August 28, 2013

Black Mold

The following story was sent to me from a colleague at a university in the southern United States. The text is a true-life account written by one of my colleague’s former students.

I was twelve years old when my mother died. We lived together, the two of us, in a little house outside of Pascagoula in Mississippi. When Hurricane Katrina came in 2005, they told us to get out, that the water was coming.

We were poor and we didn’t have nowhere to go. Mother didn’t want to hear about leaving. She had been born in that house and buried my grandparents in the woods out back – she wasn’t going to leave.

So, Katrina came and the ocean came with it. I thought that the house would just wash away but it didn’t, and we laid down in the attic with the spiders and squirrels until the water was gone.

Everything in the house was pretty much ruined. The water got into everything. There was a smashed up tree stuck in the living room and a boat in the front yard.

There was no power and no way to call for help. We had saved enough food and water in the attic for a few days. The roads were mostly gone, so we decided to wait for help to come to us.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Mother was sick. She had a problem with her heart and took medicine for it. I don’t know what happened exactly, but the medicine got washed away or she just didn’t have enough.

It was hard to notice at first because the house was so dark with only the old oil lamp, but a mold had started growing inside. It was black and gritty and it spread along the baseboards and sent black fingers up the wall.

I didn’t like it, it scared me, but Mother said there was always gonna be things like mold and damp and rot after a flood and we’d get it cleaned up when we could. She said it was the way the earth took stuff back, that the mold would take the house and eat it up only if we let it.

On the second day, we still hadn't seen anybody else and I wanted to start walking to town. Mother wouldn’t have it. I don’t think she could’ve made it out by then anyway. She was slowing down, taking longer breaks; it was her heart giving up.

When I woke up on the third morning after the flood, Mother was dead. She must’ve got up during the night because she was sitting in her old chair. Her eyes were closed and she looked very peaceful. I covered her with the cleanest sheet I could find like they do in the movies.

I knew I had to walk out, to find someone, but it was hard to leave her. I told myself I would stay one more day, get everything that I needed together, and then leave in the morning.

I spent the night in the living room with Mother. I felt bad about leaving her and I wanted to stay with her as long as I could. When I made up my mind to stay the night, I didn’t think about how scary it would be there in the dark with a dead body. I couldn’t fall asleep. I saw the mold on the walls, on the ceiling, on Mother’s chair.

In the morning, I couldn’t leave. I spent the day trying to clean up, salvage what I could from the house. I was trying to keep busy.

I didn’t leave the next day either. I was more scared to walk out into the woods alone than I was sleeping in the house with her body. But I was running out of clean water and food so I couldn’t stay another day. One more night and then I just had to leave.

I slept in the living room again. Mother was under the sheet. I kept the lamp burning because I was afraid of the dark back then.

After a few hours of listening to the night birds and the peepers, I heard something move there in the room. It was just a little rustle of something and I figured a field mouse must be looking for food. I held up the lamp to look around but there was nothing there.

I heard it again. It was the sheet that covered Mother. It was was moving, being pulled. I stood up and held the lamp in front of me.

I thought something had got under the sheet and was eating at Mother so I reached out and snatched the sheet away. There was nothing there but Mother.

Her body was already shrinking or drying out and she looked smaller and skinnier. Then I saw that the mold was growing on her, too. It had spread from the chair to her clothes and when I looked closer I could see tiny veins of black mildew all across her face.

The she groaned. I heard it rattle inside her like something trying to escape. I thought maybe she was still alive, maybe she was just really sick and here I was not helping her. I called to her and touched her arms. She was cold and her skin was hard like a rock.

I stood back because I knew she couldn’t be alive; I had checked for a heartbeat and everything like they do on TV. Then her eyes opened up and I dropped the lamp. She started to get up.

I backed up but I couldn't take my eyes away. She was looking back at me now and her eyes were empty and black like the black mold that was growing on the walls. The mold wasn’t just growing on her skin, it was inside her, too.

She groaned again and it sounded like the air was being pushed out of her as she stood up. It seemed like part of the chair came away with her and stuck to her backside. She stood there like her back was broke or something, like someone who didn’t know how to stand.

Then as she was staring at me, she growled like a dog about to bite and took a step towards me. She opened her mouth and she snapped her teeth. Mother had never been a violent woman; she had always been calm, never raised her voice. This thing was not my mother. 

I called to her and she lunged at me snapping her teeth. That’s when I finally ran to the front door and got out. Whatever she was now she wasn’t my Mother anymore.

I looked back and saw her stumble through the living room, kicking the oil lamp. The sheet that had covered her was on the floor and it caught fire first. She didn’t seem to notice and just walked right into it. Her clothes went up and parts of the house that were dry started to, too.

She stared me down the whole time as she slowly walked to the door. By the time she reached it, she was all on fire and I couldn’t even see her face anymore. She never screamed, but then again, she wouldn’t. She was just a dead body, like a zombie in a movie.

She made it to the porch and then fell over. She didn’t get up again. The house burned but most was too wet to catch. I watched it smolder all night and in the morning I left.

I was just a kid so no one believed me about what happened, but then again, no one blamed me. I guess when the sea came in, it brought something to my house that wasn’t supposed to be there, something that maybe hadn’t been seen in a long time.

The house wasn’t salvageable, they said, and although I inherited Mother’s house and the land, I haven’t been back there. I can’t sell it – not ever – but I can’t go back.


  1. Good "creepy" story..
    Glad t see you posting again.... the Doctor

  2. Thanks, Doctor. Good to be back.

  3. --I second that! Glad to see the new story!

  4. Thanks, Teresa. I hope to post some more in the next few weeks what with Halloween on the way.

  5. This gave me goose bumps. Keep them coming.

    1. Thanks, Vivienne. They will keep coming.


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