“Mind if I sit?” asked a man as he approached the bench.
“Not at all.” I responded as I Made room for him.
“Nice night tonight.” He said, looking up at the stars. I nodded in agreement without making looking at him. “Name’s Ed.” Said the man, turning to look at me.
“Mike.” I responded, looking at his face for the first time and almost regretting it. Ed had no hair on half of his head, it must have burned off since he had burn marks all over his head and face and he was wearing an eyepatch on his left eye. He clearly sensed my thoughts and shock and began to chuckle.
“Sorry to spook ya.” He said. “Car accident, real nasty.” He sat back and chuckled some more.
“What happened?” I was baffled and wanted to know more.
“You know, drunk driver, drag racer, texting and driving, never found out who, I just know someone hit me. I lose traction and fly right off the road. Car rolled a little bit before colliding with a tree. And then the fire started. Man it was hot in there.”
“It’s amazing that you survived something like that!” I was astonished at his story.
“Survived?” He seemed confused, but before we could say anything, the bus rolled up and we got on. There were no open seats so Ed and I sat together as the bus drove down the road, turning left on Hooper Road instead of right. I went to ask the busdriver to go back, but Ed stopped me.
“What’s the rush, kid?” He asked me.
“That was my stop.” I replied and looked back out the window as we drove out of town. “Where are we going?” Buses usually didn’t go so far out of town.
“We’re all going to the same place, kid.” Ed said. “Look around, we’re all the same.” I looked around at the other passengers. They all had scars, burns, or other injuries like Ed’s. Their eyes were dark, black voids, staring into the backs of the seats in front of them. They did not move or speak. I was actually kind of terrified. It still gives me chills to think about that moment when i first laid eyes on them. “You seem tense, kid.” Said Ed calmly as I turned to look at him. It didn’t make sense, what was happening to me? Ed must have been able to see my distress and attempted to calm me down. “It’s alright. It happens to everybody at some point. It has to.”
“What does?” I asked, hoping that he wouldn’t say what I knew he was gonna say.”
“Poor kid.” Ed said to the passenger in front of him who was paying no attention to him. “Death.” When he said it, I froze in place. I didn’t know what to do or say. I couldn’t be dead. No, I would have remembered dying. “Yep. That’s what happened to all of us.” Ed said, getting my attention. “What happened to you?” he asked me.
“What?” I asked, I was a wreck and couldn’t think straight.
“How’d you die?” The words pierced through me like a bullet. It was as painful as the first time he said it. I clenched my fist, trying to stop myself from screaming. I pounded my fist down onto the seat and said nothing. I took a breath and calmed myself down and in a timid, quiet voice, I responded.
“I… I don’t… know.” I said. Not looking up at Ed.
“Oh, well that’s not so bad.” Ed said, with a smile on his burned, scarred face. “That means you went out peacefully, most likely in your sleep.” He lifted his hand to pat me on the back, but instead of comforting me, it gave me chills like you wouldn’t believe. Instead of patting my back, Ed’s hand fell right through my back. He pulled his hand out quickly and looked at me in terror. His eye widened and he began to shake. “You’re not dead!” He nearly yelled. The other passengers slowly turned and stared at me, all with the same look of fear that Ed had. “ALIVE!” They all yelled in unison. “ALIVE! ALIVE! ALIVE!” They all began chanting it over and over. I was even more scared now. They wouldn’t stop yelling and staring at me. I put my hands over my ears and began to get up and move to the front of the bus, maybe I could get off. As I reached the front, I saw the bus had driven off the road and was heading right for a large tree. “ALIVE!” The ghosts chanted again as I began to scream and the bus collided with the tree.
I jumped awake in my bed. I almost screamed before i saw where I was. I was still freaking out. I had no idea what had just happened, or how I got into my room. It was early morning, the sun had just risen. I calmed myself down and looked in the mirror. I looked alive, not like a ghost or zombie. I then began to laugh. It was all just a dream, I wasn’t dead, there’s no such thing as ghosts. As soon as I thought this, however, I got a painful, irritating feeling on my back. I turned around and looked in the mirror. What I saw terrified me. When I looked into the mirror, I saw a red mark in the shape of a hand right where Ed had patted me on the back.