The Fifty-Seven

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This post was originally published through Patreon on August 16, 2017.

I sit at the bus stop just before sunset and wait for the 57 to arrive. I’m the only one here, but that’s not a surprise. Not many ride this bus anymore.

This city’s always been my home, but over the years it’s changed, and I hardly recognize it anymore. Nothing’s different on the surface. You can still see the old courthouse looming across the street from weathered concrete apartments that haven’t seen a fresh coat of paint in thirty years. But the city’s heart has undergone a strange transubstantiation, leaving me alienated and as good as homeless.

They say the bus’s purpose is to take care of people like me—people who’ve become vagrants in their own homes. Officially, the line stopped running sixteen years ago, but every so often someone goes to the abandoned stop, and after the sounds of the approaching vehicle have faded into the distance, they’re gone and never heard from again. Now, I’m about to find out for myself exactly where it goes. Hell, the moon, outer space, doesn’t matter. Anywhere is better than here.

The 57 pulls up at last, plastered with ads for products that no longer exist. It slows to a stop, hissing like a snake. The doors swoosh open, and I take one last look around.

“You coming?” calls a gruff voice. The interior is consumed by shadows, so that I can only make out the driver’s smoldering red eyes.

“Yes.”

My pulse quickens when I meet his gaze. I step inside, and I jump back when the doors swing shut behind me. I take my seat, and a moment later the bus rattles up to speed.

My former home recedes into the distance, and soon, there is only darkness ahead.

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