THE MAN IN THE DRAIN
by Evan Taggart
Danny Stocker woke up in bed one night with a familiar tingling feeling in his pants.
It might’ve been the rain tapping against the window pane that spurred him from his sleep, or the half bottle of Coca Cola he’d drank before climbing under the covers earlier, but there was no getting away from it now: Danny had to whizz. Bad.
He looked around his bedroom, blanketed in darkness save for the dim glow of the night light next to the dresser. Lightning flashed outside and brought with it tall shadows that seemed to watch Danny as he lay in bed. He thought of the last thing his sister had said to him before sealing him in for the night:
“You’d better hope you brushed your teeth, Danny, or the man in the drain will get you!”
Oh, he’d heard the story before: the man in the drain who would come up to grab the children who lied about brushing their teeth at night, or the kids who refused to take a bath. And, he could tell if you’d just run your toothbrush under the water too, or if you’d let the bath water run without actually filling the tub; yes, sir, there was no fooling the man in the drain. Once you heard his song—the ‘swan song,’ as his sister called it—you were done like dinner, never to be seen or heard from again.
At least, that’s how the story went.
Danny had never put much thought into the story—he’d tried playing Bloody Mary once in the school bathroom to no avail—but currently, in the throws of dark shadows enveloping his room, he wanted nothing more than to just wet the bed and call it a night.
He shut his eyes and crossed his legs tight, hoping the urge would pass and that he could pee once the sun came up. Monsters didn’t come out in the sunlight, right? That was a universal rule or something. Yeah, he just had to last until morning.
Only, he lasted about five minutes. If he waited any longer, his bladder might well have exploded all over the place and he’d have to explain to his parents in the morning why their eight-year-old son was still wetting the bed. And just imagine what his sister would say; he’d never hear the end of it.
No, this was go time, mission launch, full speed ahead.
Danny swung his feet over the side of the bed and reluctantly started on the walk to the bathroom. He passed his sister’s room along the way and heard her snoring like a pig.
Worst babysitter ever, he thought.
He scampered into the bathroom and flicked the light on and shut the door halfway; just in case, he told himself. Then, it was off to the toilet. Houston, we have lift off!
Holy frig, he’d never had to whiz so bad in his life. Danny stood with a look of dumb relief on his face and any fears he’d had previously drained into the toilet along with his urine.
As his bladder slowed, he thought he could hear his sister snoring from all the way down the hall. Cripes, was she ever loud. It was a wonder anyone slept at all around the house.
But as he finished going—as he reached for the toilet flusher—he realized it wasn’t snoring he’d heard.
It was music.
He stood like an ice sculpture, hand extended and clenched around the flusher; his mouth was suddenly like sandpaper. He could hear the tune echoing like it was playing from some far away place.
Oh, Danny Boy…the pipes, the pipes are calling…
“S-Sarah?” he said. “If you’re trying to scare me…”
There was no answer.
Danny inched towards the door, forgetting all about the unflushed toilet. The slit where he’d left the door open halfway beckoned. Sarah was probably playing the stupid music from the hallway, he told himself. But, as he neared the door and the music grew louder, Danny felt the hair on his neck go stiff.
The sink. It was coming from the sink.
The door slammed shut.
Danny raced over to it, clutching the doorknob and pulling like mad. It wouldn’t open. He banged against the wood with his fist.
“Let me out!” he screamed. “Let me out of here!”
All at once, the music died, and Danny was left in an eerie silence. His heart was thundering against his ribcage; he could hear it thumping in his ears. He swallowed.
The sink exploded in an impossibly strong eruption of water. It sprayed straight up in a pillar, swirling and roaring with wild force.
Danny fell to the tiles and shrouded himself, screaming. Only, he realized that he wasn’t getting wet; no, the water was pooling on the ceiling, as though the room itself had been flipped upside down.
The jet of water turned a murky brown colour; clumps of grime and hair spewed out along with it, painting the mirror above the sink with a sickly paste. And there was something else in that darkness, too; something that was rattling around and bouncing off the walls like pebbles.
Teeth, Danny realized. They were teeth.
Something smelled like burning sugar and Danny saw that the toilet was boiling over, literally boiling as steaming piss bubbled out onto the tile and slithered towards his feet as he huddled in the corner screaming and screaming and—
The roaring stopped.
Danny sat, knees to his chest, shaking and lips quivering. He slowly unshielded his face.
The room was spotless, no lake of filth on the ceiling, no river of urine at his feet.
A bad dream, he thought. I’m having a bad dream.
There was a thump. And a squeaking sound.
Something was in the bathtub.
Danny could not move. Every ounce of him wanted to stand, wanted to kick the door until it burst into a billion pieces, but he sat, helpless, eyes fixated on the shower curtain and the dark shape moving behind it. One by one, the curtain pulled free of each shower ring, snapping and twanging until it fell to the floor completely.
And then, the hand appeared.
It clutched the side of the tub, white and bloated and dripping with slime, pulling its body upward. Its head reared over the edge, the skin sagged off its cheekbones, all wrinkled like pruned fingertips. The eyes were empty slits behind the thin strands of long, black hair hanging in its face. It spewed some gurgling sound as it lurched forward, spilling out onto the floor.
At first, Danny couldn’t even scream. His eyes had glossed with shock, his body paralyzed with fear. He saw white spots dancing in front of him and his head started to spin as the thing from the tub clawed its way towards him. Somehow, he reached one hand up to the doorknob, and when he felt it turn successfully his body was jolted into action.
He sprang to his feet, yanked the door open. As his left foot stepped into the hallway, he felt the cold, clammy fingers of the dead thing brush by his right heel and he yelped and leaped into the hall completely. Without looking back, Danny bolted for his room, screaming like some wild animal as he went.
He barreled through the door and soared onto his bed, bringing the covers tightly to his chest. Then, with his breath huffing and heart pounding, he listened.
It was in the hall. He could hear it moving, inching closer to his room, clawing and squirming across the floor, hacking and wheezing until—
The light came on.
Sarah stood in the doorway dressed in her pajamas and rubbing her eyes. “Danny, what are you doing?” She spoke with fury.
He couldn’t answer.
“Seriously, running around and screaming like an idiot,” she hissed. “It’s friggin’ late and I have to get up early.”
“If you keep this crap up I’m going to tell mom and dad that you ate all those cookies you weren’t supposed to.” She turned to leave.
“Sarah!” Danny suddenly blurted.
Sarah turned back. “What, Danny?”
“I saw him!”
“The man in the drain! I saw him!”
“I was in the bathroom and the sink blew up and he came for me! He was real!”
“Danny, I made up that stupid story. This is what happens when you eat all that friggin’ junk food before bed. Junk food gives you nightmares.”
“Danny!” she snapped. “It’s past midnight! Go to sleep!” Sarah shut the light and slinked back into the hallway.
Danny pulled the covers up tighter. Was she right? Had he imagined the whole thing? Maybe it was just a nightmare like she said. Maybe he hadn’t even left his bed at all.
He settled into the sheets a little. The rain outside gently bounced off his window. He could hear his sister walking back down the hall towards her room. Then, she said: “And you’d better clean up this mess in the hall before mom and dad get back tomorrow. Mom’ll be pissed you spilled water everywhere.”
Danny’s blood froze.
His sister’s door shut.
Evan Taggart is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario. He attended the Film and Television Program at Humber College where he developed a great interest in screenwriting. He is currently completing the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto, during which he composed his first full-length novel. He cites Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy as two of his biggest inspirations. Evan can be reached at email@example.com. Evan's story, The Man in the Drain, appears in the April 2013 issue of HelloHorror.
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