The room was no longer a crude scene of mortal combat, but a simple study. A neat writing desk stood against one wall, next to a small bookcase. A few maps and some war medals decorated the wall, and in the corner stood a kind of lectern, upon which a stamp collection album lay open next to a short, fat candle. A red and white striped lollipop lay on the floor. Victor tore off the plastic wrapper and twirled the lollipop between his fingers. He raised it to his nose and sniffed, then sneered and set the sweet on the writing desk. The door was open; Victor peeked out into the hall; there was no sign of any gravity-defying spectre. With a look that was two parts disappointment and one part relief, Victor left the room, took a few steps up the hall and entered the library.
In the library, he wandered from shelf to shelf, tapping his finger to his lips.
“Maybe an encyclopaedia,” he said to himself.
The bottom shelves held the largest and heaviest books.
“The Early Years of the Australian Gold Rush: A Comprehensive Account. Good grief, that sounds boring.” He took it from the shelf. On the cover was a black and white photograph of some miserable looking men standing in front of a shack. “Yeah, that seems about right.”
Victor weighed the uninspiring tome in his hands. Two and a half inches thick; wide, hardback cover as solid as a thin cut of timber. He thumped it with the back of his hand.
“Hmm. Very good.”
He took the book from the library and a towel from the linen closet, and then went to the bathroom.
He crouched and opened the bathroom door. “Looks ready. Let’s give it a go.”
He wrapped the towel around his face like a shemagh, and crawled into the room, shutting the door behind him. The comic book barbecue had been burning for about an hour and a half, and now dense, grey smog saturated the upper half of the bathroom. Victor tucked the gold rush book under one arm, and army crawled to the toilet. He reached up and lifted the lid, then listened. Silence. He adjusted his face wrap and then stood up. Facing the toilet, he took aim and relieved himself. The water in the bowl frothed and splashed under the steady stream, while the smoke in the room began to sting Victor’s eyes. And then he heard it. The rumble.
“Not yet,” he commanded himself, and continued urinating.
The rumbling increased; he felt it in the soles of his feet. There was a rattle in the wall.
Another rattle, and then a clank. Victor blinked and squeezed the moisture from his eyes.
“Almost there. Must… keep… pissing.”
The plumbing groaned, and a muffled drone, like a far-off engine, descended behind the wall. There was a second of ominous silence, and then a tinny clunk hit the porcelain.
Victor stopped urinating, and in one fluid movement sheathed his manhood in his boxer shorts and dropped to the floor. With the book still securely underarm, he wiggled back near the door and waited.
A gentle tapping and scratching came and went in the toilet. Another clunk hit the bowl, and then another. The tapping accelerated; the water splashed; the drone grew louder. Another clunk. Victor wiped the sweat from his brow, and laid his book in front him. The scratching became continual, and the tapping matched a typewriter at ninety words per minute. Tink-tink-tink. Suddenly, with an aggressive buzz, a massive wasp flew up and out from the toilet, and disappeared into the charcoal fog. The toilet shook and rattled and then spewed forth a torrent of fish-hook-tailed wasps. The black and yellow horde roared up into the cloud. As the final wasps (of what must have been nearly three hundred) buzzed from the toilet, the wooden lid fell and closed with a bang.
© 2019 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED