My wife and I were trying to find our way around this apartment complex. There was a unit we wanted to look at. We had the number, but we couldn’t figure out which building it was in. A bright-eyed little boy appointed himself as our guide. He waved his hand back at us, signaling for us to follow him. He led us down a winding sidewalk, passing through a series of arches and doorways, always looking back to see if we were keeping up and making impatient little hops in place whenever we fell behind.
As we went along, I compared the number I’d written down on a scrap of paper to the numbers of the buildings we passed, and I began to figure out the layout of the complex, and I realized that the boy was leading us the wrong way. There was another winding sidewalk just across the way from the one we were on and there was just a little plot of grass between them. I caught up with the boy and pointed out that we could just cut across the grass and head the other direction on the other sidewalk to get to the building. I could even see a shaft of sunlight breaking through and shining down on this other stretch of sidewalk as though it were especially provided to light our way.
The boy just shook his head and pointed along the same path that we had been traveling. He said that this was the only way he knew. He said that there would be seven doors to pass through and then the sidewalk would loop around and join up with the other sidewalk across the way and take us to where we wanted to go. I tried to explain that we could get to the other sidewalk right now, that it was just over there, and we just had to cut across the grass. It seemed like a needless detour to go all the way around. I appealed to my wife on this, but she just shrugged and said, “Well this is the only way he knows.”
So we followed him. Finally we came to the last of the seven doors. This one led to the apartment’s laundry room. Before he opened it, the boy shushed us with his finger, explaining that his mother was sleeping inside. As he quietly slid the door open, I could see the figure of a woman with dark hair sitting in the shadows across the room. There were an inordinate number of flies buzzing around this figure. It’s mouth gaped open and showed that most of the teeth had fallen out. One eye stared, still and dead, while the other festered with a swarm of maggots.
We had to pass through this laundry room to get the door on the other side and continue along the sidewalk. It was the only way to go. My wife crept forward, trying to be careful not to bump into the boy’s mother and knock any loose rotting parts off of her. I kept my head down and my mouth shut tight. I didn’t want to accidentally swallow any of the flies that had been feasting on the corpse.