Rest Stop of the Damned
Rebecca pulled her jeep into the first gas station she’d seen in the past hour, her backroads trip through rural Tennessee marked with deer sightings, pot-hole lined roads, and a bladder that felt as if it were ready to pop from holding it for so long. Killing the engine, she hopped down from her vehicle, pocketing the keys in her denim shorts before adjusting her bra strap beneath her tank top.
Her round glasses were smudged slightly and her long hair was a mess from her exposure to the heat of the dying embers of summer, but she didn’t care. She was on her way home from attending a friend’s wedding, one where she’d partied a little too hard. Her hangover was still with her, and the bright sunshine was doing little to help her headache.
Looking at the gas station, she whistled low. “What a dump!”
The old wooden building had a cracked glass door bearing a sign declaring the store open, with several faded stickers declaring that the owner of the store had a gun and would use it if needed. Walking across the broken pavement towards the building, she shivered when she saw stains on the door, dark brown smears that looked like watery mud. The door opened just as she approached it, causing her to flinch.
An old man, hunched over a cane with a wandering eye beneath a large brown ball cap, stood in the doorway. He was dressed in a pair of jeans with suspenders, a dull gray shirt marred with sweat clinging to his near-skeletal frame.
She must have been staring, as the old man cleared his throat. “You comin’ in Missy?” He grumbled with a voice thicker than mud.
Rebecca jumped as she realized she’d been staring, blushing slightly. “Oh, yes! Sorry about that, I was just surprised is all.”
“Harrumph…” The man grunted, stepping back to allow Rebecca into the brightly lit store. She sighed as a fan blasted cold air on her, the gigantic thing stationed behind the wooden counter next to a mounted deer head. Keys and hats hung from the antlers, and a corncob pipe jutted out from the mouth. The rest of the store was lined with wooden shelving bearing various goods, from bags of chips to motor oil.
Looking around, she didn’t see anyone else in the building. Turning to the old man, who was walking around her, she cleared her throat. “Um, are you the owner?”
“Ayup,” he said as he walked behind the counter. “Been here since fifty-two, took over in sixty-eight after my Pappy croaked. Names Wallace, if’n ya care.”
“Oh,” Rebecca didn’t know how to respond to that, instead choosing to just smile and play along. “Well, I was hoping I could use your bathroom. Do you have one available?”
“Ayup,” Wallace said once more, pulling a stool from the wall near a rack of cigarettes and dirty magazines. “Thing is I don’t just lend out the keys to people I don’t know. Had to replace ‘em a couple times when city folk came in and asked for ‘em, then drove off laughing at my sorry ass.”
“Oh, I’d never do anything like that,” Rebecca said, wincing as her bladder throbbed. “I just really need to go, so could I please use your bathroom? I’ll buy something if I have to.”
“That’d be nice, but that ain’t whats gonna get me to fork over the keys to my toilet,” Wallace grunted, reaching up to the mounted head to pull the pipe clear. Pulling a small canister from his pocket, he opened it up to reveal what looked like oregano laced with purple and red veins. “You want ta use my toilet, ya gotta leave yer keys with me, so I know ya ain’t gonna drive away on me.”
Rebecca frowned at that, watching the man pack his pipe with the colorful concoction before pulling a matchbook from under the counter. “I don’t feel comfortable doing that.”
“Then I don’t feel comfortable lettin’ you use my toilet,” Wallace replied, striking a match to life. “Ain’t any other way yer gonna get relief fer what ails ya unless ya toss me yer keys. I promise I ain’t gonna do anything with ‘em, just wait for ya to come back so we can trade.”
Rebecca frowned, fishing her keys out of her shorts. Wallace puffed on his pipe, smiling as he she slapped her keys down on the counter. “Thatta girl!” He said, reaching up to fish down the keys hanging from a low antler. Tossing them over the counter to her, he chuckled. “You planning on buyin’ anything still? Got a couple new magazines that’re good reads while yer on the can.”
“Um, no… I just need to pee,” Rebecca replied. “Where is the bathroom?”
Wallace coughed a bit, the smoke obviously getting to him. It didn’t seem to deter him any, as he just puffed a few more times before jerking a thumb behind him. “Other side of the store on the outside, just inside the junkyard.”
“Junkyard?” Rebecca repeated.
“Ayup,” Wallace said. “I run a junkyard for the locals, parts from wrecks and abandoned vehicles for their own use. If’n ya need anything, just lemme know. I can have something pulled for ya lickety-split.”
“No, the bathroom should be all I need,” Rebecca replied, walking towards the door.
As she pushed it open, she fought back a smile at Wallace’s parting comment. “Try not ta fall in Missy, I don’t feel like cleanin’ up a mess today!”
“I’ll try,” she replied as she left the store, twirling the keys in her index finger. “Creepy old fuck… better not steal anything from my jeep while I’m busy.”
Walking around the building, she gasped as she caught sight of what Wallace had described as the junkyard. At least thirty vehicles sat in rows, all in various states of disrepair. Almost all of them were missing tires, and many had the hoods open with pieces of engine obviously gone. A chain-link fence surrounded the junkyard, running flush against the rotting wood of the gas station. A wide gate held together by chains and a heavy lock blocked her way, the brass lock bearing a painted number one on it.
Looking down at the keys, she smiled as she saw that the keys were numbered. “Saves time, that’s for certain.”
Unlocking the padlock, Rebecca slid the chain free from the gate and slid in through the opening. Walking along the wall, she stopped at a flimsy looking door. Made from cheap plywood, the door had WC carved into the middle near the top of the door, and a fancy looking lock.
Testing a key, Rebecca smiled as the door clicked open. Her smile faded when she was assaulted with a horrid stench akin to rotting meat and weeks old feces. Reaching in to flip on the light, she frowned at the general mess that was the single stall bathroom. The toilet was cracked and stained, the tile floor around it broken up from years of use, revealing pale cement beneath. A roll of thin toilet paper sat on the floor next to the toilet, which looked as if it’d last been cleaned during the Carter administration.
Crinkling her nose, Rebecca pocketed the keys and took a hesitant step into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. “God, I should have just found some bushes to go in… this place is a mess!”
Rebecca shivered in disgust as she stepped in a stained section of floor, dull brown residue marring the bared cement around the toilet in a pattern reminiscent of a blown up water balloon. “Hope this thing doesn’t break on me. Wouldn’t want Wallace cursing my name as I drive home…”
Rebecca undid her shorts and, carefully, perched herself on the cold toilet seat. Waiting for her bladder to relieve itself, she looked around the walls, admiring the various graffiti on the walls of the stall.
Various phone numbers littered the wood, carved or written in by those who had sharpies on hand. She chuckled at a few jokes and smiled at what looked like an ongoing written argument between two people, both of them slowly devolving into calling each other foul names. Reading, she whistled when she found a strange sentence beneath a racist joke.
“Tap your foot three times for service?” She repeated as she began to urinate. “How odd…”
Shivering when she felt some of the toilet water splatter up onto her bare ass, Rebecca cursed the bathroom once more for being so disgusting. A burping noise of bubbling water came from beneath her. Tapping her foot against the stained toilet, Rebecca tried to hurry up and finish her business when she heard a strange hiss.
Looking around, she raised her feet off the ground in case there was a snake in the bathroom.
“Great, I’m going to die in some backwater bathroom!” She grumbled.
A sudden searing pain in her buttocks made her scream, the sound of rain echoing from the toilet bowl as blood poured from her anus. Something with wicked hooks had speared her rear end and, when she tried to stand, the hooks sank in deeper. Pulling down, she heard a wet gurgle reminiscent of a chuckle.
“You tapped three times, so out I came! Now I pull you in with much disdain!” The voice burped from beneath her. She shrieked as she felt something bite her, and a hand slide up from beneath her, fingers digging into the side of her left butt cheek. Looking down, her eyes widened at the sight of wet gray fingers with blackened nails, sunk into her meaty side hard enough to draw blood.
Grabbing at the wall for purchase, Rebecca cried out as she felt the hand tug her into the toilet, a series of cracks fishing a new scream from deep within her belly as her hips were broken in an effort to pull her into the toilet bowl. Scrambling and scratching at the walls, Rebecca cried out to God for help as she sank deeper into the toilet, claws tearing her ass into ribbons as she was pulled through the narrow opening.
Legs now pointed up, feet over her head and hips fully pulled into the toilet, Rebecca tried gripping the bowl to push herself free. Her hands slipped on something warm and gooey. Bringing her hand up, she nearly vomited at the sight of her own dark blood staining her hand. Looking down, she saw the toilet overflowing with bloody water, which was spilling to the ground as she was slowly crushed and pulled deeper into the toilet.
Wallace finished his pipe, tapping out the remnants of his marijuana to the muffled sound of screams coming through the walls. Smiling, he hobbled around the counter. “Guess she tapped her foot three times…”
Walking out to the jeep, he climbed in and revved the engine, before backing up and pulling it up to the junkyard, driving slowly through the opened gate and parking the jeep next to a stripped Camaro that’d belonged to a young man who’d had to use the bathroom nearly a month ago.
“Been a while since I got a jeep,” Wallace muttered to himself as he put it into park, killing the engine. “I think Tyler was saying he needed a transmission for his old jeep. Hopefully they’ll match up…”
Wallace stepped out of the jeep, listening to the screams as they slowly died down, replaced by the sound of crunching. Walking over to the bathroom, Wallace opened the door and stepped in.
The toilet was surrounded by a pool of watery blood, streaks of crimson running down the bowl, a pair of arms and legs sticking out from beneath the seat. Walking over, Wallace looked around the mess before cursing.
“Fuck!” He growled, smacking the lifeless arms with his cane. “Bitch must’ve had the keys on her before Pappy got her!”
A burp issued from the toilet in response, followed by bubbling chuckles from within the toilet. Wallace ran a hand over his face before turning and heading out the door. “I need another hit before I can deal with this…” he muttered, turning off the light and closing the door, leaving the toilet to feed on the extremities of the city girl.