The Elixir of the Not-So-Disgusting Death Smell, by Carlie St. George

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The great thing about reading for Mothership Zeta is the stories are fun. So fun! Often very funny! Sometimes you’re having an absolutely wretched day, and you dive into slush and discover a ridiculous screwball zom-rom-com that lifts your entire mood, with snappy banter, pop culture references a-plenty, and an affecting relationship at the center of its undead heart. We hope Carlie St. George’s mash-up of mad science, zombies, and Girl Scouts brightens your day as it’s brightened ours.

The Elixir of the Not-So-Disgusting Death Smell

by Carlie St. George

My boyfriend Brandon had been dead two days. He smelled like he’d been embalmed in lavender.

Lavender wasn’t our first choice. Originally, I’d picked out Warm Vanilla Sugar. That had been a bad call: Warm Vanilla Sugar made Brandon hungry. But Sweet Pea faded too quickly, and anything strawberry gave me hives. Sea Island only made Brandon smell like rotting fish.

So I went to Bath & Body Works on a lavender shopping extravaganza, buying every vaguely purple product I could find. I left with lavender hand soap, massage oil, body lotion, shampoo.

Brandon wasn’t impressed.

“It has to be written down somewhere. It’s gotta be a rule.” He’d already said this three times, so I ignored him and worked the conditioner into his ridiculous Goku hair. We were sitting in the upstairs bathroom, in a tub deep enough to drown a Newfoundland, were it actually filled. It wasn’t filled because I suspected that soaking my sort-of dead boyfriend in bubble bath would be counterproductive. It shouldn’t have made a difference—Brandon wasn’t actually decomposing, not anymore, and yet? The charming smell of early putrefaction remained. Thus the lavender and a glaring lack of bubbles.

I filled a cup of water and carefully rinsed out Brandon’s dark hair. He tickled my toes absently with his pale spider fingers.

“Stop it,” I said.

Brandon didn’t stop it. He was the kind of guy who couldn’t stop tickling someone until she kicked him in the nuts. “The dead,” he said, “should not smell like little old women. Seriously, that’s a rule, right? Some zombie commandment?”

I didn’t want to hear about zombie commandments. I wanted him to appreciate how thrifty I’d been. Shit like this didn’t come cheap, and while I came from money—old, ridiculous money, the kind where you could just give your daughter a house because you still owned five other vacation homes to choose from—my parents weren’t paying for anything that might lead to awkward questions. Like, “Why do you need all that lavender?” or “Rachel, you don’t know who stole Brandon’s body, do you?”

Mom and Dad were already disappointed I wasn’t someone’s trophy wife. Corpse thief and mad scientist might have broken them.

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