A.J. Walker


A Different Bus

Mid Week Flash #210 - 28.07.21

A Different Bus

Mark had missed his last bus home and had to get on another that took him only roughly in the right direction. It halved the walk home had he not got it, but it left him in an unfamiliar territory. When got off the bus he spotted two silhouettes beneath a lamppost a hundred metres down the road. It was dark but he felt sure they were looking at him. Following a long day at work he’d felt he’d deserved a couple of relaxing pints. Now with the hairs on his neck acting like a poor man’s Spideesense and his adrenaline beginning to pump he wished he’d gone straight home. It was two miles home now and he couldn’t justify a taxi ride.

Mark had taken the bus to this point before over the years. He’d made it back in one piece on those occasions. Why should it be any different this time. This time though something felt different. Years changed a place. It also changed people. He wasn’t the same person who’d walked care free here before. The years had stripped his bravado and confidence back. Time heals all wounds they say. But what do they know? Time could be a fucker too.

He was pretty good with directions. He was almost sure that he just needed to walk two blocks in the direction the bus had come from then take a right, a left and a right and he’d be on the main road heading straight home.

He was glad to see it meant he was walking away from the two guys. All the same he walked with a little more haste than normally.

It took five minutes to walk the two blocks and hang the right on to Colquitt Street. It was a narrow half tarmac, half cobbled street with Victorian terraces either side. The only light came from the dim and occasional street lamps: no sign of life.

But other life introduced itself to Mark: he’d made it fifty metres when he heard the loud, clicking footsteps behind him. Whoever it was wasn’t trying to sneak up on him, which didn’t comfort him.

The clicks were getting louder and they bounced off the terraces making it difficult to place. He initially tried to just plough on, but ultimately he had to turn to see who was making the noise. Perhaps it really was a tap dancer after dance practice or a maybe a woman in heels homeward bound on the cobbles: It wasn’t. There was a man in the middle of the road thirty metres back looking like he owned it. He nodded when he saw Mark looking. Then grinned. Mark knew he was one of the silhouettes from earlier. There was no sign of the other man.

But then he came around the corner with a swagger. Mark sensed he was in deep trouble. He’d no enemies; no valuables. Were these guys just after him for fun? He crossed the street: and the new guy crossed too. The first stayed in the road. Mark had already made an assessment of the street and was short on options. All he could do was run. The only place he could see that was open to him was a single ginnel between two sets of terraces. If he could get down there he could turn left or right and run down the alley at the back of the terraces. He had twenty five metres or more on both of them. He hoped his sudden movement would steal him an advantage.

But the ginnel wasn’t as expected: there was a locked gate. He was trapped and his only options were two gates to the terraces. The right one was locked. The left gate opened but he was only faced with a series of steps down back against the house. He hoped his best bet was to find a door and either knock like hell; or if he found it unlocked he could shut himself in and wait. It was not much of a plan.

The steps led to a narrow red brick corridor ending at an open metal door. It looked as inviting as an old prison cell, but perhaps he could lock himself in. As he pulled it shut he heard the laughter and the singing; “
Another One Bites The Dust”. He fell back and tripped over something. He felt the skulls with his hands and wondered at the trap he’d fallen.