Posted: May 2, 2019 in Uncategorized


Dusk lurked on the horizon as I walked to the theatre to catch the nine-o’clock show. The crimson sunset bathed the streets in blood, breathtaking yet somehow ominous.
I pretended not to see them but I knew they were there. They were always there; lurking in doorways and alleyways, watching me, hungering for what they knew I had. My pace quickened as I hurried past the darkening doorways. I would be safe if I could just make it to the movie theatre where my friends waited.
But after the movie… I dreaded the thought of encountering them in the darkness.
They say the full moon brings out the crazy in normal people, and enhances it in people who are already full-fledged members of the Basket Weaver’s Society. According to statistics, hospital emergency rooms were busiest during a full moon and police forces had their hands full during those times. People seemed more aggressive, or perhaps they were less inhibited; I didn’t know. I didn’t feel any different. I was just as nervous walking through that neighborhood during a full moon as any other night.
The movie wasn’t bad for an overrated piece of crap, but not worth the outrageous price they charged for admission. The popcorn was also overpriced, and of course the scamming bastards over-salted it to make sure you bought a drink to go with it. I threw half of it in the garbage. Good thing I’d eaten before I left, thanks to my neighbors, who had invited me over for prime rib. It was probably rude of me to eat and run but I explained to them that I had made previous plans. They were actually inconveniencing me by having their dinner on movie night; they could have chosen a different night if they wanted my company so badly.
When the movie ended I said goodbye to my friends and mentally prepared myself for the short four-block walk down the empty street to the bus stop and the bus that would carry me away to the safety of my suburban home.
Only four blocks, I told myself. Piece of cake.
The full moon glowed against the indigo sky like a shiny new quarter, obliterating some of the meteor showers, but if I looked toward the outskirts of the city, the Perseids meteor showers could be seen clearly, sprinkling their glittering dead into the earth’s atmosphere. It would have been nice to stop and watch them if I had been anywhere but here, on this dark empty street.
I began to whistle in an lame attempt to conceal my nervousness and appear nonchalant. I cringed when I realized which tune I was whistling.
“When you wish upon a star…” Great. Now Jiminy Fucking Cricket was playing in my head. I only had one wish, and that was to survive these next four blocks without encountering THEM.
No such luck.
I heard a shuffling noise as I passed the first darkened alleyway. I walked faster. From a doorway another one emerged. It mumbled something as it reached for me. I sidestepped and kept moving.
Just keep moving and don’t look at them. Maybe they’ll think I didn’t see them.
It was easier to get past them during the day when the streets were crowded but at night they were more aggressive, perhaps because their need was greater. Many of them had already gotten a taste of what they craved at that point but their appetites were far from satisfied. I had the feeling I was being followed but didn’t look back because it would mean acknowledging their presence. I anxiously pressed forward toward my goal.
I saw the bus stop ahead and checked my watch. The bus was due to arrive in less than five minutes. If I could make it there I could hole up in the brightly lit bus shelter and hopefully fend off their attack.
Just before I reached the bus stop another one emerged from an alleyway. He shuffled toward me, muttering, clothing in tatters, sooty hands outstretched.
I tried to avoid eye contact but it was too late. He knew I had seen him. I shook my head and sidestepped, ducking into the bus shelter.
Come on, bus! Where the hell are you? I looked down the street and tapped my foot impatiently.
The last one wouldn’t take no for an answer. He made a beeline for the bus shelter, followed by two more of his kind.
I was trapped.
I thought about making a run for it, but to where? I edged around the corner of the bus shelter, keeping it between me and my stalkers. To my horror, I saw several shadowy figures huddled alongside the wall of the adjacent building.
Oh shit.
Now they had also seen me. They too began to repeat the same phrase my other three followers were muttering.
I averted my eyes and shook my head again, telling them no.
The first three had reached the bus stop and were closing in.
I was cornered. Only one thing could save me now. I had to give them what they wanted, even though I needed it for myself.
Where the fuck is that bus?
They knew they had me. The ones huddled against the wall saw the opportunity for easy prey and rose, approaching me from behind as the ones in front continued to advance.
I had no choice but to give them what they wanted. I groped frantically for the only thing that would make them stop.
“There! Take it! Just leave me alone!” I shouted at them as I flung it as far away from the bus shelter as I could. I sighed with relief as they turned away to collect it.
The bus pulled to the curb and I dove inside as soon as the door opened. With no other passengers at the stop, the driver immediately slid the door shut behind me and steered the bus back onto the street.
I was safe.
Bye-bye assholes!
I reached into my pocket for my bus fare, already knowing that I would find none. With a sigh, I opened my wallet, which contained nothing but a thick wad of twenty and fifty-dollar bills.
“I don’t suppose you have change for a twenty?” I asked the bus driver, even though I already knew the answer. The driver shook his head and pointed at the sign behind the fare box. It read: “Use exact change for fares. Driver will not provide change.”
“Damn panhandlers got all my change,” I muttered.
The driver looked unsympathetic.
With an even heavier sigh, I folded a twenty-dollar bill and fed it through the slot.
Officially the most expensive bus trip I had ever taken. So much for saving money by not taking a taxi.
Oh well, I thought, At least I’m safe now. I’m in here and they’re out there.
As I made my way down the aisle of the empty bus, I heard movement from the back seat. A grimy, tattered homeless man sat up and repeated the phrase muttered by the others:
“Do you have any spare change?”

Copyright © 2012 Mandy White


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