Bedlam Express

by Dan Harris-Warrick
Fade in:

Ext. Greyhound Station-Night

A nasty, rainy night of the sort you wouldn't send a dog out in. The bus station is closed; TED is standing under its eaves next to a flickering street light. Ted is a normal-looking young man carrying a backpack.

A bus pulls up to the station. Nobody gets off. Ted checks the front of the bus (which we don't see) and gets on.

Int./Ext. Bus-Night

The bus pulls away as Ted walks down the aisle, looking for a seat. He sits down next to JOHN, a balding man in a starched shirt.

After a few moments, Ted becomes aware that John is whispering something to himself.

John
somedaythey'llallbesorry somedaythey'llallbesorry somedaythey'llallbesorry somedaythey'llallbesorry

He keeps whispering, paying no attention as Ted takes his backpack, stands up and politely moves away.

Ted moves down the aisle and sits down next to Mary, a young woman with scraggly hair who is intently reading a newspaper.

Mary

Lies.

She tears a long, thin strip from the left edge of the page she's reading.

Mary

All lies.

She tears another strip, then another, until the whole page has been reduced to strips. She piles the strips neatly on the tray table-which Ted now notices has a number of similar piles on it-and turns her attention to the next page.

Ted smiles wanly at her, then gets up and heads down the aisle again.
He spots JEFF, an unassuming-looking black man in glasses. Jef looks up and gives Ted a friendly smile as Ted sits down.

Ted

Boy, you wouldn't believe some of the characters on this bus.

Jeff

I wouldn't believe? Maybe I would believe. How do you know if I would believe or not?

Ted leans a little away from Jeff.

Ted

Um, it's just a figure of speech.

Jeff

Figure. Of speech. How can speech have a figure? You can't see it, it doesn't have a shape, how can it have a figure?

Ted gives Jeff his best nothreatening smile and stands up again.

Ted moves down the aisle. He looks at a pair of seats, one of which is occupied by GEORGE, a young man. George stares at Ted-a fierce, penetrating stare that seems to go right through him. Ted takse a few more steps and looks back. George is still staring.

Ted moves on without looking back at George. He finally sits down next to BETTY, a grey-haired woman clutching an oversized purse. As he is sitting down, she begins speaking.


Betty

I know your kind. You think you're better than us. You think you're smarter. Stronger. Faster. More normal. But you're not.

She fixes Ted with a gaze.

Betty

You're just like us. You belong here. You're one of us. This is your place, too. Don't go thinking you're too good for us. You're not.

Ted hurriedly leaves. Genuinely nervous now, he scans up and down the aisle looking for a pair of seats, but every pair has one occupant. He finally settles for the least threatening-looking person he can find--a middle-aged man who looks like he just stepped out of accounting school, BOB. He uncertainly sits down.

Bob looks up at Ted.


Bob

Pleased to meet you. I'm Bob.

Ted

Um, I'm Ted.

Bob

Pleased to meet Bob. I'm you.

Ted

Uh?

Bob

Pleased to Bob you. I'm meet.

Ted

Nice meeting you.

Ted stands up again and searches frantically for somewhere he can sit. He finally spots a pair of seats where the other occupant is asleep, and sits down there.

Ted's new seatmate is JENNY, a thin teenaged girl. She is sound asleep. Ted sinks down into his chair and relaxes.
Jenny shifts in her sleep and murmers something unintelligible. One of her hands gropes around for her purse and slides into it. A few moments later, it emerges with a knife.

Ted jumps out of his seat and rushes to the front of the bus.


Ted

Stop the bus, please. I want to get off.

No reply.

Ted

Driver? Please stop the bus.

The driver doesn't answer. Ted finally looks at him. The driver is staring straight ahead, seemingly not noticing Ted's presence at all. And he's giggling--a constant stream of giggle without any real mirth.

Ext. Highway-Night

The bus speeds on through the rain.

Ext. Bus station-Night

A different bus station, with another young man waiting. The same bus arrives, and he gets on.

Int./Ext. Bus-Night

The young man scans the seats from the front. John is there, and Mary, and George-and Ted. Ted is seated about halfway back. He is constantly running his hands over things-his backpack, the seat, the tray table, his head. He grins as he notices the new arrival.

Ext. Highway-Night

The bus speeds off into the night.

Fade out.
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