By Shawn Cropley
Nov 3, 2018 · 1,088 words · 4 minutes

From the author: A terrifying story of a fear we all have.

The dishes had been sitting in the sink for several days. Ella eyed them from the kitchen doorway, frustrated at their sight, at their smell.  Her roommate, Amy, was great in so many ways. They’d been friends for years, she paid her bills on time, and she was relatively clean. Except when it came to the dishes. Ella never wanted to be the roommate that nagged about little things, but Amy never did the dishes, and not all the dishes, Ella cleaned up after herself, but Amy’s own dishes. They’d sit in the sink until Ella couldn’t take it and she’d wash them herself. Not this time. When Amy got home Ella would set this straight.

Keys rattled at the front door; Amy had arrived. You’re not being rude, Ella thought, you just want her to do her part. The door opened, and Amy’s footsteps sounded down the hall. Her perfume quickly filled the small apartment, a bright floral scent that matched her personality. The springs of the worn couch rang out as Amy plopped onto it. Ella closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Confrontation was not a strong suit of hers, and it took a lot of internal convincing for her to take her first step.

Amy sat on the couch, her head thrown back dramatically over the top of the headrest. Her left arm was folded over her eyes.

“Rough day?” Ella said entering the room.

“Stupid fucking day.” Amy replied, exhaling loudly.

Amy was a waitress, and Ella did not envy that. She had done the same through college and hated every minute of it.

Just say your piece and get it out of the way, Ella commanded inwardly.

“Amy, I really hate to be that roommate…”

“Is something wrong?” She removed the arm from her face and sat up.

Ella bit her lip.

“The dishes. I clean my own, and hadn’t complained about doing yours, but it’s becoming a bit much. They’ve been sitting in the sink for days and you just keep adding to them.”

A few moments of silence felt like heavy blankets falling over Ella. Now you’ve done it, she thought, pissed off your one friend, you can’t afford this place on your own, who the fuck is ever going to want to love an annoying person like...

“My bad, you’re right,” Amy finally said, breaking Ella from her internal dialogue, “I’ve always been bad about that. I’ll knock it out right now.”

She got off the couch and started walking towards Ella and the kitchen.

“You don’t have to do it right now.”

Amy smiled.

“I want to. Looking forward to something taking my mind off this day.”

Ella gave back a half smile. She felt awful.

“I should have brought this up later.”

Amy put her hands on Ella’s shoulders.

“Really, it’s fine. Stop worrying.”

She walked past and into the kitchen.

“Does the garbage disposal thing work?”

“Hasn’t worked since we moved in.”

Amy laughed.

“How did I not know that?”

The clanking and crashing that was coming from the sink made Ella think she may have made the wrong decision. She stepped to the kitchen and watched Amy search through the dirty dishes.

“What are you looking for?”

“A sponge.”

“I think I threw it away, grab a new one from under the sink.”


After a quick scan of the cupboard's contents, Amy found the sponge and opened the faucet, running it over her hand, waiting for it to get warm. She turned around as Ella was leaving the room.

“Hey, you got some mail, I put it on the table in the living room. Looked like bullshit.”

“Perfect, the only kind of mail I get.”

Sure enough, a nondescript envelope held an “extraordinary” offer for a new credit card.

“Yeah, bullshit.”

She ripped the envelope and its contents into several pieces. A loud metallic sound startled her and she nearly dropped it all.

“You okay?” She shouted.
“Yeah, dropped a spoon and it fell in the drain.” Amy replied, obviously frustrated.

Ella shook her head and exhaled. She startled easily.

Another sound filled the apartment, one she hadn't heard since living there; the guttural churning of the garbage disposal. Ella’s heart sank, only to then stop as an agonizing scream rang out from the kitchen. She dropped shreds of paper all over the apartment floor, sprinting across the room to the kitchen. Amy was bent over, elbow deep in sink. The combination of grinding and screaming was deafening. Ella immediately ran to the switch that was supposed to control the disposal, but it was already turned off, and turning it the other way did nothing. Amy turned to face Ella, mascara blackened tears streamed down her face and her mouth open as she continued crying out.

“Help me!”

Ella grabbed around Amy’s torso and tried pulling her away from the sink. The trapped girls screams only intensified.

“I don’t know what to do,” Ella yelled, looking around frantically for an answer, “I don’t know what to do.”

The disposal stopped its macabre churning, and for a moment even Amy was shocked into quietness. The crying started again and Ella went to leave the kitchen; she had to grab her phone and call for help.

“Please don’t leave me!” Amy screamed, her eyes wide and sad.

“I’m getting my phone…”

“Don’t leave me!” she continued screaming, over and over. Ella stood there, frozen.

The sink started to growl again, but it was different. It didn’t sound mechanical, it sounded bestial, like a demon devouring with an intensity to match Amy’s screams. Screams that were becoming more terrified as she was being jerked farther into the maw of the disposal. Ella watched as her roommate was pulled deeper into the sink, her entire arm now sunk and her feet off the floor. She was being repeatedly pulled with such force that the dishes in the sink around her were shattering, and her legs were slamming against the cabinets.

Ella stood like a statue, mind locked in terror, she began screaming.

Amy was being pulled so hard into the sink now that the cracking of her bones became audible. Soon her screams stopped as her head plunged out of view and the wild kicking of her skyward legs ceased soon after that. All Ella could do was scream.

The growling and grinding stopped. Ella stopped screaming. The room was quiet.

Silent but for the low, heavy breathing coming from under the sink.

This story originally appeared in Self Published.

Shawn Cropley

Shawn Cropley writes stories that make readers want to keep the lights on.