Bogleech.com's 2017 Horror Write-off:
Submitted by The Bee Keeper
The end was an old cassette in an old player, in a rusty junk heap of a old bus. I can still sorta feel that awful cracked leather in my death grip. But sometimes I can't be sure I still got fingers. Just so numb all the time, these days. The sweat of my hand slowly erasing the purple stamp of a jovial sun. Yet it's still there, like some sort of tattoo you'd choose after a few too many. "Welcome to the F..." it says in dribbling ink. God, I miss pig races.
"And that cute baby donkey at the petting zoo." I sighed. It had been a wonderful day at the County Fair. Where else would you get so many regrettable choices of deep fried cuisine? I can't believe I'll never get another funnel cake, churro, or even a single donut. Hey, I know it seems absurd, maybe even a little selfish that I could be thinking about food after all this. But come on, don't you think it's a little sad a fella can't be treatin' themselves to a donut no mores?
Anyways, the trouble began with these lubbers. Yes, those brightly colored grasshoppers. But you know, not them ordinary kind. No, these were a menace sent by some horrible madness of our reality. Something completely out of the blue. No rhyme. No reason. And completely inescapable.
Well, nearly inescapable. I'm not sure you'd be right to call me lucky. A lucky fella's got somethin' to be lookin' forward to. And. Well... I can't be sure I got anything like that. Not a glimmer at all in my future...
Ah well, you see, lubbers swarmed the place. The air was thick with big smoky clouds of these hoppers. The lubbers quickly bored into the skin of every poor sap who couldn't out run them. They'd get into every building from the tiniest of cracks. No shelter was safe. And once they got under your skin, you could see them moving around in there. Then giant lubbers would burst out of the victim's skull with an explosive blast of blood and gore everywhere. I'd say they were damn well close to two feet in length, impressive, practically prehistoric bastards, they were.
So I went running like the rest of the panicked crowd. But then I chose to run off the main street from the fair grounds to the woods. I guess I thought the lubbers would be following the best source of food, like some demented locust plague. I dunno. But what I do know, is when I saw that bus in the meadow, I thought "Dang! Those bugs will never get me in that!" Now all I had to do was get it workin'.
The bus was one of those red double decker London busses. But the paint was faded and rusting away and some spots looked more like blood than rust. However, since I didn't have a vehicle of my own, I was determined to hotwire this bus and high tail it outta there.
I got into the bus and what I found was bizarre. The front of the bus was like a cockpit, with tons of switches. Some dang thing from NASA or something, rather than anything our city's transit system could afford. But hey, I didn't even need a key, I just needed to press the power button. There were three steering wheels. But none seem to be better or worse than another. I really don't get why it had three of them. I drove the bus out of the county, just before the entire region was completely inundated with lubbers and their carnage.
I looked down and there was a cardboard box filled with banged up cassettes. There was a dusty note in the box too. It said, "Each song plays an end to the world; if you're not satisfied with the apocalypse, simply choose another cassette."
Huh? That's just plain weird. So I pressed the eject button on the bus's player. And well, I dunno what happened. I'd reckon I was out cold. But I had this dream, at least I think it was a dream?
I was on a floating island, like this artificial piece of scenic rural land hovering in a bright gray void of nothingness. And this quaint little cottage is there. The door swings open and out comes this bird. Like a blue version of Big Bird and he's got this gold bling chain with a huge letter "D" and he comes a runnin' towards me and his D is like flashing a different color every millisecond. It was terribly disorientating, like a strobe effect, only worse. And then I got up and I'm at a bus stop in this crazy contraption of a bus. And I guess everything's back to normal or something?
This kid comes up the steps and says I'm late again. And I'm thinking "Again?". How can I be late again, when this is my first time on the route. Since when did I start driving for public transit? Then these two nice old ladies come up the steps with their passes and they were just so friendly, I couldn't say "Hey this ain't no Greyhound!". So now I've got passengers and somehow... I know the route and get rolling on to the next stop like I'd been doing this my whole life.
I don't know where that kid came from, cuz what kinda kid has a cassette player these days? I mean half the world's kids probably don't even know what a cassette is or think of it only as something carried around by the rest of us dinos. But if you think this is something weird for me to be going on about, well let me explain. The kid turned into a rhinoceros and all hell broke loose.
No really, a god damn rhino, on a bus. He was playing "Animal Day" by Wall of Voodoo. I know, because when I checked the box under my dash, there was a missing cassette. I don't know how he got it though. He couldn't have snagged it while I was sitting there in the driver's seat. Yet, he somehow played that damn cassette.
The rhino's bulk squeezed the passenger seats flat against the walls of the lower deck of the bus. The sweet old ladies would have been crushed... had they not turned into a pair of small snakes. I freaked out and let the bus careen over a small ledge. Angry rhino and confused snakes and bus driver went tumbling down into a patch of marsh. I remember seeing a flamingo in a yellow t-shirt and feeling blood pouring out from the new gash on my forehead. And I thought to myself "What a wonderful world", haha, no that's not what I thought. I thought "Well, we're all animals anyway, this ain't a bad way to end it all".
You would think by now, I'd be out of this rust heap, seeing as I now have an appointment with Hades, but you'd be wrong. There seems to be no end for me. My world as I've known it is gone, or at least all the folks scrabbling about it. And now I'll never see it again anyways. I'm on the bus floating down a river. Apparently the bus floats and apparently this river is the lush tropical sort, with rainbows of fishes. It isn't how I would have pictured The River of Souls.
It's been a long time. I dunno, forty days, forty years, who knows anymore. I guess you might be an optometrist, no wait, ah yes, optimist and say that I found a life after death. Hmmm... if you could call it a life. I can't get off this bus.
That wasn't so bad at first. I can pick up passengers and they can tell me what's been happening. But now it's all the same. Just goin' through the motions as they'd say. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh I'm dead! How could this have happened!", and "Don't touch the water or it'll yank out your soul and keep it forever!" or "God I hope [mother/ex/president] isn't here too". Oh and the guilt of turning all these people into animals and destroying civilization, that's nice too. At least I'm not picking up crocs and stinging jellies, everybody's got their human forms back down here, for better or worse.
O'course, the worst thing about it, is you know the bus stops at some little patch of shore and picks people up whether or not I want them folks aboard. Then these people always think we're goin' to be ascending to the heavens or whatnot. After they make a right good use of their time whining about everything. But you know, this is a bus. A bus makes its rounds. It don't shoot up into space or punch a hole into another dimension, or whatever. It goes in the same loop over and over. Accept when it doesn't. And that's only cuz' there's a siren.
Good god do I hate that siren. Not cuz' it's ugly as sin. Not cuz' it takes people into the river. Nope, I hate it, because this pet of Hades still can't get me off this bus.
It's a long serpentine creature, sort of like an oriental dragon, long as a city block. You'll see that big tassel of fur at the end of its tail and then a horse-like mane running along the spine to its head. Dirty, crackled scales, like discs of bark with white tuffs of fungus growing out from under them.
When you finally get to its head, you'll be greeted by the visage of a sharpie dog, but enormous, lacking external ears, and having sticky skin just like an unhatched chick's veiny pink-red flesh.
Its pink paws are huge and frog-like with giant "warts" that open to reveal impossible rows of needle-like teeth infested with all manner of leeches and other parasitic worms. Those warts open up wide as siren takes a few deep breathes.
Now you'll see her real eyes, those beady ones within the mouths of the warts. She looks at you, looks deep into your soul and begins her catchy musical number.
Her jowls flap around like a bowl of jello and it's obvious she never cleans those toothless gums. "Teeth crawling with leeches. I lay outstretched on these beaches. I feed on death itself." I always miss the rest. Everyone makes a big kerfufful, tryin' ta walk up each other's backs to get out the doors and into the water. I can't make out the rest not just because I got those buffoons making such a racket; it's also cuz' the bus won't let me hear it. The voice of the siren is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard, even listening through the leather of a driver's seat that doesn't understand the concept of personal space.
They all float away. Away, away as little colorful fish. It wouldn't be so bad really. But the bus won't let me go.
You know? I don't think I've ever tried putting on some tunes since I got here. I promised myself not to. Not after, well... you know. But I dunno, it's just so quiet once we finish up at the siren stop. So quiet, but not the peaceful sort. Just makin' the rounds again and again and again and again and again. So quiet, but not the peaceful sort. Just makin' the rounds again, so quiet, rounds again and againagainagainagainagainagain.