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The wrong bus

JBaz 'Silent thought' Challenge

By JD Pernoste and Anneliese DahlPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - September 2023
Image by Pernoste; Story by Dahl

The bus was late, always late, which was why he didn’t like riding them on the weekend. Jack sighed and took off his black cap, the one Janey always said made him look like he was in the FBI because of his black jacket. This was taking forever, and the benches were dirty and too many people were standing around, crowding him and talking too loud. All in Spanish, mostly. He could hardly hear his own thoughts.

Don’t you know people got some place to be? he wanted to yell. Didn’t seem like anyone else was in much of a hurry, but yes, he had someplace to be. He put his hat back on and sighed once more. He had to get all the way cross town if he was gonna see Janey. Was gonna take an hour with all the stops.

He stood when the bus arrived, only to watch the driver step off, lock the door and walk away. “Damn”, he muttered, but probably the driver needed a bathroom break. Jack sighed and stood by the bus door where everybody else was lining up already. Plenty of seats, and he didn’t care where he sat. He just needed to sit quiet and think of what he was doing.

Janey’d made it pretty clear they were over, and it just broke his heart and made him look like some kinda fool with his buddies. They could call him p-whipped all they wanted, because Janey was special. He loved her smile and her figure, and the way her eyes flashed when she was angry at him, which was most of the time. He loved her though, if she could just understand. She just got angry one too many times, is all. And maybe it hadn’t gone so well after that.

The bus driver finally came and let everybody on, and they raced and pushed to get a seat where they wanted. Jack just waited to see what was open and found a couple seats empty near the back. Quiet, perfect. He started talking in his head, real quiet, just moving his lips, to practice what he was going to say.

Janey, you know I’m not good with words, really, but I think you’re the greatest thing…. He could hear her reply in his head, What, I’m a thing? That’s the problem, Jack. Right there.

Janey, you know I’m not good with words, but you’re very special to me. Her answer, So special that you cheated on me with every girl in the neighborhood?

Janey, I’m not very good with words, you know. The Janey in his head laughed. I’ll say.

Janey, you belong with me, and you know it, Jack screamed in his head. He was getting angry. He wasn’t even there yet, and it was hopeless. He was ready to hit her, again. He felt really bad about that. He hadn't wanted to hit her, and not so many times. It was the meth… and being drunk. Always brought out the worst in him. She didn’t know that, though. He pounded the empty seat in front of him.

“Hey, man,” a guy a couple seats up from him whispered. He was a weaselly-looking white guy, in Jack’s opinion, with a scruffy beard and smelly in three-day-dirty clothes. “You want some Jackpot, man. Two pops, a hundred bucks?”

“Yeah, sure,” Jack answered, and the weasel dropped back to sit next to him for the exchange.

“Good product?” Jack asked.

“Chill you right down, bro,” the weasel said, jumping back to his seat a couple rows up. Jack laughed, popping the pills. He’d be cool, real cool when he met with Janey. He leaned his chair back to fly.

Jack missed his stop at Janey’s apartment, and every other stop, too. When they took him off the bus, he was cold, real cold.



[Author's note: We were going to try a tag team approach, but Pernoste was too busy. I wrote this in one sitting without much of a plan, only doing the small edits in real time as I formed each sentence. No overall editing at all, except checking punctuation and italics. I was thinking of some of the guys I saw when I lived in the harder places of my childhood. Sorry, a little dark, but it was the world I lived in for a while. Had to kill him in the story or I wouldn't sleep tonight. - Anneliese]


A challenge for everyone from JBaz:

How often in life, do you see someone just silently staring into space. What are they thinking, what is their story? Are they happy, sad, reflecting, remembering, worried.

I walked past a person staring out a window. No movement, no expression. I Challenged myself to write a story about his silent thoughts, what was he thinking.

The challenge to you, it must be between roughly 600-650 words. It must be written nonstop in one sitting. (Take your time and work it in your head before you begin).

For more of a challenge allow yourself only ONE edit. Let us know if you succeeded with one edit.

On your submission note that it is for the: JBaz 'Silent thought' Challenge.

Short Story

About the Creator

JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl

Pernoste & Dahl are a writing duo of poetry and fiction (serious or humorous). Check out our 5-Star sci fi dystopian verse novel "In the Minuses" on Amazon.

Instagram link: Authors_Pernoste.and.Dahl

Webpage link:

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (25)

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  • Darkos2 months ago

    Congratulations on Top story so happy for YOU :))) !💚💚💚💚

  • Naveed2 months ago

    Congratulations on achieving top story status! 👌

  • Gerald Holmes2 months ago

    You never cease to amaze me with your creativity. This is just great story-telling!! Congrats on the Top Story.

  • Walterego2 months ago

    great post

  • Jimmy2 months ago

    Wonderful writing. This story describes how creepy and addicted Jack is!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    Congratulations on a wonderful story and top Story. And again for taking part in the challenge

  • Donna Renee2 months ago

    Congrats on the Top Story!!❤️❤️

  • Grz Colm2 months ago

    Compelling writing and in a different style again! Terrific work ! 👏☺️

  • Naomi Gold2 months ago

    This is so good, Anneliese. I loved the progression. At first I thought it was sweet, he was excited to see his lady. Then there was the reveal that she made it clear they were over, and I immediately felt angry that he was going to go bother her. I felt sick the way he talked about her like an object. Then he said he wanted to hit her… again! OMG this story was enraging me. I loved the ending. I thought it was best for all parties involved, because he seemed like quite a miserable person anyways. Congrats on your Top Story. 🥂 Transgressive fiction is my favorite, but not easy to pull off. You made it seem effortless. And I love the art work from Pernoste. I’m about to get on a bus to Mall of America, but I if it says “Kill” I’ll just stay home LOL.

  • 😯 Whoa, Anneliese: This is a winner!!! The realism gripped me. I think you should write another with the same kind of grittiness. When I can, I will visit Vocal again to check out your foray into the dark side ... if you go back. 😌 BTW, before you offed Jack, I was going to suggest Janey get a bat ready! 💙✍️💙

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    Back to say "Congratulations!"

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    I liked how you created compassion for both Janey and Jack, without giving any sense that what jack did was ok.

  • A. Lenae2 months ago

    What I really love about this story is the way it started out in the head (rationalizing, planning, skewed narrative voice), and then completely ended with physical reaction, a pit in the stomach. "Cold." Totally understand why you needed to kill him off. Great, visceral piece

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    I love this. Sad ending, very intense. I wasn’t expecting that!

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    This was really well done. At first I was feeling sorry for the guy but that obviously changed as the story progressed. Great job on the challenge. Congrats on the TS.

  • Kendall Defoe 3 months ago

    Wow...I know that some people love to trip, but seriously... Great work, dynamic duo!

  • Thank god you killed him off! Else he would have harrassed Janey. Loved this story!

  • Darkos3 months ago

    I love how You wrote it, the ending is surprising and it is a great script for a short movie the title is just perfect for it ! You are awesome writer 💗! and Hope You slept better after all ☺️

  • My first thought was, "This is so me. You even used the same name as my gaming profile." (Jackbashful) Then you got to cheating with every girl in the neighborhood, hitting her, meth & I thought, "Don't even open the door, Janey. Just call the police." Good idea having him die on the bus. We'll all sleep better.

  • Mark Gagnon3 months ago

    I wasn’t sure what this guy was all about at first so I thought he was just sad about losing his girlfriend. The more you developed his personality the less empathy I had for him. Excellent work.👍👏

  • Kenny Penn3 months ago

    Great story! I loved how you showed us the mind of a someone like that. Really dark but also intriguing. Thanks for sharing!

  • Dana Crandell3 months ago

    I really enjoyed the story. Congratulations on a great solo effort.

  • JBaz3 months ago

    Nicely done. I went from being sympathetic to angry then seeing another side( still not liking him, but not as angry). Than that ending. Congratulations on this.

  • Heather Hubler3 months ago

    You packed so many emotions into this one, I felt wrung out by the end. Fantastic writing, flying solo :)

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