It was a bad day.
I woke up naked in the bed, with a cramp in my stomach.
Something about the quality of the light, stretched and metallic, like the colour of a migraine, told me it was afternoon. The room was freezing; there was a thin crust of ice on the inside of the windows. The sheets were ripped and clawed, and there was animal hair in the bed. It itched.
I was thinking about staying in bed for the next week --I’m always tired after a change-- but a wave of nausea forced me to disentangle myself from the bedding. My head felt swimmy. The cramps hit me again as I got to the bathroom door. I crumpled to the floor, and before I could manage to raise my head enough to find the toilet bowl I began to spew.
I vomited a foul-smelling, thin yellow liquid; in it was a doggy’s paw --my guess was a Doberman’s, but I’m not really a dog person-- a tomato peel; some diced carrots and sweet corn, some lumps of half-chewed meat, raw... and some fingers. They were fairly small, pale fingers; obviously a child’s.
When I felt a little better, I picked the paw and the fingers from the viscous pool and threw them into the toilet bowl; flushed them away. Then I turned on the shower and stood in the bathtub like a movie-house zombie as the hot water sluiced over me. I soaped myself down, body and hair. The meagre lather turned grey; I must have been filthy. My hair was matted with something that felt like dried blood, and I worked at it with the bar of soap until it was gone. Then I stood under the shower until the water turned icy.
Toweling off; padding across the living room floor, I noticed a note slipped under my door, from my landlady. It said that I owed her for two weeks’ rent. It said that all the answers were in the Book of Revelations. It said that I made a lot of noise coming home in the early hours of the morning, and she’d thank me to be quieter in the future. It said that when the Elder Gods rose up from the ocean, all the scum of the earth, all the non-believers, all the human garbage and the wastrels and deadbeats would be swept away, and the world would be cleansed by ice and deep waters. It said that she felt she ought to remind me that she had assigned me a shelf in the refrigerator when I arrived, and she’d thank me if, in the future, I’d keep to it.
I dropped the neatly-lettered pages to the floor; it was time to go to work. I noticed later, descending the stairs, that my landlady was nowhere to be seen. She was a short, pop-eyed woman who spoke little, although she left notes for me pinned to doors and placed where I might see them. She kept the house filled with the smell of boiling seafood; huge pots were always simmering on the kitchen stove, filled with things with too many legs... and other things... with no legs at all.
I passed quickly through the kitchen; there were other rooms in the house, but no one else rented them. No one in their right mind would come to Innsmouth in winter. I stepped out, onto the stoop.
Outside the house, it didn’t smell much better....