Bus 4



The air stilled for a split second as Yong Yi set foot on Bus 4. Her head was lowered as she looked at her phone, tapping her Ezlink card on the sensor, a soft beep resonating through the strangely empty bus. She huffed and made her way towards a seat.

“Gloomy weather today, eh?” Yong Yi heard the bus uncle say. 

“Yes, Uncle. Seems like it’s going to rain soon,” she replied. 

The moment the words left her lips, a crack of lightning broke through the sky as it began to rain. Large plump frogs fell from the sky, leaving a trace of blood in their wake as they were crushed from the impact. The lucky ones that survived were run over by the bus, their bloodied bodies left on the road limp. Yong Yi watched in horror as the strange sight unfolded before her.

“U-uncle? What’s going on? Why are there f-frogs falling from the sky?” Yong Yi asked timidly. She carefully backed away from the window of the bus, desperately trying to put some distance between herself and the frogs. 

“Don’t worry. They’re harmless,” the uncle chuckled.

Yong Yi was confused. What on Earth was going on?

“T-they won’t be able to get into the bus right? What kind of phenomenon is this? Where are they even coming from?” Yong Yi asked the bus uncle. 

“No need for the questions. It’ll be fine,” the uncle replied, unruffled by the sight. 

Before she could say anything else, the bus stopped. The door swung open and a little girl stepped in, tiptoeing to tap her Ezlink card on the sensor. Once beautifully sewn, her dress was reduced to strips of fabric, streaks of blood adorning the seams. Yong Yi looked up at the girl, her mouth agape. 

“Are you okay?” Yong Yi asked in horror. The poor girl looked as if she had been run over by a truck. Her limbs were awkwardly positioned with bloody gashes painting her body. Yong Yi rushed over to the girl, her hands hovering shakily over her misshapen body, desperately trying to think of what to do. 

“Of course! Why wouldn’t I be?” She replied cheerily as she moved toward an empty seat.  

“Are you sure? I’d better call an ambulance right now. You’re losing too much blood!” Yong Yi screeched. 

The girl giggled at her words before she started howling with laughter, clutching at her stomach as she kicked her legs in the air. 

“What? What’s so funny?” Yong Yi asked, puzzled by the girl’s odd reaction.

“Oh silly, that’s exactly how I died! What a wonderful guess!” The girl replied between hiccups of laughter.

“Died? Y-you’re dead?” Yong Yi paused. “Am I dead?” She asked. That explains the frogs. She thought to herself. For a moment, she forgot about the little girl beside her. 

“Mhm! This bus is bringing us to the afterlife. We’ve both gotten on the bus because we had our Ezlink cards with us,” the little girl said. “If we didn’t have our cards, we would have to wander the world as ghosts forever,” she said in a creepy sing-songy manner. 

“How do you know all this?” Yong Yi asked, sceptical of what the girl said. 

“My mum used to tell me bedtime stories about it! I’m not sure if they’re true though. I’m Ivy, by the way!” the girl smiled. 

“I’m Yong Yi. Ivy, I think your mum might have been joking with you. Come on, I’ve got to get you to a hospital!” Yong Yi exclaimed, snapping out of her trance.
“Uncle! Where is the nearest hospital? This girl needs to get there now!” Yong Yi shouted to the bus uncle. The uncle turned to stare at Yong Yi in confusion. When he turned around, Yong Yi noticed something strange on his forehead. Perched atop his forehead was what appeared to be a third eye. The colour of his eye seemed to change constantly, making it hard to tell what its original hue was. 

“You have three eyes?!” Yong Yi screamed. The bus uncle remained silent, seemingly unimpressed by Yong Yi’s observation.  

“Hospital? She wouldn’t need that, girl. She’s perfectly fine.” The uncle replied nonchalantly, ignoring Yong Yi’s comment.

Inhaling sharply, Yong Yi continued. “Can’t you see with your three eyes how much blood she’s losing? Please can you get her to a hospital now!” she shrieked nervously, trying to ignore the uncle’s third eye and regain her composure. 

“It’s okay, Yong Yi! I’m dead, I told you already. I don’t think I can die again, so don’t worry!” Ivy’s shrill voice rang out.

“Then where are we? Are you sure I’m dead too? That can’t be true, I just stepped onto this bus! I would have felt something, wouldn’t I?” Yong Yi said in disbelief. Ivy looked at her and shrugged.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Yong Yi asked Ivy, to which she nodded her head aggressively in response. 

“You’ve got to accept it. We’re on our way to the afterlife already.” The uncle replied, his third eye blinking slowly at them. Yong Yi slumped in her seat. She couldn’t believe it. Her chest tightened as she tried to process what the uncle said.

“Is this some joke? I – This can’t be true,” Yong Yi stuttered. She ran her fingers through her hair. She felt something warm coating her fingers as she brought her hand away from her head. Her fingers were stained crimson. Blood. It was a wound on the back of her head. She cringed at the sight before gingerly touching the area covered in blood. To her surprise, it didn’t hurt at all.

“Ivy, is there anything on my head?” Yong Yi asked.

Ivy cocked her head to the side, peering over Yong Yi’s shoulder. 

“There’s a big splash of blood! It shouldn’t be painful, though. Does this hurt?” Ivy asked, shoving a small finger into the wound. Yong Yi braced herself for searing pain, but all she felt was the warmth from Ivy’s finger on her head. Yong Yi was stunned. 

“My head… I don’t feel anything…” she muttered absentmindedly. 

“It’s because you’re dead, Yong Yi! No need to worry. You won’t feel any pain.” Ivy said, trying to reassure Yong Yi. 

At that moment, the bus braked abruptly. The door swung open violently, revealing a grimy creature. Its skin had a large gaping gash that oozed pus on its right shoulder. Its head was a mass of flesh with a pair of thin lips in the centre, circled by a ring of beady pupils around its mouth. Long tentacles dangled from out of its mouth, each sucker armed with a row of pointy teeth.

“Please pay your fare,” the bus uncle said, his voice even and calm.

The creature snorted as it pulled out a card from under the folds of its droopy chin, tapping it on the sensor like Yong Yi and the Ivy had done. 

Yong Yi kept her eyes trailing on the strange creature. She braced herself for any sudden movements the creature might make. She hid Ivy’s spindle frame behind her using her body as a shield. Growing attached to the girl, Yong Yi felt responsible for her well-being. 

The bus uncle nodded and gestured for the creature to take a seat towards the back of the bus. As it walked, it glared evilly at Yong Yi who stared back with an equal amount of distaste. Beside Yong Yi, Ivy buried her face behind her tiny hands, blocking her view of the monstrous creature. Yong Yi felt a surge of pity for the girl, holding her shaky frame to her chest.

The pair watched as the creature settled on a seat behind them. Soon, they heard a soft tune being played from the speakers of the bus before they heard the bus uncle’s voice. “This bus will stop at another five stations before reaching the afterlife check-in. Please fasten your seat belts and keep all your limbs within the bus. Thank you,” his voice crackled through the speakers.

“Is this really real? Am I actually on my way to the afterlife? This is a dream, isn’t it?” Yong Yi said. Ivy simply looked blankly at Yong Yi, shaking her head from side to side. 

“It’s real – everything here is,” Ivy said.

Yong Yi sighed before turning to rest her head against the window. Looking at the barren terrain outside, she realised that Ivy and the bus uncle might have been right. Thoughts of the life she had so quickly left behind made her eyes burn. Warm tears rolled down her cheeks as she pressed her forehead onto the cool window. 

It’s no time to cry, I’ve got to accept this, she thought to herself before wiping her tears away. She had to focus on keeping Ivy safe, protecting her at all costs. After all, she needed something to keep her going if she would end up here for eternity.

The bus drove on, occasionally stopping to pick up some stray creatures along the way. There were four of them on the bus now, the first one they met, one with a nose for eyes and a mouth for a nose, another with twenty limbs and another with no limbs. Yong Yi got used to them after a while. It was strange, to say the least.

“You want to go to the afterlife, don’t you?” Ivy said.

Yong Yi paused. “I guess so. I don’t know what this ‘afterlife’ is like. There isn’t anywhere I can really go now anyway,” Yong Yi said, feeling a nauseating wave of misery. Ivy hummed softly, “Well if you come to the afterlife with me, we could play there all day! It’ll be fun!” she exclaimed. 

Yong Yi smiled. “I suppose that’ll do. I’ll keep you safe on the way there. No monster or creature would harm you when you’re with me!” Yong Yi said playfully. Yong Yi found herself getting attached to the young girl who vaguely reminded her of her own sister in the mortal world. A tinge of sadness surged as she realised she had never gotten to say goodbye to her. She pushed her sorrow away. After all, there wasn’t anything she could do.

The bus continued to trudge through the uneven landscape before they finally arrived at the entrance of the afterlife. 

It wasn’t as grand as Yong Yi had imagined. She had imagined it to be a fortress clad in a layer of gold, a large sparkly gate at its entrance. It was just a rusty old gate with whatever was behind it covered in a thick layer of fog. In front of the gate stood a strange little creature. It had the face of a bat and the body of a chipmunk. Its eyes bulged out from its tiny head as it swivelled to turn towards the bus. 

The bus door swung open with a creak and the creatures began to walk out. The creatures in front of them all began to take out their Ezlink cards and tapped the card on a sensor attached to the gate. The bat-man stood there watching carefully, ensuring none was up to any funny business. Yong Yi was never more grateful for her Ezlink card. 

Soon, they were the only ones left. Ivy seemed to hesitate momentarily in front of the gate, her body tensing up. 

“It’ll be okay,” Yong Yi reassured her. Ivy seemed to relax at her words before she took a deep breath and tapped her card. Yong Yi followed suit, and the two tapped their cards onto the sensor a final time and made their way into the afterlife, hand in hand.

Sarah Yeo Shu En (Class of 2026) finds solace in words. She enjoys writing to escape her everyday life. Her writing is greatly influenced by her dreams and the little things around her.