Short story by Iris Carden
I was running as fast as I could. My heart was pounding and my breath was ragged. The bullies were right behind me. I felt like my heart was going to explode in my chest as I ran through the park.
I had a vague plan to hide in one of the two port-a-loos there. As I approached, I saw a third one had been added. It looked newer and cleaner than the others, so that’s the one I went for. As I threw open the door, I noted that it had “Portal Loo” written on it, instead of “port-a-loo”, but at that time I didn’t have time to think or question it at all.
I slammed the door shut behind me, and sat on the lid of the loo. Then I noticed my surroundings. This was the cleanest portable toilet I had ever seen. Instead of that usual intense heat, this one was quite cool inside. As for the smell, instead of the expected stench there was just the slightest hint of … my mother’s perfume? My mother had died only a month before. I thought at first I might have imagined it.
Suddenly, a screen dropped down from the ceiling in front of the door I had just shut. The screen showed me the bullies running up to the row of port-a-loos.
A voice, my mother’s voice, said, “Portal loo defence system activated.”
What looked like the effluent from the loo suddenly sprayed out at the bullies. They yelled and ran.
I laughed, not understanding what was going on, but realising things were going in my favour for once.
Since the loo could apparently talk, I asked, “What’s happening? Did you just spray poo at those guys.”
My mother’s voice answered, “I am Portal Loo. Thirty years from now, Kevin, you will invent me and send me back in time to save you from those bullies. They were sprayed with melted chocolate, but will not notice that for some time yet. I am programmed to do no harm to anyone.”
“I made you?”
“You will make me.”
“What else can you do?”
“I can transport you anywhere and anywhen. I am programmed to follow your commands and your commands only. I am also programmed to protect you.”
“And you’re a loo?”
“I do have a functional toilet, which is self-cleaning and antibacterial.”
“You can take me anywhere?”
“I can take you anywhere.”
“How about the moon?”
There was a sudden whoosh. The screen showed static for a moment, and then the lunar surface, just like it was on those old clips of the moon landing.
“You will need a space suit if you plan to go outside,” Portal Loo said.
A panel slid aside beside me, and there was a space suit.
“How did you know I would need a space suit?”
“You will program me. You know you better than anyone else could.”
At ten years old, I walked on the Moon for the first time.
Since then, Portal Loo and I have had more adventures than I can list. We saw dinosaurs together, and the Colosseum in Rome, both as a ruin and when it was in use.
There have been times when I’ve had to wait for someone else to use the loo before I could get inside. To other people she always appeared to be just a normal port-a-loo, but just a very clean one.
She got me to exams in time when I was running late, and even transported me to the function where I met my wife.
Portal Loo has been a vital part of my life. Sometimes, I’ve thought I was like Dr Who in the TARDIS, but Portal Loo was more than the TARDIS. She is not just a transport device. She’s a friend, and she’s had my back and actively defended me on more than one occasion, since that day with the bullies.
But now, I have to dismantle my faithful friend.
It’s been 29 years. I’ve gained my PhD in engineering, and I’ve built all kinds of incredible things, but I still don’t know how Portal Loo works. I have to invent her next year, if not, I can’t send her back to save me from the bullies all those years ago.
The only thing I can do, is to pull her apart, so I can understand how she works, so I can invent her again.
For People and Planet
Loo paper matters. I get mine from Who Gives A Crap. They use recycled paper, which is better for the planet. Part of their profits go to build toilets for people who don’t have them, which is good for people’s health. All of that for about the same price as your regular roll. Use this link for $10 off your first order. Disclosure: if you use the link and get your discount, I get a discount off my next order.