BUS DRIVER BEWARE!
By Linda Joy Singleton
When school ended for the day, Stacy’s worries were just beginning. She hoped Jordy would leave her alone.
As she headed for the bus stop, she saw Jordy joking with his friends. Stacy wanted to run in the opposite direction, but the bus was her only way home.
“Wait and see what I’m going to do to Wimpy Wimpole!” Jordy boasted loudly to his pals.
“Our bus driver is pathetic,” Jamal said, grinning.
“And this is his unlucky day.”
The boys nudged each other and laughed.
Stacy frowned. Jordy was tall, beefy and meaner than a trained attack dog. Last week he put wet gummy worms in her hair and yesterday he pushed her in a mud puddle. Everyone laughed and no one offered to help her up. At least the bully had a new target today.
Still, she felt sorry for the bus driver.
Bus #7, a large yellow monster, slowed in front of the school. Tires screeched and the clanky engine whined to a stop. Double doors whooshed open and there sat Mr. Wimpole; a green cap over his bald head as he wiped his sweaty face with a hanky.
Jordy pushed to the front of the line and faced the bus driver. A few kids called out, “Go, Jordy!”
Mr. Wimpole frowned. “I-I don’t wa-want any trouble,” he said. “No tricks. And no laughing at me. I-I hate being laughed at.”
Jordy grinned wickedly.
Stacy watched in fear as Jordy sprinkled sneezing powder on a handkerchief. Something terrible was going to happen. But at least it wouldn’t happen to her.
Jordy climbed the bus steps then pretended to lose his balance. He fell against the bus driver, grabbing the handkerchief and replacing it with powdered one.
Stacy saw this hanky switch, but didn’t warn Mr. Wimpole. Instead, she hid behind a tall girl. So she didn’t see when the bus driver dabbed the hanky to his face and began to sneeze.
The kids roared with laughter, all except Stacy who felt terrible. She should have warned the bus driver.
“You’ll be sorry, Jordy!” Mr. Wimpole warned.
But Jordy didn’t care. He laughed then reached out to snatch the bus driver’s green cap, tossing it away. Poor Mr. Wimpole stood there; bald, sweaty, and embarrassed.
Impulsively, Stacy sprang forward and caught the green cap. She returned it to the bus driver. Jordy shot her an angry “I’ll get you later” look.
Soon the bus was full and moving down the road.
While kids laughed and talked noisily, Stacy watched the bus driver. Something about him was different. And as Stacy glanced out the window, the scenery looked weird, too. No buildings or people. A fog had appeared, swallowing the bus in a misty gulp.
“Why are we going so fast?” someone yelled.
“Where’d the fog come from?” another kid shouted.
The bus driver’s eyes glowed like headlights and he foamed viciously at the mouth. “I told you not to laugh at me,” he growled.
Sharp fingernails sprouted from his hands, growing longer and longer then curling around the steering wheel. The bus shot forward like a rocket, its passengers now prisoners.
Stacy screamed. Mr. Wimpole’s face was inhuman. His skin sagged like rotting flesh, his bloodless lips twisted into a demonic grimace. “You like pranks?” he taunted. “Good! I’ll give you pranks!”
The bus driver didn’t move, yet suddenly a whipped cream missile flew toward Jordy. SWISH! SMASH! SMOOSH! Jordy had a banana cream pie in the face.
“Not funny!” Jordy shouted.
“Oh, you need a towel?” the bus driver asked.
A white towel appeared from nowhere and snaked through the air. It landed on Jordy’s face and he began to sneeze. Ka-Choo! Ka-Choo! KA-CHOO!
Despite her fear, Stacy smiled. Jordy did look funny.
The bus driver looked at Stacy and an odd feeling came over her. She was floating! Her mind was free. And suddenly she saw the world through new eyes; eyes that glowed like headlights and a brain that cried REVENGE!
I’m the bus driver! she realized.
But Mr. Wimpole was still there, too, and she heard him telling her to go after Jordy. This was her chance to get even for the mud puddle, gummy worms, and other bullying.
Thousands of squirming candy worms appeared like an angry cloud over Jordy’s head. One by one, they slithered down to Jordy’s hair, neck, and into his clothes. “NO!! NO!!” the boy screamed, until he sucked a huge sugary worm into his mouth.
Kids laughed and applauded. No one defended him and Stacy wondered if Jordy had any real friends. She began to feel sorry for him.
But Mr. Wimpole’s voice urged her to keep going. Memories of teasing and tears sprang to her mind. Jordy was a horrible person. He deserved punishment.
Jordy bolted from his chair. “I’m outta here!” he cried, but then he slipped and landed in a puddle of mud.
The bus roared with laughter. Whipped cream, banana pieces, gummy worms, and mud covered Jordy. But Stacy no longer laughed.
“No more!” she begged the bus driver.
The bus driver ignored her. As Jordy tried to stand up, a new enemy flew toward him: a giant roll of toilet paper. Paper unravelled, sticking to Jordy’s body. The roll twirled round and round, wrapping Jordy up like a mummy. He was being tee-peed!
“Stop it!” Stacy cried. “Getting even doesn’t make anything right. Only wrong! We’re just as bad as Jordy.”
Something changed in the bus driver. Stacy felt revenge mellow to only sadness. And she heard a whispered, “I’m sorry.”
As the fog cleared and sun shone through windows, the bus slowed to a normal pace. Stacy looked down and was relieved that she was herself again.
Glancing over she saw a green cap covering a bald head and a peaceful face reflected in the overhead mirror.
The kids on the bus chatted, laughed, and behaved as if nothing weird had happened … all except Jordy. He sat huddled in his seat with his arms wrapped around himself and a scared look in his eyes. There was a tell-tale spot of whipped cream on his ear.
The bus screeched to a stop.
Jordy, Stacy, and a few other kids rose to get off.
Stacy held back and watched as Jordy descended the stairs. “Watch your step, young man,” the bus driver stated.
“Oh, I will. I will! I promise, Mr. Wimpole.” Then Jordy bolted out of the double doors and ran…as fast as he could.
As Stacy started to leave the bus, she paused and looked back at the bus driver. He smiled, tipped his green cap, then gave her a knowing wink.
Stacy smiled and winked back.
Linda Joy Singleton is the author of over 35 YA/MG books, including THE SEER, STRANGE ENCOUNTERS and the DEAD GIRL series. Read more stories and get tips on writing at her website: www.LindaJoySingleton.com