It was a dull autumn’s morning when Louis stepped onto the 21A to
Louis relished sitting in the bus, during its voyage little mattered to him except for his instinct of self preservation which gripped him like a chain around his chest. This was due to the protesting groans of the gear box as the driver shifted into third gear. Always third, the first and second gears were like the brief calm before a storm; the moment where almost the whole world seems still, then the force of nature unleashes its true power. He would grip the worn railings every time this happened, hanging on for dear life. The world would simply melt away into a melancholic blur as Louis focused on the single task of staying upright; this thrilled him none the less, a computer salesman doesn’t get much excitement in his life.
An elderly man violently spluttered behind him, the stench of alcohol and rain wafted past.
He’s probably homeless.
Immediately after thinking that, Louis scowled at himself and silently apologised to the poor man for his callous assumption. Although Lark Ridge had a large population of tramps (and was well known for it too), Louis thought it was wrong that he should make such immediate assumptions about anybody. He brushed his greasy mid-length hair sideways, and went back to enjoying his bus ride. Soon after, the bus slowed to a painfully loud halt and the man rose from behind Louis and stumbled down the aisle, gold grains of sand caught the light as they trickled from his worn trench coat as he took a deep gulp of cider from the bottle that draped from his loose clutch.
The bus launched off again, rattling and churning as before. It was going to be a long ride to
* * * *
Louis’s eyes snapped open to the sound of the bus horn blowing, his eyes frantically scanned for solidity and eventually focused. “End of the line, buddy”, the bus driver said as he swung from his seat and out of the driver’s door. Still dazed, Louis stumbled out of the bus and fell to the ground.
Sand was everywhere; Louis rose from his knees and shielded his eyes from the sun with his arm. He searched for the bus driver, but he was nowhere to be found.
This isn’t Lowlands Street… this isn’t even Lark Ridge… This is a desert!
“Hello?” Louis cried, “Hello? Is anybody there?” there was no reply. Then, as if in response to his cries a familiar groaning of metal and rubber roared behind him. Louis span around only to see the 21A speeding off into the distance possessing irregular speed for a bus in the middle of a desert.
Louis Rennings, computer salesman of Lark Ridge, was alone. He took off his suit jacket and wrapped it around his head like the turbans he had seen in the movies; it didn’t help much, but it made him feel better.
* * * *
Louis marched for what felt to him was probably hours, his entire body was drenched in sweat; exercise wasn’t exactly his favourite pastime. The desert had formed a perfect equilibrium of sand and sky after the dunes had evened out into a flat plain. Now all he could see was a seemingly limitless span of barren land, hosting nothing but searing heat. After wiping the sweat from his eyes, Louis gazed blankly into the distance once more. His heart leapt when he spotted a tall silhouette resting upon the thin line separating gold from blue. For the first time in his life, Louis ran as fast as his little porky legs would carry him; and he relished every stride, for each meant one stride closer to salvation.