A collection of pieces written for competitions
| Down The Drain
It's like a stereo clamour.
My wife, Fern, from the kitchen, calls: "The sink is not draining again." Callum from upstairs calls: "The shower's not draining!" Sure enough, just seconds later, water begins to drip through the kitchen ceiling.
"Hang on," I say to my wife as I hit the stairs two at a time. "Hurry and open up the door," I say to Callum, who at fourteen is not going to let me in the bathroom until he is fully dressed, regardless of the water over-flowing from the shower tray.
Finally, after what feels like an hour but can really only be minutes, he unlocks the door and steps aside. At least he had the sense to turn the shower off, but even so the water is lapping over the sides of the shower base. I grab a couple of towels from the laundry basket and attempt to mop up the spills.
Pulling up my sleeve above my elbow, I thrust my hand beneath the water. More spills over the side of the shower tray as I grope around, trying to find the drain hole. It wouldn't be the first time that it had become clogged with hair, but from what I can feel there is nothing blocking it at all.
"Pass me that bowl," I say to Callum, pointing to a small plastic bowl on the side of the bathtub. I begin bailing out the shower tray.
I'm about to empty the bowl into the toilet when Callum says, "I wouldn't do that if I were you, Dad."
With a sinking heart I can see what he means. The water level in the toilet is dangerously high. It'll have to be the bath tub then. I put in the plug and begin the slow process of transferring the water from the shower to there. At least if I can get the level down it will stop going through the kitchen ceiling.
"Callum, will you go down and get me the drain plunger?" I don't believe it will work, but it's worth a try.
I attempt to force water down at pressure, but succeed at nothing other than soaking myself even more than I already am. Perhaps the blockage is feeding back up from the kitchen.
There's a puddle on the floor that Fern is attempting to dry up. The problem is that there is a steady drip coming from the ceiling still. I tell her it should stop soon and squelch my way to the sink. Plunger at the ready, I pull the handle up, and ram it down hard. The water shoots up and hits me in the face. Wiping at my face, in embarrassment as much as anger, I walk from the kitchen and out of the door. Water is flowing down the path, signifying that we must have one hell of a blockage in the drain itself.
It's a Sunday. Maybe on any other day I'd call out the drain cleaners, but I know the extortionate rates they charge for out-of-hours call-outs. We really can't afford it, so I'll have to just grit my teeth and do it myself.
I plunge my hands into the murky water and feel for the grille that covers the drainpipe. There's always a possibility that this is just clogged up, but my fingers tell me that is not the case. I pull away a couple of rotted leaves and twigs, and wait, knowing that I'm waiting for nothing. Reluctantly I push my fingers around the cover and keep moving them around until I have enough grip to be able to lever it upwards.
Any hope that I had of a quick fix is dashed, as more water slops upwards and soaks me yet again. At this stage, I simply no longer care. There's a disgusting smell too. I'm going to have to have a word with my wife and son for clearly one of them has been putting something down the drain that they shouldn't have been.
I push my hand into the drainpipe, feeling the slickness of old detergent coating its sides. It's clear so far, apart from of water. I'm going to have to go deeper. Dismissing the idea of using a stick, I maneuver myself to be nearer to the drain and then, gritting my teeth against the revulsion, I thrust my hand downwards.
There! I can feel something that seems to be wedged inside the pipe. It is something so large that the water cannot get past it. Greasy, disgusting, vaguely furry, a picture of rats in sewers flashes through my mind. It can't be a rat though, it's just too big. Some kind of animal, though, must have got into the drain and died there.
Feeling the bile rise up in my throat, I am determined to work it free. My fingers cannot get a grip on it; there's no way I can get it to move. I've just about given up trying when I feel it stirring. I must have dislodged it after all.
I turn to give Fern and Callum a thumbs up, and then I feel it. A searing pain, like my arm has been caught inside some kind of cruel trap. I cry out and try to tug my arm back, but whatever has got a grip on me has no intention of letting go.
Metal? No, teeth! That's what's got me. I cry out and Fern and Callum both come running.
"Get your arm out of there, Mitch!" Fern sounds as frantic as I feel, and I can see why. The water around the drain is turning red with my blood.
"Oh, god!" I gasp. "It hurts so bad!"
Callum is crying as I struggle against the force that is trying to pull me even deeper into the hole. And finally I find myself falling back, the agony just as bad, if not worse.
"Oh, my god!" It's Fern this time. Why does she sound so panicked? "Callum, go and call an ambulance. Now!"
I don't think I've ever seen my son move so fast before. The pain is beginning to dull but everything is going hazy, out of focus. Fern grips me by the shoulders and tries to pull me away from the drain, and it is then, when I happen to look down, that I see why I have been able to move.
The reason I am free is because my arm is still inside the mouth of whatever it is that is blocking up our drain.