Don’t answer

I picked up Kirsten Bruce’s story. Josee De Angelis took the second 200 words and continued by ttaylor. As it was going begging, I thought I would give it a part 4. Asterisks indicate the different authors. 

Turtle’s eyes were closed when the 8CL bus shook violently and started heading into the overpass tunnel, sideways. The driver tried to avoid hitting the body that had just hurled itself off the top of the bridge but with no luck. The body hit the bus, and then the bus hit the overpass. The motion of the vehicle sliding sideways caused Turtle’s head to hit the window and his eyes flew open just in time to catch a glimpse of a man sitting on the ground right outside where the bus had stopped. It wasn’t a particularly hard crash and no one had been violently thrown around, just frightened. Apparently, no one but the driver had seen the jumper. As passengers began collecting themselves, Turtle made his way to the front of the bus, his eyes fixated on the man outside. Why was he just sitting there? He wasn’t at all surprised that the bus had just hit a brick wall. Probably a vagrant, they always hung out and drank in those overpass tunnels. Maybe he could bum a smoke from him he thought as he exited the bus. As he approached the sitting man, Turtle called out “Hey man” but the man did not reply.

******

“Gotta smoke?” Silence. The man was staring at a particular point of the tunnel across from him. Turtle made his way closer. The man had long, stringy hair, sharp features and piercing eyes that seemed to read the cracks in the bricks or seeing through the bricks. Most passengers had vacated the bus. Two ambulances arrived. The whole time, the sitting man didn’t move. People were walking around him, not taking notice of him.

Turtle turned towards the sound of people gasping and looked over where a crowd had gathered. He walked over and peered over someone’s shoulder. The body of the jumper lay mangled on the ground, blood seeping from the head, eyes open but dead. A young girl, clues of her age in her fashionable clothing and footwear, the length of her hair and the many bracelets around her left wrist.

Turtle looked over where the man was still sitting, then followed the man’s gaze to the opposite brick wall and thought he saw an image flutter briefly on the wall, then disappearing as if melting into the bricks. He quickly turned to the man, checking his reaction. Had the man seen the same thing?

******

When Turtle reached the sitting man, he couldn’t help but wonder why the man made no notice of his approach or even standing there next to him.

“Hey,” Turtle said, “you see the whole thing…the jumper and all?”

The man turned his head to look up at Turtle, his face expressionless underneath the hair. He reached into his pants pocket and produced a crumpled pack of cigarettes and half-used book of matches.

“Thanks,” Turtle said taking the pack. He took a crumpled smoke from the pack and lit up the cigarette breathing in the smoke, pausing and exhaling. He gave the pack back to the man who was still holding out his hand.

Turtle couldn’t help but notice how “out of it” the vagrant seemed.

“He asked,” the vagrant all but whispered.

“What? I’m sorry,” Turtle said, “I didn’t hear you.”

The man stared back at the scene with its building crowd of medical personnel scrambling.

“He asked. She answered. She died.”

“Who asked? What are you talking about?”

The vagrant lowered his head into his hands.

“Death called to her,” the man said.

******

Turtle looked over at the driver, bent over against the bus, people talking quietly to him. Even from here, Turtle could see he was pale and shaking. He turned back to the vagrant, whose eyes had paled disturbingly. His voice echoed eerily when he spoke next, “He waits near. Do you hear him?”

The air grew cold. Turtle shivered. “What did you say, man?”

Blinking, incoherent, the vagrant started. “What? I didn’t say anything.”

Turtle got up, and again a flicker of movement teased in his peripheral vision. Jerking his head back, he walked in the shadow of the underpass. Something seemed to dance just beyond his focus.

“Hello?” His echo bounced back, colder than before, more tentative.

“Turlough…” The voice was little more than a whisper but it commanded him, thrilling through his blood and bone. He told no one his real name. No one knew.

“Who’s there? This isn’t funny.” Nothing but the skittering of some litter in the wind. “A girl just died here.”

“I know,” came the haunting reply, brushing soft against his ear.

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