It was a cold winter night in a very very remote town, out in the middle of nowhere. A debate team from a larger city had driven out that morning and had done very well, not finishing until around midnight. When the bus finally set off, it was around 12:45. As students filed onto the bus to go home, the driver turned on the strobe on top of the bus, so if they got in a wreck or anything they could easily be seen.
One boy in particular decided he wasn’t tired, and just stared out the window as they began their drive home. The sounds of his teammates drifting into sleep surrounded him as he stared out the window, forehead against the icy pane of glass. Flurries of snow drifted in and out of his vision, joining the white mass on the ground. They passed small patches of forest followed by endless fields and even more forest. He noticed that every time the lights flashed, he would see images. Creations of his imagination, like when someone dims the lights, seeing faces in the shadows. These images became increasingly frightening, especially as they entered wooded areas.
After a while, he decided he should probably sleep, and lay his head back against the seat. He fell into the lull of the driving bus, only half conscious when he looked back out his window…
And saw a herd of deer, almost galloping towards the bus. They ran out in from of the bus. He could see that their eyes were wide and terrified. They were being hunted, quite obviously, and as the vehicle hit them, it began to pinwheel. Spinning end over end in the fresh snow.
As we know, buses do not have seat-belts. Backpacks, bodies, and glass were being tumbled around. Everywhere. The bus finally settled on it’s back in the snow. The boy was unconscious, his teammates had stopped breathing. Glass had shattered, fallen everywhere, covered everything in a shimmery layer of surreality.
The boy was one of the only survivors. One of two.
As he woke up, several minutes after the bus had come to a stop, he noticed that he was on what once had been the ceiling. Warm fluid slid down his face, across his cheek and onto the ground beside him. A piece of glass was imbedded near his temple, small enough to not harm him too badly, but enough to make his forehead bleed. He reached up, pulled it out as his eyes adjusted to the blackness of this winters’ night. He lay down, unable to stand up without falling at this point and hoping for some rescue.Some person to find their wrecked bus.
And he began to hear a soft shuffling outside of the bus. Light feet in the snow, circling. It began at the front of the bus and circled until they came to stop right about where he was. He thought maybe it was a rescue crew.
He heard claws on metal, climbing up the side of the bus, finally reaching the top. It wasn’t human, he realized, the scraping and scratching. He heard a fist punch the roof above him and let out a small gasp, quickly covering his mouth as he heard whatever it was jump off the bus, onto the ground again.
He knew by now how wrong he was. This wasn’t a rescue team. He also knew it was unlikely anyone else had survived, and he needed to get out as fast as he could.
He began crawling over the backpacks, the bodies, the wreckage, debris, and glass. He crawled to the front, where the driver was slammed against the windshield, ignoring the pain in his hands. He scoped his surroundings. The door had been bent beyond repair. He would have to go out the windshield.
He slowly moved the corpse, surprised to find that the bus was still running, the headlights on. He hadnt noticed before, but he now felt the bus vibrating, humming it’s life. He crawled out, still in a crouch when he heard the shuffling noise again right at the edge of his little dome of light. He looked up.
Just inside the circle of light he could see gnarled, white, inhuman, clawed feet. And his eyes traveled up, seeking eyes exactly level to his. He straightened. So did the creature… Up… And up. He was no longer looking eye to eye. It was towering over him, staring down with dead lifeless eyes. Black pits in it’s ghostly skull. Behind him he heard the motor begin to die, his circle of light receding, the creature moving towards him, staying just beyond the reach of light. He couldn’t quite see it yet.
He backed up against the bus, gripping the twisted metal as the creature grew nearer. He felt warm blood pooling in his hands as his grip tightened, the creature edging ever closer. He stared up at it, its black eyes an twisted mouth, teeth protruding over its lip.
He opened his own mouth, no sound coming out for a few seconds before he asked, his voice rising pitch with fear, “Who are you?” And the creature bent down. Down and down until he was eye to eye with the boy, his hot breath on his face. He opened his twisted mouth ever so slowly, lips upturned in a ghastly grin, a grimace, and answered in a deep, bone-rattling voice… “The Rake.”