This is the first installment in a Valentine’s Day series of shorts by Jennifer Weigel in which unsuspecting lovers succumb to deadly gases.
Shelby sat curled up in Braydon’s arms. Moments before they had been studying for their Psych 101 midterm together and he was lightly stroking her hair. They’d become closer over the course of the class, never officially dating but just growing more and more comfortable together than apart like a long-married couple.
They stared longingly into one another’s eyes and bent towards one another to kiss for the first time. It was a gentle kiss, coaxing and full of hope, dreaming of future possibilities and of building a life. They continued to gaze into one another’s eyes as they pressed their lips together once more in a longer display.
The textbook they had been reading fell from Shelby’s lap as they began to catch wind of something… untoward…
“What’s that smell?” Shelby asked, her nose curling.
Braydon took a long sniff, inhaling deeply, before letting out a huge sigh. “I dunno,” he answered. “It’s kind of like stale corn chips and cheap lilac perfume.”
The aroma grew stronger. The air seemed thick with it, becoming heavier with every breath. It began to resemble unkempt feet, like bad body odor mixed with sweat, wet shoes, rapidly propagating bacteria, and perfume. Surely this was beginning to cross over into Zappa stinkfoot territory.
“It’s horrible,” Shelby exclaimed. “I can barely breathe.”
“I know,” Braydon replied. He wriggled free of their embrace and raised an arm to press his nose into his armpit. Nope. He discreetly sniffed at Shelby’s hair. Not that either.
“What do you suppose it is?” Braydon asked.
“No idea,” Shelby replied, stretching forward quivering. “Whatever it is it’s awful.”
The couple arose. Shelby sat on the sofa massaging the bridge of her nose and burying her face in her sleeve trying to catch a whiff of what remained of her tropical sunset body spray. Braydon stood on shaky knees and slowly traversed the room, sniffing the air as he wove to and fro across the floor of his flat.
The noxious odor permeated everything. There was no escaping it. It was making both of them woozy. Braydon shuffled back to the sofa and flopped beside Shelby. He held her tight to him. Teary-eyed, she eagerly pressed her face into his shirt.
As the foul odor became even stronger, the rest of the apartment seemed to dim around them. The world grew hazier and hazier, as if they were trapped in some sort of all-encompassing invisible insect fogger. Shelby sobbed, trembling as Braydon drew her closer to protect her from the unseen terror.
The police found them exactly as they had lain on the sofa, wrapped tight in one another’s arms. They appeared to have suffocated together. There was no sign of foul play, nothing amiss, no lingering fumes to offer any indication of what had happened, just two college co-eds tangled together.
You can find more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing by visiting her website here at Jennifer Weigel Words.