Jessica couldn't believe what she was seeing. There, in the soft yellow glow of the bathroom's light, was a veritable mockery of her sanity, a test of her compassion for fellow human beings.
Particularly the one she loved most: her husband Fred.
Disgusted, Jessica reached forward, and being careful not to touch anything that shouldn't be touched, gently closed the toilet seat.
"Men!" she groaned under her breath. "They're pigs, slobs who know better than to leave their mess in the toilet without flushing."
With her finger on the lever she hesitated. If she flushed the toilet it might back up and then where would she be? Since she was the only one home she'd have to clean the mess up herself.
Not an option.
Annoyed, she lifted the seat and snatched the plunger from its spot next to the toilet. She avoided looking into the bowl as much as she could but couldn't help catching a glimpse of its foul contents.
A seamless mass of brown sludge, ever so delicately draped with a sodden layer of nearly-transparent toilet paper, sat in the nook of the bowl like a giant ameba, formless in its shape, and yet distinct in the space it occupied. Tiny specks of residual fecal matter dotted the underside of the rim, apparently having escaped any discharge from the drainage holes.
Jessica diverted her gaze from the horror in the toilet. She felt her gorge rising but suppressed it. Just the thought of vomit mixed with Fred's mess was not something she cared to see.
"Let's get this over with," she mumbled and shoved the plunger straight into the heart of the stuff, and a few quick jabs later the mess was sucked down into watery oblivion.
Breathing a sigh of relief Jessica closed the lid and promptly washed her hands, all the while vowing to have a little talk with Fred when he got home from work.
A strange noise echoed in the bathroom, jarring Jessica from her thoughts. She dried her hands and turned in the direction of the noise. She traced the sound to its apparent origin, and with bated breath, reached for the lid of the toilet.
A glob of feces occupied the bowl.
"You've got to be kidding me," she said with disgust. "Now we have problems with the pipes?" She slammed the lid shut and stormed out of the room to fetch her cell phone. She was going to call Fred and tell him to get his butt home. If there was a clog somewhere it could overflow the toilet, causing God-only-knew what to cascade into the house.
"Hello, Fred? We have a problem here. There's a..."
"Jessica, I was getting ready to call you. I'll be home late. I've got an appointment with Dr. Paye at four."
Jessica stopped her tirade. "An appointment? Why? What's wrong?"
"I've been getting abdominal pains for the past few days. I didn't want to worry you so I tried laxatives and increasing my fiber, but nothing helps."
Jessica fell silent.
"I know I'm backed up, but I figured I'd play it safe and get myself checked out."
"Backed up?" The words dribbled out of Jessica's mouth.
"Yeah. I haven't had a bowel movement since last week."
Jessica turned and faced the bathroom. The cell phone dangled in her hand as she approached the room, her eyes glued to the toilet, or more precisely: the toilet seat. Any movement would not have gone unnoticed.
She stepped through the doorway. Fred's voice rattled on from the phone but seemed miles away. She held her breath and reached for the lid.
"Jessica? I have to get back to work."
She lifted the seat and peered into the watery chasm.
* * * *
Fred set his briefcase down and slipped his shoes off. He felt both relieved and worried. The doctor gave him a strong laxative and a prescription for fiber supplements, telling him everything checked out otherwise, but he was worried about Jessica. She didn't answer his calls. So he had rushed home right from the doctor's office, anxious to make sure she was all right.
"Jessica? I'm home. Jessica?"
He took a tentative step forward and was hit by an overpowering aroma. Its oily stench permeated his senses, causing him to wince in disgust.
He clenched his fists and ventured down the hallway toward the origin of the smell. The bathroom door was half open, revealing a darkened room cloaked in shadows.
Fred nudged the door open while doing his best to ignore the odor. It smelled like raw sewage floating in blood.
He reached for the light switch but a sudden noise froze his hand. It was the sound of the toilet lid closing. A light squeak as the plastic nuts and bolts turned in their seats echoed in the darkened bathroom, plunging the scene into utter mystery.
Fred forced himself to flip the light switch on and immediately his eyes fastened on the toilet. He watched, dumbfounded, confused, and above all: frightened as a pair fingers slipped past the rim with a sudden jerk. They were a woman's fingers, and he caught a glimpse of a wedding band on one of them.
Jessica's wedding band.
He flung the seat open, nearly snapping the hinges in the process, and there at the bottom of the bowl sat a lump of feces.
He stared at the mess, lost for words, his mind trying desperately to wrap itself around a variety of ridiculous and terrifying explanations.
Movement caught his eye and he focused on the source of it: near the top of the mass. A slit opened then, revealing a yellowish orb that worked its way outward. A black spot rolled across its surface, temporarily obscured by the fluttering on either side of it, which cleaned way residual fecal matter and water.
The eyeball fixed its gaze on the man standing above it.
Fred recoiled from the horrid impossibility before him. His stomach churned from the sight, rendering him nauseous, and he had to force the contents of it to stay put. He reached for the handle, ignoring the fact that by flushing the toilet he would also be sending whatever remained of Jessica down the drain.
Regardless, he pushed the lever down and watched the mess swirl into oblivion. A terrible feeling of loss overcame him then, crippling any rational thought or action and causing him to slump to the floor. What the thing in the toilet was he couldn't begin to guess.
Was it some type of creature spawned in the sewers?
Unlikely, but possible.
Who really knew?
Forcing himself to his feet Fred turned on the sink faucet and collected water in his cupped hands. He splashed it on his face, reveling in the cool cleansing power of the liquid.
Opening his eyes he took a deep breath.
"Jessica?" he called out when he heard a noise from another part of the house. It came from the kitchen. "Honey? Are you home?"
Silence choked off his words.
He hesitated, unsure what to do. The noise sounded like water being poured down a drain and he wondered if Jessica was using the sink. He straightened up and listened.
Then he heard another sound, this time much closer, so close all he had to do to investigate was lower his head and look down.
The mass surged up from the drain, snapping the stopper in two as it rapidly filled the bowl. A damp heat radiated outward from its slimy bulk.
Fred was transfixed by the sight. He instinctively took a step back but wasn't quick enough to escape the thrashing tendril that shot out of the sludge and wrapped around his neck. He was pulled with bone-jarring force down into the sink, mercifully losing consciousness before he was reduced to a gory pulp and sucked into the drain.
And in the house sounds welled up from drains. The kitchen, the second bathroom, the laundry room, all churned out a slushy cacophony that spawned from the depths of the sewers as the foul inhabitants lurking there slithered toward the light of day.