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The street

Inspired by a strange road near my house. Content warning: suicidal actions.

The man waited, fidgeting with the frayed edge of his Northface jacket. Whenever a car hissed wetly by, he looked up, gauging its speed and trajectory. None of them had satisfied his sense of perfection. He had waited too long to do this wrong.

Then he saw it: a Lincoln, one of the big ones, with grill enough to do the job. The man huffed out the breath he’d been holding towards the lone streetlight, so he could see it – a great cloud of the moisture of his life.

He jumped.

The driver of the Lincoln tried to swerve, but the man had calculated his leap well, and the vehicle hit him with a sickening series of wet crunches. Someone screamed, maybe on the sidewalk or maybe from the apartments across the street, but the man couldn’t tell. He was dying. He was dying. He was dead.

He was alive. He was on the other side of the street.

There was someone at the bus stop, hunched against the schedule pole. They lifted their head when the man rolled over and touched the sidewalk with a wondering smile.

The person’s hood fell back, revealing an elderly woman with half a set of teeth and a shocked stare.

“You came in through the front door!” she cried. “We don’t let anyone through the front door.”

The man’s smile faded, and he pushed to his feet, brushing tiny rocks off his Northface.

“I earned it,” he snarled. “I made the sacrifice.”

“We don’t let anyone,” the old woman quavered, trailing off, then again: “We don’t.”

A throaty honk announced the arrival of the bus going west. Throwing the man a hateful look, the woman waddled to the vehicle’s door and said something inaudible to the driver. The bus groaned with great dignity and lowered itself like a trained horse so the woman could climb the stairs.

The man grunted, lingering on the sidewalk to catch one last glimpse of the woman’s dirty coat as she vanished into the bus. He had expected some sort of guardian to challenge his passage, but this old woman’s vague mutterings hardly qualified.

The bus groaned again and the man looked up, expecting to see the staircase rising and the vehicle lumbering away.

Instead, the bus’s body was elongating to three times its original size, its tires stretching to become rubber-tipped limbs. It opened a giant maw where the grill had been, revealing six rows of gear-like fangs.

There it is,” the man growled and ducked into a roll as the bus-beast took a swipe at him.

Published inWriting