Hallie Bateman


Smell Hole

Reviews of the black box by FBI and other officials confirmed that Anita had made no effort to prevent her jet plane from taking a nose dive straight into the smell hole. Long, elaborate sniffs could be heard among the buzzing and the screams of her concerned airplane technology. Why didn’t she do anything to stop it, was one question posed by the main FBI guy. The consensus was that she liked the smell and wanted more of it. Nod. Nod.

Anita climbed from the wreckage of her airplane. Thank god all the babies and balloons she had been transporting had been so generously bubble-wrapped that they couldn’t smell a thing. The smell was HERS and HERS alone. Even still, she wished she had a bigger nose. She hated that exhales were necessary to inhale again.

At the bottom of the smell hole there was another hole, which seemed to lead to a network of caves and caverns. This smell hole was just the first one. More of a pungeant entrance, really. An arm pit. It was big and crumbly.

Anita almost died. Because she was in a plane crash, but also because it smelled so good. She wasn’t sure what to do next. Should she lick the wall of the cave? Was this the proper way? She licked the wall. A bit of it crumbled into her teeth and then her teeth crumbled into her mouth and she swallowed them together. It tasted not how it smelled. She didn’t have any teeth. Thank god she still had her nose.

She reached up and felt her face just to double check that it hadn’t fallen off or gotten sucked in. Should I dance? She wondered. She threw her arms up in the air and began to rotate in small ways. Like a sexy dance? She wondered. Would the smell like that?

It didn’t really matter. The smell couldn’t see her, anyways.




Graduation was supposed to be cause for celebration, but at Greenborough it was a solemn day because of the accident that killed almost all of its seniors. They were having a senior trip, you see, up in the mountains. "The Senior Ski," it's called. It never ends up being fatal for an entire graduating class, but this time was an exception.

The police have said they can't make a conclusive statement yet. The investigation is still underway and there are very few witnesses due to the fact that everyone present for the accident died. 

Greenborough's only surviving graduate, Vivi Cliebol, declined to ski. She decided she'd stay home and work on her graduation speech while everyone else was skiing. That was her excuse, at least. Truly she was just a terrible skiier and hated all the changes in body temperature, costume, and elevation that skiing entailed. Adjusting her goggle strap around her ponytail and then putting a hat over it and then putting her gloves on and realizing that the goggle strap was too loose and should go OVER the beanie? "No thank you," thought Vivi.

"Dear class of 2017," she read, at the podium in her cap and gown, "may you rest in peace."

She couldn't very well read the speech she'd prepared. It was all about how each subject they study at Greenborough gives them a "superpower" with which they can save the world. She had this great joke about Mr. Foster, the chemistry teacher notorious for his difficult exams, and how any villains they'd fight in the days to come would be easy in comparison.

If she mentioned villains, everyone would probably think of the senior class in a bus, plowing off the side of a snowy cliff and down into a rocky, icy ravine and how fate was the villain that day, one no amount of studying helped any of them defeat. 

Vivi cried during the speech. She knew she was going to cry, even before she knew she'd be talking in a near empty basketball stadium full of bereaved parents dressed in black. It was a hard thing to wrap her brain around: high school was really over. 


Hallie Bateman makes art in Los Angeles. What To Do
When I'm Gone
, a book she made with her mom, will be
published by Bloomsbury in 2018. More of her work can
be seen at www.halliebateman.com


Published September 2017.