The Pit

Posted: March 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

#ShortStorySunday

I was an avid outdoor enthusiast who loved everything outhouse-oldabout being in the woods: trees, fresh air, campfires and best of all, peace and quiet. Dirt, wildlife, tents, and pit toilets were all part of the experience. I’ll admit that having to use rustic restroom facilities were not my favorite part of camping but they never bothered me that much; that was, until I encountered the thing in the outhouse.

I stumbled down the path half-asleep one night sometime around three am, flashlight in hand in hopes that I wouldn’t trip and do a face-plant in the dirt. I locked myself inside the tiny wooden house and avoided looking into the hole beneath the seat before and after doing my business. I mean, who would want to see what was down there? Everybody knows what’s down there and it’s not pleasant.

When I was finished, I discovered to my horror that the lock was stuck. I set the flashlight on top of the toilet paper roll so I could use both hands to jiggle it loose. It really was stuck. The rusted bolt began to inch back slightly as I worked it back and forth. It was then that I heard a noise coming from behind me… or more specifically, below me.

I froze, holding my breath so I could listen carefully. Was there a wild animal outside the outhouse, waiting for me to free myself from one predicament just to stumble into even greater peril?

Silence.

Then I heard it again. A wet, sucking sound, followed by what sounded like a wheeze – laborious breath drawn into a congested pair of lungs.

I reached a shaking hand toward my flashlight, afraid to take my eyes off of the black hole I knew was the toilet pit. I fumbled and the flashlight fell to the floor with a loud THUMP. Then the light went out.

I froze again, listening for sounds from below.

Nothing.

I squatted, groping around on the floor for the flashlight. I bit back a scream when my hand touched something soft and wet.

Please let that be a slug or some mud! I begged inside my mind.

My fingers found the smooth metal cylinder of the flashlight, and I nearly wept from relief. The bottom had popped off and the batteries had come loose when it fell. I found the bottom and put the flashlight back together. I pressed the switch and it worked.

Do I even want to look?

I had to look. I knew I had no choice. If I was going to spend the night trapped in the shithouse, I at least needed to know whether or not I was alone in there. I shone the light into the pit.

The sight I beheld was the usual thing one might expect to see in the pit of an outdoor toilet – a mountain of stuff most foul, with bits of tissue embedded here and there. As nasty as it was, the sight comforted me because it was normal. Nothing moved and all was quiet.

Relieved, I once again turned my attention to the stubborn door lock and managed to work it loose. I opened the door a crack and peered out cautiously. I swept the flashlight beam across the path. If the noises hadn’t come from inside the pit, then whatever had made them might still be out there, waiting… I envisioned a Grizzly bear, sitting behind the outhouse, licking his chops as he waited for me to become his dinner.

Slurp. Suck. Wheeze.

There it was again! The sound had definitely come from behind me. I turned to face the toilet pit once again, keeping my foot braced against the door to prevent it from swinging shut. I leaned over and tentatively shone my light into the hole, preparing to look in again.

Whatever was down there didn’t like the light, from the frantic slapping, slopping noise it made. If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone had thrown a live trout down the hole.

I leaned over and looked. I saw nothing at first, then caught slight movement at the edge of the hole, near the base of Mount Feces. I followed it with the light as it burrowed into the muck. The thing was about the size of a toddler, plump and pink-bodied with a long ratlike tail. Some kind of hairless mutant sewer rat? It was too big to be a rat. It was probably a stupid idea, but I needed to see. I stamped my foot on the floor to get its attention. It stopped burrowing and turned to look up at me, face and… hands? covered in filth. The tail was where its resemblance to a rat ended. The face was rounded, almost human looking, with a scowl to rival the fiercest gargoyle. The thing withdrew from its burrow and, making that slappy-sloppy fish-out-of-water sound, it scuttled up the side of Mount Feces, toward my light.

I knew I should stop shining the light on it and get out of there. Somewhere in the back of my mind, logic screamed at me to run away as far and as fast as possible, but my body refused to listen. I stared, captivated, as the thing crouched on top of the shit-pile and raised a pale, bony arm. It reached toward the top of the hole as if hoping to grab the edge and pull itself out. The pit wasn’t full enough; it still fell several feet short of touching the edge of the toilet seat or possibly giving someone’s ass an unexpected tickle.

It wheezed a wet, whistly breath and then it spoke. The words were barely audible, but I swear it spoke to me.

“Feeeed meee,” it whispered, stretching its hand upward, long spidery fingers grasping but unable to reach.

If I hadn’t already used the toilet I probably would have done so right then and there.

Instead, I ran.

I packed my camping gear and drove away without waiting for sunrise. I was unable to explain my hasty departure to the group of friends I had been camping with, except to say that something urgent had come up. I warned them to stay away from that particular outhouse, using the excuse that I had seen a wasp nest in there.

As I drove down the highway into the dawn, I did some calculations in my head. The campground had about 150 sites, all occupied because it was the start of Labor Day weekend. By the end of the weekend, all of the pit toilets would be in dire need of pumping, but the truck probably wouldn’t arrive until midway through the following week. Plenty of time for the creature, whatever it was, to reach the rim of the hole and pull itself out.

I might camp again, someday.

But only in a campground with proper plumbing.

 

Copyright © 2014 Mandy White

 

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