Mr. Dane stopped, wondering whether I was joining in with his spooky games or just having another faint moment. He scanned the area, looking for the driver. He then walked to the bus taking my weeping self with him. Although I did not want to go back to such a terrible site, I felt I had to, mainly to comfort Mr. Dane after he sees the dead corpse I had just discovered.
Stepping onto the bus I clung to his t-shirt, finding it hard to believe I was actually stepping foot on this vehicle again.

He trembled, cupping his hands over his white face. “Hello Sara.” The same unfamiliar voice spoke again, yet it had a more masculine tone to it. I removed my hand from my eye. And slowly moved them upwards to see who was speaking…

I saw the dismantled face of the driver, but it seemed odd. That voice sounded nothing like the driver… I knew who it was. I felt the disgusting presence again. It was the nightmare. Even looking at the disfigured eyes I could see the same two eyes. Fiery and evil like I imagined the first time. Now they were there. Staring at me. I knew I needed help so I reached for Mr. Dane’s hand, but I never caught it. He wasn’t there. I was alone again. “I’ve got you now, you better run. Run as fast as you can because I’ll be watching, and sooner or later I’ll be coming to find you. And when that happens you know what comes next!” As it said its evil speech, it lifted up the driver’s hand. It pulsed…

I shook my head. I was back again, with Mr. Dane, and I was paralysed with fear. There lay the deformed carcass of the overweight driver, now stripped of bone. I didn’t take much notice; I was just hesitating, shifting my eyes. I was looking for it, the nightmare. His deathly threat kept repeating itself in my disturbed mind. All I could do was push Mr. Dane off the bus and run off after him.

Then Mr. Dane’s face returned and he looked at me and gave me a warm smile. “I’m not having this anymore whatever has just happened, I don’t care, right now all I want is to get you to a doctor, and quick!” I didn’t say anything, and as much as I hate doctors I didn’t question him and just went along his plan to get us out of here.

It was getting late so all of the class mates retired onto the bus for some much needed rest, leaving me and Mr. Dane at the front of the bus. “Let’s open her up, shall we?” I didn’t know anything about mechanics, and neither did he but we thought we would check it out, just to see if we could see any distinct problems, we thought we could fix.

Opening the bonnet we couldn’t see anything; nothing seemed out of place at all (not to our knowledge anyway). I arched my back over and rested my hands on the machine, wondering if there was any internal damage I could see. There was something. It was shining, looked like some sort of metal instrument. Reaching down even further I grasped my hand onto it feeling it was covered in some sort of sticky liquid. On first inspection, I thought it may have been a piece of metal that had chipped of another part of the bus, but no. Taking it out, I threw it to the floor. My worst fears had been realised. None of this had been my imagination. I’m sure of it. On the dusty floor lay a dagger, blood stained, that must have been used recently as the thick red liquid was still dripping down. I backed away, trying not to believe any of this was happening.

Then another thing hit me: the bus. All of this, my nightmares, my scars, the murder, even the knife, it was all on the bus. Something told me that everyone should be getting off the haunted contraption, before anything else happened.

I explained it all to Mr. Dane, and I couldn’t tell if he believed me or not, but he went along with everything I said so I presumed I was making sense with him! Mr. Dane shouted for everyone to wake up and bring their stuff with them. A wave of yawns and groans swept through the class as they were hurried off as fast as they could. To prevent any further trouble, I stayed put and waited for the class to come and stand with me until everyone had exited the bus. We never did tell anyone the truth, it’s obvious they wouldn’t have believed us and would have just gone back to sleep at the time. We just told them it was a gas leak in one of the tanks, to avoid any silly behaviour.

We all sat down and tried to get back to sleep. I wanted to, but I couldn’t, something was stopping me, and I was wondering how to get out of this desolate landscape alive…

I rested my head back onto the dirt covered floor and closed my eyes, in another attempt to go to sleep. Something ringed in my ear, distant yet quite loud. My face dropped I remembered my mobile phone in my bag. How could I be that stupid? Mr. Dane told the class not to bring our phones, but when do I listen to him? I crept past the sleeping class that snored and grunted, hoping not to be woken for a second time. But I stopped for the moment, realising that while the others got off the bus with their bags, I did not. It was still on the bus. I shivered, staring at the portal to misery and death. But I had to. I couldn’t let the class suffer anymore, so I stepped onto the creaking giant.

Thoughts were still racing, as to how I could forget such a useful item. I took another step, instantly scanning the area of signs of the creature. I dodged a pool of what seemed to be blood, thick and moist, but was actually petrol from the clumsy students, shifting there tired corpses of the bus.

Each step I took seemed like agony, as the metal floor creaked, piercing my ear with a grinding shriek! I paused making sure that I had nothing around me.
Making sure I was safe and completely alone, I ran the last couple of steps and held on tight to my bag. I looked inside, clothes and Mr. Dane’s camping set. All it had were matches, water bottles, and small penknife - hardly a camping set! Where was my phone? Again I hesitantly hurried around the bus crying and screaming, frantically searching for it. I rushed around, by the back seat, right where the body of the driver was, there it was. My phone. I found it hard to come to terms with why the nightmare had killed him and not me, unless… Unless the driver was trying to fight of the creature, in order for it not to take my phone away; and when I had come on the bus I might have startled it, resulting in the death threats.

With that thought I grabbed my phone, with my bag on my back and ran for the front. But I knew it wasn’t that easy. There it stood. The combination of misery and all things evil. At first I paused… I remembered our first confrontation… How weak I had been… How did I let some black trickster scare me! I blinked…I stood my ground. I had an idea. But it would have meant disaster.

For him anyway.

Again I could see the snarling smile, but it didn’t stop me. At that moment I was blocked from the rest of the world. I couldn’t feel anything and I wasn’t about to let that thing get me again! I had to end this! Otherwise it would have meant certain doom for me and my class, Mr. Dane too! Leaning over I swung my bag into my hands. I reached in, feeling the contents. Goal! My hand, reached out, grasping tight a match, from the kit…

At that moment I could clearly see the once snarling grin, wither away, into a petrified frown! Brushing the heavenly item, along the seats, My eyes started to water. Tears trickled down my dirt covered face. I could feel the heat glow on my weak hand. Striking the match, I gently threw the burning angel towards the shivering ghoul. A once devilish predator had shrunk into my trembling prey. Whirling, spinning like a firework, the match glided through the air… Passing the monster it flew closer to the front of the bus!
By now my tears had stopped. I knew what was to come and I was okay with it! I just focused my attention onto the little burning light that had reached its destination. The petrol!

A second passed. I cherished it. I took one last breath, and felt the now clear air fill my weary lungs… I never even had time to look at the nightmare, but I imagined, it fading away, into nothing…

I never remembered anything else, but I wish I had been there longer. I wish I would have been there to see the revolting monster drop to its knees. I wish I could have said goodbye… I wish I could have known what happened next.
Here. Here there is no pain or suffering. No Darkness. No evil. No nightmares. Here I can sleep well knowing I will sleep peacefully. Knowing I shall never have to confront my fears… Seeing just the nicest of things... Hearing the softest of melodies… Feeling nothing but peace and solitude.
Knowing I am in my eternal happiness…