The little girl sobbed in fright and sat up in her bed, as once again, the old pipes and plumbing of the house began to scream and whine. Her bed shook as the floorboards juddered, and, panicked, she called for her parents.
They arrived, tired and rumpled from their own room, and the little girl tried very hard not to cry as, for the umpteenth time, her father explained with exasperated kindness how it was just water moving through the pipes that made the house shake, that the pipes expanded and contracted in the heat of the day and the cool of the night.
Unconvinced, the little girl let herself be tucked back into bed and given her favourite teddy to hold. She drifted back into an uneasy sleep.
The days passed, the nights too, and the dark circles under the little girl’s eyes grew. Every night she lay awake and trembled in fright as the pipes howled and wailed their screaming demon song.
The blood pounded in her ears as she lay in bed, taking on the rhythm and depth of footsteps, troll footsteps, that thumped in her head till her heart hurt and she grew dizzy from not listening.
Till one night, she couldn’t bear it any longer. She pushed her warm duvet aside, leaving behind the comfort of her teddy, not even stopping to push her feet into her little pink fluffy slippers.
She crept out of her bedroom, and across the landing, avoiding the creaky floorboard that would alert her parents. She placed her palm against the bathroom door and pushed. It opened silently, obligingly, welcoming.
The tiles were very cold under her feet, and were faintly vibrating, or so it seemed. A tiny whistling, ghostly and ethereal, was issuing from the plughole of the washbasin. The little girl could just reach, if she stood on tiptoe, to pull the light cord that illuminated a tiny mirror over the basin. She caught a glimpse of her own pale, tired face and leaned forwards, a little further, over the basin.
The plughole gaped, threateningly and suddenly the whistling howl was louder. A lot louder and as the little girl leaned forwards, the plughole leered and yawned and gaped and –
Gone. Suddenly swallowed. The little girl was gone.
Her parents would never move from that house. Her father blamed himself, and her mother swore that she could her her little girl calling, lost, somewhere in the pipes.
Thank you to Samantha – great name – of Key Image, for the idea for this little story, after a conversation about plumbing… !