Susan gagged, then coughed. That damn smell was back again. She ran to the sink and turned on the tap, after letting it run for a few seconds she shoved the plug into the hole and turned off the tap. Susan left the kitchen, went to the downstairs bathroom and did the same, flushing the toilet for good measure. Once downstairs was done she went upstairs and did the same to the sinks and toilets up there. When she was finished Susan went around the house lighting candles before finally opening some windows. A cool breeze came in causing her to shiver. The day was a cold one and the rain wasn’t helping. The smell faded quickly at least, after about ten minutes she closed the windows and threw on a hoodie. The smell went quickly, but it was strong and foul when it first appeared, it smelt like rotting seaweed and dead animals, salty and putrid. It only seemed to come when it rained, which was far too often for Susan’s liking. They had warned her of the smell, that they had plumbers out to look for the source, had everything cleaned, even had the entire system replaced, but the smell always returned. Before moving in she reasoned that it didn’t rain all that often and the reduced rent was well worth it, after all she was able to get a huge house in a fancy area for dirt cheap, all by herself too. The rent on this place was the same as her old one bedroom apartment, even now, once the smell was gone, she still felt that it was an okay trade off. Still, if she could just get rid of it the place would be perfect. She had tried a few things herself, filling the sinks and toilets with bleach when there was rain forecast then letting the bleach down the drains once the rain started, using baking soda and vinegar. Nothing worked, if anything it seemed to make the smell worse.
The pipes gurgled and rattled as it continued to rain. Susan had learned to mostly ignore the sounds, even though they sometimes sounded like someone thundering back and forth up stairs. To her it seemed as though there was a leak somewhere in the piping, the rain was getting in somewhere, setting it off. Probably a backlog of leaves and other gross, rotting things were providing the smell. She knew she’d likely never know what the problem was, but it still provided a nice distraction when she wasn’t in the mood to do any work, and today was one of those days. She doodled aimlessly on the writing pad in front of her, a few words had been scribbled down at various points but now she forgot the ideas that were behind most of them. Susan blamed the weather, at least when it was vaguely sunny out she could go sit in the garden and do some work out there. It was well maintained, the owners had someone come in every few weeks to tidy it up making it a nice place to go out and sit around in. There was a gazebo outside with a table in it, but the wind and the rain would be too much, she’d be soaking wet and freezing in no time. She sighed and stood from the table, she’d make herself a cup of tea, then she would get to work.
As the kettle boiled she made a mental list of what she needed to do, it wasn’t a whole lot, finish off the few remaining bits of a project, but that wasn’t due until next week, she had to get a start on an essay for college, then her boss wanted everyone to come up with five ways to make the store more customer friendly. That one was the easiest and she had already written down a few ideas, they were probably a bit shitty and no doubt everyone else would say the same things, but it was something. Susan figured if they wanted good ideas they should be paying for them, she had enough homework from college. The kettle clicked and she filled her mug, then brought it back to the table. Outside the rain was just getting heavier.
When the rain started to die off, Susan stood from the table and began to get things out for dinner. She was feeling too lazy to cook and if the rain started again she wouldn’t be able to wash anything so she decided on oven pizza and chips. Nice and easy, no real clean up, everyone wins. The dishwasher worked fine when it rained, but the smell came out of it too, despite what the owners said she still didn’t trust it. It never smelled after a cleaning cycle but god only knew what was washed through the pipes and onto her plates. Susan dropped the bag of frozen chips and let out a shriek, spinning around to look out the window, something had banged into it, she moved towards the window, half expecting to see a bird lying on the ground outside but there was nothing. Looking closer she saw what looked like a handprint, the outline was greasy and waxy. She moved close to the window and peered around the back garden, she didn’t see anyone. The space was wide and empty enough that had someone been there she would have spotted them running away. Still, just to be safe she checked the locks on the windows and doors. Feeling a little silly she picked up the bag of chips and continued making dinner. It was probably nothing, a sudden gust of wind.
She was just sitting down at the table when she noticed the smell. Susan sighed, sometimes it happened, the smell would come through despite the plugs but that usually only happened in extremely heavy rain. She double checked that the sinks were still full of water and then flushed the toilets again. The pipes juddered and rattled, and if anything the smell seemed to get stronger. Susan went back to the kitchen and opened up a small window to help clear out the smell. It improved for a moment or two, but again it started getting stronger. The oven timer started beeping, Susan jumped, then hurried over to turn if off. She took the food out of the oven and put it onto a plate, though her appetite was rapidly fading. She picked up the food and turned, she froze and dropped the plate. A large, slimy creature filled the doorway, the smell hit her like a wall, she opened her mouth to scream but before she could she started to throw up. The great, hulking thing moved into the room.
Barbara put down her bags and sighed, home sweet home. Patrick came in behind her, “how is it?”
“Good, we’ll get another few years before it comes back.”
“Well, we would have had longer if you let that family move in.”
Patrick shook his head, “They had young kids, that would have been suspicious. Much easier for a college kid to go missing. They go missing all the time. Don’t worry, we’ll deal with it when it comes back, even then it’s only two months or so for a few years worth of peace.”
He pulled her against him and kissed her, “I know honey, I know. It’s worth it.”