Short Story. Bathtime. ( conclusion)

All I had in the kitchen that might work was bleach. I took the two tea towels from the oven door and soaked them in neat bleach, trying not to get any on my hands. Then, holding the dry ends, I rolled them up and pressed them under the bathroom door.

Then I pushed the waste bin up against the towels and put the kitchen stools in front of it. Only a strong, determined, creature could get past that lot.

I left the bedroom door open while I dressed – in more layers than I had intended, and put on heavy shoes instead of my fluffy slippers. As I did so I heard Bert’s key in the door. What would he say when he saw the barrier I had erected in front of the bathroom? He could be in urgent need of the toilet. I shivered at the thought of his anger.

“What the hell’s all this?” he shouted from the hall.

“Don’t go in there – there’s a snake loose. It was in the bath.” I called out to him as if I cared- but something was making me feel the fates were on my side. My mean spirited husband was about to meet the devil monster and all I could think was that he deserved it.

“You’re senile, woman. Why did you do that?”

“I thought it might get out.”

He shifted the stools and kicked the material away from the door, flinging it open.I didn’t know whether to stay and watch or hide in the bedroom. I took the coward’s way out and waited, and waited. At first all was quiet.

Then there came a horrible scream and lots of splashing. I blocked my ears. Was this what I had expected or had I thought it was my imagination, or the result of the pills I had to take?

I shuddered and pushed open the bedroom door. The smell of burning intensified.I remembered what Bert had said, “What the hell is all this?” as I tiptoed towards the bathroom.The brown water had drained away leaving a nasty stain on the enamel but there was no sign of my husband, or the snake – just a pair of brown boots by the side of the bath.

I can’t imagine what had happened to him but he hasn’t come back so, you see, I no longer have a carer and I really can’t manage on my own.

Short Story. Bathtime (Part 3.)

Shivering with fright I pushed myself up on my elbows – but I could not balance well enough to stand. I would have to turn onto my knees. I gritted my teeth, twisted round and lifted one leg, then the other, over the side of the bath. I was crying now and my breath was coming in great gasps. Grabbing the towel from the heated rail I wrapped it around me.

I felt compelled to look for the snake. It had vanished. Frozen with fear I realised it must have come out of the tap and dropped into the water. If it was in the bath surely it could slide up the side and go anywhere? I needed to know where it was before I left the bathroom. The best I could hope for was that I could trap it in that room.

Yet I was afraid to look into the bath. All the water was a dirty reddish brown now and it was impossible to see if anything was moving in it. I was tempted to pull out the plug but did not dare reach over to do so in case the thing reared up to strike.

The tap was dripping now. There was no more smoke but the room still smelled as if something was burning. Was there anything I could put in the water to disable the creature? I had toilet cleaner, but that would not be strong enough. I was also getting very cold.

I looked at the bathroom door. Would it be enough to hold a snake or would the creature be able to slither underneath? There was a gap – but perhaps if I got out I could block it with something.

There was a ripple from the bath water and I could stand it no longer. I pulled at the door, raced out and slammed it shut. What could I find to block the gap? I felt I had to act fast but I also felt angry and spiteful. I wanted it to be something that would hurt or kill the creature – not merely a towel or a draught excluder. This was more than a draught – this was a nightmare!

Short Story. Bathtime(Part 2)

Something black seemed to be poking out of the tap. I watched, mesmerised, not believing what I was witnessing. Was it a piece of rubber washer, or something alive? Surely it was just an old twig that had fallen into the water tank and become dislodged?

Then, as it emerged, I realised it was a snake, but not the kind of snake I recognised. It wasn’t green, or patterned – it was almost black, but with a strange rusty sheen. Sticks do not wave their heads in the air; sticks do not have tongues that flick.

More of the snake was coming out of the tap. If I was to escape I would have to move now, quickly, something I had not done for years. Normally I would clamber onto my knees to get out of the bath – ┬ábut that meant turning my back on the creature. The handle on the wall was half way down the bath, too far to reach safely. There was no use shouting, no-one would hear me. I had to keep my eyes on the swaying head of the snake and ease myself up to lean on the back wall. My legs ached as I strained to keep my balance. I prayed the mat would stop my feet from slipping under me.

Most of the snake was visible now – and dark red liquid was pouring from the tap into the bath, turning the water brown. I clutched at the shower curtain and the pole shifted and creaked. It would not take my weight. I would have to climb out.

Short Story( part 1)

Bathtime

Could you help me? I wasn’t supposed to take a bath when Bert was out of the bungalow but whenever I asked him to help he always complained that I should use the shower, as he did. “Great White Whale” was one of the kindest names he called me.

I put in plenty of water and a generous dollop of bath essence and stepped in carefully, holding onto the handle on the wall. Then I lowered myself down – with the usual splash as my backside hit the protective mat.

The water was warm and soothing as, leaning back, I braced myself for the cold enamel surface and then closed my eyes and let my legs stretch out. The scented bubbles hid most of my wrinkled body but I had to frown at the pale pink mound that was my stomach. This was more than middle-aged spread. This was old woman’s flabbiness.

I lifted my feet out of the water and looked at my toes. The nails were yellow and rough. I needed to see someone about them.

I was getting cool so I bent forward to add more hot water. Then, taking the soap from the dish I began to wash myself, slowly and deliberately, enjoying the peace and relaxation.

It was when I looked up to add more water that I noticed something strange about the cold tap. It seemed to be smoking. A thin wisp of white mist was rising from the mouth of the tap and there was a peculiar metallic smell in the air.

I watched as the smoke rose, curling towards the ceiling, hoping it would stop – but another puff emerged and headed upwards.

I was afraid to lean forwards and turn the tap. Instead, I pulled my legs in, raising my knees, and waited for the mystery to resolve itself.