|“You know...” the woman next to me croaked in a voice that sounded like twenty cats being strangled. I had been sitting next to her for the past ten minutes, and complete silence. I had almost forgotten she was there at all, but then...
I looked at her, and just as quickly directed my eyes to the hydraulic doors opposite the bus driver. Anything to catch my attention away from her, that woman, the sight of a face that not even a mother would love. I could still smell that musky whiff. I hoped she didn’t notice.
The bus was ages away from the stop I had to get off, and something told me this woman was going to be there with me all the way. I sighed and pretended to give her my undivided attention again, secretly hoping my mobile phone could ring on my command.
She cleared her throat and started to speak again. I just about managed to suppress a squeal of surprise at the sound of her voice as it was directed to me. Had she not found someone else to talk to yet? I still recited the mantra please don’t talk to me, please don’t talk to me in my head. Apparently it hadn’t worked. Then I noticed she uncurled one of her bony fingers and pointed it at my belly.
If she was going to touch it, I swear to god... She’d be pulling back a stub.
She managed a smile, which seemed to crack up her face. Suddenly my attention was grabbed by a huge yellow stain just under the collar of her pink polyester shirt. It just stared back at me, and the colour of the shirt was looking over its shoulder, grinning. I blinked at it but it didn’t respond.
“You are a beautiful young girl,” she rasped. Her finger was curled up again and the hand it was attached to, joined its left companion to clutch around a plastic shopping bag that has seen quite some physical abuse. Out of it peeked household items I thought I’d never see outside of their natural habitat. “You look very strong.”
I noticed my face was stuck in a smile that was more the result of uneasiness and fear than pleasure. What could I answer to such an observation? Where was this going anyway? But before this could go anywhere, the woman had turned her face to the front of the bus again. I sighed a breath of relief. Then that musk filled my mouth and nose again. I gagged.
Five minutes passed before the woman turned her face to me again. In a wave of hopefulness I grabbed the iron bar bolted to the seat before me and got myself ready to stand up to let her move out of her public transport prison and into the fresh air. Something I needed very much. Instead, she remained seated and smiled at me again. Another crack in her face. I heard it, I was pretty sure I did.
“You know that new American president man?”
I stared at her blankly. My god, no politics. Please, no politics!
“Of course I do.” I said abruptly, signalling to her that this was the end of the conversation. She didn’t get it.
Instead, she laughed. Another four or five cracks.
“Oh, I know him.” She said. So do I. In my dreams. Instead, my mouth decided to utter, very surprised at that, “oh do you?”
She nodded. Cracks appeared in her neck. Her dark brown tweed jacket moved with her, yellow and green stains swaying along. To this day, I regret what I asked her then.
“How do you know him, then?” If there ever was a warning against floodgates of the mind of the mentally disordered, it should have rang there and then.
“Sure I do! He used to be my consultant.”
I had no idea where this was going, but I didn’t like it one bit.
“I sent him to America.”
Yes, and? My brow jumped in impatience. She could have mistaken it for curiosity. At this point I just wished she’d get the hint.
“I have people everywhere.” She said. I really didn’t like where this was going. Really. “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but... because you look honest, I will.”
My right hand unconsciously searched the iron bar for the call button. My mind still willed the phone to ring on my command. I wondered if it would be rude to take out a book and start reading it.
The woman’s tone of voice went from crackling to white noise. She must have wanted to whisper. Only one cat was being sodomised now.
“It’s not as though you can change it anyway. I am actually a Queen. From one of the stars up there.” She pointed her bony finger into the sky. More specifically it was pointed at the bus’s roof. “I can’t tell you which one.” She said. “It will give you power over me.”
The frown on my face became more prominent. Oh, how the mind of a schizophrenic works. It amazes me every time.
“We will take over your world soon.” She whispered. Another cat was molested. “You would make a great worker, with that strength of yours. Since you are a lovely girl, I thought I should warn you before we make our move.”
“Oh.” I said, slightly disappointed.
“Oh?” She repeated.
“I thought you were going to say you’re the next messiah.”
Word count: 916