What My Nostrils Did Perceive

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man moves in to a seemingly perfect house to discover he isn't alone.

Submitted: November 29, 2007

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Submitted: November 29, 2007

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It was an old house, and like all old houses, it creaked, it was cold, and it also had a certain smell. It was that kind of smell that didn’t stink but wasn’t something that you would craft a bottle of perfume from. Still, I liked it. The house, I mean, not the smell, definitely not the smell.
I think the main reason I liked the house was because it had been cheap; on a writer’s paycheck, anything more would have been out of the question. And unlike most cheap houses, this one was in fairly good condition, and had a wonderful view of the forest below. I had discovered, during my first night there, if you sat on the bedroom balcony and faced the forest, the hill the old house perched on was just high enough to allow an onlooker to picture the sunset as it disappeared behind the evergreen trees. It was almost as if the genius architect that birthed this marvelous abode had purposely placed the balcony that high. At least I like to think so.
When I had purchased the house, I inquired as to why the owner was selling for so cheap. My father had always told me to be proud of what you have and don’t ask questions, but I couldn’t help myself, I was a naturally curious soul.
The real estate agent informed me that the owner, Mr. Devon Grasso, had suffered a great sorrow, considering his wife had mysteriously disappeared. The owner couldn’t bear the memories of his lost love, so he decided to sell the house and everything in it for what is professionally called a ridiculously low price. I decided to leave it at that and quickly moved into my new house.
Within the week I was all settled in. My first several weeks went by uneventfully. I finished unpacking what few boxes I had (I had previously been living in an apartment, and because the house came with all of its old furniture, I didn’t need a lot of junk crowding my house). Then one night, something incredibly unexpected happened.
I was sitting in front of my fireplace, reading the newspaper, the small reading lamp next to me giving off a faint glow which was just enough light to illuminate the small print of the Charleston Gazette. Out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a quick shudder of movement, almost like a womanly figure. I quickly snapped my head in that direction but learned that nothing but the sky blue drapes looked back. Must have been the wind blowing the drapes, I thought to myself. But suddenly I realized that I hadn’t opened the window. I stood and ventured over to the window and inspected. As I had thought, the window was tightly shut; the latch was even closed, preventing outside intruders from easily venturing into my abode.
All of a sudden something hit me in the face like a rock hard fist. It wasn’t a physical hit, though, but one from an odor.And what mysniffer did perceivewas a smell like no other. All of the terrible odors of the world mixed together would have been heaven compared to what I was inhaling.
Quickly I covered my nose, but the smell still penetrated. Where is this coming from, I wondered in desperation. Blindly, through the dark, I wandered around, searching, noticing in some areas the odor was less prolific. Finally I made my way to the basement door, still clamping my nose, trying to protect my nasal cavities from suffering permanent damage; I’m no medical expert, but it seemed as if something of that nature would occur in this situation.
I carefully creaked open the door, and as if I were staring at the dark, gaping mouth of a hideous giant, the basement stairwell seemed to breath. Halitosis would be an understatement. I vomited.
Not owning a flashlight, and unsure where the previous owner stored candles, I began my trek into the pitch black basement, no light to keep me company. As I have previously stated, this house is old; therefore, it is understandable that the basement is unfinished. To my dismay, over the days that I had stayed at the house, I had discovered that in the middle of this gargantuan basement was a solitary light bulb. This solitary light bulb, however, did not have a switch in which you could turn the light from the wall. Instead, this solitary light bulb had a pull string. This forced me to wander around in the dark, looking blindly for the string.
I pushed off the wall, one hand clutching my nose, the other swinging steadily, back and forth like a sideways pendulum, searching for the string. I heard something through the darkness; I stopped, and a split second later, so did the noise. Was there someone in the room? Sweat beaded my forehead; I was incredibly nervous for what I might glimpse once the string was pulled, the room illuminated.
The odor was more powerful than it had been in the time I had searched my house. What in the world could produce such a horrid smell? As I was wondering this, my hand brushed against something. It was the light string! Finally, light would flood into the room and I could find the source of the smell. But then I thought of the shuffling. Could someone be in this dungeon-like basement with me? Maybe they were standing silently in the corner, waiting for me to ignite the bulb, giving away my position. It would be the perfect kill, out here in seclusion. This was another reason I moved here. All the way out here, I thought I was safe from intrusions such as this, but apparently I was wrong.
I was in such a predicament, turn the light on to find the smell, but possibly expose myself, or keep it off and gain the upper hand. I couldn’t take the stress, I vomited again. That was it, if there was someone in the room, they most definitely would have heard that. I had to turn on the light and face my attacker.
I pulled the cord, and winced both from anticipation, and the bright contrast against the dark. I widened my eyes and quickly swept the room. It was empty, aside from the combined smell of vomit and the mystery odor. My heart slowed to the normal human rate, and, disappointed it wasn’t in plain sight, I knew I had to search for the source of the odor. Maybe the smell is mold, I thought, but I knew it couldn’t be true. Still, it was my only lead, so I began searching the walls, my hands still clamping my nose as if I were afraid it would fall off.
Then I realized I wouldn’t be able to smell as well if my nose was completely closed off, so I gently let go. Another wave of odor blasted me in the face and I almost went unconscious, but was able to keep my head. I put the handkerchief that I kept in my back pocket over my nose, enough to smell the stench, but still stay conscious.
I had been feeling along the walls for about ten minutes and had only covered about one and a half walls when my finger stopped on something. It looked a little like an edge to a door, but there was only wall. Then I noticed that the edge continued into a small square about one meter across. I knocked on the area inside the square and heard a sort of hollow echo.
Curious, but very intrigued, I pried open the square. As it fell to the floor with a metallic clang, I stumbled back and fell to the floor. I had definitely found the source of the odor, but it wasn’t what my nose had smelled that horrified me, but what my eyes had seen. It was what appeared to be a female body, several weeks dead. I could barely recognize the face of Mrs. Grasso from the pictures I had seen around the house, but I knew it was her.
I stood up, and turned to leave when I was faced with a second horror. In front of me stood a very large man with a look of hatred in his eyes; it was Mr. Grasso. Suddenly, he lunged for me and grabbed my neck. Being a writer barely over 5’4’’, there was not much I could do.
How did he hide from me? I wondered, having looked around the whole room. I glanced behind Grasso, at the wall opposite the one I was at, and saw another metallic square lying on the ground.
“How did you know she was down here? How did you find the secret door? I was so close. I was just about to seal her door when you had to come down here. So tell me, how did you know to come down here?” he screamed at me through clenched teeth, squeezing my neck tighter and tighter.
“What do you mean,” I gasped, losing air, “I could smell the stench from upstairs.”
“What stench?”

Then it occurred to me. The odor, the glimpse of the womanly figure upstairs, it wasn’t the smell of the body, or a glimpse of my killer. I didn’t believe in this sort of thing, but it was all clear as another figure appeared behind Mr. Grasso. And as the super-natural stench filled my nostrils, and my killer's hands tightened around my neck, I looked into the beautiful, undamaged face of a ghostly transparent Mrs. Grasso.

copyright February 18, 2008


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