Bad Egg by Sumiko Saulson
Susan Dunphy sniffed and frowned as she crossed the foyer. A putrid stench oozed into the room. It was the unmistakable stench of a rotten egg. She began to panic! Her persnickety mother-in-law was on the way over. The source of the odor must be found and eliminated immediately. Rushing under the arched doorway into the kitchen, she investigated the contents of the garbage. She wrinkled her nose and waved her arms
theatrically as she hysterically tore through the inlaid cabinets. She still couldn’t find it. The foul emanation must be coming from somewhere!
Visits from the mother-in-law seemed to have a negative effect on Susan’s mental state. Like the Humpty Dumpty in the old nursery rhyme, she was cracking up, and no knights in shining armor were on hand to put Susan Dunphy together again. Her father passed away last year; her benevolent father-in-law the year before that. Now it was just her, her overworked husband Andrew, and her cantankerous mother-in-law Rachel.
In a sing-song rhyme, she crooned to herself and to no one in particularly; “I sweep all this. I dust and whisk. Her deadly ire, I dare not risk.” It was either a paranoid ranting or an ill-conceived warding spell to prevent her mother-in-law from locating any
hidden dust bunnies to bitch about.
To make matters worse, the ball of her foot was beginning to ache. She remembered stepping on one of the neighbor kid’s jacks while wearing her house shoes out on the driveway earlier. “The fetid thing is not in the kitchen,” a hissing voice in the back of her head warned. Susan trembled. She heard these voices more frequently lately. They were often accurate in their predictions. When she was young, she thought they were aspects of herself.
She attributed them to some sort of innate, hereditary psychic powers. Her mother had them, too. That was before her father had her mother locked up in a mental hospital and put on a regular schedule of heavy medication. Whatever her mother told her about them
was probably a symptom of her psychosis and not to be believed. Besides, they weren’t always right. She did her best to ignore the voice.
Next, she systematically sorted through the fresh goods in the refrigerator. Some of them were no longer so fresh. The refrigerator was home to a few different questionable aromas, although none as nauseating as the unidentified sewer-stench. She tossed out a moldy cabbage and threw a quarter pound of questionable lasagna down the
On the bottom shelf of the refrigerator was a pair of blue foam egg cartons. She carefully opened it and looked inside. After examining each egg to make sure it fully cooked and smelled fresh, she closed the cartoons and the refrigerator door.
She walked over to the kitchen, washed her hands, and proceeded to a cup of bleach and a quarter cup of dishwashing soap into the garbage disposal to make sure nothing was festering in there.
She was about to run the hot water and the disposal when a loud noise in the living room startled her. Bright lights began flashing in the narrow arch that separated the kitchen from living room. She ran into the other room to see what was going on.
The television had turned itself on. “Damn cats!” Susan shouted. “You keep stepping on the remote!” Then she remembered she’d let the cats out so they wouldn’t interfere with her cleaning.
“Ishtar!” a red-faced televangelist shouted from the big screen television. The man’s face was enormous on the 60-inch screen Andrew picked up last Christmas.
“It’s not Easter, it’s Ishtar, a Babylonian fertility goddess, and you’re worshipping her, you with your eggs and your bunnies.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me right now!” Susan screamed, running up to the television. The man’s face was distorted, monstrous. She watched in fascination as a single bead of sweat traveled over the pitted acne scars in his rosacea-spotted cheeks. She pressed the button over and over again, but it wouldn’t turn off.
“It must sting, having your mother-in-law come here with all of her brats when you can’t give her any grandchildren…,” the man on the television sneered, looking right at her. The sweat bead fell into a crevice alongside one of his varicose veined nostrils.
“Shut up!” she howled at the man, hunting around for the remote. “Go away!”
“All of Andrew’s nieces and nephews will be hunting for the eggs,” the man on the television taunted.
“You can’t know my name!” she shrieked, leaning behind the television and unplugging it. “Go to hell! And take the rest of the voices with you!”
She decided the cats were probably the source of the terrible odor. She marched right into the bathroom, ready to empty the litterbox. She’d just emptied it yesterday, but you could never be careful enough, especially now that they were eating the wet food.
She dumped the box into the little trashcan in the bathroom, pulled out the bag and tied it in the knot. She was dragging it through the living room when the television came back on.
“Yours are the bad eggs!” the ruddy-faced old man bellowed from behind the screen.
“They’re broken wide open now, your ruined eggs, rotten and stinking inside of your barren carcass.”
“Shut the hell up, douchebag!” Susan screamed, pressing the button on the front of the television over and over again until it finally turned off. She didn’t have time for this madness! She had to get the garbage bag out before it burst open. Afraid it might rip, she hoisted it up into her arms.
“The bag isn’t what’s bursting!” the vulgar man on the television shouted. How the hell did it turn back on again? Hadn’t she unplugged it? She leaned over to look behind it, trash still in her arms like a baby, the man still lecturing…
“It’s you, Susan!” he rambled on. “You’re where the bad eggs are hidden! Dead and putrid, excreting themselves from your body as pus, a toxic sweat expressing they through itself through your skin.”
The television set was unplugged. A terrified Susan spun around on one heel and hauled ass towards the door.
“You’re the root out the rot!” he screamed, his voice following after Susan as she fled through the front door. She damned near ran smack into Rachel, her mother-in-law, as she stood poised to press her finger on the doorbell.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Dunphy,” Susan calmly greeted her mother-in-law. “You caught me a little off-guard. I had no idea how late it had gotten. I was still taking out the trash. Come in and have a seat.” Susan carefully lowered the trash bag so it sat unobtrusively at her him, and walked out to the front yard looking as composed as she was able to.
“Can I help you with that?” Rachel asked, gesturing towards the garbage bag.
”No,” Susan answered meekly. “I’ve got it. I can take the trash out.” She started out towards the trash room, but her foot was really starting to bother her now, and Rachel was looking at her funny.
“Are you okay?” her mother-in-law asked. She was following her around the corner to the trash room. Resigned, Susan let her accompany her. There was a door on the trash room to keep out the raccoons. She shoved it open and walked over to the row of metal trashcans. They all reeked worse than the bag in her hand. She lifted the lid and dropped the bag into the closest can. She hoped her ordeal was finally over…
I’m fine,” Susan said mildly, heading out of the trash room back to her living room. “Something smelled just awful, and I had to get rid of it before you got here. I know you and Andrew like a tidy house!”
She continued into the kitchen, smiling vacantly. The television was still blaring, but it didn’t bother her. She took a seat on the couch and removed her house slipper. She began rubbing the sole of her aching foot. She could feel a big blister coming up at the heel. She kneaded it with her fingers.
Suddenly, she noticed that Rachel was staring at her, mouth wide open. “What’s wrong?” Susan asked
“It’s… it’s just the smell,” Rachel said, putting her hand over her mouth. She was beginning to gag. “It’s just awful. Oh God, Susan! Look at your foot!”
“What about it?” Susan mumbled, stunned. In a state of shock. She looked down at the blister. It was under sheer stockings, so she stores
open her hose with long fingernails.
She found it! There it was, pulsating on the bottom of her foot. She shoved down on it with her finger. “Ow!” she cried, “it hurts!”
She pressed down a little harder, and puss began to ooze out. There was something in the puss, something black and slithering, alive. She could feel it moving inside of her. It was sliding out like, the man on the TV said it would!
Susan could hear sounds coming from nearby. After a moment, she realized it was Rachel, screaming and vomiting. But she couldn’t pay her hateful mother-in-law any mind. She was busy. It was finally happening. At long last, she was giving birth.
Sumiko Saulson a horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer. Her novels include “Solitude,” “Warmth”, and “Happiness and Other Diseases.” She is the author of the Young Adult horror novella series “The Moon Cried Blood”, and short story anthology “Things That Go Bump in My Head.” Born to African-American and Russian-Jewish parents, she is a native Californian, and has spent most of her adult life in the Bay Area. She is a horror blogger and journalist