Today I was ripping up the carpet in my house. It was a filthy mess that could scarcely be called a carpet anymore. How it got into that state isn’t important.
What is in important is that you remember, I’m a writer. These are the hands of a poet. An artiste, if you will. The roughest thing they’ve ever handled are the little ridges on the letters J and F on a keyboard. I have a pathological fear of sweating, and the very mention of housework usually sets my teeth on edge. Today though, I was feeling confident. I was gonna rip this carpet up and no one was going to stand in my way. No one.
Unfortunately I wasn’t counting on something being in my way.
It began easily enough, the carpet was heavier than the
corpse puppy(Lawyer edit: God damn it, what good is the fifth amendment if you won’t shut up!?)I had to move in order to get the carpet off the floor. I never realized how heavy a bunch of fabric could be, or how cumbersome it would be to move. The hallway is shaped like an L so luckily I was able to cut the thing in half and turn it into two lower case ls. Still, dragging the thing through the house was no easy matter, because all the dogs and cats in the house decided that this was an exciting project that they wanted to be a part of. And by be part of I mean stand directly behind me while I’m dragging a huge section through the house with no way of looking behind me without snapping my own neck. Which I very nearly did anyway when I stepped on one of my dogs toes, making her cry out with a sharp yelp that made me desperately start hopping on one foot in order to keep from stepping on her again, and then falling across the low slung animal like a damn trip wire. Did my basset hound come over and lick my face? Perhaps whine at me with concern like a good dog might do?
No, she just sat there next to me and stared indignantly into my face. I’m the one who’s been left in a heap, but looking at this basset hound’s face you’d think she’d been permanently maimed. Enough about that though, point is I did eventually haul the thing into the garage without killing either myself or my dogs (which was a remarkable show of restraint on my part).
Now came the tricky part, removing the insulation that was under the carpet. I’d removed the carpet in the pantry some months earlier, and there the insulation had come up with no real problems. After all it’s just some kind of a soft foam material, like those stupid sleep number pillows you see on TV. The house is well over thirty years old as well, so whatever glue was used in the initial construction has long since turned to dust. And yet when I tried to lift the foam material it wouldn’t budge. Huge chunks of it came away in my hands but a thick layer of the insulation remained stuck to the cement foundation under the house. Maybe the glue wasn’t as deteriorated as I’d hoped. Well no problem, I thought, I’ll just get that old scraper-thing from the garage, pictured below in case “scraper-thing” is too technical for you laymans.
Armed with a gigantic razor on a stick meant for shaving cement rather than faces, I prepared to sheer the insulation right off the cement, taking off the top layer of cement entirely if I had to. I set the blade down at an angle to cut under the carpet, and was enjoying the feel of metal shearing through concrete when suddenly it stopped moving. Not like running into a wall or obstruction kind of stop either, more like a dinosaur accidentally stepping into a tar pit. Like a fly caught in amber. Something thick and heavy was slowly swallowing the blade into its gooey grip. I ripped the blade free before whatever it was could consume it completely and that’s when I saw it:
The Thing that Lived Under the Carpet!
It was a thick, writhing mass of swirling blackness. A gelatinous black blob that oozed along the cement like The Blob, selfishly hugging the remains of the insulation to its formless mass like a blanket-hogging bed mate during a blizzard. The only thing that could have made this any worse was if it had also been infested with spiders. Fortunately it wasn’t, otherwise this post would have been replaced with a newspaper clipping of a madman who set his own house on fire while screaming and sitting in a puddle of his own fear (if you get my meaning).
As it was though, I knew what had to be done. This…this thing had to die. If it were to spread it might well engulf the entire house, and then it would only be a matter of time until the entirety of mankind was consumed by its demonic hunger. So I began to carve my way through its sticky bastion of goop, peeling away layer after layer of the disgusting material. I figured (read: hoped)that this must just be some isolated patch, that the rest of the insulation would come away easily once I’d gotten through this one section. Oh, but I was wrong. So, so wrong.
Remember when I said the hall was shaped like an L? Well by the time I was done, I’d sheared an L shaped path of misery and tears through the black gunk. I had to fight for every damn millimeter of bare concrete I could unearth, slowly plowing forward like a glacier. This bacterial or fungal monster, whatever it was, was so firmly entrenched that a narrow length of maybe twenty feet of carpet took nearly four hours to peel away. It was finished though, my victory was complete.
Oh wait, no it wasn’t because whoever the sadistic monster was that originally laid this carpeting decided to hold the stuff in place with long planks of wood with nails sticking straight up into the air, just waiting for someone to take one misstep and impale themselves on the rusted spikes. Well given how accident prone I am, those had to go.
Fortunately this job was easier than the battle with the carpet, which I could still hear rumbling from within the trashcan, no doubt plotting its escape and fiery vengeance. Using a hammer and a screw driver I was able to easily pry up the boards, since most of the wood was rotted anyway there wasn’t much in the way of resistance, although the constant friction of the hammering made me blister my beautiful, artistic fingers. The real trouble came when I had to remove the corner sections.
Imagine what I’m looking at here, an L shaped piece of wood shoved into a corner with no way to come at from any other angle than straight in front of it. Well, being a clever human being with advanced reasoning capabilities, I came up with a way to defeat this new obstacle. I sat my chair down in the corner, spread my legs wide so I could actually have room to swing, and held the hammer upside down in my hand. Are you with me so far? Do you see where this is going to go horribly wrong?
Well the corner piece was a bit more stubborn than the rest and my light tapping wasn’t getting me anywhere. So I swung the hammer like a pendulum, stupidly ignoring the other very important objects that were swinging right in its path. Oh that’s right, right in the jewels. The hammer’s two pointy bits seem clearly designed to castrate inept workmen like me, a tool designed almost Darwinist in its execution.
So after I stopped screaming, which took quite a while let me tell you, I began crying. And after I stopped crying, which again took ages, I began whimpering. And then I started this blog post in order to distract myself from the soul-crushing, mind-blowing pain rattling through my poor…you know.
In the end I succeeded though, the hallway was purged of the alien life that had taken up residence and my feet, and the feet of all mankind, were saved from the insidious tetanus-encrusted nail boards. In fact…
What was that? I swear I heard something…
Well anyway, as I was saying, I think I deserve a medal of some kind for all of this. My place is safely behind the screen of a computer and my fingers are meant to be stroking keys (or the soft skin of a woman) not handling crude tools like these. I mean aren’t we supposed to have robots to do this kind of thing by now? I swear if –
I know I heard something that time. It’s coming from the garage, but there’s nothing out there but the trash cans.
The trash cans with the carpet in it!
OH GOD, IT’S IN THE HOUSE! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
John will be back on Monday, after the CDC finish sterilizing the house with flamethrowers, with a comparison of The Walking Dead TV show and The Walking Dead Video game.