Steve slumped down on the bench of the bus stop. He was still by himself and getting really sick of his current situation. He looked up at the flickering light of the bus stop. It was the only source of light for miles. Everything else was pitch black. He looked back at the road in front of him. It stretched out into darkness in either direction.
Steve groaned. He was tired of sitting here, but he also figured if he ventured out into the darkness, he would probably run into something dangerous—or more likely, something really stupid.
He looked at the short glass wall attached to the bench of the bus stop. There was what looked like it had once been a bus schedule pasted on the glass, but any text or images had long since faded into obscurity. A white sheet of paper was posted over the faded schedule. It was some kind of flyer asking about a missing bicycle.
“Don’t look at me,” Steve said to nobody. “I haven’t seen it.”
Steve heard the faint sound of a motor in the distance. Off to the left he saw the headlights of a truck. Steve sighed as an eighteen-wheeler came into view and slow down as it began to reach the bus stop.
Steve sighed. “Here we go again,” he grumbled.
The truck slowed to a stop as it reached the bus station. The door of the cabin opened to reveal an obese old woman sitting at the driver’s seat.
“Hello again, Marge,” Steve said in a drill tone.
Marge didn’t seem to hear him. “You lost, kid?” she asked.
“No,” Steve replied, as if he had said this several times before.
“Do you need a ride, kid?”
“Did you ever hear the story of Large Marge, kid?”
“Yes,” Steve snapped back. “You’ve told it to me a million times already. I get it. Large Marge is a spooky ghost, and the twist is that your name is Marge. Then you make a freaky face and speed away.”
Marge looked down at Steve blankly. Then suddenly, her face looked as if it had turned to clay. In less than a second, her eyes bulged out to the size of baseballs, with a small pupil in the center. Her mouth opened wide and her jaw dropped down a foot or so. Her teeth grew apart and pointed towards Steve as Marge’s hair stood on end. She shrieked maniacally at Steve for a few seconds before the door to the cabin slammed shut and the truck sped off into the distance.
“Great,” Steve sighed. “I’ll see you again in about ten minutes.”
Steve had lost track of how long he had been there. Davy opened that curtain and Steve suddenly found himself here. That truck had come by about every ten minutes since then, the same series of events playing out every time. The first time, it might have been a little shocking, though not scary. Steve would be the first to tell anyone that a jump scare wasn’t actually scary and just preyed off a natural reaction to being surprised.
But at this point, the ghost truck was nothing more than irritating. At the same time, Steve didn’t intend on walking away from the bus station.
“I’d probably get lost and run into something even dumber,” he muttered.
Steve leaned back and rolled his eyes. This show thing felt like filler. He was under the impression that they would be going into this tent and then promptly defeat the Iron League of Reference Humor. But now he was having to deal with being stuck in a bus stop for no reason, as if someone was trying to just hit a minimum word count.
But what irritated Steve the most was what he saw on the back of the truck every time it drove away. A bright pink door with a rainbow and unicorn painted on it.
“I don’t get it,” Steve complained. “It doesn’t even tonally fit the rest of what’s around me.”
Steve sighed as he struggled to understand any of this. He also didn’t understand how Connie, Olivia, and Davy suddenly appeared across the street.
The materialized out of thin air a few feet above the ground and swiftly proceeded to fall on top of each other in a pile.
Steve continued to sit on the bench as he watched his friends scramble to get up. Davy looked across the street and saw him.
“Steve!” he exclaimed, making his way across the street. “We found you!”
“Let me guess,” Steve flatly interjected. You pulling back that curtain took you all to completely different places, and you’ve been going through all of them finding us one at a time.”
He looked at Davy closely. “I figure you probably ended up somewhere mysterious with a vague threat that you never got a good look at until right at the moment you barely escaped it.”
He looked at Olivia then back at Davy. “Then I guess you probably ended up in an entirely different location and found Olivia where you had a sort of heart-to-heart moment before she saved you from something outrageous.”
“This time it was a Tyrannosaurus Rex,” Olivia added.
He glanced at Connie then continued. “And finally, I’m guessing you ran into Connie who was having the time of her life in some place where she was in no danger at all.”
“You know it, Steve,” Connie said. “Nothing but whimsy and pastries in Connie’s world.”
Davy was a little dumbstruck. “Wow, that’s pretty spot on,” he remarked. “How did you know?”
Steve shrugged and said “Just a hunch,” he answered. “I’m good at picking out where plot lines are going, and I’ve had nothing better to do for the past hour or so.”
Davy furrowed his brow. He was impressed at Steve’s ability to guess what he had been doing, but wasn’t thrilled that his entire range experiences reduced to being labeled a plot line.
He managed to laugh it off. “In all honesty,” he told Steve. “I’m just glad I don’t have to give you a whole recap. I already did it twice and wasn’t crazy about doing it a third time.”
“Cool,” Steve said. “Do you care if I skip the part where I tell you what I’ve been doing? It’s stupid and I feel like doing so would just waste time and not add anything worthwhile to our adventure.”
“Sure,” Davy answered. “I’ll just tell you then that we need to find a door. That’s how we’ve been getting around. We find a door that looks like it doesn’t belong and that takes us to a new place.”
“The last door was in a turtle,” Olivia chirped.
“Sweet,” Steve replied. “I think I know what door we need to take.”
“That’s awfully convenient,” Connie remarked. “This magic tent business is all wrapping up pretty nicely. That’s fine by me.”
Steve stood up from his seat. “There’s a big eighteen-wheeler that comes by and stops here every ten minutes,” he said. There’s a pink door in the back with a unicorn painted on it. That’s probably the door you’re looking for.”
“Great,” Davy replied. “Is the truck coming soon?”
Before Steve could answer, he saw headlights appear in the darkness to his left.
“Man, oh man,” Connie exclaimed delightedly. “Right when Davy asked!? Just when I think this couldn’t get any more convenient, this truck just shows up!”
Steve grumbled. It looked to Davy like Steve might not be as willing to characterize his time at this bus stop as convenient.
Steve cleared his throat. “Okay, follow me,” he commanded. “The truck is going to stop here, but speed away not too much later. It might speed away even faster if the driver sees that I’m not there. So let’s get ready to move.”
Davy and the others nodded. As the truck came into view, they followed Steve down the road. Sure enough, the truck slowed down and braked at the bus stop.
Steve ushered them to true door. Olivia went up to it and pulled it open. “See you on the other side, guys,” she whispered before jumping through.
As Connie followed Olivia through the door, Steve listened to hear what Marge would say this time, now that there wasn’t anybody at the bus stop.
“You lost, kid?” he heard her say.
There was no response.
“Do you need a ride, kid?”
Steve shook his head. This lady had been automated or something this whole time?
“I’m done with this place,” he muttered and threw himself through the door.
Davy climbed up to the door. He had found his friends again. The next step was still unclear, but now that everyone was reunited, maybe they had a chance of succeeding after all. As long as they didn’t come face to face with the Iron League, they would probably be fine.
Davy smiled and jumped through the door. The next thing he knew he was face to face with Boss Stag and the rest of the Iron League.