Carla woke up with a problem. For the last two days, the young woman had been experiencing an enormous amount of stress, from fighting with her uncle to interdimensional travel to watching a man bleed to death in front of her. Besides all of that, everything that Carla had eaten in that time had been prepackaged and canned food- mostly beans and corn. On top of this, she’d spent a lot of the time dehydrated and moving around a lot more than most days. Of course, any dramatic change in stress, diet or level of exercise can lead to problems with one’s digestive system. And so it came to be that Carla had not used the bathroom since coming to the Lost Dimension.
This was about to change. Carla felt a pain in her intestines as she plopped out of her sleeping bag that could only mean one thing. She hurriedly dressed herself and grabbed her hat, glancing over at her sleeping uncle to make sure he was still there, and rushed down the halls of the Cathedral of Sainte Decius to where she had found the bathroom the previous evening.
It really was quite nice. The bathroom had a large mirror where Carla could easily see that she looked like a mess after running around in the wilderness and sleeping on a pile of socks and a church pew. There was a bath which Carla planned to use after relieving herself, complete with shampoos, soaps, loofas and a rubber duck. The toilet itself was large and comfortable, with a spool of toilet paper attached for easy wiping. There was even a plunger and a toilet brush, in case anybody had even used this place enough to dirty it in the last however many years. Everything was decorated with eyes just like the ones on the stained glass windows, but after the last few days Carla didn’t mind the weirdness.
It’s rude to go into detail regarding a young lady in the restroom, of course. All that really must be said of her activities were that she worked hard and pushed through the pain. It was not until she was washing her hands that she noticed a problem.
The toilet was clogged.
Carla tried flushing again, but the mess she had left just swirled in the water more, and if you have ever been in a friend’s house and had this happen to you, you know exactly how awful it can be. Nobody would be happy in this situation, but as Carla was stressed out enough already, she started to cry. It is quite understandable, of course, for somebody to cry in this situation. To the young woman’s credit, she blew her nose and composed herself within only a few minutes.
Carla looked around and saw the previously mentioned plunger. She thought she was very lucky to have it there, but I am sorry to tell you, dear reader, that this was about the unluckiest thing Carla or anybody else has ever seen.
If you live in the same universe as the author of this story, you know that awful things have happened to many, many people in our world. For example, the Greek playwright Aeschylus died from having a tortoise dropped on his head, which was very unlucky. In the world where Carla and her uncle came from, Aeschylus did not die accidentally, but due to a plot by an ancient band of assassins who would someday join the ranks of the Redshirts. Incidentally, Aeschylus’s assassin was a tortoise in that timeline as well, but as that tortoise was a minos who had turned to a life of violence to pay the ransom on her family’s life, the situation was not the same at all. The point of all of this is to say that while many unlucky things have happened to many unlucky people in the relatively lucky world that we live in, at least none of us have accidentally summoned a demon and shoved its face in poop as far as I know.
If Mel had been there, he would have had a clue what was going on due to Pritha Prithvi’s ominous warning the night before. If Pritha Prithvi herself had been there, she would have immediately attempted to save Carla’s life, even if it meant unleashing dark magic all over the multiverse. But poor Carla had no idea what was going on until she pulled the wooden handle up and saw a very dirty and even angrier face glaring up at her.
Most of the eyes decorating the dark red head of the plunger had faded away, but two remained, two of the most menacing eyes Carla had ever seen. They were green eyes with slits like a cat’s or a snake’s, and the plunger’s rubber bunched up above them like heavy, hairless brows. All around the plunger’s eyes the rubber wasn’t red anymore, or even brown, but a dark black that seemed to suck in every amount of light in the room. From the bottom of its rubbery head the suctiony part coughed and wheezed out toilet water. The plunger’s handle grew incredibly hot, roasting the palms of Carla’s hands painfully.
So she did what any reasonable human being would do and threw the demonic plumbing tool back into the toilet before screaming bloody murder as she ran back toward the cathedral.
Of course, the worst thing about bad luck is that it tends to bring more misfortune tumbling after it, until it does not seem like your life ever had any happiness in it at all. So of course, Carla slipped and fell on the floor only a few feet away from the bathroom door.
Behind her, Carla heard the deep groan of collapsing masonry. She turned her head back only to see that the bathroom was gone entirely. A pipe was sticking out of the ground here and there, but besides that there was only a large hole in the wall and that damned plunger, floating effortlessly in the air. Behind it the woods were peaceful, like nature didn’t care one bit that something so unnatural had been unleashed upon it.
Carla’s voice shook as she spoke for the first time that day. “Who- what are you? What did you do?”
The bottom of the plunger curled up to face Carla, looking like thick, lipsticked lips. The lips curled up in a smile, revealing rows of sharp teeth which do not exist on most toilet plungers and certainly never should. It spoke slowly, like somebody speaking a language they have not used since childhood, in a raspy, masculine voice:
Several yards behind the floating demon came crashing a meteor of brick and wood. As the bathroom hit the ground, pieces of porcelain and ground flew everywhere like shrapnel, slicing into trees and sending dust everywhere.
“You woke me up, human child. For this I should be grateful.” As the plunger spoke, its teeth clinked against each other with a scraping sound like metal against metal. “However, I wish you would not have done so in such a rude way. I am beginning to think that you are having regrets as well.”
“Starting to,” started Carla, but she had to close her mouth and eyes as the wave of dusty air thrown up by the bathroom’s impact sprayed in through the broken wall. Thinking quickly, she stood up and ran as quickly as she could down the hallway.
She reached the end of the hallway and stopped. The plunger was there, perfectly still in the air with that same sharp smile on its face. Carla’s hat started snarling like an angry dog.
“You cannot run,” said the plunger. “My magic can place me anywhere I like. And it can do the same-“
Carla was not standing on solid ground anymore. All around her was empty sky. She looked down and saw the cathedral she had been in a moment before, hundreds of feet below.
Carla and her hat clutched each other tightly, screeching as they fell-
-onto the ground a foot below them. They were perfectly safe a few yards outside of the cathedral, with the plunger floating above them and grinning its same grin.
“-to you,” it finished its sentence from seconds before. “My magic can switch the positions of any two objects, whether it be the air around us, my own body, heavy brick and mortar, even a sufficiently distracted and weak human being such as yourself.”
“So if I’m not distracted, you can’t do that to me? You can’t kill me?” Carla pulled herself to her feet, her hat dazed and confused in her burnt, dirty hand. The plunger did not answer or even move, for that matter. She hesitated, then took a step backward, but the plunger still did not respond. She ran into the woods as fast as her bare feet could carry her.
The plunger was there in an instant, teeth bared like a bear trap right in front of Carla’s head. She ducked and continued running, only to trip over the outstretched wooden plunger handle at her ankles.
As she rolled along the ground, Carla made an important discovery. The clearing where Sainte Decius’ Cathedral sat happened to be on a hill. It was a nice, large clearing, with only a few saplings here and there. But as the hill got steeper, there were more and more trees, until Carla’s tumbling body finally found one and she smashed her back into it, stopping her instantly and dealing more than a little bit of pain.
Carla saw only white for a moment and realized that she had probably just suffered a concussion only to open her eyes to that same demon floating a few inches from her face. “I’m not going to kill you, you mewling quim. Death is short and sweet and far too common a fate for the girl who woke me up.”
Two large rocks appeared above Carla’s ankles and fell an instant later. Carla could not have imagined this much pain in this small amount of time. She screamed as her ankle bones crunched into tiny pieces.
“Now that you can’t move…” the plunger mumbled to itself, although Carla doubted she could move even if she weren’t weighed down. The ground seemed to be wobbling, Carla’s hands hurt so much she couldn’t tell if she was still even holding her hat, her legs were useless noodles of agony, and as if it couldn’t get any worse, she was developing a massive headache.
“I’ve got a delicious little switching technique for you, my dear girl. I never have time for this one, but you’re a very special individual.” Carla couldn’t even see the plunger through her tears, but judging by its voice it was right beside her. “You see, I’m going to make sure you live for a long, long time. I’m going to take out your brain, your soul, your consciousness, whatever you would call it, and I’m going to put it into the nearest living thing. That is to say, you are beginning a long, luxurious career as one of these trees. And there you will stay, unable to move, unable to do anything, for far longer than this weak human body would have survived anyway.”
Carla’s head seemed to be splitting in two from the pain. “Who knows?” the plunger continued. “You may live to be a thousand years old, and with none of the weaknesses you have now. Maybe somebody will chop you down and use you as a desk. Maybe you’ll burn down in a forest fire. Ooh! Maybe, if we’re both lucky, they’ll grind you up into sawdust or paper, and then you’ll die. Or will you? You may stay alive, even through all of that. Your spirit will be in the wood, after all, and it may remain conscious long after a normal tree would have died happily, and then we’ll just see how much you’ll regret the disgusting way you woke me up. If you live long enough, you could figure out where you went wrong. You’ll probably even outlive me, darling! So, in case I don’t see you, goodbye.”
Carla’s body stopped feeling pain. Carla’s body just sat on the ground, useless. And Carla, it would seem, was nowhere to be found.