Route UB1

Long weeks working. Rain still falling. Heavy droplets, water crawling down bus shelter, dark skies bawling. Another day is done.

Through the grey a bus approaches, teeming inside, full of roaches, human insects, tired voices, “Ticket please,” one grunts. Franz knows the feeling; hating, hurting. Sick of service, new-world weary. Inside bright. The windows dirty.

Loose change. Find a seat.

Near the front, two ladies talking, behind them, a young boy squawking, rows of faces, soulless, gawking. What’s the world become? Tongues are wagging, swear words snagging, at the back three young men bragging. Stealing-shouting-almost shagging. How drunk they were last night.

Starting, stopping, people walking. Motion sickness, long face balking in the window, movement rocking: Bus Route UB1.

Through the city, every evening. Sniffing noses, heavy breathing. Bus vibrating, stomach heaving. Heart hammering against his ribs; an ancient, tribal drum.

All around him, buildings sliding, melting in the rain, subsiding, streaks of grey, rainfall hiding the city’s sobbing face. Lived for ten years. Worked for thirty. Bones are tired, his body hurting.  To cut his wrists, his hot blood spurting: a man can dream. He can.

At the back, the young men shouting louder, voices starting harder, jostling they assess their larder. Bus filled with easy prey. He knows the sort; no school, no teaching, fathers gone, their mothers breaching as they spawn more screaming offspring, red between the legs. The bus route is their hunting ground, their web where helpless victims found, like flies stuck to the city, bound to the monsters this world breeds.

Outside the road runs black with water. Under doorways, people loiter, waiting out the never-ending rain that will not stop. Clouds were black at six this morning. Raining since the day was dawning. Since he stepped, pale-faced and yawning, into another day.

Before his eyes, the young men changing. Altogether, outlines blurring. Faceless shapes, new limbs emerging. Monsters in men’s skin. Arms are growing, bodies breaking. Snap like pencils. Sounds like choking. Sucking. Slurping. No one worried, not awoken, dead to this, their world.

From the back it slowly reaches, twelve long legs, thick, dark like leeches bloated on a diet of human peaches; female fruit. Franz watches as the creature prowls, he listens to its high-pitch howls. Once-hoodies, now great fleshy cowls, beneath them glittering eyes.

The monster of Route UB1 drags its large bulk, must weigh a ton, between the seats, no need to run, it knows it has already won, its prey with their returns –

– day-passes, singles to the city, hopeless, tired of living, life is gritty, pointless, shitty, he asks himself, what is there to be done?

What can be done against this beast, which on soft female flesh it feasts, and when encounters men, at least will beat them black and blue? This creature has not always been, not always was, not always seen, but in this time, grown dark and mean, has found a place to
feed –

– and breed, a human brood lusting for food and heat and life and dark corners to do dark things, now brave and bold, the human beast of Bus Route UB1.

~ Thomas Brown

© Copyright 2013 Thomas Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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About Thomas Brown

Thomas Brown is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Southampton, where he is exploring the relationship between horror and the sublime in literature. Literary influences include Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite and Thomas Ligotti. He writes dark, surreal fiction.

34 responses to “Route UB1”

  1. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Thomas, I really enjoyed your poetic prose in this piece. It’s a difficult task to write a rhyming piece with elevated words, but you’ve done an excellent job of it. The description and implied imagery carries through with barely any effort on behalf of the reader. A very, very nice piece! ;}

    Like

  2. moondustwriter says :

    Thomas – excellent. The rhyming within the prose lends itself well to this piece. I like the forward movement of time and gore. You build in an expectancy that all is not well though what goes on in the bus is accepted.

    Like

  3. Joseph Pinto says :

    If you told me beforehand that you were writing a piece that featured rhyming within paragraph form, I admit I’d be a little apprehensive going into its reading. But Route UB1, in my opinion, is awesome! Fresh and innovative. Nothing about the rhymes detracted from the tale. If anything, it only lent to the dark, whimsical feel of the overall prose. Sometimes a writer can do too much to a story, but you nailed this.

    I especially enjoyed how you captured the “monotony” of our every day lives. Franz may soak in the evil and carnage before him with numb eyes, but ours are wide with wonder along the dark route you’ve shared.

    Brilliant, Tom!

    Like

    • Thomas Brown says :

      Cheers, Joe. What’s the point, if we can’t experiment with styles of writing once in a while? The lyrical writing seemed a natural progression of my usual style, which is quite language/image orientated anyway. I’m glad you liked the read.

      Like

  4. ladysknight says :

    Alot of good symbolism in this. Can’t imagine the daily horrors a bus driver actually faces.
    Well done

    Like

  5. zkullis says :

    Damn, that’s good stuff. I’ve ridden inner city transit for a number of years, ranging from trains to decrepit buses, and you’ve captured and rendered an ugly side of humanity that many never see.

    Apathy is the cancer that many people suffer while riding mass transit – averting their attention away from things that would anger or sicken them if they saw it on the news from the safety of their sofa.

    The cadence you created with the rhyming felt like a heartbeat. I felt like the heartbeat belonged to Franz, who was cognizant of the horror, but felt hopeless against the insurmountable monster of Route UB1.

    Great stuff.

    Like

  6. jaimiengle says :

    Very nicely done, Thomas. A gritty, sharp cadence filled with dynamic visuals that I could taste. The end was raw and nasty. I loved this one! Cool choice to use a beat that isn’t always there to build the story to a new level. Well done!

    Like

  7. Tyr Kieran says :

    Tom, I was blown away by this! I really really enjoyed the blend of rhyme, symbolism, alliteration, atmosphere and more. The grittiness and mood played nicely against the tale’s deep meaning and its social/political issue. Fantastic work, Tom!!!

    Like

  8. sandra stephens says :

    A geat rhythm and flow, darkly compelling.

    Like

  9. the happy horror writer says :

    Amorphous clots of humanity, lurking together to strike from the shadows. Yep, that’s public transportation for you! Imaginative, lovely prose, Thomas.

    Like

  10. Daemonwulf says :

    This is an extremely well crafted piece, Sir Thomas of Clan Brown. The pacing, rhythm, atmosphere and tension are simply amazing throughout. I couldn’t help but sing-song along while being drawn further down, down, down into the dark, dreadful commute that is a bus ride on route UB1. Just a truly fantastic method of conveying such an horrific trip that culminates in some bloody damn good terror. Fucking great stuff! *I-can-say-‘fucking’-on-here-can’t-I? grin*

    Like

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Anticipation #PEN #Dark #poetry | Moondustwriter's Blog - February 26, 2013
  2. THOMAS BROWN - March 14, 2013

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