A demented serial killer targets plumbers in this nod to the style of 1980's slasher flicks.
Down the Drain
By Christopher Michael Carter
It was pouring out; raining so much that you couldn’t see individual drops, just steady streams from the sky. The little boy cried his eyes out cowering in the corner while cupping his hands to his hears trying to block out the noise of his father’s drunken rage. He was always drunk; drunk and all too often abusive to the boy and his mother. The father had just come home from work and was still in his work clothes, your average plumber’s attire. The rage started when dinner wasn’t ready by the time he got home; of course, he had already been drinking for some time. He took of his work belt and threw it down on the floor shouting obscenities before grabbing his wife. While the boy continued to whimper in fear his father shook his mother by her shoulders like she was a ragdoll. His wife cried and screamed. She tried to fight back but he was too strong for her.
She pleaded and pleaded with him to no avail. He continued shoving her about while screaming in her face belittling her with foul names. The rain continued to pour outside and the boy and his mother’s tears poured inside. The drunken plumber became more enraged and began slapping his wife hard across the face leaving her face red. The sound was loud and painful to the ears. The boy had enough and wiped off his tears, throwing them to the side. His little fists clenched as he stood up in anger. Upon marching over to the madness that was his parents, he grabbed his father’s plumber’s wrench out of his tool belt. It was heavy, almost too heavy for such a young boy. In the momentum of the hectic situation the parents never heard their son approach them. With his adrenaline pumping and all the might he could muster the boy bluntly smashed is father’s head in saving his mother from the monster she married. The father fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes but the boy didn’t stop there.
He swung down over his head striking his father repeatedly with the large wrench, which became wet with blood. The kid’s heart beat almost as hard as the blows he was delivering. Though there was a nugget of gratitude in the back of her mind, the boy’s mother watched in fear while crying. The floor was a bloody mess as the boy smashed the plumber’s head to pulp. The boy dropped the wrench and his mother rushed to him, “Brenton!” She held him, consoling him with his face in a state of permanent shock. All you could see of the man lying on the floor is a heap of tenderized, bloodied flesh in a plumber’s uniform.
Later, the cops and paramedics arrived to assess the situation. A body bag and various containers help take the dead man out of the house. While the mother was scared, angry, and deeply saddened, the incident had taken a larger toll on the boy. They tried everything but by the end of it all the boy was institutionalized and would show no signs of recovery. In one day the woman lost her husband and her son.
20 YEARS LATER
The doorbell rang and the kind lady answered the door promptly. It was the plumber.
“Hi, ma’am; somebody call a plumber?” Said the man tipping his hat.
“Oh, why yes. Please, right this way.” And so she led him to the kitchen…
“It’s the sink. It’s not working right.”
The plumber tried turning the faucet’s knobs and it regurgitated clunks and clanks. “Alrighty, I’ll have ya fixed up in a jiffy.”
“I’m gonna watch my show with Mr. Muffins. Just let me know when you’re done.” She said picking up her white pillow fluff of a cat. She patted him on the arm and retired to the next room.
The plumber set his toolbox down on the linoleum and climbed down to the floor, opening up the cabinet beneath the sink. He shined his light on the pipes and spotted almost immediately the problem, “Ah, that’s it.”
Footsteps are heard on the floor nearby.
“Think I found the problem.” He said pulling his head out of the cabinet. He looked up to find a dark mysterious figure, shrouded in a black cloak and gloves. The being stood with his head covered in a black hood covering his face.
“What the hell?”
The figure uncovered a plunger from the darkness that coats it. The man on the floor lay silent, confused and lost.
“Wha-what do you want?” Plenty to ask but these were the words that managed to fight their way out.
The black gloves twisted the plunger’s handle extracting a blade from the center of its suction cup. The plumber’s eyes grew twice their size and he flinched back. His heartbeat sped and he realized he wasn’t breathing. When the shadow-like form stepped forward the man’s eyes caught the gleam of the blade from the overhead florescent light and almost in an instant the rapid heart steadied, slowed, and faded when the knifed plunger was plunged into the plumber’s head. Quicker than his life left his killer had fled.
There was no movement or response when little Mr. Muffins came to nuzzle up to the stranger.
Yet another knock on yet another door…
“Oh, thank God you’re here.” The woman started. “My husband said he’d get to it but he’s at work and the toilet’s completely flooding the bathroom. Come on in.”
She led the unsuspecting plumber to the closed door. Opening said door let him know what he was in for, almost. The toilet, as she said, was flooding the bathroom floor with almost an inch of water. The man set his toolbox on the sink. “Okay, I’ll take a look at it and get started.” He told the panicked housewife.
“Ah, thank you. I’ll be back.” And so she left him to his profession. First he tried flushing it to see if it had any give, with no results. Then, naturally, he took off the tank’s lid to have a look. It wasn’t looking good. So the dirty part of his job was having him kneel on the flooded tiled and reach his hand in the bowl – no dice.
The plumber stood up and dried his hand. Her head peeked back into the room. “Could I offer you some iced tea?” Asked the lady.
“Um, actually, yeah if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all. Be back in a minute.”
As she left he kneeled back down to check the pipe behind the toilet.
“Aha, just as I thought.” He stood back up to get a wrench and vice grips when he saw something. Something, someone was standing behind him. Drenched in black and draped in shadow, the shape grabbed the plumber by the back of his hair. He gasped.
“Ugh!” The plumber exclaimed as the coal black form kicked the back of his left knee, dropping him to the floor. The man flailed his elbows back in hopes to fend off his attacker with no luck.
The killer plunged the plumber’s head into the overflowing toilet and left him in there long after the fighting bubbles of air had stopped. By the time the housewife returned with the iced tea, complete with a wedge of lemon, she had found her guest face down in the stool, lifeless and the doer of such deeds once again fled from the scene. Needless to say, the glass was dropped and she screamed for a solid minute before calling 9-1-1, her husband, and everyone she knew in a panic.
Another house, in the flooding basement, a man stood in shin-deep water. “Damn it!” The man screamed trying to stop the flow.
“Honey, the plumber’s here!” His wife yelled from upstairs.
“Finally!” The man replied in frustration. The plumber came down the steps with his toolbox in hand. “Sorry I’m late.”
“Yeah, well you’re here now so it’s okay. Let’s just get the water to stop.”
“I’m gonna shut off the main line.” The plumber used his flashlight in the dark basement to find the valve needed. “Here it is.” The worker used a familiar wrench to turn off the line and the water finally stops gushing and comes to a drip. “Alright, now let’s see about fixing this leak…”
“Honey, your dad’s on the phone!” The aggravated man’s wife yelled from upstairs.
“Alright, I’m coming!” He replied. “I’ll be back.” He told the plumber before exiting upstairs. The city worker continued looking over the pipes.
After a few minutes of looking over the waterworks he heard the steps from the staircase, “Buddy, I think I found the problem: this pipe is corroded.” The plumber turned around to see not the man of the house but a dark figure all too familiar to us, dear reader.
“Uh, hello?” The plumber was confused. “I thought you were the other guy.” The shadowy form stood silently and the plumber grew annoyed, “Do you…live here?” The man in black stood in a solid stance with his black hood on darkening his face. He revealed his plunger and twisted the handle and the plumber’s flashlight gleamed off of the blade extended from the center of the plunger’s cup.
“What the hell is this?” The man asked. They were the last words out of his mouth as the killer also revealed a large wrench and threw it smashing the plumber’s knee dropping him to the water. He grunted and groaned but couldn’t get a word out as his attacker approached him with the plunger blade. With one solid blow the killer stabbed the then-crippled man in the back of the head pushing his face down into the flooding water. Bubbles popped up in the bloody water.
Another five to ten minutes pass, and the man of the house is finally off of the phone with his father. He came downstairs to check on the progress, “Well, how’re we lookin’?” He noticed the plumber’s body face down in the water. “Oh God…” The man ran back upstairs to call the police.
The frequent murders hit the news in a hurry. The newscasters sat behind their desks with the image of a plunger on the screens beside them: “More plumbers brutally killed in the most bizarre string of murders we’ve seen in a decade.”
Every news station covered the incidents.
“Plumbers go on strike in wake of serial killings.”
“Plumbers Union demand protection from the police.”
“Pipes continue to be backed up while the strike continues.”
The news vendor on the corner was selling magazines like crazy as every paper and magazine covered the string of murders. The story was selling like hotcakes and the vendors were making a killing.
Meanwhile at the city police station…
The captain stood at his desk surrounded by officers, “Alright, listen up; we got some feds come in here so this operation will be theirs. I don’t wanna hear any guff. We need to be in complete compliance if we expect to catch this guy. Okay?”
His fellow officers agreed with nods, grunts, and “Yes sirs”.
A man entered the office, “Captain, they’re here.”
“Alright; everyone back to work.” The small crowd dispersed and the captain made himself presentable. The agents entered, both in black suits.
“I’m Agent Malone and this is Agent Hardwick.”
“Glad you’re here.” The policeman shakes hands with the agents. The captain continued, “How do you suppose we go about catching this creep?”
The agents looked at each other before looking back at the determined officer, “We have an idea…”
In the back of a windowless white van sat the two agents, the captain and now another man with a wire taped to his chest. The wired man was in a plumber’s uniform and was buttoning up his dark blue shirt.
“Okay,” Agent Hardwick started, “You know what to do?”
“Yeah.” The man answered while Agent Malone worked on the recorder.
“We’ll be listening for when he shows up.”
“Wait.” The captain spoke up, “What about him? What happens if he’s killed?”
“Tom here is a former Navy Seal. I don’t think he’s going to have any problems.” Agent Hardwick smirked.
“How do we even know he’s going to show up?” The captain had his doubts.
“We sent out a message…”
In the local paper an ad was placed “In desperate need of a plumber! Please help!”
The new plumber approached the door of the house chosen for such a sting and rang the doorbell. A actress chosen answered and upon greeting him tugged on her ear; he whistled two notes before entering the house.
“So where seems to be the trouble?” The man asked.
“Oh, it’s in the kitchen. Every time I turn on the faucet it sounds like it’s about to explode.” The woman stated before giving a nervous look around.
“Alright, I’ll take a look at it.”
“I have things to tend to if you’re okay here…”
“Yes ma’am, I’m good.”
“Okay…” The actress left the man to fix the sink. He kept an eye out as he lowered himself to the floor into the open cabinets. He pretended to be doing a plumber’s job while listening carefully. Patience was part of this man’s training and isn’t anxious at all. He hammered and clanked around to give the illusion of progress.
Out in the van the feds waited patiently while the captain was far more inquisitive, “Well, what’s going on?”
“He’s working. We have to give him time and let him create the scene.” The agents returned to silence, listening in on the headsets while the police captain drummed his fingertips on his knee.
Inside, the man chosen for the assignment continued to play his role while his colleague, playing the woman of the house, was secured in a locked bedroom down the hall. She sat on the bed in fear despite her ever present professionalism and awaiting the jump off. Tom, the former Seal, awaited his attacker. Everyone stayed planted in their stations eagerly waiting for the killer to make his presence known. The plumber repositioned under the sink and a sound caught his ear; a floor creaking from the other room along with other movement. The man starring as ‘the Plumber’ watched the doorway in the reflection of a small pocket mirror. The space remained vacant until a dark shape filled the void. The killer stepped into the doorway with his boots landing firmly on the linoleum.
It was time to act; the undercover plumber played surprised. “It should work just fine now-WHOA!”
Out in the van, the team who assembled this web was alert.
“Shh, wait! I got something!” Agent Malone said.
Tom’s hands were up as the two men had a standoff in the kitchen. “What’s going on?” The maniac draped in black revealed his trusty plunger from the blackness that was his cloak-like coat. The plumber saw the plunger and appeared slightly confused. His hands came down upon seeing the plunger and he smirked followed by a chuckle. The black gloved hands twist the weapon’s handle and the killing blade is revealed from its usual spot. Tom’s facial expression changed.
Out in the van, the agents motioned that it was time to pounce.
“Let’s put this to bed!” Agent Hardwick said as the men exited the van.
Back in the kitchen, the killer thrust his weapon at the plumber who dodged the blade and countered with a punch and a kick. Neither blow seemed to have affected the shadowed man who tries to stab at his victim again. This time he’s successful barely catching Tom in his side with the self-made plunger/knife combo. “Ugh!” He yelled gripping at his side before continuing to fight back. He kicked the weapon from the killer’s grip and delivered a couple of jabs to the dark figure. The undercover man’s comeback was short-lived as the killer caught a fist in mid-punch only to crush it in his grip. The shadow man’s strength was unbelievable even to a man of Tom’s decorated accomplishments. The former Navy Seal didn’t get to make another move as his attacker grabbed his throat and lifted him up off the ground single handed. His grip was tight and the man was blacking out fast. His hand was crushed and his windpipe was next.
A shot rang out. BLAM! BLAM! Another two shots followed and the killer dropped the undercover man. The two agents and the police captain rushed into the room with their guns drawn to find the woman holding a smoking revolver still poised even as the killer lied on the ground. The woman looked to be running on adrenaline and wouldn’t detour her aim. The three men in the doorway looked at each other before the captain went over to her to retrieve the weapon.
“He’s down. It’s okay. You did good. It’s okay…” He gently got the handgun from the scared actress. She was shaken. While the captain removed the woman in shock from the kitchen Agent Malone checked the killer while Agent Hardwick tended to the man down. The agents gave each other a look and a slight nod.
The media rejoiced in the stopping of the killer, “We have gotten word that the killer has been stopped.”
More news jumped on the story, “Plumber strike comes to an end after serial killer’s caught.”
Later in the station the captain sits in his office explaining the outcome to his fellow officers, “He had not only locked the door behind him but moved a chair in front of the door so it took us a while to break through.”
“So who shot him?” An officer asked.
The feds entered the office next and the other officers knew it was time to go. They left Malone and Hardwick alone with their captain.
“Well Tom’s getting medical care. He’ll be fine.” Agent Hardwick spoke.
“…And the killer?”
“Still alive. He’s being moved back to St. Christopher’s Mental Hospital. His name is Brenton Bannister. Apparently he’s been a patient there for twenty years until his escape earlier this year.” Agent Malone answered.
“And when he was a boy he killed his father, a plumber.” Agent Hardwick added.
“So he was just some escaped nut? He was pretty strong and it took three shots just to get him down.” The confused captain stated.
“We attribute that to years of being heavily medicated along with his mental state…”
“You’d be surprised what your mind can change in you physically.” Agent Malone finished his partner’s information.
“How’d he get out?” The captain asked scratching his head.
“That’s one we haven’t yet figured out yet…” Agent Hardwick answered.
“Well it looks like you got him. The strike’s over. Everything’s goin’ back to normal now. …But what about the girl?”
The agents looked at each other before answering, “She’ll need some therapy but beyond that she’ll be fine.”
“Captain…” The agents extended their hands and so the captain shook them nodding. Agents Malone and Hardwick exited the captain’s office and the policeman went back to work.
In St. Christopher’s Mental Hospital, Brenton Bannister laid bandaged in the bed of his white-walled room. He stared straight up without blinking with an unquenched anger beneath his eyes. The boy who grew up in asylums was now a man and without his shroud of darkness. He could hear the other patients beyond his cell but he never paid them any attention; only listening to whatever was in his warped mind. Slowly a devilish grin crawled across his face.
The doorbell rang and an older man answered the door to find the plumber standing with his gear, “…Somebody call a plumber?”