Geez the cheese.
The cheese is rancid. A thick and bloated puddle of liquid, like clear puss, brownish and yellow, surrounds the slick brick of dairy like a moat.
The plate underneath is cold and sweaty to the touch. The stench from this decaying island and the hemisphere it comes from hits my nose like a stiff left jab.
It’s as though everything died in here.
All of the food in my refrigerator is rotted. The fruits are shriveled, the vegetables are slimy and brown while the meat is green and fuzzy white. The cartons of milk and juice are twisted,bloated and deformed, looking as if they are about to explode.
There are finger prints scattered all about along with three palm prints. All are distinct and vivid; all are on the walls and the racks yet none of the packages, jars or plates are so marked.
At first I thought it might be mud or grime. At first I thought it might be the product of my lazy hygiene. But on closer examination, the examination of rubbed eyes and leaning into the chilling crate itself, I can clearly see it is blood. To that there is no mistake. It is clearly blood; bright and crimson colored and well defined, without drips or runs.
It is blotted blood, stamped blood, and the blood is not mine.
I live alone with few friends, most of them online. While I may have only fallen asleep in front of the television for just a few minutes, the last time I was in my fridge was about twenty minutes ago to grab a beer. At that time everything was fresh and clean swathed only in the aroma of fresh box of baking soda.
Having lost my appetite I back away and begin to dart my gaze about the room. The paint on the walls, as well as the hue of my cabinets and chairs and table are spotless. The stench of rot does not follow me. The fragrance of decomposition is only in front of me, only when I lean into the refrigerator and the blood and decay.
I am more puzzled than scared.
Everything in the refrigerator is dead and I don’t know why.
Shuffling out of the room and back to my chair bathed in the light of television, I see onscreen the face and form of a delectable young and slender brunette who seems somewhat familiar. While she is so pleasing to my eyes, my mind still wanders and I cannot get over the amount of blood placed in my refrigerator seemingly as a sign or a warning.
And there it is. Do you hear it? Scratching and rustling sounds now surround the room. I always watch television muted because I can’t stand the human voice; it being so shrill and inane.
I can hear the scratches and rustling, clear and unmistakable.
Being a farm boy from way back I know it is too large for a rat or even a raccoon. The scratching and rustling seems to be everywhere and nowhere, but loud enough to be there and I theorize if it is all connected to the rot and blood.
The light switch clicks but the power won’t show. The switch is sticky to the touch and the residue transferred to my fingertips tastes sweet on the end of my tongue.
I know the taste.
The girl on the television is gone. She is replaced first by a phone number to call and then by a snowy picture whose light makes the blood on the switch and the walls glow.
Finger prints and hand prints much like those in the refrigerator cover all four walls in an erratic almost frenetic pattern.
“Everything is dead.” The whisper is harsh and curt.
I know that voice.
“Everything is dead including me.”
Yes I know that voice just as I do the girl on television.
“It took me some time to find my way out.” It is the voice of the girl on the television. It is the voice of the girl from my freezer.
I know it’s her voice once you strip away the volume of her screams and sobs.
“Everything is dead including me.”
I know she’s right, as I can feel her breath on the back of my neck.
By Joseph J. Patchen