It was overpowering and, frankly, a bit unnerving. I thought maybe an extra of The Walking Dead — that never-ending show about decaying zombies and the mayhem they produce — had taken to residing in a closet in the room. Maybe the city's sewer line opted to blow out in my front yard or a turd factory opened shop next door.
I found the source a day or so later. A long worm somehow inched its way through the house and into the APBA room only to die. We had a lot of rain back then, and worms were all over the place in my driveway and back patio. I guess they, like many people during flooding, were seeking higher ground. Higher ground in this case constituted my back room behind a desk where I seldom voyage.
I discarded said stinker and resumed APBA game play.
But then the smell came back.
And I freaked.
I searched for more worms. But this time the stink seemed centered on one small area about head-high near the entrance to the room. It would come and then fade away. I would come home, wondering if the smell was there. Rather than first unload the day's fare from my pockets on the kitchen countertops, I'd beeline for the back room to see if the smell remained. Sometimes it was gone, other times it lingered.
It drove me freakin' nuts. Friends offered condolences. One caring soul asked if the smell seemed to follow me around wherever I went. Another thought I had dead animals in the wall.
I was losing my mind because I couldn't find the source. I don't believe in ghosts, but if they were real it'd be my luck it would be a flatulent one. GASper the Friendly Ghost?
I thought of calling one of those ghost hunters or séance people you see on the upper channels of cable, but I figured the hunter, bedecked in infrared cameras and recorders, would only capture clouds of red vapor. A real smellavison event. Had I called that Long Island Medium who has the show on The Learning Channel, I envisioned she'd ponder and feel the spirit and say, in that Jersey accent, “I'm sensing some kind of abdominal issues.” And I'd nod vigorously and break into tears, like all those people on her show do.
I even climbed into the attic to see if some animal with an irritable bowel moved overhead.
But there was nothing there.
So, was I losing my mind? I've read about migraine-sufferers smelling odd things when their olfactory system when awry. But other than the continual C5 disc issue I have, there were no other headaches indicating my health was, to continue the metaphor here, sliding down the drainpipe.
Then, the other day as I was leaving, I noticed movement in the APBA room. It was another worm! He was inching slowly to the middle of the room, maybe heading for the same spot his buddy croaked a few weeks earlier. He was covered in worm slime and smelled like someone was boiling cabbage in a municipal wastewater treatment plant that the EPA had deemed in violation of 32 regulations; you know, like a high school cafeteria.
I donned a hazmat suit, got the paper towels and bundled him up.
The smell hasn't returned. But I am still leery of saying all is well. I won't go to any all-you-can-eat Mexican places now because I won't know if that's me or some nasty stench-worm again.