they wait
by steve barber
Illustrated by bryan prindiville
Drainage by Bryan PrindivilleDrainage by Bryan Prindiville

It's dark and it's dank and it stinks of soap scum and chemicals. Dead, rotting skin and bits of legs, carapaces and feelers float in the liquid caught in the elbow trap. There they wait. It's been months; years for some. Still they wait, and they remember.

They remember the hard, white ceramic container with the slick, unclimbable sides. They remember the man flushing them toward the drain with a hose full of water so hot that if bugs could scream they'd have been heard for miles around. And they remember swearing revenge as they drifted into the vortex.

Drainage by Bryan Prindiville

The man is old now, and frail, and as he steps into the shower, his knees give way. He falls and cracks his head on the faucet. Blood trickles into the water swirling down the conduit, alerting them to his presence.

Up the drainpipe they come. They surround the old man and nudge him toward the center of the tub where the stream of water catches him and carries him downward.

This can't be happening. It's nothing but a stupid childhood fear, the man thinks as the dead spiders and ants and centipedes float alongside and convey him through the drain to their haven below. Their wait is over. Their revenge is just beginning.

Drainage by Bryan Prindiville

They Wait © 2011 Steve Barber
Drainage © Bryan Prindiville