An Impossible Sighting Over Vauxhall | by Jess Conway

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When they watch the bus get sucked up into the sky most people assume it is a stunt for television, possibly a trick by that famous magician. Some people are genuinely awestruck; others, occupied with waiting for their own buses, want the stunt to finish now, please, so that they can have a little clap and then get on with their day.
When the bus does not descend, the awestruck say, wow! That’s a really good trick, to keep it up in the sky like that. Despite themselves, the impatient find that their interest is piqued once more. Some start laughing at the absurdity of it all. Others feel nervous. Others feel fear. The bus station is a veritable smorgasbord of emotion.

 

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Onboard the bus, the reaction is more homogenous. Just abject terror, really. The sudden jolt of the levitation knocks people out of their seats, and they roll around on the floor. There’s screaming, of course; sobbing, too. Several people lose control, because they are so scared, and piss themselves. The driver stays in her seat until the other end of her two-way radio turns to static and she realises that she is on her own up here, at which point she leaves her little driver’s cubicle, walks to the back of the bus and sits there and looks down the aisle and cries.

 

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The driver notices a well-dressed woman sitting calmly in a nearby window seat. She moves towards her and takes up the seat next to her. The lady turns to her, and says “I’ve been praying every night for this.”
The driver wipes away her tears and snot and says to the lady, “for this? For exactly this? For what is happening right now?”
The calm lady shrugs and lowers her eyes. “I wasn’t specific, really. He wants what he wants. And I am glad.”
There’s a disgusting trickle of piss snaking towards them from the seats in front. It smells awful. The whole bus smells awful. The calm lady sees the piss and blushes, embarrassed by it. She turns to the driver and starts to stand up, as if the bus is at her stop and she needs to get off. She says “excuse me” and smiles. The driver lets her pass. She takes up position at an adjacent window seat as of yet untainted by piss.

 

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The bus is filled with a bright, rippling white light, and it sounds like there is a lot of wind travelling past it very fast. The sound of the wind is very loud, and it makes the driver’s ears feel as though they are bursting, as though blood is bubbling up inside her head and rushing out through her eardrums.

The calm lady is looking out of the window, smiling and nodding. As the bus shakes harder and harder, she nods faster, still smiling, certain she understands. The driver begins to cry again, her mouth filling with the hot salt of her tears. The lady nods on, willing the bus higher with every upwards flick of her nose.

 

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Jess Conway lives in London where she rides buses to places and co-edits a zine called Best Practice. She has fiction forthcoming in Jellyfish Review. You can follow her on Twitter @Jess_RConway.​​