The smell was evident as soon as Neil walked through the door to his apartment. He winced and swore under his breath. “Forgot the fucking garbage again,” he muttered to himself.
That was the first place he went, once he set his keys and mail on the kitchen table, not even bothering to take off his shoes and coat. But when he opened the cupboard under the sink, he saw an empty bag in the bin that he must have put there after taking the garbage to the dumpster. He stood up, momentarily unsure of himself, for he had no recollection of doing so.
The smell was still evident—if anything it had grown stronger since he arrived. He ducked his head into the cupboard where the garbage bin was, to see if somehow something had leaked from it without his noticing. But the stench was not any more noticeable there, and he could see nothing that might be causing a smell. Next he checked the sink above, thinking some food had become trapped in the drain, but nothing seemed amiss there.
Before searching further, he went to open the windows, hoping to reduce the pall by getting some fresh air into the apartment. The window in the living room cranked open easily, but the one in his bedroom—difficult to budge at the best of times—refused to move, no matter how much he tried to force it. It was the cold probably—it had to be twenty below outside—and there was heavy frost on the glass. He could get a hair dryer and probably get it unstuck, but he decided not to for the moment. Finding the location of the smell seemed more important.
He started in the bathroom, opening the cupboard beneath the sink to check for any leaks and continued through the apartment, searching every conceivable place possible. There was no sign of anything he could see that might be causing the terrible stench. The smell seemed to have no locus either, lying heavy across the atmosphere of the entire apartment. It hadn’t dissipated at all, in spite of his opening the window.
When he was done searching the apartment, he sat down on the couch letting out a quiet oomph of frustration. It didn’t make any sense. There was nothing in here that should be smelling, certainly not something as rancid and rotting as this was. As he sniffed it further, he detected notes of acid and the sweetness of rotting meat.
“God this is vile,” he said, going to the bedroom to try to pry the window open further.
It was still stuck and, after a futile few moments of trying to shove it open, he gave up and went to the other window to make sure it was cranked fully open. Seeing that it was, he went to the door, thinking that maybe he could create a draft if he opened it. When he turned the handle of the door though, it wouldn’t open. After checking that it was unlocked, he tried again, with the same result.
He stepped from the door, staring down at it, utterly perplexed. “What in the hell…” Continue reading