From the Malafarina Files, ‘Bus’ a short story by the master of horror Thomas M. Malafarina

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By: Thomas M. Malafarina

1

The big man stood on the corner, out of the pouring rain in the shelter of the bus stop. He hoped the bus would arrive soon. He needed it to come quickly. He had business to take care of and didn’t want to spend any more time in this disgusting plexiglass toilet than he had to. Toilet was the right word for it, too, as it was evident that many of the city’s indigent populists opted to relieve themselves in the structure’s corners. The stench of urine, feces, and God only knew what else permeated the three-sided graffiti-covered shed.

But why should this place be any different than the rest of the stinking sewer of a city? There were so many freaks and addicts, drunks and stoners, homeless vagrants, and psycho lunatics wandering the streets; it was no wonder things had gotten so bad. To make matters worse, every one of these lurching mutants felt it was their God-given inalienable right to drop-trow and take a leak or a dump anywhere, anytime they felt the urge. Yeah, the city had most definitely gone to Hell in a urine-soaked handbasket. But soon, none of that would matter anymore. The bus would change all that. When the bus got here, everything would be fine. Bill had a plan, and he had a purpose.

Bill Parker was a tall man, well over six feet with a rugged face and broad shoulders left over from his college football days. He turned fifty-seven a month earlier and had been an accountant with a major downtown firm for the past thirty-something years. This was obvious by his expensive dark gray suit, crisp white shirt, red power tie, highly polished shoes, black topcoat, and leather valise suggested. He looked like the powerful sort of alpha male many men would envy, a man who had it all. But looks, of course, can be and, in this case, were quite deceiving. At first glance, no one would realize that this well-dressed professional man was on the brink of a meltdown. He was one small step away from becoming no better than any one of the thousands of feeble excuses for human beings roaming the city; those same homeless creatures he detested and strangely enough, in many ways envied.

Bill didn’t find this envy surprising. After all, these dregs of society had no responsibility, no soul-sucking jobs to go to day after day. They were not saddled with astronomical debt, a questionable marriage, and all the other such albatrosses that currently hung around Bill’s neck, constantly pulling him down and forcing him to drag himself into this stinking city.

But that would all be over for Bill very soon. Life had just officially thrown him the biggest curveball it could find, and he had taken it right between the eyes. Once he returned home and told his wife, he had been “let go,” in other words, fired from his six-figure job, that would set into motion a series of events that he would be helpless to stop unless he took drastic measures. Then again, part of him wasn’t sure he would want to stop it even if he could.

Things had already been rough between him and Janice for the past few years. There had been a few near misses where Bill thought they were headed to divorce court for sure, but things had always settled down, primarily due to Bill’s willingness to compromise. This latest turn of events, however, would change everything. Once Janice learned her golden meal ticket had just been canceled, she’d jump ship faster than a rat on the Titanic.

She’d likely have Bill out on the street and have her tennis pro lover moved into his bed before the end of the week. Hell, that racquet-swinging loser had been the reason for much of their trouble in the first place. Bill had never been able to prove anything had ever gone on between them, but he most definitely had suspected. Now that he was out of a job, he was confident she’d divorce him, take the house, the cars, and pretty much everything else.

Although they still lived at home, their two daughters were both grown and out of college, mooching off of his dime. Neither of them had yet managed to find a job yet, as they felt none of the potential employment opportunities were worthy of their enormous talents. What those talents might be, Bill had no idea. Their lack of employment likely had something to do with the fact that they each had earned what Bill considered worthless college degrees, both of which he had paid for as well. The rest of the hiring world agreed with Bill’s assessment. As a result, the two continued to suckle at the financial teat of William James Parker. On the positive side, Bill’s son John, unlike his worthless sisters, had thankfully managed to graduate from a good college with a degree that allowed him to find a great job, leave home and make something of himself. Bill was grateful life had at least given him that much.

Well, there would be little Bill could do now except to stop the inevitable domino effect from happening at all. As far as he could determine in his confused mind, there was only one way to do that, and as always, he had a plan. However, it wasn’t one of his typically organized plans but was born more out of mounting frustration and ever-increasing anger. There was a rage rapidly building up inside him, one the likes of which he had never experienced before. He sensed something was very wrong with him, that something was about to blow. He just had to hold it all together for a bit longer until he got home.

The bus would be here soon, and that would change everything. It would take him out of this stinking cesspool of a city and back to his McMansion in the burbs, where he would do what had to be done to make everything right again. He was no longer thinking of consequences. He was no longer thinking rationally at all. His only thought was to make all of the pressure that was crushing him stop.

He reached his hand into the right pocket of his trench coat and felt the wood and steel grip of the revolver. He had bought it and the twenty rounds of ammunition an hour earlier from some scumbag stoner on a corner for fifty bucks. Bill was amazed at how easy it had been. He had seen such things happening on television cop shows but never thought anyone could buy a gun from a stranger on a street corner. Then again, in a sewer like this city, he supposed he shouldn’t be surprised. He felt the comfort of the gin’s grip in his right hand. When he got home, he would take care of all of them, Janice, her tennis pro, and yes, even his two mooching daughters. In a few hours, all his troubles would be over.

He saw the headlights of the bus through the deluge of rain, coming down the street, a block or two away. Bill felt for the first time in a very long time that he finally had things under control.

2

Mary Olsen sat quietly in the back of the bus as it wound its way through the dark, grimy city streets. This torrential downpour was one of the worst she had seen in longer than she could remember. She was doing her best to remain as invisible as possible on the bus. She hated being there. Then again, she always hated riding the bus with… with people. She was not a big fan of mankind, and this bus stank of mildew, vomit, and the stench of way too much sweat. Her seat was made of cracked and worn faux leather – what she called pleather – and futile attempts had been made to repair the worst of the rips with duct tape. Places where the tape had worked loose and folded over, were sticking to her dark blue heavy wool coat.|

As she glanced surreptitiously around, she realized at one time this bus must have been something special to look at indeed, with its clean, modern interior and stylish design. Its structure was more like that of an airport shuttle than typical public transportation, with its long bench seats along the outside walls and the center area open. Tall floor-to-ceiling poles occupied the center section for people to stand when the bus got too crowded. But that had been a long time ago. Now the place was a tattered, stinking, graffiti-covered ruin of what it once had been. The city and its vile inhabitants had made it that way as they always managed to do.

She sat with her hands folded in her lap, keeping her eyes down, staring at the collection of detritus that covered the threadbare carpeting. There was an old wad of chewed gum stuck fast to the fabrics with various hairs clinging to it. There were scraps of paper, abandoned cigarette packs, as well as fast food cups and wrappers everywhere. In one corner, she saw a used condom lying on the floor. She didn’t even want to imagine how that ended up there. She wondered why anyone hadn’t cleaned that up. Then again, who would want to? Still, she questioned, didn’t the company ever clean these busses? She supposed such an act would be an exercise in futility. The swine that inhabited this pigsty of a city would simply foul it again anyway. The sight of the used, love glove made her stomach turn and made her wonder what other sort of disgusting stuff was presently clinging to her shoes, not to mention the rest of her clothing.

Mary ventured a quick look about the inside of the bus. It was practically empty. There were just two other passengers and the driver. They were all up near the front of the bus, which suited her just fine. The less contact she had with any people, the better. She was what she thought of as a functioning introvert. However, the congestion of the city and its disgusting inhabitants often made her feel like she was losing her mind. The stress of having to exist in such a place was like a living Hell for someone such as her.

Soon none of these thoughts would matter any longer. Soon it would all be over; the bus would see to that. She intended to stay on the bus for three more stops then get off near the river. Once there, she would walk to the center of the massive bridge that spanned the river, climb over the low fence and throw herself into the stinking, frigid waters far below. That would show him. That would fix him, but good. Mr. Jason Eagan could spend the rest of his miserable life knowing that he had been the one responsible for her death. It would be the guilt trip from Hell, delivered by the woman he had scorned.

What little pleasure Mary got these days came from dreaming up various ways to make her former lover pay for what he had done to her. How dare he tosses her over for another woman? Then, have the nerve to call their relationship “stale” and label her as “boring.” She hadn’t ever thought of herself as boring, but perhaps Jason had been at least partially correct. She did spend an excessive amount of time at home reading. She had also detested crowds and people in general. But what was wrong with a nice quiet night at home reading a book? Why did Jason feel the need to come into this stinking city and go to noisy, crowded smoke-filled nightclubs?

At the beginning of their affair, he had seemed to enjoy those quiet nights relaxing, just the two of them. She was sure she had found her soul mate. But it had all been a lie. He had deceived her just to get her into bed. Then little by little, the true Jason Eagan began to show his face. But by then, it was much too late. She had fallen hopelessly in love with him. In fact, despite everything that had happened, she was still in love with him. That’s what made it all so painful. That was why she couldn’t imagine herself ever being capable of killing him, no matter how angry she was with him. She did have the means to kill him if she had been of a mind to. Jason had bought her the pistol she now carried in her purse for protection when riding the bus.

Although she knew she could never use the gun on Jason, she could kill herself; her boring, mundane, drippy, schoolmarm self. Even if she didn’t have the guts to shoot herself, she felt confident she could stand peacefully along the side of the bridge, close her eyes, feel the rain splashing Dow on her upturned face, the simply lean forward and fly like a dove to the water below. She was sure that would be an effective way to end her pain while getting back at him. Oh yes, that final little act of passive-aggressiveness would create a guilt trip big enough to haunt him for the rest of his life. Maybe he’d feel so responsible for her death that it would affect him sexually, making him impotent. That would be an act of perfect revenge, sweeter than sweet. And soon that revenge would be hers, as soon as the bus took her to the river.

3

At the front left side of the bus, Dane Jacobs sat staring down at his smartphone. He wasn’t looking at anything, just checking a few emails and Facebook posts. He didn’t want to do anything to attract the attention of the man sitting across the aisle from him. It’s not that Dane knew the man or had ever seen him before, but his experience with city dwellers told him this character was trouble. The guy was dressed in a tattered brown leather coat with a black knit cap that Dane was sure could be pulled down at a moment’s notice to become a face mask in the event the man chose to mug someone or rob a liquor store or whatever these drug-taking miscreants did.

Dane had little doubt the young man was an addict. For one thing, Dane had risked a glance at the character when the man first boarded the bus, and Dane could tell the man had that look about him. To make matters worse, he had a God-awful stench of the great unwashed about him as well. Dane thought about the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “That Smell” because the smell of death indeed surrounded this character.

When the stranger first stumbled onto the bus, Dane had considered moving to put some distance between himself and the character but hadn’t done so. It would have been too obvious a move in the practically empty bus and would have gotten him the wrong sort of attention. He was also concerned he might spook the drab, mousey-looking woman sitting in the back of the bus. She appeared to be on edge, as tightly wound like a spring and might scream at the drop of a hat. Again, not the sort of attention Dane needed. If the elderly bus driver became concerned, he might radio dispatch to call the cops.  If the police got involved, they’d be all over the place like ants on a sugar cube, asking questions he wasn’t prepared to answer. They might wonder, for example, why he had over eight hundred thousand dollars in cash tucked nicely away in his rolling suitcase. That, of course, was not the sort of conversation he wanted to have.

The last time Dane checked, embezzlement was still a crime, and it would be a shame to have spent the previous five years stealing money from his company only to have it taken away by one stupid mistake. All he had to do was keep his head down, don’t draw attention to himself, and avoid trouble. This bus was going to be his salvation. It was taking him home for the last time. Tonight, he would pack the cash in boxes and ship it to his new tropical location first thing in the morning. Tomorrow he would be on a plane and would arrive well before the cash. This bus was his ticket to a new life, a chance to get far away from this stinking toilet of a city.

As long as he could stay invisible to the crack head across the bus from him, things should go smoothly. If the loser did try anything, Dane believed he could take the guy without having to use the gun he kept in his right pocket. The gun was a last resort. He had never used it before and hoped he never had to. Its presence in his coat pocket did seem to relax him and make him feel safe. He looked out the front window and saw a bus stop up ahead. It wasn’t his stop, but there was another rider waiting for the bus. Dane figured it would be good to have another body on the bus to take some of the attention away from him.

4

“What the Hell was that maggot lookin’ at?” Jimmy G thought as he sat down across the aisle from the numbnuts banker or whatever the Hell he was. Jimmy hated pretty boys and this fancy-dressed Brad Pitt wannabe was prettier than most. Jimmy saw the pansy checking him out as he walked into the bus, but now that he sat down, Mr. G.Q. was looking everywhere but his way. Jimmy G had beaten the snot out of pretty boys like this character many times, and he’d have no problem “tuning up” on this snowflake either.

Jimmy was jonesin’; with a significant need of a fix, and he was strapped for cash. He was starting to think maybe this clown dragging his stupid luggage around on wheels might do well to solve that cash problem. Guys like him were always good for a quick shakedown. He might not get much out of him, maybe enough money for another hit or two, but that would be ok. The sissy boy probably wouldn’t put up much of a fight, even if he wasn’t dragging a suitcase full of clothes. But that rolling bag of tighty-whities or underoos or whatever sort of panties pretty boys like him wore would slow him down enough that he’d be even less trouble than expected.

Reaching his hand into his right pocket, Jimmy felt the comfort of the Saturday night special he carried with him everywhere he went. It was right where it was supposed to be. All things considered, this bus turned out to be a blessing Jimmy hadn’t counted on. He decided he’d get off at the same bus stop this foo-foo boy chose to take. Within two blocks, the clown’s wallet would be all his. Maybe he’d let the loser go with his clothing, maybe not. It all depended on how the dude reacted to being robbed. Jimmy G hoped the guy would try to fight back. Yeah, that would give Jimmy the green light to punch his ticket but good. Then he’d take the creep’s wallet and throw him and his stupid suitcase in the river.

Jimmy was staring a hole in the guy when he felt the bus slow down. Glancing out the front window past the old coot bus driver, he could see the next bus stop ahead with some other fancy pants office loser standing waiting for the bus in the rain. Jimmy G decided to check out the new potential victim when he got on the bus. Maybe he’d have more to offer than this limp wrist Lenny had.

5

“Wat a miserable collection of misfits I seemed to have picked up this evening.” Jack Muller, the bus driver, thought. He periodically glanced into his oversized rearview mirror, trying to keep an eye on his passengers for any suspicious activity. The bus was equipped with cameras, but they were there only to record activities. It wasn’t like anyone was monitoring his bus on a live feed in case he needed assistance. No sir, if any crap went down, those cameras might help the cops sort things out after the fact, but that would do him little good by then.

Jack had a weird feeling beginning to creep into his body. He had experienced such a sensation many times before. The hairs on the back of his neck were tingling. It was what he thought of as having his hackles up. It meant there was a real chance for trouble on the horizon. It might not occur, but it might, if the stars all lined up in the right or, more appropriately, the wrong way. He would have to keep his eyes on his passengers and stay vigilant.

He saw the timid woman with the downcast eyes practically hiding in the shadows at the back of the bus, not that he could blame her. He recalled how shy the woman had seemed when she had initially boarded the bus. She had also seemed troubled as if she held the weight of the world on her shoulders. He remembered thinking how pretty the young woman had been; plain, but naturally pretty. He thought about his daughter, now a grown woman a few years older than the sad passenger. He thought of his pre-teen granddaughter, who would no doubt grow up to be as lovely as his daughter.

After all, his daughter had grown to be as beautiful as her late mother had been; God, how Jack missed his wife now two years in the cold ground. She had been the love of his life. He realized now people felt terms like “soul mate” or “love of my life” were considered cliché and essentially unreal, but in the case of Jack and Annie, it had been a reality. He hated whenever something reminded him of Annie as it always brought him down. This young, sad-looking woman had managed to do just that. He was glad she had moved to the back of the bus and disappeared into the shadows like a frightened rabbit.

Then there was that guy with the fancy suit and roller luggage on the bench behind him. What was his story? Jack had a feeling about the guy, and his feelings were never wrong. And those feelings told Jack there was more to this yo-yo than one might first think. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something about that character didn’t sit very well with him.

This activity was something Jack often did. He’d see a passenger, and before he realized it, he was making up a story to go with the character. He supposed he had the heart of a writer. Annie always said that about him. Someday he planned on writing a book, maybe next August when he retired. God knew he would need something to occupy his time. For now, he’d have to be content to studying his passengers and making up stories about them.

Speaking of which, he was now looking at why the hair on his neck had been tingling. It was that pitiful excuse for a human being sitting on the bench across the aisle from the luggage boy. That character was another story altogether. Jack didn’t know what that scumbag was guilty of, but he knew he damn well was guilty of something, maybe several somethings. He’d have to keep an extra close eye on that character.

“Junkie.” Jack thought. Just a single word that summed up a thousand stories of pain and suffering that likely clung to the loser like the unwashed stench of body odor that surrounded him.

Jack shifted his eye to his left, to the pouch hanging between his door and his seat. It was where he kept Betsy, his 357 Magnum, the one he called his widow-maker; not that he had ever used it to make any widows so far. Still, he believed if things ever went south, Betsy would be there to set things right. She would guarantee he made it through the next several months and slide comfortably into retirement, or so he had hoped.

He slowed the bus as he approached the next stop. The strange sensation of impending trouble was beginning to fade. Jack believed everything would be alright after all. He couldn’t have been more tragically or fatally wrong.

5

If any of the people on that bus could have been asked what exactly had started the chain reaction resulting in the bloodbath which followed, not one of them would have been capable of doing so. Besides the fact that they were all now dead, each of their actions hadn’t been planned. They had been immediate and reactionary based simply on response to an escalating series of threats. The cameras had managed to record most of what happened, but the “why” would forever remain a mystery to investigators. To viewers of the footage, it appeared as if mass insanity had struck five individuals simultaneously, each operating in their own state of madness. The entire interaction had taken less than forty-five seconds.

Jack, the elderly bus driver, had stopped the bus and opened the doors, allowing the last passenger, Bill Parker, to enter from his bus stop. All eyes turned to check out the new arrival. He paid little attention to Jack or to either of the two men, Dane and Jimmy G, who had still been sitting across from each other. Instead, he passed by and made his way toward the back of the bus. He wanted to be alone. He needed to be alone. He had to finalize plans for exactly how he would commit the murders he had hoped to commit when he arrived home and then disappear without getting caught. He understood it would be complicated, and he would likely have to temporarily become one of the thousands of street people living in the city to maintain his invisibility.

He found this thought ironic that he would likely become one of the very wretched souls he detested, those barely human cretins he hated so much. Once he killed his wife, their two daughters, and eventually his wife’s lover, he would have to sacrifice everything. He would be homeless. He’d never be able to see his son again. The five thousand or so dollars he had in his briefcase, which he has gotten by draining their meager savings account, wouldn’t last him very long. The truth was he had more than fifty thousand dollars in credit card debt, which he would also be running away from. Hopefully, when his son collected on his mother’s life insurance and sold their house, enough would be left over to pay off the remaining debt. But he couldn’t allow such thoughts to distract him. That was when he saw her and all Hell broke loose.

“Janice?” He said, seeing his wife sitting quietly in the shadows at the back of the bus, “What the name of God are you doing here?” Seeing her back there was maddening. He was going to have to change his plans. Not so much thinking as reacting, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his gun.

Mary looked up in shock and horror at the tall, well-dressed stranger standing with a gun pointed right at her.  What was this crazy man doing? Why was he calling her Janice? Although it was true, she planned to die this night; she had wanted to do so on her terms, not at the hand of some delusional maniac. If this man killed her, Jason might feel bad for a while, but it wouldn’t have the same effect as her suicide would. She needed to be the one to do herself in.

“I don’t know what you’re doing here, Janice, but you’re gonna die here.” He shouted.

Mary pulled out her gun and pointing it at the man. While closing her eyes, she pulled the trigger. The bullet hit Parker high on his upper right shoulder just as he was about to pull the trigger. His gun hand flew back as the pistol shot rang out, sending the bullet ricocheting off the left wall at an angle which projected it into a roller suitcase holding Dane’s money, blowing open the zippered cover and spilling thousands of dollars onto the floor of the bus.

Jimmy G’s eyes bulged with excitement as he dove head-first onto the floor and started scraping up all the cash he could carry. He was stuffing bundles into his tattered shirt when he heard Dane shouting, “Get away from my cash, you junkie scum!”

A moment later, he felt a bullet wiz by his head, and he looked up to see that wimpy dude from across the aisle pointing a gun at him. Jimmy had no idea what the clown was doing with a suitcase full of cashola, but as far as he was concerned, the money was his now. He pulled his gun and shot Dane right between the eyes. Dane’s head flew backward as the back of his skull exploded, spraying the windows with his ruby lifeblood along with chunks of bone, flesh, and bits of brain matter.

The man was dead before he had a chance to realize he had even been shot. Jimmy G went back to work, stuffing the cash back into the roller case as nothing had occurred. That was when he heard a loud bang followed by an incredible burning sensation in his throat. He turned slowly to see the old coot, that bus driver standing with his gun still pointed at him. Jimmy G tried to speak, but all he could manage was a few liquid gurgles as blood pumped from his wounded throat. Then after a few fluid-sounding gasps, everything went black.

Jack stood in shock, amazed by what he had just done. Not only had he never had to shoot anyone before, he never thought he would have had the nerve to do so. But to his surprise, it was much easier than he ever imagined. Then he heard the woman screaming in the back of the bus, the one who had reminded him so much of his daughter, and he shouted at the tall man with the dark topcoat who had started all the trouble in the first place, “Freeze maggot!”

Hearing the bus driver’s command, Bill realized he would have to deal with that threat before he could end Janice’s life. Bill Parker pointed his gun at the bus driver as Jack was getting ready to fire at him and then pulled the trigger. The bus driver’s insides blew out his back along with most of his spinal column and splattered all over the windshield, resembling a work of modern, surrealistic art. Having nullified that threat, Parker turned back to finish off his wife. He still had no idea what Janice was doing on the bus. Had she perhaps come into the city to check up on him?

Or had she come here to meet her lover? Yes, that must be it. She had spent the afternoon in some sleazy hotel rutting like a wild animal with that tennis pro of hers. Or maybe he was just one of many men. Perhaps she had several different lovers she met in many other places. That was why she was hiding in the shadows in the back of this bus. She didn’t want to risk anyone recognizing her, the shameless slut. Bill pointed his gun at Janice.

Seconds earlier, Mary had seen her bullet strike the crazy man high on the right shoulder. She had heard the gunfire, its bullet going wild and tearing open a hole in that other man’s luggage. Money had spilled onto the floor. She recalled seeing the junkie grabbing up the money as the owner pulled a gun and shot at him but missed. But then the junkie pulled his piece and shot the guy right between the eyes. Mary was revolted seeing that young man’s brains splattered all over the inside of the bus. It had seemed like it was happening in slow motion like she was watching some gruesome horror movie. Then the bus driver had reacted by shooting the junkie. Then he turned his gun on the tall man who had switched his weapon to his left hand. He was once again preparing to try to kill her. The man’s right arm hung uselessly down by his side.

The tall man appeared to have not felt any pain from the wound in his shoulder, leaking blood soaking into the already filthy carpet. With disturbing calm, the tall man shot the bus driver, splattering his insides all over the windshield before the bullet passed through the glass, splintering it into a spider web of cracks. And now, the lunatic had turned toward her once again to finish what he had started.

Mary once again pointed her gun with trembling hands, no longer closing her eyes but aiming carefully with all her concentration, and pulled the trigger. The weapon exploded with a second deafening blast as its bullet flew through the air, ripping through the big man’s clothing and finding its way deep into his heart. The man’s gun hand dropped to his left side as he stood, staring down at the spreading stain of crimson on his white shirt. He lifted his head, stared at Mary for a moment, looking shocked and pitifully sad as he seemed to silently mouth the name Janice one last time before collapsing to the filthy carpet in a crumpled heap.

Mary looked about the bus at the carnage surrounding her. It looked like what she imagined a war zone to be. Blood was splattered everywhere, and the stench of gunfire mingled with involuntarily released bowels hung in the air, making her wretch with disgust. Mary bent over and vomited, noticing her spew had covered the used condom she had seen earlier. This revolting sight only served to make her heave once again. After a bit, when her stomach had settled down, Mary tucked her gun back into her purse and walked calmly to the front of the bus, carefully stepping over the corpses. She could feel her shoes sinking into the blood-soaked carpet and held back yet another urge to puke.

As she passed the big man, she worried he might not be dead and might grab her, pull her down and strangle her with his last bit of strength. But the man remained as deceased as everyone else on the bus. For a moment, as she passed the spilled cash and the two dead men near the front of the bus, she considered picking up some of the blood-splattered money. It was nothing more than a human reaction, one anyone might think. But then she laughed at the irony of such a thought. Where she was going, Mary wouldn’t need any money. The river was only a few blocks away. She could walk the remaining distance. She still had a date with a particular bridge.

Her mission hadn’t changed. Jason Eagan would be wracked with guilt over what he had caused her to do. This fiasco on the bus had only been a slight interruption in her plan, nothing more than a slight inconvenience. Now she had to get back on task. She passed the bloody remains of the bus driver, opened the door, stepped down onto the pavement, leaving a trail of crimson shoe prints, which rapidly dissolved in the pouring rain, as she strolled away in the darkness.

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