You’d thought nothing could overpower the smell of cattle on a warm, wet night, when the scent of money imbued the still air for miles around the feedlot. But something had spooked the herd. Lowing echoed as hooves thundered away from the southeast corner, bringing a peculiar, fruity scent along with them.
A disabled woman survives a soft apocalypse in an overgrown mall and impacts her community by sharing a candle-making recipe stored in her old email inbox.
I don’t notice the difference in beguiling flattery coming from your mouth right off. You always turn to wheedling me when you want something. I’ve learned to shut down the listening part of my brain when you get going. But tonight, the shadows have grown long across the prairie, yet still you haven’t given up asking. I can’t imagine you’d want to visit the corner store with your friends this bad.
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Our last day of sunlight dawned and faded almost at once as you reaped the final drop of ripened energy from our sun. We could do nothing to stop you. Your strange, mercurial ship flew circles around our, by comparison, primitive technology. All without needing to pause your theft.
You used to fear the bathtub drain as a child, until you’d happened to watch a cartoon demonstrating the irrationality of…well, drainophobia. No part of you could fit down a drain. You couldn’t be sucked down, even if you tried.
But there are bigger drains.
Hunger haunted the hollows of your heart where my absence left you empty. You wanted attention. Views. Likes. Comments. At first, these from anyone would do. Admiration from the masses filled the gnawing emptiness within you.
Until you got my attention.
Oh, how your consumerism pulled the teeth from we scarecrows. Made us not only harmless, but also not even frightening—our purpose no longer to guard crops, but to decorate suburban lawns. You gave us screen-printed smiling expressions for charming your neighbors.
So none of you knew what to think when the face of every scarecrow the world over went blank.
Life for everyone changed forever the day my teeth broke your skin.
But it was bite, or be bitten.
And your bite had the power to make me one of you. A rotting, shambling corpse. Someone else’s teeth had already transmitted a curse to you. A curse which drove you to pay it forward when you’d cornered me in that storage shed.
I had mostly rotted away by the time you found me fallen in the apartment next door.
I couldn’t guess why you knocked yourself instead of calling the manager. You never really responded to my greetings or attempts to chat. Like maybe you didn’t like me.
I couldn’t bear that.