Dear The Megabus,
What do you think you’re playing at? I took one of your buses the other week and it was not the enjoyable, moderately slow and cheap journey I was expecting. In fact I got far more than I bargained for; which I suppose in a way is not bad for a quid fifty. But still.
You see I was about to start a new job in a calendar factory and decided I’d take a quick holiday to York as a treat. My reasoning was that I knew that once I started on the shop floor I was probably never going to see, or be able to afford, daylight again.
I trained my way up to Victoria Bus Depot, which I should of realised early on was a bad decision. Despite being a 40 mile rail journey, it actually took longer than the 200 odd mile trip on your bus. But hey, that’s South Eastern for you (don’t worry they’ll be getting a complaint letter too). Being herded like man-shaped cattle by faceless, emotionless train staff and treated with as much respect as a cow in a burger hadn’t put me in the greatest of moods to start with.
I don’t go to London all that often as I am terrified by the sheer number of people wandering about and their insistence in barging into you whenever they find a spare moment from shouting at their mobile phones. The wall of brash rudeness intimidates me, and some goit nicking my coffee from Starbucks didn’t particularly help. Obviously none of this aided my temperament when I reached Victoria Bus Station and stood by my gate, surrounded by hordes of depressed individuals gearing themselves up for a five hour slog to ‘The North’.
A roaring, squealing cacophony of barely supressed rage filled the depot as I watched a hulking blue and yellow behemoth of a vehicle barrel through the entrance. The Megabus driver brought it to a terrifying, sudden halt, the hull vibrating as the engine cooled down. From the bird poo stained window I watched as the previous occupants departed the vehicle, stumbling and tumbling out of the door from dead legs and an unexplainable lack of energy that occurs after any long journey on your buses. As the last one got out, with what looked like all of his possessions strapped to his back, I saw the driver.
He didn’t look like your usual busman, by which I mean there was no pot-belly, no look of world-weary angst and zero food stains on his vest. The only thing he did have in common with a garden variety long distance conveyor of people was the five day stubble, which he used to strike up a match.
He ignited the end of a massive cigar, the brown behemoth glowing intensely as he sucked nearly half of it down in one go. I watched his enormous barrel chest push out like an Alien baby was trying to break free from his ribcage. He angled his head up, tensed his terrifying neck muscles and blasted a cloud out from between his clenched, pure white teeth.
The man was what Hollywood, the media in general and even a few ex-girlfriends consider a ‘real man’; he could have given Bruce Willis and Dolph Lundgren a run for their money. He turned to look at us poor souls trapped inside the bus depot with his crystal blue eyes, a handsome and totally awesome scar running down and across one of them.
He frowned and with a quick swipe of a mighty mitt he gestured for us to join him. I leapt over the slow footed crowd surrounding me, desperate to bagsie myself a window seat. I drop kicked open the terminal door on my descent and dashed towards the man.
“GOOD KICK.” He growled at me, his voice audibly analogous to the love child of Sean Pertwee and Johnny Vegas, but yankified.
“Gee, thanks mister.” I said, regressing to a child in front of the sheer force of machismo.
“THE NAME’S PATRICK. PATRICK DAFFODIL.” I’m not sure how, but he even made the surname Daffodil sound like it was dripping with masculinity. I nodded at him, at a loss of what to say.
There was a loud groaning behind me, the rest of the poor souls from gate 23 were filtering through the smashed glass door and groping towards us, their faces empty, their eyes hollow, their suitcases packed to bursting.
“GET ON.” Said Mr. Daffodil, hoovering up the last stretch of his stogie before blasting it out like a steam locomotive attempting to hit 88mph. He stubbed it out on his monumental forearm before giving me a meaningful look.
I thanked him profusely and hopped on, securing a seat at the optimal distance to your on board toilet, by which I mean absolutely nowhere near it.
For the first few hours very little happened on my journey. Every seat was taken and I had a, shall we say, rotund gentlemen next to me. However this gave me a chance to play the Thigh Game, which is something I’d implore you to try out, it makes long journeys far more bearable. Well, for you at least.
Most people aren’t big fans of touching strangers, even less so on public transport. If you can overcome the initial revulsion and disconcerting feeling you can have some real fun with whoever’s next to you. Basically you place your thigh right up next to theirs, making sure you’re close enough to feel the warmth from their flesh. After a short while they start to shift, trying to get away from your hot little legs. Once they’ve shifted away from you slightly, subtly push your leg out so you’re in contact again. Obviously you need to play this slow, make it seem natural and not give the game away.
On a long enough journey you can end up with more space than you know what to do with, and after a couple of hours on the Megabus that’s how I found myself. The big chap to my side was now squashed into the aisle and still trying to avoid my encroaching, if somewhat stretched, thigh. I was in the process of seeing if I could get him to mount the diminutive lady in the seat on the other side of the aisle when everything went wrong.
We were driving down the M1A1 when there was a discordant orchestra of honking. Everyone in the coach, bar Mr. Daffodil, looked out of the windows, trying to discern where the racket was coming from. I peered out the rear window and saw a coach racing up the outside lane at a speed which I believe might have been illegal, so I don’t want to say that in case I get anyone into hot water.
It was a National Express coach, your rivals, and it seems, the personal rival to Mr. Daffodil. From my spacious viewpoint I could easily see the driver, a wirey, rat faced man with a massive twirly moustache and the unmistakable glint of evil in his eyes. He was certainly equipped with an impressive specimen of face fungus, he had to angle his head forwards to see the road. However, the hairy obstacle didn’t seem to diminish his driving prowess as he skirted past cars and lorries, creating spaces as he went. He was catching up with us, rapidly.
I heard a low, grumbling chuckle, like a Boeing 747 jet engine chewing its way through a boulder. I looked back towards our driver, and I saw his Atlas-ian shoulders bouncing up and down as he laughed to himself. He didn’t change his speed or even make to move out of the inside lane, instead he kept his eyes divided between the road and the moustachioed man gaining on us, his face snarled up with a mannish grin.
Suddenly we were thrown to the side, the coach inhabitants screaming at the motion. My tumble was cushioned by the large man stuck in the aisle, and I instinctively pressed my thigh against his.
“Bugger orf.” He yelled, trying to free his pinned arms to slap at me.
“This doesn’t look good.” I muttered to myself, hauling myself back into my double seat with the help of the huge bloke’s equally huge belly.
The bus barrelled to the side again, but I grabbed the seat in front of me in time, preventing me from smacking into the aisle again. I looked out of my window, only to see a terrified face staring back at me, a woman with wild, panicked eyes behind her thick black glasses. She slapped at her window, yelling and pointing towards the front of the coach.
It was the National Express driver, he was trying to ram us off the road!
Mr. Daffodil roared loudly over the agonised shriek of rending metal.
“HANG TIGHT EVERYONE.” He bellowed, kicking down on the coach brake and yanking us towards a junction we were approaching. The moustachioed driver zoomed up beside us and I yelled in shock as he pummelled into the side of the coach, sending our vehicle toppling over.
“MEGA BUS, ACTIVATE.” Yelled Patrick, punching a big red button behind a glass plate above the driver seat. His pod started whirring and shifting and things sprung out of the walls around him.
I grabbed hold of the coach seat again as I felt myself being lifted into the air. The other denizens of the coach screamed, sobbed and pleaded for mercy. I however felt a bit different.
“Whoooooooop!” I cried out, spinning a hand above my head like a cowboy rounding up a coral.
Rather than the shredding of steel the cabin was filled with the sweet whirring sound of greased cogs and motors working in unison. From my vantage point I saw something shoot out of the side of the coach, suitcases and backpacks soaring through the air in front of it.
We were well off the road now, somehow in a field next to the M1A1, yet we weren’t anywhere near the grass. I pushed my face against the window to see better.
Legs! The coach had legs, and arms, painted in your nausea inflicting blue and yellow combination. I turned to look at Mr. Daffodil. Rather than a steering wheel he was now operating a complicated set up of levers and gears, the faint smell of diesel filled the coach.
Beyond Patrick was the National Express coach. It too had grown limbs, white, red and blue jobbies that moved and swayed continuously, like a boxer getting ready for a bout.
“NOT THIS TIME JUDGE NAUGHTY.” Yelled Mr. Daffodil, flicking a switch on a console in front of him. There was yet more whirring around me and I found that I couldn’t move. Metal harnesses had pounced out of the seats, pinning our chests, legs and arms down. Unfortunately I was still pretending to be a cowboy, and I was spread out on the two seats. I now found myself performing a non too comfortable splits while one arm was wedged high in the air.
“For god’s sake help!” Cried the big fella on the floor next to me.
“Don’t move, you’ll probably be alright sandwiched there.” I said, trying to comfort him.
“This is all your fault you ba-“
Before he could his finish sentiment however he disappeared, shooting out of his position with a cork popping noise and flying to the back of the coach, I could hear the rear window cracking from my seat.
Mr. Daffodil was sprinting towards his nemesis now, I could see one of the robotic arms pumping up and down outside my window, the coach rocking with the motion. The man, Mr. Naughty apparently, was also running, his coachbot barrelling towards us, the main body angled forwards slightly, mimicking the pilot’s position.
They collided, jangling me in my seats as my ears were filled with the screaming groans as the vehicles super structures were forced under torrential stress. Mr. Daffodil had grabbed onto one of Mr. Naughty’s arms, holding the enormous appendage at bay while he punched at the National Express window with his other arm.
A leg came out of nowhere, catching the Megabus under the front bumper and sending us stumbling backwards. Mr. Daffodil laughed and raced back at his opponent. They went at each for quite a while, blocking and parrying each other with expert timing and raw, ferocious power.
They also did quite a bit of damage to the land around them. As they fought they traversed out of the field (which used to hold cows) and into an industrial estate. Various items around them were used as rudimentary weapons, tractors, roofs, concrete bollards. Eventually Mr. Daffodil got the upperhand when he picked up a Peugeot 106 and launched it like a discus, spinning the vehicle into the front window of Mr. Naughty.
The National Express coach stumbled, motorised arms waving around in the air in confusion. It stepped on a lorry and like the infamous banana skin Mr. Naughty slipped over, landing on his back, or to be more precise the back of the coach. His arms and legs were in the middle of the vehicle, and I laughed as I saw the mechanical limbs flailing all about the place. It was like watching a tortoise trying to right itself, only much funnier.
Mr. Daffodil leapt out of his console, sweaty arms raised in the air in triumph. He gripped his hands together and waved them, like a prizefighter celebrating his achievement. He turned to look at us, a big, manly grin plastered across his angular face.
“Sorry about the delay folks, we’ll be on our way in a moment.”
His captive audience groaned and wept, everyone was feeling miserable, even me, although for different reasons. Mr. Daffodil saw my arm raised in the air and gave me a small, pleased nod. I grimaced back at him, this position was really starting to hurt.
Anyway, after turning back into a bog standard Mega Coach Mr. Daffodil drove us back onto the motorway and continued on our journey.
Now, I don’t want you to think I’m angry at you for creating fighting mega bots, quite the opposite. What I am annoyed about is that delayed me getting to York.
I don’t want any recompense, just a promise that if any of your vehicles turn into Coachbots, they do so with the utmost safety equipment for passengers.