Desert, Bus, Neverending

I’m not feeling great but I wanted to beat some monsters in 4thwords so I asked for some prompts on Mastodon. 

@DialMforMara prompted

Write about a desert. Or a bus. Or both.

which led me to finally look up desert bus.  I’m not sure about this ficlet, but it’s something, all right.


Kim had no idea how long they’d been going.

There was nothing on any side of them but sand and the miserable wrecks of former towns, nothing in front of them but the same.

Behind them – behind them there was something.  They had managed to stop for ten minutes once, twenty the time they found a gas station still selling anything, and otherwise they stopped only long enough to dump another can of gas in the bus.

Even that was too much.  When they stopped, they could look behind them and the road was clear.  When they filled the gas tank, or the time they stopped and siphoned gas from a wrecked tractor-trailer, stealing loaves of bread and jam from its broken crates, they always had this minute, two minutes of thinking maybe we’re safe.

Maybe they’d imagined it.  Maybe they were running from nothing.  Maybe they could stop, could rest, could relax.

Then it would be there on the horizon, the thing with too many arms and too many legs and far, far too many eyes, the thing that sounded like a swarm of bugs and a death metal concert and, when it got too close, broke glass and shattered eardrums and, if you let it get far, far too close, made one blind.

Then they piled back in the bus and started driving again, pedal to the metal, faster than any poor old school bus ought to go.

Kim drove, Heidi drove. Omar drove.  Everett and Grace drove. Marcia couldn’t drive any more and they weren’t going to let Gerald drive, but Gerald would watch out the back window for hours, and Marcia…

They were pretty sure Marcia knew they were there, so they kept her comfortable.  She started to get restless before any of them saw or heard the thing coming, too, her and Gerald, so they were like canaries, even if Kim thought it was awful to think of them that way.

It was her turn to rest, so she curled up on a seat the best she could, wrapped a crappy gas-station football blanket around herself, and tried to rest.  They’d still be driving when she woke.  She was pretty sure they were never going to leave the desert.  They’d still be driving, or they’d be like Marcia and Gerald, or like John and Brittany, who they’d lost.

Even then, she was pretty sure, death or hell or nothingness would still feel like driving through the desert, forever, in an old school bus.

2 thoughts on “Desert, Bus, Neverending

  1. I have the odd feeling that they’re being pursued by a shoggoth, much like the one that appears in Lovecraft’s “In The Mountains of Madness”. But it’s unlikely there’d be a school bus on Antarctica, let alone roads, gas stations, or towns. Instead, I’d guess they’re in the US southwest, and on one of the highways down there that are labeled “unpatrolled next 300 miles” or something similar. Given Lovecraftian responses to shoggoths, I have to wonder what’s going through (what’s left of) Marcia and Gerald’s minds.

    Good luck outrunning a shoggoth…

    • I have to admit, I’ve never read Lovecraft. *googles* something like that, yeah.
      Though having actually seen the Langoliers, they looked/sounded something like that.

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