If I don't tell someone I'll go insane. It's been taunting me for months. You see, it’s not the dark that I’m afraid of, just the creature that lives there. It gnashes and chatters, the enamel of its teeth yellowed and foul, bare inches from my skin and it squeals in the deep dark below. Its bulbous blue tongue flicks inside a mouth stale with rot, enjoying the taste of its own bile, a sweet merlot of decay. It is something so inhuman, I can't cope anymore.
As I squeeze my buttocks, clenching in, clenching out, willing nature to speed it along, the fear almost consumes me. My hands are clammy with sweat, my breath is becoming ragged. I can feel a trail of sweat trickling down my forehead. Why did this have to happen now? I tried to hang on, I really did, but sometimes you just, you know, gotta go.
It's coming, but not fast enough. The reality of my situation, the horror, then finally the answer I've been looking for comes to me. The truth is, I don’t know what’s worse. The creature inside the toilet? Or the one outside the bathroom door?
“Are you done in there yet!?”
The shrill voice pierces my eardrum, splintering the last vestiges of dread, and any train of rational thought. It is the shriek of a wild banshee pounding on the bathroom door that at once saves me, yet rips my soul apart with guilt. Ok, maybe she's not a wild banshee. Maybe I’m exaggerating. It’s just my wife. Only, I’ve been listening to her inane chatter for years, so reminiscent of the creature itself, and lately, I can’t seem to bear it anymore. On and on she witters in my ear: put the rubbish out, don't forget the TV bill, what's for dinner? Let me have the remote.
She didn't give me enough time to answer her.
“I said -” she started.
“And I heard you,” I interrupt, as I fight a final battle of wills against the creature that lives in my toilet, “I’ll be out in five minutes!”
Five minutes, I’ll be lucky, I’m thinking, as I groan, heave and at last get enough momentum to literally throw myself off the toilet seat with my trousers round my ankles. As I fall to the side and desperately scrabble away from the offending toilet, I thank God that I got away this time. I’ve been stuck there for ten minutes, listening to its pathetic gibbering, so like hers, its taunting, ragged voice. I can still feel its slime-ridden tongue on my bare flesh, licking my buttocks, tasting my skin.
I stand up and pull up my trousers, at last restoring my dignity. Why, oh why, is it necessary to have a shit, I ask myself? Why is the human body so - fragile and needy? It always finds me when I need a shit, not a piss. A shit, where I have no choice but to sit. Hey, that rhymes, I think absently.
Lately I’ve been holding it in, and when it got so I couldn’t hold it in anymore, I’d go anywhere, anywhere but in my own house. I use the toilet at McDonalds, the local garage, the office, Asda, anywhere but here. The only problem with the office is that the boss starts to question why I've been gone so long.
You see, it follows me. You’re the first one I’ve been able to tell because no one will believe me. Jayne won’t either. But she’ll see.
Work related stress, my imagination, call it what you like. But I know.
I know it lives in there. Waiting, waiting until it can catch me forever and destroy me, eat me from the inside out.
And I know what it wants.
It wants to own me. It wants to possess me until I no longer know who I am or who I answer to.
Talk, talk, all the time it talks until I can’t stand it and it’s the only voice I can hear. I just want it to be quiet. I don’t want its tongue or its lips to touch me anymore.
I’ve had enough.
“Bloody hell, are you -”
“Done,” I finish for her, as I open the bathroom door.
She’s looking a little red around the gills, suitably unimpressed by the wait she’s had to endure. Me? I feel peace at last. I know now, what I have to do.
“Sorry I took so long. Quick favour Jayne?”
“What?” she mumbles, disgruntled.
“It’s just, I think the bog’s blocked, that’s why I was so long in there, and I know you’re good at that sort of thing luv.”
“Out of my way then,” she grunts, and I try to not smile as I move aside and hand her the plunger and some disinfectant.
“Just ther -”
She doesn’t give me time to answer or offer advice.
“I can see it, okay?” she snaps, and I know I’m doing the right thing.
She grabs the plunger from my hand and a tingling warmth spreads through my loins as she kneels down in front of the ivory toilet, her head leaning in, searching for the cause of the blockage. I see her grimacing at the stench, but she’s a brave little one my wife, and I know she’ll battle on.
“Graham,” she whispers, and for the first time she sounds scared. She knows something isn’t right.
“In there? Yes I know luv,” I reply “do me a big favour and feed it will you?”
I can’t hear her answer through her choking gurgles and the crack of her legs striking the top of the toilet seat. Her screams are buried beneath the sound of the creatures’ teeth gnashing and tearing, and my own laughter. Beneath the scent of blood and shit is the overwhelming smell of toilet-duck.
I decide to put the kettle on and celebrate.
Illustration: Rylan Cavell