Taking a detour
|Will and Katy walked to the bus station. From a distance, they saw bus 18 already cautiously maneuvering up the slope.
“We run, double-time it,” Will mumbled as he hit the road.
Katy nearly could keep track of him. She struggled with the strap of her shoulder bag and the shopper she carried in her left hand. Packed with books this time, she had put in six to show her classmates. Maybe it was time for an e-reader, she hinted when leaving the house. Her mom nodded: a good idea. She would search the Internet for bargains. Until then, Katy should carry her load just the same.
At a trot, she ran to Will, already waiting for her at the bus's head entrance.
“Make it snappy, Katy,” he yelled at her, “he will leave soon.”They both boarded, held their electronic cards against the reader, and plumped down in the seats.
The bus driver closed the door, and the bus left. Apparently, the man was in a hurry since he took the turn all of a sudden. The passengers, four in total, got shaken to and fro. Remarks were imminent.
“Could you please take it easy, driver? “an old lady complained. And the young man who in a rush tried to find a seat near the window gave a wild cry. “Hey man, chill!”
Will and Katy looked at each other and guffawed with laughter. A great start to the evening. On to the monthly writer's society. They were looking forward to it.
A few minutes into their ride, Katy looked out of the window. It was dark early that day, and she could hardly see through the somewhat dirty window which route the bus was taking. She did notice the driver didn’t stop at the first two stops along the way. Maybe because there were no passengers to stop for, and nobody pushed the stop knob in the bus either, but she wondered anyway. This route was normally hectic. It was buyer's night, and the bus drove past famous streets in the city on its way to shopping malls.
She looked cautiously around and nudged Will eventually, hanging backward in his seat with his eyes closed. “Will is this okay? I don’t recognize the streets any longer.”Will startled awake and looked out of the window. “You are right; this is the wrong route; I’ll ask the driver.”
Walking to the front, holding the grips at the different seats, he bent over to the bus driver. “Can I ask you something? This is still bus 18, isn’t it?” Yes, indeed,” the man behind the wheel assured him. “Do you drive another route tonight? I don’t recognize any of the streets. We have to go to the Gondolier Quay.”Will looked through the front window into the dark, noticing they were on the highway instead of on the old city lanes.”
The driver looked in his rear end mirror first before talking to Will again. “We have a special bus route for our passengers tonight,” he smiled a little smile. You sit still now. ”
But Will didn’t take that so well. “Can we go off here? We can take another bus to our destination.”
“That’s not possible, I’m afraid, and for two reasons,” the bus driver answered.
“First of all, we don’t stop at the highway, that’s prohibited, and second, I have my instructions for the evening; we only stop at our destination.”
Will turned reddish but saw the man’s face: not another word would come out of that one. He turned around and sat down next to Katy again. “Something strange is going on here,” he whispered, “we are on the highway, and it looks like we are not getting off but at the destination point, wherever that may be.”
Katy pulled her eyebrows, and she decided to seek redress with the bus driver. In the meantime, the other passengers had noticed too there was something the matter, so the three of them walked up to the front.
The bus driver wasn’t disconcerted at all and repeated with patience what he had told Will earlier. They left in disappointment and went back to their seats.
“This is out of line; I will do something about this,” the old lady grumbled. “I will be too late for my daughter.”The young man, on the other side, took out his mobile phone and started texting.
Will and Katy looked at one another. “We should phone the police; this looks like kidnapping to me. I don’t understand. Can’t we do something?” Katy said while fumbling in her shopper. But Will didn’t have the answer either.
After fifteen minutes, the bus left the highway and parked in front of a big building.
The bus driver pushed a button, and the doors were open. “Bus stop, you are expected in this hotel.” He took his briefcase and disappeared into the night before anybody could do or say anything.
One by one, the passengers left the bus, Will, and Katy first, followed by the young man and the old lady.
The hotel, lit by some big lampposts, was a building of big windows and an enormous gate, apparently the entrance. They entered.
There, in the foyer, a musical reception of a small ensemble. Two men in a black-tie played the piano and the cello in a piece by Shostakovich. It was hot, a big open fireplace in the corner, huge vases with beautiful flowers at the side.
Some seats were waiting for their first guests. Apart from that, the room was empty.
“What on earth is this?” Katy was amazed. “Let’s sit down; we will soon know more.” Will took off his coat. The young man and the old lady took the first table, Will and Katy went for the middle of the room. Nobody spoke.
Suddenly there was a voice from the intercom; “Welcome to my hotel. You probably are shocked, but this is a public relations stunt from bakery The Bun. We want to welcome you with coffee and cake; then, you can go your own merry ways. Again, this is a stunt of bakery The Bun. Remember that name. There are no costs. Have a nice evening. “
In the foyer corner, a man appeared in costume, holding a tray and four cups of coffee and a dish full of cakes. He served them and disappeared as silently as he had appeared.
The four looked at each other and started laughing. The tension was gone.
After a cozy half hour, the bus driver was waiting for them next to the bus. “Next stop is the Gondolier Quay; you can alight there. “
Will and Katy looked at their watches. It was only eight o’clock. They would be on time for their meeting.
Word count: 1133