Fear of the New Loo

12 Jan 2022  C. chou  5 mins read.

An inexplicable shiver ran down his back, as he stared at the apparition before him. There was no way that he was going to sit down on that. No matter what others said. What’s wrong with squatting over a cesspit? At least, there weren’t holes beneath them, linking to tubes that led to who-knows-where. What if something sneaks in from those tubes? They definitely look large enough for rats to come through.

He shuddered at the thought of hungry rats nibbling at him as he tried to do his business. No thank you. He could still remember the unbearable agony of hundreds of long front teeth sinking into his flesh. There was no chance that he was going to intentionally repeat that experience. Nor was he willing to do anything to increase the risk of reliving it.

He took a step back, crashing into the closed stall door behind him. Forget using the bathroom. He’d do his business outside if he needed to. He pulled the door open, despite the growing pain in his gut. Stumbling out of the bathroom, he came face-to-face with his kid sister.

“I didn’t hear any flushing!” She noted, as though she’d been eavesdropping.

“The new technology used here is pretty advanced.” He responded, doing his best to mask any lingering nervousness with a smile. “It barely made a noise when everything got sucked into that hole.”

“Wow! Really?” She asked with more excitement than warranted. “The toilets at school make this loud rumbling noise every time someone does their business.”

“Is that so?” He muttered quietly under his breath. He couldn’t just let her stay here and possibly try one of the bathrooms to prove him wrong. Plastering another smile onto his face, he towed her out of the building. “I think we should best get going.”

“Why in such a hurry?” She asked. “We haven’t bought any food yet.”

“Well…” He started, wracking his brain for a lie. “I heard someone, in the neighboring stall, saying that the food sold here kept him in the restroom for hours. You wouldn’t want that to happen to you now, would you?”

“Wow. Really?” She asked, before trying to turn back to the restaurant. “But there were so many people back there. We should go back and warn them!”

“No. No.” He said, feeling his stomach rumbling as he pulled her in the opposite direction. “If we do that then the restaurant wouldn’t learn from selling dangerous food, and will only continue doing so.”

“Is that so?” She questioned uncertainly.

Unwilling to risk having her change her mind, he pushed her toward the rickshaw waiting for them. They needed to leave as soon as possible. The pain in his abdomen was worsening by the second. Climbing into the seat next to her, he leaned forward and pressed an arm to the area, doing his best to minimize his discomfort without alerting his sister.

“Why don’t you sit back?” She suddenly asked behind him.

“It’s easier to get a view this way.” He answered, hoping that his voice didn’t sound too strained.

“You don’t look well.” She commented.

“I’ll be fine.” He answered. “We don’t live too far away anyways.”

“Okay.” His sister responded, sounding concerned but clearly unwilling to press him further.

Finally, they were home. He immediately jumped off the rickshaw, forgetting about the payment and ran toward the latrines. Praising the Lord for his stinginess, which left him putting off upgrading the space despite the public praise of the new toilets, he relieved himself.

“Brother!” He could hear his sister shouting for him in the distance. Finishing his business, he stepped out, feeling much better.

“What is it?” He shouted in reply, as he headed in the direction of her voice.

“You forgot to pay.” She answered, pointing back at the driver patiently waited for them on the side of the road.

“Ah.” He exclaimed, before fishing in his pockets for his wallet.

“You look much better than you did just moments ago.” She observed, squinting her eyes. “Don’t tell me…you didn’t go earlier?”

“What?” He asked, doing his best to look calm.

“No wonder I didn’t hear flushing!” She laughed, tears spilling from her eyes. “You didn’t go!”

“I…” He hesitated, before letting out a huff. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“I knew it!” She answered between giggles.

He walked past her, as she fell to the ground, laughter still spilling out of her in floods. Handing the man the payment and watching him leave, his sister joined him as she collected herself.

“It’s really not that bad.” She told him. “It definitely wasn’t the most pleasing thing to see, but it’s very convenient, being situated indoors and all. Promise me you’ll try it in earnest next time.”

“I can’t promise.” He answered, mussing her hair. “But for my kid sister, I’ll see what I can do.”

And he did try. It was a scary experience. He couldn’t shake the feeling that rats were behind him. Even though each time he checked left him breathing a sigh of relief, the stress was enough to prevent him from using it. Even so, he could understand his sister’s appreciation for the device. Being able to relieve at home without subjecting oneself to possible dangers lurking about and the relentless outside weather was an admittedly nice perk.

Despite his penny-pinching habits, he getting one installed next week. The lid had to be closed when not in use, of course, lest rats find their way to his bed. But, who told her to be his precious sister? No amount of money was enough to exchange for the happiness and gratitude that he could already see decorating her face when she found out. He’d gladly pay the world’s worth of rat bites in exchange for her smile.

This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Microcosm” Publication and historical torture practices.

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C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: https://chouxherbe.medium.com/