By L.J. Stephens
The Acolyte © 2012 L.J. Stephens
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To my wife. For everything.
I'm somewhere outside of Albuquerque before I feel the first real pangs of fear for my
parents. They have been missing for three days, but for some reason it never even crossed my mind
that they might be in actual danger until I was well on my way to Los Angeles. For most of the ride
an old man who smelled like he was already dead occupied the seat beside me. Thankfully, he had
gotten off the Greyhound at the previous stop, which freed me to put my feet up on the seat and try
to catch a nap.
The constant rocking of the bus prevents any real sleep, so I just close my eyes and rest the
back of my head on the window. I try to imagine myself riding a different bus, my school bus. I get
lost in the thought, and soon I am no longer headed to L.A. to stay with an uncle I've never met, but
I'm on my way home and I am anxious to get there. The new Galaxy Wars 3 game is finally out and
I pre-ordered it months ago. It should be waiting for me in the mailbox when I get there, unless
Mom has already gotten it and thrown it on my bed. To make things even better, Mom promised to
pick up the special edition controller when she went shopping today. I can't wait to log on and kick
some alien ass.
But that was Friday, and a child's cry from across the aisle reminds me which bus I'm on. I
close my eyes tighter and try to bring the memory back, try to feel it. I remember the smell of
chimneys in the air as I step off the bus and wave goodbye to my friends. If you could call them
friends. I never had many of those, really. It's not as easy for a guy like me to make real friends at
school. I am the same age as everyone else in my class, but I look like I'm in middle school. I can be
pretty popular at school sometimes, but not in a good way.