“Daaad… I gotta go!” “There’s a bathroom right there.”

The boy pauses at the public restroom door. The interior is pitch black, and there are no light switches. “But it’s spooky!"

“Then hold it till we get home.”

“I can’t!”

The dad just stares at his son at this point, exhausted.

“Come with me?” the boy says.

“I just lit a cigarette!” the father replies. “If you have to go that bad, just go. I’ll be right outside.”

The boy frowns, hopping from one foot to the other. Then he leans through the door. “Hello? Is there anybody in here?”

The tile echoes, but there is no reply. He takes a careful step inside. “Hello? I am very small and not very delicious. You would not want to eat me!”

The small room appears to be empty. There are two stalls, both with their doors closed. The boy walks to the one closest to the door and pushes on it.

Something inside growls and slams the door back in his face. Something large.

“Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!” The boy sprints off. It is possible he’s still running.


(five minutes earlier)

“Oh my God. Remind me never to buy sandwiches from Paris Baguette's cold case again.” My bowels give a sickening lurch.

Erin sighs. “You know, we've had this conversation like three times now. Maybe you should stick to the baked goods.”

'But it's the only place in town I can get sandwiches."

"Yeah, that should tell you something."

“There’s a bathroom over there. I’ll just be a minute.” I sprint over, pausing at the door. The interior is dark. The few public bathrooms Korea possesses always seem to lack soap or toilet paper. We've started carrying a stash just in case, but a lack of lights is a new one on me. I spend a second searching for a switch, but my stomach gives another gurgle. “Looks like I’m doing this blind.”

I dash in and grope my way into a stall. Well, on the plus side, it appears to be a western toilet, rather than a squat. On the minus, there's no door latch. I'll take what I can get. Several moments pass, before I hear the scuff of shoes on the tile outside.

“안녕? 사람이 안에 있어요?"

A pause. Then, "안녕? 나는 아주 작고 아주 맛있는 아닙니다 ... 당신은 저를 먹고 싶지 않을 것이다!"

I have no idea what’s being said. It sounds like a kid, but who is he talking to? Then a hand begins pushing open my stall door.

“Hey!” I shout, and shove it closed before the kid can walk in on me. I hear a shriek, followed by rapidly retreating feet.

A minute later, I emerge and find a Korean man leaning against the wall outside. A cigarette dangles from the corner of his mouth. He’s staring after a distant (still running) speck, looking bemused. When he sees me, he starts in surprise, then a massive smile stretches his features.

I head over to Erin. She gives me a curious look as we start for home.

“What’s with him?" she says, gesturing at the guy. He's now laughing openly, still staring after us.

I shrug. “Well, I don't know for sure, but I can guess.”