“Don’t get off!” the filthy man with purple gum in his hair shouted at Ezra. He turned and barked the same phrase at the other commuters.
He looked familiar, Ezra thought as he clutched his backpack, but the man’s sunglasses and cloth face-covering prevented him from placing him.
Ezra’s temper was on a hair-trigger. Losing his temper meant losing his grip on reality and someone might die. He slipped off at the next stop.
Soon, he sat in the park to calm down, but someone was making a repetitive cracking sound. The guy was chewing gum, cracking it like some grade-school kid.
Before Ezra knew it, his hands were around the idiot’s neck. The man spat his gum at him as a lame defense. It was the same purple as the gum in the bum’s hair earlier. It landed in Ezra’s hair and he ignored it.
Reality had slipped. He could hear the colors around him, so he didn’t think to hide the body.
He was filthy from the struggle and he had to hide his face. He reached into his backpack and put on sunglasses and a cloth face covering.
When he got back on the bus, he saw himself already sitting there. He’d better stop himself from getting off. “Don’t get off!” he yelled. The other passengers were duplicates of the man from the park. He screamed the same thing at them, but they ignored him. Just as well that they’d all be dead soon.
This previously unpublished story was a submission in the NYC Midnight 250-Word-Microfiction Challenge. The challenge was to write and submit within a 24-hour period a 250-word thriller that incorporated the action “chewing gum” and the word “grip”.