Sheila boarded the bus hurriedly and sat down on the window seat. She glanced at her watch. It was past 11 o’clock. ” Damn! These late night meetings have made my life miserable. I’ll quit this stupid job one of these coming days.” She dug her hand into her purse and after making its way past a plethora of useless things ( old bus tickets, an empty key chain, lipsticks, used tissue papers, chocolate wrappers etc) it finally touched her iPod. “Arrgh… this goddamn purse needs to be cleaned. I never find the things I need on time”. After searching the purse frenziedly for money to buy the bus ticket she finally settled down and plugged the earphones in her ears. The mellifluous voice of Celine Dion trickled down her auditory canal and soaked all her stress away. Sheila peered out of the window and a waft of cool and crisp night air brushed against her face. All her worries were forgotten. She sank into her seat and started humming the tune of her favourite song.
Suddenly her eyes fell on an old man who was sitting across her. There was something eerie about him that made Sheila shiver. His face was like a stone; cold, hard and expressionless. It was a face that would never reveal the sinister thoughts brewing inside his mind. His lips were pursed, struggling to prevent words from seeping out. The disheveled, grey hair on his forehead lent an unfriendly air to his exterior. But it were his eyes that troubled Sheila the most. They were extremely still like the ocean on a calm and silent night. They seemed like the heralds of a violent storm. She had never seen such intimidating eyes before. She took a deep breath and shifted her gaze from the old man to the scene outside, determined not to look at him anymore.
Sheila tried to prevent her eyes from wandering in his direction but in vain. His eyes had a certain hypnotic quality which forced her to look into them. She fished a worn out copy of a novel from her purse and buried her face in it. However, the fictional characters failed to divert her mind. She looked at him again. His eyes were fixed at her. They did not move. Not even a little bit. He seemed like a tiger who was carefully observing the movements of its prey before pouncing on it.“Calm down”, she said to herself, “just calm down. There is no need to panic. You are not alone. Your co-passengers will surely help you”. Her confidence plummeted when she scanned the entire bus and found that it was empty.
The old man continued to stare at her. She was terrified. Her legs started wobbling like jelly. The muscles in her abdomen tightened and she broke into a light sweat. The thought of sitting an arm’s length away from a man who could be a murderer, rapist or a psychopath was not at all comforting. “ Just think, Sheila, just think! He should not catch you off guard. Be prepared”. She tried to gather her thoughts and devise a plan that would prevent her from getting harmed. “ I can get off the bus at the next stop….No no… It’s very late…. Should I give him a piece of my mind?…. He might react….. Should I …….?” Her thoughts were interrupted by the ticket collector’s voice, ” Avenue Street”. She was a little relieved. “Only one more stop to go.“, she thought.
Just then the old man put his hand in his bag. Sheila noticed a small cylindrical bulge that resembled the muzzle of a gun. Her heart skipped a beat. She was about to raise an alarm when the old man stood up. He pulled out a blind man’s folding cane from his bag and straightened it. The bus screeched to a halt and the ticket collector guided him to the door. He got off and slowly vanished into the darkness of the night.
Sheila sat in her place, stunned. “He was not looking at me! He was not looking at anything!” She felt guilty for having jumped to a conclusion without reasoning. She looked out of the window and felt the cool wind on her face. Numerous thoughts raced through her mind. Suddenly a smile spread across her face. ” … and it were his eyes that scared me the most. That’s ironical”.
Shared at Thursday Tales