It came out of nowhere. I was sitting at my desk when the rumbling started. I had to move. I had to get out of the office or risk two days worth of food spilling out the bottom of my pant leg. The carpet didn’t need that. My shoes didn’t need it. I didn’t want it. I ran to the bathroom.
I worked on my floor with only two other people—women. I always had the men’s room to myself. But that day the stalls were all closed. With one hand wrapped motherly around my stomach, I knocked and pushed on each stall door, trying to find an available toilet. The pain was intensifying. I was losing my grip. The low rumbling growl inside of me intensified. I continued to try doors until I found one that gave under the pressure of my open palm.
The door swung open, exposing a very peculiar scene. The toilet was there, as expected, but it was surrounded by dozens of little porcelain figures. A bunch of tiny people, glossy and pristine, stood in a variety of different poses, all staring towards me. I didn’t have time to consider any of it. I loosened my belt, sat down and got to business.
My groans echoed through the restroom. The pain was so intense. I held my breath and closed my eyes. I pushed one hand against the stall walls when I first heard it—the unmistakable sound of glass rattling. The sound was coming from inside the stall.
I quickly opened my eyes and looked around. The porcelain figures were still there, oddly placed in the bathroom stall with me, but I noticed one that I didn’t see before. It was a small man holding a shovel.
The rattling sound came again. “Hello?” I called out to see if anyone had come into the bathroom. “Is anyone there?”
The sound returned. This time it was louder. I looked down towards porcelain figures only to see that the painted black eyes of all them were staring back up at me. My heart started pounding. I reached for the tissue. As I started pulling at the roll a loud jarring scraping sound began reverberating through the stall. I looked back down and saw the frowning face of a porcelain man, slowly but surely, raising his shovel.
I stood up, exposing my privates to the shiny creatures below! Without warning their little heads all turned in unison towards the one holding the shovel. He looked around at the crowd and nodded once towards the crowd and then again towards me. Suddenly the figures all began running and climbing up my exposed legs. Their cold ceramic hands and feet pulled at my leg hairs as they gained footing to scale me. I screamed! I screamed, loudly. I kept screaming until one of them climbed into my mouth, muffling my pleas for help. I tried to bite down but it’s hard body wouldn’t give under the pressure of my jaw. I shook my head back and forth in an attempt to dislodge him. I failed.
The essence of my failure was met with the flavor of clay and lead based paint. A thick putty filled my mouth and poured down my chin, stiffening into a shell as it covered more and more of me. The tiny figures used their shovels to smooth the clay all over me, creating a bust around my body. They worked in unison before there was nothing left of me showing. None of me was exposed. I was a statue—a porcelain figure standing high above them.
As the last bit of my shell dried, I felt my life fading. My eyesight began to harden and dim. My breathing became stiff. My hearing began to dwindle, but before everything went silent, one of the figures spoke.
“A pauper dare not sit on the porcelain throne. For sitting above your station, the punishment is death.”
The sound of a hammer dragging across the restroom floor was the second to last thing I heard. Unfortunately, it was followed by the sound of ceramic shards falling amongst the porcelain figurines.