Darkness. Pitch darkness surrounded the bus.
Brakes grabbed when the driver applied his foot to the brake peddle.
Rubber burned. Smoke bellowed from beneath the back of the bus.
Loose pebbles on the bitumen made the bus fishtail from side, to side, on the road.
Passengers screamed. Brought their arms up to protect their face from injury. To save them from hitting the back of the seat in front. Seat-belts stopped some of their forward motion.
Talk turned to screams. The sound of the wheels skidding seemed to go on – forever. Then silence.
We all bounced on our allotted seats when the wheels hit a solid surface. The darkness became eerie with different coloured lights. Red. Blue. Green. Yellow. Flashing in the misty fog. Or clouds.
We had survived. Or had we.
Taking deep breaths to try to calm the rattled nerves. I closed my eyes. Opened them to find the same scene all around. I blinked – again. What had happened to the old folk who had been on the bus. I didn't recognise them. Why hadn't I changed. To my eyes I looked the same. Everyone kept calling for – Kate. How had they remembered my name?
Most of the passengers moaned in pain. Highly distressed. Others screamed on finding blood on the hand after wiping their face. The driver slumped over the steering wheel. I didn't have much damage done to my body. Besides bruises. Aching muscles from the rough ride. Being tossed in different directions while I gripped the bar at the back of the seat in front of me.
“Kate. What happened. Where are we. How is Chase?”
Forcing my fingers to open. I let go of the bar. Reached down to release my seat-belt. My hand connected with my name badge. The passenger beside me must have noticed it. Then the rest had copied her calling the one name any of them knew. Or thought they knew.
Now. I had feeling back in my hands, I worked my way over my limbs to be sure none had broken. On shaking legs, I stood to check out the rest of the passengers. I started with the lady beside me. She didn't seem to have any broken bones. For now. I had no medical supplies to cover the open wounds. I worked my way to the back of the bus on one side then came back toward the front stepping over the bags, and purses, scattered in the passageway. The driver moaned when I pulled his body from the steering wheel to rest back against the seat. I waited for him to open his eyes.
“Do we have a first aid kit,” I asked when he focused his dazed eyes on me.
“What happened. Where are we?” Why ask me. I had been admiring the view when the darkness surrounded us. I shook my head. He reached out his hand to try to open the driver's side door.
“I wouldn't do that,” I warned. “We might have landed at the edge of a cliff.” Chase moaned then leaned back against the seat and closed his eyes.
“Why me,” I asked, looking out into the unknown. “Why leave me to face the unknown. I didn't sign on for this job.” I began to make my way to the back of the bus to search through the luggage for the kit. Or search the luggage for something to make bandages. I had just started searching the luggage when a loud bang sounded on the back window. I looked up to see a ghostly, grotesque face, staring at me. I screamed. The alien didn't resemble a human. I scrambled over the luggage in the passageway to put distance between me, and the horrible face squashed against the glass. I needed to have people around me. Rushing toward the door, I checked to make sure no one opened it. We needed emergency help. But who did we trust in this unknown – universe.
“Did you find the kit,” asked Chase, staring at her pasty complexion with a trickle of blood flowing from the cut on her temple. That hadn't been there before. “What did you do to cut your head?” I put my hand up thinking I wiped at perspiration only to find blood on the back of my hand. Taking a hankie from my slacks pocket I wiped away the blood. Held the hankie hard against my temple to stem the bleeding. A thump against the exit door had me turning to look for the cause. There she found the squashed face against the glass.
Chase reached out to release the lock to the door. I grabbed his arm to stop him. “We need help,” he mumbled. “How many of our group are injured?”
“Most of them,” I answered. He reached out to release the lock. The door slid open. The alien appeared in the doorway. He spoke. We didn't understand him.
“Don't understand,” I said. “We have many injured. How far to a hospital?” I watched while he fiddled with a dial on his chest.
“I'm Petrodia. Where did you come from?”
“Earth,” I replied. “Where are we,” I spoke slowly for him to understand me.
“You have landed on Barbutio Zar.”
“How did we arrive here?”
“The same way all the other buses do. You are the first one to arrive – alive. Most buses arrive filled with heads – no bodies.” I turned to make sure all my friends hadn't been mutilated. No. Everyone had a whole body even thought damaged.
“Do you carry medical supplies. Or have a doctor?” The alien turned. That was when I noticed the four legs. And a tail. My legs gave at the knees. I collapsed to the floor. Our lives depended of this species to save us. A bright, dazzling light shone on the bus blinding me. When I opened my eyes from a sleep, I lay on a trolley in a clinically white room. The area full of machines taking care of us all from the bus. Or did they want to experiment on us. How did we arrive here? I have no memory after the light shone out of the fog. At least, all the patients had their head still attached to their body. Before I had a chance to do a survey of the room, a green light shone on my face sending me back to sleep. What I did see kept running through my mind. What job did the machines do? How many of my travelling companions knew what these – aliens – did to them?
Cold. I felt like I'd been placed in a fridge. My body doesn't like – cold. Why did the aliens put me in cold storage? I tried to struggle from the depth of my dreams. Or nightmare. I no longer lay down on a trolley. I had a sensation of moving through space, and time. Did the others come on this journey with me? Finally. I forced open my eyelids. I looked around. My friends sat in the seats of the bus – asleep. Or in an induced state of sleepiness so not to know; remember; or be scared.
We didn't travel in darkness on this journey. The bus the only object floating in a thick mist. A complete white-out. No scenery to be seen. The wheels of the bus hit a solid surface. The engine kicked to life moments before our return to continue the trip. The driver woke. Followed by the passengers. Everyone talking where they had left off before being surrounded by darkness.
I watched. No one seemed wise to their misadventure. I smiled. For some reason, the aliens didn't wipe my memory clean. Or did they want me to remember?
“No. Don't take that road,” I complained, each trip Chase went to take one of his side tracks. “The bridge isn't fixed yet.”
“How do you know it has been broken,” asked Chase.
“I listened to the news.” Each time I came up with a different solution not to take the road. I didn't want to travel to a different time dimension. Then again. If the pain returns to my muscles. I might try to find the misty road to be restored to good health.
I wrote this on a day which I couldn't go outside to weed the garden. Misty rain fell most of the day. I did have a couple of naps in the writing of this story. Trying out a new way of writing. A different genre.