Victor’s shoes clapped across the cement area bordering the toilet block, and he raced inside the men’s room—across the wet, sandy tiles, past the row of aluminium basins, and into an empty stall. He closed the door and slid the simple bolt lock. He waited. A howl echoed in the darkness outside. The tin roof creaked. Victor listened. Soft footsteps moved overhead. He remained still and silent. Movement continued outside, but he heard no one enter the toilet block. Minutes passed.
The room was cold, and it stank. Water was dripping somewhere. Graffiti marked the inside of the stall door—a few swear words, caricatures of male genitalia, a sexually explicit (though—credit where credit is due—amusing) limerick. The vandalism’s content was offensive, but tame compared to modern standards. Victor slid back the lock and peeked out the door. He closed it again. He stood on the toilet seat and looked out the narrow window by the ceiling.
“Hmm. I see you out there,” he whispered. “Whoever you are. But you don’t want to come in here, huh?” He climbed down from the toilet seat. “Oh well, since I’m here…”
He unzipped his fly and relieved himself.
The stream of urine was long-lasting, and loud, alternating—as Victor swayed his hips—between the rushing splash of the water and the high-pressure drum against the metal toilet bowl. He couldn’t even hear himself whistle. Once finished, he zipped up his fly and flushed the toilet. He climbed on the toilet seat again and looked outside. After peering left and right into the darkness, he hurriedly climbed down. He turned to face the door, and waited, listening. The final hiss of the flush faded away. No sound came from outside; inside, nothing but the plip… plip… plip of dripping water. Victor squatted and looked out beneath the door. He stood and unlocked it, then opened it. He was alone. He took one suspicious step out from the stall, then another. Still no sound but the drip. Victor walked to the exit and poked his head around the corner.
Standing a few feet in front of him, on the concrete beneath the humming light, stood the strangest quartet he had ever seen. On the left was a ninja, clad head to toe in black, and holding a throwing star. Beside the ninja, a stereotypical pirate: eye patch, wooden leg, cutlass, striped shirt and a captain’s hat bearing the skull and crossbones. Next in line was a wolf the size of an SUV. Finally, standing by the wolf (and standing twice as tall), was a pterodactyl. The pirate wore a welcoming smile amid his bushy black beard. Victor stepped out from the doorway and looked them up and down.
“Argh,” said the pirate. “Ye have done well.”
The pterodactyl nodded.
“‘Tis a daunting plank to walk,” continued the pirate, “going to the outdoor toilet in the middle of the night. Who knows what monsters lurk in the shadows? But by golly ye did it—by yourself. Argh.”
The wolf lowered its head in a bow of respect.
With a lightning fast flick of the wrist, the ninja threw his bladed star. Before Victor had time to react, the deadly weapon shot above his head, slicing a hanging string and lodging in a timber beam beneath the roof. From the broken string fell a gift-wrapped box; Victor caught it. He tore the paper and lifted the lid. Inside was a plastic water pistol. He looked back up. The ninja bowed, then backflipped into the trees and out of sight. The pirate saluted. A rope swung by out of nowhere; he grabbed it and it whisked him away. The wolf raised its head and howled, then turned and galloped into the darkness.
“Wait,” said Victor. “Is that it?”
The pterodactyl nodded. It stretched its giant wings like sails, screeched, and then flapped up into the night.
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