The beast at the bus stop

She stood at the edge of the snow bank, kicking at the road grime which collected there. When the snow sat fresh, she’d made herself a snow beast. One that would protect her.

The snowplow had wrecked it before it had the chance. Pushed it right into the snow bank. Like the bullies did to her at recess.

The road twisted away from her as she looked up to check for the school bus. Soon it would race around the far corner, stop in a squeal of protesting brakes. The door would open, the bus driver beckon. She would hesitate, she always did. Her bully waited for her at the back of the bus. Waiting for the bus driver to watch the road. Waiting to begin the morning ritual of terror.

She often thought of running into the woods. Hiding. Escaping. But no. It would be worse trouble in the end.

Her gaze flicked to the ground. Had something moved? Lumps of salt and sand encrusted ice, half-melted and refroze countless times, nothing alive in there that she could see. It shifted again, frosty crust sparkling.

A gasp of horror escaped her as it lifted from the roadside, not a dirty snowbank but her snow beast in a roadside camouflage. She couldn’t look away, even as she saw the school bus arrive in the corner of her vision.

The familiar squeal of brakes filled the air as the yellow bus mowed into the beast.

The beast growled and opened its terrible yawp.

It swallowed the bus whole.

The beast burped once before it settled back into the snow bank. The girl stood there, quiet, unsure of what to do.

Tour Guide

Oh! Hi there. Are you here for the tour?

Excellent. The Bay is always restless in foul weather. Stirs up the mermaids, you know. Gets them all riled up and showing off in the big waves.

Unfortunately the dragons tend to keep to their caves. The damp isn’t good for their fire breathing and no one likes a whiny, chilly dragon.

What’s that? Oh, no refunds I’m afraid. It’s in the fine print.

If we get lucky we might see the local sea monster, who only comes out during storms. Well. Hee hee. He causes the storms so there’s something of a relationship there. You’ll love him. He’s better than ten dragons. You can see invisible monsters, right? Right?

Now, now, no need to be rude.

You see that patch of snow to your left? It’s actually a crew of ghosts what prowl this beach. Or, you know, part of the storm. Best err on the side of the fantastical, I always say.

What’s that? You’re leaving? Hogwash, you say? Not at all – wait! Look out for that storm wraith! No, I swear, this one’s real, don’t breathe that mist, it’s poison – aw. Lost another one. Not good for business. Not good for business at all.