Snake the Drain
The bathroom sink wasn’t draining, again. I spat out my toothpaste with a resigned groan and leaned over the counter to peer down the drain. I couldn’t see very far into the dark pipe as a cluster of bubbles shone up at me from about three—maybe four—inches inside the drain.
I figured that there was some kind of blockage underneath the suds, so I fished around in the bathroom drawer for the drain auger and fed the rusted drain snake into the pipe. It was no use; I couldn’t get the thing past those dark shiny bubbles blocking up the plumbing. The auger pressed up against something soft, squishy, but unyielding. Strange, I thought, that usually works. This must be a different problem than before.
I grabbed a flashlight from my storage closet, switched it on, and brought it into the bathroom. I shone the light into the drain and peered over the counter again. In a fraction of a second, the bubbles ceased their shining, transforming into little black beady orbs. I then jumped back, as I heard a horrible struggle coming from beneath the dark bubbles, a scratching, clawing, desperate set of sounds echoing loudly within the pipes, then followed a series of bangs as something heavy fell deep into the twists and turns of the plumbing below.
Panicked, I stuffed the drain tightly with toilet paper, no sewer rat makes sounds like that—nothing makes sounds like that. I called the landlord to get a real plumber to come down and fix whatever was ruining my sink once and for all. He told me that his plumber didn’t work on weekends, so I would have to wait for her until Monday. There was nothing left to do but kick around the apartment until then.
On Sunday evening, I sat alone on my living room couch, tired eyes fixed to the flickering television lighting up the dim room. By 11:30 p.m., the soft mutterings of old re-runs had lulled me to sleep.
Tip-tap, tip… tip-tap, hsss, tap-tap.
I awoke a few hours later to little tapping sounds. As I stirred, the sounds abruptly stopped. I scanned the room but saw nothing out of the ordinary. I got up from the couch to fetch a glass of water from the kitchen. Upon my return to the living room, I paused, despite the darkness of the room, I could make out something long, black, and covered in fibres protruding from behind the couch. After freezing for a moment, I took a step forward.
I stopped, watching in horror as the mysterious appendage extended further out from behind the couch.
“A… a tail?” I thought to myself. Had some feral raccoon found its way into my home?
If only I were so lucky. Slack-jawed, I watched as a second and then a third hairy appendage slipped out from behind the couch.
Without warning, the beast revealed itself in full form, skuttling loudly and quickly onto the ceiling, beady eyes staring down at me. A spider, a spider the size of a cat—a big cat. It had long black fangs that shone the same way that its eyes did.
I stumbled out of the living room and into my bedroom and started stuffing my duffle bag with clothes before running to the door.
Realizing I had left my medication lying on the bathroom counter, I darted down the hall, into the bathroom, and stuffed the lid onto the open pill bottle. Throwing the bottle into my bag, I ran back down the hall, into the corridor, down the stairs, and into the street.
I couldn’t go back home and risk running into that monster again. So, I booked a hotel for two nights. I got under the warm, fresh, hotel sheets, and slept for a long while.
When I awoke, the sun was shining, and last night’s affairs seemed like a dream or a distant memory. I slowly sipped coffee, nibbled on breakfast, brushed my teeth, and fetched the bottle of pills from my bag. I twisted off the lid and glanced into the bottle, where my pills had once been, there was nothing but little black beady orbs shining up at me, sinisterly.
“Okay, he’s in bed. Fire it up!” Dad whispers as he shuts my little brother’s bedroom door. The upstairs landing creaks as he tiptoes down to the main floor. I move from my usual spot on the couch and slide the DVD into the Xbox. The TV springs to life.
“Your brother just went to sleep. Can you turn it down?” Mom asks. I race to the remote and lower the volume, just enough so that the sound doesn’t carry up to my brother’s bedroom.
Dad walks into the room balancing three bowls of freshly popped popcorn in his arms. Mom curls up in her favourite corner of the couch with the red-and-white checkered blanket we always fight over. The fireplace under the TV crackles, fizzling from a lack of attention.
“I can’t believe you agreed to watch this, Mom.” I smile. Dad and I are total horror movie junkies and have been begging her to watch one on Film Friday for months. He introduced me to Child’s Play at the age of 12, and from there, I was hooked. Normally we watch horror movies after Mom has gone to bed for the night, but after much coaxing and bribery with snacks, she agreed to switch up the normal routine of a comedy or a TV show.
“If I don’t like it, I’ll go read, and you two can finish it.” Mom glances at me as she scatters pieces of popcorn on the floor for our dog to munch on.
“It’s only rated 14A. It’ll be fine.”
The TV switches from an endless stream of commercials to the main menu. The name Annabelle in tattered red lettering appears on the screen. I press play and grab the less-coveted black blanket that sits on the ottoman. I nestle myself back into the beige cloth couch. Eerie music plays as the screen fades to black.
“I don’t think I like this. Maybe we should choose something else.” Dad hugs a pillow. I smile.
“What’s wrong with you? You love horror movies. Plus, the movie isn’t even rated R. Even Mom is brave enough to watch it.” I say, intermittently licking the cheese powder from my popcorn off my fingers.
“Hey! I don’t have to watch this with you. I wanted to watch that new Jumanji movie.” Mom pouts. The screen diverts to a paragraph detailing the history of dolls.
“I’m telling you; I don’t like this.” Dad squirms, curling his knee up and wrapping one arm around his raised leg.
“Isn’t that uncomfortable?” I stare at his pretzeled position.
“It’s alright. At least the dolls won’t get me this way. My leg is a shield.”
“Okay then. Whatever you say.” I shake my head and shift my attention to the TV, where we’re being introduced to the unfortunate pregnant lady at the movie’s centre. We watch as she shakes her husband awake, letting him know that there are screams coming from next door.
Our room falls silent.
The woman on the screen inches to the window.
Dad grimaces and pulls the pillow up over his face just enough for his eyes to peek over the edge.
A gust of air blows the curtains in her face. The music swells to emulate it.
Dad’s bowl of popcorn flies upwards as he gasps, the bowl clattering as it hits the floor.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. There were scarier scenes in Finding Nemo!” Popcorn spills all over my lap as my body shakes with laughter. Mom tries to hide her smile.
“It’s not funny! I just wasn’t ready for that, okay?” Dad recoils into the blankets. We all turn our attention back to the movie, trying to piece together what we’ve missed.
The woman is in an office, across the hallway from her baby’s nursery. A sewing machine rattles on its own in the corner of the room. She runs to turn it off. As she moves, a little girl is revealed to be standing in front of the crib where her baby sleeps. She wears a flowy white nightgown, her hands neatly placed at her sides. The little girl giggles. Her face sinks. She rotates on her heels.
“Who are you?” She stammers. The door to the hallway begins to close. The little girl darts towards the main character. She slams into the door. The innocent-looking little girl has now transformed into a haggard woman. Her eyes are empty black pools, devoid of all feeling. Wiry black hair dances as she moves across the room. The skin on her face is grey. It droops off her bones in long rolls, like the face of an English bulldog, but definitely not anywhere near that realm of cute. Her stomach is hollowed out, blood seeping out of the hole. She lunges.
Dad shoots up from his seat. “That’s it! Finish it without me. I can’t sit through this anymore. I’ll be downstairs if you need me.” He slinks off into the basement.
I pause the movie and turn to Mom. “I didn’t think it was that bad. Do you think something’s wrong?” Mom moves as though she’s going to get up, but I shake my head.
“I’m sure he’s fine. He’s just being dramatic. We watched Sinister last week, and it was much worse than this. People’s heads were ripped off with lawn mowers. I’m sure he’s fine.” Mom hesitates, stands, then retreats into the couch. She pulls the blankets back up to cover her whole body. We return to the movie, where the main character is backed into a corner.
“Good night, Mom.” I wave as I make my way up the stairs.
The upstairs landing is almost pitch black. I pull my phone out of my jean pocket so that I can use its flashlight feature. I reach my door and push it open. The light from my phone illuminates my bedroom’s parquet flooring. My free hand fumbles up the side of my wall, searching for the switch. The flashlight hits something other than the floor, a glint of light reflecting into my eyes. I glance over. In the midst of darkness, I see black hair. Curly, wiry black hair.
I turn on the light.
Standing in the middle of my bedroom floor is a classic Victorian doll, complete with a stitched-up face and hollowed-out eye sockets. The phone light centres in on the abysses that are carved out where the eyes should be. Wiry black hair puffs out of her skull. Her white, flowy nightgown is met with a lifeless, grey complexion. My heart stops, and I raise my hands to cover my mouth. I know I can’t scream. My brother is asleep. I can’t wake him up. My body compensates by sending a stream of tears down my face. I hold my breath and slowly back out of the room. Pressure builds up in my skull as I’m overcome with a full-face case of blushing fear.
Giggles echo behind me. I turn to see Dad, standing at the bottom of the stairs. His face is bright red from laughter.
“I thought you weren’t scared.” He convulses as he struggles for air, moving his hands to clutch his stomach. I employ the rail as a crutch, pulling myself over to see him.
“I… I… I hate you.” I shuffle to my mother’s bedroom. There is no way I will sleep in my room tonight.
“Are you okay honey?” Mom, who is already snuggled into bed, places a tissue in the crease of her book, closes it, and sets it on her bedside table.
“Movie get to you?”
“Uh huh.” I slip myself into the bed, wrap myself in the covers, and bury my head under a pillow.
Mom flips off the lamp next to her bed. Dad can have the couch tonight.