While the details of the following story are obviously embellished for imagination purposes the technical storyline did actually happen to me a few years ago while riding the Trimet 99 Express from Portland, Oregon to Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, Oregon.
It’s a pleasant Friday evening in Portland, Oregon and I am standing downtown at 5th & Salmon awaiting my evening TriMet bus home. The 99 Express, a limited stops bus that is usually filled with professional people in various fields, all commuting to and from their daily life at whatever job they may have.
Generally the bus is a quiet environment, filled with people deep in thought, napping from a long day’s work, or listening to music, or playing around on their various portable gadgets. As I stood and waited for the bus I assumed tonight would be the same as every other night.
I was incorrect in my assumptions.
As I waited for my bus I glanced down 5th Avenue and felt a chill breeze running along my spine, unusual for this time of year. I noticed my 99 Express several blocks in the distance but it somehow seemed different, even from that distance. Darker somehow, maybe a little older looking. I really couldn’t put my finger on why it seemed different than usual so I just shrugged off the feeling.
“It’s probably just an older model bus”, I thought to myself.
The bus pulled up to my stop and it did indeed seem old somehow, really old. Its paint was faded and its body design seemed different. The bus gave me the impression of having carried passengers to their final destinations for centuries.
“Ridiculous” I thought. “It’s just a TriMet bus, quit your wild imagination.”
I glanced at the numbers in the lower left corner of the front windshield as I stepped onto the first step. 57YX. Again, I got an odd chill. That didn’t seem right somehow. Those bus numbers indicate what route it is and what time slot it belongs to within that route.
“Oh well”, I shrugged again. Perhaps this bus was last used as a 57 TV Hwy/Forest Grove bus and who knows what the letters were supposed to mean.
I stepped into the bus and glanced up at the driver. I suddenly got that chill again.
Tonight’s driver was a very tall and serious looking. He was freakishly thin, had pale skin and sunken eyes. He also gave me the impression of having driven this ancient looking bus for centuries. He held out his thin, bony hand towards the fare box and I showed him my monthly pass. He suddenly gave me a very disconcerting smile and motioned me onto the bus.
I sat along the sideways seats directly behind the driver’s seat. As the other passengers got on a cheerful looking, a heavy set gentleman dressed in business casual clothing got on and sat along my side one seat away from me. The last of the passengers got on the bus and the doors creaked shut and we began our trip out of Portland. The usual silence of the trip seemed especially eerie on this evening’s trip.
By the time we reached the Hawthorne Bridge, just two 99 stops away from where I got onto the bus the gentleman next to me was sound asleep. His head tilted backwards, mouth slightly opened, and snoring quite loudly. We traveled along Eastbound down McLoughlin Blvd towards Milwaukie.
We reached somewhere around the McLoughlin and Holgate area when I realized the sleeping gentleman next to me had finally stopped snoring.
When we reached the stop at Main & Milport I glanced over at my, now silent, seat mate and something happened. I felt that chill again but this time I’d swear it also felt like something had moved right through me, down to my bones. I watched as all the color slowly drained from the face of my fellow Trimet rider who had just 15-20 minutes prior been sleeping peacefully on the bus.
My fellow passenger hadn’t stopped snoring as everyone on the bus had thought.
He stopped breathing.
Someone else on the bus also noticed. I heard a woman in the back of the bus scream. Another gentleman in the seats across from me jumped out of his seat. Somewhere amidst all that someone must have called 911 because there were Emergency Services vehicles pulling into Milwaukie Transit Center right behind us as we pulled in.
Milwaukie Transit Center was my fellow Trimet passenger and seatmate’s last stop.
We all disembarked from that haunted bus, I gave a detailed statement to the Police as to what happened and then we all got onto the next 99 Express that arrived.
To this day I think about what happened that fated night and I wonder where in the TriMet system that mysterious bus with its eerily tall and thin driver is driving now.
I hope that the next fellow commuter who has his final trip on TriMet has as peaceful of one as my fellow passenger that evening did.