I unlocked the public bathroom at the gas station and stepped inside. I made sure to turn the light on before I closed the metal door that was already rusting in some areas. A large spider rested on a web that was invisible to me in the dim light being given off by the dull, possibly dying out, light bulb. You know, a light bulb that’s been used so much that it looks like one of those dull, cheap night lights? I blinked a few times to let my eyes adjust and stared at the sink and toilet in the bathroom as the light flickered a bit.
The sink was chipped, and the pipe that ran from under it to the wall was tied together with white cloth, and, despite the nice layer of duct tape covering pretty much the whole thing, it was still dripping onto a dark mildew spot on the floor. At least, I hoped it was mildew. I wasn't sure what else it could be, and I probably didn't want to know, anyway.
I didn't even want to see what condition of the toilet compared to that of the sink, but, unfortunately, both things were next to each other. Which meant that the most disgusting toilet on the face of this earth was in my view. I think it used to be white. Or something close to white. It was twice as stained as the sink, and was surrounded by a huge, filthy, moldy area like the sink was. I didn't want to know what the toilet was covered in, and I decided to wait until I got home. Heck I'd use the side of the highway if I needed to. It would be much cleaner than this garbage hole.
I sighed and turned around, yawning. Maybe it wasn't so smart to be out at one in the morning. My quarter tank might have gotten me home, and I didn't really have to stop. I stretched my arms above my head and felt my wrist burning. I yelped and my arm flew down. The room went black and I heard a faint smashing noise. I blinked a few times and my jaw dropped when I realized I had knocked the light bulb from the flimsy rod that had been suspending it from the ceiling. I also realized that in my little panic attack, I had dropped the bathroom key somewhere.
Mentally cursing myself, I checked my coat and jean pockets, hoping that I had remembered to bring my cell phone or my laser pointer and flashlight keychain from the car. Then I sighed when I found my pockets empty. Of course. The time I actually think to leave everything out to prevent myself from having to give it up if there were someone holding up the gas station, I need something. Just my rotten, terrible luck.
Sighing, I crouched down and went to feel around the floor for the key when I stopped myself. Why would I touch the floor of a freaking public bathroom?! That is simply disgusting! What was wrong with me for even thinking of it?! I stood back up and slowly slid my right foot around the floor. I hit something and then crouched down to see if it was the key that was attached to the little wooden plank. I reached down and my hand hit my sneaker. Then it touched something small and hard. Yes! I thought. I found it! I went to grab it and froze when I felt the whole thing. It most certainly wasn’t the key I was looking for. I don’t think keys grow fur when they hit the ground. This was a full mousetrap.
I threw it down and wiped my hand off on my jeans. I tried not to throw up, and succeeded, only allowing myself to give a small gag. The awareness of the dead rodent in the room made me realize the terrible stench of the place. I covered my nose and mouth with the front of my shirt. It helped, but not much at all.
Biting my lip, I looked around the bathroom, hoping to see at least an outline of a curtained or boarded up window to force open for some light. I didn’t see one. I leaned back against a wall, trying to think of what to do.
All right, I thought, I’m probably going to be trapped in this stupid thing all night. Great. How was I going to sleep in a disgusting, filthy, odorous public bathroom that I somehow got trapped in? Furthermore, the gas station was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. What if no one needed the key? How long would I be stuck? What if I freaking died in here? Wouldn’t that make a lovely news headline? “Moron Dies While Locked in Public Bathroom.” Wonderful. The only bright side to that would be that I wouldn’t be alive to be humiliated about it.
“Moron Dies While Locked in Public Bathroom.” Locked in. I wasn’t liking this. Not at all. I bit my lip and tried to see if I could distinguish any shapes on the floor, against the walls, or to even see if I could tell where the door was. No luck. I was tempted to feel along the walls for the door, but remembering the little “surprise” I had found on the floor while looking for the key was keeping me from doing that. I shuddered, thinking about touching the thing. This place is disgusting, I thought. I need to get out of here! I don't want to be locked in here!
My heart started pounding as I frantically scanned the floor all around the room, trying to see if I would be able to catch any amount of light from the bright street lamps outside if it came under the door. Nothing. The room was pitch black. Did that mean that there was no way for air to get in? Was I going to suffocate? Oh, God. Suffocation from being locked in an enclosed bathroom. A bathroom that smelled terrible. A bathroom that would probably be the last room I would ever be in.
I bit my lip nervously as my heart seemed to be pounding harder. What was going to happen? I felt a pain in my gut, probably from the immense strain in my bladder from not going to the bathroom when I walked in. This was just wonderful. Where was the toilet, even? Did I disorient myself from turning around so many times?
Sighing, I gave in and slowly shuffled my feet forward, my arms out to feel for walls, the sink, anything. This was going to be fun. I thought I heard something and stopped moving. The sound of my feet must have freaked me out. I sighed, shrugged, and started shuffling around the bathroom again. My left foot hit something and I heard it slide across the floor. What was it? Was it the key? It sounded like wood when it hit the wall. I shuffled after it, and my foot must have hit one of the miscellaneous, mysterious wet spots on the floor. Before I knew it, my foot slid forward and I was falling. I whacked my head off of what I thought was the toilet seat and yelled out.
As I sat up, I rubbed the back of my head and felt that my back and the backs of my legs were wet. Disgusting. Stupid public bathroom. I sighed and tried not to vomit as I slowly stood up, slipping again on the strange spot and landing on my butt. It took me a moment to realize that I had fallen on the glass shards of the light bulb and yelled out again. I stood swiftly and my arms flew forward, fortunately, grabbing the sink to hold myself up. I felt my rear for any pieces of the thin glass and didn’t feel any through my jeans. Sighing, I kept my right hand on the sink as I felt along the floor. I felt a small block and smiled as I ran my hand along it and touched the small key attached to it. My fist closed around the wood and I started to pick the plank up as a sudden, sharp pain surged through the back of my hand.
As I jerked my hand back, I felt the small block drop from my grasp. Crap! I thought. What was that? It obviously wasn’t a splinter. It couldn’t be. I was holding the wood with my palm, not the back of my hand. I rubbed my hand and winced at the sharp pain that resulted. It was already swelling. What could it have been?
I bit my lip and felt around the floor again, being careful of what I was doing. After a minute or so, I started to feel dizzy. I wasn’t sure if it was because I hadn’t eaten in hours before I started the long drive home from the concert, or if it was from the odor of the bathroom. I stood upright and held my head as I leaned back against the wall. Great. Not only was I stuck in a public bathroom, but I was getting sick.
I slumped downwards, sitting on the floor against the wall. I yawned, and decided that I was just overtired. No big deal, right? I’d just take a small nap, and then wake up later to find the key. I yawned again and closed my eyes as I drifted off to sleep.
The state trooper walked to the gas station from his car. He looked at the ambulance that was there and then at the body that was being pulled out on the stretcher. He curiously walked over and tapped one of the EMTs on the shoulder.
“What happened here?”
“The person who was on first shift noticed that a bathroom key was missing. They opened the bathroom with the copy and found a body.”
The officer blinked and looked at the younger man. “Would you mind if I looked in the bathroom?”
“Go ahead. They’re sending someone from the county out now, though.”
He nodded and walked into the bathroom that only had light coming in from the open doorway. It took a few flicks of the switch to realize that the light in the bathroom was broken. He walked back to his car and took his flashlight from the glove compartment. When he returned to the bathroom, he turned the light on and guided it around the room. Nothing seemed suspicious. There was no sign of drugs, weapons, or anything that might have been used in a suicide or a murder. As he shone the light into the far corner, a small glimpse of movement caught his eye. He looked to his left and noticed an old mop propped up in the corner of the room. He took it and walked to the corner where he had noticed the movement in between the toilet and the sink. As he used the handle of the mop to move a piece of plywood away from the wall. He sighed as he stared at the rattlesnake that was glaring at him from its home on the floor.
Not another one…