The Under-Bus

I wrote this over a particularly long trip on public transport, when I started thinking about what form of public transportation would exist in the ‘Underworld’, and who would be on it. It took a strange turn, and now that I read back on it, is probably meant to be part of a larger work. I also don’t know why I wrote it as screenplay. And I suck at coming up with names. And the two characters are pretty much the same. But regardless, I thought I’d copy it onto here.

Jimmy, distracted, steps back toward the road. He backs directly into the Demisement King; the staple of the Underworld public transport system. It seems to have arrived suddenly, and did not produce any form of noise as it did so. Jimmy spins around. This is not the bus he was imagining. It’s wheels are complete with spikes that tear into the ground, and yet, leave no sign of damage as it continues down the Underworld’s murky highway. Underneath, a sickly black glow emanates, and from the engine comes a cacophony of screams, leaving one to imagine just what drives this menacing contraption. A door opens on the bus. Jimmy takes a reluctant step on, and is confronted by The Driver. Obviously a victim of being drawn and quartered, his limbs are stretched out at awkward angles, giving him a spider-ish look. His head remains human, apart from the rather large hole where his left eye should be situated. He looks Jimmy over, and then extends one of his hands. Jimmy passes his bus ticket to him. The Driver continues to wait, all the while staring at Jimmy with an unblinking, and alarmingly damaged, eye. He reaches up with one of his monstrously long arms, and taps a sign above him. It reads:

 

FARE: $2.50

CORRECT CHANGE
DO NOT TALK TO DRIVER

SERIOUSLY*

 

*Printed by ‘Because I Said So’ Civic Control Co.


Jimmy fumbles in his pockets, and places the correct change into the driver’s hand. He snatches it away, and places it into an empty hole in his head, which is also filled with change. He guns the engine, and starts the Bus off on it’s route once again. Jimmy takes a seat in the mid-section of the bus, ignoring the other passengers. He looks out the window.

  JIMMY

I used to wonder whether the entire world had gone insane. As it turns out, insanity has universal applications.


The bus comes to a stop. A peculiar creature boards, and takes a seat. It vaguely resembles a human, but is afflicted with various protrusions. Obviously a sociable type, he begins to talk to the driver. When he receives no response, he taps the driver on the shoulder. He persists, until a hole opens up underneath his seat, and he crashes to the road below. A thump is heard as the wheels pass over him. The passenger next to Jimmy speaks.

JULIA

Tourist.

 

Julia is reading a newspaper. She does not seem to possess any of the abnormalities that encompass the other citizens of the Underworld. Her hair is green and dread locked on one side, whilst the other remains plain, and her eyes are curiously dark. She sighs, and flips a page. Intriguingly, she has folded one page down the middle, and is only reading one side. Unknown to Jimmy, the two halves of her brain have separated over time, resulting in this interesting quirk.

JULIA

It’s always the same around the holidays. People get depressed, one thing leads to another, and they end up here. Happens every year.


Jimmy turns to her.

JIMMY

Excuse me?


He receives no response. He waits for a moment. Julia continues to read her oddly-folded newspaper. He waits a moment, unsure. He tries again.

JIMMY

Are you talking to me?


Julia answers without looking up.

JULIA

No.

JIMMY

Oh I’m sorry. I thought you were talking to me.

JULIA

I was talking to myself.

JIMMY

You do that often?

JULIA

It’s the only way I can be assured of a conversation with someone who has an equivalent IQ above that of a toaster.


She looks at Jimmy.

JULIA

Although you strike me as a higher form of whitegood. A fridge, perhaps.

 

JIMMY

That motto must make you a lot of friends. Anyway, you don’t even know me.

JULIA

If I wanted friends I would have joined the bowls club. If they’d let me back in the building that is. And no, I don’t know you. But judging from previous encounters on public transport, I can make an informed guess.

JIMMY

Well, since you’re weren’t talking to me, and I don’t feel like joining in on your daily ‘Antagonise the stranger’ routine, I’ll think I’ll just start reading my imaginary screenplay out loud. Ahem. ‘Hi Lance! Have you seen my keys? We’re meant to be choosing turkeys today.’

JULIA

 Very soon I’ll turn my imagination into reality by planting my foot in your throat if you don’t leave me alone.

JIMMY

(Getting up) I see. Well, you have been a ray of sunshine in this otherwise cloudy day. I can see how your effervescence gained you a place here.


He goes to place a condescending hand on her shoulder.

JULIA

Don’t touch me.

JIMMY

Why?

JULIA

You won’t like it if you do. Call it a bizarre reflex reaction.

JIMMY

I’ll take your word for it. By the way, how the do you get off this thing?

JULIA

You ring the bell.

JIMMY

This bell?


He pushes a red button on the side of the bus. The bus comes to a gentle stop. He steps off, and walks away. Julia watches him, and then returns to her newspaper. Someone approaches, and touches her lightly on the leg.

PASSENGER

This seat taken?


Julia’s leg lashes out, and kicks him swiftly in the groin. He collapses.

JULIA

Maybe I should get that checked out.

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Possessed

Once again, no idea what this is about. Any ideas? Also, written quickly and published without much work. Meh.

Concussed and non-plussed

I’m stalking for my next hit

Scratch yourself into my blood

And sign it off, as a generation’s lament

 

Nameless yet aimless

Long-since dead and totally blameless

Just stack me high,

And take me home

 

A lust indulged

isn’t always a lust benign

we’re all turning to dust,

come with me, and we’ll fall apart just fine

The Frozen and The Prison Bag

I’m not exactly sure what I just wrote. 

A dark room, curtains drawn, illuminated by a flickering television. It is this rooms natural state, and it is clear that light is not welcome in this place. There he sits, propped up in a hastily patched beanbag, eating a vastly innutritious cereal. He avoids the sensible, boring kinds of cereal, preferring the kind that makes your teeth ache in protest, and insta-diabetes an ever increasing chance with every spoonful. Day or night does not matter here; it is merely a forgotten memory, an alien remnant of a former life left rotting amongst the dirty clothes and empty cans. Dishevelled and surrounded by junk, barely awake, eyes blankly peering out from pallid sockets and transfixed upon the chattering TV, movement seems an unfamiliar concept to him. Perhaps he did it once, but he was sure he didn’t enjoy it. As a result, the scene remains in this state for some time, inert and frozen, a stationary holdout against the pace of modern life. A slow, crunching movement breaks the stagnant vista, as he sluggishly gropes for the remote control. Grasping the device, he levels his aim, and points it at the television. People will sink to great depths, and exist amongst darkness unfathomable to most, but at the very least, we have expectations of a remote control. We point it at things, and are given a response. An unchanging comfort, the result always the same, and the fact that nothing happens alarms him on some instinctual level. Shaking the remote, he tries again, only to be greeted by the same outcome as before. Evidently, getting up to change the channel himself is not an option. The television may as well be on another continent. But, he is not defeated. One does not achieve such a degree of laziness without a great deal of effort, and he is not giving up just yet. An idea begins to sputter to life inside his head, and he turns it over gingerly, attempting to process information through the clouded haze of one just rudely awoken. His gaze falls upon the drawn curtains, and the plastic rod used to open them. The idea crystallizes, fully formed and beautiful in his head. He reaches for the rod, but is careful not to leave his place. Straining, beads of sweat begin to form upon his rutted brow, and they begin to snake down his face, carving rivers of salt and leftover chip material across his cheeks. With one terrific effort, he grabs the rod, and pulls. A loud crack emanates from the railing, and it crashes to the ground, burying itself in piles of indeterminate refuse. The remnants of the curtains clatter and fall, mangled and beyond salvation, an unavoidable casualty of this plan. Taking a minute to compose himself, he pokes at the television, and changes the channel to something more suitable to his tastes. A renovation show perhaps. He hurls the rod away, a tool now without purpose, and it lands on the other side of the moonscape, left to remain an eternal reminder of what he has overcome.  With a sigh, he leans back, content and basking in the completion of his task, his ordeal now finally over.  A few minutes pass, and he remains motionless, the exertion requiring a few weeks of concentrated immobility.  The sounds of a finance report begin to creep forth from the television. Stirred once again, he reaches for the remote, and presses the worn buttons. Nothing. A brief flash of comprehension flashes across his face. Looking across the room, he sees the rod lying on the floor, a companion perhaps disregarded too soon. And so he stares, bound and inert, trapped in a bean-filled prison to which he most likely ate the key. Hours upon hours pass, and he stares across the room, a silent and ruinous despair creeping into his weakened bones, where it threatens to overwhelm and crush whatever peace he had found in this life. Days and weeks passed, the indifferent sun sliding across the sky in indecipherable blurs, to be replaced by a pale electric moon, staring coldly through the windows at the man who cannot move. That’s how they would find him, frozen and staring across the room for what he could never have; skin drawn taught across his face, an outstretched hand reduced to a distorted claw, but still always reaching, craving for the unattainable. Sometimes our prisons don’t have bars.