Claire took the third seat on the left. At the next stop John got on and sat in the corner behind the driver. In two more stops Charlie would board and take his seat next to the handicap platform. When the bus pulled up to Union Station in half an hour their movements would have to be perfect for everyone to walk safely off the bus.
She had awoken from the dream the way she always did from that kind; with her throat raw and ears ringing from silent scream. It never failed though, they weren’t just dreams and once she had accepted that, she could start to learn from the premonitions. They weren’t always violent, but they were always important. This one was both, this one kept her awake the rest of the night. Tears stinging her eyes as she tried to tell herself that it hadn’t happened yet, that it didn’t have to happen, a long as she could get it right.
Her sister fidgeted next to her in the seat playing with the luggage tag on her duffle bag. She was catching the last train to take her back to school after winter break.
Claire had learned better than to try to change too much from the dreams, skipping the bus wouldn’t be an option. Charlie had been on the bus, John had not, but she needed him. She thought it would be too much if he were in uniform, and he hadn’t questioned her when she asked him to ride the bus in plain-clothes with her.
The man with the hat had gotten on just one stop before the train station. He stood at the pole opposite John, looking anywhere but at the other passengers.
As she had seen, he pulled the break-cord just as the pulled up to the traffic near the station. People looked around and he lurched forward as if losing his balance. Sarah jumped up to stop his fall.
The dream played out in her mind once more and in that split second Claire though that it was reality. Sarah tried to help him but he angled his momentum and grabbed her, pulling her flush against him. Headlights of passing cars flashed against a knife that he held to her throat. He twisted her around violently as shrieks echoed around the bus. The other passengers pressed away from him. He was shouting but she couldn’t make out the words, it wasn’t another language, it was just garbled the way it sometimes was in her dreams.
Charlie had yelled, drawing the mans attention away from Sarah momentarily and she tried to break away. He caught her wrist. At the same time the yelling man moved toward him, trying to free Sarah. It was hard to keep track of them all, quick motions blurred in the darkness between sets of headlights through the windows.
Another yell, this time from Sarah. Her free hand was clutching her stomach, her shirt was turning dark and her face grew pale. The man held the knife out as if he had never seen it before. He looked like he was about to speak again but Claire had woken up, dry mouthed and panting. Unable to sleep she had made the plan, now she remembered it was just a dream, she wasn’t going to let it happen. They all had to move now.
As Sarah jumped up Claire caught her arm. Gripping it so tightly it would bruise, but she didn’t care. Charlie jumped forward between them blocking the mans way. He stepped forward; ready.
The knife glinted in his hand and Charlie put his arms out to keep distance between them. Someone else saw it too and yelled ‘knife!’, it echoed through the bus and in a split second John pulled his badge.
“Police, Sir I'm gong to need you to put that down.”
The man was frozen, white knuckles gripping the blade he looked between John and Charlie. For a moment Claire thought he would grab at Charlie and she pulled her sister even closer.
“Put down the weapon,” John repeated, reaching for his holster. The mans eyes darted to his hip following the movement. Johns hand stilled at his belt.
“Let’s just make this easy.”
Unconsciously Claire closed her eyes. She only opened them a few moments later at the sound of metal hitting the floor. She tried to meet Johns eyes as she reached instead for his handcuffs but she was not letting his focus waved one bit.
When he lead the man off the bus he paused as they passed her, John tried to push him forward but he stalled long enough to whisper “is this what kept you up the other night?”
Claire couldn’t look at him, even in her dream without clearly seeing his face, she had felt it. The man with the hat was the man that had been sleeping beside her.