The room was sealed from all light by blackout curtains covering sloppily-welded metal bars. I opened the door and terror did pour out like a dropped and cracked water jug.
Shit boy you smell that foul, Daggett said.
Poor bastard, I said, barely suppressing a gag.
Pungence oozed, kind of thickness that sticks to your tongue and won't break through spit or dirt or fire-hot scalding water. I arced the lantern's light across the room to the back corner, where a big pile like a nest was pushed up against a wardrobe with no doors. Daggett grinned large through gapped teeth just as rotted as the room.
After you sweetness, he said.
I told him to eat a dick and shoved him hard in the chest. Daggett just laughed with a sputter and lit a cigarette. Holding the lantern ahead of me, I clapped a rag to my face and moved into the room. Daggett followed, with that sawed-off shotgun scanning the room for signs of life.
Lucky bastard rightly, Daggett said. Imagine what I'd to do him with my big boy here. He stroked the gun like a small animal.
Shut the fuck up and keep your eyes open, I said.
Rot was pervasive. Moldy and maggoty-pocked meat littered the floor, but mostly concentrated near a makeshift hearth and piping chimney carved into a the far wall opposite the wardrobe. Tattered remnants of clothing were equally strewn and in a similar state of deterioration. Even the standing water in big pots on a table in the middle of the room was covered in a thin layer of muck.
The pile in the corner loomed and seemed to grow larger as I approached it. My lantern was my shield, and I stretched it out until my arm reached its maximum distance from my body and my shoulder strained and ached. It was an amalgam of everything else in the room, food, clothing, animal pelts, and even straw, seemingly glued together into a thickly-packed hive.
I prodded the pile and turned over pieces with my booted foot, uncovering bit by bit until I found Old Jules toward the bottom.
Over here Dags, I said.
There wasn't much left of Old Jules. His skin was bloated and brown in the lantern's amber light, split open where my boot nicked it. Half-eaten, glossy eyes had maggots for pupils, and they moved as he did and gave him sort of a sad look, like he couldn't focus or was lost in bad thoughts. A big line was raggedly drawn across his throat where they did him in, cut ear-to-ear with a ripping knife in a big, brick-colored smile.
Well shit who did this little piece of work, Daggett said as he moved to my side, crooked the shotgun under his arm, and blew smoke.
I have no idea, I said, and kicked the top of the pile to cover up Old Jules' face.