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The Bus

How long has it been?

By LilyPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
The Bus
Photo by Seyed Amir Mohammad Tabatabaee on Unsplash

The first of us to go outside was the bus driver.

“Apologies for the inconvenience, folks,” he said, standing from his seat and stretching before striding casually over to the door. “This’ll just be a minute.”

We all watched as he opened the bus doors and stepped out into the inky blackness around us. The doors mechanically slid shut behind him a moment later, and the bus was left in silence. I returned my gaze to my magazine and flipped to the next page; an article on some celebrity fling.

Behind me, the businesswoman in her crisp blue suit huffed rather loudly for someone who had been sitting in a tunnel for less than a minute.

“This is ridiculous. Some of us actually have places to be.”

“He said it’ll just be a minute, dear,” the elderly woman, holding a bag of groceries on her lap, retorted with a chuckle. “Be patient.”

The businesswoman huffed again, but said nothing this time.

But the thing was, a minute passed. Then two, then five, then ten. The bus driver never returned; the mechanical doors never slid open, and the bus never began moving again. It just sat there, in the darkness of the tunnel, for an impossibly long time.

“You think he walked somewhere for gas?”

“Without telling us?”

“I’ll go out there and check. See what’s taking him so long.”

The second of us to go outside was a man in a checkered button down and slacks. We all watched as he fumbled with the control panel for a moment before the doors slid open again. He stepped out into the dark tunnel, the doors slid shut, and the bus fell silent.

I flipped to the next page of my magazine. Another celebrity fling. Part of me wondered if I had read this article already. Had I? How long had it been by now?

“They’ve been out there for twenty minutes now,” the businesswoman huffed. She suddenly stood behind me, banging her briefcase on the back of my seat. I didn’t look up, and she didn’t apologize. “That’s it. I swear, if you want something done right, do it yourself…”

The third of us to go outside was the businesswoman in her crisp blue suit. I still didn’t look up from my magazine, but I heard the doors slide open, then shut again.


Another page. Another celebrity fling. I was at the beginning of the magazine again, or maybe…

I don’t know how many times I flipped to the next page. I don’t know how many times I heard those doors slide open and shut and open again. But I do know that the last time I heard them slide shut, I glanced up to find that I was the only one left.


I looked around, frowning at the sudden emptiness of it all; not just the bus, but the space around it. The windows that I never looked out of were now pitch black, like someone had draped a giant blanket over the entire bus, and my reflection stared back at me in the glass.

At least, I think it was my reflection; did I look this haggard and disheveled when I left for work this morning? A set of red-rimmed, tired eyes blinked in the blackness; my eyes? Someone else’s? When did I last sleep? Eat? My hands, dirty and thin and sporting long, jagged nails held what looked to be the last page of a magazine—or at least, what used to be a magazine. It was just tatters now, so thin you could see through it. Something about a celebrity fling.

“This is ridiculous,” I said. “Some of us actually have places to be.”

I flipped to the next page. The last page. What was left of it. The doors didn’t slide open again. It had been twenty minutes.

“Maybe I should go out there,” I muttered, standing from my seat. My briefcase banged into the seat in front of me, where a haggard figure sporting a set of long, jagged nails sat motionless. It didn’t look up, and I didn’t apologize. “Check to see what’s taking everyone so long. This’ll just be a minute, folks.”

With my bag of groceries held firmly in one hand, I stretched and strode casually up to the front. I fumbled around on the control panel until I found the right button.

The doors slid open, and I stepped out into the inky blackness.


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