's 2014 Horror Write-off:

" Public "

Submitted by   Austin Brooks

I’ve always hated public bathrooms.

It’s just so… awkward, trying to go with other people around. When I was a little kid, I’d sometimes get so nervous I’d forget how to unbutton my pants. I never went during school, all through elementary and most of junior high. I’ve been getting over it lately. Since high school I’ve been able to go without too much stress, and now that I’m in college I even sometimes use the urinal if I’m the only one in the room. Like I thought I was today.

It was the ground floor bathroom in the library, and I was feeling pretty comfortable because it’s almost always empty. Still, mostly out of habit, I checked the stalls for feet. None. Whew. Time to whizz in peace. I headed for the urinal. I had to go pretty bad, so I was only about midway through my leak when I heard the creaking. The distinctive creak of something that was definitely not supposed to be creaking. Then there was a moan, low and raspy. Shit, I thought nervously, must’ve been someone in their after all. The moaning and the creaking intensified, and just as I was shaking off…--


A sound like someone had dropped a bowling ball on a piggy bank, followed by water surging from shattered pipes. Jesus Christ, were they so fat they shattered the toilet? Not the most mature thought, but the first one that popped into my head. Yellowed water started flowing across the floor from the handicapped stall. I lifted on foot in silent disgust… then froze. Swirls of red joined the stream pooling on the floor. On the current sailed…what? Shit? No, it had… veins. And sometimes hair, or flaps of what looked like skin. And was that an eyeball? The groaning started in the stall again. I nearly asked if they needed help… but stopped myself, for some reason. What was wrong with me? Whoever was in there must be hurt, apparently pretty badly if…pieces of them… were floating down the drain. I was still standing there when the stall door swung open, pushed open by the wall of flesh that had slumped against it.

It was fat. But not like a fat person. It was corpulent, fat like an elephant seal, or a hippo. And lumpy. Huge and pale and fleshy, with blue veins visible just beneath the semi-transparent skin, like the underbelly of a biology class frog cadaver. It lay flat on its face, or what I assumed was its face, for a moment before struggling ponderously to its feet. Its stubby arms pinwheeled, waving puffy, swollen palms that threatened to engulf stubby, baby fingers.

I slowly slid my junk back into my pants as it found its footing.

It took a few cautious steps forwards, towards me. I stared straight ahead of me, straight at the wall a foot from my face, jaw clenched, futilely trying to will it out of existence, to make myself invisible, to NOT BE HERE RIGHT NOW…


Trembling, I slowly turned my head…

It had tripped again. Slipped in the steady stream of water spewing from the ruined toilet in the handicapped stall. Its head had bashed against the other urinal, the one right next to me, half ripping it from the wall, adding another source of toilet water to the deluge. Dislodged floor tiles joined wads of flesh on the voyage for the bathroom drain. Its head was definitely not human. It must’ve been three feet wide, with a stubby snout and reptilian mouth filled with short, thin, evenly spaced needle teeth that spanned the entire width. Bulging, toady eyes stared blindly and unblinking from either side of its freakish face, which was bent awkwardly towards the sky after its high speed appointment with the porcelain. It must be dead, it must have been dying already, the way it was… gasping, struggling to support its own weight, it had to have smashed its brains in… I was just starting to exhale in relief when it stirred again. Once again it was trying to stand. It tried to support itself with what was left of the urinal, its head swinging lifelessly from its shoulders. It was as if it were hanging on only by the skin, like the head of a mascot costume that had been dislodged.

I valiantly resumed my interrogation of the bathroom wall above my urinal.

It plodded through the flooded restroom…


…past me.

It stopped at a sink, leaning on it heavily for support. Seemed to check its face in the mirror, though neither of its eyes pointed strait at the glass, or even showed signs of movement or comprehension. It pawed numbly at the faucet, turning on the water more with its doughy palm than through any dexterity of its vestigial fingers. It splashed some water on itself, and that seemed to calm it somewhat. Despite myself, I coughed. It jerked suddenly and turned so that its shoulders faced me, though its head was staring into space to its right. Seemingly noticing me for the first time, it held up its hands apologetically, slowly backing towards the door, then turning away and half lunging, half falling at the bathroom door, stubby limbs scrambling on the wet bathroom tile.

I stood in the middle of the room, alone again. I zipped my fly.

A sudden curiosity overcame me. I tiptoed cautiously towards the handicapped stall, the door still wide open, to look at the toilet.

The toilet had burst.

Like a popped zit, or maybe closer to a ruptured abscess.

Shards of porcelain, like bits of eggshell, clung to a meaty, tumorous wad. Broken pipes jutted from the mass like cut arteries, oozing a mixture of blood and sewer water. Clumps of hair dotted the mass, and a couple things that looked eerily far too much like human fingers. I put my hands on my knees and dry heaved.

I staggered out of the bathroom, looking about frantically for that quivering… thing. No sign of it but a couple wet footprints. I ventured further out into the stacks towards the exit. A couple of books had been pulled haphazardly from a shelf and lay in a massive, irregular rounded damp spot on the carpet. I stepped gingerly around it. As I passed the checkout counter, I told the receptionist that the men’s bathroom was out of order, my voice shaking.

I still don’t like going into public restrooms.

But I hate going into public restrooms alone worse.