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Wrath of the Porcelain Gods

Nicky Drayden is a Systems Analyst who has made the recent life decision that she'd rather spend her time working with prose than code. She resides in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. You can see more of her work at www.nickydrayden.com.

Being a little curious doesn't make you a deviant. On Vero-Avalon Station, with its hundred and fifteen sapient species, it'd be weirder not to wonder about the alien biology of your cohabitants. You see them in the mess hall, slurping up trans-dimensional slugs, gnawing on Yuvvian bark, sipping pink clouds from see-through thermoses, and dining on the finest spiced lava rock this galaxy has to offer. You don't blink an eye when a proboscis appears from a rift in space-time and oozes purple acid onto freshly killed Frall. And when an Undulite consumes its still living mate right in front of you, you don't judge.
You're something of an amateur anthropologist, after all, and a curious one at that. Curious enough to enter through that doorway, the one with the symbol on the front that you can't quite decipher. Not the symbol of the humanoid man, nor the humanoid woman. Not the generic fish symbol for the aquatics. Not the avians, nor the giant blue placard for the restroom designed especially for the spatially challenged.
What goes up, must come down. What goes in, must come out. No better way to know a species than to observe how it rids itself of its undigestables. You've documented almost all of them--one hundred fourteen species, leaving you with just one left.
You wouldn't have thought twice about the Asiphants if Nadia hadn't warned you. Probably would have gone and got yourself killed, thinking it was another routine piss-and-shit... sneak in with your personal cloaking device, take a couple of stealth holographs, jot down some notes, onto the next. But Nadia had inside information, vague as it was. Who knows how she'd gotten it, but she'd told you to go in prepared for battle.
So now you wait, armored to the teeth, hunched in the corner of the restroom with the strange symbol on the door. After a week of surveillance, you'd noticed that the Asiphants used this restroom exclusively. Inside, it isn't the strangest loo you've seen, but it definitely ranks in the top five. A dozen porcelain cones of varying sizes jut up from the floor, like miniature volcanoes cast in equally offensive neon hues. Rubber hoses hang from the ceiling like the cilia of some overgrown beast, and a small piglike creature is tethered to the far wall, weeping. The whole place reeks of ammonia and tar.
The Asiphant enters, thin and stalky, something like an ostrich or an emu, except covered all over in green scales. It locks the door behind it--twelve deadbolts, you counted, then proceeds to pace, swerving around the neon volcanoes like traffic cones. It comes close to stepping on you, once, twice, again, so you press yourself closer to the wall and hold your breath.
Finally, it chooses a cone and settles onto it. The sounds of flatulence come in a hurry, sustained and forceful. Winds hum like foghorns from the other cones, probably due to an interconnected system of pipes beneath the floor. It's almost beautiful, you think, notes playing in a mesmerizing tune. But then the flatulence takes on a soggy note. The piglet squeals in the corner and cowers as the Asiphant cusses it something fierce.
You fear the worst--any moment a shower of shit is going to surge through those pipes, fecal matter spraying like shrapnel in a dirty bomb. Maybe it's corrosive. Maybe it'll eat right through your armor. Your skin. Last moments of your life thinking Why oh why did I have to take up such a disgusting hobby!
But what happens, it's not like that at all. The Asiphant begins to ululate, a low grating note at first that quickly escalates into a high-pitched shrill rising above your threshold of hearing. The piglet howls in chorus. On cue, the Asiphant grunts as it clamps down tight on the cone, expelling with a force that sends tremors through the entire room. Fountains of silvery liquid rise from the volcanoes, like tendrils of mercury dancing in zero-gee. They coalesce into a form resembling the Asiphant itself, except its movements are docile and peaceful, its face wise and innocent and all-knowing.
It speaks with words wet and sorrowful in the Asiphant tongue. You're no linguist, but you've picked up enough vocabulary on the station to get the gist. It's a blessing of some sort. Of long life and prosperity.
You feel sick to your stomach. It's one thing to spy on someone's bodily functions, and yet another equally horrible thing to eavesdrop into someone's holy sacrament.
The liquid god then politely asks to return to the Asiphant's bowels. The Asiphant says a resolute "No." The liquid god's docile face turns to rage, fangs grow, horns protrude. Thorns writhe and ripple across its skin. It becomes more insistent. "No," the Asiphant says again, then uncorks itself and bum-rushes the largest cone in the middle of the room, the one without an opening at the top. The plug.
The liquid god enrages as the Asiphant settles upon it. The piglet squeals. You grit your teeth, watching the Asiphant pull at a hose hanging from the ceiling.
"You can't do this! I am your master!" the liquid god screams as the volcanoes go from blow to suck, and they suck hard. Wind whips through the room, tornadic and stealing your very breath.
"The kitaque is your vessel now. Take it or leave it," the Asiphant says. The liquid god glares at the piglet in disgust, snarls. Begrudgingly, it makes a move towards the scared creature, but then the liquid god's metallic eyes shift towards you.
"I sense another..." it seethes.
You clench your buttocks, but you know resistance is futile. The liquid god pounces in your direction, cuts through your personal cloak, your armor, wraps you up in its slimy embrace. The Asiphant looks on in horror, embarrassment, or something in between.
"Don't fight it," the Asiphant shouts at you. "It'll only make things worse."
By the time the liquid god has slithered all the way inside you, you feel like you're about to burst. Your stomach bloats out like you're eighteen months pregnant, and your organs all crowd against the back of your throat. You think your ass might literally be on fire.
"It's okay," the Asiphant says with compassion. "There are ways to make him leave. The trans-dimensional slugs are best. The fresher, the better." The Asiphant pats you on the back, then goes to unlock the deadbolts, one by one by one. It turns back and gives you a wide-beaked smile. "Just thank the gods you weren't here to witness number two."
The End
This story was first published on Monday, January 3rd, 2011
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