The Beast

A stalk of hay hung out of Josie’s mouth and she chewed the end of it. It had been pretty bitter but now most of the taste was gone and she chewed it just for the sensation. The bus pulled out of Dairyville and headed on down the highway as rain clouds darkened the fields and droplets landed on the tinted windows. She could see the beast far off, just the tips of its horns and its mohawk visible now and again, bobbing and dipping in the waves of the green cornfield ocean. She could just barely hear him wailing, wining, barking. Calling out. She turned away from the window and took the hay out of her mouth. With the tip she traced a pentagram on the back of the plastic seat in front of her. She sighed, taking off her straw hat and running her fingers through her dirty locks of hair. Putting her hat back on she reached down into the duffel bag between her boots and put her hand on the silver dagger. It was still sticky with blood.

Just then there was a terrifying wail and she knew the beast had made it to the highway. The other passengers were talking nervously. Some guy with a deep voice was trying to sound brave. “I don’t care what the hell it is. Ain’t nothin’ gonna stop me getting to New York this time.” Josie smiled. She glanced out the window and could just see the beast galloping on the shoulder of the highway, wet in the rain, burning red eyes, forked horns. Grabbing the straps of her duffel bag, she got up from her seat and went to the front of the bus, bumping the seats as the bus jerked. She put her hand on the bus driver’s shoulder. “Let me drive,” she said in a sugary voice.

“No, ma’am–,” the driver started to say but when he turned to look at her he got sucked right in. Her eyes spun with country witches’ fire and he found himself easing out of the seat to hand the wheel over to her. A couple of little old ladies in the front seat tittered to each other disapprovingly. Josie put her foot on the gas and headed swerving away from the beast down the slick interstate. The passengers yelled and screeched. The driver stood and held out his arms. “You’ll be fine. You’ll all be fine,” he said. But just as the words came out of his mouth the bus shook and he was knocked off his feet. The back of the bus was torn clean off. The beast clawed his way up the aisle, ripping into people as he went. Body parts, guts, and cherry-red blood sprayed everywhere with the slashing of his claws. Josie reached down and got a hold of the silver dagger but the beast knocked it out of her hand, letting loose an ear-splitting scream. Josie swerved around traffic but lost control of the bus and it smashed through the railing just as the beast sunk its icy claws into her shoulder. She struggled against it as the bus tumbled into a ravine.

When she woke up the beast crouched, silhouetted on a ledge, observing her. She squirmed in the twisted metal wreckage of the bus. Then she closed her eyes and fell into a deep, troubled sleep. She only half awoke when the beast was on her again, finishing her off. She played dead, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of eating a live witch.

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