Through the trees ahead, a flicker of light gave direction.
Cheers rang out. “We’re almost there.” Male and female voices joined together. Their encouragement gave Marie added strength.
“Good job. Now press harder. We’ve got to get out of here.” The man’s voice brought calm with it.
“Thanks…” Marie kept her eyes on the road.
Bill… Just call me Bill.”
“B…Bill?” The answer startled her. Before she could gather her wits, metal screeched. Glass shattered.
“Help. They’ve got me,” a woman shrieked from the back of the bus.
Meow, a long groan creaked through the floorboard.
When Marie started to turn, her foot slipped off the gas. The engine slowed with a growl.
“Help me. Help me,” Sam screamed.
The blurred vision in the mirror made Marie gasp. A long tendril of mist snaked along the floor from the back of the bus. It wrapped around Sam’s right ankle and yanked. Another wisp coiled around the bus driver’s throat. Even though Sam tried to save him, the mist pulled him out through the back window. After one loud squeal all that was left was a smear of blood along the floor and on the window frame.
Fear twisted through Marie’s belly. Before she could cry out, the front wheel without a tire hit a pothole. The bus lurched as they left the surface, then returned with a thud. That was even more disconcerting than the sparks that marked their passage through the night. She gripped the steering wheel tighter. It bucked and jerked so hard, she thought her arms would disconnect from her body.
A flash of bright crimson material flew past, outside. Mist spread long gray fingers along the side windows.
The smash of breaking glass brought panicked shrieks from behind. When she looked up, a long gray skewer aimed for her. She jerked her head out of the way. It stabbed into the mirror. Shards rained down. One bit into her cheek. She felt warm blood trickle down her face.
Another long ribbon of mist wrapped around two of the huddled figures seated directly behind her seat. With a snap it retreated, pulling the two forms with it. Something pounded on the roof, then a face bounced into view on the front windshield. Mouth and eyes were frozen open with terror. It slid down, out of sight.
Marie stomped down hard on the gas pedal. The bus lurched forward. Light from flames licked though the dark interior. An overpowering hiss bit into the quiet. Someone had started a small fire. A long howling meow faded in a drawn out whine.
“Careful,” Sam called out.
Marie turned to see Bill standing between her and a small blaze. Mist that touched it sizzled in a growing ball of steam. In his hand, the lighter, flame lit, struck out at the strand of mist around Sam’s ankle. An agonizing cry trailed off with a pop.
The bus lurched again, forcing Marie to pay attention to the road in front of her. The spider-webbed window glass made it hard for her to see more than a few feet ahead. The glow in the distance, she’d noticed before, grew.
“We’re here,” Sam moaned.
“Where?” Marie asked. She didn’t think it was possible, but her hands gripped harder on the steering wheel.