Here it is. Here it fucking is.
So I had been pretty busy with work, working on other things (namely, my 3D printer), then Sekiro came out and all, and stuff like that. Which is to say, if I’m honest, that I’ve been procrastinating again. Back on my bullshit.
As is the case with many/most of my stories, the beginning is based on real life. Started writing this around November or something when I went to the bathroom and heard a mysterious squeaking noise. Still don’t know what that was, but that inspired this story. Fictional other than that. Obviously.
I’ll probably rewrite it, or at least do some heavy editing, since I wrote it over such a long timespan, over which my ideas for the story changed, so I’ll eventually make it a bit more consistent and focused.
I hadn’t heard anything by Andre 3000 (other than him in Gorillaz’s DoYaThing), so I searched him and listened to this album. Definitely isn’t the kind of thing I thought I’d like, but I definitely like it. Something kind of jazz-y about it that I’m big into.
It was a late night, after a lot of drinking. I can’t get to sleep if I have to pee, even just a little bit, so it was a lot of getting up, peeing, trying to get back to sleep, and then having to pee again. Around 11:30, it started.
I went to the bathroom and heard a squeak. I thought it must have been someone else in the house, so once I finished peeing I stuck my head in the doorway, so I could tell if the sound originated from within the bathroom or elsewhere in the house.
And it didn’t sound again.
I leaned back into the bathroom and I heard it another time. It seemed without origin, muffled enough that it seemed like it had to come from outside, but loud enough that it couldn’t be. But I had work in the morning and couldn’t waste time with this, or rather, lose my chance of having an empty bladder to get some sleep.
Didn’t hear it on the way back to bed. Didn’t hear it in bed. Didn’t hear it at all. Maybe it was the sink dripping. Maybe it was the tub dripping. Maybe it was the toilet gurgling, for fuck’s sake. Maybe it was just my drunk and sleep-deprived mind making up shit to keep me up.
Closed my eyes for a bit. I didn’t think I slept at all, but maybe I did. If I didn’t, then the time flew by. Half an hour – which felt like ten minutes – later, I had to piss again. Out of bed, out of the warm covers and into the frigid temperature of a room without heating in a New England winter. Didn’t hear it at all on my way to the bathroom. Didn’t even hear it when I was in there, until I started peeing.
A squeak. Or a squawk. Maybe a scream.
I didn’t want to turn on the light, of course. I had work, I wanted to sleep, I didn’t want to jolt my senses awake by turning on the light. But this was bothering me. Where the fuck was it coming from?
I began to wonder if it was awakened, made active, by me being in the bathroom. Maybe it couldn’t make a sound when I was silent, trying to hear, because it thought I wasn’t there.
“It”? Why the fuck was I already assigning a definite article to it – to the sound, or the origin of the sound.
I winced, and turned on the light, in that order. Once the pain resided enough that I could open them fully, I searched around the bathroom for the origin of the noise. Nothing in the sink, nothing in the toilet, not at the window or heating strip, no immediately obvious origin.
I turned around.
I never really like having areas in a room that I can’t see into. Like a closet. It’s always open if I have my way. I want to be fully aware of my surrounding.
For this reason, I don’t really like having the shower curtain pulled while I’m in there, particularly when I’m in a mentally compromised state, when paranoia and superstition flows easier than usual.
So I pulled it. I almost surprised myself with how fast and violently I pulled it back. I yanked it, I threw it. It was like ripping of a bandaid.
But I still couldn’t tell. It seemed like it had maybe gotten louder, but I wasn’t sure. I put my ear next to the drain, and all I heard was a gurgle. But a gurgle could easily be explained, it was a drain after all, gurgles did happen in them.
So I left the bathroom, with the curtain open, and returned to bed. The whole ordeal had taken my mind off sleeping enough that I passed out soon after without much trouble. Or maybe it was just that I didn’t want to return to the bathroom. Maybe the thought of the sound made me wince and I was ashamed of that. Maybe I feared that gurgle was more than just the plumbing.
But I like to think it was just that I didn’t need to piss any more.
Different day, same problem. Same drinking, too. That night was so quiet, the darkness amplifying the myriad sounds with no origin, little creaks and thumps and squeaks. It must have been the snow, we had gotten about half a foot that day and everything always seemed so much quieter when there was a layer of snow outside, muffling some sounds and letting others shine through, simultaneous earmuff and megaphone.
I dozed off for a bit before my bladder set off an alarm and I crawled out of bed, longing to return to the warm blankets. The sleep-drug drained out of me as I walked, and I was fully awake once I sat on the pot. My chin on my hands, glaring at the shower curtain, swearing this would be the last time I got up to piss.
And there it was again. The squeak. And wouldn’t you know it, the goddamn shower curtain was pulled again. Once I finished pissing, I washed my hands and turned to face the curtain. At this point I still hadn’t turned the light on, and I wasn’t planning on doing so. Getting up may have killed my sleep-drug buzz, but there was still a bit of the fuzz left, the blurring of senses necessary for our bodies to relinquish control to our unconscious minds. Turning on the lights would have expunged what little of that was left.
I yanked the shade back once more. I don’t know why I was so sure that the shower was the origin of the sound now, but I was. I felt that, simply on the basis of the shower being hidden from me, it had to be the origin.
And there was something, there, coming out of the drain. Something small. Could have been a bug. A long bug, and a big one too. Maybe. Like a really fat millipede. I leaned closer.
Another squeak, and it moved. But not the whole thing, just the end, waving and twitching around like…
And I saw it. They were fingers waving. A hand and arm. A small one, of course, but a hand and arm nevertheless, coming out of the drain, flopped over on the bottom of the tub.
I had the sudden urge to drain all sleep-drug from me at once. One can never truly trust their senses when so inhibited. Of course, I was still drunk, that sort of groggy, post-high drunk that leaves you dejected. But that wasn’t mind twisting, that wouldn’t make me see things, but my own mind would. I turned on the light and kept my eyes open, refusing to wince.
But now, in full lighting, it was all the more horrible. Before the light was turned on there was some plausible deniability of its existence, but now, in the sharp fluorescent light, it, with its apparently translucent white skin and grey veins, presented its existence as an undeniable fact.
I went over to it and, through a facecloth – I didn’t know what this was, of course – nudged the arm. It listlessly swung back around, fingers groping for what had just moved it. It squeaked. And cooed.
This had, again, taken my mind off sleep, so it was only then, when I was thinking it over, that I fell asleep easily. It was only in the morning that I had to rationalize it.
Well, perhaps “rationalize” isn’t quite the right word. In the face of paranormal events, superstition and irrational theories take hold.
I’ve always liked to masturbate in the shower. I’m one of those freaks that likes to be standing up. But beyond that, it’s also a lot cleaner and simpler. Jizz just goes straight down the drain. No problem.
So maybe it was my child. Plenty of my genetic data had slid down that drain, maybe it had, like, fertilized something. Maybe it had grown in that drain, surviving only on the scum and skin particles that were flushed down it. Regardless of what had happened, I was certain that it was my fault and, thereby, my duty.
I went downstairs, to the fridge, and got some milk. I was about to put it in a bottle – well, I didn’t have a baby bottle, but I did for some reason have a sippy cup that someone had left at my house – before remembering that you were supposed to warm it up or something. I heated it up, dipping my wrist into it to test the heat, something I remembered having seen my mother do for my younger brother, and brought it upstairs to the bathroom.The shower curtain was still pulled aside, of course. But the drain was empty. The normal things flashed through my mind, of course. Was it all a dream? Was I just drunk out of my skull?
But before long, surely awakened by my approach, the arm wriggled its way up into the tub again. The squeak sounded louder, or maybe closer, this time. I leaned over to look down the drain and found myself looking straight into the eye of the shower-baby. It blinked and cooed.
I only realized, then, that there was no way in hell that it would be able to drink out of this sippy cup. The spout on it was maybe half an inch, so it definitely wouldn’t reach. I got a rubber tube, one of those things that come with something or to connect something that you keep hold of just because someday it might have a use, and pulled it over the spout. The other end I dangled near the hand. It swung around, felt it, grabbed and missed, and finally got it, pulling it into the drain, apparently to its mouth to drink.
I kept this up for a few days. I didn’t know much of what else to do. I wasn’t ready for a child. I had realized this, myself, and consciously chosen to not pursue procreation until my living situation was a bit more stable. But I was fully convinced, now, that it was mine, in that way, and that this was now my unstable situation that I had to live with.
But imagine it. Imagine the horror when an ex-girlfriend tells you she’s pregnant, and thinks it’s yours. Then multiply it by a hundred and change it to a inanimate object and a paranormal fertilization. You can’t imagine it, I’m sure, but recognize its gravity.
As the days and weeks and months went on, it grew. It filled out its baby fat, its fingers lengthened, its squeaks turned to intermittent cooes and cries. And maybe it was just my biased perception, but it seemed to look more and more like I did in my baby photos. It had a bit of a personality, too. That was the hardest thing. Before individuality and distinctive features, there’s some plausible deniability to its humanity. It can just be a thing, an animal, a simple Homo sapiens. But once that individuality is seen, it becomes a person.
“Don’t name it, because then you won’t want to get rid of it”, after all.
I sometimes wriggled my fingers down the drain to pet its head. Its skin was soft, soft beyond belief. It was like the skin that is revealed when you pull off a layer of skin too soon.
Its skin hadn’t thickened, either. It was still that white, near-translucent color that exposed every vein, looking like one of those models that shows the human circulatory system.
I would say my sleep was better. My peace of mind wasn’t, of course, but I think that was, ironically, what had fixed my sleep. Getting to sleep was now the least of my worries.
One morning, I went in with a bottle and peered into the drain at him. But he wasn’t there. “Hey bud, where are you?” I asked. I heard a little shuffling beneath the tub, and a moment later his arm popped out of the hole, along with a faint coo. I held the bottle over the drain, so he could see what it was, then brought it down to his arm for him to pull down to drink from.
I wasn’t entirely sure how much milk was normal for a baby to drink. He was my firstborn, after all. But I had been giving him, oh, fifteen or so pint-sized bottles each day. And he sucked them down, too, finishing it off in just a minute or so. I knew burping babies after feeding them was something people did, but I obviously couldn’t manage that. He seemed to be managing it just fine, since I often heard a quiet burp come from the tub after feeding him.
My arm was aching from holding the bottle over the drain. I tried supporting the arm with my other, then tried holding the bottle with that hand, but had to reach over uncomfortably. I turned my body to make it easier, facing the door.
I heard a clunk behind me. At first I thought it was him – I had decided that “it” was a boy, my beautiful boy – but it couldn’t be. It had been a thud, not a vocalization. And a much larger, heavier sound than he could make.
It was the pipes. “The pipes,” I told him, assured him. I was no longer talking to him like you talk to an animal, a stream of consciousness where the tone is more important than the words. I was talking to him as one person to another. Or, more specifically, as father to son.
He didn’t seem concerned or in need of reassurance, though. At least, what little of his face I could see through the drain didn’t show that. He finished the bottle, let out an appreciative burp, and pulled his arm back down the drain.
I ended up inflating an air mattress and sleeping on it with a sleeping bag in the bathroom. Getting out of bed and going there every time he cried out was just getting to be too much. Ironically, though, my sleep – when I wasn’t brought awake by his miniature and muffled cries – was better than ever.
That may have been part of the reason I was feeling great. My life, outside of my home, hadn’t changed much. I was still going to work, and my coworkers had been noticing and enjoying my improved mood. I had broken up my lunch break into four parts, with each part giving me just enough time to get home, feed him, and maybe have a bite myself. Emphasis on maybe. I was getting thinner and thinner from overwork and little time to eat. Not that it particularly bothered me. I had been wanting to lose a little weight anyway, though I had been hoping to convert some of it into muscle instead of losing it altogether. I had stopped drinking, as well, so I wasn’t getting any empty calories to fill my love handles. I had to be a responsible father, after all.
Another morning I went in with his bottle, he was nowhere to be seen. I called out to him again, but this time his little arm didn’t present itself in response.
I didn’t know what to do. Babies had to eat, right? Like sometimes they’re fussy about it but they still need the nutrition. Unsure of how to proceed, I stuck my finger in the drain. decided, after the fact, that I did it because he might be asleep, and maybe my muffled voice through the tub wasn’t enough to wake him up. I felt him down there, though, his putty-soft skin and wriggling fingers. These fingers felt my much larger one and grabbed.
It wasn’t the sort of warm, damp hold of a normal baby’s hand, though. There was strength to it.
He started pulling. I thought, at first, that it was just a little tug. Maybe I partially convinced myself that it was his way of trying to show me that he appreciated my helping him. But it wasn’t. It was a yank, it was him trying to show that he owned me.
But no. It was just a baby trying his strength against his old man. Any other thoughts were just animalistic reactions to surprise. I pulled my finger out of the drain, and his hand came along. I traded my finger for the bottle and he sucked it down in no time.
Mothers look at their babies with admiration while feeding them. I had nothing to look at, so I just looked around the middle of the tub, where I imagined he’d be. This time, when I looked there, I noticed that the smooth porcelain had a defect I hadn’t seen before. A small bulge, maybe a few millimeters tall at its peak. I found it odd that I hadn’t seen it before, if not before his conception, then at least during the dozens of times I had knelt here to feed him.
I was awoken in the middle the night by a squeak. I rolled over onto my side and draped my arm over the edge of the tub.
“Hey bud, what’s up?” I asked him through my sleep-drunk haze. I didn’t feel his arm coming out of the drain, so I stuck my fingers back down the drain.
What he then let out sounded at first like a squeak, then a squeal, then a scream. His viselike fingers – much larger than I had remembered them from a few days ago – took my fingers for his own. Crushed them, probably breaking bone. I tried to pull my arm away, but he wasn’t letting go. I pulled, pulled, pulled so hard I was sure I’d rip my fingers off – and got free. I smacked at the light switch behind me until it turned on and felt the sleep-drug drain out of me as I looked at the tub once again.
His little arm – still little, but with muscles defined and baby fat gone – reached out of the drain and folded over the side. His muscles tensed and his arm rotated as he pulled himself out. He couldn’t fit, of course. That head, as soft as it was, wouldn’t be able to force its way through a drain hole half its size.
The floor of the tub buckled. The beginnings of a crack appeared on the preexisting weak spot of a bulge. The cracks suddenly spread through the rest of the porcelain, which shattered in a circle far larger than I imagined he was. Only the cast iron core existed now.
A tremendous force slammed into the iron floor from below, punching the bulge inta step. Again, and the metal tore open. Its arm snaked back out of the drain to assist its body in pulling through the tub’s new hole.
It lifted enough for the hand to grab the edge of the tub and hoist the rest of its body on the wall.
Well, I should clarify. I mean the rest of his body. The rest of its body was still sliding its way out from the opening in the floor of the tub.
I only saw now that the once thick iron pipe leading from the drain had been stretched thin into a sort of football-like shape to hold its mass.
I say “mass” now because I think calling it a body, as I did before, isn’t accurate. The word “body” implies some sort of form or order.
A channel was formed out of its mass that served as a pipe, through which all that entered the drain could leave. The skin on the inside of the channel was different from the rest. It was porous, with a texture somewhat like tastebuds on a tongue.
The majority of its skin was an ashy, deep red. Streaks of purple, veins I assumed, crisscrossed along its surface. The closest thing in the human experience I can compare the texture of its skin to would be cellulite. Where cellulite is typically just found in specific locations, the back of thighs and buttocks, it covered the whole of its body, up to the start of his body. His body, with his translucent, milky skin, sprouted out of the top of the cellulite worm, at a slight angle. The only other interruptions in its mass were two little lumps coming out of its sides, with five littler nubs extending from each. It was hard to tell, with the way it was writhing and flopping about, but I thought I saw those nubs wiggle in a disgustingly familiar way.
It had worked its mass onto the wall of the tub, and with one final push against the corpse of the tub, threw itself over the side to flop onto the ground. Instinctively, I reached out to cushion his head against the hard ground.
He let out a cry. Not a cry of anger or sadness, but a baby’s cry. A cry for attention or care or food. I looked my boy in the eye, or both eyes, for the first time. He let out another that died to a whimper. He closed his eyes and went silent.
Its mass, which had been flipping and twisting, slowed and relaxed into the floor. I pulled my air mattress over and laid his head on it.
He came out too soon. Why a baby can be born too early, why it doesn’t have an instinct to stay in until it is developed enough to survive in harsh outside world, is beyond me. Or maybe the effort of breaking out of the tub did it.
I didn’t know where to go from there. I mourned him. I didn’t mourn it, I didn’t want to think about it. I mourned him every night, when I laid awake in bed. I found, sometimes, that I could go sleep on the bathroom floor when my bed offered no rest.