The Night Bus
You never know who you'll encounter.
Ramona shook the door handle to her apartment in frustration. No matter how many times she tried to insert her key to open it, her door would not budge. So she continued to shake it furiously, hoping something would happen.
"Need some help?" A voice asked form behind her.
She turned around and saw Issa, the old lady who lived a couple doors down.
"This place is a dump, Issa," Ramona said. "How does the only key to my apartment not work? I don't know how you and Lonnie have lived here for so long without losing your minds."
Issa shrugged. "It was nice when we got here all these years ago. Maybe we're just used to it."
She smiled at Ramona, who responded with a smile back.
"I can only imagine what this place was like when it was first built. I'm sure the locks worked just fine," she said, shaking the handle one more time. Still nothing.
"Well we had the honor of being the first tenants here," Issa explained. "It was brand new and nice and the people who lived here were all so friendly."
"Imagine what it would be like to have friendly neighbors," Ramona scoffed.
Issa smiled. "We've seen all kinds of people move in and out of here. I have to say, you've been one of our favorites."
Ramona relaxed her shoulders and took her focus off of her door handle. "Thank you, Issa, you're too kind."
Issa began walking back to her apartment. "Lonnie can help you get that thing open, but he won't be back until later tonight. But as soon as he gets back, I'll send him over."
"Thank you so much!" She waved at Issa and made her way out of her apartment complex. She took the bus that stops right outside to her sister's hotel and prepared herself for the long ride.
An hour and a half later, Ramona is sitting in the living room of her sister Reina's extravagant hotel room. Reina's husband, Chris, comes out of the bedroom holding two bottles of wine.
"Oh, none for me, Chris," Ramona says. "I have an interview in the morning."
"Oh, of course!" Chris says, "Reina told me about that. That's an incredible opportunity you have."
"It really is!" Ramona responds. "It pays way more than my job now, and it's actually in the field I studied for in college."
"And you'll finally be able to buy yourself a car," Reina says.
Ramona nods and laughs. "Yes, sis. That too."
"I'm sorry, I just don't like the idea of you taking the bus everywhere. It's not safe." Reina crosses her arms.
Ramona shakes her head. "I'm fine. I've been doing it ever since I moved here. But yeah, owning a car would be nice."
The night goes on until Ramona finally has to leave. She grabs her purse and jacket and heads out of the room.
"Are you sure you don't just want to stay here for the night?" Reina asks.
"I would if I didn't have this interview in the morning," responds Ramona. "Plus I don't really want to intrude on your night alone with your husband. No offense Chris!"
"Okay, well just be safe please," Reina says shakily. "Oh, and since you didn't have any wine, take this other bottle for home."
"Thank you, sis," Ramona says accepting the bottle. She makes her way down the stairs and catches the bus.
As she pays her fare and looks for a seat, she notices no one else is on the bus except a man with his head down and his arms crossed in the back seat. He is covered in dirt and wearing dark grey and black everything, so Ramona sits near the driver, feeling a bit paranoid.
She clutches her purse in her lap. Her eyes keep darting back to the man in the back seat even though he does not move. "Maybe he's asleep," she thinks. He had the hood of his jacket pulled completely over his face, so that had to be the reason.
Suddenly, the man looks up. Though she could not completely see his face, she felt his eyes fixated on her. He seemed to lean forward, his unseen glare making Ramona feel more uneasy with every passing second. She could still see the man staring at her in the corner of her eye. His hood pulled down to his nose, she still knew what he was looking at. She was the only other person in that bus other than the driver.
Ramona panics. She pulls the string behind her seat to signal the bus driver to stop. It is a couple blocks down from her apartment, but she would rather get off now and than let this man know where she lives.
The bus stops and Ramona rushes off the bus. She begins to power walk towards her apartment, her purse clutched aggressively close to her body. She doesn't look back, fixing her focus on the journey ahead of her.
But before the bus takes off, she hears the sound of feet pattering behind her. It's the same sound her feet made as she stepped down from the steps of the bus door.
Ramona spins her head around. The man in the hood is right behind her. And he's walking straight up to her.
Her heart sinks inside her chest and her stomach turns. She takes off running, looking back constantly to find the man running right after her. She wants to scream for help, but she feels shortness of breath. Sweat begins to drip all over her face and her vision becomes incredibly blurry. She can feel her heart beating violently all over her body; it's pounding in her head so terribly that it's the only thing she can hear.
She turns around and sees the man picking up speed. She thinks...she tries to figure out what to do, but she can't. Everything is happening so fast.
No one else is outside. All the shops are closed. Not a single vehicle can even be heard in the silence that she was encased in.
Finally running out of breath and still several blocks away from her apartment, she stops. She grabs the bottle of wine from her purse. She turns around and sees the hooded man getting closer and closer. Ramona grips the bottle in her hand.
The man finally catches up to her, and she prepares for what comes next. He gets closer and closer and closer, until...
She swings the bottle of wine straight at his head and he collapses. Broken glass and red wine go flying everywhere. The man doesn't move.
Ramona drops what's left of the glass bottle and she puts her hands on her knees. She finally feels how exhausted she is from all that running, and her head feels light. She stares at the man's body; his face soaked in red wine and shards of glass.
Ramona gets a closer look and studies the face carefully. It's too dark outside, so she gets closer and closer until she is right above him.
She pulls off his hood quickly and backs up in fear that he might wake up. And then she screams. A jolt of fear shoots up her spine and paralyzes her. She feels like balling the life out of her face, but she can't move or form words with her lips. She has no choice but to stare down at the body she has disabled with the blow to his face.
She was staring at the face of Lonnie.