These people, thought Joel, were nothing more than zombies. It was almost as if someone had raided a graveyard to populate the bus with passengers. Glazed eyes, many of them dark-ringed, stared into oblivion. Most sat motionless and silent, like department store mannequins. Some of the eyes of the passengers were closed. Still others sat, stared, and slowly chewed gum like cows grinding and rolling a wad of cud around and around with their mouths distended in endless circles.

Only one person seemed attentive, but she, too looked like a zombie. Her skin was as pale as a sheet and her eyes were ringed with true darkness, not that darkness born of lack of sleep, which was most likely what attributed to the dark rings around the eyes of the passengers. The rings were probably eyeliner with which she had gotten overzealous, for the rings did follow the contours of her eyes perfectly, and swept upward slightly at the corner of her eyes. Her hair, albeit mostly covered in a crusted blood colored do-rag, was dark as pitch, probably dyed that way, and looked ragged along the edges as if someone had taken a weed eater to it. Her lips, too, were the color of crusted blood, and outlined with a substantial line of black, which almost gave them a clownish look. A demonic clown.

She caught him staring and narrowed her eyes when she locked them on his. Her maroon and black lips turned up into a snarl and she rolled her eyes away from his just as he did the same.

But his eyes found her again quickly afterward, but she continued to stare out the window. For a second, when he saw her profile, she looked familiar. He didnít recall seeing her on the bus any of the previous days of the past two weeks heíd ridden it, yet he was absolutely certain that he had seen her before. Perhaps it wasnít on the bus, but somewhere. She wasnít a very difficult person to miss seeing or forget once youíve seen her, with her vampiric imagery. And seeing the reflection of her face enshrouded by the cascade of rain droplets on the window, he had to wonder how her makeup had resisted running on a day when umbrellas were essentially useless and rainwater driven by fierce winds assailed pedestrians from every direction.

Joelís eyes scanned himself in the window, the backdrop of row homes blurring past as the bus rocketed and hydroplaned through the waterlogged streets. He almost smiled when he saw that he, too, looked zombie-like. With a wide brimmed hat and a duster with its collar pulled high and tight against his face, he looked like an undertaker from an old Western movie, his black heritage notwithstanding. He didnít recall seeing too many black undertakers in those old yarns.

As he loosened his collar, he suddenly realized that the vampire girl was not looking out the window but was eyeballing him as a reflection, for her eyes darted away and deeper into the outsides when he looked into her reflection. Musing with a smile, he knew then and there that she wasnít really a vampire, as some people used to refer to gothic dressing persons, for real vampires did not cast reflections. Typically, they didnít venture out into the daylight, but with a dark, brooding sky belching wind and vomiting rain down upon the world, it was hardly daylight. It was more crepuscular than anything, so perhaps, a real vampire could venture out into or at least survive within such conditions. Were there such a thing as vampires, that is.



Unto the Living Earth © 2007 Walter R. Milton