The Last Passenger – Part 2

Chambers was jolted back into his seat as the minibus moved off, pulling away from the pavement. Once again the route took them uphill and the bus toiled on.

He had been quite taken by the old man’s actions and was not sure what to make of it. He was aware that there were many Christian Chinese. Perhaps this was the old fellow’s way of trying to convert him. Whatever the reasons Chambers found it strangely disconcerting and looked back as the bus moved on to try and catch a last look at the old man. As he turned towards the rear of the bus he was surprised to see that he was not the last passenger after all. There was a person sitting at the very back, in the darkness where. It was an old man dressed in what appeared to be a very old suit. It resembled something out of an old Chinese movie that he had once tried to watch.

He offered the man a smile and a nod and turned back towards the front. Chambers thought that it was very strange that he had not seen the old man before and decided that it was simply because of the poor lighting. His mind turned to the length of the journey, which this evening seem to be taking forever. A combination of the inclement weather and a very old minibus.

They were travelling downhill again but going no faster. The rain and wind if anything were stronger and he could feel it buffeting the side of the bus. If things did not improve he would get home just in time to start the trek back into town. Turning sideways on his seat he rested his back against the side. Glancing quickly at the old man he noticed he had moved forward to a seat just two rows behind him. His face was suddenly illuminated by a car headlight passing in the opposite direction and Chambers thought he looked very unhealthy. He also noticed that the smell has returned with a vengeance.

They were slowing to a stop again and this time there was an obstruction in the road ahead of them. Peering through the windscreen he saw that three cars had managed to find each other in the appalling conditions. The car that had almost hit them moments earlier had managed to do the job properly this time ploughing into the back of another private car. No one appeared to be hurt judging by the amount of swearing that could be heard. Chambers leaned forward to see if he could get a better look through the windscreen and slammed back into a seat. The smell had grown stronger and as he moved forward it seemed to hit him like a solid wall. And it was coming from the driver!

Almost gagging he put his face to the window to get some fresh air and took a deep breath. Then, resting his head against the glass he looked back at the old man to see if he was affected by the smell and started in front. The old man had moved up behind him and his chambers it turned around he found himself face-to-face with him.

There was no pretence of looking out the back windows. Chambers studied the old man’s face. It was pale in the light of the ceiling lamp, the eyes were wide and staring, the lips thin and colourless. Chambers realised that it was not a suit the old man had on but an overcoat and beneath it, very clear, even in the available light was a flash of white.

Chambers looked pointedly towards the. The incredible odour was going to his head. Now it appeared to be coming from all around him. He decided that he have to get off. Just then the bus moved forward as it had managed to creep around the wrecked cars so quietly that he had not even noticed that they were moving.

He called out to the driver to tell him to stop but his voice came out in a croak. He realised that he was terrified. He tried to move forward to push the driver’s shoulder but as he did so a hand clamped onto his. The fingers were thin, stick-like appendages, the nails long and dirty. There was no longer any doubt as to where the foul odour was coming from. He tried to shrug the hand from him but the grip tightened. Chambers did not want to turn around and look at the old man he was absolutely sure the sight would drive him mad. He found his voice and shouted at the driver to stop but the man showed no signs of having heard him.

Chambers could only sit there as if paralysed by some hideous leech. He feverishly tried to rationalise his fear. He was hardly aware now of the hand gripping him and a strange lethargy had overtaken him.


(c) Copyright John Stewart Sloan 2020 – Not for Distribution

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