Flash Fiction: Monkey Showers

*based on a disturbingly true story

Ten hours in the open jeep and Myra was covered in sweat and dust and couldn’t care less if Adam got the fire burning for the shower. Clean. She just wanted to be clean.

“Myra, just chill, I’ll have this going in twenty.” Adam looked at her beseechingly.

Myra rolled her eyes and stripped. The other girls had slipped inside their tents, waiting for the water to warm. A scream came from a tent, a monkey raced across the campground with a packet under his arm. Lori ran after him throwing a shoe.

“That’s why you have to close everything up, every time we leave camp!” Myra called after her.

Tossing her clothes into the stone pit where clothes were washed with shower runoff, she strode to the block. She tried hard not to smirk as she felt Adam’s eyes take in her nakedness. Around here, where elephants and jaguars were the biggest threats while you had to pee behind a bush, a little naked meandering was nothing to gawk at. But gawk Adam did.

Tom and Gary were playing cards under the kitchen lean-to and cat whistles were sent her way as Myra retrieved a towel from the clothesline and stepped into the shower.

The water hit her skin with stingingly cold needles. But, oh, god did it feel good to wash off the dust and the grit.

Working the soap into a lather, Myra’s nose wrinkled at a slightly putrid smell. She looked around but saw nothing out of place. Bringing the bar of soap to her nose, she was reassured it smelled only like soap. The rancid stench had vanished and Myra shrugged it off as something on the wind.

Myra finished scrubbing her skin and rinsed off just as the first temperature increases reached her from the fire Adam had started under the pipes that lead the water from the rain tower to the shower block. She put her face fully into the warming stream and opened her mouth for a drink before turning the water off.

Toweling dry, she stepped outside the shower. “Candice, you’re up!”

The next day was much the same. No one could be spared to stay at camp to keep the fires burning. The lion pride was on the move and they had to be tracked with the telemetry equipment by hand, the entire team needed to be in the field to make sure the lions were not going after the wild dogs. The pack in their preserve just had puppies, very endangered and rarely born puppies, that needed to be protected.

Having seen the attention Myra was getting from the guys, Lori voiced her desire to take the first shower while Tom stoked the fire this time. Myra chuckled as Lori screamed from inside the block when the cold water hit her.

When Lori finished her shower and tagged Myra, she said “You might want to hold your breath, something stinks in there.”

Myra walked into the block and breathed deeply, but nothing smelled off. Turning the warm water on, she stepped under the shower but immediately started to gag. The water smelled bad. Really bad.

Turning the shower off, Myra stepped outside. “Adam, can you come check something out in here?”

“Really, Myra?” Tom chided her. “I guess that’s one way to conserve water if you share a shower, but you two had better not take long.”

Myra ignored him and waited till Adam had stepped inside. He wasn’t sure where to look; standing this close to her while she was naked, and wet. “Um, well, um, this is, um-”

“Shut up, Adam. Smell this.” Myra turned the water on and Adam clamped his hand over his nose and turned the water off after just one breath.

“What the hell?”

“What the hell, exactly.”

“What’s the matter, Adam, you can’t-” Tom’s jeer was cut short when Myra smacked him on the shoulder.

“The water is bad. We can’t shower in that till we figure it out. You were the last one to check the rain tower, what did you see?” Myra wrapped a towel around her as she made her demand.

“What do you mean the water is bad? Water doesn’t go bad.” Tom scratched his head. “Does it?”

“We don’t have time for this, go check out the tower and get back into camp before it gets dark. Jaguars.” Myra reminded Tom. As if anyone needed to be reminded not to be outside of the fence line when the sun dropped. Everything out here wanted to kill them.

“No, no way. It can wait till tomorrow.” Tom looked up at the darkening sky.

Groaning, Myra pulled her dirty clothes back on and told Adam to get the headlamps. The two of them set off at a quick pace to the rain tower.

“Look.” Adam pointed up to the tower. “The hatch is open.”

“Tom.” Myra muttered. Climbing up the side of the tower she peered inside the barrel with her head lamp. The smell that hit her made her eyes roll in her head. “Oh, god, something is dead in here.” Taking a big breath of air and holding her nose, she turned back to the hatch and let her eyes focus on the inside.

Something was floating on the surface of the water in the barrel. “Give me the scrub brush.” When Adam passed her the long-handled scrubber, she took another breath and scooped up the mass, pulling it through the hatch. The blob slid off the brush and crashed to the ground, splattering Adam.

Adam looked down at the bits of blood and bloated body that had sprayed his legs and the water-gorged body of a monkey was in chunks on the ground. Adam barely made it to a bush before vomiting.

“I drank that water. Gross.” Myra scowled as she opened the drain to empty the rain barrel. “Why does no one in this camp listen to me? Close up everything, every time. Damn monkeys.”

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