By: Amanda P. X. Sim
It was raining cats and dogs when I finally managed to halt a bus to return to the town of Hemsworth, where my parents lived. The streets were deserted, and I was lucky enough to come across the old bus travelling down the dark road, breaking the silence of the night.
‘Thanks,’ I muttered to the driver. Making my way down the aisle, an empty seat at the end of the bus caught my eye – beside it was a young lady reading a Sidney Sheldon novel. ‘Is this seat taken?’ I asked. She shook her head slightly with a smile. The young lady had a sweet and pleasant face – pale skin and mahogany hair braided to the side, but it was her eyes, a deep stunning green which attracted me to probe into her soul. She wore simply, but her style was elegant. I smiled back.
Being the gentleman I was, I stroke a conversation, talking about my life in the city far away from home. I had just started business, and was looking forward to a better future. Nevertheless, I missed home, and the family I grew to love. She listened tentatively, and seemed quite touched by my closeness with my family. ‘You’re a family man,’ she exclaimed. Then she too started to open up to the conversation. I learned that she was a secretary of a company I’d never heard of, and took the bus daily.
‘I’m twenty-two this year. My childhood was not as pleasant as I hoped for. I still remember the day I turned five, Dad came to put me to sleep, and told me not to grieve; Mum would be leaving us the next day. I was young and did not understand loss, but when Mum really did pass away the next day, I realised I was a fool for disbelieving his words. For the next five years, I lived with Dad and Kyle, my brother. All was good, until I turned ten.’
A wave of compassion swept over me, and my heart went out to the young lady sitting beside me. She saw that I was interested, and continued her story. ‘On my tenth birthday, my Dad broke bad news again. He said Kyle would be leaving the next day. I asked where would he be going, and Dad replied that he would be going to where Mum went. That was such coincidence that I refused to believe him, but he was right. Dad left when I was fifteen. He passed me an envelope, and told me to read it only when I turned eighteen.’
The young lady swallowed a lump in her throat. ‘Life was hard, you know, losing the people you love most…’ she sighed. ‘I’m sorry,’ I said. She smiled a small smile in reply. ‘Then I turned eighteen, and met John. He was a wonderful man, but somehow good things couldn’t last. As Dad had warned me in the letter, he left me when I turned twenty, but this time I did not fear. Dad wrote – our family will be reunited tomorrow. That lifted my spirits.’ All of a sudden I felt the skin on the back of my neck tingle uncomfortably. I asked her age again. ‘I’m twenty-two now, happy with my family.’
In that half-second, I realised that no one had asked for my ticket. My heart thudded in my chest as I looked at the people around me; they were all expressionless. ‘Where are we now?’ I shouted to the driver, but he seemed to be oblivious of my presence. I turned back to the young lady, but she was not there. She was sitting a few rows ahead. ‘Stop here! Stop right here!’ I practically screamed. The bus came to a halt slowly. I rushed to the exit and jumped to save my life.
Little did I know that the best had yet to come. The passengers of the bus were all getting down one by one. I was panic-stricken. ‘Where in hell do you think you are going?’ I screamed to everyone around me. The eyes that greeted my response each held a cold strange stare. A disgruntled old man sneered at me. ‘Excuse me? We are back from hell and we are going home.’ My throat went dry. From the corner of my eye I saw the bus-stop sign which read ‘Dead End’. The passengers were already heading towards the dead end of the road. Dim light from a nearby lamppost shadowed lonely grassland beneath the trees – where tombstones stood.
One particular tombstone caught my eye. Carved on the grey surface was the name ‘Steven Marc Anderson’. I slipped into a dark abyss, feeling my body unnaturally weightless…
Topic: Short Stories Tags: amanda p. x. sim, ghost story, short stories, slythoween