Inferno

Opening the door, the first thing I notice is the smell. The smell is hard to explain, whereas the visuals are easy, because you can relate to shapes and even sounds so much easier than explaining the intricacies of a single aroma. Initially there was a hint of it, subtle and subdued, timid to the senses. As the door flung completely open, I was assaulted by the smell, as if the door had held it at bay as long as it could and now, pressed against the wall it was powerless to restrain it from me. I was taken back for a moment, and I froze in place. It wasn’t a bad smell exactly, it wasn’t that it was disgusting or repellent. I didn’t close my eyes or grit my teeth or revolt in horror. I paused in reflection, bewildered. The multitude of flavors to the scent confused me; it made me afraid of entering any further. It wasn’t that it was so horrible or disgusting, it was just so bleakly strange that it was almost instantly nefarious in its inception. As surely as there cannot be fire without smoke, a smell like this couldn’t be accompanied by anything but danger or horror. My hand trembled as I reached forward into the room and passed the door. I didn’t cover my mouth or nose, as an altered a state as things seemed to be in, I wanted to absorb as much of this smell as my brain could interpret. I almost felt as though, if I could just isolate properties of it in my head, whatever it came from couldn’t be so unknown or shocking. I was mistaken. For the rest of my life, I will remember that day, above all other memories I take to my grave. Even now, years later, the images of that day are faded and shrouded in darkness of time lost, but that smell. The smell is as fresh and inherently disturbing as ever. Some nights I awake in a sweat, led from sleep by that smell. It is so hard to describe the particulars of a single aroma. Hot metal. Discharged filings of zinc. Pine. Burnt paint. Plaster. Scorched hair. Cooked Meat. The dusty remnants of brick dust. Compost. A wood fire, burning out. Spent smoke. Plastic. Isolated fragments of vanilla, here and there. It’s so hard to explain, but it was so unbelievable and disturbingly unreal. I pray one day I cannot explain it any better than I have.

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