Vincent angrily held the power button, abruptly interrupting his friend's IM and shutting off his computer.
"Damn animated smiley faces," he thought to himself, the image of a giant yellow face flashing across the window still fresh in his mind. He shuddered involuntarily.
Finding himself unable to concentrate, he put his laptop aside and lifted himself to his feet. He decided the cool autumn air and the smell of newly decomposing leaves would make a good break from the intense discussion of advanced foosball techniques covering up the essay he had due tomorrow at 9 a.m., and set off down the road to the neighborhood's sole 24-hour joint, the regrettably named "Smiley Convenience," complete with creepy Wal-Mart knock-off logo.
Even thinking of the store brought that damn image back to the forefront of his mind, an image he couldn't shake. He was almost thankful when, kust a minute into his 1-mile journey, he became convinced someone was following him. It wasn't just the leaves rustling a little too long after he walked through them, he decided, nor was it the fact the flickering lights seemed to cast too many shadows.
No, it was an odor. The unexpected, unlikely-yet-unmistakable smell of...