The good news is, I was right about it not being generated in the foyer area; it was indeed coming from somewhere else!
The bad news is, the "somewhere else" was the downstairs freezer.
Apparently it gave up the ghost some time ago--I wouldn't have the faintest idea when--and since then it's been an incubator for bacteria. I took a sniff near it, thought, Uh oh, and then cleaned the top off. Lifted the lid, reached inside, touched a bag of something that was dry, distended with gas, and WARM, and I recoiled and slapped the lid shut, but not before the STENCH hit me.
Nearly puked, not sure why I didn't, except maybe for that time I did as a CNA. I have never smelled anything as bad as this stink is.
I took duct tape and taped the lid shut and got the hand truck. Unfortunately I am not strong enough to lift it up the stairs, so I'm going to have to think about this.
First idea is to slather a lot of Vick's on a mask, put on rubber gloves, and chuck shit into contractor bags. That looses the STENCH CLOUD inside the house, though, and I'm worried about getting it out again. I'd much rather do all this outside.
* * *
So, I slathered nose and upper lip with a lot of Vick's Salve, tossed half a jug of bleach on the stuff under the lid, and started transferring it to trash bags.
The second one tore and left a nice little trail of unholy sludge up the stairs.
I tore out the carpeting on the stairs.
Bleach does wonders for cutting odors. It kept me from puking my guts out while I was cleaning out the thing, and the Vick's Salve thing I got from reading an article in Omni or some damned place, lo these many years ago, about people who study the decomposition of human bodies.
Before I took the freezer out, I tried to get past it and was heaving by the second breath. THROUGH MY MOUTH.
The heat is off, the doors are open and the furnace blower is running. I first tried sprinkling baking soda on the sludge trail, and it helped, but it was obvious that it wasn't going to fix it, so I just yanked out the carpeting and the padding underneath. They're very nice hardwood stairs, not finshed or stained or anything, but it'll be okay for a little while.
Next step is to yank out all the staples that held the carpeting in place. I'm taking a breather--I'm not kidding, I was going like 900 MPH until I got the carpet and padding out, and I feel like I ran half a marathon.
I'm really not sure how else I could have handled it, to be honest. The idea of waiting until I could get someone to help me take the freezer out without opening it seems crazy--just leave fifty pounds of rotting food in the house?
The worst part is, I'm not done. There's six inches of foul liquid in the bottom of the freezer and I have to dump it out. I need to take the door off the thing so I can throw it out Thursday.
Good Lord is this disgusting.