Lollipop!

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter is scrawled under the signboard that cheerily exclaims ‘Welcome to Clantonville: Home of the World’s Largest Celebrity Cardboard Cutouts! Population: 2,305,419′. It flies by my window in a second, and I get a flash of Kim Novak smiling at me like she had a gallon of Botox injected in her cheeks.

“Fuck, it’s happening again,” the girl next to me says, like she said before.

Wait, no. This is the first time she’s said it.

I turn to glance at her, not wanting to seem like a creep because she’s way out of my league and experience has taught me that girls like her think guys like me are creeps. She must be high or something and obviously tripping balls because she’s gripping her seat like she might fall off. Her eyes are wide open and she’s staring right in front of her, right out the windshield of the bus as if Godzilla was rampaging through the highway and our driver was about to drive up its anus.

Whatever she was smoking must be affecting me too because for a moment I have this craziest thought — that I’ve seen this broad before. Not just once or twice. A million times before. And I’ve heard her say the same damn thing.

I ignore her like I always do.

Wait, no. This is the first time I’ve done this.

“It’s happening again,” she says, now almost sobbing. For some reason I feel like crying with her. I shake it off. Damn junkies and their weed. The moment we get off this bus I’m going to go take a walk to clear my head.

“Jeremy? Jeremy, tell me that’s you,” she says, and I turn and stare at her. How the fuck did she know my name? “Jeremy, please, say our word. Tell me I’m not alone and I’m not crazy.” I just stare at her because she is obviously crazy, and the longer I do that the harder she starts crying. Fuck is up with this bitch? I don’t know her.

Wait, no. I do know her.

…Don’t I?

A name pops into my head. “Lindsey?”

She smiles through her tears, which has the effect of making her look comical. She nods, and says for the millionth time, “Say our word, Jeremy. Let me know they haven’t replaced you.”

Wait, no. This is the first time she’s said that.

All of a sudden the passenger in front of us gets up and turns around, kneeling in his seat to look at us. Lindsey (how the fuck did I know her name?) shuts up and stares at the forty something man, sporting a brown sweater and the worst kept beard I have ever seen. He smiles at us, and maybe Lindsey’s drugs were affecting me more than I thought because he seemed to have more teeth than a mouth should have. And they were all of them fangs.

“You two do know we can hear you, right?” he says, and somehow he doesn’t move his mouth when speaking. I try to distance myself from the woman next to me, because whatever she was smoking was potent shit. “We know your word. You have no security, no comfort. And as the man says…no exit.”

Photo by Sebastian Palomino on Pexels.com

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter is scrawled under the signboard that cheerily exclaims ‘Welcome to Clantonville: Home of the World’s Largest Celebrity Cardboard Cutouts! Population: 2,305,419′. It flies by my window in a second, and I get a flash of Kim Novak smiling at me like she had a gallon of Botox injected in her cheeks.

“Lindsey?” was the first thing I said. Silence greeted me. Before I turned around, I knew she wouldn’t be there. If she’d heard, she’d laugh like she normally does when I wake up and call out her name. “Shh, baby, I’m here,” she’d say. “Wifey’s here.”

But when I turn I see her seated next to me, staring at me like I was a complete stranger.

That’s when I remembered.

“Lindsey, Lindsey, the word,” I say to her desperately. She can’t have been replaced. She can’t. The only change is our awareness and that goddamned sign. It didn’t change. She can’t have been replaced.

Either that or the bastards were fucking with me again.

“Lindsey, say our word,” I begged her, staring at her so intently I might be burning a hole in her head. “Say our word, Lindsey, please.”

“Do I know you?” was all she said, and just like the million times before that she said it, my heart broke in half.

ll of a sudden the passenger in front of us gets up and turns around, kneeling in his seat to look at us. Lindsey turns and stares at the forty something man, sporting a brown sweater and the worst kept beard I have ever seen. He smiles at us, and there might have been a trick of the light because he seemed to have more teeth than a mouth should have. And they were all of them fangs.

Then I remembered. He had been replaced.

“Hey, maybe I can say the word this time!” He cackles, yellow pus and spit flying from his million fangs. “Let’s all say it!”

“LOLLIPOP!” the entire bus chorused, followed by loud laughter. Poor Lindsey was freaking out, staring around as if the world had gone mad. All of them were laughing, laughing at us, even the bus driver who had turned around in his seat to stare and laugh at us.

“Look out!” Lindsey screamed, as the bus swerved violently out of control. The driver ignored her and continued laughing, even as the bus slammed into the divider, throwing half of its laughing occupants forward. I felt weightless for a moment as the bus fell from the highway into the ravine below, Lindsey’s voice the only one screaming, all others laughing.

“FAR OUT!!!” the man in the brown sweater yelled, and continued laughing. Scenery rushed by my window as we fell, and I closed my eyes to brace for the impa-

“NO!” a voice snarled in front of my face, and I opened my eyes in shock. Brown sweater’s face was right in front of mine and he was no longer laughing. All I saw in his face was pure, unbridled hatred.

“No, Jeremiah. Not for you. For you, there is No Exit.”

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter is scrawled under the signboard that cheerily exclaims ‘Welcome to Clantonville: Home of the World’s Largest Celebrity Cardboard Cutouts! Population: 2,305,419′. It flies by my window in a second, and I get a flash of Kim Novak smiling at me like she had a gallon of Botox injected in her cheeks.

“Fuck, it’s happening again,” Lindsey says, and I almost cry when I realise she and I are both lucid this time.

I turn to her and choke back my sobs. “Lollipop,” I say.

She turns, and despite all we’ve been through, she giggles. “Lollipop is such a stupid safe word.”

“Yeah, maybe pick something a bit more kinky.” a woman’s voice says behind us, and for some reason it sounded familiar. I turn around and my heart stops.

The woman who said it looked exactly like Lindsey.

I got up and looked around. All of the passengers looked like Lindsey, even the bus driver. As one they started laughing, and chanting our word. “Lollipop! Lollipop! Lollipop! Lollipop! Lollipop!”

As it did a million times before, the bus rams through the divider and we fall, and I scream, I scream as if this were the first time this has happened when I know with decreasing certainty that it has not.

The fall seemed to last forever, what with all the Lindseys laughing and chanting our word, corrupting it and changing it, stealing our comfort and security and making it into more weapons and torture tools. “Lollipop! Lollipop! Lollipop! Lollipop!”

All at once, the sudden stop came. I fell straight down into the windshield, feeling the glass and my spine crack. Shards of glass enter my eye, piercing my gut. Something hard and cold had entered my trachea through my shoulder blades — maybe a twisted piece of steel I had fallen onto. My right leg was twisted, the heel pointing towards my face and my knee bent in the opposite direction.

As sudden as the stop came, came the pain. I tried to scream, but could only croak, and sob. I heard the Lindseys laugh at me, but I couldn’t tell where they were. It sounded like they were all around me.

“Why?” was all I could manage with the sharp steel in my throat. “Why?”

“Because, silly,” one of the voices whispered in my ear, clear as day even though I could still hear the others laughing. “Earth broke your body. Heaven broke your heart. We break your mind.”

“Stop,” I said, sobbing from the pain. I didn’t want to go through this again. How long have I been doing this? I couldn’t. I just wanted it to-

“Stop? No way, Jose. Haven’t you been listening? There is No Exit.”

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter is scrawled under the signboard that cheerily exclaims ‘Welcome to Clantonville: Home of the World’s Largest Celebrity Cardboard Cutouts! Population: 2,305,419′. It flies by my window in a second, and I get a flash of Kim Novak smiling at me like she had a gallon of Botox injected in her cheeks.

“Fuck, it’s happening again,” the girl next to me says, like she said before. I ignore her.

This story was originally posted to Reddit in response to:

Leave a comment! Suggest a prompt! Eat a Lollipop!


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