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June 13, 2006
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BUS 57 TO CEDARWOOD



Why Today

Amanda woke up as the bus plunged down the steep cliff.
Around her small things flew, floating in the falling vehicle.
Time began to slow down. With it, everything around her blurred; all
ambient sounds became a slow stream of incoherent waves.
Today, of all days? Why did it have to be today? she thought.
Some moments later, time came to a full stop. Silence and blurriness reigned.
The bus driver was nowhere to be seen, and so were the other passengers.
Except one: a teenager seated in the very back row. He wore a hood so
she couldn't see his face. In his hand he held a small metallic thing
that shone like a small sun.
"It works!" she heard him say. His voice sounded very familiar.

A happy family

The phone at Rimes' house rang. Daniel paused his XBOX and moved to pick it up.
"Leave it, I'll take it," his father shouted from the kitchen. He
stormed into the living room and picked it up.
"Rimes."
(a female voice greeted)
"What do you want?"
(the female voice said something)
"No, he isn't here."
"Who is it?" Daniel asked. "I'm here!"
(the female voice asked something)
"Nobody."
"It's mum?" Daniel insisted. "Mum! Dad, give her to me!"
"Shut up," his father said, covering the receiver with his hand. "It's
not your mother. I'm trying to speak here!"
(the female voice shouted something)
"He can't speak to you now anyway. He has his homework to do."
"But I can! Give me the phone, Dad!" Daniel moved towards his father.
"Daniel, go to your room! NOW!"
(the female voice kept shouting)
The boy stayed still. He looked at his father. The boy's face was red.
"What are you looking at?" his father stared back. "Didn't you hear
what I just said?"
Daniel moved closer to the phone.
Slap.
(the shouts from the phone continued)
He was on the floor, holding his cheek.
"You see what you made me do?" his father shouted. "Happy now? Off to
your room!"
The boy stood up. He gazed at his father and the phone. He turned around
and ran to his room.
Mr. Rimes returned to the phone.
"Shut up already, Amanda! I had a little argument with Daniel."
(screams from the phone)
"Threats will get you nowhere."
(more screams)
"Yeah, whatever. Our lawyers have already talked this over. I thought
we had reached an agreement."
(Intense words)
"tomorrow? Come on, I'm busy tomorrow. I can't."
(More intense speaking)
The front door slammed.
"Daniel?" Mr. Rimes shouted. "Daniel? He's left again."
(shouts)
"Amanda, I don't care if you take the fucking bus and come here. The
kid hasn't packed his things anyway. Come next week."
(yells, threats, shouts)
"You'll what? Don't you dare!"
(calm voice)
"Over my dead body, you will!"
Mr. Rimes hanged up and kicked the phone away.
"Fucking bitch! I'll show you!"
He went upstairs to his room and rummaged through a cupboard.

At the park

Near Daniel's home was a park. It was small, featuring the usual
sidewalks and benches, a grass garden with some carefully mowed bushes
and a few trees, and a small fountain in the middle. It was his safe
haven.  When the weather allowed, he'd spend a lot of his free time
there, daydreaming of a life in a functional family.
He sat on his bench and started to reflect on the recent incident with
his father. His cheek was still sore. He wiped his eyes with a
handkerchief.
Why won't you come, mum? He thought. I can't stand him anymore!
He thought he saw something shining brightly in the fountain for a
moment. He stood up and approached it.
A small metallic thing reflected sunlight in the fountain's basin. He
put his hand in the water and picked it up.
What the fuck? How did this end up in here?
It was a necklace his mother had given him when he was five or six
years old. It consisted of a small chain and a locket which contained
a small photo of them together. He smiled. They had taken it here, in
this park, in front of this fountain. He opened it and looked inside,
just to be sure.
Yep. It's mum's. But how did it end up here? It looks so worn, too!
He saw a classmate crossing the street nearby. He waved his hand at
him. His classmate saw him and waved back.
He put the locket in his pocket.
Detective work will have to wait.

Homeless people in the future

Homeless people in the future are still homeless.
Such a homeless man - old, shaggy, bearded, hair unkempt, dirty - browsed
through the contents of a malfunctioning electronic garbage bin in a
small alley during a very cold, cloudless winter's night in the
future.
Anything edible? Some rotten fruits and cabbages here and
there; fly-infested meat, too.
Damn. Ok. Let's see if I'm luckier with spare parts.
An UltraPC(TM) with a broken display. A CyRobotics(TM) Neural Antenna with
pieces of flesh still attached to it (he didn't touch it). An old
ThermaCorp(TM) personal heating unit (he put that in his cart). A
WeatherTronics(TM) intelligent umbrella (he put that in his cart
too - no way will it work! he thought).
A photo album. Now I haven't seen something like that for a long time.
It was leather-bound. Nice. Vintage stuff. He opened it.
Various printed pictures of people, their colors faded, their paper
shrunk, had been glued to its pages. Family photos - of various
families. Some pictures with kids alone, smiling, or unsmiling, or
doing silly faces.
The last page was a NeoDocument (TM). Its battery wasn't dead yet (they
built these things better in the past
).
The paper-thin black screen displayed "Things could have been
different" with green, flickering letters.
The homeless man pressed the "next page display" touchpoint.
"Would you care to know how?"
I guess I would. But not now.
Silly photo albums. Silly writings.
The homeless man put the photo album in his shopping cart which he
pushed away from the alley.
Time to get some sleep.

Amanda Rivers

Amanda Rivers got on the bus Nr. 57 to Cedarwood. She showed her
ticket to the conductor, put her bag and jacket in the shelf overhead,
and took her seat. She was early; the bus wouldn't leave for another
twenty minutes, but she was too anxious. She imagined her son, blonde,
blue eyes, a slim, good-looking boy in his teens, waiting for her at
the bus station.
Hopefully he'll be there - alone.
Thomas wouldn't dare -
She took her bag from the shelf, opened it, took out a folded piece of
formal document and skimmed through it.
The Court order is clear, she thought when she had finished.
Thomas's mental issues make him unsuitable to parent Daniel so he'll
have to give him to me immediately. Should he dare to move a finger or
say a fucking word, I'll have him arrested.

She sighed.
I've been waiting so long for this.
This was a fine day.

Past Events

It was a fine spring day.
A bus traveled along a road, through a forest full of tall cedars,
and reached its destination, a bus station outside a small country
town. Travelers stood up and prepared their luggage. The bus doors
opened and its passengers started to get off. Among them was a woman
in her forties, weary-looking but smiling. She scanned the surrounding
area. Her smile broadened; she waved. A teenage boy waved back at her
and came near her, smiling.

A man approached, walking steadily behind the boy. He took a gun
out of a bag he carried.

A loud bang and a flash in the gun's barrel. A bullet built speed
and covered the distance to its target in minimal time.

Impact.
The woman looked at the wound on her chest. She stuttered and fell.
She was still, lying face-down on the street.

Screams. Shouts. Panic. People ran in all directions to take cover.
One more shot.
The woman's killer fell on the ground as well, a deep wound on his
head; he had fired that bullet too.

The boy looked at the two dead people. He was silent and didn't
move at all. Time around him seemed to move awfully slowly. His
heartbeats sounded like drums rolling before an execution to him.

The old man in the future woke up from a scene he had been re-enacting
in his dreams since that day. He was in a carton. The night was still
young.
He burst into tears.
Beside him, the photo-album started to glow green.
Still crying, the homeless man opened it. The green glow emanated from
the last page.
It said: "Would you care to know how?" with green, blinking letters. A
monotonous sound played with the blink.

Orange Sky

As the bus moved along the national road to Cedarwood, Amanda tried to
do all those things travelers do when using public transportation:
read a magazine, play a crossword puzzle, point a vacant stare at the
woods to her left and right. A fly buzzed around her, destroying her
peace; she tried to swat it away to no avail. Defeated, she returned
to her thoughts and her crossword, but before long, the dizziness of
road-traveling got her.
Before slipping into an uneasy half-sleep, she thought she saw the sky
around her distorted, orange with red canyons of clouds.
She loved to dream.

Credits Fall

It was an ordinary cold and rainy winter night in the future.
In a small abandoned park tucked between tall blocks of flats of a big
city once called Cedarwood, a homeless man stood in front of a
fountain dried long ago. In his hand he held a worn gilded locket he
could remember having since he could remember things. He opened it and
looked inside. There was a faded, almost colorless picture of a woman
and a small boy.
He cried for a while; his tears ran down his cheeks only to be lost in
his beard.
"I wish things had been different," he whispered. He left the locket
in the dried fountain's basin, holding it with respect the whole time.
As he turned to walk away, he felt acute, sharp pain coming from his
heart in rows of signals; he pressed his chest with both hands.
I'm dying.
He crawled toward a bench, still holding his chest. He tried to stand
on his feet but couldn't; he felt numbness spreading through his body
as the pain choked his heart.
He rested on his back, looking at the sky. He smiled.
I drank from the fountain, he thought, as he remembered the only good
dream he had seen for a long time.
He thought the stars greeted him somehow.
His life's film played before his eyes; it was a quick show, only
pausing at a specific event that had happened when he was fifteen,
then fast-forwarded to the end. Credits fell.

THE MOVIE OF MY LIFE.

Me: As myself (in various ages; but mainly, high-school old and
homeless-old-man old)

Mum: As beloved mum that I saw very little.
Dad: As an arrogant, selfish bastard and mom's killer.
My Life ever since dad killed mom and committed suicide: As a bad
dream; torment.

A photo album: As the last hope of my winter.
Big, black guy in uniform: As the guy that will find my body in the
morning.

A fountain: As a fountain in the park I used to go to all my
life(and the place I died). It also existed In one of my dreams. I
drank from it.

END - LITERALLY

As he breathed his last breath, the pendant in the fountain shimmered
and faded away.


Detective Work

Daniel Rimes returned to his room late in the night. His father wasn't
home. A Post-it on the fridge read: "I'll be late tonight. I've left
money for food in the drawer. Prepare your things. Your mother will
come to get you tomorrow. We've arranged to meet at the bus station
tomorrow at twelve."
The boy smiled and rushed upstairs to his room.
Two hours and three suitcases later, he had packed. He would only take
his clothes and other essentials this time; he'd return to get the
rest later on. He was hungry; he snatched his father's money from the
drawer and put it in his pocket.
He felt something else in the pocket.
The locket. Alright. Let's do some detective work now.
He searched his desk for something specific.
There!
In his left hand, he now held a gilded locket he had just taken out
from its box in a drawer of his reading desk. In the other, he held
the one he had found in the park earlier. Their design was exactly the
same. He opened them. The photographs seemed to be the same as well,
except for the apparent wear of the fountain-necklace one. He took a
better look at it.
No. they're not the same.
In the worn photo, he and his mother clearly smiled; in the other one,
their expression was neutral.
This is strange. Scary. Thriller stuff.
A rogue thought echoed in his mind: What if things had been different?
What the -?
What if nothing of all this will happen?
"will" happen?
A torrent of blurred images and distorted sounds invaded Daniel's mind.
He has a dream in the future.  A desperate one.
Blackness. Dread. He is old, weary, haggard. He's running in a dark
place. The darkness around him is closing in from all sides.  

He pants; he stutters. But suddenly, white light engulfs the darkness.
The darkness halts.
A fountain is in front of him. It's the fountain from the park.
"What do you want here?" a voice asks.
"I don't know. Isn't this a dream?" he replies with a question.
"Yes. A good one. Unlike most of the dreams you've been seeing all
your life," the voice answers.

"It seems very real."
"All dreams are real. People just forget them."
"Why am I seeing it?"
"Because you believe your life has been all wrong. Don't you?"
"What if I do?"
"What if things were different? What if you could undo all that
wrongness?"

"I would undo it, of course!"
"How has your life been wrong?"
"I lost my family. I never recovered."
Water starts to flow from the fountain.
"The river of Time," the voice explains. "Drink from its source."
He drinks. He sees:
The past: The death of his parents at the bus station.
The present: A life of misery.
The future: Credits falling.

"I will send you a guide; a beacon. It will help you undo the
wrong. It will create a Dreambubble for you when it has to. All the
sorrow of your life will be contained outside."


Mom's Bus

Daniel Rimes waited.
He was standing by a derelict road sign indicating the dubious
existence of a bus stop.
Two or three buses passed by but the boy didn't get in.
Sometime later, another one came. The sign over the driver read: 57-CEDARWOOD.
Daniel waved to the driver, almost getting in the bus's way; tires
screeching on the asphalt, it stopped. The doors opened; the boy
exchanged a few words with the driver and got in.
As the bus drove away, a driver of a passing car could swear he saw it
shining with an orange hue, enveloped by a sphere of chaotic colors.
Then again, it could have been only his imagination.

Dreambubble

Amanda thought she woke up.
She wasn't quite-so-amazed to see that the bus floated in a turbulent
orange sea, its surface continuously scarred, full of red waves.
I'm still asleep. Quite lucid, this dream.
She stood up and walked between the bus seats toward the front rows.
She looked around her as she walked, noticed that she was almost
alone, empty seats all around her. Even the driver was missing; the
chaotic mechanics of her dream seemed to manipulate the bus.
Before she had the time to consider the fact that the bus was out of
control, as was the world outside, her logic began to defy everything
around her, making her shiver.
Then she felt a sudden jerk, as the bus rode off a steep cliff and
began its rapid descent.
All this is too real.
Time began to slow down. With it, everything around her blurred; all
ambient sounds became a slow stream of incoherent waves.
Today, of all days? Why did it have to be today? she thought.
Some moments later, time came to a full stop. Silence and blurriness reigned.
The bus's driver was nowhere to be seen, and so were the other passengers.
Except one: a teenager seated in the very back row. He wore a hood so
she couldn't see his face. In his hand he held a small metallic thing
that shined like a small sun.
"It works!" she heard him say. His voice sounded very familiar.
She took a good look at him. Their gazes met. The mutual, simultaneous
realization of who each other was, shocked them both. They hugged each
other; their embrace lasted a few precious moments in the stillness of
the time around them.
"Mum, I missed you so much," Daniel Rimes whispered.
She smiled, and her smile was sad but not sorry. She only answered, "I
missed you too, dear."
As they stayed cuddled in each other's lap, the orange sea and scarred
sky around them broke. Time slowly caught up with its lost momentum.
Amanda Rivers now hugged an old man, not her boy; he looked like those
homeless people in big cities. She looked him in the eyes. She hugged
him again.
"I wish we would remain like this, together, forever, my boy," she said.
"I wish no evil ever found us, mum," the old man answered and became a
boy again. "I wish no harm finds us ever again. I wish this moment
lasts forever."
The bus fell off the cliff of Uncertainty into the river of Time which
crosses the world of Dreams since the beginning-that-is-also-the-end
of existence.

A Case Closed

A black, imposing police detective sat behind his desk and looked at
the homeless guy's autopsy photos once more. He browsed some of his
belongings; amongst them was a photo album, leather bound. He felt its
leather binding.
Nice stuff.
He opened it and skimmed through its paper pages. The last page was
an electronic one. He pressed the touchpoints but nothing happened.
Dead battery or the thing's just broken. Or both. Who cares.
Let's close this case. More important ones wait.
A case file full of police paperwork was closed and filed later that
night. And the late Daniel Rimes was stacked in a fridge among many
John Does, awaiting cremation or perhaps exhibition at an anatomy
lesson in some Medical School of the future.
Or perhaps not.
Allright. It's been ages since I submitted anything to DA.

The reason was: I was trying to get better at writing. Which is quite hard, for a number of reasons. But that's another story, and not such an interesting one.

So, after endless sessions of editing with `Bringa and `saintartaud , after writing this story two times and editing it three, here it is:

(Drums roll)

BUS 57 to Cedarwood

(Applause)

This (hopefully) contemporary fantasy was written for the first Vintage of the Writing Group Writers' Vineyard, and is now part of it. The theme for the stories was Transportation . Go here: [link] and you'll even find it in html or .pdf form! Thanks Daniel for this treatment!

Check the other stories and poems there, too; a lot of effort has been put in them, and believe me, it shows.

Anyway, 'nuff said. Read the story. Or don't. Or whatever. 'Tis a good story. Really. Spank me if it isn't.

N.
Add a Comment:
 

Daily Deviation

Given 2006-06-21
Bus 57 to Cedarwood by ~mistseeker is truly vintage work. As seen in the first collection from The Writer's Vineyard, this transport piece is drives through family tension and tragedy with gripping detail. Definitely worth a read. ( Featured by coshdaddy )
:iconbserem:
bserem Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2006
mistseeker ematha gia to story sou apo ton Dimkas (thn idia mera pou me ekane na mpo sto DA)

opos eipe kai o Dimkas parapano, thn diavasa kai oi eikones emeinan sto myallo mou!
vevaia ofeilo merikes fores diavasma akoma gia na piaso ta shmeia pou pithana na exasa

anamikta feelings, alla mou arese :)
kai sigoura mou kentrise to endiaferon na diavaso kai alla!

keep up
Reply
:iconmistseeker:
mistseeker Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2006  Professional Writer
Na sai kala Vasilh, kai pali kalws hr8es sto DA. Oi aspromavres fwto sou einai poly dynates
(des k to site enos fwtografou filou mou... [link] . Doulevei kai aftos arketa me aspromavro, kai apokleistika film.)

Na sai kala kai pali :)

N.
Reply
:icondimkas:
Dimkas Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2006  Professional General Artist
I've been meanning to comment on this prior to adding it to my favourites and ever since you uploaded it (only five months now). All I can say is that even after all this time I still carry mental pictures from this story that wasn't only a good idea but well-written too. Keep them coming!
Reply
:iconmistseeker:
mistseeker Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2006  Professional Writer
Dhmhtrh, me timas! Exw dei douleia sou sto Ennea kai edw kai exw pa8ei plaka! Pragmatika me tima pou kapoios me to diko sou talento to leei afto!
Thn istoria thn exw grapsei kai sta ellhnika. 8a vgei me to Azodd 3, kai eikonografhsh ap'th Dhmhtra Adamopoulou ( ~devine-tentacle )

Na sai kala kai pali, you made my day :)

(An pote dxeis kammia idea gia komik, efxaristws na voh8hsw me thn epimeleia tou senaria sou. Afto kanw afton ton kairo, des k to journal mou.)

Take care!

N.
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:iconpaulocunha:
PauloCunha Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2006
Awesome story! And congrats on the DD, well deserved.
I noticed you left out the tree in this version....
Reply
:iconmistseeker:
mistseeker Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2006  Professional Writer
This is, as I told you, an alternative version of the story. I wanted it to be different to the Phantastes version, so that I give Tiago something that is a first publish. Many things were changed, thusly, the tree being one of them (it was now a fountain, the fountain from the park).

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the illustration once more. It was a fantastic piece of art!

N.
Reply
:iconpaulocunha:
PauloCunha Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2006
My pleasure!:D
Reply
:iconvaitylos:
Vaitylos Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2006
Very interesting story. Nicely written, too. Even if I'm not pretty much a "reading" type, I liked this one, and wanted to read it till the end.
=)
Reply
:iconpinktinfoil:
pinktinfoil Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2006
i think my favorite part of it all was the title; very very intriguing--made me want to read it right away! and of course great prosing as usual!
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:iconfrcmsft:
frcmsft Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2006
maybe you should translate it. I think the dialogue will sound more natural in greek because I can hear greek dialogue word for word under your english.

All in all it?s a good story, i don?t think it?s particularly hard to follow. Loved the credits part, it gave a great twist to the cliche "my life passes in front of me like a film".
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