“This is the last time…” Eddy told himself exasperated. He slid his diving goggles over his eyes. The summer sun was now high in the sky and he could feel himself sweating under his diving suit. Parking in this neighbourhood at this time of the year was impossible so he had left his working van three blocks away. The highest slide of the Aquapark came gradually into focus on top of the rooftops as he made his way towards it. From a terrace nearby, a guy called out mockingly. “Hey Nemo, are you going for a swim? The sea is 300 km from here!” The guy marked his last words by placing his hand as a fin on top of his head to mimic a shark. All the occupants sitting at his table burst into laughter. Eddy ignored them and walked on; he had more important matters to tend too, one of which was dealing with the fact that the sweat was now trickling down the small of his back. Soon it would be all over his crotch and he knew he would then be in for a treat.
He walked on, eager to get it over with. “This is the last time!” he told himself again, this time aloud. He reached the end of the street and headed straight for the Aquapark’s entrance. A nerdy student was at the ticket stand, clearly overtaken by the size of the cue that waited ahead of him to get into the park. Eddy heard whispering as he jumped the line and went directly towards the kid. He introduced himself to him impatiently. “I’m Eddy the plumber. I was called for a problem in the Anaconda?” The student looked at him confused.
- “You’re a plumber?” he asked.
- “Yeah, yeah I know what this looks like. But Nick knows me; he’s the one who contacted me. Just call him on his walkie-talkie. Tell him I’m here.”
- “Errh…Nick said to stop bothering him with my incessant questions. He’s not going to like this. They are having a major problem in the Anaconda.”
- “This is why I’m here you little …” Eddie paused. Insulting the kid wouldn’t help. He sighed, fogging up his goggles as he did so. He lifted them off his face, rubbed the bridge of his nose and tried again, this time with a calmer voice. “Please call him, tell him Eddy’s here. He’ll be glad I promise you.”
- “I…I’m not allowed to…”
His walkie-talkie crackled.
- “Dustin? This is Nick. Are you there?”
The kid jumped at the sound of his boss’ voice. He immediately brought the device to his mouth.
- “This is Dustin for Nick, I copy, over and out.”
- “Stop goofing around, I’ve told you before this is a water park, not the Marines. Has a plumber named Eddie shown up at your entrance by any chance?”
The kid looked at Eddie, clearly waiting for his brain to make the connections. The heat had become unbearable in his wetsuit; he grabbed the walkie-talkie from the student’s hand and answered Nick directly.
- “Nick, this is Eddie, I’m here with nerd boy at entrance A. Can someone please let me in a.s.a.p.? Otherwise I’m going back to my van.”
- “Wonderful, you’re here. Dustin, let the man in immediately and find someone to cover for you. Accompany him directly to the Anaconda.”
- “No need, I know the way by now.” Eddie answered. “This is the third time you’ve called me for this Nick and I can guarantee you it will be the last.”
He almost threw the walkie-talkie back at the kid then grabbed the service badge that hung around his neck. The service door behind him opened at one slid of the card and Eddie was in. He found himself plunged straight into the theme park, children running around and screams coming from the pools you could make out behind some of the decorations. He quickened his pace; passing the signs that marked the way to the Anaconda, the biggest tube slide in the park. It stood above all others, was yellow with large black spots on it and was very impressive when viewed from below. As you approached it, it was clear that the main screams that could be heard in the park came directly from it. He went towards the entrance of the Anaconda pool where Nick was waving at him.
- “So what happened now?”
- “Same thing as last time but this time no one was keeping an eye on it. The kids continued going in and it was a while before we realised that there was no one coming out at the bottom anymore. We managed to get 6 out at the top but the rest are too deeply in and too young or too frightened to climb they way back up alone. I think there are a lot of them. The management has proposed to cut the tube where it’s blocked but it’s too risky. We don’t know what we are cutting into,” Nick answered, a horrified look plastered on his face.
Eddie looked up at the tube slide and sighed.
- “Ok…wonderful,” he said sarcastically. “Can’t wait to get this over with…did you leave the water running in it?”
- “Yes in the hope of “lubricating” the blockage as you explained on the phone…”
- “Good. I’m sending you a very expensive invoice this time Nick.”
He followed Nick inside the pool area that had been evacuated. Both men paused at the edge of the water.
- “I haven’t dared to ask you yet but why are you dressed like an actor coming out of The Big Blue movie? It’s not very deep.”
Eddie gave him a furious look from inside his goggles he had just replaced on his eyes.
- “Because last time I got skin burn from the plastic sides and, when the “kid blockage” gave, I almost drowned in the water and child backlog, that’s why.”
Eddie got into the pool without looking back. He swam a few strokes until the tube’s exit. He could hear the sharp cries coming from the kids inside. He slipped himself in the opening and pulled himself a few meters up. After crawling a little then taking a 90° bend, he came face to face with the large face of a pink unicorn that was looking blankly at him. The kids were all screaming behind it; the noise was deafening.
- “Will you all please shut up!” he yelled as loud as he could.
The screams turned into crying pleas. Eddie could barely move in such a small space but he managed to grab the tip of his harpoon that hung at his waist. He slid it up towards the pink rubber head.
- “You kids are going to be fine but I promise you that, when you are all out, I’m going to have a good talk with the wise one who thought it a great idea to bring a gigantic buoy into this tube.”
He raised the harpoon at the level of the unicorn’s nose and patted it on its forehead before pushing the weapon sharply into it. “Here we go again,” he sighed.