It’s late. Too late. You knew that this was a bad idea. But, then again, your roommate said it was too, and would it really be wrong of you to stay out late purely to let them know that they aren’t in charge of you? I mean, honestly, you two aren’t family or friends, and they’re overstepping boundaries just like they always—
Alright, don’t get carried away. Keep your ears and eyelids open. Walking to Lot 100 from West Campus Library probably wasn’t your smartest idea, but hey, neither was signing up for an overcrowded parking lot. You’re not exactly the brightest light bulb in the box, are you?
That’s why it took you a while to see it, lurking just behind the edge of your shadow. You smell it first—the exhaust. You look down at your phone, cracked and dying, and see the light from the monster underneath your Adidas Superstars that you definitely got before everybody else.
You turn around, half-expecting someone to be stalking you, knife in hand. Luckily, it’s just the bus.
Another Bus Follows.
Ah, yes. The reason you got a parking pass in the first place. You weren’t going back into that place again, not if you could help it. The sweaty bodies pressed together like bad deli meat, the stench that made the world spin with nausea, the sudden stops to remind you just how trapped you are, like a child shaking a fishbowl—all of it was nightmarish. When caught between the idea of a serial murderer stalking you to your car in the early hours of the morning and riding the bus, you decided to take your chances with the Zodiac Killers of the world.
Something is odd about that bus, though. The all-too-familiar script is glowing at the top of it, but there’s no one inside. Even the bus driver himself is just a shadow. Buses usually only say that when it’s too full to carry other passengers…
Whatever. It’s not your problem anymore. You have a parking pass—an awful one that’s consistently causing you to put your life in danger as you dart across traffic-heavy streets and walk alone on worn sidewalks—but a parking pass nonetheless.
You wonder what’s happening on Aggie Twitter today.
You open up Twitter.
“I always knew you were a bad idea. I just never thought you would be one so soon.”
You close Twitter.
You’re not really in the mood for Jennifer’s melodrama right now. There’s no point in scaring yourself more with the idea that she’ll probably settle down before you with some guy that she met on Tinder. No shame on Jennifer, you’re happy for her, but really? Before you?
Seriously, stop getting sidetracked. Kleberg looms over you, haunted with dead dreams and the corpses of too many crickets to count. Your car is somewhere behind Reed, with a spot that you somehow nabbed yesterday by following a random girl slowly as she walked to her own car.
Oh, I guess that’s how that feels.
You push aside the empathy. It’s a dog-eat-dog world in Lot 100. That’s the risk she took when she got the pass. Just like the risk you’re taking now.
Is it worth it?
You wonder that until your fingers curl around the handle of the car. You throw in your backpack, noticing a familiar yellow light creep around your shoulders. A quick glance is all you’ll give it —
It is two in the morning, you think. It’s not like the buses would be crowded.
Should the buses even be running?
You promptly decide it’s not your problem, slip into the driver’s seat, and blast music on your way out of the lot in a pure attempt to keep you awake. The streets are relatively clear, with the few exceptions of blinding police lights and the odd Ford Escape. Just a five minute drive to the apartment. Then you can throw your backpack to the kitchen floor, look up at the stacked sink, give it the good ole double bird, and stomp towards your room.
The first three minutes are fine. The temptation to drift is strong, but you somehow keep the cloudiness out of your vision. Then, light blinds you. You think it’s another car with their brights on, but in your rearview you see a bus roll onwards. Maybe this is A&M’s response to all the hate they’ve been getting about the buses, you think. Fine! You want buses! I’ll give you buses!
You keep driving. A&M’s problems aren’t any of your business. Not much longer until you’re free to find your own future. You’re not quite sure what the future entails, whether or not you’ll have a job or kids, but in that moment, you make an odd sort of peace with the uncertainty. You’ll be okay.
Just not now.
Home is just 30 feet away now. You park in the closet spot you can manage, staring at the door. You can almost hear your bed calling to you with a soft siren song. It’s an awful mattress, but it’s yours. Not even your roommate can take that away from you.
You make the first step towards it, backpack strapped, when you feel it.
The hot air.
The lights flick on, leaving the last silhouette you’ll ever see.
The engine revs.
It’s behind you, waiting.
You sprint towards the door.
You’re praying, like Timothy Ateek taught you—
For once you are hoping that your roommate left the door unlocked—
The bus lurches forward, wheels screeching—
You hit the door, reaching for the handle—
Please, you think—
The light is all you can see now. Your hand drops from the knob.
When you wake up, you’re hanging, hands wrapped around the metal bars used in an attempt to steady people. Your feet hang, your backpack nestled between where they ought to be standing. From the driver’s seat, a gloved hand emerges from the shadows, giving you a slight wave.
You want to scream.
But you can’t.
Your roommate doesn’t report you as missing for a couple of days, and they only do it because their girlfriend insists that they’ll be the first suspect if they don’t. She watches Criminal Minds, so she’s always been a self-proclaimed expert.
You’re still on the bus, even now. The driver doesn’t talk, just occasionally waves back at you. Now, only one question hangs in your mind. Yes, another bus does follow.
But what is it following?