By Joyce Bingham
The bus lurches to the left. I look up and reach for the bell, my heart thumping, it’s my stop, but my arm does not respond. My book is in my hand, the smoothness of the cover, the stack of pages under my thumb. I look down at my hands but the fabric of the seat is in the way, a swirl of orange and blue on a dark red background. My legs, knees, are merging into the seat, I can see the undulations of my thighs move down into the twisting colours. I am becoming the bus, my right arm, long and yellow, its metallic slenderness interrupted by the chunky red press button.
A passenger makes for my seat. When she sits, she will feel human flesh and scream. The driver will realise my plight and call the emergency services. They will rescue me with the big claw they use to remove car roofs in accidents, it will rip the bus seat right off.
She sits on me, squashing my fabric. Thrusting my legs further into the bus interior. My breath is laboured, the pressure on my lungs immense. The bus starts, she pushes hard into my body, my plush warps and flattens. I shout, but my words become the swishing of the bus through puddles.
I’m melding into the plastic, the metal, the rubber. My muscles twitch as electricity flows through the bell, lighting up the stop sign.
The bus shudders to a halt, my passenger heaves herself up, the fibres of my plush hiss in relief. I feel a tickle as the fibres start to stand up, pins and needles in my thighs. Then I am flattened once more— a youth, angular, pinching, dripping rain into my seat. He cleans his hands by rubbing his fingers along my plush depositing fine fragments of skin and dirt. All kinds of secretions are left here, the DNA of humanity merging in the dusty fibres. I can smell them, passengers, each unique olfactory signature. I taste them, absorb their being.
The bus has fewer passengers now, the seats shake and rattle.
“Hello, can anyone hear me?” I clank.
“Hi there,” jangles the seat in front, “welcome to the route.”
“What’s happening to me, why am I here?” I judder.
“Don’t worry, you’ll enjoy it once you have settled in.”
“I have family, they will miss me.”
“I don’t think they will, otherwise the bus would not have taken you. Did you know every wall and building on your route, did you feel dull, mundane, useless?”
“Yes,” I shudder.
A youth writes graffiti on my back, it sears into my plastic. Stinging and pricking as the pen makes its marks, tattooing me, without my consent.
As the day draws to a close I long for the peace of the depot, I hope it’s warm and cosy.
“What will the depot be like?” I clatter.
“Shush, you need to be asleep before the depot.”
“Why? Tell me why?” I rattle as we thump around the corner.
Inside the vast depot the bus cools with an occasional creak. The drivers have gone, the night bus trundles past, the lights in the offices go out.
My body trembles, trapped, merged, absorbed. I begin to sob. My lap feels clammy. A pinprick on my left toe, like an itch left too long, I can’t reach it, trapped in the seat. A sudden jolt of pain, something has bitten me. It continues, chewing muscle, tendons breaking and fibres dangle. I feel blood dribbling down, hear my blood splashing onto the floor. Another bite, my right foot. I hear bone splinter, so many bones in my feet, each on fire, my nerves screaming in agony, I try to move away, I am enveloped in the bus, smothered with fabric. My feet sear with pain, no one can hear me howl.
Dawn breaks, the bus moves. Agony flows along my legs. My seat shakes and judders.
“Morning everyone,” creaks a seat as the sun begins to warm up the bus interior.
“Help me, something was eating me last night.” I rattle.
“The Nibblers get rid of the organics, otherwise the bus would get unbearable with rotting flesh, they have started tidying you up.”
“Help me.” I weep.
“Stop your clunking. You should have got off the bus yesterday when you had the chance. Once the Nibblers have eaten your brain, you’ll feel much better. Might take a month or so.”
Joyce Bingham is a Scottish writer who enjoys writing short fiction with pieces published by Roi Fainéant Press, Ellipsis Zine, FlashBack Fiction, VirtualZine, Funny Pearls and Free Flash Fiction. She lives in the North of England where she makes up stories and tells tall tales. When not writing she puts her green fingers to use as a plant whisperer and Venus fly trap wrangler. @JoyceBingham10