Gerald staggered onto the bus and fumbled in his pocket for the fare. The bus driver gave him a disdainful look and Gerard dumped the coins in the box and made a brave effort of making it to a seat before he could fall down.
The bus was empty except for a hulking brute that sneered at him as he passed. He made it to the back and flopped into a seat and squeezed his eyes shut against the spinning blur of his surroundings. When he got his bearings at last he pulled himself upright and looked out the window.
What a night. He hadn’t planned on staying at the party as long as he did but the fun just wouldn’t stop and he had been none to careful about the number of drinks he’d had. Good thing tomorrow was Saturday.
He glanced out the window again and nearly fell out his seat when he saw the reflection in the window of a small hideous creature perched on his left shoulder displaying an impossibly wide grin and scratching itself.
He rubbed his eyes and looked straight ahead. Damn, he thought, must have downed even more than I thought I did. He looked at the window again and the creature was still there. This time it poked him in the side of the head with a long sharp claw.
He let out a yelp and the hulking brute up front turned to see what the commotion was about. Gerald reached up to rub the side of his head and the creature slapped his hand away.
“Just getting your attention Gerald. You’re not imagining things.”
“What the fu – “
“Lower your voice, you don’t really want to attract attention do you?”
“What about your voice,” Gerald whispered, “And what the hell are you?”
“I’m not speaking, Gerald. You’re hearing me in your head. As to what I am, well, that depends on you. I might well be your worst nightmare.”
Gerald’s heart was racing and he wondered if he had fallen asleep and was in the middle of a nightmare. He couldn’t bring himself to look at his reflection again. He decided to try closing his eyes and ignoring the situation. That brought another sharp poke.
He resisted the urge to try rubbing his scalp again and hissed under his breath.
“What the hell is this all about?”
“It’s about obligation, Gerald. You’ve been chosen. Lucky you. Now listen close and don’t speak until you’re asked a question. I need you to do something for me. This is not a matter of choice. There is an item I require you to get for me. I want you to – “
“Listen, I’m not going to do anything for you, you…whatever you are. You’re just a nasty hallucination for all I know. Just disappear, damn it.”
“That was a foolish thing to do Gerald. I see you require a demonstration of my power. So be it.”
A moment later the hulking brute near the front of the bus whirled around and stared daggers at Gerald.
“What the fuck did you say?”
Gerald looked around but there was nobody else on the bus. The brute was speaking to him.
“What? What are you talking about?”
“You callin’ me a pansy? Do I really look like a pansy to you?”
“Hey, dude, I didn’t say anything. What are you on about?”
“Oh, a wise ass.”
The brute lunged out his seat and was on Gerald in a flash, all fists and feet. The bus driver stopped the bus and yelled at the brute to cool it. One more hard punch to the eye and he complied, stomping off the bus and stopping only long enough to flip Gerald the bird.
The bus driver asked if he was all right and Gerald managed to sit up long enough to nod his head. As the bus pulled into the street again Gerald touched his nose and saw blood on his hand. He felt like a truck had hit him.
“Now Gerald, you’re going to have to be smarter if you want to live.”
He glanced at his reflection and the demon was grinning.
Part 2 Tomorrow