The Journey Begins
How and why the driver and Henrietta met
henrietta higglbottom set forth down the street where the house she had claimed as her own stood in sore need of repair - it looked as if it might collapse at any moment which is probably why she didn’t have to fight anyone for it
she was of school age but exactly how many years she had roamed the planet was unknown even to her
since all the people who normally control a child had perished in the plague she had decided quite wisely that she didn’t wish to return to the decrepit school house where they told people what to do all the time even when to go to the toilet
the people at the school had come looking for her at first but gave up when she hid in the attic or pretended she was an old old lady that had already finished school
she was moderately happy and quite often sang songs or made pictures or made up stories and poems and spoke them out loud to all her imaginary friends
that day in the windy city while she was walking slowly through a quiet mist a big square bus came chugging down the street approaching her
the bus’s lights were twinkling and it looked a little unreal like it might have appeared out of the mist from another dimension
it wheezed to a stop and henrietta watched as an old very tall and very thin man unfolded himself from the drivers seat and pushed a lever that opened a door on the side of the bus away from henrietta and stepped down
hulloooooo he called out
henrietta wasn’t sure what to say or do -- the old man did not seem threatening to her and she trusted her own instincts
she waited quietly to see what would happen next
would you like to go on an adventure the old driver said in a booming voice
henrietta finally spoke what do you call that thing you ride in?
why don’t you know, its the ominous bus
the ominous what?
the ominous bus and i am the driver
well that’s fairly obvious what kind of adventure?
the old driver took off his bus driver’s cap and scratched his head
isn’t that the point of adventures? you can’t really say what kind they are ahead of time…… now can you?
henrietta thought about this for a minute and then nodded
i probably should go pack some things
take your time take your time -- we don’t have anywhere to be right now but at the stroke of midnight we must be on the road.
the old driver took out an enormous pocket watch and held it up for her to see
it had beautiful silver numbers and hands on a shiny onyx background -- the funny thing was it seemed to have more than 3 hands - it was hard to say how many maybe 12, 13, or 24. she could see though that she didn’t have much time so she ran back to her crumbling house and packed a suitcase and a backpack with clothes, books, her paint box, a small teddy bear, a toothbrush, a hairbrush, and a very small toy piano
she ran back to where she had left the ominous bus and the driver and found the driver behind the wheel and the door open
she climbed up the silver stairs and found a seat in the front where she could see and talk to the old driver and he pulled the door closed and the ominous bus set off down the street as the church clock chimed midnight