He woke up, momentarily confused as to where he was, and what was beside him. Shaking his head, he made out the softly breathing form of his wife, and on the other side the small, pale outline of his son. He stood, all of three years old, holding a small blanket and fidgeting slightly. His father rolled to his side, looking at the small boy, managing a sleepy smile.
“Hey big boy.”
“I need to use potty.”
He sighed, laying back down. This had been going on too long. Finally potty trained (mostly), the boy had the odd quirk of not wanting to be alone in the bathroom. Ever. His wife kept saying it was harmless, but it still seemed odd.
“Bubba, you can just go use the potty.”
The little boy shook his head with all the seriousness a three year old can muster.
“Need daddy. Come with me.”
He closed his eyes, breathing slowly. He had to be up in three hours, still had to find something for lunch…he was tired, deeply tired. He looked back at his son, whispering in the dark.
“Little boy, you need to go use that potty now. It's-”
“But I need-”
“No buts, go in there, use the potty and go back to bed now. Do you understand?”
The little boy nodded slowly, sniffling and stepping slowly from the bedroom.
He lay back, trying to recover sleep, nearly there when his wife mumbled sleepily “muhp. Wha was that?”. He sighed, closing his eyes harder. “It was just the boy, he needed to go potty”.
She sat up a bit, looking to him. “You didn't go with him?”
“No, I didn't. He's too big to still be doing this, there's no reason.”
“He just gets nervous, you know that. He's still just a little boy.”
He sighed hard, sinking in to the bed slightly, knowing what was coming next. Never mind he had to work, or was tired, or hadn't been able to get to bed until late, or-
“can you go check on him?”
“Please go check on him.”
“Mrrr…ok, hold on.”
He slid from the bed, the air in the house icy compared to the bed. He stumbled, wedging open the barest slit of one eye, in the hopes of making the dive back to sleep easier. He walked slowly, navigating more by memory and some kind of sixth sleep-sense then any kind of light. He brushed the hallway walls, working down to the dark bathroom doorway, where
The boy wouldn't so much as think about entering any kind of dark room. Even a thick blanket over his head was enough to worry him. Why would he leave the light off? As he got closer, the smell hit him like a fist. He sighed, rubbing his eye. Yeah, there we go…the light burned out, and he missed the potty, or got so scared he just went in his pants…throw him in the tub, maybe? God, he had to be up in like…two hours now, may as well just stay-
The bathroom was a nightmare.
Even in the dim half-light, he could see the walls, floor, ceiling…everything was splattered and oozing with…something. He coughed, gagging slightly on the reeking stink. It smelled like shit, yes, but also something rotten, fermented…and something sharp as well. He reached for the light switch, fumbling through a clump of cold, damp grime to flick the switch. The light was dimmed by the spray of reeking slime, but it showed the bathroom well enough. Everything was coated in gray-black ooze, much of it looking like shit, but some was much less identifiable. He looked around, in shock, trying to somehow piece out what happened when he heard the clunk.
He nearly screamed at the sudden sound, recoiling back in to the hall. He stared in to the room, blinking dumbly in to the sudden silence. Then, again…thunk. The toilet seat flicked up, maybe a inch, and clunked back down. Like it was being bumped from underneath. From inside the bowl. He stared, watching it sit still for a few beats, then bump up again. Somewhere, his brain was chanting “where is my son” over and over, but it seemed remote, distant. Like a dream, he walked across the room, feeling the skin of oily slime ooze between his toes as he stood over the toilet and bent over to open it, feeling oddly resigned.
The bowl was empty of water, with only a thick caking of foul grime and what looked like blood sticking to the porcelain. At the bottom, where the water drained, there was a small, pink forearm ending in a small, pink hand. It was reaching up, grasping in the air, trying to reach anything.
It was missing two fingers, the ragged stumps bleeding thinly.
It was his son's hand.
He fell forward, yelping a inarticulate cry of shock, and grabbed the small hand. It flexed, gripping tight, the sound of soft thumping from deeper in the pipes. He stared, holding that small hand, swallowing and trying to say something, managing only a croaking sound. Suddenly, his son's broken, torn hand clenched down hard, and ripped away, vanishing down the pipe with a scrape. There was a sound from the pipe, it was unclear, but he would swear that it was a wailed “daddy” until his dying day.
He fell to the ground, sitting and staring in to the toilet like a drunk, the reeking, befouled bathroom a million miles away. He started down the empty, blank drain of the bowl, unable to even think of a curse, a question, anything to carve some kind of sense out of this.
He was still there, staring, when his wife rose to check on him.