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Fallpocalypse: A Post Apocalyptic Zombie Novel. With Fall Leaves and Shit.

Note: The following are three seasonal fragrances that are currently not available. They'll come back to us this Fall!

Chapter 1: Pumpkin Spice Pandemic

It all started with the goddamn pumpkin spice.

She sighed, remembering when it was simply a seasonal beverage that was simultaneously adored and mocked for its adulation, and not what it is today. She kicked her Ugg into a wet pile of leaves, and looked around at the vast expanse before her. A fire burned far off on the horizon; a sign that her camp and campmates were still alive, one of the few small comforts left in this wasteland. That, and her sheepskin boots, flannel shirt, and leggings combination, of course.

She trudged along, using her spear as a walking stick to help ease the burden of walking so many miles. It might be Uber that she misses the most, but who can really quantify something like that? Besides, there was so much to miss: the internet, being able to enjoy seasonally-flavored-and-scented food and home goods, plumbing, oversize sunglasses, electricity, not having to hunt for every meal, the mall; everything about how her life used to be.

But she was learning and adapting to this new way of life. For some reason, she was spared, and now has to survive in this post-apocalyptic landscape. It hasn’t been easy; far from it. Realizing she couldn’t post Instagram stories about how difficult this was was one of the first real blows she had endured; one of the first things that made her see that this was for real and not just a recurring nightmare from that bad Ayahuasca trip back in South America a few years ago.

She had set up that camp, after all, and welcomed fellow survivors with open arms. Together, her motley crew had survived this year with minimal sickness and death. It felt good to step up and become a leader, like using muscles she’d forgotten she had. Although, she was pretty ripped now, like all good apocalypse survivors. Turns out, you build up a lot of muscle when you can’t eat any pre-packaged food and every day you could potentially be eaten by flesh-crazed monsters and you have to completely fend for yourself at every moment of every day. Who knew?!

That’s what she was out doing now: hunting. Scavenging for any type of suitable meat, although she preferred rabbits and deer and generally passed up any other animal. That is, until recently. It’s gotten much harder to find food as the summer died and fall swooped in like a bat, covering everything with darkness.

What she wouldn’t give for a cookie. Or some toilet paper. Something soft, like the kind in those old commercials where the cartoon bears…

Nearby, there’s a rustling in the trees. She freezes, bear butts forgotten, suddenly alert. Is it an animal, or something far more treacherous? She turns her head, squints her eyes at the tree line. Fuck, it’s dusk and she hasn’t caught any animals nor started making her way back to camp. Shit, shit, shit fuck dammit. The rustling is noticeably closer now. There’s nothing she can do but prepare herself. She’s killed before; she’ll kill again if it means staying alive.

Spear poised at the ready, she’s about to lunge into the trees when her camp-mate, Danny, comes out.

“What the fuck?! Don’t stab me, dude!” he yells. “I went hunting, too. I caught two rabbits!” He holds them up triumphantly in his right hand. He smirks. “Guess it’s a good thing I went out hunting too, huh?” he says, while staring at the lack of fresh animal corpses proffered from her hand.

She rolls her eyes, already back to a standing position. “Oh my god, Danny, you scared the hell out of me! You asshole! And nobody told me you were hunting tonight, too!” She pauses and looks him in the eye. “Although, you’re right; it’s a good thing you did. Thanks for the food; we should definitely head back to camp. It’s getting dark.”

He nods and begins to walk back toward the camp with her, dead rabbits swinging from his right hand. His bloody machete is tucked safely in its holster on his belt, his left hand tucked into his pocket. They walk in silence for a while; mostly because she needs to recover from the adrenaline rush and subsequent crash after realizing it was just Danny in the woods.

They’d known each other before all of this, well enough to walk in silence but not so well as to know what the other was thinking about.

She was thinking about when they had worked together at the coffee shop. You know the one; the one responsible for this whole goddamn pandemic and apocalypse they now found themselves in. It was only because she worked there that she was spared, really. She’d needed some extra cash and started working there on weekends, thinking it would be fun, plus all the perks: free drinks on your shifts, a decent employee discount, health care benefits, her friends all thinking it was so cool and coming to visit her while she worked. She’d loved it, for a while. But she soon got bored of the seasonal brouhahas, and all of the blending, and the insane drink requests. By the time pumpkin spice season rolled around, she wasn’t even interested. Plain black coffee, or a simple Americano, thanks; none of this faux-artisanal stuff. It made her sad to think about, as it had once been one of her favorite things, the return of pumpkin spice in all of its autumnal glory.

But then the outbreak happened. It started small, on the other side of the country. People were coming down with what seemed like a massive flu, but they all craved pumpkin spice everything. Then suddenly, it spread like wildfire, and those people who were sick weren’t just feeling like they had the flu and the pumpkin spice wasn’t enough; they started eating human flesh. Her fellow Ugg-boot-wearing, pumpkin-spice-drinking brethren were the undead, and they had wiped out most of the country with them. Word had it that it had spread overseas, too. It’s possible everyone was gone minus small outlying camps of survivors. But there was no way to tell without traveling, and that was a treacherous task.

She pulled herself out of her thoughts and turned to Danny. He looked worried, but when he felt her looking, he turned and smiled a weak smile.

“Sorry I’m not very talkative now,” he said, “I was nearly killed not long ago.”

She rolled her eyes. “Danny, I was absolutely NOT going to stab you, I swear! Here, give me the rabbits; we’re almost to camp. I’ll go ahead and get them cleaned so we can all eat tonight.”

He handed her the rabbits. “Thanks, yeah, sorry, I’ll be fine,” he said meekly.

She smiled, noticing for the first time that he had kept his left hand in his pocket this whole time. Weird, but, whatever; guys are strange creatures. She went ahead; they weren’t far from camp now, and dinner had to be prepared. Think of how excited everyone will be! Two rabbits!

Danny trailed behind, looking more uneasy with every step. He hadn’t been talking about her almost-spear attack on him. He took his left hand out of his pocket. It was deeply scratched, perhaps even bitten, bleeding profusely, and turning a very noticeable shade of orange.

Scent notes: Pumpkin spice is the star of this sexy scent, in combination with some spicy chai tea. Burnt sugar, like marshmallows roasted on a campfire, and a bit of that campfire’s smoke, to boot. Because it’s the apocalypse and the world is burning, there’s a quick hit of tar when it’s first applied; but that fades into the delicately sexy, sweet, and spicy blend of pumpkin, chai, smoke, and burnt sugar. Everyone’s gonna want a bite out of you.

Chapter 2: Spiked Cider

Last week, we met our unnamed heroine, and her former coworker and fellow apocalypse survivor, dudebro Danny.


Danny keeps walking to the campsite, watching her walk away with dinner. He stuffs his pumpkin-colored hand deep into his pocket in shame. Goddamn, he could really go for a latte right now. He shuddered, knowing it might be too late, but he couldn’t admit what had happened. How was he supposed to tell her he hadn’t really been out hunting, that he had been following her because… well, because he loved her?

No, it’s not just an apocalyptic “we have to recreate the world” kind of love, not in his mind, at least. This was real. He’d fallen in love with her back when they worked at the coffee shop. He loved that she had convinced their manager that black Uggs were acceptable workplace shoes. He’d come in on his off days, listening to Dave Matthews and Deadmau5 on his phone while skimming through The Chive, just to watch her make him whatever weird blended drink was popular that month. He had a popular Reddit forum, r/baristasdrinkshit, where he taste tested unusual drinks and rated them and asked others to weigh in. Danny was always getting in fights with commenters, threatening to beat the shit out of anyone who disagreed with him, often throwing his snapback across the room in fury when something particularly enraged him.

She had never taken notice of his reddit fame, nor the weird drinks she blended for him, like when he asked for their limited-edition unicorn drink and added a brownie, protein powder, and several pumps of random syrups, just to see what would happen. “Hey, if you want to vomit, that’s on you, Danny,” she said as the blender whirred. It was pretty disgusting, she was right about that.

He’d slammed the drink, making a list of notes on his phone. “Vomit frappe, lolz. Protein: good addition. Maybe more? Somehow not sweet enough. Gonna make my after-gym bathroom session interesting.” He went to the gym every single day back then, posting selfies holding up his tank top in front of the mirrored free weights area. #swole #gainz #everydayislegdaybro

Funnily enough, most of his gym-built muscles had shrunk significantly since this whole apocalypse thing had started. Not her muscles, though; she was ripped now, and tougher than he had ever seen.

She’d also been right about what was happening. “These people are, like, zombies for this shit,” she had remarked in the early pumpkin spice pandemic days. She was brilliant, and beautiful, and obviously single, now, since there was almost no guys left on the planet. Maybe she’d know what to do about his hand; maybe he didn’t have to turn into one of them…

She was near the fire, helping prep the rabbits for dinner with fellow survivor and friend, Mallory. They both had cups of cider sitting near them. They hadn’t known each other before all of this, but Mallory was a nurse, and great to have on your side in the apocalypse. She’d also grown up in a bit of a Doomsday Preppers household, and had already had a stockpile of canned goods, water, flashlights, batteries, tents, and of course medical supplies, so she was incredibly important to have on your side in the apocalypse. Mallory had basically outfitted their little haven on the hill above the woods; lord knows Danny didn’t have a tent.

“Hey, great job catching these, Danny!” Mallory smiled at him. He suspected she had a crush on him, but he wasn’t interested in Mallory. He only had eyes for the girl sitting next to her. It was pretty obvious, really; most of the other survivors seemed to sense the love triangle between the three of them. Ugh, what a cliche. He reaches up and pulls his flat brimmed hat (one of the things he made sure to save when he fled his home) down, as if he was tipping his hat, but you know, in a much more bro-y fashion.

He walked across the grass to his tent, nodding at fellow survivors, hoping to have some alone time to figure out what to do. He crawls one-armed into the tent and zips it shut behind him. Gingerly taking out his bad left hand, he turns on his flashlight and decides to properly examine the damage.

The urge to vomit is the first thing he feels and has to immediately suppress. Thankfully, two years of r/baristasdrinkshit have trained his gag reflex, and he swallows the urge. His hand is fully orange now, and it’s starting to spread up his arm. What was once blood is coming out of the wound, but it’s clearly no longer blood. Instead, it’s a thick orange syrup with spices flecked throughout, oozing through the cuts and bite marks. Fuck, fuck, fuck. That latte is sounding SO GOOD now, especially if it’s made with a little bit of human flesh. Not a ton, maybe just a finger or something, you know? Protein, bro.

Danny nearly screams as this thought goes through his brain. “I have to tell her. She’ll know what to do. She’ll have to help me; she doesn’t want a zombie in camp, and she definitely wouldn’t let me live in the woods with… them.”

Slowly, resolutely, he unzips his tent, and walks solemnly over to where the ladies are sitting.

“Hey, so, uh…” Danny starts, and stops, and stalls, and stares blankly. Mallory looks up at him, clearly breaking whatever intense vibe was happening between the two of them. Oh, god, were they talking about me? Were they fighting over me? Dammit; he’d missed a fight between two women over him. It was what he always wanted, and now he can’t even appreciate it because of this damn latte/flesh craving.

“What’s up, Danny?” She stares at him point-blank; he’s terrified, and rightfully so.

“I… I wasn’t completely honest with you earlier. You didn’t almost kill me.”

“No shit, Sherlock, YOU scared ME and I was just--”

“I was attacked by them. In the woods.”

Her mouth hangs open. Mallory’s eyes go wide; her face is completely devoid of pigment.

“Are you okay? Did you kill them? Did they follow you?”

“I managed to kill them, but no, I’m not okay,” says Danny, and he holds up his left hand.

Both women scream, and the rest of the survivors run over. Mallory realizes that they’re down to just thirteen; what an unlucky number. How had she not realized that during the daily roll call? Thirteen.  And now this.

Danny starts to cry, and pulls up the hem of his O.A.R. shirt to stop the tears from falling.

“Danny, okay, calm down, let me look at it, alright?” Mallory says as she runs to her tent to get gloves and a mask. She reappears moments later, properly outfitted, carrying both a lantern and a flashlight. She sets the lantern down on the table, turns on the flashlight, and makes Danny sit in front of her.

Mallory examines his hand, noting how deep the wounds and bites are, and how deeply orange his skin and blood are. Would you even call it blood at this point? Mallory shudders, then looks Danny in the eyes. “I have an idea, but you’re not gonna like it.”

“No, tell me, whatever it is, I want to know what we can do. I don’t want to be a zombie.”

“We’re gonna have to cut off your hand.”

Danny flinches, then goes strangely quiet. His eyes are glassy. Around him, everyone else erupts.

“That won’t work!”

“That COULD work!”

“What if he tries to eat us all?”

“I don’t want a zombie here! Get rid of him! Besides, he’s an asshole anyway.”

“Yeah, get rid of him; I’m tired of his shitty guitar playing.”

“He couldn’t play guitar with only one hand, though.”

“But he could still sing, and oh god, the singing…”

Everyone around him is yelling, and Danny is strangely calm. Yes, of course. Cut off his hand. Shit, chicks dig scars. He could get a hook! Who hasn’t always wanted a hook for a hand? Yeah, it’d suck to lose a hand, but if it means staying alive, if it means more time with her…

Danny stands up suddenly, and everyone else shuts up.

“Okay. Let’s do this.”

Mallory nods, and produces a bottle of bourbon from under the table. “Great. Drink all of this; you’re gonna need it.”

“Where the hell did that bourbon come from?” Danny asks.

Mallory smiles, and looks at the woman he loves with a mischievous grin. “Your friend here is an amazing barista and makes a perfect apple cider and bourbon cocktail we’ve been calling Spiked Cider. She can make you one! Or, like, fifteen; you’re really gonna need a lot of alcohol before I cut off a limb.”

Danny proceeds to get violently drunk on the surprisingly delicious cider, while everyone around him freaks the fuck out. Rabbits and dinner have long been forgotten; everyone is feasting on this horrific news.

Mallory has been off gathering supplies and attempting to disinfect and make as sterile of an environment as possible. A normal infection is nearly as bad as a zombie bite in the apocalypse, after all.

Two hours later, the job is done. Danny’s left hand and a little further up his arm are gone and bleeding, but it’s normal blood, and not pumpkin spice, so Mallory takes this as a good sign. Danny has long since passed out from bourbon and bleeding, and Mallory is doing what she can to clean him up. Almost everyone else has fled, either to vomit from the sight or to go gossip about what they just witnessed. Most people just disappear; they don’t come back having survived an attack and then lose a limb! She is with Mallory, though, helping however Mallory needs her to. The hand is lying on the ground in the dark, oozing pumpkin spice and beginning to rot. We’ll have to dispose of that properly in the morning, Mallory remarks to herself. But for now her focus is on Danny.

When he’s cleaned up and bandaged, she and Mallory work together to hoist Danny up and carry him to his tent so he can sleep and not deal with the horrifying pain he’ll be experiencing in a few short hours.

Nobody thinks to collect the hand now.

Nobody wonders if it’s safe to have a zombie hand in their campground.

Nobody is worried; (mostly) everyone is happy Danny will be okay.

And across the camp, on the ground, his left hand starts to move.

Scent Notes: Hot apple cider, mulling spices, Kentucky bourbon

 

Chapter Three: Smoke & Decay

 

Walking back to the campground, she spots Mallory. Mallory waves her over and beckons her to sit.

“Awesome; looks like you did well hunting!” Mallory says as she takes in the rabbits. “We’ll eat like queens tonight.”

“Well, actually, Danny is the one who got these. I wasn’t having any luck, and he scared me half to death as he came out of the woods. I didn’t even know he was hunting too!” She sighs, hands Mallory a rabbit, and they begin to prepare them for dinner.

“Yeah, I don’t think anyone here at camp knew he left, too. And it doesn’t look like he’s back yet,” Mallory says, glancing around.

“He was trailing behind and acting all weird; he’ll get here soon, I’m sure.” She glanced at Mallory. “You know what would be great right now?”

Mallory smirks at her. “Spiked cider?”

She grins back. “You read my mind, and not for the first time.” She winks at Mallory and walks to her tent.

Mallory continues to prep the rabbits, their blood soaking the ground at her feet.

Returning with spices, bourbon, and apple cider, she quickly prepares heavily spiked cider and hands a cup to Mallory. They cheers their cups together, a little giddy. Rabbits and bourbon? This night is fantastic.

They take a sip, smiling gleefully at each other. Shit, Mallory thinks, be cool; nobody can know. Get back to dinner prep; quit eye-fucking your girlfriend in front of other people. Mallory looks away, and sees Danny finally walking over to them.

“Hey great job catching these, Danny!” Mallory says, noticing that he is making googly-eyes at the woman sitting next to her. Not that she could blame him; this badass, gorgeous woman was nearly irresistible. He doffs an invisible cap at her, and walks over to his tent.

Mallory giggles and looks over at her. “Do you think he knows about us?”

“Danny? Oh holy mother of Jameson, no, absolutely not! He had a crush on me back when we worked together and I shut that shit down then. He knows better.”

Mallory smiles, appeased, and takes another sip of her cider. “Can I sleep in your tent again tonight?”

Smiling back at Mallory, she says, “Oh, your tent is gone. I burned it down. You’re sleeping with me from now on.”

Suddenly, Danny is there, and announces that he was attacked, and time stands still. Mallory springs into action mode, and time lurches forward, and the next thing she’s conscious of is lying in her tent, spooning a crying Mallory.

“I can’t believe he was attacked! You were right there; it could’ve been you!” Her shoulders shudder as she cries, and she does her best to console a distraught Mallory, who had also recently performed a rather gruesome amputation on Danny. The apocalypse was much tougher than expected; plus, now their bourbon supply was much lower, and that was the real shame in her opinion. Still, she pressed her face between Mallory’s shoulder blades and squeezed Mallory even tighter.

“But I wasn’t. And you, you were incredible. You amputated a hand! A disgusting zombie hand! You saved all of us! You even saved Danny, who maybe didn’t deserve it. You’re the real hero here, seriously.” Her words are muffled, since her face is still pressed into Mallory’s back, but Mallory gets the gist and starts to calm down a little. Soon enough, Mallory’’s relaxed enough to have traded her sniffles for snores, and she smiles, and starts to drift off herself.

Outside, on the ground, the hand is twitching. Nobody is awake to see it, but the hand starts crawling; slowly, at first, but then quicker as it understands how to function on its own, unattached to a body. It somehow understands that it is undead, and its thirst for blood is real. But, being just a hand, it needs some assistance. It knows where to go; knows where its brethren lies in wait, back down below the campground. First, though, it decides to have a little fun. Why not; it’s a disembodied zombie hand! It can do whatever it wants! Gleefully, it runs to a dirt patch on the side of the camp, and gets to work.

The next morning, she is startled awake by Mallory screaming, “What the fuck?!” She darts up, pulling a knife out from under her pillow, ready to attack. She sees the shape of Mallory outside the tent, and scrambles outside to see why Mallory is losing her mind.

“What? What’s the matter?”

“Well, the campground was vandalized, and also, THE HAND IS GONE.” Mallory is shaking in a combination of rage and terror. She’s pointing at the spot where the hand had been hours before, and it’s clearly gone. And, as she slowly takes in the scene of the rest of the campground, she lets out a very large sigh.

It appears that someone, using something that looks like a cross between syrup and blood, drew some rather crude drawings around the camp; phalluses abound, along with the word “Bro!” on the side of Danny’s tent. It looks like a middle school boy just went to town “decorating” the area. So. Many. Dicks. Everywhere. Every tent has a crude drawing somewhere on its side; in the dirt at the entrance to the camp, it reads,”WELCOME TO DICKTOWN.”

“What in the hell happened here?” she says, shaking her head. She turns back and looks at her own tent. “Oh, goddammit, no!”

On her own tent, the word “LEZBOS” has been sloppily written on the side. Did Danny do something stupid in the middle of the night while completely out of his head due to pain and bourbon? No, that can’t be; he just lost his dominant hand, there’s no way he was coordinated enough to do this in such a state. She walks to her tent and sniffs the words. Yup, that’s pumpkin spice blood; that’s what was pouring out of Danny last night as his hand was amputated.

“Just, fucking dicks, drawn in blood, as far as the eye can see, and the hand has disappeared. What is going on here?”

At that moment, Danny comes stumbling out of his tent. He’s clearly hungover and in a tremendous amount of pain; the gauze around his amputated arm is bloody and dripping.

“Danny, did you take your hand back? Did you do all this?!” She storms up to him, her voice on the edge of screaming.

“What? I’ve been passed out all night; I’m in so much pain. Is there any more bourbon? Can I have, like, all of it?”

She glances at his good hand; no spicy blood stains. She runs back to his tent and looks: no hand.

When she comes back out, Mallory is trying to talk to Danny, and is pointing out all the artwork that appeared overnight in the campground.

“Dude, I did not do any of that, seriously. Although, honestly, this is pretty fucking funny. Dicks are HILARIOUS; I don’t care how old you are. I’m sorry about whoever wrote ‘LEZBOS’ on her tent, though; that’s just rude. And super not true!”

She walks over to Mallory and Danny with a curious look on her face.

“Danny. Where’s your hand?”

“Which one?” he asks sarcastically.

“The one no longer attached to your body.”

“Uh, Mallory cut it off last night. I have no idea. I thought you all would, like, burn it while I was passed out.”

“Well, it’s gone; nobody can find it.”
“Dude, wait. You guys… you just left a zombie hand lying in the dirt? Did nobody read zombie novels or watch any zombie movies before this happened?! That’s what happened! My hand! My hand did all of this!”

She rolls her eyes. “Oh, fucking hell, I don’t believe that.”

Mallory looks at her. “No, it’s… it’s very possible. And it’s my fault; I got distracted last night. He’s right; we should’ve burned it.”

She looks at Mallory and sighs. “Fine. I’m gonna get the fire going again so we can all eat something this morning; everybody else should look around for Danny’s missing zombie hand. We need to find it and burn it, as soon as possible.”

An hour later, Danny, Mallory, and a few of the others return from their search. The hand is gone, and there’s nothing they can do about that.

In the meantime, she has gotten the fire going, and has been running scenarios in her head the whole time. Basically, she’s now convinced that the crazy theory is correct: the hand is undead, it made all those stupid penis drawings around their site, and now it’s on its way to the spicy undead to show them where the living are camping out.

“Right. Okay everyone, I think we need to move camp.” She relays her theory to everyone else who, while maybe slightly unbelieving, are also living in the goddamn apocalypse and aren’t willing to take any chances.

They start to pack up, as quickly as possible.

Mallory looks terrified. “Where are we gonna go? How will we survive?”

She’s a bit more stable, for some reason. Probably because she helped found and set up this camp in the first place. She’s been through a lot. Granted, she (thankfully) has all of her limbs, but setting up camp in a new spot is not as daunting to her as the thought of the zombies who are likely on their way to them even at this moment.

She turns and faces Mallory. “Don’t worry; I’m here. I’ll protect you.” They share a forced smile and a quick kiss before Mallory goes to pack up her medical supplies.

Danny is sitting at the table, finishing the bourbon. He looks over at her and yells, drunkenly, “Dude, I can’t go.”

She runs over to him.

“What do you mean? We have to go; they’re on their way!”

“Nah, my hand wouldn’t do that. It’s my hand; it’s chill, it wouldn’t turn on me!”

“Danny. Your hand is a zombie. I think it will absolutely turn on you. You already said it did all this… artwork, shall we say.”

“Well, but that’s the problem. I just lost my hand, I’m in so much pain, I can’t run away from zombies. This is some bullshit.”

“Well… at least it wasn’t your foot?” She smiles at him, trying to make him laugh in the face of his personal apocalypse within the, you know, actual zombie apocalypse.

He smirks, and looks her in the eyes. Screw it, he thinks, and leans in and tries to kiss her.

What he wasn’t expecting was for her to smack him, hard, across the face instead.

“What the fuck are you doing?!”

“Hey, it’s the apocalypse; I lost my hand; we’re about to get killed by zombies; why can’t we… you know… real fast?” He wiggles his eyebrows at her, and she smacks him again.

“Danny. I told you this before: I. Am. A. Lesbian. I’m. Not. Interested. At all. In no way. No universe. Not even in the middle of the goddamn apocalypse. Do you understand?”

“Well yeah, you told me that back when we worked together. But , you know, I was thinking, it’s the apocalypse, we have to repopulate the Earth and shit…”

Before she can smack him again, Mallory starts screaming.

She looks up from Danny’s stupid face and sees Mallory being attacked by a hand. Danny’s zombie hand.

“Oh fuck, look, now your hand is back, you complete idiot!” She sprints over to Mallory. The hand is attacking Mallory’s throat, trying to choke her. It’s crazy strong for just a hand; probably zombie strength or something weird like that.

She comes up and yanks the hand off of Mallory, and throws it directly into the fire. A horrible screeching noise fills the air, and it smells like burning flesh, pumpkin, and seasonal spices. If it wasn’t for the flesh note, it could actually smell quite nice.

“They’re coming, we don’t have time to keep packing; we have to go NOW!!”

She picks Mallory up off the ground and gives her a deep, passionate kiss in front of everyone. Danny makes an audible noise of disgust.

In that moment, Danny realizes that he’s lost it all: his hand, the woman he loved (whatever that means), his family, his friends… It’s the apocalypse, for real. And what’s the point of carrying on? He swigs the last of the bourbon back. He’s made his decision. He can do one last thing for her; one final act to prove his sincerity. Yeah, he’s a bit of a douchebag, but he can make his life have meaning. Even though it’s going to suck so badly. So, so badly.

Everyone else in the camp, except Danny, is ready to leave before it’s too late. Danny is still sitting at the table, looking drunk and resigned.

“Danny, come on, we have to go!”

Everyone is getting impatient.

“Let’s just leave him!”

“Yeah, fuck that guy and his stupid zombie hand.”

“We have to go!”

Mallory tugs her arm. “They’re right. We have to run. Now.”

She looks back at Danny, just as three of the undead crest the hill. Their skin has mostly fallen off; what’s left is gray. Pumpkin spice oozes over everything; you can smell it, clearly and pungently filing the air. Their clothing is minimal, but she spies a popped collar polo shirt amongst the three of them. They see Danny and move faster than she could have anticipated, as he just sits there waving at them, encouraging them to come to him.

“Danny, run! RUN!”

Everyone else except her and Mallory have fled; she is standing there, paralyzed, watching as Danny gets overtaken by the zombies. Now she gets it. He’s sacrificing himself. He’s giving them all time to get away as the monsters swarm on his screaming, fleshy body. Mallory finally drags her back, and they begin to run. Danny’s screams fill the air as they run away as fast as they can. The air still smells of burnt, rotting flesh mixed with sickly sweet spice.  Beneath that, the crisp fall day and recent farm harvests bring back memories of perfect autumns before all of this.

But at least she still has Mallory. Sweet, gentle, smart Mallory. They’ll keep each other safe, and as happy as can be in these circumstances. She makes this promise to herself as her legs keep her moving forward, ever forward.

She can’t see the long, deep scratch on the other side of Mallory’s neck that Danny’s hand left while it was choking Mallory. Or that the wound is ever-so-slightly orange.

 

Scent notes: sweet buttercream, warm snickerdoodle cookies, campfire wood smoke, crisp red apple, Indian sandalwood, a freshly poured oatmeal stout, valencia orange, spicy chai tea.