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Dark-Stained Nightmare

The water went blistering hot before it shut off, and the shock of it made Kent smack his head on the shower head, leaving a long gash in his scalp.

“Jesus!” he gasped, almost falling through the curtain. “Janey! What happened?” He turned the tap on and off, but all he heard was a horrible sucking noise, like some kind of beast in the pipes was trying to escape. He brushed the shampoo lather from his eyes and looked back over his shoulder. “Janey!” he shouted. “What happened to the water?”

There was no answer, and worse than that, no footsteps in the kitchen, no TV playing in the background. It was eerily quiet. He reached for his towel, but his hand slipped off the cool metal rack.

He looked at it, blinking, then over at the stack of spare towels. Nothing. Not one. Not even a face cloth. His hair was full of lather, his body was dripping wet, and he had absolutely no way to stop it. He reached down for his dirty clothes, but they were gone too.

“Janey?” he yelped, leaning his head out the bathroom door. “Hello?”

Nothing. Not a sound. He took stock of his situation: naked, wet and alone in a suddenly-silent apartment. Not a good sign. He reached around the corner, into the hall, and snatched the little Inuit statue he’d never really liked, trying to hold it like a weapon. He took a deep breath, and carefully stepped into the hall.

The bedroom was empty, but the closets were raided; there were dark wet smudges in the carpet he couldn’t place. He followed them back, down the hall, past the bathroom, until he came to the edge of the kitchen. The smudges ended there. He got a better grip of the statue, and leapt around the corner, ready to strike!

The kitchen was empty too. It looked a mess, but there was no foul play here. He took a step inside and suddenly the ground gave out below him, and he flipped on his back, landing on the floor with a crack.

“Janey,” he gasped. “Janey, I hurt.”

He sat up groggily and noticed the entire kitchen floor was covered with a thin layer of water and grime: very, very slippery. He tried to get back up, but landed on his knees instead, which almost hurt more than his back. He was in the middle of creating a whole new subset of curse words when he heard the sound of someone fiddling with the lock to the front door.

His eyes shot open wide and he scrambled into the hall and down to the front door, sliding the security chain into place. The door unlocked a moment later, but caught on the chain.

“Heh?” grunted a voice from outside. A man’s voice. Deep and gruff. Sinister. “Mr G?”

“Who’s there?”

“It’s me, Dom, the super.”

He paused. The super. The super!

“Yer wife called down, said you had a plumbing emergency,” said Dom. “Burst pipe?”

“Ah,” said Kent. “Yes. That makes sense. Do you… uh… know where Janey is, by the way?”

“Saw ‘er on the way down to the laundry room. Had a big basket with ‘er.”

Kent nodded to himself, let out a slow sigh. He wanted to open the door, but he was still naked, and far too soapy and wet to just dress up and pretend it was okay.

“One second, please, Dom,” he said. “I just need to fix one thing.” He raced down the hall to the linen closet, throwing it open and reaching into the very back of the top shelf.

“Need a hand?” called Dom, trying to get a look inside.

“No worries!” called Kent. “I’ve got it!”

He found it with some difficulty: a roll of paper towels. he ripped off the plastic, took out a long row, and started wiping off his hair. He bunched up the towels he’d used and threw them into the bathroom, then started to dry the rest of him, wiping the gooey blackness from the backs of his legs, his shoulders.

“Mr G,” said Dom impatiently, “I’ve got other places to see yet, so…”

“Okay, okay! One second!” Kent called, and raced back to the door. “I’m going to unchain it, but give me to the count of ten before you come in, okay?”

“Sure,” said Dom, “whatever.”

Kent closed the door, unchained it, and started racing back to the bedroom, but his foot hit another patch of the dirty water, and he slipped again, twisting his ankle.

The door opened with a crash, and Kent spun around, using the roll to block his privates. Standing next to the obviously-disturbed Dom was Janey, clothes covered in filth, her face twisted in fury.

“Finally!” she snapped. “I called you to help me!”

“I… I…”

“Didn’t hear me, yeah, I know.”

He tried to back up, but something caught her eye.

“Where did you get that?” she yelled. “The paper towels! I was looking for them everywhere!”

“Oh, they were in the back of the—”

She stormed forward, snatched the roll out of his hands, and headed to the kitchen, muttering obscenities under her breath the whole way. Kent stood, naked in the hallway, mirroring the shocked look on Dom’s face.

“The shower’s broken too,” he said with a half-hearted laugh.

“Yeah,” said Dom. “Only gives cold water. I can see.”

This 1kStory is for Kyle Newton ("Paper towel as a substitute for a real towel").

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