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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