The Vent

By Brian Petre

This one’s worth telling…

So, I’d had a long night out with a couple of coworkers that just happened to be at my local bar. It’s a great dive bar that even has Burlesque shows on Sunday nights. I should know better than to talk about places I like to coworkers, I tend to get followers, and sometimes it’s just plain unwanted. But this night was different, it was Monday and everyone had the day off, and it was nice to see a few people cutting loose. I was in a good mood by the time I got to this bar because I had spent a few hours prior playing pool at a rather famous pool hall down the road. I’d hustled a bit and won a couple twenties and it reminded me of the old days. My shooting isn’t what it used to be, but as usual when the pressure is on, and money’s on the line, I shot like Fast fucking Eddie. I even impressed myself. This is the second Moday spent like this, so now it’s tradition in this city. Besides, these are the only two bars in Portland that haven’t kicked me out yet…seriously.

We’d had some laughs enjoying “Kareoke From Hell” at this punk rock dive. It’s done with a live band, so I’ve accepted it, and secretly enjoyed it. I even caught myself looking at the song list, for some reason I was willing to sing “Under My Thumb” by the Stones, but they didn’t have it.

The night had ended and we took a cab back to the hotel. I was drunk. Not falling down drunk or puking or anything like that, but I definately couldn’t walk a straight line. I got off the elevator on my floor and started the long walk down the hallway to my hotel room. That’s when I heard the voice.

“Fuuuuccckk yooouu…”. It was muffled, and almost sounded like a whisper.

“Fffffuuuuuucccckkk yyyoooouuuu”. I swear to god I thought it was in my head. I’d never heard, or thought I’d heard, a voice that sounded like this. It was as if I was hearing a strange echo from a voice spoken 20 miles away through a tunnel.

“Fuck you”. Now I know I heard something. I was in the hotel hallway, alone, with a clear view of everything and all of the doors. They were all closed. But there was a vent. It was a water heater vent or something, about 3′ tall by 2′ wide on the wall. I moved a bit closer to it.

“Fffuuuucckk yooouuu, Brian”.

The fucking vent knew my name.

What does one do in this situation? I personally had no idea, I had never faced this situation before, so I simply faced the vent, leaned towards it a bit, and said, “What?”.

“Fuck you, Brian”. Now I’m sure of it. The vent is calling me out.

“Fuck you, Vent”. Not very original, but it was all I had.

“Go fuck yourself, Brian”. Now there was a problem.

“I’ve beat the fuck out of bigger Vents than you”.

There I am, standing in front of this vent, threatening to kick its ass.

“Oh yeah? Fuuucck yooouu”.

“I’ve got a screw driver in my room, Vent. I could tear you apart. All you’re put together with is a bunch of Phillips head screws”.

“Yeeesssss, but there’s eight of them”.

I fucking lost it. I had to walk away. I couldn’t stop laughing all the way to my room. Several days later the truth revealed itself. It turns out that somehow some of my coworkers had found their way into the vent room through an access door in one of their hotel rooms. I still have no idea how long they were there before I finally walked by.

To this day I occasionally stop at the vent, when I’m a bit drunk, and tell it to fuck off.

Bob Senitram

Webmaster and editor of I obtained a bachelor's degree in micro-biology around the turn of the century but was quickly tracked down and forced to return it to its rightful owner and pay a $25 fine. *** A fan of science fiction, I started this website in 1999 as a portal for science fiction stories that have never been published. *** Completely devoid of talent, I decided to call on the public to supply content. Shortly afterwards Stephen and I started writing weekly columns and have continued to this day.

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