Toot-in-Common’s Curse

Many know the legend of the curse that follows those who dare disturb the sarcophagus of Toot-in-Common. Few have dared to approach it. None have dared to open it.

For many years, people circled the area, knowing that foul deeds and fouler air were contained in the bowels of the ancient tomb. What treasures must be locked away in there? What mysteries hidden in the depths of the forbidden zone?

One intrepid archeologist risked her reputation and her life by venturing where no man had gone before. Well. A man or two had obviously gone before her to build the thing. And yes, what they buried involved another man who should have died for the plan to work. Somebody somewhere had to curse the thing.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

There were strange markings in the walls that she couldn’t decipher. Patterns in the tiles plastered above the cavernous entry. Mold grew in the corners in a black spidery gesture that unmistakably beckoned the wary explorer to come closer. She looked carefully for a trap. There was nothing here that could sustain life. The smell was a mixture of damp clay, stale air, and sewer slime. The floor shifted with her weight and creaked. The wind outside moaned in warning. In the dim light, she stepped closer. The sarcophagus was buried here in the dry rot. She could feel it.

Waving to her team of hired thugs, she moved into position. She put on gloves, a mask, and protective eye shields. On her signal, hammers fell against the stone that encased her prize. She reached for ear plugs. Shrapnel flew through the chamber, filling the air with dusty debris. “Stop!” she cried, lifting a fist. “Time to use the chisels.” With detailed precision, the last of the stone was chipped away, revealing the edges and smoothly polished target of her ambition.

“Yes,” she said, running her gloved hand over its alabaster surface. “You’re mine.”

She turned to look behind her. There were three intricately carved storage chests. Taking up a mallet, she smashed through the front panel of the one on the left. “Empty!” she cried in frustration. She broke open the one on the right. There was nothing inside but a cracked cistern, oozing thick, black offal. She backed away quickly, signaling to the minions to cover it up. With one last desperate swing, she cracked open the central box. She moved her boots out of the way just as odd shapes and parcels began spilling at her feet.

“Bag it,” she said. Time to sort her treasures later.

Circling slowly, she knew what she had to do. Others would hear about this as soon as she left. They would follow, curse or no. The credit was hers and hers alone. She would remove her prize and destroy the place behind her. She took photos first. Proof for those who might scoff later. A tease for those who hadn’t been brave enough to go after it themselves. Cowards.

Workers lifted the huge sarcophagus from the bowels of its encasement and gingerly moved it towards the entry as others took up hammers again. “Level it,” she said, and took the first swing. The cavern wall opened immediately, gaping wide as huge chunks fell away on their own. Through the rubble, black slime began crawling from hidden recesses above the ceiling and down into the room. It percolated from the holes in the floor, bubbling up in anger. The alluvium of a thousand years rose to challenge the intruders and surrounded them in stench.

There, in the wall, was the source of the curse. It pulsed with the remains of a thousand human hands, dripping with stripes of brown, green, and yellow stalactites. A sulfurous decaying mass began to slide towards her. It was offended by the carrion birds who had entered with irreverence to pillage and destroy. The curse had been released and she felt the air hum with its static. They stampeded for the exit. “Bleach bombs!” she cried, staggering towards the fresh air.

Hubby was waiting outside. “I almost died in there!” she said.

“I told you so. You had to do it, didn’t you?”

“I still might die. What happens when you breathe all that?”

“Leave it alone, I said. We can hire a professional, I said.”

“A professional is who built that bathroom in the first place. A man who did a lazy job with the plumbing and left it dripping for the last 30 years in the wall.”

“Where did you find my hammers? I hid the hammers.”

“At least I got the tub out in one piece.” Kid #5 stood there and pointed to the dings in it. She tried not to feel defeated.

“I hope you’re happy. The bathroom’s destroyed. Now we have to rip out the mold and it goes in every direction.”

“Yes, I’m happy. The place is like death in there.”

“Please don’t touch the toilet. What did the toilet ever do to you?”

“Toot-in-Common can stay. It’s the only thing that worked right anyway.”

“Thank goodness for small blessings. I’m not good with rivers running through the house.”

“Well,” she said, “at least I can find out what’s been falling behind the cupboards for the last million years.”

Someone’s retainer. Someone else’s diaphragm. An enema. Floss. Meds. Qtips. My sanity.

I might just light the thing on fire and rebuild from scratch. I mean. She might. She’s a crazy archeologist with a torch, you know.


Hot Diggity


Don’t open this. You were warned.


The beautiful but foolish girl held a flashlight in sweaty shaking hands. She stood at the edge of the lawn, staring through the door that led under the house and into the basement.

Pointing the feeble light into the inky dark underground, she called out, “Darryl, are you there? Say something!”

She took a step down, the creaky staircase giving out a low moan.

“Darryl, this isn’t funny,” she insisted in a high voice, “you need to come out. I have a bad feeling about this!”

The electricity had gone out, it was midnight, and a rain had begun. She wore only the cute little high school outfit from earlier and the cold wet drops falling on her blonde head encouraged her to descend half of the staircase to stay dry.

The air smelled of rotting decay. It was thick and close, even with the door open to the outside. Darryl ran down here not ten minutes ago, and she was tired of waiting for him to bring up the box. They weren’t going to finish the Homecoming project tonight if he didn’t hurry.

What was taking so long?

One step at a time she inched along until her feet hit the concrete floor.

That’s when she noticed the soundtrack.

When the movie background music gets deep and ominous, all the main characters should jump immediately into the nearest horrific blood curdling situation, preferably involving aliens.

All of the expendable characters should just hold out various body parts and wait for the massacre.

Everyone in the audience must begin screaming, “Stop! Don’t do it! Don’t go down the basement stairs! Can’t you see the glowing eyes behind you?! Run fool RUN!!!”

They never do.

Why do we watch this?


Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush. Maybe it’s just a good excuse to do some screaming.

Maybe we miss the days of being a toddler and thrown around a room playing “airplane”. Toddlers just assume that there are a pair of arms somewhere that will be catching them on the way back down.

This is why roller coasters hold such appeal.

This is why perfectly intelligent people pay good money to go to the movies and get scared to death.

For fun.

Frankly, my life holds enough “fun”, thank you.

I have plenty of opportunities to do some screaming, so I’m good.

For my part, the only reason I would enjoy the foolish characters making these choices is to be able to say, “Well, maybe I can’t pull together a decent outfit but I know I wouldn’t have gone down those basement steps!”

I feel so much better about myself.

I say they got what they had coming.

Quite possibly I would enjoy their consequences.

If they had any.

Because we all know the cute blonde girl ends up living at the end of the movie.(Unless it’s a French book. French authors love to kill the characters you are most in love with. They lean on the side of angst.)

But in the movies the most foolish of main characters end up living. Maybe they are covered in blood or their besties are now zombies.

But they live to see another day.

Logically, Luke Skywalker should never have lived through the first movie.

But we all understand that without a hero, the sequels won’t exist.

Rocky Balboa. Godzilla. Lieut. Ellen Ripley.

Do you hear what I’m saying?

Apparently, main characters can just buy their way out of consequences.

I much prefer romantic comedies. If we’re going to suspend reality, let’s have impossible happy endings. I’d just as soon have a good laugh.

You want a truly scary movie?

The end of any given day around here could work: me, the main character, dragging miserably down a dark hallway at midnight, random dirty clothing akimbo, hair turned gray and sticking straight up from a teen’s antics, eyes bloodshot from a toddler not sleeping for a week, limping from a gym cardio class gone horribly awry, hunchbacked from carrying a crying infant.

Hubby looks around the corner, sees me, shrieks loudly, waking up infant and thereby enraging our main character, who comes suddenly screaming at him, eyes glowing, looking for weapons of mass destruction.

Yeah, I thought that would scare you.

I sure hope I have a sequel coming.