This is the last of the collaborative challenge. Part 4 of 4 is my addition to this story. It’s a very long one, but it’s humor, so maybe that’ll make up for it? I hope you like it! Links to the original posts in the part headers.
I’ll Take Monday
Part 1 by caszbrewster
Thursday was out to get me. Most people hate Mondays and call it their worst day of the week. However, mine was always Thursday. This Thursday was already a beast and it wasn’t even 6:45 a.m. My neighbor woke me with his bag pipe playing. When I yelled at him, he apologized and said the mused has attacked him and he couldn’t resist. I would mind being awoken by the sounds of two geese committing Hari-kiri much less, truly, if he could play something other than Brian Boru March and actually played it well. But badly was my neighbor’s playing style.
He continued to play even though I yelled at him. I tried to pretend it was a soundtrack for my shower. Not very sexy or invigorating.
Looking in the bathroom mirror, I found a pimple in the middle of my forehead. Strange desires to take my razor and shave off the zit hit me. I honestly couldn’t stop myself. Blood ran everywhere. The hand towel looks like it was tie-dyed in blood. Not attractive in the least. Eventually I got it to stop bleeding and put one of those stupid-looking circle bandages over where a simple blemish had been. At that point I was late to catch the bus to work. I needed coffee and shoes. I dashed to grab a travel tumbler of coffee and felt my stocking feet ooze into something wet and sticky. I looked down. Cat puke. I love Mr. Waffle, but he truly is a cocksucker sometimes.
Ten minutes later, I was finally out the door. At the bus stop, I was alone. The next bus didn’t arrive for another fifteen minutes or so. However, I felt like I was safer leaving the house than staying. I was deep into a puzzle app on my phone when I smelled something foul. I looked up and a few feet away stood a woman. She was just barely a senior citizen, I reckoned. She didn’t look at me, but only at the zit on my forehead, or rather the bandage that covered it up. I hoped she wouldn’t’ ask me about it. The fact that she hadn’t showered in quite some time was assaulting my nose. I tried to covertly stick my nose deep into my shirt. This, I remember, is why Europeans where scarves all the time. I put my phone away and tried to make a mental note of everything I had to get done at work that day. Ugh. I still hadn’t gotten in my weekly report to my supervisor and she was going to be all over my ass as soon as I walked in the door.
The bus arrived and I took to my normal seat, although because I’d missed the earlier bus, this bus was less crowded. The seating options were plentiful. But, I’m a creature of habit – about a third of the way back in the bus on the right-hand side, against the window. The stinky lady took her sweet time getting on the bus and then scanned around. She took a moment longer to look at the seat next to me. Shit. I put my bag on the aisle seat that was vacant. It didn’t work. Stinky lady sat down right next to me. She’d nearly sat on my bag, but I ninja’d it back into my lap before her noxious gas was on my bag, too. There were more than a dozen other seats she could have sat in. I would have gotten off at the next stop if I wasn’t already late for work, so I had to ride all the way into downtown, nearly gagging all the way there.
In the elevator at work people looked at me funny, and when the mailroom guy, Toby, got on at one of the stops towards my floor, he flat out told me, “Killian, You stink!” I stammered about a hobo lady sitting next to me on the bus, but nobody listened.
This is why so many people keep a spare set of clothes at the office.
At my desk I sprayed air freshener hoping it would eat the stink fumes I’d inherited on the bus. I made the guy in the cubicle next to me cough.
“Sorry,” I meekly offered.
The message light on my phone was blinking. It made me feel annoyed. First message was from my boss: weekly reports. I deleted it. Second message was from my friend, Frannie. “Killian, you have to call me right now, it’s an emergency!” Her last emergency was trying to decide between a Main Coon or a Scottish Fold cat.
Frannie’s likely non-emergency or my boss?
I let my computer warm up and just sat there a moment. Just being. Doing nothing.
When I could justify no more “downtime,” regardless of Bag Pipe Alarm Clock, I opened my email.
My mother had sent me an email and the subject line read YOU NEED TO CALL ME RIGHT AWAY. My mother still did not understand that all caps meant you were yelling.
Boss, Frannie, or Mom?
Then I opened up the spreadsheet to populate the report.
I was just about to export the data and the phone rang.
Part 2 – by elctrcrngr
I could tell by the light that was blinking that it was an outside line. I put on my phone voice, and picked up the receiver.
“Pyramid Accounting, your business is our money. Killian speaking.”
“Killian, finally. I’ve been trying to reach you all morning. I have an emergency!”
“Did you try my cell, Mom?” knowing full well that she hadn’t. Mom is just old enough that anything more technological than a microwave intimidates her.
“What, and give my only daughter brain cancer? I should say not. Just getting that email thing to work took me half an hour. Anyway, my toilet is making strange gurgling noises, and I could swear there is a moaning voice coming from the shower drain. What should I do?”
“I’ll call a plumber, Mom, and have him come over and take a look. I’ll call in a bit to let you know who to expect, and when. Look, I’m sure it’s nothing. I’ve got a ton of work to do, so I need to get off the line. Call you soon. Yes, Mom. Yes, Mom. I love you, Mom. Goodbye, Mom.” Click. I hated to hang up on her, knew it hurt her feelings, but at that moment I really didn’t have much choice.
After having merged the Excel sheet into a Word doc, and sending it off to the appropriate person to have it ignored, I texted my boss that my report was in her box, allowing me to avoid the sound of her voice and having more of my precious time eaten up. I got the phone book, went to the Yellow Pages plumber section. Closing my eyes, I ran my finger down the page, stopping at what felt like the middle. Opened one eye. Squinted. DrainPain Plumbing. Great.
I dialed the number, and a man with an exceptionally sexy voice answered. “DrainPain Plumbers. Opium for your main line. This is Saul.”
“Ah, hi, my name is Killian, I’m calling for my Mom. I’m at work, but she says there are strange noises coming from her toilet and shower. Would you have someone who could take a look at that today?”
“Yeah, I’ve got an opening right before lunch. Would twelve noon be OK?”
My lunch hour. Maybe this day wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“Twelve would be fine. I’ll meet you there, so I can help keep her calm and write you a check before I go back to work.” I gave him the address, thanked him, and hung up. Then I called Mom and gave her the news. The relief I heard in her voice actually made up for all the trouble.
Now Frannie. I crossed myself, got my cell from my purse, and hit the speed dial for her number. She answered on the first ring.
“Killian, thank God. I thought you’d never call. I’ve got the weirdest noises coming from my toilet and shower, and my cat is missing. Can a cat flush itself down the toilet?”
Christ on a Popsicle Stick! “No, but I’m not so sure about you. Where are you calling me from?”
“You called me.”
“You called me first.” Did Not. Did Too. This was not happening.
“I’m in my living room, smart ass. What do you think I should do?”
You might expect me to become exasperated at a grown woman calling me about her plumbing issues, but this was Frannie, and I was used to it.
“You know, this is weird, but my mom called this morning with the exact same problem. Are you two planning a surprise plumbing party, or something?”
Only Frannie would take that question seriously. “No, no party. That’s weird, isn’t it?”
“You think? Tell you what. I’m meeting the plumber at my mom’s on lunch. I’ll see what he says, and let you know. Maybe we can save some money. Sound good?”
“Yeah, the drain isn’t clogged, it just sounds really weird. That’s a great idea.” She paused, then said, “Having a plumber for lunch, huh? He must be a hunk.”
“Shut up, Frannie. Yeah, he don’t sound bad, and you know I love me some sexy working man. I’ll call you after lunch. Cheers.”
I sagged back in my chair. Can a cat flush itself. Give me a break! I loved Frannie to death, but sometimes she was more like a kid sister than a friend.
The rest of the morning was filled with the usual end-of-week insanity that goes on in any office. I’ll admit, when I used the loo, I listened for any strange noises, both before and after flushing. I didn’t hear anything, but we were on the fifth floor. I suppose insanity is hereditary. You get it from your friends.
I managed to sneak out for lunch fifteen minutes early, buying the time I needed to get over to Mom’s and get through the usual salutations before Saul the plumber arrived. He was right on time, bless his heart. I hadn’t had a chance to listen for Mom’s noises yet.
Saul was as gorgeous as his voice had implied. He was well-spoken, as well, with intelligent, ice-grey eyes, and long blond hair that poured down his back. He could do maintenance on my hot tub anytime.
We all walked in to the master bath in Mom’s one and a half bath place. Saul flushed the toilet, ran the shower, then went to the kitchen and ran water in the sink, running the DisposAll while he was at it. All the drains worked fine. To his credit, he wasn’t condescending or impatient at all. He asked Mom to describe the noises, but while she was doing so, we all heard a long, low moan coming from the shower. I understood why Mom was so freaked. It was creepy.
After staring at the shower for a full minute, not saying a word, Saul finally said, “I don’t know what kind of animal has gotten into the sewer, but that must be what it is. I’ll call County Maintenance, they’ll have to get a crew to take a look down there with a camera rig. I’ll be sure to get in touch, and let you know what they find.” After making sure he had my number for the call-back, we thanked him, I wrote a check for the service call, and drove back to work.
Part 3 – also by elctrcrngr (I think?)
As I passed the break room returning to my desk, I overheard the talking head of the hour pontificating on HLN. Our boss is a newsaholic, so we’re allowed to have a small TV in the lunchroom, as long as it’s tuned to a news channel. HLN had picked up on a local story from some small town, where the people were reporting odd noises coming from their bathtubs (huh?) and shower drains (waitaminuteNOWAY!). Apparently this was happening all over town. Saul hadn’t known about it when I called him earlier. I must have been the first one to call his shop with the problem.
I went to the call log on my cell, anxiously hitting redial for Saul’s shop. “DrainPain Plumbing. Therapy for your troubled pipes. Mike here.”
“Hi, my name is Killian. Saul looked at my mom’s bathroom around noon today? Is he there?”
“No, he’s out on a service call. He’ll be doing those the rest of the day. Our phone’s been ringin’ off the hook! You seen the news?”
“Yes, I saw the story. Look, he has my number. Could you page him and ask him to call me when he gets a minute? It’s really important.”
“Sure, I’ll have him give you a ring. Anything else I can help you with?”
“No, I don’t think so. You’ve been a great help, really. I appreciate it.”
“No problem. Have a nice day.”
* * * *
The day finally came to a close, with no further problems, at least nothing major. That was a relief, as this Thursday was not all that unusual, sewer voices notwithstanding. My Thursdays are always crazy, in one way or another. Thursdays really are out to get me.
I was nuking a LeanCuisine when the phone rang. I answered, nervous as hell but trying to sound casual. “Hello?”
“Uh, hi, this is Saul.” His voice spread across my eardrums like melted butter. “Mike at the shop said you asked me to call?”
“Oh, yeah. Thanks for getting back. He said you got a lot of calls like mine today. I saw the story on HLN. Have you figured out what it is?”
His voice lowered, almost conspiratorially. “No, but I’ve been driving all over town today. Saw quite a few County crews around manhole covers. I know most of those guys, at least to recognize their faces. I saw people with them that, well, they didn’t look like sewer rats, you know what I mean? More like scientists and government types, and there were women with some of the crews. We don’t have any girls on the County crew; I know that for a fact, ‘cus they’ve gotten some flack over it.”
“Wow, that’s … fascinating.” Shit, what do I say? “I’d love to talk about your ideas on this. How would you feel about getting together for a drink? We could, you know, talk about what you saw today, or anything, or, you know, just talk…” Great, Killian! You’re about as smooth as an Emory board.
“That sounds great!” Wow, Saul sounded honestly enthusiastic. “The Carlton has a nice bar. You want to meet there about eight?”
I looked at the clock. Six-oh-five. The Carlton Hotel was just five blocks from my apartment. I could probably put myself together and get there ‘fashionably late’. “I’d love to! If I see any clowns in the shower drain, we can come back here and exorcise them.” Oh, God, he’s going to think you’re a loon! Great move, girl. What a way with words you have.
“Uh, yeah, sure. Sounds great. I think.” My heart sank, but then he laughed, saying, “You’ve got a unique sense of humor. This will be fun. I’ll see you there.”
I was as ecstatic as I was terrified.
* * * *
I finally decided on a pretty, rose-tinted floral scarf to cover the self-inflicted wound on my forehead, after several attempts with concealer failed to conceal it. Saul had already secured an inconspicuous table when I arrived at about eight-fifteen. Gratefully accepting his offer of a glass of Merlot from the bottle he had already ordered, I sat in the chair he pulled out for me, placed my purse under the table, and gathered my composure.
“I don’t know about you, but this is the weirdest day I’ve had in a while,” Saul said. “I’m really glad to have someone to talk about it with. This was a great idea. I haven’t gotten out in a while. Thank you for asking me.” This sounded encouraging, like maybe he wasn’t involved with anyone.
“Thanks for joining me. When I was getting ready, it occurred to me I haven’t had a night out in a while either.” Let him know I was available, too. “Tell me about the people you saw around the manholes today. It sounds intriguing, very mysteryish.”
“Well, most of them were people I’ve never seen before. There’s not that many guys on the county crew, twenty or thirty, and it seemed like they had one or two assigned to each manhole, along with a group of four or five of these federal looking types. Sort of like “our” guys were acting as guides or something. This is a fairly small town, and I didn’t recognize any of these people, except for the ones I know from the County.”
“Did you talk to any of the guys you know? Were they able to tell you anything?”
“That’s another weird thing. After I got off duty, I called Sam, a guy I used to work with. I asked him who the new people were, and he wouldn’t talk about it. When I asked him what they had found down in the sewer, he just kept changing the subject. Sounded nervous. Asked me how the wife and kids were. Killian, I’m single. I don’t have any kids. And Sam knows that. We went to high school together.”
I was speechless. I didn’t know what to think, much less what to say. “Saul, this is starting to scare me. I can’t even begin to explain it, not in terms that don’t sound like something from the SyFy channel.”
“Well, I feel the same way, and I’ve made a decision. I’m going down there. Whatever it is, a government screw up, something natural, or what, if these guys try to keep a lid on it, it could spin out of control before they call in serious help, and by then it might be too late. I want to know what’s going on down there, and if it’s something the community needs to know about. Are you with me?”
Part 4 – by me
I was too wrapped up the mystery, and his gorgeous eyes, to notice my head nodding along without my contest. Saul’s grin widened.
“Wow, that’s fantastic! We should go now, don’t you think?”
“Uh, wait, what? No. I mean, shouldn’t we-”
He took my hand, and my brain shorted out with a tiny fizz.
“We can do this. We’ll be just like the X-Files.”
I drank down the rest of my wine in a single swig and I considered his comparison.
“So, nine seasons of increasing sexual tension? I’d rather not!”
A quick glance at those biceps begging to flex out of his shirt, and I was sold. We’d sneak down, snap a few photos, and be done, right? Saul would easily dispatch any oversized critter they found down there. It was probably just a coyote that fell down an uncovered manhole.
I followed him out to his company truck. Amid the usual plumbing tools, he’d stashed a collection of odds and ends. He pulled out a net and slung it over his shoulder.
“I was thinking about it. We don’t know what’s down there. We’ll have to be ready for anything.”
I picked up a short branch, sharpened at one end.
“I know. Probably not, but it won’t hurt to be prepared. There’s also a silver knife. I don’t own a gun, so no silver bullets. And just some basic hatchets and things to defend ourselves.”
I traded the stake for a machete. It looked like the most dangerous weapon Saul owned.
“I thought you just wanted to find it. Snap some photos so we can tell the town if it’s something dangerous.”
“Of course! But, if it really is dangerous we can’t expect it to leave us alone, right?”
My grip on the machete tightened. I took a deep breath.
“Okay. We can do this. I can… How are we going to get down there? Every manhole is being watched.”
“Just hooked up the Garrik house. He was on a well until just yesterday. All new pipes. I doubt the County guys got the info, considering all this mess. You want to drive, or should I?”
I grabbed the old, paint-stained jacket I keep in the trunk for emergencies. I was not about to let my nicest duds drenched in sewer filth. When I hopped into the passenger seat, Saul was grinning madly. I raised an eyebrow at him. He took the expression for the question it was, and nodded to my jacket.
“I didn’t think it was possible. You’re even better looking with that on.”
My cheeks flushed pink. This Thursday was polarizing into the best and worst of all possible days. And all of it was surreal.
We drove out to the forested edge of town until we reached a crooked old Victorian home. Saul pulled to the side of the road at a fresh mound of dirt and a brand new manhole cover. Just like he said, nobody was watching this one. A quick crowbar later, and we dropped down into the sewers.
I let him lead the way. He carried an industrial strength flashlight that had been a baseball bat in a previous life. I clutched the machete in one hand and my phone in the other. There was a steady dripping noise from somewhere up ahead, but no undead moans or scraping claws.
It was nearing ten thirty. I appreciated that the pipes were bigger the farther we walked, and we no longer had to crouch down, but the smell was overwhelming. Saul noticed my periodic gagging noises.
“I think we’re under the school now. Don’t worry it’s-”
He was interrupted by a raspy groan. I wheeled around, shining my phone’s flashlight at the noise behind us. An old man stood there, wheezing. Saul’s flashlight beam joined mine.
“Mr. Garrik? What are you doing down here?”
“I… followed you. Thursday…”
Saul squeezed past me to help the old guy stand up straight.
“You shouldn’t be down here. Let us help you get back home.”
“No! We must… find him… before they kill my…”
Mr. Garrik started coughing again.
Before I could ask him what he meant, that horrible noise returned. It was like listening to my mother’s drains, but amplified a hundred times.
The three of us followed the slimy, ghoulish sound to an even wider pipeline. We caught a shadowy glimpse in the flashlight’s beam. Saul rushed forward. I called for him to wait. Some date this was turning out to be.
When I went to chase after him, Mr. Garrik grabbed my sleeve.
“Wait! Thursday… is dangerous!”
“Don’t I know it. Stay here. I’ll be right back.”
I sloshed through the sewers after Saul. There was a fork in the path.
“Saul? Where are you?”
There was a scream to the right. Even in agony, his voice was beautiful. I held the machete out and raced to help him.
The screaming stopped right as I turned the last corner. His flashlight splashed to the ground, illuminating the monster they’d been hunting.
It was a beast of a dog, as tall at the shoulders as I was. But, everything was wrong about it. The back end was full of blobby tentacles and curved spikes. Its mouth was more like a frog’s, or a crocodile’s: massive, wide, fanged. The dog-monster chomped down on the last tatter of Saul’s arm. It had a collar around its bloody-soaked neck. The tag read “Thursday.”
With tears in my eyes, I snapped a quick photo, right before I threw up. It’s what Saul would have wanted. The monster took offense to the picture, and decided that eating my date wasn’t nearly enough. It let out a bellowing howl, and lunged forward.
I staggered back as I ran. I had to get Mr. Garrik out of here. Any manhole would give us an escape. We just had to find one. The beast snapped its jaws inches from the back of my neck. Thursday was really, literally, out to get me.
Mr. Garrik ran toward me as I fled the monster. He had something in his hand.
“Oh crapsticks. He mentioned Thursday. It’s his monster! It’s a trap!”
I saw a tiny side pipe to the left. Too small for the dog; big enough for me. I dove for the opening. The dog monster grabbed my shoe and yanked my right back out again. It glared down at me with deep, red eyes.
Mr. Garrik tackled the beast, holding a syringe. The dog whined like the brakes of a freight train. Seconds later, it was smaller. The dog shrank right in front of me, until it was little more than a big Labrador. It still had tentacles for a tail, and a creepily wide mouth, but it had lost its murderous rage. The old man hugged his dog around its neck while I sat speechless in the muck a few feet away..
“Come on Thursday, Daddy will take you home now.”