There was a queue to get on the bus, and I was right at the back so I couldn’t see what was holding everyone up. Murmurs of discontent and amusement began spreading down the line as we stood, waiting, for some minutes more- until finally, an old man came stumbling out of the door, clutching his hat and shopping bags to his chest. ‘Sorry… for the hold up’ he spluttered as he clumsily made his way from the door frame and into the cold night. The people who were before me started making their way onto the bus, and I watched as the old man stumbled away into the shadows. He was probably fine- a bit embarrassed and flustered from having to pick up everything he had dropped, perhaps, but otherwise fine. I was a little annoyed by the fact that no-one had stopped to help him, clearly removing any faction of guilt from myself, of course- come on, I was at the back of the queue and was carrying too many bonsai trees and human organs in little plastic containers, anyway. There was nothing I could have done.
When I got on to the bus I saw what the old man had tried- and failed- to pick up. Bird seed. Everywhere. One of his bags must have split as he was walking down the aisle, and even though he had been shuffling round on the floor for what must have been an eternity, it still covered every conceivable surface. I sat down amongst the bird seed and laughing travellers. Even the bus driver was laughing- it’s not every day your workplace gets covered in bird seed, now, is it? Stomach acid, yes, blood, probably most days- but bird seed? It would be a story to tell his grandchildren when he got home.
And then five minutes into the journey… it happened. The first bird came from the North, smashing into the windscreen and causing the driver to swerve a little. Nervous laughter. Bird seed on the floor, bird carcass on the windscreen. Everyone watched with a morbid curiosity as it slid off and fell beneath the wheels with a satisfying spludge. But then the next; from the South. People’s heads turned just in time to see another bird slide off the window and onto the road behind us. This time there was no laughter, just a dead silence amongst the twinge of fear and twisted necks. Then… nothing… for… seconds…
BANG! They came from all sides- smashing into the windows- birds of all sizes and shapes and colours. The people were screaming- babies were rolling in the aisles- the driver couldn’t see – my stomach dashed into my throat as the bus took off the road- half a second of suspended animation, passengers tipped out of seats, and then… CRASH!
We had landed; the bus was on its side. My precious cargo of bonsai trees and human livers and the suchlike were spilled all over the floor, mixed up with other people’s belongings and the bird seed. I glanced at the driver, whose head was lolling nonchalantly from side to side, trying to accept the reality of the crash. Dead birds were pressed up against every outside surface- I could see some exploded heads- had this been another situation, with llamas perhaps; it would have been quite funny. As it was, it was terrifying. And then- oh no- I looked down at myself and see I am covered in bird seed. Panicking, my eyes meet with another- we see ourselves and each other, covered in bird seed. We knew this wouldn’t end pretty.
And all of a sudden again, it started, the birds drilling into the vehicle, pummelling its exterior like machines. The pressure of birds pummelling on top of other birds pummelling was forcing the windows to crack… a gentle split watched by the few still conscious, very slowly, until… SMASH! The bus was full of birds! I was screaming at the top of my lungs. Some birds landed on the driver’s face and ripped out his eyes- his scream starting hesitantly, as though this was some kind of imagined nightmare, but developed steadily into an unearthly shriek, blood pouring from his eye sockets. Another passenger was all of a sudden missing an arm- I realised I had ripped it off and was swinging it around my head, whacking the birds as they swarmed around, trying to eat the bird seed attached to my flesh.
Blindly swinging amongst the chaos, I manage to take some birds down. The people around me were now missing nipples and fingers, tongues and skin in general. I realised that it was now or never to make my stand- if those birds wanted my nipples, they’d have to fight me for them! Flailing wildly, I ran around the bus, screaming like a lunatic or a hero, biting the faces off birds as they came to dig their nails into my eyes… ‘Never!’ One latched on to my hand, so I got rid of it by punching another passenger in the face. Finally, the bird seed began to vanish, along with various limbs from the passengers, and the odd wallet, taken by the more shifty-looking birds. Using a small child as a meat-shield, I was able to make my way beyond the bus, just as the last bird departed into the dark, dark night, leaving behind the worst kind of mess imaginable.
Bloodied and bruised, I gaspingly pulled myself back onto the main road- half dead, but victorious. In the distance, I could hear an old man laughing; and suddenly, the greatest realisation of my life was upon me: I needed to learn to drive.