Daily Prompt: Pungent (The Light Fixture [Fiction])
“George, I told you never to remove the cover for that light. You don’t know what is up there.” Jasmine nagged. She was always nagging him about something. Whether it was touching the kitchen door knob with greasy fingers or not wearing his shirt right, it was always the same: NAG! NAG! NAG! Ah, but his life would be dull without that hen always clucking about something int he background. Am I right? Any-who, it was dark in the bedroom and while things that went on in the bedroom were best done in the dark, sometimes you still needed to see. Remember what Mamma always said. “You are going to ruin your eyes reading in the dark like that!” Enough was enough, the light bulb had to be changed.
The house should be mentioned here. It was built around the turn of the 20th century and was suitably registered in the city’s record of historical places. They sure didn’t make houses like this anymore. The only sucky thing was that I had to file an application to paint a damn wall. I own this house, why should I ask permission to do something as simple as change the color of the wall? The world may never know. Now, the changing of a light bulb was something on the ‘have at it’ list and this was exactly what I was going to do. Nagged or not, I am going to do this!
The fixture was an oblong, oval thing that was quite the stinker to get off the ceiling. It was held in place by several screws and was almost a two man job. One was needed to hold it in place while the other was removing the screws. However, if you held you lip right, you could do it yourself. I knew that Jasmine was not going to help me so I did the thing myself. I nearly dropped it. As it was made of glass, it would likely have not survived the fall. However, with luck on my side, I was able to get the thing down unscathed. As I laid the dusty cover on the bed, Jasmine snorted at me something about having to was the bed clothes now that that filthy thing had touched it. NAG! NAG! NAG! Upon successfully putting the light cover on the bed I looked up. It was almost like looking back in time. The part of the ceiling which was protected by the fixture had withstood the test of time and must have been the same antique yellowish color that the house was originally painted in. There was a hole where the light had come down out of the ceiling and was hanging there, as if held in time. It didn’t even swing with the new air surrounding it. It could have swayed ever so slightly as some of the hot air escaped from the ceiling into our bedroom below it. It had a pungent smell that those of us with attics can only know. While I had only stuck my face up into the attic to see if there were any treasures up there, I found only that wonderful pungent attic smell.
After marveling at the time machine that I had found, I noted that the light fixture inside the cover was just as much as an antique as the rest of the house itself and this two-prong light that I was holding was not going to work. I had to purchase a standard light bulb. With the rest of the house pushed in on the wave of the future, a standard light bulb was not something that I had laying around. “Off to the store wench!” I said in my Scottish voice as I poked Jasmine in the ribs. She giggled and hugged me in only the way my Jasmine can do. She grabbed her keys and off to the store we went. Now, a trip to the store was always for more than what is intended. Those marketing freaks to a helluva job when it comes to enticing you to buy something more than what you went there for in the first place. So, it was going to be a while before we got back. I knew leaving the cover off would stir up some dust but figured it would be alright. I was gonna wrap this project up the minute we got back anyway.
Upon our return, I unlocked the front door. When I opened it a rather LARGE wasp floated out as the door swung into the house. Now, wasps are not small in their own sense but this thing was almost the size of a tennis ball. With concern, I told Jasmine to stay on the porch as I went in to investigate. Another thing that was out of the ordinary was that the dogs were going bezerk. They were put in their cage in the master bathroom just off our bedroom before we left. As per our custom. Thinking about that wasp, I grabbed the broom out of the foyer closet and cautiously made my way to the bedroom. What I seen when I pushed open the door could only be described in a dream…no…a nightmare.
From the light fixture were several of those same wasps hanging on the light bulb as if it were their nest. There were several others meandering around the room in a sleepy, flying gait, which only wasps do when it is this time of year. There were other things falling, no nearly pouring out of the hole in the ceiling. Leeches, bugs and…..turtles? Yes. I am sure of it. They looked like those sea turtles that were all laid back and hippie like in that movie with the blue fish. Funny, in this moment, that movie name escapes me. Weird how we forget things when faced with…things.
These things were all over the room. Upon taking inventory of what I was looking at, all the sound in the world came back to me. However, I could not figure out why. NAG! NAG! NAG! The primal scream which emanated from the hallway behind me snapped me back into reality. Jasmine! I turned to look and found her with inordinate fear written across her face. As if to make it more real, she had her hands up to her cheeks as if they were meant o put that scream in quotation marks. She was screaming “THE DOGS GEORGE! WHAT ABOUT THE DOGS!!??” Immediately I turned and made a vee line for the bathroom. Two of them were barking at the smallest one. She was covered in those leech things. I tried to open the cage and then heard a whisper in my head.
“They’re poison.” I paused for a moment. Where did that come from? Why was I not being touched by the things falling out of the ceiling? I knew I could not touch this dog. I was sad that it was lifeless and unmoving. However, these animals were like our family and saving 2 of 3 was what I had to do. I opened the cage and while one snapped at my fingers, I was able to snatch the other one out of the cage. The one whom I was unable to catch shot out of the cage and into the bedroom. A moment later, I heard Jasmine squee in delight as she made it to our Jasmine. I knew I had to get out of there. I still considered the third dog and grabbed a towel. It wrapped around my arm as I yanked it off the towel rack on the wall beside the shower. Again, I heard that voice in my head…whisperingly…”Nooo….They’re poison.” In that instant, a leech which had found itself on that towel landed on my arm. It sizzled and burned like acid! I scream and stumbled back. Falling into the tub, I grabbed the shower curtain and again, leaches landed on me with their sizzling, burning,. slimy skin. I swiped at them and got them off me. It was instinct. I faintly remember the dog still barking in my arms and she took off like a bolt when I fell into the tub. I remember hearing Jasmine outside call for her. It was likely that Jasmine was outside and seen that the one I had in my arms had made it outside. My turn to flee had arrived.
As strange as it may sound, the idea came to me that it was the house speaking to me. Why was it taking up for me but unleashing this horror into my home? And why turtles? No time for that now, I had to leave. I got out of the tub, nearly falling 2 or 3 more times before gaining my footing and went for the bathroom door. The room had become covered. It was a living, breathing, MOVING room. I guess this house wanted the bedroom to be in the dark. Bugs give me the willies but in my adrenaline-induced state, I didn’t think about that. However, the brief pause at the bathroom door was likely to be my demise. The more I thought about my fear of the creepy crawlies, the more fear replaced the adrenaline. At this realization, the turtles began to speak to me in that creepy children’s voice…”Come on George! Let’s Play!” (Yea, I now know why I never liked children. Creepy little things.”
It was as if my feet were glued to the floor. I was paralyzed. Unable to move and feeling my throat closing in, I couldn’t even scream. All I could do was watch with horror as the things moving and churning in the bedroom where I spent many wonderful nights with the love of my life seemed to consume first my shoes, then my legs. They were making their way up my lower extremities with that sizzling, acidic touch. The brighter the pain and fear became, the more I swirled into blackness. In a fear induced high, I passed out fully believing I was drunk and was going to bed…for the last time. Funny how things work out when you have your last thoughts. My brain’s last transmission? Well, as the things in the room covered me and left only an impression of their body under their business, you can say it was:
“I was consumed with fear.”
Outside, in the front yard of our back-country home, miles from any neighbors, you could hear Jasmine in that nagging voice….”George? Georrrge? GEORGE!” Unbeknownst to her, George was unavailable at the moment. Suddenly, she could smell the pungent odor of the attic. Then, she noted turtles flapping their way out the front door. “Hi Jasmine! Let’s Play!”
What do YOU think?