There's no running water here.  You'll have to do without.  I do, and I'm all the happier and safer for it.

I used to live in the city, fearing the wrong things and constantly walking above and between pipes that unnaturally carried things all around.  I never gave them a thought.

I was a young woman in the prime of life when it happened.  I had a date that evening, so I was cleaning myself under jets of artificially transported water.  I couldn't see anything outside the shower.  I thought I was alone in the house, so I screamed when the curtain rustled and started to open.


Purple goo (

It wasn't what I expected.  There wasn't a strange man in my bathroom, but a strange thing.  It had spilled out the sink, pooled on the floor, and crept up to the tub.  It was thick like jelly, and a loud vivid purple nature never made.  It was no mere chemical.  It was tugging on the shower curtain.  I knew it wanted me.

I opened the curtain at the other end and felt around the medicine cabinet for a weapon.  I couldn't find anything that would be of use against the intruder.  Nothing would be, really.  I found a hammer left there by my dad in the midst of the remodelling.  I had an idea.  I'd seen the bathroom torn up.  I knew what was behind where.  I smashed the tiles and escaped through the hole I'd made.

I found myself in the space between rooms.  I caught my breath and tamed my thumping heart.  I believed I was safe.  I spent too much time there, squatting in the dark with nails poking me as I thought about what had happened and where to go from there.  I saw movement and knew I wasn't alone.  The stuff had followed me through the hole.  It moved fast once it sensed me.

It was a tense and frightening scene inside that house's walls.  I crawled on my hands and knees, getting banged, scratched, and stabbed.  I kept moving.  I knew being caught would be worse than any of this pain.  I turned two or three corners.  I crashed through something into another dark space.  I lost any idea of where I was.  

I hardly saw the thing that chased me, but I heard it flowing and oozing.  Only sparse glints of light revealed it as anything but a moving shadow.  Once I saw it ahead of me, so I shuffled around and crawled the other direction.  I was like a mouse stalked by a cat.  I started to wonder if giving in would be more bearable than this relentless fear.  Then I saw hope.

It was a bunch of little bright patches, like stars guiding me home.  My muscles, dying from overuse, gave me the burst I needed to bound over there and attack the wall.  I could hear the gunk getting closer, but I didn't look.  Its sound was like a pot of macaroni being stirred, and it got so loud I thought it was right on me.  Undeterred, I bashed and kicked at the lights until there was one big piece of daylight, and I frantically scrambled out onto the lawn.  

There was blood, mud, plaster, and cobwebs, but not a speck of goo on me.  I stopped screaming and started squealing with joy.  I was safe.  For the moment, at least.  That slime was still prowling around.

The neighbor lady was bringing her kids home from softball, but she wouldn't help me.  She wanted to see my parents, who of course weren't home.  I kept her out of the house.  It was deadly.  She wouldn't call the police.  She just called my parents, and she told the story all wrong.

She didn't see the thing alive.  My parents didn't, either.  They ignored the residue.  They never grasped the danger of running water.  They thought I was a danger to myself.

I was so close to being an adult and getting away from home, but the attack left me captive for years more.  Years in rooms surrounded by pipes.  Years of being forced to drink water from pipes, bathe in water from pipes, sit down on bowls of water connected to pipes.

Now I'm on my own, away from the city's danger.  All the water I need comes from wells and bottles.  Life here is a lot of work, but it's the only safe way to live.  I still find time to read, and manage to stay connected to all the newspapers on this continent.  I search and scour every day.  I know the stories will come.

The creeping abomination that swims with the running water will not rest.  Bodies will pile up in bathrooms, swimming pools, sprinkler-haunted yards, and everywhere else that depends on those infernal pipes.  The survivors will remember that I warned them.

Written by Floyd Pinkerton (Lee Sherman)