Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 22
Stories
Love, Cayce
by Marie Brennan
Exodus Tides
by Aliette de Bodard
Exiles of Eden
by Brad R. Torgersen
The Long Way Home
by G. Norman Lippert
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
The Bus Stop
by David Lubar
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

The Bus Stop
    by David Lubar

The Bus Stop
Artwork by Lance Card

"Friday at last." Peter stretched out across the bus seat as his friend Joey got up to leave. "I thought it would never come."

"Yeah, I'm definitely ready for a break. See you later," Joey said.

Peter watched Joey hurry down the aisle. The driver -- they called him The Ogre -- got angry if kids took their time. Peter had been yelled at more than once. But the next stop was his, and in less than five minutes he'd be off the bus and ready to start enjoying the weekend.

The bus jerked to a stop at a red light. Peter's backpack slid off the seat. He reached down to grab it. As he lifted it up, the zipper broke. Books and pencils spilled onto the floor.

"Oh, no." Peter squeezed into the space in front of the seat and started picking everything up. As he shoved the books and papers into another section of the backpack, he felt the bus move, then come to a stop again. He heard the squeak of the door as the Ogre yanked it open.

"Hey, wait!" Peter called.

He grabbed for the rest of his stuff and shoved everything in the backpack. He tried to step into the aisle, but the bus was moving again, and the motion threw Peter onto his seat.

He looked back. His stop was behind him. Peter got ready to walk down the aisle and tell the driver. But he knew The Ogre would shout at him. There was a rule against standing when the bus was moving. It would be easier just to get off at the next stop and walk home. It couldn't be that far.

Peter looked around, checking to see who else might be getting off. But he didn't really know any of the kids who were left on the bus, and he had no idea where any of them lived.

The bus made several turns. Peter realized he'd better keep track of where he was going. There'd been two lefts, then a right. Then they'd gone up the hill.

Come on, Peter thought, stop somewhere.

The bus kept going. Peter felt in his pocket. His Mom had taken his cell phone away last week.

The bus went through a tunnel under a road, then came out in an area that was all woods. After about five minutes, it pulled to the side of the road. Peter looked around. Nobody got up. But he didn't want to risk going even further from home.

He stood and rushed down the aisle.

"NO RUNNING!" The Ogre shouted.

"Sorry," Peter mumbled as he dashed from the bus. He stood and watched as the door closed and the bus started to roll away. Then he took a good look around. There was nothing in sight but trees. "Hey!" he called, running after the bus. "Wait. Come back . . ."

The bus disappeared around a curve.

Peter looked both ways. He realized it would be best to head back the way the bus had come. At least he knew his home was back there somewhere. He started walking down the road.

After a long, hot mile, Peter still hadn't found the tunnel. "It has to be around here," he said as he paused to slide his backpack off his sore shoulders.

He looked over his shoulder. There were no cross streets, no places where he could have gotten onto the wrong road. He looked ahead. There was nothing in front of him but more road and more trees.

He picked up the backpack and started walking again. When something other than trees finally came into sight, Peter sped up. Then he slowed when he realized it wasn't the tunnel. It was a house at the side of the road.

There were people on the porch. An old man and a old woman sat in rocking chairs. "Excuse me," Peter said. "Do you know how far it is to Tuttle Street?"

The man stared at him for a moment, then looked at the woman. The two of them spoke, but Peter couldn't understand the words. It wasn't any language he'd ever heard before.

"Tuttle Street?" Peter asked again.

The man said something and shook his head. Then the man and the woman got up from their chairs and went inside the house.

The door slammed behind them. Peter heard a bolt snap into place. He went back to the road and kept walking.

He saw two children playing in the front yard of the next house he came to. This house was also by itself. "Hi," Peter said.

The younger child, a boy who looked like he might have been two or three, smiled at Peter. The older girl grabbed his hand and dragged him toward the back yard.

Peter sighed and walked on. As he shuffled along the road, he heard the rumble of an engine behind him. He turned and saw the bus. It shot past him, but then stopped. The door opened.

Peter ran up to it and looked inside. The Ogre was there, his hand on the lever that opened and closed the door.

Peter put one foot on the first step. He paused, not sure what to do.

"Come on, get in." the Ogre said. "I'll take you home."

"Thanks." Peter climbed into the bus and took his regular seat. He wanted the rest of the ride to be as normal as possible.

They went through a tunnel and down a hill. The world looked familiar again. The bus made a right and two lefts. The Ogre pulled up across the street from Peter's stop and opened the door.

Peter started to run down the aisle, but he forced himself to walk. "Thanks," he said as he stepped down from the bus.

"There are worse things in life than riding with an Ogre," the driver said. He closed the door.

As the bus drove away, Peter thought he heard laughter.


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