They should have been scared of the man. They should have been worried by the way he shuffled towards the bus talking to himself.
But they ignored him. They were careful not to look at him or to draw attention to him. They were being polite.
He had flagged the bus down outside the market in the middle of another hot day. His dress shirt hung loosely over cream coloured trousers, the bottoms of the trousers had been turned brown by dust. In his hand was a pair of scissors that he kept opening and closing.
The bus stopped and he half-walked half-ran to it, nodding when the conductor asked him if he was going to Sabo, and climbing in.
He smelled, of travel, of dried sweat and long hours spent on the road.
The traveller sat close to the door, between the conductor and a pretty girl and he played with his scissors. *zip* open *snip* close.
They were a pair of large scissors, with blue plastic handles and tape wrapped where the handles met the blades.
He looked down at his feet, and bounced his knees in that way that impatient people do. He moved constantly, lips mumbling, legs bouncing, fingers tapping.
The bus moved on, slowly in traffic. As long as it was moving, there was a breeze through the open windows but when the bus stopped, there was a collective groan from the passengers as the wind stopped too.
With each stop, the bus became hotter, and the man bounced his knees faster. He moved the scissors from his left hand to his right and back again. Every few minutes, he would lean forward with his head bowed, his elbows on his knees, and his body would be racked by a wet cough.
At a particularly long stop, the pretty girl’s phone rang. She picked up the phone and held to her ear. Listened for a bit, then shouted a reply at the person on the other end of the call –she was stuck in traffic, she would get there as soon as she could. She hung up and hissed.
The phone rang again, the girl looked at the screen, checking that it was the same person and ignored the call. The phone kept on ringing, the tone putting the passengers on edge. No one said anything and the ringing eventually stopped.
A few minutes later, the bus was still in the same spot, the girl’s phone started to ring again.
The shrill ringing filled the cramped bus squeezing out the air and sitting heavy on top of the heat. The conductor huffed, frustrated, opened the door and got out. He walked forward into the stalled traffic to look for the source of the holdup.
The girl continued to ignore the ringing phone, the passengers sighed and grumbled to themselves, but no one said anything to the girl.
No one said anything until the traveller buried the scissors in the girl’s neck.
Her eyes bulged as she turned towards him. She opened her mouth to scream and a gurgling sound escaped from her throat as blood filled her mouth and poured down the front of her dress.
The girl’s left hand still held on to the phone as the other hand hovered over the scissors sticking out of her neck as if touching it would confirm it was real. Then she fell forward slowly, dramatically, eyes and mouth wide open, like a child play-acting, as if to say, ‘Aaaah… you… you…. have…. shot…. m-meee…….’
The traveller continued to tap his fingers, faster now that they were empty. Then he got out of the bus without any hurry. He stood by the bus, first staring at his empty hands, then patting his pockets as if he was looking for something. He looked down at the ground around him for the missing item.
There was a sad look on his face when he didn’t find what he was looking for. He coughed again and spat this time. Thick yellow phlegm into the dirt at his feet. Then he walked off into the traffic, disappearing into the crowd.
Inside the mucus, many little things moved.
Someone in the bus screamed.