Friday, June 12, 2015

Some Things, Once Smelled, Can Never Be Unsmelled

I haven't done very many Flash Fiction Challenges lately because I'm doing JuNoWriMo, and writing a fabulous Texas-themed zombie novel.  I decided to take a break to do this week's challenge, The Dead Body, which involves a dead body in the very first paragraph.  So, without further ado, here's my morbid tale.

Some Things, Once Smelled, Can Never Be Unsmelled

   A barely putrescent corpse, yellow and grey and crawling with maggots, lay on the cold cement of an abandoned basement.  Its inanimate body seemed at home here, having already been given over to the darkness.  Cockroaches, flies, and spiders had taken over, the only signs of life in an otherwise lifeless place.  
   Cobwebs stretched from the ceiling to the rotting, abandoned furniture that had long been reduced to rusted, moldy pieces of cushion and wood that, along with the decaying human body, served as a collective buffet for the creatures that lived here.
   The smell that overwhelmed the room and seeped into every porous bit of material was a powerful mix of copper, rot, and a hint of sweetness that could inspire nausea in the strongest of stomachs.   
   A real estate agent named Carla gagged upon entering this room, her indulgent lunch from Panera Bread preparing to make an encore presentation to the world.  The creamy, golden yellow soup of broccoli and cheese made a grand exit in the most explosive projectile manner, mixed with pieces of lightly toasted (now soggy) ciabatta bread, thin-sliced lean roast beef, and a wonderfully nutty artesian Swiss cheese.
   Carla doubled over, her throat and nostrils burning intensely from the stomach acid that came up.  She grabbed the rail and tried to take the next step down.  Her Louis Vuitton heel hit a part of the step made slippery by the putrid sludge that had just erupted from her mouth.  
   As she lost her footing and grabbed on to the rail, it ripped away from the wall.  She fell backwards, and in trying to catch herself, sprained her right wrist as she tumbled to the floor.
   She looked up, her Nordstrom St. John Collection royal blue shift dress torn and covered in vomit and a thick layer of dust -- this room had about thirty layers of it on any given surface.  She tried to stand up, and her left ankle collapsed underneath her as she screamed in pain.  She looked down to see her ankle, swollen and misshapen, and a deep shade of purple.  
   Carla closed her eyes and tried not to panic.  She took deep breaths and calmed her mind.  She looked around for her cellphone.
   It must have fallen off of me when I fell down the stairs, she thought.  She forced herself to stand up, using the bookcase behind her to keep her balance.  This bookcase was not bolted to the wall, and quickly came crashing down on her.  A cockroach that was crawling across the top shelf fell onto her face, then quickly scurried off.
   She screamed, and shook her head in a panic.  Once the bug was gone, she closed her eyes and shuddered, disgusted.  She kept her eyes shut and took deep breaths to remain calm.  She envisioned a beach with white sands on a sunny day, matching the rhythm of her breath to the imaginary tide that rolled in and out.  
   Last week, this house seemed like such a good deal.  She bought it at auction for a fraction of what she planned to sell it for.  Including the basement, there were three stories of space ready to be remodeled.  She had yet to have it inspected; she just wanted to look around and see what she was dealing with.
   Carla tried to push the bookcase off of herself, but it was too heavy.  She forgot that she had sprained her wrist, until she tried to use it and it hurt like hell.  She groaned with pain.
   She blinked back tears as she looked around the room, and finally located her cell phone.  It was just a few feet out of reach.  As she tried to stretch, to pull herself out from under the bookcase, she saw what was just beyond it, and what was the source of the awful smell that caused her to lose her lunch in the first place.
   The cell phone was next to the hand of a dead body that was buzzing with flies.  Maybe it was her imagination, but it seemed to be mocking her, with its hollow eyes and a smug smile that stretched across its dead face.  
   She couldn't reach the cell phone, but if that corpse could just come back to life, it could call someone for help.  She was almost desperate enough to ask it.
   No, that's nonsense, she thought.  Keep yourself together, girl!  There has to be a way out of this!
   If she couldn't get help, then who would find her?  No one knew she was here.  On a whim, she had stopped by to check out her new flip house after her afternoon appointment had cancelled.
   She wondered how long it would take for anyone to find her body.  If she didn't make it out of here alive, the office would simply assume she quit, and replace her.
   She was single; the only one who would notice her absence at home was Melisandra, her Maine Coon.  She hoped her landlord would come by to check in on her, and rescue the cat before she starved to death.
   Carla closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.  Suddenly, she could feel a huge spider crawling up her leg.  Unable to move, she started to panic.
   Vain attempts to get herself out from under the bookcase only resulted in more pain.  And the only ones who could hear her screams were the creatures that would soon feast on her flesh.
   A new dawn, a new day.  The sun was bright and shining, illuminating a beautiful beach, covered with white sand that was gracefully kissed by clear blue water.  But none of that mirthful sun made it into the dark, damp basement, where a skeleton sat within reach of a cell phone.  It stared with unblinking eyes at a barely putrescent corpse trapped underneath a bookcase, yellow and grey and crawling with maggots.


  1. The first half of the story could almost be set to the Benny Hill theme song. Pretty gross! And it makes you wonder what happened to the first dead person...

  2. If the basement were just a little bigger, I imagine that a little ways beyond the first corpse, there's the corpse that came before *that* one, which somehow inspired the death of the one that inspired Carla's! A daisy chain of dead, as it were.

    I like this one -- nicely done!