Ten Steps for Effective Mold Removal25 min read


Derrick Boden
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Hitomi A.

Take what you can get

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed on October 11—Verified Purchase

If you’re looking for a cheap way to kill all this mold—and who isn’t, right now—look no further than Inkicide Disinfectant Concentrate 64oz (4 Bottles). It’ll curl your nose hairs right up into your skull, but that just means it’s working, amirite? Two hours in and the mold is … well, it’s fizzling, which seems like a good sign. We took it to the kitchen floor, the shower, around the front door—everywhere the mold wormed in from outside. We used an old sock to apply the disinfectant, because all our rags are in the garage and the EPA was very clear about us not leaving the house NO MATTER WHAT. If you ask me, they went a little overboard with those explicit instructions about what to do if you get the stuff in your nose, your ear, wherever. Anyhow, the sock worked fine.

Before you jump all over the downvote button, listen: I know this stuff was made for tattoo parlors. But I work in marketing. I know you can paint monkeys on a five-dollar webcam and hawk it as a baby monitor for fifty bucks. The EPA said any disinfectant should work, and if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re having just as much trouble finding bleach as we are. So buy the stuff already. Thank god for same-day drone delivery.

FYI, this is a concentrate. Yeah, I know it’s in the name, but these are trying times. Pretty sure our kitchen tiles will never be the right color again. My husband Gerardo has these weird little burns on his fingers. But hey, Cheryl down the street had to cancel book club this week because she found mold IN HER COFFEE URN. Nast. A few burnt fingers on the old man, I’ll take it.

I’m pretty bummed about book club, though. At least they closed my office for the week.


Knocked one star for the smell. It’s been six hours and it still reeks like an ecological disaster in here. Can’t exactly open the windows, with all that mold crawling up the outside of the house. I tried cutting the Inkicide with some vanilla extract, and HOT DAMN. Don’t do that.

Anyway, let’s hope this is a short-term thing. Through the weekend, maybe Monday, and we’ll be pushing these cleaning products way back under the sink. We’ll find them when we’re moving out, years from now, and we’ll all have a good laugh about the Great Mold Epidemic.

Or, you know, we’ll all be dead in the ground. Cheers!


Hitomi A.

Kinky name, don’t ever change

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewed on October 15—Verified Purchase

The disinfectant is one-hundred percent NOT WORKING. Can’t blame Inkicide, though, love you guys. Now the EPA is saying this mold is “unexpectedly resilient,” which anyone with one working eye could’ve told them. The word around the Internet is, this company—the one across the tracks that had the spill that started this whole thing—they were up to some shenanigans. I’m talking vats of glowing green goo, military contracts, biological weapons gone wrong. They say the head scientist, Dr. Harmonson, is from Yale. You know I know that means TROUBLE. Now we’ve got this mold spreading faster than herpes on prom night. Gerardo’s aunt says she saw the stuff crawling out of the storm drain yesterday, and she’s THREE STATES AWAY. Of course it’s way worse at ground zero.

From the stories going around, you do NOT want to get the mold in your nose, your lungs, wherever. Even if you don’t have allergies, which of course I do. So, since we can’t kill it, we’re on to phase two: keep the mold out. All the products they recommended are sold out, so we bought a case of this stuff. Love the name! So hot. Also, this sealant is legit air tight. We spray-sealed the windows, the side door, the HVAC exhaust (bad idea?), everything. Aside from the front door, which we have to use for deliveries, we are one-hundred percent sealed in.

For better or worse.

Okay, there are a couple of exceptions. Gerardo, in his infinite wisdom, almost used sealant on the shower drain. There’s a reason he never made it through med school. Sure, the mold has been crawling outta that pipe like zombies from a wet grave. But that’s no reason to abandon personal effing hygiene. So we compromised, ordered one of those industrial pipe stoppers for when we’re not using the shower. I wish I could find the link or I’d post it here. It’s working okay.

Cheryl canceled book club again. Of course she had to, we can’t go anywhere and none of those ladies can figure out how to unmute themselves on Zoom, but still. I do not like this sitch ONE BIT. Sealed up in our own little pod, bored as the devil in church. I’ve read three novels and half an old technical journal from Gerardo’s bookshelf over the past forty-eight hours, and I’ve got nobody to talk to about them. Gerardo is a tech guy, so he’s been WFH forever. Always complaining about “the release,” which seems to be less of a singular event and more of a continuous state of being. Anyhow, I think he hardly notices being cooped up. Me, I’m actually starting to miss the office. I don’t have many friends here (okay, ANYWHERE, you got me). I guess I could give Cheryl a call.

Not that desperate yet.

I digress. Rubber up, boys! We’re in this for the long haul.


Hitomi A.

Here goes nothing

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewed on October 20—Verified Purchase

So here we are, unpacking this container of … what? Purple-tipped cotton swabs? A baggie of white powder that looks like a prop from an after school special? A bunch of litmus strips that are giving me flashbacks from Ms. Prather’s chemistry class, where Gerardo (WAY before he filled in) lost his eyebrows to an over-juiced bunsen burner? I never thought I’d be spending my Saturday night like this, all slicked up in rubber boots and neoprene gloves, collecting samples of mold (or Mold-X, we’ll see) crawling up from the shower drain.

Just doing our part, amirite? In Dr. Harmonson we trust.

Hah! Just kidding, I don’t trust that guy ONE BIT. But what’ve we got to lose? And if anyone knows the mold, it better be him. The stuff they deployed, Mold-X they’re calling it (lazy marketing, but who asked me?), is a “predator mold.” “Much like the mold itself,” they say, which is a little terrifying, because what in the Holy Christmas does the mold PREY ON? Anyhow, the Mold-X is a clever little beastie with a custom-coded genetic sequence that makes it want to do nothing in the whole wide world but hunt down mold and eat it. Or absorb it, I guess. And when it does, it passes that same genetic sequence along, like really unpleasant sex, I guess. Then, when all the mold is gone and it’s just Mold-X everywhere, Dr. Harmonson will blast some kind of wifi signal out and all the Mold-X will turn to dust and blow off to Canada somewhere. So we’ll see.

And these test kits, they’re meant to monitor progress. Strip turns red, the thing you’re testing is mold. Green means Mold-X. We’ll see about that, too. Right now I’m looking out the front window and we’ve still got big drifts of mold all up and down the block. Slithering out from manhole covers, crawling up lampposts, creeping down driveways. Squirting those nasty spores all over like, well, I don’t want to get my review blocked so I won’t say. Some of us are worse off than others. The Chen house on the corner is a straight-up horrorshow! I hope they’re on vacation, because I WOULD NOT want to be in there right now.

Of course, for all I know our house is worse. Haven’t set foot outside in two weeks. Some people are still making trips—quick, furtive errands sealed up in their cars. I watch them through the window with a weird combination of jealousy and terror. Cheryl drove past this morning, wearing one of her ravishing dresses. Square print, deco, very sexy. She was in a PANIC, too—craning over the dash, looking for something. Blew right through the stop sign. That lady’s weird. Still, it was a relief to see someone else’s face. Even if it was the lady who keeps canceling book club, never lets anyone in on where she gets her dresses even though she knows as well as I do that I’d look pretty okay in them.

Anyhow. The test kits. Gosh I hope this works. Three stars for poor packaging (DO NOT use scissors, I almost sprayed this faux cocaine all over my face) and scare tactics (next time try making the instructions bigger than the warnings). Will update my rating later, based on results. They say we need to test twice a day for three days, so hold onto your knockers everyone. We’ve been cooped up this long, we can make it through the weekend.


Hitomi A.

Don’t work, don’t bother

Rating: 2 Stars

Reviewed on October 25—Verified Purchase

I wanted to get a bottle of actual champagne instead of these chintzy glasses, but A) turns out you can’t buy booze on this site, and B) I’m probably going blind. But you know what’s more important than all that?

No mold, that’s what. They weren’t joking that it was gonna get worse before it got better, though. Even with this place all rubbered up, that mold kept finding ways to get inside. Through the grout between our kitchen tiles, the seam under the toilet, the hairline leaks in the closet we never knew we had. Everywhere. A few days ago, I was losing my mind. I slept one hour, total. Kept waking up with tendrils crawling up my nostrils, out my ears. Of course they were just dreams, but … nast. Gerardo sleeps like a baby, what a jerk.

But that’s all in the past. The Mold-X worked. I kept testing, four times a day because what the hell else am I gonna do, and yesterday morning the levels finally shifted from red to green. By evening, the mold and the Mold-X was just … gone. Like it was never there. So I guess they blew their wifi whistle and sent their little mold babies packing.

Outside, same story. They say it’s safe to leave home now, even for people like me with these godawful allergies. So I figured, what the hell? Maybe I should pay a visit to Cheryl. Or maybe not. That lady is weird. She stapled a flyer to the telephone pole outside our house with a picture of her cat Lasagna. I guess he’s gone missing. But why didn’t she stop by and ask if we’d seen him around? Weird to staple a flyer RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR HOUSE and not even mention it to me. She hasn’t returned my calls, either.

But I had to get out for a bit. So I took a short drive. Holy wow, bad idea. Between leaving and coming back, which amounted to AT MOST forty minutes of my life, I caused a six-car pileup. Okay, three of the cars were parked, and they didn’t pile up so much as clatter around like pinballs in that cheap old game at the Donut Shack, but still. It was awful.

I’ve always had perfect vision. Always. Gerardo, he can’t see my finger waggling in front of his face without his glasses (not that I ever do that, ha.) But me, I can rattle off the digits of a mail truck’s license plate from halfway down the block when they hurl my POSSIBLY VERY DELICATE parcel onto the porch without even coming to a complete stop. So, yeah. Perfect vision.

I had no business missing that red light. Sure, I haven’t driven down Centre since God knows when, but that stoplight isn’t exactly new. The car coming the other way swerved to avoid me, hit another car instead. Everyone’s okay I guess, although that one guy might need a neck brace for a while. Gosh, I feel awful. Was the sun in my eyes? Or is something wrong with me?

I got these glasses, thinking maybe I’ve been spending too much time in front of the computer. I’ve been reading about blue light. The SILENT KILLER. Sounds legit.

The frame color is great, super cute. We all deserve a little champagne, after what we’ve been through. The glasses themselves are just junk. I think they’re an actual scam. As in, plain clear lenses. Who would ever know? Everything looks the same through them. I haven’t been back outside (I don’t trust myself behind the wheel yet, gonna push my return to work another week or two), but I’m still having trouble finding things around the house.

Guess I didn’t mention that part before, but that’s a thing that’s been happening. Like, I’ll set my coffee mug down, and then go to the bathroom, and when I come back the mug is gone. Weird thing is, it never turns up. Usually when that happens, it turns out I carried it into the bathroom with me, or Gerardo came around and cleaned up. But these things I’m losing—hair clips, staplers, power cords—they’re just … gone.

I don’t have the nerve to tell Gerardo. He’s been working all the time lately (“the release,” of course). Also, it’s kinda embarrassing. I don’t want him to think I’m losing my mind.

Don’t buy the glasses. Save your money, get some real champagne, get crunk. Lemme know how it is so I can live vicariously.


Hitomi A.

More like Sinus-Womp

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewed on October 28—Verified Purchase

I know this product has like twenty thousand five-star reviews. Let’s just say, YMMV. Maybe my situation is more “extreme” than other people’s. Or maybe I’m using it wrong.

Here’s the deal. I’ve been getting sinus headaches since I was a kid. Usually they’re a springtime thing, but I chalked up these recent ones to the mold situation. That’s what they’re calling it. Not an epidemic, or an emergency, or an era of collective trauma. A situation. Way to whitewash your eff-up, Dr. Harmonson.

I figured the headaches would go away once the mold did. Only, they haven’t. So I did some research. If you’ve read my recent product reviews, you might know I’ve been having trouble seeing things, misplacing things, whatnot. Well, it turns out some extreme sinus infections can spread TO YOUR BRAIN. Try to make it through allergy season without worrying about THAT, now.

So anyhow, I was thinking, maybe it was the headaches that were distracting me, making me miss things. Stoplights, coffee cups, all that. Maybe fixing one thing will fix the other. So I got this stuff. It’s the strongest kind you can buy without a prescription, and there’s no way I’m driving to the doctor. What if I hit a pedestrian? So, Sinus-Wow to the rescue.

Womp womp. Sorry, five-star peeps, this stuff is bush league. My headaches aren’t going away, and if anything, my condition is getting worse. I’m down to four coffee mugs. FOUR. I was slicing open some bills the other day with one of Gerardo’s chef’s knives (he hates it when I do that, but he’s got twenty sizes and they all cut food the same way, right?). I set everything down when I heard a noise out front, and when I came back, not five minutes later, the knife was gone. What the eff, right?

It gets weirder. I know it’s crazy to think this is connected, but lately even PEOPLE have been disappearing. After I set down Gerardo’s knife and headed up front, I couldn’t tell what had made the noise. But I did notice Cheryl’s flyer was gone. So I crept outside to investigate (I don’t know why, but it felt wrong to be outside). I couldn’t find a single staple in the telephone pole. The pole was totally smooth, like the flyer had never been there to begin with. And Cheryl, she was nowhere in sight.

I called her right then and there. No answer.

Then I looked around, and I realized NOBODY was out. It was the middle of the day, on a weekend, and the street was totally empty. Not even a glimpse of someone on their stoop, or peeking out their window. Even during the mold situation I’d catch a silhouette in a bedroom window (outed myself, ha!) But now that I’m thinking about it, I haven’t seen a soul since the crash.

I thought about going door to door. But, well … I’m not the most popular lady on the block. I always end up saying the EXACT wrong thing, the kind of thing that makes people remember how they absolutely HAVE to go fertilize their garden right that second, even though it’s the dead of winter. Besides, the longer I stood out there, the worse my headache was getting.

I checked the news when I got inside. Spoiler alert: everything’s fine. Can’t even remember what was on the news, that’s how fine everything is.

Still, I’m not about to go back outside. Makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

Later that night, I tried to broach the topic to Gerardo. It didn’t go well. He just squinted at me like I was crazy. When I pointed out the window, he flat-out refused to look. Sometimes I swear the only thing we have left between us is our morning ritual. I make his tea, he makes my coffee, we hand-deliver them to each other. Cutesy, I know. But if it weren’t for that, well. At least we’ve got that.

Obviously my headaches aren’t making people disappear, so maybe I’m being a little hard on Sinus-Wow. Maybe this stuff will work for you, if your problems are different, like say you have the kind of sinus infection that isn’t causing your life to fall apart.

As for me, I need something more extreme. Will report back.


Hitomi A.

Bear with me

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed on November 1—Verified Purchase

I know. This is a recreational hallucinogen, and I’m a respectable forty-year-old woman. But bear with me.

First, some context. The other day, I was lying on the couch watching a show. Gerardo was in his chair. He was pretending to watch too, but he had his laptop out and was clearly still working. Which is fine. But it wasn’t like he was in his office with the door shut, so I didn’t think it was a big deal to ask him to hand me my wine, which was by his elbow on the side table. He glanced at it, then at me, gave me a funny look, went back to work. He’s been stressed. Maybe he didn’t hear me right. So I waited a minute, asked him again. I could’ve sat up and grabbed it myself, but something about the way he looked at me … I don’t know.

The second time, he glanced UNDER the table, then raised his eyebrow as high as it could go and said, I kid you not, “What wine?” The wine glass was RIGHT THERE, half full, all smudged up with fingerprints like they always get because I never learned how to drink wine the right way. I said something a little rich, can’t remember what, and he got up in a huff to leave. As he was getting up, his elbow bumped my wine glass. It went over the side of the table, landed on the rug. Wine everywhere. And Gerardo? He DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE.

After he fled to his office, I grabbed the stain spray from under the sink (I see you, Inkicide). Sprayed the rug, blotted it with a towel, and only then realized—get this—the wine glass was gone. As in, nowhere in sight. I thought Gerardo was playing a mean trick, confronted him about it, but he just looked at me and shook his head and shut the office door in my face.

So, naturally, I bought some drugs. They’re legal, all right? I’ve been reading lately how psychotropics are sometimes used to STOP hallucinations (look up “kappa opioid receptors” and get ready for a RIDE), which sounds crazy but what the hell. Bought some rolling papers, which took me back to high school when we’d roll spliffs under the twirly slide at the playground down the street (am I allowed to say that on this site?), and took a puff of this salvia stuff.

Would not recommend for casual use. It’s sudden, short-lived, and thoroughly unpleasant. I did it in the bathroom with the window open so Gerardo wouldn’t know. I was sitting on the toilet lid (glamorous, I know), blowing smoke out the window, blinking a lot, trying to figure out if anything was happening. Like that first time you smoke a joint, when all your friends keep saying “you’ll know” but you keep second-guessing yourself because you DON’T know yet. Now? How about now? And just like that other time, when it hits you, well.

You’ll know.

What I saw, now that’s the weirdest part. I DON’T KNOW. Pretty sure I knew at the time, enough to make some awful noise that had Gerardo bursting in a second later. I pushed him out, locked the door, flushed the half-spent blunt down the toilet along with the rest of the bag, cried myself sober. But now that I’m here, writing this review … I can’t remember for the life of me what I saw.

The drugs were a bad idea. Clearly they unlocked some pent-up trauma in my brain. So then, why do I want to try it again? And why is it out of stock? Seems hard to believe that everyone else had the same idea as me, seeing as how it’s a REALLY BAD IDEA.

Just saw what day it is. Guess I missed Halloween. Nobody came, anyway. I thought I heard something, once, like a muted doorbell. But when I looked out the window, nobody was there. The lights down the block are all off. I checked the news, though. Everything’s fine.

Anyhow, if you want … well, if this review makes you want to try this stuff, and it’s ever back in stock, go for it. As for me, I’ve gotta go make Gerardo some tea. I don’t want him to think I’m mad or anything. Or crazy.


Hitomi A.

Got a dud

Rating: 1 Star

Reviewed on November 5—Verified Purchase

This is a review for the “happy marriage” omamori. My mother used to get these all the time. I never cared for them. But I figured, what the hell. This one is plain white, with a golden crane sewn into the front. It’s supposed to—well, you can read the description.

Mine doesn’t work.

I bought this charm because my husband is gone. It has been three days since I bought it, and he’s still gone. No sign of a struggle. Car’s still here, so are his keys. All the doors are locked. Windows are all plugged up with spray sealant (long story, don’t ask). He’s just … gone.

I know what you’re thinking. Call the cops, crazy lady. But it’s not that simple. I think he WANTED to leave. In fact, I’m sure of it. He caught me smoking psychotropics in the bathroom. And there was that whole wine incident. The way he looked at me … things haven’t been great for a while. Sometimes we’d go all day without seeing each other, here under the same roof.

Even if I thought he’d been abducted, which I don’t, I can’t call the cops. He’s got this bench warrant for roughly a hundred unpaid parking tickets, and … okay, that’s a dumb reason. Truth is, I don’t want to call the cops because I don’t want them to tell me he left on account of everything I’ve done or haven’t done or some combination of the two.

I haven’t had coffee in three days. It’s funny, the things you forget how to do after twelve years in a relationship.

Wherever he is, I hope he’s got the tea thing figured out.

Since he’s been gone, it’s been bad. I’m not good at being alone. Between my allergies and my anxiety, I’m still too terrified to go outside—even though I’ve checked the news a hundred times and everything’s totally fine. Inside, things keep disappearing. Other things show up in weird places. I’ll put my book down on the coffee table, find it on the kitchen counter. I know it sounds crazy, but it feels like someone else is in the house with me RIGHT NOW, using my stuff, playing this mean prank.

Okay, that IS crazy.

Come home soon, Gerardo. Please.


Hitomi A.

Not for me

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewed on November 8—Verified Purchase

I mean that literally, this candy is not for me. It’s for my husband, Gerardo, who has been gone now for six days. He always loved this crap. Tastes like spicy play-doh to me, but an unsupervised Gerardo will eat a dozen without stopping to breathe. So I thought … well.

Let me back up.

I got out of the shower this morning, thought I heard an intruder. Got dressed in a panic, unmatched sweats on backward, you know. Grabbed the Maglite from the sock drawer and crept around, brandishing it for the better part of an hour. Nothing. I chalked it up to nerves, fixed my outfit, sat down at my desk. Right next to my computer: a mug of warm coffee.

I raced into the kitchen. The grounds in the coffee maker were still wet. I ran to the front door (still locked), flung it open, skulked onto the stoop like some kind of creepy house haunt.

Nobody in sight.

Had I made the coffee myself? No way, that’s crazytown. I don’t remember a thing about it. Not a thing.

Anyhow, I thought maybe Gerardo’s been sneaking back at night, sleeping on the couch. I just need to know he’s alright. So I bought these candies, and I left them all over the house like weird little tooth-rotting oblations. Pretty sure they’re American-made knockoffs, but it was all I could find on delivery. I left them out, went to bed, tried to sleep.

In the morning, I didn’t want to get out of bed. When I closed my eyes I could almost imagine his warmth next to me. Like he’d never left. And if I got up, what would I find?

Whatever it was, I wasn’t ready for it.

Obviously I got up. I’m not writing this review from bed. I went to each of the twelve places I left the candies.

All of them were gone.

I know what you’re thinking. Like WHOA. But on second thought it means jack-all, because things are ALREADY disappearing on me. Stupid plan, Hitomi.

Three stars.

To hell with my sinuses and my anxiety. Tomorrow I’m going outside to look for him.


Hitomi A.

Creepy Mask, Smells Like Garlic Farts, Works Great

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed on November 11—Verified Purchase

This mask is OVER THE TOP. Guaranteed to turn you into a Tom Clancy villain. It smells rancid, but that must mean it’s working! Also, I have a small head and it was the only one I could find in my size.

I bought it for my sinuses. My headaches are way worse outside, which is where I had to go. It took me thirty seconds to put the mask together and strap it on, two hours to work up the nerve to step outside. When I finally did, what I found was … nothing.

No children playing. No old guy griping about the brats stealing his newspaper. No deliveries, no gardeners, no glimpse of movement from any window in any house on the entire block.

But there was more. Or rather, less. No cars parked on the street. The Reddi family’s mailbox was gone, along with the stop sign on the corner. The Chen house—

Okay you already think I’m crazy, so I’ll just say it.

The Chen house was gone. But, like, not exactly gone. The house wasn’t there, but when I tried to focus on what WAS there, I couldn’t. It was too … foggy? That doesn’t make any sense, it was sunny out. The feeling it gave me, looking in that direction, I came a little unhinged. I had to look away.

Everything else, all the stuff that wasn’t missing, it didn’t look right either. Everything had a plasticky sheen to it. After a few minutes (hours?) I worked up the courage to approach the nearest thing, which happened to be the telephone pole outside my house. The one that might’ve had a missing cat poster stapled to it a while back.

It took me a while to get there, with how slow my body was moving, but eventually I stood within arm’s reach. It was smooth, but not wet-smooth. More like low-res. Like a progressive image on a shoddy website that never fully loaded. Which is dumb, I know, so I stopped thinking about that RIGHT AWAY.

I reached out.

Touched it.

Then I ran home and locked myself inside. But by the time I was sitting on my couch, panting, this creepy gas mask watching me from the coffee table like some post-apocalyptic housefly, I couldn’t remember what the pole felt like, nor why it had scared me inside. It was like my mind had gone plastic, too. Glazed over the whole experience. Whitewashed it, just like—

I grabbed a few neurology texts from Gerardo’s old med school bookshelf. Laid them out on the coffee table, started scouring. My little field trip must’ve worn me out, because I couldn’t have been an hour deep before I passed out. I woke up face down, drool congealed to my cheek. Don’t judge, we’ve all been there. Except, when I looked down, well.

All the books were blank.

I flipped through them in a panic. Not a single word of print.

Seeing all those blank pages hit me like a dose of salvia. I had a legitimate flashback. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of my finger. The one I used to touch the telephone pole. It was encased in something. But when I looked at it straight, it was … fine. Maybe a little plasticky. Then I glanced away, and in my periphery I saw it again.

The thing it was covered with was mold.


Hitomi A.

Please read

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewed on November 12—Verified Purchase

Negative hallucination: “the active erasure of a perception; it produces a gap in reality, or a vague impression of unreality.” So says encyclopedia.com.

Yesterday, during a salvia flashback, I saw mold on my finger. Now it’s gone. I know what you’re thinking. That’s how drugs work, crazy lady.

But there’s more.

The flashback itself delivered a single, lucid memory. Me, in the bathroom, at the moment the salvia hit. But this time I remembered the thing I saw, and that thing was mold. EVERYWHERE. All over the shower, thick as dried shampoo. Dripping like phlegm down the sides of the sink. Crawling all over the mirror. On my mother-effing toothbrush. Then Gerardo burst in, and oh my god there was mold on his face. Crawling right down his jaw from inside his ear. I remember pushing him out, flushing the salvia. The next day, he vanished.

Which means—

Under the right conditions, the human brain can convince itself that something isn’t there. Paint over things, make blind spots in your mind’s eye. All of your senses, in fact. And that thing you can’t perceive, that gap in reality—even if you’re about to trip over it, your subconscious makes sure you step to the side. Even if you DO trip over it—or run through it, in the case of a red light—your subconscious works out an excuse on the fly. Once your brain starts believing something, it wants to keep on believing.

For example—

I bought an eBook, maybe this one here. Read as fast as I could. By chapter three, the letters started to fall off the screen. I have only a vague recollection of what I read. The eBook is four-hundred pages of pristine white. Even the title is gone, along with the author’s name.

But I know him well enough.

Before he was working military contracts, Dr. Harmonson studied parasites at Yale. Zombie fungus, that kind of thing. You know the stuff, it’s all over the Internet. Makes an ant go rogue, climb up a leaf, hang on with its own jaws while the fruiting body crawls out its skull.

Now he’s down the street, making predator molds. “Much like the mold itself.” Only, this Mold-X, they built it—in a hurry—to wipe out the mold. Make all those test kits turn green. Or make us think it did.

What I’m saying is—

I wasn’t joking when I said psychotropics are used to stop hallucinations. Sometimes it works. The things you see might look positively unreal, but only in the context of what your brain has decided is reality. One quick hit of salvia, and your eyes are open.

Unless your brain—or something IN your brain—makes you forget. If not for that flashback, I’d never have known.

What I’m trying to say is—

It won’t let me say it. My fingers keep locking up. Even if I could, who’s to say you could read it all the way through before my words started falling off your screen? Who’s to say it hasn’t wormed inside all of us by now? Greatest trick the devil ever pulled, and all that.

So the mold spreads. Crawls over a thing, and from that moment on, that thing is gone from our mind. Smoothed over. A whole house full of missing stuff, in plain sight. A toppled wine glass. A kitchen knife.

A husband.

When we come across contrary evidence—an eBook, a news report, a product review—our infested brains whitewash that, too. Words fall off the page. There’s nothing on the news. Everything’s fine.

Only, it sure as hell isn’t.

My phone is dead. There’s nobody in the street. The Internet is a swath of mostly blank pages. I can still buy things, write comments. But for how long? I can’t find my old product reviews. Did I even write them? I haven’t slept. Those dreams about tendrils crawling up my nose—

I’ve been trying all kinds of things to find Gerardo. None of it will ever work. He’ll never see my scribbled notes, never hear my cries. And I’ll never hear his. Our brains, loaded with mold, will keep on erasing each other. Forever.

If you’ve gotten this far, please. Find Gerardo.

Tell him I’m here, with him. Missing him.

  • Derrick Boden

    Derrick Boden’s fiction has appeared and is forthcoming in Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Analog, and elsewhere. He is a writer, a software developer, an adventurer, and a graduate of the Clarion West class of 2019. He currently calls Boston his home, although he’s lived in fourteen cities spanning four continents. He is owned by two cats and one iron-willed daughter. Find him at derrickboden.com and on Twitter as @derrickboden.

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