by Brian Rowe
Marty’s stomach was growling, and not in a good way.
He pulled to the side of the road and brought his face down against the steering wheel as a silent burst of flatulence filled his car with the nauseating odor of a nursing home.
He rolled down his window and slammed his fist against the dash. The pain didn’t want to go away. He kicked open his door and stepped out into the warm October sun.
It was barely noon. Marty had been driving from San Diego for over five hours, and all he’d eaten since awakening was a moldy piece of toast. He was sixty-one years old and about sixty-two pounds overweight. His gut drooped a couple of inches over his belt, and his enlarged neck had recently welcomed a twin brother.
He grabbed hold of the ski rack on top of his car as a tornado of wind erupted between his flabby butt cheeks, this time with the vibrant intensity of a symphonic orchestra. He gripped hold of his stomach and thought the obvious.
I need to eat something.
He turned to his left to see a gift shop, gas station, and film history museum. Every building looked dead, as if he had just stumbled into a ghost town.
Marty breathed a sigh of relief when he noticed a large family of seven waddling toward a restaurant. When his stomach showed no signs of quieting down, he decided to stalk them, each passing step bringing him closer to a structure covered with over-the-top Halloween decorations.
The corner diner, known simply as Family Restaurant, was located at the furthest edge of the desolate Nevada town. There were two relic cars out front and a giant sculpture of a vampire bat nearly blocking the entryway. His extended belly pushed against the glass door as he made his way inside.
“Good afternoon, Sir,” the waitress said, a fake smile on her face. She was wearing candy corn earrings. “Would you like the breakfast menu or the lunch menu?”
Marty looked over to see the family all seated around a booth. There was no one else in the restaurant. “Uhh, lunch is fine. Thank you.”
“Follow me,” she said. The waitress looked thirty but might have been a decade younger. Her hair was falling out, and a zit filled with pus looked ready to pop on her right cheek.
He took a seat at a sad two-seater table.
“Can I get you anything to drink?”
“Just water, please.” Marty’s stomach growled again. He needed something edible pronto. “I’ll actually order now.”
She didn’t bother taking out a pen and pad. “Sure. What can I get ya?”
Nothing on the menu looked safe. Every greasy burger, sandwich, and hot dog made Marty want to throw up.
“Do you have any specials?”
“Yes, we have a dessert special. The pumpkin pie milkshake.”
Marty’s eyes grew three times bigger. “Pumpkin milkshake?”
“That’s correct. It’s amazing.”
During his life-long struggle with irritable bowel syndrome, not to mention lactose intolerance, Marty had avoided dairy products like STDs. While scrambled eggs only made him gassy, a glass of milk usually gave him the runs for hours.
But one of Marty’s fondest memories dated back to age eight, when his system ran fine and life was sweet. His mother had brought him to an autumn festival, where he enjoyed his first taste of the spicy trove of wonders, otherwise known as pumpkin ice cream.
He was scared for his health. But for once in his pained life, he didn’t care.
“I’ll do the milkshake. Sounds good.”
She nodded and took his menu. As she walked to the back of the restaurant, he could see her picking at her pimple.
Marty tapped his fingers on his table as he stared at the family across the way and took notice of their timidity. The parents sat at each end, while the kids focused on their coloring books.
The mother caught him staring at them. She bit her bottom lip and winked, not flirtatiously, but with sadness.
He turned around just in time to see the waitress plop the large shake on his table. It was served in a tall, chilled glass, piled high with whipped cream.
“Here you go. Enjoy.”
Marty picked up his spoon and brought it down into the thick swirl of heaven. He hesitated, knowing the consequences that would soon arise.
When he took his first bite, a rush of excitement surged through his entire body. His taste buds, used to plain foods like water crackers, started ejaculating with joy. The richness of the pumpkin flavor, blended with warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, flooded Marty with so many memories that he wanted to cry.
“How is it?” the waitress asked, walking toward the family with a tray of food.
Marty didn’t say a thing. He just nodded, a child-like grin plastered on his face.
He took another bite. And another. Before he could stop himself, he had devoured half of the cup. He brought his spoon down to taste a dollop of the whipped cream, when a bout of air started charging up his throat.
It started as a burp. When his forehead started sweating, he knew he was in for a whirl of hurt. For the first time in months, he felt nauseous.
He tried to burp again, but he could feel a warm rush of acidic chunks heading up his windpipe. At the same time, he could sense the imminent explosion of mushy feces in his rectum. He felt as if he had consumed poison, and his body was trying to violently expel it from both ends.
The vomit came first. A mixture of white foam and orange fluid spilled out from Marty’s mouth like a soda dispenser. It splashed against the table and dribbled off the other side.
The family across the way watched Marty in horror. He put his hand over his mouth to try to keep from throwing up again, but to no success. He puked again, this time upchucking even more watery misery. Panicked, he glanced around the restaurant to find the bathroom door. He didn’t see it. He looked for the waitress. She had disappeared.
When Marty looked over at the family, he found his head swirling with confusion. Clearly not done with their meals, they were making their way to the emergency exit, the parents holding onto their children’s hands. If Marty hadn’t known any better, he would’ve thought the restaurant had just caught on fire.
Marty stood up and started making his way to a dark hallway on the left, the only possible avenue that could lead to a bathroom.
That’s when he heard the scratching noise.
He turned to his left. He couldn’t tell where the noise was coming from. It sounded like sharp fingernails scraping against a creaky pipeline. He took a step forward to investigate, but a shriek from his colon made him turn back around.
Marty rushed down the hallway to find a single unisex bathroom. He closed the door, locked it, and made his way to the stall. It smelled of rotting corpses. Graffiti stained the walls and wet paper towels dangled off the broken toilet seat.
He wanted to run out of the bathroom, jump in his car, and never look back, but he had a job to do. He pulled down his pants and sat on the unsanitary toilet, his asshole prepared for immediate launch.
The diarrhea shot out of his anus with the velocity of an angry garden hose. He gripped both sides of the toilet in agonizing pain.
After he pushed out the last few drops with the intensity of birthing a child, he brought his head down to his knees. He closed his eyes and let out a grateful sigh.
When he opened them, he saw a severed finger.
He thought it was a carrot. He picked it up, turned it over, and noticed a small bit of bone sticking out.
Marty opened his mouth to scream, but he stopped himself when he heard the bathroom door blow open.
“Hello?” Marty was eight years old again, this time frightened and alone.
The response he received was a low, eerie growl. It sounded like nothing he had ever heard before. He looked down beneath the stall to see feet not of a human or an animal. There were six feet in total, all slim and spider-like.
They were hovering off the ground.
Marty felt no hesitation in releasing a scream this time as the stall door ripped open, revealing a slimy creature so morbid, he had to close his eyes. Even Marty’s bowels closed up with fear.
The creature approached him, opening its mouth so wide it could swallow the room, and Marty knew his time had come. He had lived his entire life with the dread that he would die in a bathroom stall, and he was right. The vociferous creature, dark brown in color but with a face disturbingly colorless, swooped down below Marty’s legs. He braced for the worst.
It took a few seconds for Marty to realize he wasn’t the intended meal. He jumped up, revealing his bare ass, and leaned against the grimy stall.
He turned his head around to see the creature’s mouth wrap around the toilet. Its sharp teeth dug deep into the floor, causing a break in the water pipe, as the toilet lifted off the ground. Water started shooting everywhere as the creature held it high up in the air with its six tiny arms and turned it upside down. Marty’s pool of orange diarrhea started sliding down the creature’s hungry throat.
“Oh my God,” Marty said under his breath. “It eats shit.”
The creature unleashed a loud, chilling howl of satisfaction and slammed the empty toilet against the wall.
When the creature turned around, it met Marty’s eyes. He held his breath and tried not to move. He watched as its eyes moved all the way down to his scared, clenched ass. The creature didn’t turn away. Instead, it started opening its mouth again.
Marty looked down at his sagging buttocks. There was a tiny brown stain on his right cheek.
The creature wrapped its teeth around Marty’s midsection and bit down with a cacophonous crunch. As Marty spit up an avalanche of blood and started getting swallowed, he took comfort in one simple thought.
No more irregularity.