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The Bus Conductor
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Short stories > The Bus Conductor by E.F. Benson - October 2020

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9998 comments Mod
Our second short story - kindly chosen by Tania, with a suitably spooky, Halloween theme - is The Bus Conductor by E.F. Benson

Edward Frederic Benson (24 July 1867 – 29 February 1940) was an English novelist, biographer, memoirist, archaeologist and short story writer.

His 1906 short story, "The Bus-Conductor", has been adapted several times, notably during 1944 (for the movie Dead of Night and as an anecdote in Bennett Cerf's Ghost Stories anthology published the same year) and for a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone.


message 2: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4585 comments Mod
Just opening up this discussion. This story is very short and spooky, as you say, Susan!

There is an etext of a ghost story collection including this one on Australian Gutenberg (Benson's works are also in the public domain in the UK as he died more than 70 years ago.) - this is a link to the story:

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0605...

There is also a separate copy of the story here, which seems to be originally taken from a horror website which has closed down:
https://anilbalan.files.wordpress.com...

Both these copies have a scanning error with "rime" for "time" a couple of times, but that was the only problem I noticed.


message 3: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Oct 01, 2020 12:54PM) (new) - added it

Elizabeth (Alaska) I took a quick, short break from Zola to read this today. I failed to appreciate how spooky it might be for others. My husband has this ability to experience time slips and I have become used to hearing about them. Ability is the wrong word as he is not in control of when and how they happen. But they have happened on and off all his life, he being now age 65.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 637 comments I just read it, and do think the it conjured up a spooky atmosphere. I do not have time slips but I have felt things are not right. When I was 15 , I was on a day out with some friends and suddenly felt I needed to get home. I cut the day out short and went home immediately to find that my father had, had a sudden heart attack and was taken to hospital. He had not had any warning of this, and died a week later. A few other less dramatic things have happened to me over the years, where I have known something suddenly for no reason.


Elizabeth (Alaska) That must have been very eerie and very sad for you, Jill.

My husband's time slips are always about other people and situations where he is not involved. The one I remember most clearly was the day of the biggest Nascar race, the Daytona 500. Cameras were on Dale Earnhart, when he kissed his wife heading to his car. My husband said "that's the last time he'll ever kiss her." Earnhart was killed on the last lap of the race. My husband had known for 2 weeks that Earnhart would not survive the race.


message 6: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1208 comments When I was in college I suddenly got super depressed for no apparent reason. Two weeks later my parents broke the news that my dog had died when my depression started.

I got all broken up when I heard that the actor Fredric March died. I remember thinking that I liked him but my reaction was out of proportion. Later that night my father called to tell me that my grandfather died that evening.

I'm not reading this story. I liked his Lucia and Mapp stories but didn't like another book of his that I tried.


message 7: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4585 comments Mod
Jan C wrote: "I'm not reading this story. I liked his Lucia and Mapp stories but didn't like another book of his that I tried. ..."

This is nothing like the Mapp and Lucia stories - I was quite surprised to learn that Benson wrote short supernatural stories like this, because it's so different from his better-known works, but I think he definitely builds up the atmosphere here.

If you are tempted at all, Jan, it's very short.


message 8: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4585 comments Mod
Clearly the "time slips" and the feeling of foreboding in this story are striking a chord with people - Jan, Jill and Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your own experiences, which must have been very distressing.


Tania | 1013 comments I've read this and did enjoy it. I thought the end was very abrupt, but I liked the eeriness of it. I have The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson which I'm reading for October. I think other stories in this have been more successful at building up an atmosphere.
Has anyone watched any of the adaptations of the story?


message 10: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Oct 02, 2020 06:51AM) (new) - added it

Elizabeth (Alaska) I don't recall having seen any adaptations, but as I used to watch Twilight Zone when they were new (and some here and there since), I probably have and did not realize it was an adaptation. I wouldn't think of this as a ghost story, but it is the perfect story for that TV series.


message 11: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 5062 comments Mod
Goodness, that's quite a few people here who have had eerie experiences like that of this story.

I thought of this as a kind of reverse ghost story with a premonition from the future. That explanation of different times occasionally lining up with a person being able to peep through was an interesting way of explaining it.

Only knowing E.F.Benson from his marvellous Mapp and Lucia books, I had no idea he was so prolific or that he'd written supernatural stories.


message 12: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9998 comments Mod
I am looking forward to reading this at the weekend. Sounds suitably spooky!


Elizabeth (Alaska) Roman Clodia wrote: "That explanation of different times occasionally lining up with a person being able to peep through was an interesting way of explaining it."

You can imagine that in our household we've had conversations about time and how it might operate. This explanation helped me see how it could work.


message 14: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1208 comments Judy wrote: "Jan C wrote: "I'm not reading this story. I liked his Lucia and Mapp stories but didn't like another book of his that I tried. ..."

This is nothing like the Mapp and Lucia stories - I was quite su..."


I'm not tempted. I think the non-Mapp/Lucia book was The Blotting Book and I didn't read very much of it.


message 15: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4585 comments Mod
Oh yes, I have also read The Blotting Book, a detective story by Benson - I think I enjoyed it but it wasn't very mysterious, if I remember rightly.


message 16: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9998 comments Mod
I haven't read anything else by E.F. Benson. This was very short, but quite atmospheric. I thought the creepiest part was when he was in the bedroom; imagining the hearse outside the window.


message 17: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 5062 comments Mod
It also has an intriguing set up with the two friends and the haunted house, which I thought was going to be the story but was really just the lead in.


Tania | 1013 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "It also has an intriguing set up with the two friends and the haunted house, which I thought was going to be the story but was really just the lead in."

Yes, I rather liked that set up. He often seems to have a character interested in psychic phenomena, as he was himself.


message 19: by Jill (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 637 comments Yes, it set the mind up to lead into the main theme.


message 20: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4585 comments Mod
Tania wrote: "Has anyone watched any of the adaptations of the story?..."

I haven't, but just discovered The Twilight Zone episode is Twenty Two - Wikipedia says: "The story was adapted by Rod Serling from a short anecdote in the 1944 Bennett Cerf Random House anthology Famous Ghost Stories,[1] which itself was an adaptation of "The Bus-Conductor," a short story by E. F. Benson published in The Pall Mall Magazine in 1906. "

I have watched a trailer on YouTube for the film Dead of Night, which looks really good - a horror film made up from several short stories woven together. The whole film is on Amazon Prime (UK) but with a charge - it's on YouTube as well. I may watch it late one night during October!


message 21: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4585 comments Mod
PS All the The Twilight Zone episodes are on Amazon.co.uk but it costs £1.89 to stream each one. I don't remember this show ever being shown in the UK but apparently it was, I must just have missed it!


message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9998 comments Mod
I seem to recall a couple of the Twilight Zones. Not that I liked them, but my husband has watched the one with William Shatner, as he's a big fan!


message 23: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9625 comments Mod
Judy wrote: "I don't remember this show ever being shown in the UK but apparently it was, I must just have missed it!"


They all got reshown in the 1980s - many of them are really imaginative, compelling and memorable.


message 24: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1208 comments You got me watching Twilight Zone again - for the umpteenth time. I saw the William Shatner one on the airplane last night. I think he was in a couple. An excellent one with Jack Klugman - Waiting For Pip (or some such title). Klugman was also in a couple of good ones.

I saw the vast majority on the first run but I still enjoy seeing them again. I have a number of favorites. And I saw two of those last night on Netflix.


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