Blanche Street, where all the neighbours are a nightmare: Filth
Nettie was having a very bad day. While at the supermarket she noticed that someone had allowed their child to turn all the tins of tomato, vegetable and chicken soup round the wrong way. The sight had forced Nettie to abandon her weekly shopping altogether. She had wanted to calm herself with a cup of hot sweet tea in the cafeteria, but was appalled to find just about every single cup was stained; the only cup to be spotless had a chip in the rim.
Hurrying home her mood worsened when she turned into Blanche Street and saw a whirlwind of rubbish blowing across the pavement. She wondered how her little piece of heaven had turned so quickly into this squalid filth. If it wasn’t someones tatty net curtains it was guaranteed their windows would be grubby and not one of them had ever attempted to polish their doorstep.
Nettie’s head had been so full of other peoples lack of respect that it was only when she reached up to her own front door she noticed it was ajar. Her first worrying thought was dust, the second was burglars. Her stomach tightened as she pushed open the front door, but it was so much worse than she could ever have imagined. Sat in the middle of her pristine living room was a dirty, grimy, travelling trunk: its rusting corners digging into her freshly shampooed cream coloured carpet. The filthy sight made Nettie’s stomach churn. With both hands over her mouth, Nettie managed to stagger through her house and out into the backyard where she promptly splattered her rhododendrons with a volley of sick.
Deeply disgusted with herself, Nettie marched back into the kitchen and made up a mouthwash of scorching hot water and bleach. She then proceeded to force the stinging liquid into her mouth and gargle the back of her throat.
Gripping the side of the sink, Nettie filled a bucket with two saucepans of hot water and three bottles of bleach. The cleansing smell calmed Nettie’s nerves as she prepared to face the mess she had made outside.
The third bowl of bleach drenched water had killed off all the flowers, cleared every trace of vomit, but still Nettie wasn’t convinced and turned to collect a fourth. It was then she spotted a flash of a startled face at her back bedroom window. So, the prankster was still in her home! Nettie threw down the bowl, stormed into the house and stomped up the stairs. She was all fired up and ready to give the culprit a piece of her mind, only to find the top floor empty. Whoever it was must have seen me and made good their escape, thought Nettie.
Back downstairs Nettie stared at the trunk. There was no way she could ask any of her neighbours to help remove it, they would only gossip that her home wasn’t so pristine after all. She briefly contemplated calling up the council, but the very thought of workmen in grubby overalls entering her home was enough to make her feel sick all over again. Determined not to be beaten, Nettie returned to the kitchen, filled the bucket with bleach and hot water and went back to face the monstrosity in the front room.
First she removed all the grime from the trunk and wiped every surface clean. Next she buffed up the brass lock, corners and key hole until they all shone. Finally, she pulled out her best white linen tablecloth, draped it over the trunk and placed a bowl of fruit on top.
Next, Nettie swilled out the bucket with bleach and hot water, dried it and replaced it back under the sink. She then went to the crockery cupboard to make herself a cup of tea, when she noticed the door handle had a slight smear on it. This was enough to send Nettie off on another tailspin as she quickly emptied the cupboard of crockery into another bowl filled with water, washing up liquid and another bottle of bleach. Nettie then scrubbed every crook and cranny of every cup, saucer and plate until her fingers began to bleed: this made Nettie smile.
Unfortunately for Nettie, the late afternoon sun began to shine through the kitchen window, highlighting her biggest nightmare: dust. So began her ritual of spraying the air with furniture polish in the vain hope of capturing as much of the filth into her brand new yellow duster. Once again foiled and frustrated by the impossible task, Nettie grabbed, her vacuum cleaner along with a collection of cleaning fluids, polishes, dusters and cloths then made her way to the rooms upstairs. Although it had only just been done, Nettie vacuumed the back bedroom which had until recently been her son, Bryan’s bedroom. The day he had left she had cleared out all of his belongings, ripped up the carpet and whitewashed the walls and painstakingly painted the door white. While washing the windows, she saw her neighbour Maureen, but ducked from view when Maureen looked up and gave a weary smile. Next, Nettie started on her own bedroom by stripping down her bedding,vacuuming the mattress, carpet, curtains, inside of the wardrobe and chest of drawers. Finally she tackled the tiny bathroom until the sun settled itself outside.
With nothing else left to clean, Nettie made her way back downstairs only to find the front room plunged into complete darkness. Nettie paused as she listened to the soft pulsing breath coming from the centre of the room. Flicking on the light switch she gasped to see her pristine white table cloth saturated with a greasy dark sheen, all crumpled up by the side of the trunk. The contents of the fruit bowl were scatted across the floor, each piece putrefied into an oozing rotting mess. It was only then that Nettie noticed where the puffing noise was coming from. Black spores flowed from the trunks keyhole, clustering together. In no time the chair, windows and yellow wallpaper were completely swallowed. Nettie staggered backwards as the filth seemed to sense her presence, gather momentum and swept across the middle room carpet. Nettie only just managed to make it to the stairwell before the whole of the floor was covered, blocking her escape out through the back kitchen door.
Taking the stairs two at a time, Nettie gasped as the black spores changed directions and chased after her, clinging to the walls and celling along the way.
As she reached the top stair the spores began to rain downwards, snagging themselves in her hair. Nettie screamed as she threw open the back bedroom door, slamming it behind her. Terrified, Nettie’s mind raced as the filth hammered against the other side of the door. Although she had practically driven Bryan from his home, she now wished more than anything else that she he was here right now.
She gradually became aware of the filth spilling from the key hole, splattering to the floor. In no time the spores began to pour through all sides of the door, quickly covering the whole of the white washed wooden floor.
Stamping the filth beneath her slippered feet only caused the filthy fluff to puff upwards and cluster together into bigger fur-balls. Nettie let out a primal yell as she raised her foot to stamp out a particularly large lump of dust, when the door gave out a long, low groan.
Nettie froze as she watched the panels of the door pulse outwards, each time a little further as if they were filling their lungs. The perfect sheen Nettie had so painstakingly cut into the panels began to crack as splitters flew across the room. With her foot still raised, Nettie watched on in terror as the hinges began to creak under the strain before completely giving way to a torrent of black dust. Within seconds Nettie’s white room was transformed into her worst nightmare as the filth rushed across the floor and walls, swallowing her legs.
With the doorway blocked, Nettie waded and wailed through the increasing filth and prayed that Maureen would still be in her yard. As she reached up for the window latch the black spores engulfed her hands, digging into her fingers, ripping back her nails. With her face pressed up against the window, Nettie tried to call out as the filth filled her mouth. Letting out one long desperate, muffled cry, the last thing Nettie saw was herself looking back up, bucket in hand, face filled with fury.