A December to forget


I have received some inquiries about my lapse in writing lately. But while trying to explain the situation even to family and friends, I find myself without the vocabulary to describe it.

Recently at a doctor’s appointment with my wife, the man politely asked her, “How did the mouse get into the water softener?”

Realizing that the dumbfounded expression on my face didn’t convey the story that flashed through my mind, this was my attempt to answer that question. What follows is a series of stories that detail the events that transpired this December on the homestead …

The silence was deafening. It was only 3 o’clock in the morning, but there was a curiosity that malingered in the air. It aroused me from the deepest sleep and got me out of bed. Quickly, I began investigating. What could this be?

There was an odor, pungent and painful. It felt like my airway was being attacked. I looked around the room, but nothing was out of sorts. She was sleeping and so should I. I laid down, hoping that my reaction was unwarranted or at least exaggerated.

Perhaps the stress of the holidays was taking its toll. Anticipating family gatherings can increase my stress and tax my coping mechanisms. I’m no stranger to nightmares, but this seemed surreal at best.

I wish I could describe the feeling that I had, but again, I was awake. The oppressive stench overcame my senses, and I quickly lost sight of where I was, who I was or whether it was a dream.

I’m not sure when it began, but I found myself going downstairs, like a bad horror movie. I wasn’t sure if I would meet some demonic spirit of Christmas past or if I would just find myself sleepwalking in a horrible dream.

Closer and closer, I crept towards the source. Sniffing and smelling, between the hazy fog, I couldn’t tell if my eyes were just tired or if the whole room was filled with some sort of noxious gas.

As I walked around the basement, the scent became more distinct. It was a potent smell. It poisoned the airway, making it difficult to breathe and see. But I still couldn’t see what it was or where it was coming from.

A low hiss came from the corner where the sump pump was, and I was able to immediately identify the source. It was putrid, repulsive, overbearing and, yet, I just stared at it.

Blankly I continued to stare, not knowing what to do or how to do it. I tried holding my breath, but I couldn’t. It was like an onslaught on my olfactory system. It hurt to breathe at this point. My eyes were itching and burning.

I looked away and ran upstairs.

Panting, I began panting, longing for fresh air, as though it would cure me. I found myself standing on the back porch in freezing temperatures, in only my underwear. I didn’t care how cold it was, it was the crisp fresh air that made me feel alive again, as though I hadn’t been.

The intense encounter with whatever was trying to kill me sucked the life out of my body. My soul was tarnished, my lungs were poisoned, and my eyes were burning. Whatever it was, I didn’t like it.

Living the dream is the ultimate goal, but nightmares are dreams too. There were no answers, no explanations, and there was no understanding of what was or what would come of it.

I was violated, my senses were attacked, and I only found refuge in the cold winter air…

To be continued.

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