The Road to Hell
by John Pilling
“Hells Bells” Stephen stared in horror at the twisting spitting ball of fury slowly revolving in mid air beneath his apple tree.
Designed to catch a pair of marauding magpies, his homemade net trap had worked only too well and enmeshed his neighbour’s tomcat, an evil tempered animal currently emitting a continuous low snarl that boded ill for anyone who approached.
“What the blazes do I do now?” He muttered, “If I go near that thing it’ll claw me to pieces.” Thinking hard, he returned to the house and phoned the local veterinary centre. There was a pause then a man’s voice said cheerfully.
“Vet here, can I help you?”
“I hope so.” Stephen said. “The thing is, I made a net trap to catch some magpies and I’ve caught my neighbour’s tomcat instead.”
“Oh dear.” said the vet. “Is it injured at all?”
“I don’t think so but it’s going mad, I can’t get anywhere near it to free it. I wondered, if I brought it in, could you sedate it for a few minutes?”
“I see.” the vet said sympathetically. “Yes, probably best to bring it to the surgery …what’s the matter?”
“I’ve just remembered my wife has the car.”
“Not to worry, just pop the whole thing into a bag and use the bus, it’ll be fine.”
Thirty minutes later Stephen was regretting following that advice.
The cat, already in a state of hysterical fury, had objected even more to being bundled into an old Gladstone bag and had set up a sort of hissing yowl which, although Stephen had muffled it with a towel, was still faintly audible. Suspicious looks had been directed at him from the moment he boarded, in particular from a large lady sitting opposite. After a few minutes, she leaned across the aisle and said.
“Excuse me, can you hear anything?”
“No, nothing.” said Stephen.
“Not a sort of hissing noise?”
“I can’t hear anything.” he said, conscious of heads beginning to turn in his direction.
“It seems to be coming from that bag.” At this point Stephen made a fatal mistake.
“What bag?” he said. The large lady rose to her feet immediately.
“The bag you pushed under your seat when you got on.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” Stephen said. The large lady turned white.
“Oh my God, it’s a bomb, he’s got a bomb.”
It was at this point, that the cat in the last throes of suffocation, managed to free one front paw and locked it’s claws into the fleshy part of Stephen’s calf causing him to scream and leap to his feet. Convinced this was the prelude to a terrorist act the large lady, in an act of blind courage, hurled herself at him wrapping her arms tightly round him and screaming.
“You brute, think of the children.”
The half dozen remaining passengers, by now thoroughly terrified, leapt to their feet shouting for the driver to stop and causing him to bring the bus to a screeching halt.
The effect of this was threefold. Firstly, to cause a police car travelling immediately behind to smash into the rear of the bus. Secondly, to cause the passengers already moving forward, to accelerate uncontrollably until they hit the windscreen which promptly gave way spilling them out onto the road and thirdly to raise the driver’s blood pressure to a level where a long ignored heart condition killed him instantly. Stephen and the large lady, wrapped in a close embrace were also thrown forward, but at an angle that ensured they hit a stanchion that stopped their progress. It also broke the large lady’s neck and knocked Stephen unconscious.
The shaken occupants of the police car therefore arrived at a scene of total chaos, made instantly worse by the injured passengers moaning feebly about a bomb. With commendable speed they returned to their car and radioed for immediate assistance with a suspected terrorist incident.
The effect of this was dramatic. Within minutes, special units started to arrive and the bus was quickly surrounded by heavily armed police crouched behind a variety of vehicles. The injured passengers were carried to waiting ambulances where they were questioned by an explosives expert.
“Seems like it’s just the one man with a bag Sir…could be something nasty.” the expert reported to the police commander.
“Did he make any demands?”
“No, passengers said he shouted something but was tackled by a woman before he could set the thing off. They think she must be dead.”
“Right,” said the commander grimly. “Let’s talk to the bastard.”
Stephen meanwhile, lying semiconscious in the dead arms of the large lady, knew nothing until being roused by the squawk of a loudhailer ordering him to come out with his hands up. His head whirling with vague memories of childhood cowboy games, he pulled himself free and crawled to the door where he was again rendered unconscious by fifty thousand volts from an official taser.
Several weeks later, intensive forensic testing and reconstructions having completely failed to prove him guilty of anything, he was quietly released into the care of his wife by a highly embarrassed police force.
The tomcat was less fortunate, the Gladstone bag being blown up by the bomb squad on a nearby beach. The subsequent rain of animal body parts causing the sergeant in charge to remark.
“Fuck me, you never know in this job.”