I Smell Death

During the summer of my sixteenth year, I spent most of my time "cruising" with friends around the rural area I lived in. The community we lived in was very isolated and one could travel for miles without seeing any trace of man, save a power line or two.

Late one steamy, hot August afternoon, we happened across a strange looking abandoned house that had been boarded up and left for dead. It looked creepy, even from the road. Although most of the windows were covered with boards that appeared to have been hurriedly smacked on with crooked old nails, a few had been left bare, and the door was left unlocked. How did I know that, you ask? Because one of my foolhardy buddies hopped out of my blue ford van, and checked. We debated amongst the four of us if we should go into the old abandoned house. Here we were, four bored, young females who were feeling a little brave that day; one may say a few of us were even getting a little cocky. The roughneck of our brood, (we will call her 'Misty' for the sake of her privacy) said she had heard horrifying stories about the people who had once lived in the house. "Figures," I thought to myself. After all, Misty had been the one to check the door when we first came upon this dirty old wreck of a house. Anyhow, she began to go on and on about how it was an old farmhouse owned by a family back in the 1800s. I believed that part of her story because of the little barn out back and the style of the house itself. Misty said that the family had been new to the area when they arrived, and they were not used to the extreme isolation or the sense of determination that was needed to survive in these parts back in those days. One winter they apparently suffered through one harsh snowstorm after another, and their hunger drove them to cannibalize a few neighborly men who came to check on them when the spring thaw came. We sat quiet for a few seconds, looking at Misty intensely, and then we began to laugh. "Yeah, right Misty," I said. Immediately she started to egg us on, saying that if we didn't believe her, why didn't we go check it out for ourselves. I promptly reminded her of the 'No Trespassing' sign posted on the front door and of the other signs which were all around on the barbed wire fence which encircled the premises. She called me a chicken and I actually fell for it. My other two friends were two scared, so Misty and I decided we would be the courageous ones and have a look see. I guess I was 'too scared' to, but as they say, 'curiosity kills the cat'.

The house was a leaning rectangle; two stories that were once perfectly square. It appeared to be leaning towards us, as if it were beckoning us. Once it must have been quaint-even beautiful. It was all wood planks. Now it looked rotted away and ghastly, a dark brown black the color of manure. I peered through the paneless front window. I saw an ancient weather beaten piano sitting amongst old mildewed furniture. You know, the kind that looks uncomfortable and too small for even normal sized people to sit in. I wondered why it looked like everything had just been left as is. All the furniture was still uncovered. The old lamps, rug, everything. But I wanted to go in. I WANTED to. It seemed almost urgent. The front door was dead center on the ground floor, and with one quick push, it opened. It stuck a little, but we squeezed through. The sun was beginning to go down just then, and we had to look a little harder to see clearly. Misty made her way around the squeaky floor boards and coughed at the dust we had awakened. She rushed around loudly and I could tell she was nervous. "This is boring," She said. "I'm going to check out the barn." Misty flew out the door and left me standing alone in the old place. I wasn't really scared at the time. I caught the feeling that this old house was once homey and very likable. It smelled of mold and old antiques. I was about to take a look in the kitchen when I noticed the narrow staircase which lead to the second floor. They immediately struck my curiosity and I found myself trying to find a way to get upstairs, even though most of the stairs had fallen through and it was probably unpassable. Rats scurried by. I hate rodents. I guess I should thank them now though, because they woke me up from the dreamy thoughts which had overcome me, wondering how the house had looked in its heyday and how I could manuever myself upstairs.

As I walked to the bottom of the stairway to get a closer look, the smell became intolerable. It hurt my nose to breathe, and as I attempted to breathe through my mouth, it actually stung. I coughed and gasped. I had never smelled anything so horrible in my entire life. Suddenly I heard Misty scream. She was screaming like the little girl she was, but it was totally unlike her to be so vulnerable and filled with emotion. I turned toward the door as if I could see through the walls. I heard something drop down through what was left of the stairs. On instinct I spun around to see what had fallen. It was only a dead rat. Partially decomposed. Knowing it could not have just 'fallen out of the sky' I glanced quickly up the stairs. There in the darkness at the top of the stairs huddled a large shadowy figure with huge white eyes with big maddening pupils. No human being I had ever seen had eyes that big and wide. But it was real, and I sensed it's thinking. What to do, what to do. It was looking right into my eyes. I could see what looked like wild, unkempt hair sticking out all over it's head. Whatever it was looked insane and ravenous. I bolted. I flung open the door and ran toward the barn to get Misty. I wasn't going to die alone I thought. We were getting out of there! As I flew into the barn to get Misty, I saw her back facing me, then I saw what she was looking at. It was a dairy cow. You know, the back and white ones, and it was lying on its back, split open end to end. Flies and blood were scattered on the surrounding walls. It looked as if it had been done just moments ago. I slapped Misty across the face and pulled her by the arm. As we ran out of the barn, I saw one of my other friends jogging toward us. She turned around and followed us as we jumped into the van. I started it up without hesitation and we drove away. My friend who had been running toward us said she had come to see why we weren't leaving yet. She said a strange looking middle aged man with no teeth, and wearing overalls, had walked up to the van in the twilight and asked what we were doing on the property. He said what we were doing was illegal and we needed to leave before he had to 'take matters into his own hands'. She said he had then walked off and disappeared right in front of their very eyes, about an hour ago, and it had taken her all that time to get her courage up to see about us. It's a good thing I had the keys or I fear they would have left Misty and I! I would like to remind you there were no other homes for miles, and we had seen no vehicles or other modes of transportation for miles. When I think about my true hair raising experience, I still feel faint!

Submitted by North Dakota, USA