You Can’t Leave

📅 Published on April 13, 2022

“You Can’t Leave”

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 7.75/10. From 4 votes.
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I had just sat down for my ride home on the late charter bus when I felt something odd under my seat.  It was like sitting on a lump; it wasn’t too big, but it was definitely uncomfortable.

Instinctively I reached under to try and remove the object and my hand touched something familiar.  The small size and glint of plastic told me it was a smartphone but not a brand I was familiar with.

Someone must have left it here by accident, I thought to myself.

Since I had a little time until my stop, I unzipped my backpack and took out my portable charger.  As luck would have it, the plug fit and immediately the phone began to charge.

I watched it the way you might a kettle, waiting for it to boil.  I don’t know why.  I didn’t really expect to be able to unlock it, but part of me was hopeful there wasn’t a passcode.

Five minutes later, it powered up and made a grinding noise like an old modem would.  I grabbed it up and waited to see what secrets were within.

The screen was completely black, no background at all, and the time was definitely off as though it hadn’t been updated in some time.  Even the year was wrong.

How long had it been here?

There was no reception, and it didn’t look like I could unlock it, so I just set it back down and focused on my own phone.

Then I heard the distinct sound of a text message notification.

Coming from the older phone…?

But that shouldn’t have been possible, I thought as I picked it back up and saw in short succession there were dozens of messages.  All from the same person, apparently.

Immediately I did my best to read them in rapid response.

>Where are you?

>Why aren’t you responding?

>Is everything okay?

>Don’t go through with it.

That message stuck out to me as I kept reading and scrolling toward the beginning of the story, trying to figure out exactly what was going on.

>Hey, glad we could finally exchange numbers.  Call me anytime!  Alice.

>Thanks for actually responding.  I was beginning to think that no one actually saw me these days.  Calvin.

Alice and Calvin.  These two sounded like lovers and I was about to get all the juicy details of their relationship I thought.

This must have been Calvin’s phone.  And he kept everything about Alice on here.

I saw that he had no other contacts on his phone, which was a little strange.

Next, I decided to check pictures.

There were several taken at strange angles, all on the same day of the same person.

It looked like he had taken the photographs on his phone right here on this bus.

Did he frequently travel this route too?

It felt strange to imagine sitting where someone else had and knowing exactly what it was they had been doing.

Instinctively I glanced up to see if maybe the woman in the pictures was on the bus today.

I’m not sure how freaked out I would have been if that had been the case, but I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized besides myself and a few other riders, the bus was empty.  And none of them resembled the woman in the pictures.

As I scrolled back in time on his phone, I saw that he took at least a hundred pictures of her, maybe more.  This was bordering on obsession.

And then I saw in his notes things that he said about how he felt about her.

Even before they actually exchanged numbers.

This is what the phone’s notes said:

* * * * * *

I saw a woman on the bus today; something about her stood out as different than any other I have seen before.

Have you ever heard of soulmates?  I guess I got a funny feeling when I saw her, and I’m wondering if maybe it’s that.  She’s very beautiful, so much so that I doubt she would want to be with anyone like me.

I know that you would say I should take a leap of faith, but look where that got me.  What if she rejects me?  Or worse, decides not to respond.

* * * * * *

I paused there in the notes, wondering who it was that Calvin seemed to have faith in.  There was scarce else to find on the phone.  It was too old for there to be social media or anything like that, and besides the myriad photos of the woman, the only thing I hadn’t really checked was his call log.

Of course, the thought of it made me feel like I was already invading this stranger’s privacy too much.  But something about this conversation was intriguing.  I needed to know what had happened.

I pulled up recent calls and saw that the same number had tried to call him over and over.

Then it finally hit me how long this phone had apparently been sitting here.

Six years.  It seemed impossible.  But what happened next was even more so.

The phone let out a ping again.  A new message?  How could that be? I slowly reached for it.


Do you think you know me?

Again I felt uneasy even reading the message or daring to respond.  It was a private number, so I figured that it was pointless to do so, and I immediately put the phone down, trying to ignore the next message coming in.

Maybe you should keep reading.  See what happened with Alice.

I went back to the text messages.  My eyes nervously scanned the bus.  Was Calvin on the bus watching me?

The notes continued:

I finally worked up the nerve to get her to notice me.  We hit it off immediately!  I’m so excited. We exchanged numbers.  This is exactly the lucky break I have been looking for.  At last, patience has paid off.

The text messages also seemed to show a story of a despairing man that didn’t get recognized for anything.

>Hey, Calvin, are you doing okay?  I wanted to invite you to drinks but I wasn’t sure if you had the time.

I appreciate it, Alice but I really can’t go.  I have a lot of work to catch up on.

But his notes told a different story.

How I wish that I could have a life with her.  The things we could do together.  But that isn’t how it’s meant to be.  She won’t understand the things I have to do.  You would understand, of course.  You always knew what I was capable of.

What exactly was Calvin planning?

Another message chimed in from UNKNOWN.

Please tell me you have seen where this is headed.  I can see the worry on your face.  You think I hurt her.

This time I decided to respond.

If you didn’t hurt her, then why are all these text messages sound so obsessed with her?  And the pictures?  You were stalking this woman!  And if I didn’t know any better, I would think you are stalking me!

Don’t be ridiculous.  You are nothing like her.  True, you will be just as interesting to follow and watch, but Alice was special.  She really wanted to help me.

“What are you?” I dared to ask.  I knew there was no way this old phone should have been working or providing messages without service.  But the texts had already convinced me this was not an ordinary conversation.  Something beyond the realm of my worldview that was now creeping to the forefront.

I went back to the text messages.  The more I read, the more disturbed I was by Calvin.

>I’m worried about you Calvin.  I always see you sitting alone on this bus.  If it wasn’t for that phone I would think you were dead.

>You don’t need to worry.  I’m fine.  But I appreciate the concern.  It’s been a long time since anyone really worried about me.

>You promise me that you are okay?

>Of course.  I will be fine now that you are with me.

>The only time I’m with you is when we travel on this bus together!  Why don’t you ever want to come with me?

>I told you before that I can’t.  Why don’t you just leave it alone? >I’m starting to think you are trapped on this bus.

>If that were true, my only concern would be to get out of here.  I wouldn’t be wasting my time getting to know you.

A few more days of messages like that scrolled by, Alice growing more concerned.  And then an awful truth started to come to light.

>Calvin, how long have you been searching for someone? >What do you mean?

>I was doing some research on this bus…trying to figure out why you were so familiar.  I realized I read your story when I was a little girl.

>Alice stop.  Stop talking about this.

>No.  I need to know.  Are you…are you dead?

I froze, rereading the message.  Maybe she had misunderstood? Then he gave a reply.

>Of course, I am gone.  That’s why it’s been so difficult to explain things to you.  I don’t want you frightened.

The moment I read the message, a mirror image of that same message popped on screen. Calvin was repeating what he said to Alice.

I don’t want you frightened.

Too late for that.  I was terrified because of the fact that I was now apparently texting a ghost.

What do you want from me? I asked.

The same thing I wanted from Alice.  I needed her to leave this place.  But she wouldn’t listen to me.  Maybe you will….

I took out my phone and quickly did a search history on this bus the same way Alice had.

Specifically, I was looking for tragic events surrounding this route.

It didn’t take long to find one from only six years.  The same time as the text messages.

>Local woman jumps from a moving bus.

>Alice Fitzgerald, a local real estate agent, has been found dead near the corner of Fourth and Pine.  Witnesses claim they heard her talking to herself or to an unseen person she frequently told to leave her alone before she leaped from the bus to her death when it was moving at approximately 75 miles per hour.

I texted Calvin.

Did you make her jump?

Of course not!  I didn’t want that.  But once she understood that I was going to try to be with her…she overreacted.

You were going to be with her…you mean possessing her body.

There was a long pause, and I got a chill in the air.

The phone was how he found his victims.  I understand that now.  He left it here for a curious passerby like me to find.

I stood up and pulled for the cord that would make the bus stop.  The phone pinged again.

You can’t leave me here on this bus…I won’t let you.  I have been here too long! I tossed the phone down and tried again to get the bus to stop.  It only sped up.

I felt something overpower my body.  I knew it had to be the spirit from Calvin trying to enter my very soul.  We were coming up to a curb.  If I timed it right, I could jump and survive.

I moved toward the front of the bus as it began to slow down to pick up passengers.  Now was the chance to escape.  I rushed to get off even as the spirit overwhelmed me, and I fell down, slamming into the concrete.

But somehow, I made it, and I was free from this strange encounter.

I stood up and wiped blood from my lip as I turned to watch the bus roll off.  The passengers had all acted like they couldn’t see me, likely a side effect of this demonic influence.

But as it turned away, I saw Calvin’s ghostly presence standing there, glaring at me.  Somehow I was lucky to survive.

I saw him pick up the old phone in his hand and then slide it under another seat.  Waiting for another victim to be curious enough to find it.

Rating: 7.75/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Kyle Harrison

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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