Charlie wheezed as he pulled Aaron Evermore’s lifeless body off the desert road. His left arm throbbed again and a numbing pain traveled from arm to chest. He spat a black, mucous filled glob of liquid onto a cactus and then wiped the sandy sweat from his brows. His blood-filled eyes stung as he spotted a big enough sage-bush. With renewed vigor, he pulled his victim farther away from the highway.

Charlie dropped the top half of Aaron’s body behind the bush, bent over and coughed hard. He then slammed his knees into the sand and began to dig.

He yanked the body by the feet and dumped it into the grave. Heavy handfuls of sand were first dumped over the face, then over the rest of the body, and only when the numbness in his left arm turned to pain again, did he stop pounding the sand.

It was finally over. He would go home alone, pretend he didn’t know anything, collect the insurance, and live fat. Just like last time—until that money ran out. However, right now, only one problem: getting away. He was in the middle of nowhere in the dead of the night. Since he had ditched the bike—along with the knife—a few miles back, he would have to thumb it.

His left arm throbbed to numbness again. Suddenly, a red dust ball filled the air near the highway. He ignored his arm and lumbered toward the highway, thanking God for the luck he had just received. The bloody dust on the road cleared to reveal a flesh-colored mini-bus.

“Red Lines,” Charlie whispered as he gazed upon the flashing red title with a vermilion light oscillating on a sideways “S” underneath.

The bus doors opened, sounding like a parched mouth parting from cracked lips. Charlie gripped the doorframe to steady himself. The odd metal, a hint of red mixed in with the steel, felt rubbery and vibrated against his palm.

Sunken eyes held in place by an ashen face stared at him from behind the steering wheel as he climbed into the bus. For a second Charlie thought of backing out, but, as if the bus or driver sensed this, the doors slammed shut, sealing his fate. The driver wore a stained, dark red uniform, the words “Gus” etched in red on his pocket in the same manner as the lettering on the side of the bus. Charlie dug in his pants jean pocket and came up empty.

“You’ll pay at the end,” the driver said in a grating voice

With each step toward the back of the empty bus, the air became hotter and a strange coppery taste wetted Charlie’s tongue. Charlie likened it to walking into a salty-aired sauna. I’m jumping off this Hell-ride at the first town, man. Then, play dumb, live rich.

He sat and eased his head back and concentrated on the scenery as the bus slowly picked up speed. The red pulsing of the “S” on the side of the bus cast an eerie glow on the sand, cacti, and various desert brush off the highway. It was as if someone were spraying blood toward the highway edge from the bottom of the bus every few feet. Suddenly, he felt a slight prick in the back of his neck but the pins-and-needles building in his left arm overshadowed that momentary pain. Charlie found his eyes drooping . .

He bolted up, shaking and sweating. The pulsing light seemed brighter and redder the moment he awoke, but then as his eyes adjusted he realized it must have been just his imagination. He directed his eyes on the side window and grasped the seat rests even tighter.

Pitch-black outside. How long had he been asleep?

His eyes drooped and his body felt heavy Sweat dripped down the middle of his neck, tickling him. He reached back and froze. He jerked his neck around to see a fleshy, blue and red-veined protrusion, with countless cilia traversing the outside, flicking back and forth from the back of his seat, its bulbous head engorged with blood—his blood The creature’s body glugged down his blood and through blurry eyes Charlie followed his blood as it diffused through the back of the bus and disappeared downward. With each suck of blood, a puff of red smoke would brush up against the outside back window.

Charlie wanted to scream but could only manage to lean on the seat in front of him and moan as his chest erupted in great stabbing pains. Through short desperate breaths, Charlie labored toward the front exit. With his last ounce of strength, he tried to push Gus aside but Gus just turned to face Charlie and flashed him with a yellow gap-toothed smile. Charlie caught a rush of wind from behind and turned just in time to see the large, blood-guzzling vermicule snap toward him like a rattlesnake lunging after a rabbit. Charlie opened his mouth in surprise and the creature plunged in.

The creature traveled down his throat and Charlie felt its many cilia stabbing into his throat, each finger-like projection serving as a tiny cylindrical blood pump. As the rest of his blood drained from his body, Charlie’s dismal life flashed before his eyes, and he tried to attach himself to a memory: anything good, anything wholesome, worthwhile, or—

His shell flopped to the ground.

Refueled, Gus clapped his hands together, jumped back into the driver’s seat, and drove the bus off the road and into the desert. The bus stopped and shit out Charlie Evermore’s shell—skin, muscle, organs, and bones—on the sand next to a sage bush.

Gus backed the bus onto the road again, and continued on the journey, for as long as fuel remained plentiful and cheap, there would always be work to do.


# # #

Suck-U-Bus by Gary J. Beharry
originally published July 28, 2008



Gary J. Beharry is a New York writer whose work has appeared in Alien Skin Magazine, The Harrow, Insidious Reflections, and Sybil's Garage. His misadventures on the streets of New York City are a great source of inspiration for his stories. When he's not writing or at that "other" job, he can be found volunteering, reading, or tinkering with computers.

For more of Gary's work,
visit his Big Pulp author page


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