CHAPTER 1 PART 4: ERIC




Eric had been driving his bus for the better part of a decade. In all that time he’d had to deal with eight broken arms, twelve fist fights, three stab wounds, one passenger waiving a gun around, three births, and a multitude of cuts and scrapes. Not once had he ever had a passenger die. Some have come close, that was true enough, but no human life has ever expired onboard his bus.

But it had happened to others and Eric had known that it could happen to him. The City required that all of their drivers sit through a training video each year to keep them up to date on what to do when medical emergencies occur on one of their buses. It covered everything from minor abrasions to death. In fact, Eric had just sat through the two hour video five weeks ago. Yet, now that he had the real thing sitting right before him, he couldn’t, for the life of him, remember just what it was that he was supposed to do.

All he could do was stand there in the aisle and look down upon the man he’d been riding around with all night.

The man who was very clearly dead.

Eric managed to take two steps forward before pausing once again to think things through. He tried to get a good look at the guy, as good a look as he was going to get from a few seats away.

The guy wore what looked like a jogging suit. Sweat pants, sleeveless t-shirt, he even had an MP3 player strapped to a forearm with a twin cord snaking up into each ear. Eric certainly hadn’t noticed all that when the guy had climbed aboard earlier. But then, Eric tried not to notice too much from his passengers. Which somewhat laughed in the face of everything they’d been taught in their yearly videos. Like how to spot a potential threat.

But as far as he was concerned, Eric wasn’t paid enough to be as vigilant as they wanted him to be. And frankly, if the City had only him to rely on to stop terrorists, then the world was in a far worse place then he was comfortable believing.

His radio.

He was supposed to call this in. That was one of the steps from the video. Call it in to the main transportation hub. And the police, he was supposed to call 911, it was all coming back to him now. The City provided each driver with a phone for emergencies such as this.

He scrabbled at his pockets for a few seconds and nearly collapsed in panic when he couldn’t find the phone. He dug through each pocket three times before realizing that it was charging in its docking station up front.

It was when he was about to turn back to retrieve his phone when he saw the dead man’s jaw move. His mouth hadn’t opened, but the skin over his jaw, back where the hinge connected with the skull, had bulged slightly, like he’d clenched his teeth. Maybe he wasn’t dead after all.

Trying his best to ignore the smell, Eric stepped forward and placed a hand on the guy’s shoulder and gave it a tentative shake.

“Hey, buddy,” said Eric. “You okay?”

Nothing.

Eric turned from the man to the front of the bus, then just as quickly, turned back to him. He’d hate to call this in as a death and find out the guy was alive. He wasn’t sure what sort of expediency an ambulance might make for a dead guy over one that was dying, but he figured the latter would be considered more of an emergency. He had to find out for sure. That too was in the training.

“Hey, pal,” Eric said and then gave the guy’s shoulder a more vigorous shake.

The man’s head rolled over on his neck, flopping over limply to the other side like a rag doll. When it did, his mouth lolled open and Eric jumped back with a gasp of surprise.

He could see something black and glistening moving within the man’s mouth.

To be continued . . .



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