Gavin enjoyed working part time at the Pteetneet Film Society, a fourplex theater with purple velvet walls and black and white checkered floor that primarily showed cult classics and independent films, but he hated working the Tuesday shifts because it was always too slow. He straightened a box of Grandma Jelly brand Peanut Butter chunks and let out a sigh.
“Hey Gav,” Roscoe caught his attention as he exited the bathroom, still zipping up, “Cleo is going to leave a little early tonight. If we get any latecomers you’ll need to sell tickets from the concession stands.”
“Just you and me tonight then?”
Roscoe pushed himself up on the glass counter and let his legs dangle, “yeah, I’ll get that Lake Nodens Rom-Com rolling in theater two and then come out and join you.”
“I assumed we wouldn’t have anyone here for that.”
“Ma and Pa are here,” Ma and Pa were an elderly couple that came nearly every Tuesday for almost as long as the theater had been around. They would faithfully buy their tickets in pennies and dimes, shuffle in their padded slippers to the front row, and watch a movie hand in hand.
“Do me a favor man,” Roscoe dropped from the counter.
“Close your eyes and open your mouth.”
“Sure,” Gavin rolled his eyes.
“Serious, do it, trust me man. You’re really high strung. It’s just a little meditation move I learned recently.”
Gavin closed his eyes and dramatically opened his mouth.
“Breathe out through your nose and when I touch your shoulder I want you to take a deep breath in through your mouth, okay?”
Roscoe took a deep hit from the vape pen in his back pocket, put his hand on Gavin’s shoulder, and blew directly into his mouth. Gavin sucked it all in and let out a wet cough, “Dick! I didn’t know we were getting high tonight!”
Roscoe walked backward to the door between the first two theaters, “think you can handle things out here while I get the projector going?”
Gavin looked around the empty lobby, “I think I’ll manage.”
Roscoe responded with finger guns and climbed the stairs to the projector room.
The lobby was quiet again; Gavin looked out the front door where it was still light outside but fading fast. Cleo was in the ticket kiosk brushing her asymmetrical pink haircut out of her eyes; Gavin had always thought she was beautiful. Smooth and delicate bony hands, arms covered in black and white traditional tattoos, porcelain smile, and a good taste in clothes that left just the right amount to the imagination. She picked up her small shoulder bag and started to pack up to head home. She caught his eye as she locked the kiosk door and waved.
He waved back with a crooked smile.
“Thank gods I’m behind a counter,” with an embarrassed grimace Gavin lowered his hand and adjusted his crotch. As he pulled his hand back he felt a little prickle of pain against the waistband of his jeans, “ouch, what is that?”
Gavin looked around the lobby and, once he was sure no moviegoers were loose to witness, slid his hand knuckle-deep into his underwear.
He felt a lump.
It was tender and larger than the average zit. He pulled his shirt back with one hand and his waist band forward with the other and looked inside his pants, but it was too dark to see anything.
“What’cha doing back there?” Roscoe popped around the corner.
Gavin pulled his hands up and his underwear stung as it snapped back into place.
“Ahhh,” he groaned, “I think maybe I just ate something that disagreed with me. Mind if I step into the bathroom?”
“Take your time, man, it’s not like it can get any slower.”
The bathroom of the ancient theater had not been updated in a long time. The yellow hue of the flickering fluorescent bulbs barely illuminated the floor to ceiling gold-tinted medallion tile panels; the black marble floor offered no reflection. The mirrors were too scratched and hazy to see very much.
He stepped into a wobbly stall and slid the latch shut, ‘Sch-clank.’ He unzipped his pants and dropped his underwear to the floor. He craned his neck to look down at the spot. It was difficult to get a proper look at the bump, between the dark lighting and having to crane his neck, but it was a noticeably different kind of lump from the pressure marks around it.
Gavin took out his phone and flipped on the flashlight. He rolled his neck back and forth to ease some of the pressure, and took a couple deep breathes while reading bathroom poetry someone had tried to erase,
“If you ever feel powerless,
Just remember that a
single one of your
pubic hairs can shutdown
an entire restaurant.”
He shone the light on his crotch and bent his neck to take a closer look, just as the little pustule came into focus there was a series of muffled screams and Gavin jumped back, falling to the toilet with a crash.
It was the jump scare from that indie scary movie in theater four about the demon in the cookie jar. A drunken bachelorette party had come in to watch it, male stripper in tow, to get their thrills. He stood back up and got his phone back into place.
The lump was an ingrown hair; he could see the blunted stump of black whisker trying to make its way out of the white head. Putting his phone in his mouth he stretched and twisted, one foot up on the toilet, back to the wall, until he was able to get a hands-free view of the spot. With one hand he pinched the skin around the hair to ease it out, and with his other hand he gently needled the hair until he could clutch it between two fingernails and pulled.
A thick gushy stream of white oozed out along with the hair that made him gag. He spat his phone to the floor and took several squares of toilet paper to wipe the infection away. The relief from removing the hair was instant, but the lump was still there and as he looked closer, so was the hair.
He knelt to pick up his phone from the floor trying to avoid the moist layers of aged piss stains surrounding it. He tenderly picked it up and inspected it for germs. He wanted to continue holding it in his mouth to keep both hands free, he opened his jaw over it, but stopped.
Fuck it. He didn’t need the flashlight, he could do this in dim flickering light.
He set his phone on the toilet tank.
Grabbing the hair between two clenched fingers he continued to pull until it was an inch long, then two, and with a POP! it came out of his skin.
“Christ, that was enormous,” he held the hair up to inspect it as its curls bounced up and down above a tiny white root ball. He caressed the lump with his other hand and felt… another hair. He dropped the hair he was holding in the toilet and leaned back down to pinch another hair. Again, it came out an inch at a time, one, two, three?! POP!
Another hair gone another one emerged.
Pinch. Pull. One, two, three, four, five. POP!
Pinch. Pull. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. POP!
Pinch. Pull. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. POP!
Pinch. Was the hair thicker?
Pull. Does the hair feel rougher?
One, two, three, four, five, the hair does feel thicker, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and it is definitely rougher, eleven, twelve, thirteen, no, not rougher, fourteen, ribbed, fifteen, sixteen, and wet, nineteen, thicker, twenty, paler, twenty-one, it’s piling on the floor, twenty-two, I’m going to need both hands, twenty-three. It stuck. He tugged harder. POP!
A tooth, tied by a string, fell into his open palm.
Gavin tossed the abomination into the toilet with a watery clink as he bent in dry heaves.
Then he felt another hair.
“Noo noooo no no no,” he groaned.
The door to the bathroom creaked open, “Hey Gav Gav, you in here?”
“Hey man, yeah, I’m still here.”
“Intermission is in about 10 minutes for theater one and three. It will be the highlight of the work night,” he oozed sarcasm, “also, for real man, I keep taking your hits on the vape. If we really get a customer then I might need you to communicate.”
“I’ll be there, man. Promise.”
He looked at the tiny hair, taunting him, and began pulling it as it grew and grew, getting bigger and thicker. He could feel his skin stretching until the hair was thick as thread, and the thread was thick as string, and the string was thick as yarn. It became translucent and bulbous with each pull and he could smell the sweet hot blood that dripped through his toes and pooled around his sandals while he yanked.
He squeezed the viscous tube and could feel the tension jolt through his intestines; his stomach indented. He continued to pull until his intestines piled higher and higher around the cracked toilet. Every now and again a tooth would pop out with a clatter as it skittered across the floor.
Sweat and tears ran down his face and dripped, mingling with the blood, making the pull more and more slippery as he extracted the knotty veiny rope. His lungs tightened and his ass puckered, but he couldn’t stop. Whatever this was he wanted, no, needed, it out of his body as soon as possible. With each pull the urgency grew and with the growing urgency he pulled harder.
Then it got stuck. He pulled and he yanked, squishing innards between his fingers, but it wouldn’t budge. He felt his eyeballs pull through his skull and a tickle in his brain. He stopped to take a deep breath and with all his might he pulled.
The bathroom door crashed open, “dude, the fuck are you? You realize I can fire you right?”
Roscoe sauntered into the bathroom, “dude, you still pushing one out?” The far stall door was still closed and eerily quiet.
“Hey man, I was just kidding about the firing thing,” Roscoe took a half step between each word, scooting his way into the bathroom, “I mean I could fire you, but you know I wouldn’t, man.”
Roscoe stood outside the last stall, “you okay man?”
A wet thump reverberated the tin tiles and, between heavy flickers of light, something squirmed from under the stall door.
“Dude – I don’t think you’re okay,” Roscoe knelt to take a closer look at the gently writhing gelatinous mass on the ground. It reminded Roscoe of a worm, except for something about the pinkish color – it shimmered. He bent down closer and realized he was looking at a thick translucent tube with little chunks of color swirling through cloudy liquid. he put his face closer to the tube and saw, was it – a fingernail?
The finger bent and swayed its way toward Roscoe followed by more fingers that pressed palm-ward up, stretching the intestinal casing. Roscoe backpedaled and caught his sneaker a little pile of loose teeth. He toppled, scuttling crab-like backward, until his head slammed against the tile. He dragged a trail of blood to the floor as he collapsed.
The hand continued to press up and out, clutching at the latch, ‘Sch-clank.’
About the Creator
I'm Jeff Carter; I wanted a unique & personal pen name. Writing offers an opportunity to create and heal. These stories in the bizarre, horror, and magic realism help inspire me to move forward with novel writing. Thank you for reading.