By rcheydn




The anguished scream could be heard throughout the house.

His wife shrieked and knocked a pan of simmering pasta off the stove onto the floor, just managing to jump out of the way before the roiling water flew across the room and splashed on the opposite wall, making the cat that was dozing on the chair at the kitchen table spring into the air, its feet pedaling at a frightening rate so that when it landed it took off in a single bound and dived headlong through the flap in the door that led into the passage that ran beside the house to the rear garden.

Almost at the same time his son who was in his bedroom lying on his bed with fifteen kilo weights balanced in each hand above his head involuntarily lost concentration and one of the bars of steel slipped from his grip and crashed onto the bedspread shattering the plastic case of the DVD that was showing on the portable television on the chest of drawers.

“Shit!” he uttered. “What the….”

He then bounded off the bed and ran into the hallway colliding with his mother who had come running up the stairs her face flushed and with a frightened look.

“What’s wrong?” she called. “What happened? Are you alright? Where are you?”

Her son grabbed the handle to the bathroom and yanked it down and pushed the door open. He was about to rush in when he saw his father sitting on the toilet, his trousers around his ankles, the toilet roll in his hands and with an angry look in his eyes.

His mother was also about to enter the bathroom but when her son stopped in his tracks and started to move backwards out of the room she ran into him and propelled him forward again.

“Who did it?” demanded his father looking from the face of his son to that of his wife and back to his son again.

“Did you?” he asked his wife and stared at her with eyes that looked to be as round as the core of the toilet roll he grasped in his hands and thrust forward.

“What?” she asked. “What are you talking about? I thought you’d had a heart attack or something worse.”

“Who used chapter thirty-three?” her husband asked. “It was here this morning I know because I read thirty-two then. Now it’s gone.”

His son turned and pushed past his mother saying: “Jesus father, you’re mad. And please lock the door if you’re going to sit down on the toilet.”

His mother’s eyes followed him as he made his way down the stairs to the kitchen. “What do you mean mad?”

“He’s talking about the toilet roll,” mumbled her son and vanished from sight.

She turned and faced her husband who was still in the seated position, still with the toilet roll held in front of him.

“Chapter thirty-three is gone,” he said softly. “It was the chapter with all of the answers. And now it’s gone. Flushed.”

“You are mad,” said his wife. “Who cares for goodness sake? You can always buy another roll.” She closed the bathroom door firmly behind her as she left. “In the meantime I have to clean up the mess in the kitchen and we’ll now have to have the broccoli on toast or something instead of pasta with broccoli that I had planned.”

She was only two steps down when her son appeared at the bottom and called up: “Someone will have to clean up after the cat as well. There’s cat shit dripping from the inside of the flap to the passage.”

“Oh my god,” sighed his mother.

In the bathroom her husband still sat holding the toilet roll in his lap. Staring up at him from the first square of toilet paper were the printed words: “CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR.”