This morning, I started smelling a foul odor.
It started when I woke up on the couch in my apartment, where I had passed out after a long night of drinking. I thought, at first, that maybe I had left some food out again in my drunken stupor, but I couldn’t manage to find anything sitting out that could be the source of it. I thought that it could be that a small animal had maybe died in the walls or something like that. However, when I called down to my apartment manager to say something about it he seemed confused, as he hadn’t gotten any other complaints of a stench. I decided not to press the issue, though, on the off chance that my own personal hygiene habits were somehow to blame. I certainly didn’t want him to see how poorly I kept house.
It took me a moment to realize that, no matter where I went in my apartment, the smell was just as strong as it was previously. It had to be coming from me. However, when I hopped in the shower in the hopes of doing away with the stench, I found no amount of scrubbing could seem to rid me off it. It was if the smell was etched into my very skin.
I found myself wondering if one of the people I had over the night before had played some sort of awful prank on me. If so, they were in for some serious revenge, as this had to be one of the most foul smells I had ever experienced, like the rotting flesh of countless dead things strewn about on a field of their own shit. I wouldn’t have wished this on one of my worst enemies, let alone one of my so-called “friends”.
Eventually, I just had to come to terms with it. I was going to have to go to work like this. With a sigh, I hastily pulled on my somewhat ill-fitting suit and rushed out of my building just in time to catch the last bus to work. I felt so awkward stepping on to that bus, knowing the amount of discomfort I was going to be putting all those people through, but I couldn’t afford to miss work again. I avoided making eye contact with anyone on the bus that day, not wanted to see their disgusted stares.
I rushed in to my office building and past the front desk, ducking into the first empty elevator I saw. I didn’t want to make eye contact with the cute receptionist I had been thinking about asking out, not wanting her to associate me with this foul smell, and I certainly didn’t want to do anyone the displeasure of being stuck in an enclosed space with me. It seemed to have gotten worse, somehow concentrating itself slightly in the confined elevator. It now carried the subtle hints of rusty metal and rancid blood, a fact that I was absolutely ecstatic to discover. I could only hope that one whiff of me would be enough for my boss to decide to send me home for the day.
Imagine my surprise when I was “lucky” enough to have her hop on the elevator just two floors beneath mine. I felt bad about her being trapped in the elevator with me, but at least I wouldn’t have to expose the whole office to my stench. I stood there for a while, expecting a complaint or outburst of some kind. However, nothing happened.
I chanced a glance over at her to see what was going on, and was surprised to find my boss just browsing about on her phone, as if I wasn’t even there. I was baffled by this, as I had figured that I must have been noticeable from a mile away at this point. As if noticing my gaze she looked up from her phone, giving me a once-over before she turned her eyes back to her little, palm-sized screen.
“Good job being on time for once.” She eventually said.
The elevator dinged as we finally reached the right floor. My boss stepped out of the elevator and I sheepishly followed her, not sure what else to do. I glanced about the office, waiting for some sort of response from someone as imagined my stench wafting out and permeating the entire room. After some time though, I just had to accept the fact that nobody else could seem to smell the odor.
It wasn’t till the elevator slid shut behind me that I realized something else, though. It wasn’t that the smell had built up inside of the elevator. It had just gotten worse in general.
My day went on as normal. I worked on some projects, went to some meetings, interacted with coworkers, and just generally went about the day-to-day work that I despised so much. I could only just barely focus on hating my life though, as the smell continued to grow worse as the day went on, almost to the point of blinding me. I could barely function by the end of the day since it was so bad, yet my coworkers had yet to react to it in the slightest. That simple fact made it all more awful. Was I just imagining it? Was I going insane?
Quitting time couldn’t come early enough. As soon as 5 o’clock rolled around I was out the door before anyone could have the chance to ask me to stay late. I knew that it would probably bite me in the ass later on, but I could deal with that. What I couldn’t deal with anymore was this goddamn stench. I had to find some way to get rid of it. I somehow thought it wouldn’t do me much good, but I figured I’d swing by the store on the way home and try out some other ways of maybe getting rid of it.
I saw a dog-walker through the front windows of the building as I exited the ground floor and I instantly felt a lot better. I had always loved animals ever since I was young, and just seeing one was enough to improve my mood by ten-fold. I rushed out the front doors to get a closer look, especially excited to see one of my favorite dog breeds, a corgi.
I immediately realized, though, that something wasn’t right. The dogs, each and every one of them on the multitude of leashes the dog walker was holding, immediately recoiled at the sight of me. It was like a switch had been flipped as they took off running in the other direction, pulling the poor lady walking them off of her feet and dragging her behind them in their mad dash. My god… their expressions. I didn’t even think dogs could make faces like that. So full of disgust and fear.
It was the same with every animal I saw on my way to the store and back home. Dogs would freak out. Stray cats would hiss at me and run off. I even saw an entire swarm of rats and other vermin vacate an entire alleyway as I passed by. It was unsettling, the way all of them were repulsed by my very presence. At least I knew now that the smell was real though.
By the time I got home, the smell had somehow managed to get even worse. Every time I so much as sniffed, it would send waves of pain through my entire body, like a jackhammer beating a rhythm on my brain stem. I can barely stand to breathe at all anymore. I’ve tried everything I could think of to try and get rid of it: various expensive soaps and scrubs, countless types of deodorants and colognes, tomato juice. I even tried pouring bleach directly onto my skin. Nothing works. The smell just keeps getting worse and worse. It’s practically driving me insane. So now I’ve turned here, looking for help. Does anyone know what’s going on here? Can anyone help me?
I’ve had a terrible thought though, as I sit here alone in my apartment, where birds won’t even chirp outside my windows anymore. What if the reason that I can’t get rid of the smell, is because I was never really the source of it? What if it isn’t getting stronger?
What if it’s just getting closer?