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The Bus Stop

Matthew J. Barbour | Kristy Lankford

The first time I walked to the bus stop by myself, I was eight years old. My mom told me not to take any short cuts. I was to go straight from the house to the bus stop and then back at the end of the day.

I did what I was told. I didn’t stop to examine the caterpillar crawling on a blade of grass or to collect fallen leaves from the cottonwoods. I just walked to the stop.

I must have gotten there early. When I arrived, I was the only one there. I waited.

After a minute or so, a car pulled up. The door opened and a little green kid hopped out. He had big black eyes and a large egg shaped head. He came to stand beside me and smiled. He was waiting for the bus too.

I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers. So, we just stood there. It was quiet.

Then, I saw the bus. It pulled around a corner onto the street. It came to a stop before us.

I climbed aboard and took a seat. The little green kid followed. He sat across from me. Then, the bus started down the road.

I looked around. I did not recognize anyone. In addition to the green kid, there was a hairy girl with cat’s eyes, a boy with an elephant trunk, some-sort of robot, and a giant octopus.

I knew something was wrong. At the next stop, we picked up a girl who had blue skin and gills.

I tried to signal for the bus driver, a large bat-like creature with a beard which extended below his knees. He didn’t see me, but the green kid must have known something was wrong. He turned to me. “You are not going to get his attention that way. Our bus driver doesn’t have the best vision.”

I was getting more nervous with each street that we passed.

“Where does this bus go?” I asked.

He looked at me inquisitively. “To the Space Academy on Rygel IV, of course.”

I frowned. I didn’t know where Rygel IV was, but I was certain that it was nowhere close to Roswell Elementary. “Is this bus number 12?”

“No. It is 16.”

“Oh dang.” I said. “I suppose I didn’t check the number before getting on board.”

The green kid frowned. “You got to do that or you can get all mixed up. If you’re not careful, you could end up going someplace else.”

“Like Rygel IV?” I said.

“Like Rygel IV,” the green kid said. He had a large smile on his face. It put me at ease and I couldn’t help, but smile too. “Don’t worry, I just told the bus driver —telepathically, that is.”

“Tele… what?” Before the green kid could answer, the bus halted.

“This is where you get off,” the green kid said.

I looked out the window to see that we were back at my bus stop. I thanked the green kid and got off. As the bus drove away, I could see him waving to me through the window and I waved back.

About Matthew J. Barbour

Matthew J. Barbour is a speculative fiction author living with his wife and three children in Bernalillo, New Mexico. When he is not writing fiction, Mr. Barbour manages Jemez Historic Site and contributes to a number of regional newspapers.

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