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In the Pipes

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When I was a child my grandfather would always come to visit me and my brother, Derek. We were always so excited whenever he stopped by. He'd always bring a couple of packs of pudding for my brother and I, and we'd always gather in the living room after the greetings and creamy delights to listen to him talk and tell us stories. They were always unbelievable, completely absurd, always either throwing us into fits of laughter or making our jaws drop in utter shock. But we were kids. We'd believe anything if they were made convincing enough.

The funny thing is, to this day I can't remember many of those stories. It's like they just vanished from my memory. However, one in particular remains planted in the back of mind, never really revived but it would always poke its way to the front of my mind whenever I needed to use the bathroom. It terrified me and the very thought still did to this day.

My grandfather told us a supposedly "true" story about a town somewhere in southern California that had had a snake infestation in the late 1990s. Nobody had known how all of the snakes had managed to make their way into the town, into one particular neighborhood, and into the sewer systems. But they did. And the day the townsfolk had discovered the horrors slithering within their pipes was also the most hysterically preposterous and daunting day that they had ever experienced. The snakes were already in the pipes and the townsfolk had no clue, but that wasn't the only thing they had been unaware of. Although many of the snakes were indeed harmless, one was not. I guess one unsuspecting family had had the unfortunate encounter with the creature, or rather their four-year-old son had. Having just been potty-trained and ready to use the "big boy potty" on his own, he did just that. The rest of the family had no idea that at that very moment a very poisonous snake was forcing his way up through the tunnels and into their toilet. By the time they had heard the scream it was too late.

Ever since I had heard this story when I was younger, I have never been able to use any restroom without inspecting the toilet thoroughly, and I would absolutely refuse to sit down on one, no matter how badly I had to go, unless I was fully convinced that it was truly safe. It all still applies to this very day, or rather, it would. But now I won't enter into any bathroom.

Never had I ever had any real problem with my bathroom until about a week ago. My brother and I had been left alone in the house as our mother was going on an out-of-state business trip. She had left us alone for long durations such as this on more than one occasion and we had never had any issues being on our own. We actually cherished any time we had the house to ourselves. But I never realized how much my dear solitude could frighten me.

After a whole night of celebrating our mom-free week with endless slices of pizza and a marathon of Christopher Walken films, I had gotten tired and decided to take a quick shower before going to bed. I grabbed a towel and headed into the bathroom where I undressed and turned the showerhead on, watching as the steam quickly rose to the ceiling. Then stepping into the stall, an area big enough for just one person, I began to wash myself. I grabbed the soap and stood beneath the steady stream of water. It was so relaxing. Then as I stood there enjoying the refreshing heat from the water, I suddenly heard something odd coming from somewhere nearby. It was a cough. I jumped, quickly grabbing onto the curtain and peeking behind it. It was almost too faint to be real, but I was sure I had heard it. I called out to my brother to see if he were trying to pull some kind of prank on me once I stepped out of the shower, but there was no reply. Not to mention, I would've heard the bathroom door open if he had come inside. But I hadn't. Puzzled but believing that it had been my imagination, I finished my shower.

The next day came and passed without anything odd occurring, but still a part of me had felt a little...unnerved whenever I entered the bathroom. I wasn't sure why, but I always got this weird feeling. It was as though I were being watched. Nevertheless, I shook off the feeling and continued on with my day.

The next morning I woke up and headed straight to the shower. I was going to be going out with some friends later that afternoon, and so I had planned to shower as early as possible in order to get some other errands done before that. I followed the usual routine and stepped into the shower, washing myself quickly as I thought about my plans for the day. As the moments began to pass, I suddenly found my thoughts interrupted. I had heard it again. Another cough, and this time it was louder. Knowing that I was not imagining it this time, I looked behind the curtain again expecting to find someone there. I called out to my brother once more, getting angrier once I found that no one was there.

"Derek? Derek, is that you?! This isn't funny, Derek!"

No answer. Besides the noise from the shower, the house was silent.

Then it dawned on me, beating me with a force much stronger than the water cascading down on me. Derek had spent the night at his friend's house.

"He wasn't here."

As the terrifying thought swam through my confused mind, I took a step back and slipped, falling onto the floor of the tight little area of our shower. I was breathing heavy now.

If my brother wasn't in the house..."Then who coughed?"

At that moment I felt a slight tickling sensation at my heel. I jumped and looked down at my foot just in time to see something little and pink slip back into the drainpipe. It's familiar shape paralyzed me. it couldn't be...could it?

Then I heard a soft chuckling. It was coming from the drainpipe. I swallowed and leaned down. What I saw that day will forever haunt me. Staring back up at me out of the drain was a single, pulsating bloodshot eye.

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