• Dzama


The automated bus was packed with crab-men and I was scrunched up under two of the back seats trying not to breathe too loudly. There were chicken bones and fast-food wrappers down there and my hands were grimy from crawling around. But these were hostile crab-men and one of those claws could snap your head right off. I needed to get to the Breach and then make a run for it and just pray I didn’t get too maimed on the way out.

I stared up the length of the bus, all their spidery, red legs hanging over the seats. There were the recorded announcements in that clicking crab-speech and I tried to listen for the Crab word for “Breach” but didn’t hear it. Then I saw some human feet coming down the aisle, feminine with red metallic toe-polish and strappy shoes. The crab-men didn’t seem to react. Why hadn’t they torn her apart and eaten her? But the legs strode calmly down the bus until she sat down directly above me and her ankles were directly in front of my face.

I considered grabbing them and whispering something but thought better of it. Then I heard her speaking Crab in a hoarse, human voice. I heard the “Breach” word in a crab-man’s response to her. Then the bus lurched and I inadvertently brushed her shoe with my arm. I tried to curl myself into a smaller ball, sweating bullets. But the bus lurched again and I bumped her leg again accidentally. I pictured my painful death, skewered in that cramped crawlspace.

But then she placed a cloth bag on the floor beside her legs and kicked it back to me. She had to have done that on purpose. I pulled open the bag and there was a loaded revolver inside. Just then I hear the announcement say the Crab word for Breach. I kicked against the wall and pushed myself out from under the seats. The crab-men lunged at me with their sharp claws and I opened fire, blowing holes in their red and white exoskeletons. As I pushed out towards the doors I caught a glimpse of the human woman: red lipstick, yellow hair, mysterious grin. Our eyes locked for a second as I fell out of the bus, blown-apart crab-men falling out with me.

Then I lay on the ground bleeding but alive. I raised my hand in thanks as the bus pulled away. The woman pressed her hand against the window but the bus merged back into traffic and was soon lost in a cloud of dirty smoke.

I got to my feet, a smile warming my dirty face as I stumbled towards the safety of the Breach.

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