No one knew why it was there.
But it’d been there ever since he could remember. He even had a memory of looking at it from his pushchair, and that was like a whole six years ago.
While the rest of the field looked normal, right in the middle, surrounded by shoulder height grass, and covered in snaking brambles, sat a bus.
Not like a bus from nowadays.
This was an old bus. It had a really weird radiator on the front, like it was a thousand years old or something. Probably used to be green, once, with bright red wheel arches that were still vivid in colour, but were pockmarked with rust.
Chips never went near it.
Lowdon had told him it was haunted. That the bus had crashed through the hedge and rolled into the field a hundred years ago, killing everyone on board, except the driver, who had panicked and scarpered. Now it was home to the ghosts of those passengers, trapped in limbo, vowing into the ether to exact their revenge on the driver, or whoever dared sit in the driver’s seat.
So, why now, was Chips wandering through the field, heading directly for the rusty bus?
What was he doing?
It loomed closer, and the tall grass scratched at his legs. There was a smell. Not of rotting, but of decay. It just had the odour of age.
The side door had long since fallen into a heap, grown over now with brambles. Chips pulled off a blackberry and put it in his mouth without thinking.
It was sour
He spat it out, and saw that it wasn’t even ripe.
Inside, if he angled his head just so, Chips could see the seats. Some were rotten, some weren’t. None of them played host to a ghost though.
Not that he would know what a ghost looked like.
Lowdon was full of it.
Chips stepped up into the rusting carcass of the bus, half expecting to fall through the floor. But it took his weight. Felt solid even. He bounced, and felt secure.
Two brave strides and he was stood next to the driver’s seat. It looked comfy. The dials on the dashboard were old fashioned and had needles not digital readouts. And the steering wheel was huge. Almost his whole arm span he calculated.
Plucked up all his courage.
Listened to his heart drumming a beat inside his chest.
And climbed up onto the seat.
He heard air, like the seat was sighing at his weight, content that at last, someone was once again sitting on it.
His fingers curled around the big wheel, and all his dread left him.
For an hour he played at being a bus driver.
It was the best fun he’d had all summer.
Playing alone was better than having friends anyway.
And next time Lowdon called him names, he’d just smile to himself and remember how brave he was to play in the rusty bus.
He clambered out of the seat, feeling his tummy growl with hunger, and ran home to ask Mum if he could have chips for tea, and vowing to come back tomorrow to play some more.
From their seats, the ghosts of a dozen passengers watched him clamber through the hedge and disappear.
It was nice to have some company at last.
They hoped he’d come back tomorrow.