What Comes Next?
You can't imagine what I saw there. How that glass shattered, how the jade man shattered under the abuse of what I assume were the authorities; it is so hard to tell these days. Everybody with an ounce of power dreams of tyranny. All they can think about is the easiest way to keep it within their grasp. Obviously these creatures are no different. Is anybody really that different?
You can't imagine how horrible it is to see someone crystallized and burst apart into so many tiny fragments spraying in every which way. Try to imagine this; since you can't imagine that, I know you won't be able to, maybe you won't even believe me, but here it goes anyway. The glass reconstituted itself. It slid like iron filings across the asphalt and the sidewalk, like someone hit the rewind button on a VCR pulling all of the characters and action of a movie backwards. The glass followed its own trajectory breaking the chains of gravity. The waterfall of shards flowed up into the large space it used to occupy, smoothed out and sealed itself, man and all. Immediately his bawling renewed. One of the officers took out a knife, one very similar to the one that I held, and stuck the tip into the jade man's breast. The glass twisted left and then right, solid waves chipping on large breakers, as the officer dragged the sharp tip around, looping it down to a point then back up into another loop. Then tracing the shape again digging deeper into the glass pulled out a heart shaped chunk of jade. The jade man was silent. Shrieked himself out I guess. The officer held up the glass heart toward the bus. I got a really good look at the heart and the veiny cracks that ran through it before he slammed it into the pavement smashing it to dust. He used the toe of his boot to spread the dust around. There was a decent sized black space in the jade man's breast where the heart used to be. The dust scattered away in the breeze. The jade man was imprisoned and in pain with a large hole in his middle.
I got the feeling that I was meant to see the show. That it was a display for me. I couldn't tell why, but since the bus hadn't been able to pass this particular sex store despite the wheels still turning, the road still slipping out behind the bus nothing had actually moved. Except the sky. It had changed dramatically from the nasty yeast infection colour it was to... actually, if there was an invisible mixing bowl in which the sky were sitting in someone had darkened it by adding cups of a blood. I hadn't noticed it happening but it was darker and the shadows had a reddish tint to it. It created a very surreal ambience like the dark tinted glow from a red bulb in reading lamp. Any time someone mentions a red light district, I picture this type of light in a shop front window. It was horrific because now that it was dark out the street lights were on and they were some shade of green. It was an odd mix, Freddy's Christmas.
"This version of OZ is way out there. I'd have never come here had I known."
There was a horrific squealing wheeze coming from the front of the bus. The driver's shoulders were heaving heavily up and down. Mirth appeared in the rearview in the form of violet electric eyes with deeply entrenched crows feet at their sides. I don't think I've ever seen skin that carved. The smiling eyes made the driver look so much older rather than younger. It was deeply disturbing.
"As if you had a choice..." She cajoled.
What it meant was anyone's guess. I was pretty turned off by the driver's lack of good customer service up to this point and figured there was not much good in asking her about it. I don't think that is really like me. I began to feel like pieces were missing from me. Things I should know I had forgotten. It was futile trying to figure them out. The harder I tried to remember the worse it got. I knew I was headed to a party and it felt like we'd traversed a huge amount of the city - space - already but I couldn't really tell.
They shoved the ball gag back into the jade man's mouth and a different officer was having his way, giving the boot to the green glass. The jade man's head slumped as much as it could. He opened his sad eyes, silent, they met mine; the connection was electric and nearly tangible. I thought there was some scorn hidden in their depths, but mostly sadness. It broke my heart and the bus shot away breaking the connection.
A solid lead ball of remorse settled deep into my guts. It felt as if it would rip a hole through my groin pulling all of my organs down with it on to the floor of the bus. I knew right then and there that that connection was real. I knew him, the jade man. His features were all too familiar. It was he who gave me the knife. What I didn't know yet, was what it meant. What I did know was that he was suffering appallingly back there at the hands of those thugs, that goon squad. Was this my moment? Yes. I lunged to my feet and ran to the front of the bus smacking into a barrier that I couldn't see. A shockwave from the impact pulsed out in a great circular wave and I was on my back trying desperately to catch my breath. Empty gasps burning the tubes to my lungs. A massively overweight beast was standing on my chest crushing my airways shut so no new air could get in. I squirmed on the bus floor trying to regain some composure. After what felt like an eternity I started to recover, thin streams of air began to squeeze their way in. I tasted blood as I rolled over onto my forearms and heaved myself up. My nose must have made first contact with the invisible barrier. The thick brownish stuff was oozing over my lips and down my chin. I spat it out of my mouth and wished I had something to wash my mouth out with.
"Behind the yellow line." Crowed the driver.
"We have to stop. We have to turn around and go back." I pleaded. It must have sounded a little like mewling. "We have to help the man in the glass! Please. Stop the bus." I beseeched to no avail. "Come on. Stop the fucking bus. We can't leave him to be tortured."
She gave no indication that she was listening. Her eyes never even appeared in the rearview as they so often did when I was being acknowledged. I was being completely ignored.
"Please stop the fucking bus!" I yelled again. "I know him. I can help him. I need to help him. It's not fair!" I berated her with shrill pleas one after another. I have never wanted something so badly in my life like I wanted to go back and help him. I had never witnessed such barbarism either. This whole bus trip was a crusade for blood.
"If you won't help me, I'll do it myself!" I threatened, finally finding my temerity.
In my anger and despair I took out the knife and slammed the blade into the invisible wall. The impact reverberated up my arm painfully, but it sent a shockwave forward. The bus skidded to a stop sending out a wake in the asphalt, causing the driver to smack her face off the steering wheel. There was something very special about the blade; there was power at work and suddenly I wasn't as vulnerable as I thought.
The hooked chains descend from the ceiling and dart from the floor and seats crazed, as if I had committed some egregious act against the bus raising its ire. I swatted at them with the knife, ducking out of the way of one while jumping over another. One wrapped around my left arm and I hacked at it with the blade in my right hand severing it. A high pitched sound accompanied an engine knock as the hunk of chain - that looked an awful lot like bone - fell to the floor. I kicked it away. My foot was caught and wrapped in another chain yanking me off my feet. I swung the blade wildly at it with my right and punched and swatted at others with my left, at the same time kicking at others of the serpentine hook headed chains. Some how I managed to avoid getting skewered up until this point. That wouldn't be the case for long. The hook that was wrapped around my leg pierced me just above the knee. It was excruciating and it was all I could do to keep my focus. Another chain swung for my head and I cut it in half mid swing, the severed bulk landing heavily on my belly. I knocked it away and pulled with all my strength on the hook in my leg. I cut it off its chain at the base and it seemed to grow limp. It was much easier to get out. I through it at the driver, it stuck in the invisible wall, which was scarred now from the knife impact. Now there was a black meat hook floating in mid air beside the scarred air. That's what it looked like. I got to my knees and caught a chain in its flight. I pulled it, stretching it down to the floor where it writhed and twitched. I stabbed it and sawed the knife back out. That took time and focus. Another hook nicked my tricep dragging its point from one side of my arm to the other. The pain was searing hot. I was getting tired, I could barely lift my arms anymore. There were only a couple of chains left rearing like cobras but not attacking. I put both hands in the air with all my effort; sweating and bleeding. I crawled on my elbows over to a seat a little ways away from the remaining hooks, climbed into it and sat there.
The chains receded. A few minutes later there was a ripple not unlike heat emanating in waves up from the highway on a balmy summer day. The scars disappeared and the hook fell with a clatter. The driver stepped out from her seat and toward me. Her eyes were jet with a thin ring of violet around the edges. She was seething with anger.