Lafayette to Baton Rouge
Amy cautiously ambled down the deserted highway weary of real life nursery rhymes sinking their teeth into her, the motel room slowly shrinking behind her. It was miles to where Hunter stashed her car and she feared she would never make it. Luckily she thought of the Metro bus system that regularly drove the whirlwind highway.
I wonder what time it is, and if the bus had already finished its route for the night? The answer to her nagging question came in the form of bright headlights rounding a bend in the road. A long, lean white Metro bus with blue LED patterns that read Lafayette to Baton Rouge on the top of the windshield barreled down the road. She knew she still had a ways to go to get her car but this was a step in the right direction.
The bus crawled to a stop, over- taxed breaks screeching as the passenger door slid open. She nervously looked around; she couldn’t shake the feeling of watchful eyes upon her, before climbing on the bus. She sat down and rummaged through her oversized purse for her notebook and recorder and when she found it turned it on to a transcription of Alicia’s diary,
“But time with my love and the bliss that we had with each other did not last… as night after night my Poppa paced the floors ever alert for predators… One night he saw the green eyes close to our homestead. Poppa says this is the last attack on our animals.”
Amy clicked the stop button on her recorder then closed her notebook when she neared Baton Rouge, time to take another bus to New Roads. It would be a fantastic story, no doubt, a wonderful page turner and something to get her out of the rut that she had been currently in. But what audience would believe such fantastic tales? She would have to write it in a fictional manner or nobody would believe her.
The bus came to an erratic and rough stop. The brakes moaned almost like they were in pain then the hydraulics hissed as the door opened. Amy debussed and walked up to a dilapidated bench, complete with graffiti and broken glass waiting for her. Two streetlights hissed and buzzed turning on and off like dim strobe lights.
The loud moan from the bus catching gear made Amy shiver. She imagined the taillights of the bus as mad red lupine eyes vanishing into the distance, and her body involuntarily shivered again. She tried to put the bad thoughts behind her. She tried to block out the Booker A-line employees finished with second shift crowding around her. The smell of nickel, copper, acid, and oil on filthy uniform overalls was upsetting her senses and watering her eyes as the group crowded around and sat down with an audible sigh.
She plugged in her ear buds so as not to disturb the exhausted employees then turned her recorder back on again,
“He ran outside, Poppa, I know because I heard the screen door open and close… I hurried to get dressed and strained my ears to hear … Suddenly a bang. I ran downstairs and out to find my Poppa had wounded one of the beasts, Poppa shot him right in the head and it just stood there glaring at him, becoming almost human. My, my Aticus, my love... This thing…. ran off after my father shot it... I’m scared to examine my feelings now. Poppa sends us away into town for the night...I am nauseous and I don’t know if... My love will survive… It’s like a bad dream. Father promises he’ll keep me safe and that the Wolf thing won’t be coming back, but... In my heart I wish that Aticus would come back to find me.”
“I couldn’t believe it! My Aticus was a myth come to life, a loup garoux! But he looked so gorgeous, so human. I looked into those caring, brilliant emeralds, forever smitten with him. So loving and forgiving and I couldn’t forget he saved my life too. It is funny to think about it now but the first time we made love it was when he told me he had come to kill me.”
The smell of stale cigarette smoke wafting through the open air of the bus stop distracted Amy’s train of thought. In fact, she felt herself getting nauseous as she pressed stop.
“Excuse me.” She politely smiled as she tried to maneuver from the seated crowd without stumbling.
Clutching her purse a chill came over her, she still could not shake the feeling of eyes upon her, especially since she could look beyond the highway to find miles and miles of corn fields that could conceal a stranger’s whereabouts.
In fact, unobstructed she could see the Booker A-line factory lights in the far distance, which told her New Roads wasn’t that far away. She broke out her cell phone and dialed Capt. Rogers’ cell phone, instead of the house phone that she had previously called on accident.
“Come on, come on!” The sounds of desperation were evident in her voice as it rang and rang and rang.
“Hello…” Capt. Rogers answered and for a moment Amy’s heart quickened, her cheeks reddening impulsively, smiling until he continued to speak, “I’m not available right now, please leave me a message after the beep…”
It seemed like forever before the sound that let her know she could talk now, “hey, Cappy, I’m frightened, but I think I figured out what is going on. Meet me at Sarah’s motel room when you’re off-duty… I really need you.”
The headlights of the bus could be seen in the distance when she pressed end. Standing up from the crowd she was first in line when the doors slid open. Amy looked up at the bright white moon, just a sliver from being full. One more night, the full moon would grace the night sky just in time for Halloween.
“How are you tonight?” Amy politely asked as she climbed aboard the bus. She looked up to see the bus driver’s cordial but grimacing face.
Something seemed very wrong with the bus driver’s demeanor. With a sweating forehead and a pallor complexion, sunken eyes and razor edged cheekbones with a five o’clock shadow he looked like a meth addict or at the very least a weekend drunken binge come to an end. He had an odor about him, a powerful, musky aroma, distinguishable but not entirely unpleasant. She had almost decided to turn around and step off the bus when she looked at his eyes, cunning and intelligent eyes that locked onto her every movement.
“I’m fine,” the bus driver, Gene Francis, said looking at her and then looking at the moon, “Will ya look at that moon! It is gonna be a full moon just in time for Halloween, did you know that? That sure is great!”
“Oh, yes…” The gathering crowd bottlenecking in the steps of the entrance gave her an excuse to move further back into the aisles and break off the uneasy conversation.
She instinctively put on the ear buds and looked out of the window until the bus started rolling, “Poppa says we will move out of town early in the morning. I went back in the woods today, although Poppa told me in no uncertain terms not to, but I had to see Aticus again, to see if he’s all right and to tell him goodbye. Aticus was nowhere to be found.”
“My Poppa did a horrible thing. I hate him and I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive him … Assaulting and wounding my lover and sending me away from him, away forever.”
“Oh God… I fell asleep one night to find myself back at my Poppa’s plantation in the morning. I don’t know how I got here. It defies all logic; Last thing I remember was going to bed in my new house in Boston. Next thing I know, I’m here in my old room. I know I walked here, I know I am here, I know I walked because of the cuts and bruises on my legs and feet and obvious exhaustion, in fact, my knees hurt me something fierce and the scabs are visible. Is my heart so broken that at night I wander off to the woods, to a place my heart should be, with Aticus? I find myself exposed to the world, naked on the spot where I first met him. Still, open to the elements I found my way to our old house to find my journal, to add in my thoughts. Is the draw to Aticus so strong that it brought me here while I was dreaming? During my waking times I was obsessed by the thoughts of him and his crooked smile, his dazzling eyes, his hard marble-like body. His ease of talk and his accent that try as I might I couldn’t place.”
“However, one morning, I began to get sick. Unexpected pains in my abdomen began. I started to really need HIM! Where is my Aticus? Help me, somebody! Help me Poppa!”
She looked up to see a “Welcome to New Roads” sign just passing her window. Couldn’t come sooner, Amy thought. An eerie howl pierced the night sky, prompting domestic dogs to howl, whine and pace about. She took out her ear buds and put them back in her purse. Standing out in the aisle and stretching out her legs. From the transcriptions of Alicia’s diary apparently the lycanthrope awakening has everything to do with Sarah’s property.
“I’ve got to get to Sarah!” She whispered as she found herself running in the aisles toward the exit.
Amy didn’t notice the huge shiny chain and lock used to block the side door as she stumbled toward the driver and the front exit. Almost outside, a clammy hand rested upon Amy’s shoulder, stopping her in her tracks.
“What the…?” Amy twirled around to see the bus driver Gene’s eyes staring back at her.
Gene leaned in much too close to Amy’s body invading her personal bubble as he breathed in her aroma then sniffed the air around him. Amy’s body reflexively stiffened up and she was about to protest when Gene let go of her shoulder. Amy shrunk down into a sniveling helpless baby when she looked into Gene’s eyes. The eyes had changed into some kind of horrible animal’s eyes. There was something sinister in his hungry lupine eyes glowing red from the moonlight.
“Have a good night, Miss… Have yourself a happy Halloween too!” Gene pushed Amy out the door and out of the bus with one hand giving a salute with the other. Gene pressed the lever to slide the door closed when a worker from Booker A-line noticing the lock on the door tried to get Gene’s attention.
She shook with fear when she said, “Excuse me, but I need to get off here please…”
Gene leaned in towards the factory employee. Gene sniffed in her oily scent and cringed. Bloody talons sprang out from his fingers. In a flash claws swiped through her exposed neck before she could respond. Her legs crumbled and slumped over the railing. Most of the Booker A-line employees were still oblivious, still seated and unconcerned. One employee smiled as he gained a level and high score from a game on his tablet. One employee asleep on the bench and three employees were engaged in a conversation in the middle benches unaware of what had just transpired.
Gene doubled over in pain, a pain that he had gradually gotten used to. Seams in his shirt began to rip as his spine grew visible protruding from under his skin. A sharp pain surprised him as the bottom of his spine shattered. Then a dull, throbbing pain as new stem cells programmed with the wolf’s blood flooded his veins. Gradually a tingling, numbness ran through him. His ears began to lengthen as his skull cracked and reformed to accommodate a more lupine feature. The involuntary growls gradually grabbed the A-line employee’s attention.
Gene’s new lupine head swayed back and forth tracking its prey any signs of movement would kick in its instinct to attack. Gene had a human-like torso and arms but the lower half was all lupine, including a tail. A subtle movement towards the door is all that it took to set in motion the bloodbath. His Lupine legs and feet were excellent tools to weave back and forth among the seats selectively finding candidates with their distinct smell and biting them, and slaughtering the rest.
A pile of bodies was strewn about in the aisles blocking the way out the front door. A temp worker, just a week on the job, thought he found a way out from the side door, but soon his heart sank as he yanked at the chains. The rear emergency door of the bus burst open, freezing the trapped passengers in the aisles. What appeared in the darkness set every passenger into a mad frenzy. The interloper had a lupine head and body for from head to toe, but he had bipedal legs. The beast leapt onto the bus sniffing the panicky passengers’ bodies one by one. The fear that wafted up from the bus exhilarated the beast. He had blocked a number of slower or oblivious Booker A-line employees still in their seats. The monster massacred each passenger that the monster deemed unworthy.
The bipedal beast and monstrous bus driver drew closer sniffing the other’s aroma. Even though they had distorted and monstrous faces, the scents were unmistakable. Gene and Chance, father and son united. The wounded but not dead started to stir and stood up drool spilling out from their mouths as they growled, their eyes glowing full of lunacy.
The unfortunate souls were now still forever.
Amy had walked several yards before she realized the bus hadn’t moved an inch yet and the screams of trapped passengers got her attention. The bus rocked back and forth, a sure sign of a struggle. Her curiosity got the better of her and instead of fleeing she concealed herself in a nearby bush and watched for her ongoing article. Suddenly the bloody crowd with glowing eyes jumped off the bus, sprinting off in either direction onto Highway 1.
“Oh God, I have to get a hold of Rogers.” Amy tried to quietly dial on the cell phone while the infected ran by her sounding like stampeding bulls, “Cappy, its Amy, I need you, come quickly if you can… something horrible is happening. I REALLY need you!”
The moaning lunatics rambled by, their combined growls loud enough Amy found herself stumbling backwards. Retreating further onto the shoulder and from the gutter into the bushes entwining in branches until she splashed into a deep puddle, her new shoes were now soaked with mud and grime. She breathed a sigh of relief until she heard growling close by. Her body instinctively stiffened and she held her breath the only saving grace was her concealment in the bushes. The animalistic duo emerged from a bright streetlight filling Amy with dread. Pumping fear pheromones all throughout the air, the father and son stopped to breathe the air around them.
“Oh God!” Amy put her hands to her mouth. Do not move! If she moved she would be safe, she thought.
Both beasts’ heads turned straight at her hiding place, slowly trailing her, sniffing the air. Something in the air displeased the beasts. A powerful aroma, something more ancient, powerful stopped them in their tracks. Even in the darkness and concealed by thick leaves turning a brilliant auburn Amy swore the beasts saw her, but they turned and ran off towards the other infected leaving her unscathed.