Underground
Ada Redmond
(4 reviews)
As any well weathered traveller will tell you, it’s usually best to abide by the rules of the places ... Show More
Genres:
Cross-Genre, Dystopian, Fantasy, Horror
Tags:
fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, dystopian, portal quest, reluctant gatekeeping demons, flighty unreliable angels, unamused little girls, magic

White Spaces

The bus was a green line RCL model routemaster, beautifully preserved. The seats were clean and comfortable, the patterns on the fabric the bright and nauseating sort you tended to find on public transport. It looked as though no one had ever sat on them. The metal bars on the backs were polished to a shine and free of fingerprints. Were it not for the lingering whiff of old tobacco in the air, you’d have thought the bus fresh off the production line.

The smell was coming from the sole passenger, who was trying to light a pipe but having little success. There was a stream of muttered curses from the back seat as its owner slipped another match from a box.

Beyond the rounded windows, the small slice of road outside was caught in a halted storm. Raindrops paused in their descent, lingering in the air, while the cold wind that should have accompanied them was absent.

A few empty cars were stranded beside the bus, but those too were still. The tarmac they rested on stretched a few feet in either direction, then cut off into nothing. There was no horizon, just white.

Back inside, the flame of the match finally took, and after a few hurried puffs a small line of grey smoke spiralled up and into the air.

“You told Nate you’d stopped that nonsense.”

“I said no such thing.”

A young man in a black suit waved a hand in front of his face as he stepped through the open doors and up onto the bus. “Implied it, then.”

The smoker shrugged. “Serves him right for being so gullible. Come sit with me.”

There was a quiet minute or so while the man walked down the centre aisle and situated himself, sinking back into the foam and relaxing. It was lighter out here, in these calm, white spaces. His mood was improving with each passing moment, though that might have just been the company.  “Did you want to ask me something?”

The end of the pipe glowed happily, the light causing the small silver cross around the smoker’s neck to shine in the dim. The metal made for an interesting contrast, resting as it was against an old tartan scarf. “A little one went missing from down my way last night. No more than nine.”

“Could have ended up with Nate.”

“No, I don’t think so. The parents... they were, well, you know.”

The man sighed and twisted in his seat. He reached out a pale hand and pulled at the pipe until the smoker gave up their grip. He took a drag from it. “There’s nothing you can do to stop it, I told you that long ago,” he said. He continued before his companion could respond. “If there was a child on my watch I would have seen them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t down there somewhere. I can look for them, if you want me to, but it won’t make much difference in the end.”

The smoker took the pipe back. “I know, but still...” They trailed off with a sigh, fingertips of their free hand picking at the old wool of their skirt.

“It’s become much easier for you, hasn’t it,” the man said after a moment. “Finding these places.”

He got a nod in reply.

“You know it’s not just because of your particular talents, right?” he asked, gesturing to the necklace.

The smoker bit at the inside of their bottom lip, an old habit. “When I last saw your little opposite, he told me people had started falling. He said he didn’t know where they were ending up.”

“Can’t say I blame them,” the man grinned. “All that singing.”

He was rewarded with a short, sharp jab in the side and a stern look. “Aren’t you worried too?”

The man sniffed, “Maybe a little, but it’s not exactly my department.” He stood up and turned back into the aisle before reaching out a hand to help his old friend up. When they were both on their feet he lead the way to the front of the bus, sparing a glance at the empty driver’s seat.

“I’ll look for your little one,” he said before they left. “But don’t be surprised if I don’t find them. This sort of thing is happening more and more now. It’s part of the price we paid.”

He got no reply, and hesitated before stepping off. He turned his head to look at his companion. The years had done as they tended to, and young impulsive eyes had aged into wiser ones. But there was still a hint of the same dogged determination he had glimpsed during their first meeting.

He shrugged. “All we can do is wait and see.”

The smoker slipped their hand into his and they departed. And after a moment, the bus did too.
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 6/7/2015 4:34:23 PM
  • Yashita Ghazi commented on :
    5/28/2017 2:45:52 AM
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  • Kine Gaye commented on :
    9/18/2016 12:55:12 PM
    Good day. It’s my pleasure meeting you, and that you enjoying your day? Can you allowed me to introduce my self to you. My name is Kine Ghazi . I will like to get ... Show More
  • Jerome commented on :
    9/26/2015 10:07:26 AM
    great start, nice images!
    • ANN brown Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), for more information about me. because i have some important thing i will like to discuss with you privately. Hope to hear from you soon. Anna, thanks
      5/6/2016 12:41:48 AM
  • Jerome commented on :
    9/26/2015 10:07:04 AM
    great start, nice images!
    • Ada Redmond Thanks Jerome!
      9/28/2015 8:27:02 AM
    • ANN brown Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), for more information about me. because i have some important thing i will like to discuss with you privately. Hope to hear from you soon. Anna, thanks
      5/6/2016 12:41:37 AM
  • Jesse C commented on :
    10/26/2015 6:50:48 PM
    Good first chapter. Nice use of intrigue to get the reader hooked. What's going on with the missing child? Who are these men? Lots of good unanswered questions to motivate continued reading!
    • ANN brown Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), for more information about me. because i have some important thing i will like to discuss with you privately. Hope to hear from you soon. Anna, thanks
      5/6/2016 12:41:17 AM
  • anna brown commented on :
    3/31/2016 1:57:57 AM
    Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), ... Show More
  • Angi Shearstone commented on :
    12/22/2015 2:56:52 AM
    Well done. brief, intriguing, and to the point. Good details throughout the scene, images, smells, etc...
  • Dana Harp commented on :
    10/20/2015 9:13:14 PM
    Enjoyable first chapter. Definitely hooked me. Looking forward to reading the rest.
    • Ada Redmond Thanks for checking it out Dana! I hope you enjoy the rest too. :D
      10/21/2015 10:35:11 AM
  • Robert Tucker commented on :
    9/11/2015 6:35:20 PM
    This chapter is a very strong and imaginative beginning. I'm wondering if the shared reference "their" establishes some unusual paranormal co-existence, but expect to ... Show More
    • Ada Redmond Thank you so much for reading Robert! :D
      9/28/2015 8:26:46 AM
  • Jerome commented on :
    9/26/2015 10:07:14 AM
    great start, nice images!
  • Eliza Knightly commented on :
    7/10/2015 10:35:38 PM
    What an interesting image to start your story with. An near-empty bus with two peculiar men. I like it!
    • Ada Redmond Thank you for checking it out Eliza! :D
      7/11/2015 2:36:17 PM
  • Richard Allen commented on :
    7/7/2015 3:25:22 AM
    Really! I enjoyed this immensely!
    • Ada Redmond Thank you Richard!! I hope you enjoy the following chapters too! :D
      7/7/2015 11:08:15 AM
  • A. L. Ross commented on :
    6/29/2015 8:33:04 PM
    Ooh, I like this! I like the way you word things. I especially enjoyed, "...the bright and nauseating sort you find on public transport." ;D
  • K R Williams commented on :
    6/23/2015 6:43:02 AM
    So much atmosphere here. You really set the scene to get the mysteries started. And what's with that bus? Haha! I'm glad there are other chapters so I might get this questions answered!
  • Ryan Watt commented on :
    6/18/2015 8:16:22 PM
    Finally had a chance to check this out. I love the otherworldly nature of this bus that no one in the chapter acknowledges. I also like the veiled mystery of the ... Show More
  • M. Howalt commented on :
    6/17/2015 8:16:31 PM
    Ooh, this first chapter has a lot of atmoshere and a lot of mystery. It really triggered my interest.
  • J.A. Waters commented on :
    6/15/2015 4:33:51 PM
    What an interesting setup you have here. At first I was thinking this must be some kind of purgatory or maybe a variation of the ferryman Charon, but the disappearance ... Show More
  • Andre Clemons commented on :
    6/15/2015 4:06:15 AM
    Setting the scene early on in the beginning brought to mind such a mysterious, vivid picturesque environment of dark shadows and gloom and shades of grey & black. I'm ... Show More
  • Nathan Daeodain commented on :
    6/13/2015 7:31:10 PM
    Great opening. Mysterious, and tantalizing, and full or great descriptions. The only bit I found confusing was the playing with pronouns, switching between "his" and "their."
    • Ada Redmond Thanks for stopping to read and comment! (I just discovered your story and can't wait to get stuck in, cyberpunk hackers are my favourite). Anyway, yes the use of those pronouns do make the section weaker, I know. I didn't want to reveal the gender of the smoker just yet, but I'll see if I can clean it up a little at some point, cheers. :)
      6/13/2015 8:02:41 PM
    • Nathan Daeodain Yeah, I hadn't realized it was the smoker that you were concealing, it seemed to be the young man that entered the bus. That kind of reveal/tease can be pretty damned tricky. :)
      6/13/2015 10:36:00 PM
  • Eden Langlands commented on :
    6/11/2015 6:42:01 PM
    I'm hooked already, this is exactly the kind of story I love to read :)
    • Ada Redmond Thank you! I hope you enjoy the chapters that follow too :]
      6/12/2015 11:48:22 AM
  • Tonya Moore commented on :
    6/9/2015 4:18:44 PM
    I'm curious about where this is going. You're off to a nice start.
    • Ada Redmond Thank you for reading and commenting, I hope you enjoy the next chapter too.
      6/9/2015 4:34:55 PM
  • David Williams commented on :
    6/8/2015 2:25:44 PM
    Nice start. I don't know what's going on yet, but I'm along for the ride to find out.
  • 10/30/2015 1:27:19 PM
    Love the odd atmosphere and sense of mystery. Consider me intrigued!
  • Jerome gave
    9/26/2015 10:09:20 AM
    Already intrigued by the well-crafted mystery and atmosphere!
  • Jerome gave
    9/26/2015 10:09:07 AM
    Already intrigued by the well-crafted mystery and atmosphere!
  • TP Keating gave
    7/17/2015 9:35:23 PM
    Hi Ada Redmond, That's a super intriguing start for a story which I'm thoroughly enjoying. Thank you for sharing UNDERGROUND on Jukepop. Regards, TP Keating