I wrote this a little while ago, and have had it sitting around not really knowing what to do with it. I've shared it before in other locations, so I see no problem with posting it up here for everyone to see.
Thanks in advance for your comments.
Alone in the Tub
By: Christopher Godsoe
Gene flexed the digits on his left hand, watching the dried blood fleck and fall to the floor.
I can't even do this right.
He struggled to focus on the clock above the bathroom sink. After a moment of squinting, he found he could make out a time of midnight. The pale illumination from the streetlamp outside streaked through the side window, bathing the remainder of the room in a bleak incandescence.
The three inch scab on each wrist felt tight, as though his very body was physically denying his final wish.
The devil doesn't even want me
Self deprecation had always been a skill he wielded well.
The pulsing veins in his temple did little to relieve the pressure inside his skull. He wasn't sure if this was caused by the alcohol or the blood loss, but either way, it was his own doing.
At least he had created something with his efforts tonight.
He hadn't expected to wake from the three bottles of cheap wine he had ingested prior to slitting his wrists. He had assumed that the impending headache would be lost along with his last breath as he slipped into the afterlife.
No longer my problem, he remembered thinking at the time.
The world that had mocked him at every turn had apparently not yet been ready to for the party to end. Contemplating an encore attempt on his life, he found his courage had diluted along with the alcohol.
He tried in vain to climb from the tub, but the blood loss that had not been sufficient to end his life had weakened him considerably. His foot slipped and his tailbone struck the bottom of the tub along with the back of his head.
The streetlight blurred as he struggled to maintain consciousness.
Why am I still fighting?
He pondered the question, but the migraine mitigated any attempt at rational thought.
A tear trickled down his cheek and rolled into the corner of his mouth. He smacked his dry lips on the saline, and the salt stung as it wicked into the cracks. The fresh pain pulled him back to reality as he read the clock-12:03.
Resigned to his present location, he closed his eyes to give the headache an opportunity to dissipate.
He ignored the pinging that then began emanating from the drain at his feet. The superintendant had been promising to have the plumbing fixed for months, but like much in his life, the follow through had been lackluster.
Perhaps if he had put his foot down harder, the man would have performed his duty and repaired the pipes. Gene thought that the issue must be that two of them had become unsecured in a confined space. That would explain them banging against each other when someone in the lower levels of the building turned their water on and off.
It wouldn't take a lot to fix it. He kept repeating the thought in his head.
His thoughts slowly evolved to how the super was a lot like him, probably allowing a lot of individually insignificant problems to go unadressed and compound over time.
He made the natural connection that if he had applied himself a little more, perhaps he could have improved his fortune.
The clock read 12:05.
His relaxed breathing drew in a sharp, pungent odor. It had the stench of a struck match, which was a foreign scent in his candle free bachelor pad. He opened his eyes, looking around for a possible source. The odor faded almost as quickly as it had arisen.
The heavy lids of his eyes began to close again. Burning alive, unable to escape the tub after a failed suicide attempt would have been an extremely ironic way to pass, he thought. A smile began to twitch along the edges of his parched mouth for the first time in recent memory.
Perhaps, when his constitution returned, he would give it another shot. His life may have only been one good push away from turning around. The possibility seemed to fill his chest with the air of inspiration.
He could go back to school as he had always wanted to work in engineering. He would have to let his car go back, forfeit his apartment, and maybe declare bankruptcy, but he could do it.
What was public opinion worth when he had already chosen to end his life? He was surprised to find that he didn't care. Societal pressure was nothing compared to the intestinal fortitude required to slit your own wrists.
For the first time in his life, he could see light at the end of the tunnel.
He glanced over at the clock, suddenly desperate to know the exact time that his life had turned around. The clock read 12:06, but the second hand was quickly streaking past the 6, so he decided to round up to 12:07.
At 12:07AM on December 7th, 2008, Gene had decided that the only thing holding him back had been himself. His chest rose, taking in his first breath as a man free of his own demons.
The antiseptic laced bathroom air he had expected to inhale was replaced with the acrid, sulfurous smell, back for an encore performance. The resulting coughing fit caused his still throbbing head to ring. A quick appraisal of his surroundings led him back to the drain.
Thick gray smoke had begun to rise from the pipes, lit by a faint orange glow. The pinging began again, and quickly rose in volume and frequency.
Gene had the strange image of magma backing up through the drain, the vision sending shivers up his spine. He made another attempt at climbing from the tub, but could only lift himself an inch or two before his muscles atrophied and he collapsed back with a hollow thud..
Something hot and slimy scalded his leg. He heard the damage even before he felt it. Unable to provide even a token defense, he could only writhe in horror as a black, smoldering tendril rose from the drain and climbed his chest. His shirt gave way to smoking ashes at the mere touch of the wriggling stem.
The skin quickly bubbled and blackened underneath, winding a scorched highway up his torso. Wherever the tendril made contact with his skin it split and curled away from the path of the appendage like a cheap plastic plate thrown into a campfire.
Gene tried to scream, but the most his dehydrated vocal cords could muster was a hoarse whisper.
The tendril forced itself against his lips, burning them away instantly as his teeth shattered from the rapid temperature change. Given an opening, the whip-like appendage forced its way into his mouth and grabbed something deep inside of him.
The finality of the situation finally gripped him. He knew now that the drain in his tub would take him directly to hell the way all implausible information is accepted when no plausible alternative is available. All his recently acquired ambitions would go for naught, and this night would end the way he had originally planned. As all light began to fade, a perverted sense of accomplishment welled up within him.
The tendril chose that moment to extract his blackened heart, retreating down the drain with it's catch.
The last image of Gene's mortal life was that of the clock running backwards, resting back at exactly midnight.
It seems the devil would have him, after all.
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