Part 3—The Visit
Joseph had to do what nature requested. With candle in hand, he padded down to the end of the garden at the back of the house to the little outhouse, the dunny.
He steeled himself against the lingering smell of raw sewerage, and settled his bottom on the wooden bench over the hole.
No toilet paper, he observed. No newspaper, either. Now what? ‘Damn, how am I going to wipe?’ he muttered. ‘Awkward!’
He pondered how he’d solve this issue. The sound of leaves fluttering in a wooden vat caught his attention. Leaves. ‘Ahh!’
As he wiped with the leaves, the fluttering sound turned into a buzz, then a whizzing sound.
Joseph pulled up his pants and held his breath—not from the smell, but the sound which was quite loud by this time.
‘Now, young man, let’s see if I find you here,’ a man’s voice said.
Joseph recognised that voice. O-oh, this is not good! Fear like an Antarctic blast, paralysed him. He perched on the bench. The rustling was the other side of the outhouse door—an unlocked door—the Wends didn’t believe in loo locks—apparently.
Then he came to his senses. He puffed out the candle-flame. He slid to the floor, and lay flat. At least he could pretend the dunny was unoccupied. Maybe the fruity scents would put Boris off.
‘Now, I bet my little man is in here…’ Boris said.
He heard scuffling.
Joseph counted the seconds until Boris ended his life or began hundreds of others in his breeding programme. Probes. Would there be probes?
His fingers touched a handle.
A wooden flap moved.
The door cracked open.
He lifted the flap and scrambled down the ladder. The flap slammed shut.
He entered a room bathed in smoky light. In one corner was a box with a screen and knobs and switches down one side. A red laser beam pulsated on the far side. Piled on the other side, the stinky pile, steaming and fermenting for the Biar’s garden.
Joseph recoiled from the fruity stench and stepped over to the beam.
The trapdoor creaked.
Joseph searched for a shadow in a corner to hide. He charged through the light. The place blacked out. In the inky darkness, he groped for a wall. His hand ran over a slab—hard like concrete. The air was cold and still. He was reminded of the solitary confinement cells for convicts in Port Arthur, Tasmania. His mother refused to enter the cell. She said it spooked her, as if the ghosts of the tormented convicts lingered there. An odour hung in the atmosphere of this room; a pungent, unforgettable smell. Joseph gagged. He remembered that smell, having lived on a farm in the Adelaide Hills: the stench of dead animals.
Then, out of the darkness, a moan, a low anguished groan like a ghost or a demented alien. Joseph imagined all sorts of creatures grew in the darkness, they multiplied like demons in hell.
Joseph turned and darted across the red line of light, and back into the cellar. He returned just in time to see Boris’ backside disappear up the ladder through the trapdoor.
‘Phew! That was close!’ Joseph wiped his forehead damp with sweat.
As the trapdoor clicked shut, Joseph stepped back across the beam and cowered in the moaning blackness for a few moments. He took several deep breaths, and regretted doing so. He couldn’t decide which was worse, the pong of excrement, or death. Both made him gag. He then stepped back over the red beam again and into the warm but unwelcoming air of human waste.
‘I hope Boris hasn’t locked the trapdoor,’ he mumbled as he climbed the ladder.
Joseph reached the top rung and pushed. As the trapdoor lifted, he sighed. ‘That’s a relief.’ He peeped out into the outhouse. Rays from the Hand of God nebula filtered through the cracks in the wooden structure. All was quiet.
More thumping in the garden.
Joseph scrambled up and shoved the bucket of leaves against the door. Better than nothing. Or was it?
Thud! Thud! Thud! On the wooden panels.
Joseph curled himself in a ball and huddled in a corner. Below him, moaning echoed. The door rattled and knocked over the bucket. Can’t be Boris, he’d let himself in, Joseph thought.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Perhaps it’s one of the Biars. Joseph opened his mouth to speak. Then imagined Boris lurking there the other side of the outhouse door. Boris pounding on the door. Silently, Joseph shifted to the door and sat, pushing against it.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Feature Photo: Something like the Biar’s Outhouse; Long-drop Loo near Ocean Beach, Strahan, Tasmania © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016