All she planned to do on that summer day was clean out the garage. It was far too hot to even dream of anything else.
That giant freezer lay against the far wall like a white, rusting sarcophagus. They’d bought it when they moved, and there it had been sitting for the past five years. Had they ever used it? If they had, it was years ago. What would they have put in it? Now was as good a time as any to find out.
She expected meat, fish, maybe some vegetables, or a pie. All freezer-burned and covered in clusters of flaky ice.
She did not expect him.
It was his eyes she noticed first. They were wide with terror. The skin of his face, hands, and balding head was as white as the frozen walls that surrounded him. His clothing was little more than rags, frozen stiff by the air that hovered around him.
She went still. As still as that man. Her shock forbade even a squeak from escaping her lips.
“Please, Miss,” he said suddenly.
It was a shock too far. She let loose a scream that echoed off the garage’s cement walls. “Who the fuck are you?” she demanded. “Get the fuck out of my house!”
“No, ma’am!” the man said, pulling himself up from where he lay. “Please,” he repeated. “You don’t understand!”
“Get out or I’m calling the police!”
She had just enough time to see his eyes burn and his teeth gnash like an animal’s before he leapt at her. His hand seized her throat. Down they went, hitting the floor with breathtaking force.
“Please, Miss!” The man’s face was so close to hers, she could feel globules of spit land on her skin, seasoned with the nauseating rot smell of his breath. “I don’t want to hurt you! You have to let me stay!”
She beat at his head and back with her free hands. “Get the fuck off me!”
As they struggled and rolled, the man’s icy grip on her neck began to warm. His face colored and a bead of sweat trickled down his forehead.
“Please, Miss!” he begged once again. “I need to go back in! Just let me---”
A masculine voice rang out from the direction of the open garage door. The woman took heart at the sight of her neighbor’s teenage son who was, at that moment, letting his bicycle fall to the pavement and rushing to her aid. Before anything more could be said, the boy grabbed the man by his shoulders, and in one swift act of youthful heroism, threw him out into the blazing summer sunlight.
“No!” the man screamed.
The boy had only just helped his neighbor to her knees when they both looked and saw the man drop to his. He looked different. Bloated, somehow. Definitely unwell.
“You fucking idiots!” he shouted. “Why?! Why?!”
The man opened his mouth to shout some more, but only the strangest of sounds issued forth. A moan died into a gurgle which in turn became a bubbling such as might be heard from a boiling pot. He raised his arms to the sky, and the neighbors watched in horror as his skin reddened, bubbled, and split. Down from the bone it fell, landing on the driveway with a gelatinous splat, followed by a sickening sizzle. The flesh of the other arm followed suit. Then, it was as if all that remained of the man’s soft tissue broke apart at the crown of his head and sloughed down, taking with it eyes, the lower jaw, clothing. All of it was soon lost in a hideous puddle of liquefied human. Finally, the last of his skeleton gave way to gravity and fell to pieces in the middle of the fetid, soupy mess.
The woman, still on her knees, could not contain herself. Her stomach’s contents splashed out before her, soon to be led by gravity in an incongruously tranquil stream to mingle with the remains of the man from the freezer.
All she had planned to do was clean out the garage.