Of Winter Air and Nothing Else This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

June 4, 2011
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I swear. I don't usually swear, but it's because I've missed my bus. I can see it squeeze through the congested street. The headlamps from millions of cars blind me, they are noisy in a silent way. I frown, looking towards the many people under the bus shelter that huddle on the benches, strangled by woolly jackets. Leaning against the corner of the bus shelter, I make myself comfortable and look down at my watch. That is when I hear the scream.

It's a bloody scream. It's a scream so shrill you can hear the blood drip from the sound waves that ring through the atmosphere. Goosebumps prickle my skin. Each hair on my back quivers. I look around anxiously and see the people under the shelter shiver, their eyes growing big until they fill up their whole face. With pale skin and ears that seem to purposely block out the noise they continue to huddle as if nothing has happened. Maybe it's because they are use to it, they have become immune to screeching. Whatever the reason I decide to ignore the scream too, ignore the high pitched shriek and the blood it shed. I continue to focus on the cold and the people that rush past me.
It's not long before a man dressed in a suit comes over to the the bus shelter and stands behind me. He taps me on the shoulder, and I turn around to see his face as white as fish skin and his eyes the shape of the moon. He says good evening with almost a chuckle and I merely nod in response. I look back at the street but do not feel comfortable, because his breath is stroking the back of my bare neck and I can hear him smile.

“I'm sorry, can I help you?” I ask, turning around. The man behind me giggles with his huge eyes. His smile grows. His fat lips are like huge slabs of raw bacon.

He opens them, “Good evening sir, I was wondering if you could help me out.” When he talks a big, red tongue flops out of his mouth, as if dead.

I shrug, “What kind of help?”

His eyes grow bigger, insect eyes, alien eyes. “Well I was wondering whether,” he pulls a huge bag from behind him, “you could hold this for a while, until I get back.” He holds the bag up to me.

I take the bag from him and it is very heavy, he says,“This bag actually belongs to my colleague. She is a woman with a scar across her forehead, if you see her would you please give the bag to her instead? If she doesn't come I will be back to retrieve it.”
I look up from the bag in my hands to the man. “Yes, Yes, of course.” I say.

The man thanks me, his tongue still falling out of his mouth and lapping up the corner of his lips, and with another smile he escapes through the sea of people. I swear, I don't usually swear, but it's because I am not the type to do favors.

People keep rushing and people keep coming and going. Buses pull up and their breaks whistle and their wheels creak, but no bus is mine. I look down at the bag that lies at my feet, sigh and then look back at the millions of cars and the dead sky.

Then all of the sudden the ground shakes and quivers. There is a rumble from underneath, the trample of hoofs, the hum of approaching thunder. I hear whistling and yelling and all of a sudden there are policemen coming closer and closer. Everyone under the bus shelter sees them and freezes, their lungs turn to concrete and their flesh to rock. They look away, they start to whimper as men bound forward. I turn back to the sky and the clouds, wondering when I will ever be able to go home.
Then I feel a tap on my shoulder and I turn around. Behind me are three men with hats like rotten meat wrapped around their foreheads and hair plastered to their gray faces. “We are the police.” says one.

“That's right.” says the other. “Adrian Wright, we are arresting you on suspicion of committing the O' Hailey Murder that occurred thirty minutes ago. We demand you open that bag.”

I look at the bag below my feet and then back at them. “There must be a mistake. This is not my bag.”

The policemen do not seem to be listening They reach immediately for the bag at my feet. They hold it up for everyone under the bus shelter – and all over the whole world – to see. Then they unzip it.
I sigh, laughing bitterly, I shake my head because there are so many misfortunes in my life. I swear quietly. Not because I usually swear but because I can't decide whether the whole thing is a joke. I decide to look in the bag with the policemen, to play along with their stupid assumption. I peer into the alien-man's bag, then I let out a startled cry. I put my hands to my mouth and chew at my little finger. My eyes bulge, my temples pulse. Inside the bag is a bloody knife, bloody bandages, and a bloody, lonesome ear.
“But officers,” I say in a whisper, “this is not my bag.”

But they don't care. They are on me, their hands are holding my arms back and they are reaching and tugging at me. I yell out, I try to protest. I look back at the people huddled under the bus shelter that stare at me in horror.

“Tell the police it isn't my bag!” I cry out, but my breath swirls out from my mouth and strangles my words. Nobody seems to hear me. “It wasn't me!” I yell, “I had nothing to do with this.”

The policemen hold me tight and they march down the sidewalk towards the street where a police car is ready to take me away. I barge into the crowd, knocking into faces, exhaling into nostrils, breathes intoxicating my whole body. I knock into a thousand unfamiliar faces. And then, “You!” I yell, because I have knocked into the face of the alien man. His eyes are still huge and oval, his lips are still huge and raw. “You! The guy with the bag! Tell them! Tell these policemen this bag is yours!”
My voice is almost a shriek. I am screaming at the alien man, but it is as if he doesn't hear me. “Excuse me sir?” He says to me.

“You! You gave me your bag!” I touch the alien man's cold face, trying to see whether he is even real.

“I don't know what you are talking about.” The alien man says. The policemen pull me from his suit and off his white cheeks.

“Stop making a scene.” one says, and I turn around to watch the man with the face of an alien disappear.

“Get into the car!” I continue to yell and scream, but the policemen get out their gloves and they push me into the car, shoving me into the car seat as if it were a coffin. “It's not my bag! It's not! It's not!” I sob, alone now in the police car, tears running down my jacket front.

Then there comes a knock at my window and the window rolls down. Looking up I see a woman standing in the puddle of blue and white police car lights. A badge labeled “Chief Inspector Stone” droops on her suit. She has thinning hair that seems to fall out in clumps as I look at her. Her head is festered with bald spots revealing a crusty scalp. With a cryptic smile she says,

“Thank you for doing that for us”, and I notice her lopsided eyes placed on the top of her forehead and a tongue that hangs out of her mouth as if dead. With one last grin she walks away. I watch her leave and wonder how she got that huge scar across her forehead. Then I swear. Again.

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Alya_O.o said...
Jun. 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm
That was creepy, eerie, ironic, and amazing. I loved it, keep writing more!!
dlunch said...
Jun. 14, 2011 at 9:04 am
Great, creepy story. Not for reading before bed time.
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