Skid McAllister

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Weird Dorm Smell
8/24/2019 8:26pm

Does anybody else have a weird smell in their dorm room? My roommate doesn't smell it and the RA can't smell it so they don't believe me. It's like lemon cake, but sweet. And creamy. Or like somebody cooked fish in the microwave and then had cake. If anybody else is smelling it please let me know.

8/30/2019 5:45pm

Now I’m smelling that weird sweet cakey burnt fish smell other places. Like in the library, or even outside. Is it me? Is it stuck in my nose or something? Maybe I should see the school nurse. It’s been awhile since my last exorcism.

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9/3/2019 9:38pm

So the school nurse got in there and started poking around.

“Well I see some pretty gnarly honkers in there, but nothing that really needs to come out.”

A cloud of bats flew out of my nose.

“Just releasing a mild bit of internal pressure.”

The nurse did all the basic spirit invasion tests, thumbing through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Known Exorcism Vectors and pausing here and there to chant a few lines or sprinkle some unguents on me.

“I don’t see anything that would be generating a smell like the one you’re describing. Have you changed shampoos recently?”

I could tell this wasn’t going anywhere.

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9/17/2019 9:44pm

The weird sweet smell hadn't gone away. Till the huge man appeared behind me on the sidewalk outside the Thermo-hypnosis lab.

"Skid McAllister?"

I'd been standing there, smelling the trees and the grass, sorting out the weird sweet smell from the earthy outside smell, trying not to obsess.

"Uh, yeah?"

"Hugh G. Mann, Episcope Realty. We were notified of a malfunction?"

He was gigantic. He was dressed in a blue suit and a boring tie, with a short haircut and trimmed nails. He seemed like a normal business guy, and his proportions were all... proportional. But it was like the world was too small for him. Like a too-big doll in a wrong size dollhouse.

I nodded.

"Can you hold still for a moment? Just like that. Now look at me..."

He pulled a small black object out of his pocket. Like a thick phone. He pointed it at me and a light flashed. Like a strobe light.

"There. That should do it. Here, take my card, and if anything else comes up you just let us know."

I looked down at the card, which was too big. I held it in both hands.

When I looked up he was gone.

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10/1/2019 7:30pm

The big guy in the suit might have fixed me for a couple of days. Or he might have just freaked me out enough to forget about it for awhile. But it wasn’t long before the weird smell came back, and worse than before—now instead of sweet lemon cake I’m smelling burnt oranges all the time. And on top of that I’m getting a rash, or psoriasis, or something because my hands are super dry and cracking and peeling and red. 

Maybe I do have an allergy? I guess it's back to the school nurse.

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10/6/2019 5:27pm

"So, let's see... unexplained citrus smells... and now a severe rash on the extremities?"

The school nurse was going though notes on a clipboard, not really looking me in the eye. This was a different school nurse. Much larger than the last one. She barely fit through the door of the tiny examination room. In fact, she seemed a lot like Hugh G. Mann in a bad nurse disguise.

"I'll be honest with you, Skid. I'm Hugh G. Mann, Episcope Realty, and there's been a small accident."


"Yes. There was a fire in the cargo hold where your hibernation pod is located, and it suffered some damage."


"Yes. You'll be fine, but we're going to have to wake you up from cryosleep in order to transfer you to a new container."


"You'll feel a little disoriented, and woozy, but you'll be fine. Just wanted to give you a little heads up first."


Hugh pulled the small black phone thing out of his pocket and flashed the strobe lights at me again.

I choked on the burnt orange smell. And my hands burned.

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10/12/2019 11:58am

"This ointment will totally help."

Outside the window there's a field of stars.

"Quite a view, huh? You can't actually see them move. Too far away, and we're moving too slow. Relatively."

In reality, Hugh G. Mann wasn't so big. In fact, a little shorter than me. And pudgy. And not so well groomed.

"Your memory issues will clear up. Being asleep for a hundred years still has some side effects!"

Hugh winked.

"Basically, you and about 300 other kids signed up to be pioneers. Populate a new planet, save the human race, etc., etc. But it takes a long time to get there. A very long time."

He's right. The stars don't seem to move.

"And while your body can sleep during the trip, the brain needs to remain active. So we make sure there's a story going on upstairs. Everybody's got their own special dream."


A red light in the wall starts flashing.

"We just didn't expect trouble along the way."

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