Toilet Tom

Toilet Tom

*

The kid was weird. There was no which way about it: the kid was undeniably weird. He was the kind of weird even the mothers of other kids would talk about. They would whisper about him during the commercial breaks that divided Oprah into easily-digestible bits. They would discuss him while waiting in line at the super-market. They would shake their heads and make clucking sounds with their tongues over coffee and cigarettes. They all agreed: the kid was weird.

He was quiet, first of all. He rarely spoke and, when he did, he only seemed to manage a gurgled whisper. His teacher, Mr. Franks, had given up trying to understand the boy days ago. He’d stopped calling upon him in class weeks ago.

Of course, the pains an eleven year-old boy might suffer at the hands of his teacher or his classmates’ parents were nothing compared to the tortures his classmates themselves could be trusted to impart.

Three boys in particular, had taken it upon themselves to ensure that the weird kid would not ever forget that he was generally disliked by the entire class. They were Greg Rutts, Vinny Pleasance and Brian Bellows. No member of the trio could be called a bad kid. In fact, they were generally good kids. Brian Bellows, in particular, had been taught by his parents at a young age that different did not mean bad. He knew that to dislike black people simply because they were black was wrong. He even understood that homosexuality, though weird as hell, was not a crime and nor should it be. However, like his friends, Brian Bellows was imbued with the eleven year-old’s inherent xenophobia and, hell, his parents had never said anything about liking half-mute weirdoes his own age.

The weirdo in question was Tom Pickins.

Tom had arrived at Port Saltsmouth Elementary just a touch over a month ago. His weirdness had been immediately apparent.

He was pale, gaunt. His cheeks were hollow, his lips thin, his eyes stared—always stared—from within two deep pools of blue-black shadow. He was narrow-shouldered and thin-limbed, but he carried a thick bicycle tire of fat around his waist. He was a physical conglomerate of everything that made a child the victim of school-yard taunts. Though he was thin, he was also fat; meaning a veritable cornucopia of insults could be levelled at him. Both “Fat Ass” and “Granny Arms” were equally applicable to poor Tom Pickins.

The strangest thing about young Pickins, though, was that he used the stalls.

As many elementary school teachers did, Mr. Franks preferred to take his students to the lavatory en masse, rather than allowing them to leave individually and at their leisure to relieve themselves. At specially-selected times of the day, usually before or directly after any given recess, all students were brought to the washrooms and given a full five minutes to do as nature required.

Over the whole month-plus Tom Pickins had spent at Port Saltsmouth Elementary, none of the male students had ever seen him use the urinals. While the other boys would quickly settle themselves before one of the twelve porcelain teardrops hanging off the wall, Tom would duck into one of the stalls where he would remain for the entire bathroom break’s duration.

For this reason, the boys had taken to calling him Toilet Tom. The name was quickly adopted by the school’s general population. Oddly, even frustratingly, Tom didn’t seem to care, or even notice.

It was a Friday when Greg decided that simple name-calling would not suffice. Fridays hold a special place in the hearts of all school-aged children. While the notion of TGIF was undoubtedly spawned by an adult, maybe a tired business man or an undergrad yearning for the first sip of a first beer, that deep respect for Friday was felt first and above all by a child. In fact, while adults develop the means to put Fridays out of their minds, while they are capable of working and functioning as though Friday were just any other day, to kids, Friday is an atmosphere that permeates every aspect of their being for a full twenty-four hours. Friday is, for lack of a less sexual term, foreplay. For this reason, Fridays will often give rise to both thoughts and actions which would be utterly impossible on any other day of the week. This is especially true where mischief is concerned.

It was under this influence that Greg Rutts outlined his plan. It was also under Friday’s influence that Vinny and Brian accepted to follow his plan to the letter.

*

Though the plan was conceived on a Friday, the three friends seated under the monkey-bars, it was on a Monday that the plan was to be put into action. Now, while Friday gives rise to impetuousness and creativity in a child, Monday only enhances his propensity for malice. Still running off the weekend’s near-supernatural energy, the kids are also resentful of having to return to school and often spoiling for a fight.

It was under this influence that the trio awaited the first of Monday’s bathroom breaks.

They glanced at each other. They glanced at the clock. They glanced at Toilet Tom.

Each fingered the object he carried in his right hand jeans’ pocket.

Finally, the time came and Mr. Franks announced that they would be allowed a bathroom break after recess. Recess was spent going over the plan. Each of the three boys had brought what he’d been expected to bring. Each of the boys was still prepared to go along with the plan. The plan, truth be told, was not an especially good one. But it must be remembered that this particular plan had been conceived by a trio of eleven year-olds drunk on the Friday spirit. So what could one expect, truly?

After recess, the kids were herded to the lavatories. Brian, Greg and Vinny watched as Tom, true to form, slipped into a stall. He’d chosen the handicap stall, which was perfect. It would allow the boys more room to operate. They waited, knowing Toilet Tom never left the stall until all other students had vacated the washroom. They stood silently, staring at the door.

Once the other students had left, Greg pulled the screwdriver from his pocket and knelt by the door to Tom’s stall. The boys had done their research. They knew that the schools’ bathroom door latches were poorly designed and offered only the most rudimentary form of privacy. With a screwdriver, anyone could easily twist the latch open from the outside. Of course, the designers of said mechanism had assumed that no sane person would ever want to unlatch a bathroom stall door from the outside . . . However, they had not taken pre-teen antagonism into account.

While Greg fit the head of his Phillips-head screwdriver into the exposed screw’s slot, Vinny pulled his mother’s tiny digital camera from his pocket and switched it on. For his part, Brian pulled his little sister’s old night dress from his pocket. It was thin and now hopelessly wrinkled.

The plan, such as it was, was to surprise Toilet Tom within his sanctum sanctorum and convince him, by any means necessary, to pull on the young girl’s garment, after which he would be photographed wearing the nightie. This would properly demonstrate that only girls, and boys who wore girls’ clothing, chose to use the stalls for every single occasion of urination and defecation.

The boys assumed that, given Tom’s quiet nature, he would not fight back and could be easily convinced to wear the girls’ clothing and pose for the picture. It was assumed that no yelling, screaming or fighting would accompany their demands. Tom seemed to be of a rather submissive type.

Once Brian and Vinny signalled their respective readiness, Greg twisted the latch open as slowly and silently as he possibly could. There was a soft click and the door swung open an inch. With that, Greg stood and simultaneously kicked the stall door open.

They expected to find Tom standing facing the toilet, peeing. They expected to find Tom seated upon the toilet, either peeing or taking a dump.

They found neither.

*

Toilet Tom stood before them, his pale face slack, his eyes vacant. His mouth drooped wide open, a thin string of saliva connecting his chin to his narrow chest. The boy’s odd belt of fat was gone. In fact, his shirt now billowed about his emaciated waist like an absurdly short skirt. His pants and briefs were pooled around his ankles, his penis and tiny hairless testicles exposed. A thin trickle of blood traced its way down the inner thigh of his right leg.

All of this, however, the three boys registered only in passing. Their collective attention was captured and held, instead, by the thing that appeared to be coming out of the weird kid’s rear end.

It looked like an enormous worm snaking its way from deep within the boy’s bowels and into the toilet. It was pale, its skin nearly translucent and webbed with baby-blue veins. It was crissed and crossed by gummy strands of blood and shit.

For a moment, Brian was reminded of the old myth concerning flushing an airplane toilet while still seated upon it. He thought wildly that weird Tom Pickins had somehow managed to get his insides sucked into a regular toilet.

It was clear, however, that whatever issued from the boy’s rear was in no way, shape or form part of him.

The alien thing was pulsing, like a throat swallowing rhythmically. It was feeding, sucking up whatever human waste it had found in the depths of the school’s septic system.

As the boys watched, the thing began to change. It’s thin skin started to wrinkle, to fold in upon itself like a turtle’s neck retracting into its shell.

Brian understood: it was pulling out of the toilet.

Brian took a step back. Next to him, he heard Greg murmur, “What the hell?” Vinny stood perfectly still, shocked into paralysis.

They did not have time to run, even if they hadn’t been frozen by the kind of sick fascination present only in pre-teens and the infinitely curious. With a splash and a sound like a boot being pulled from deep thick mud, the thing pulled itself out of the toilet. It reared and whipped around, facing the boys. It had no visible eyes, no face, really. Its tentacle-like body ended only in a gaping maw filled with needle-sharp teeth. And though it appeared to have no eyes, it could clearly detect the boys. It swung from side to side, like a cobra enchanted by a snake charmer’s tune, from one boy to the next. It curled its way slowly around Tom Pickin’s thin waist, its toothy mouth hovering just three feet off the ground.

Brian could see that its entire “head” was covered in dung. A single strand of toilet paper, soggy and yellow-tinged, hung from its lower jaw.

Fast as a hornet, the thing plunged its spiky face into Greg Rutts’ belly. The boy fell back, the thing’s face buried six inches into his stomach. Brian noticed that same swallowing motion convulsing the thing’s serpentine form. Brian stumbled back, tripped and fell. Vinny remained completely still, frozen. After only seconds, Greg had stopped struggling and lay still. A pool of dark blood spread around him. Just as suddenly as it had entered, the thing extracted itself from within Greg’s digestive system and turned its terrifying attention upon Vinny. Vinny hardly reacted as the thing burst through his navel and into his stomach. He only fell to his knees as the thing began feeding upon the partially-digested Fruit Loops and orange juice the boy had eaten for breakfast.

Brian tore his eyes from his friends’ mangled bodies and turned to run. He managed to complete two steps before he felt a million daggers pierce the flesh and bone of his right ankle. He fell forward, his chin hitting the bathroom floor, his teeth snapping together with audible force. He felt the thing grip his ankle and twist, throwing him upon his back. He looked down and tried to scream but could only muster a soft, strangled cry. The worm-thing that had found a home in Toilet Tom’s inner plumbing snaked its way over Brian’s chest. It stopped just inches from his face. Brian could smell shit and piss and blood. It then rose just two feet into the air, curled itself into a deadly question mark and answered its own inquiry by diving teeth-first into Brian’s insides.

*

Moments later, Tom Pickins pulled up and zipped up his Levi’s. Slowly, gently, the worm-thing wrapped itself around his waist and tucked its head in at the small of his back. Tom pulled his t-shirt over the thing’s body, recreating the illusion that he was simply overweight, and, after flushing and washing his hands, walked calmly out of the washroom.

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