Atop the Western hill sat a single house. It had three bedrooms, a front door, a back door, a sloped roof, a single story, and a garden out front. The facade was painted a bright yellow. The door was a plucky blue. The front window had a grand view of the valley, the city within the valley, and the sea beyond the valley. It was a completely normal house unless, of course, the pile of bodies hidden under a tarp in the basement was not. It was certainly normal to Edith. For as long as she could remember—which, honestly, isn’t that long—the corpses slept there, bloating, smelling, and rotting.
“Where is my darling, Morgan? I could use her help,” Edith said to herself as she walked down the steps carrying disinfectant spray and a bucket. “She’d know where these came from.” Edith pulled a wet sponge from the bucket and dropped to her knees. She scrubbed the floorboards of the gooey black liquid that oozed from beneath the tarp, then sprayed the entire can of disinfectant.
It was shoddy work at best. A true professional would’ve moved the bodies to a deep grave in a newly built garden out back. Of course, she would’ve also protected the bodies to at least attempt to prevent the rot from seeping into the garden. Someone else may have tried to dispose of the bodies in the yearly brush burning, it’s a lot easier to clean up ash than it is blood. Another might have attempted to use some sort of acid and plastic container, but that’s a little much for a tiny old woman. There’s a myriad of ways to dispose of illicit human corpses properly, Edith did none of them. No one came to the top of the hill, anyway. Who would care about a lonely old woman in her lonely old house? She didn’t mind. Cleaning the floors gave her something to do in the morning.
“Mom I’m home!” Morgan called from the front door. Her black locks of hair fell from her sweater as she pulled it over her head.
“Hello dear! I’m glad you could make it today. I’m sorry the place is such a mess.” Edith shut the basement door behind her.
“Nonsense, mom, you keep the place as spick and span as ever.” Morgan’s eyes wandered to the door Edith guarded. “Is something wrong?”
“Nothing dear, nothing. Let’s have some coffee. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
“Sure. What did you get from the bakery today?”
“Oh, they gave me some delightful blueberry scones. I’ll share some with you. You’ll love the flavor. They get their berries all the way from up North.”
“Hold on a moment. John asked me to get some of his tools from the basement. It’ll only take a second.” Morgan pulled open the basement door and slipped into the darkened stairway.
“Morgan don’t!” Edith yelled hobbling to the top of the stairway. Morgan wasn’t there. She died long before the bodies got there. At least that’s how Edith remembered it. Edith sighed and shut the door. She let her hand linger on the doorknob for a moment, then retreated to the kitchen.
Ding Dong. The doorbell rang as Edith sipped on her light brown cup of coffee, taken with plenty of cream and sugar. She set the cup on the table and wandered over to the door, answering it with a cheery grin. “Hello?” she said. No one was there. “These darn hearing aids, always playing tricks on me.” She shut the door, played with her ears, and went back to her coffee. Perhaps she’d have a scone. That would be nice.
Ding Dong. The doorbell rang again as soon as Edith took the first bite of a nice, flaky, blueberry scone she purchased from the bakery at the bottom of the hill. She answered it. Again, no one was there. Frustrated, Edith grabbed her coffee and scone and went outside to eat on the porch. It was a nice enough day. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds, the wind was only a little chilly, and the rain never bothered Edith, anyway.
“Mom, what are you doing out in the cold?” Jonathan came walking up the driveway to Edith’s home.
“John? Where have you been? I’ve called so many times! It’s so good to see you, come give me a hug. How’s Claire?” Edith sprang from her chair and hugged her son.
“I’ve been… Busy to say the least. The last few years have been a struggle for sure. Are you okay? You usually take your breakfast inside, especially on a day like today.”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine. Let me get you something to eat. I have some lovely scones. Do you want some? I’ll pack some up for you.”
“No, I’m fine. I just came to get some of my tools from the basement. I sent Morgan to get them, but I guess she just couldn’t find them. They’re still there, right?”
“I, uh, moved it when you left. It’s in some storage unit downtown. I don’t remember which one. I’ll have to look through my files. Can you stay while I look?”
“I’ll check the basement anyway, you might’ve missed some of them,” Johnathan pressed passed his mother and toward the basement. The putrid smell of rot flooded the air in front of Edith’s home, even the rain avoided falling over the home as to not taint itself with the vile odor. Edith held her hand to her nose and ran after her son. He stood at the open basement door.
“I couldn’t find anything. It must be in the storage unit. Please call me if you do,” Johnathon said, leaving the house. Edith watched her son fade over the horizon as he walked down the path that led to the North side of the hill, the path that led to the forest. She thought about calling to him but decided against it. He had more important things to do than worry about his poor old lonely mother in her poor old lonely house.
“I’ll give Beatrice a call. I haven’t spoken to her in some time,” Edith said, closing her front door. She picked up the corded phone and sat down in the small chair nearby. Ring. Ring. Ring. No answer. She tried again. Ring. Ring. Ring. Again, no answer. “She must’ve gone out. I’ll try Janet.” Edith went on making call after call, but no one would answer.
“I’ll go downtown then, I’m out of pastries anyway,” Edith said making her way to her driveway. The sun shone brightly over the top of the clouds; the rain had stopped already. The whole yard had already dried. “Now where did I put my keys?” Edith reached into her purse and struggled to find her keys. When she found them she looked up to find her car missing. “Now I know I didn’t misplace that!” Edith said, irritated. She walked around the yard for a bit before letting out a sigh and heading back toward the house, dropping the stick of gum she carried in her hands. Morgan stood in the doorway, blocking Edith’s way, holding a hand to her face.
“Mom! What the hell are you doing here?!” Morgan yelled.
“Oh Morgan! You came home today, I’m glad you did. I have a problem,” Edith said as she hobbled to the doorway.
“What is this god-awful smell?” Morgan pinched her nose in vain.
“I need help cleaning up. You’ll know what to do.” Edith squeezed by Morgan and led her to the basement door, opening it. They both walked down the stairs and into the putrid air.
“Oh my god! Mom… What did you do?” Morgan screamed.
“I’ve been trying to clean this mess up. Can you help or not?” Edith said, her glasses slid from there perch on Edith’s nose, though she did not fix them. The light coming from the small windows began to fade as the sun set.
“We have to call the police. How have you not already?! You were fine just last week, what has gotten into you?” Morgan backed up the stairs, trying to escape from the smell, but the door was stuck.
“You have to help me, Morgan,” Edith hissed. Her voice deepened. The caring, vapid face of Morgan’s sweet old mother morphed. Bones snapped as a scream bled from Edith’s impossibly widened jaw, which soon devolved a whimper. A long claw protruded from Edith’s disfigured flesh, pointing to the mound of bodies.
Morgan gazed on the wretched beast that was once her mother. Its maw gaped wide, the sharp, jagged teeth tearing at the air with each breath. Long arms that with three spear like claws dragging on the ground protruded from a leathery torso. A small horn-like lump of boney flesh poked from the beast’s wispy white hair that hung far past the jutted chin. Red beady eyes stared back into Morgan; the beast’s stature strong as it stood upon thick clawed legs.
“H-h-heeeh,” the beast’s voice wailed in the sour air. Morgan slid to the step and clung to the railing, crying.
“Please… Mom, please,” she pleaded, tears and mucus streaming down her face.
“Heeeh-heh-heeh,” the long airy breathes of the monster tried to form a word, but now lacked the anatomy to do so, however, it still pointed at the pile of bodies. Morgan understood. With all her effort she stood and made her way to the corpses, staring at them in abject horror. The monster crept closer behind her, its breath, filled with the scent of death and blueberries, somehow overpowered the rotting flesh.
“Please, I can’t…” Morgan whispered, turning to face the beast. As Morgan turned her head, her mother pounced. Teeth buried deep into Morgan’s flesh, tearing through the muscle and down through the bone. Morgan screamed and then fainted.
Edith awoke the next morning feeling calm and refreshed. “I think I’ll have peach scones today,” Edith said as she stepped outside into the rain fumbling around in the air for keys that weren’t there, looking for a car that had never been parked.