THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST Part 28
Rebecca Brewster could smell the stench before she even got out of the car, before she climbed the front porch or opened the front door. Savannah in her carry-cradle began to cry. She could smell it, too. It made Rebecca’s eyes water and throat burn. She unlocked the door and let herself in. The stench hung in the air with a haze of gray smoke, the odor of something dead and rotting.
“Aunt Tillie?!” Rebecca set Savannah’s cradle on the floor, went through the swinging door into the kitchen. Mathilda stood over the stove, stirring a large pot, the contents of which frothed and bubbled. The smell almost knocked Rebecca over.
“Tillie, what are you doing?” Rebecca demanded.
“Sorry ’bout the smoke,” Mathilda said. “I opened up the do’ an’ the winders.” She nodded at the back door, standing ajar.
“What is that stuff?” Rebecca said.
“Poultice,” Mathilda replied. “Been puttin’ off makin’ it long as I can. Got to get it done.”
“A poultice?” Rebecca said. “What kind of ‘poultice?’ For what?”
“Nothin’ for you to be worryin’ ’bout.” Mathilda stirred the reddish paste in the big cast-iron pot. “Almos’ done,” she said.
“Tillie, you’re stinking up the whole house.”
“Smells mighty good to *it*, too,” Mathilda said. “It be able to smells it long ways off.”
“Tillie, what are you making this for?” Rebecca stepped up and looked in the stewer. She covered her mouth and nose with her hand. “What’s in that mess?”
“Lotsa things,” Mathilda answered. “’Maters, for the mos’ part.”
“Close related to wolfsbane,” Mathilda said.
“And we’re supposed to eat it?” Rebecca asked.
Mathilda rolled one yellowed eyed at her. The lenses of her glasses were steamed up. “Ain’t for you,” she said. “Ain’t for eatin’. Kills you if you eats it. This here’s bait.”
“Ain’t nothin’ for you to mind,” Mathilda said. “It’s almos’ done. Then I’ll puts it in the jars an’ it won’t stinks no more.”
“Jars?” Rebecca noticed several large mason jars on the countertop, the type used for canning, along with a rag and a large spoon, some wax for sealing the tops in place. The lids had been unscrewed and lay face-up on the counter.
“Gots to set it out in the sun,” Mathilda said. “Gots to ferment.”
“Right,” Rebecca said. “And you’re almost done? You can get that stuff out of here?”
“Put it out back when I gets done,” Mathilda said. “Be few jars worth. But you gots to be careful not to knock ’em over. Can’t break none of ’em.”
“Don’t worry,” Rebecca said. “The last thing I’d want to do is get any of that stuff on the back porch.”
“Got that right,” Mathilda said, stirring. “Last thing you wants to do. Might bring *it* here, house gets the stink on it.”
“What, Tillie? Bring what here?”
“Best you don’t know,” Mathilda said. “Best you prays you don’t never gots to find out.”
Something about the way the old woman spoke made Rebecca shiver despite the heat in the kitchen.
“I think you’re right, Tillie,” she said, hugging herself. “I don’t think I want to know, at that.”
* * *
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!