Dark Matter - by Dave Migman

Arran wipes the sweat from his brow as the bus pulls into the bay. It is like some lumbering behemoth, sleeked in dull, red paint the colour of fake blood. The wind is biting. He draws his leather coat around him. The buttons have fallen off and only several black threads remain in their stead.  The plastic bag, folded under his arm, feels heavy. 

A cop car swings along the parade, continues on, sliding predatorily by the riverside cafes. Arran hugs the bag tighter and the doors open with an exasperated hiss. Arran waits behind a gaggle of grannies. They make idle chit-chat and the driver grunts blunt ripostes, eyes Arran suspiciously but accepts his lone, brown note. In the passengers’ wake the doors slam shut sealing them in. To Arran the noise they make sounds like a curse. He shuffles toward the back seat. Desperately aware of the ache of the wound beneath his coat.

After stowing the bag in the rack he slumps into the central seat. Facing the aisle, he takes stock of his surroundings. The other passengers have settling into their seats. Some chat, some stare out the window at the rain-slicked parking lots and stances. A heaving grey sky, white gulls dipping onto the cold river, or settling to peck at empty chip wrappers blowing along the pavements. 

The engine guns to life. Arran feels it thrumming through his seat. A whitish cloud is raised behind the bus; a temporal carbon dioxide stain dissipated by the wind. As the bus lurches forward, cutting through the traffic, following the signs for Glasgow, Arran’s stomach lurches with it. 

STOP! I have to get off! He almost screams it loud and wishes he’d just flung that fucking bag into the river. But then she’ll never know!  

He has slipped. He is degenerating. Everything hangs in tatters. His head is crammed with dollops of grimy thought. The weight of memory, the accretion of Time’s forward motion. Beyond the glass Milltown passes by. 

He tests the blade in his pocket. It has a cold, sharp  edge. He presses his thumb against it. Its grip is still sticky. Memories stir: old flicks in which he is the central character. Behind him ten years lay, like tattered leaves. 

 

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