Under the Weather

The heat and humidity slammed me as I exited the gate.  Honolulu weather, so bad these past few months, persisted.  I’d only been away for a week, a conference on memoir, so any hope that the weather would have changed to something I could tolerate was undoubtedly futile, at best.

I asked the Lyft driver if it had rained during the past week.  It hadn’t.  My grass would be brown, my yard wilting.

“That’s a great house,” he said, pulling up to my front door.

“Yes,” I said, “it’s very old.  They don’t make them like this anymore.”

I couldn’t tell very well by the streetlight how dead my front lawn looked, but I could smell raw dry soil.

Stepping into my house, I was overcome by an even thicker humidity and heat.  I moved immediately to my bedroom, the only room with air-conditioning, turned the unit on, and sat in front of it until my shirt had dried.

Undressing, I dove into the shower, allowing the cold water to chill me as much as possible.  Once out, I dropped immediately into bed, feeling the jetlag creeping up on me.

The sound of the air-conditioner lulled me to sleep.  The noise of machinery has always had that effect on me.  I’ve been known to fall asleep while I’m vacuuming, and I used to take naps next to the air-conditioning power plant on the second-floor lanai of Hamilton Library, back in my undergraduate days.

Around four in the morning, a strange sound awoke me. It wasn’t loud, but it was loud enough to rouse me out of a dead sleep.  The air-conditioner had shut off, the room having reached perfect temperature, so everything was very quiet.

I listened.  After a few seconds, I heard the sound again.  It was as if someone were drawing a saw across a piece of wood, but not constantly. It was as if the one doing the sawing were just notching the wood, getting the groove right before going at it full speed.

I sat up on the edge of my bed.  The sound came again.  Putting on my slippers, I stood up and walked toward my bedroom door, the direction from which I was pretty sure the sound had come.

I opened the door and was overcome by the hot and humid air.  Almost staggering from the blow, I stepped out into my kitchen.

The sound came again.  Not louder, but definitely closer.  I moved toward the counter between the kitchen and dining room, reached for, and flipped the overhead light switch.

The tiny noise came again.  I was drowsy and jet-lagged, but I could swear that the sound came from the refrigerator.

Odd.  I stepped to the door and swung it open.  The fridge light didn’t come on, and the smell of rotting food was overpowering.

I stepped back, gagging from the stench, and leaned forward heavily, my hands on my knees.

Trying to catch my breath, I listened.  The small sawing sound came again.  It was the freezer.

Not knowing what to expect in terms of rancid odors, I took a deep breath and threw the freezer door open.

That light did not work either.  I peered inside.  Saw nothing but the dark.  I stepped to the sideboard, picked up a flashlight, and then shone it inside.

Everything was rotten, putrified.  A long solid line of black ants wove like a maze around the contents of the freezer compartment, roiling together like some kind of serpent.

This time I couldn’t hold back.  I vomited on the floor, felt faint in the heat, and fell backward passing out.

In the morning I woke up on the cold tile.  I remembered immediately what I’d seen and sat up.

Surprisingly, both the refrigerator and freezer door were closed. The flashlight lay a few feet away, the glass lens fragments scattered about.

I stood, took a deep breath, and swung open the freezer door.

A cool rush of air swept over me as the light went on. Everything looked fine.

Maybe I’d been too groggy.  It must have been the refrigerator.  I swung that door open, and everything was as it should be.  I was met with more cold air.

* * * * *

Today’s word is


Use it in any kind of writing and then post it and link to me, or simply leave it in the comments below. I would love to read what you wrote.

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