The white bus with blue and red stars, tinted windows and the name “The Friendly Rider” drove quietly through the small town. The slogan under the innocent name proclaimed “an easy way to get from here to there”.
The sun was sinking on the horizon, signaling the end of the calm summer evening. The only sounds were an occasional car as it drove by, and a dog barking a few blocks away.
A tired girl sat on the bench on the corner of 6th and Illinois Ave. She’d had a long day at work, and she had an even longer walk home. Her black shoes hurt her feet, but were a requirement on the job.
Just then the Friendly Rider pulled up the curb. She wasn’t at a bus stop, and she hadn’t waved them down, but the bus ground to a stop alongside her. She’d never taken the bus before, but tonight she thought, “sure, why not?”
She didn’t pay much attention to the driver as the doors slowly folded open and she reached in her purse to find her fare. She mumbled her destination and made her way to the third row, vaguely noticing the absence of other passengers, other than an older lady in the very back, and plopped down on the seat.
The girl reached down to loosen her shoes, and leaned her forehead against the window. The boulevard trees flew by and she closed her eyes, listening to the soft noise of the engine. Before she knew it she had dozed off.
When she opened her eyes it was dark. The sun had finally slipped behind the horizon, and there was just a faint glowing line left. She rubbed her eyes as she peered out the window, her mind groggy and confused and she didn’t recognize the road passing by. She shook her head and just as she began to realize that this wasn’t the way home, the bus slowed and pulled onto a dark dirt road.
She could just make out a few dilapidated buildings, and what looked like an old fairground. She began to panic and started up the aisle, questioning the driver. “Where are we? What is this?” she asked, but her only answer was silence and a blank stare ahead.
She pushed on the doors, thinking that if they weren’t going too fast she would jump, but they were locked shut. They rounded a corner and came to a sudden stop. The doors opened and the girl jumped out. Bright lights lite her panicky face as she stared up at a Ferris Wheel, the only apparent life in an abandoned fairground. And then she noticed the clown.
I don’t usually write stories like this, but this one popped into my head one day when thinking about how utterly creepy the “Friendly Rider” bus is. Not to mention fairgrounds at night. My sister say I have too much of an imagination… but hey, it runs in the family.