It took the landlord forty-five minutes to wheel in my new refrigerator. Well, it was new to me — Mr. Tennyson was too cheap to look for an actual replacement after my last one stopped working in the dead of summer. He found a used one, stained yellow where it was once white, and decided it would do the job. As a sophomore in college, I couldn’t afford to be picky.
After only three days, the fridge began to leak. I came home from class to find a puddle of water sitting in the corner of my kitchen, pooling out from underneath the hulking appliance. After leaving a voicemail for Mr. Tennyson to give him the latest updates on his generous gift, I threw down an old beach towel to soak up the mess.
Truthfully, the entire apartment was in dire need of a facelift, and the kitchen was only the beginning. All of the windows stuck, the bedroom doors didn’t close completely, and the floorboards groaned under every step. Still, I was grateful to have a roof over my head, even if it did spit rainwater at me during thunderstorms.
The next day, I went to move the beach towel on the floor before it got moldy. When I knelt down beside the fridge, there was more than just water collecting on the cold floor.
A pile of something grey and muted stared back at me from the hardwood. It looked like bacon grease and sink water. I tried not to gag as I sprayed bleach on it and wiped it up with the edge of the wet towel. I tossed the towel in the washer and tried to forget about it. And for a few days, I managed — that is, until more of the strange liquid showed up under the fridge.
This time, it looked thicker and more congealed. It was pearlescent, a sort of yellow-white, like pus. It sat in a glob the size of my hand, daring me to get closer. But after a spray of bleach and a pad of paper towels, it was finally gone.
The rain had started picking up in the last couple of weeks, and every complaint I made about the refrigerator was met with the same line by Mr. Tennyson: “It’ll clear up when the rain does.” And while I was still refused to use the fridge while the slop leaked from it, the storms were battering my apartment with no end in sight.
One morning, after a particularly heavy storm, I padded into the kitchen to find that the slime I had seen leaking from the fridge was now dotted across the cabinets, the sink, and even the top of the refrigerator itself. It looked thicker this time, like a glistening mold, speckled with spots of powdery blue and white. Still, it held its gel-like texture, dripping in globules from on top of the spigot and into the basin, directly onto my dirty dishes.
For the first time, I wondered what it felt like. I moved forward towards the sink, sliding one finger over the top of the faucet and over the slime. It was cool to the touch and stuck to the tip of my finger like it was holding on to me. It felt like cottage cheese and smelled like burnt hair.
I tried not to panic, but the rising anxiety boiling in my chest made its way up my throat and I found myself crying with only the slop to keep me company.
After having a mild breakdown, taking photos, and cleaning it up, I sent a quick text of all the images I’d captured to a group chat between me and a few friends. After about twenty minutes of memes making fun of how gross it looked, everyone agreed that it was something the landlord should fix and that I was absolved from spending hundreds of dollars to get a new fridge that didn’t leak mysterious slime all over my kitchen.
I called Mr. Tennyson several times, only to receive his voicemail. Instead of giving up, I decided to pay him a visit.
Mr. Tennyson lived on the first floor and, because I was in the penthouse at the top of the building, the ride in the elevator down to his apartment felt like it took years. As I made my way out of the elevator to his apartment, I was greeted by a bright yellow plastic sheet stretched over his door. There was white tape against the edges, preventing anything from getting in. I was surprised, but not entirely — the whole building was old, and it didn’t shock me that Mr. Tennyson’s unit was the first to be condemned.
Still, I wasn’t prepared to see a pearly white-yellow liquid pooling out through the keyhole on his door. It didn’t just look like the slop that had been pooling out from my fridge — it was the slop. I snapped a quick photo, sent it to my friends, and went back upstairs as fast as the old elevator would take me.
As I traveled back up to my floor, I couldn’t help but try and connect the disgusting, slimy dots. How did the slime get into his apartment? Had Mr. Tennyson given me his old refrigerator after he discovered that it leaked a mysterious liquid? Was it going to take over my apartment too?
That night, the storms were at their strongest. I struggled to get the windows into place, stuffing towels and old sheets around the edges to keep the rain out. The worst part was the chill. I could handle the incessant dripping of water falling from the ceiling into a few old trash cans and pots I’d set out, but the cold air bit at me as I moved around the apartment. I wrapped myself up in a blanket and tottered into my room, shutting the door as best as I could and blocking up the bottom to keep the heat from escaping. I fell asleep to the rain pattering the window.
I woke up around four AM to the sound of groaning hardwood just outside my bedroom. It seemed to echo with falling footsteps and the sound of someone shambling. But the rain was still going strong outside my window, lulling me back to sleep, so I thought nothing of it.
That is, until I woke up the next morning to see a trail of pus-colored slop leading from the refrigerator to my bedroom door.