The rest of the message was obscured, aging sharpie on the pitted side of the cement post that rose, one of many in an evenly spaced line, from the pavement at the edge of the road. The shadow cast by the post, from the lamp that surmounted it with one arching arm soaring off it streetside, stretched, stark and slim, toward the dappling shadows beneath the bushes and trees that, bulbous and angular, bullied their way into the air over the sidewalk. Now and then a car hummed past, motoring a long, low growl through the fluorescent-dotted night.

None of them slowed to rubberneck at the figure that slid out of the dark beneath the bushes, thick limbs moving with great care, following the shadow of that post as if it were a balance-beam of dark providing a path across the pool of light. The figure came to the post and there paused, squinting against the light at the myriad bills and posters, dog-walker flyers and entertainment notices, that had been pinned and taped and pasted one over the next until the post itself was utterly obscured for a height of several feet.

One limb stretched out through the shadow, running scratching protrusions against the smooth surface of one of the most recently-posted items. Barely wrinkled by wind and, as yet, unstained by precipitation or the simple grime of proximity to the road, the paper rustled faintly over the uneven surfaces of the bygone brethren behind it. Something like fingertips scratched across the paper; something like branches’ twig-endings that softly claw at the window pane when you sleep.

The finger-twigs found the edge of the paper and pulled, tugging steadily until the eager glue gives way. It stuck to the paper, but those behind had gone cheesy and pulpy, trailing forth in slow, soft rips, dangling like rags, like strips of gobbety flesh from a moist corpse under a vulture’s solicitous purview. Scratching tips traced the blocky, cheerful letters:


The figure traced the letters again and again, scratching slowly, intently, undeterred by the brief wash of headlights from a passing SUV. The vehicle did not pause, as if the letters weren’t beginning to scratch free under the figure’s touch, balling and then peeling forth. The letters held their shape briefly, skewing, then collapsed into ink-dark tendrils that twined together in strands between the twig-tips. The other limb pressed the now-blank paper against the figure’s middle, and the glue clung, adhering the page with a gentle flutter.

Another paper pulled free, fingertips tracing the letters yet again.


Letter by letter and word by word, the figure scratched the jaggedy print off the page, twining the tendrils they became. They twisted, plying further and further in and amongst one another, the thin and thready shapes losing all distinction, cohesing into an increasingly solid strand. The figure scratched off the spotty, almost indiscernible shapes that were an attempt to print black and white pictures of each of the bands, letting the lumpy flakes of them fall to the pavement. There, one limb and then another gently pressed on them, flattening and mashing them together, rolling them underfoot and then onto feet, gathering them around the bent terminations of those limbs.

Page by page the figure pulled papers from the post, scratching the words free of the surface to twist into the thickening, elongating dark swath. Page after page adhesed, overlapping carefully, around the trunk of its body. In the shadow of the post, beneath the paper layering, bark cleaved from the form in small scabs, pattering against the paper and then the pavement below. Soon, the stained pale grey of the post peeked out between the ragged, increasingly ancient papers, blotches of cement surfacing like the uneven spots of ground illuminated by what little of the streetlamp light made it all the way through the bushes to the sidewalk.

The dog walker’s services, the babysitter’s advertisement, the sheet of Tearable Puns – all and each with the bottoms of their page snipped into neat, easily removable rectangles – gave up their letters to the growing length of darkstuff in the figure’s twiggy fingers before getting arranged neatly along the bottom edge of the swath of overlapping paper, which now covered the figure all the way around. A large picture splitting a page with the letters half-lost to water and exposure,

L-ST S-N NE- —— ST—

was scraped away and let to flutter to the ground, kneaded and smoothed and split in twain to join the other fallen photographs gathered in twin pools around the lower limbs, cleaving to their bottoms.

When the pages would no longer come away cleanly, those thin and careful digits picked and plucked, pulling long, fluttering strips, and pulped and cottony tufts, to line the upper edges of the paper pasted all around the figure’s middle. There was nothing left on the post but that pitted half-message encouraging one to call for a good time when the figure’s attention reverted finally to itself. Too-long fingers smoothed the pages around it, pressing them close, and their edges inhered each to the surface of the next, forming a single uninterrupted surface all around.

The many words and letters, even the bits and pieces no longer readable even before they’d been plucked free of their pages, were twisted and twined all together in a length as wide as a hand and as long as an armspan. The figure split it slowly in half, lengthwise, and brought one end up to press to the top of its head, fingers dragging through from scalp to end forming it into locks that spilled down around shoulders, brushing the cottony, gently frilled upper edge of the paper-dress. The remaining portion of the letter-dark length, the figure wound round its own middle, cinching gently to belt at the waist.

One dark-clad foot and then another slowly stepped out from behind the post, stepping just off the edge of the sidewalk to stand in the edge of the road, twiggy hands twisting gently together. It did not take long for a box truck to slow, coming to a halt beneath the next streetlight, and then carefully backtracking to stop before her.

“You waiting for a ride?” a concerned voice reached out through the open passenger window.

The figure’s head tilted, and a creaking, whispery voice called back, “For a good time.”

There came a snort, and then a chuckle from the cab. “Why don’t you hop in. This is a dangerous stretch, but I can give you a lift someplace. Were you looking for a good time somewhere in particular?”

One hand gently settled against her belly, the very middle which had been that first, fresh page. “The Nevermore Book Store.”

“That’s not far at all. C’mon, hop in.”

The door swung open, the dim figure of the driver briefly stretched across the street before bringing his hands back to the wheel.

“Special guest,” she murmured, feet shuffling forward in their dark-photo shoes, swinging up into the truck. “Holy Toledo.” The paper-white dress almost glimmered in the dark of the cab, reflecting the streetlight’s fluorescence.

“Uh, okay,” said the driver, and pulled back out into the sparse traffic.

On the sidewalk, a small pile of bark flakes in the shadow of the post began to slide, in a scattering roll, flipping across the cement toward the low bushes. The greenery rustled in the windless night.

The Scent of Bliss – Death (The Pardoner’s Tale)

Death (The Pardoner’s Tale) by Possets Perfume

The Official Product Description Sez:
The Pardoner tells a tale of how 3 men end up killing each other over treasure in an ironic story.

Suave, sophisticated and as final as Death. A dark vetevyr as you have never smelled it before, mixes with smooth thyme and a good jolt of black amber. A faraway touch of incense and a tiny amount of pure smoke. A beautiful offering of the perfumers’ art, would be at home on the Champs Elysees in Paris circa 1955.

A Pardoner was a man who was an itinerant preacher and who was allowed by The Church to sell indulgences so that the faithful could get to heaven more easily without a nasty detour through Purgatory.

O Death! O Death! O Death, won’t you spare me over for another year? (I’ve had the song in my head all day because of this perfume, I just had to get it out of my system.)

I’ve found that, if one thing could be said to apply to the Possets perfumes I’ve tested so far, they never end up smelling remotely like what I might expect, and of this Death is no exception.

The first thing that hit me when I opened the bottle was a sweetness with an edge. It was sharp to the nose, nearly acrid, and then smoothed out by a teasing swath of damp moss.

Wet upon the skin, in stark contrast, it smelled of tropical flowers – rich and heady and almost fruity, but covered in a layer of dust.

Once it dried down, the scent was of dusty mossy wood, with a hint of sweet rot, and carrying with it a sharp floral (lilac) tang. It was at this point that this scent became abruptly and unexpectedly meaningful. When I was a girl, I had a perfume that had been given me, a handmedown in a glass bottle with a rollerball applicator. I treasured this perfume, this golden liquid. I kept it in my pink jewelry box that played You Light Up My Life when I opened it while the little white-clothed ballerina permanently pirouetted in front of a tiny mirror, and I only took it out to put on for special occasions. Birthday, family Christmas parties, concerts, and so forth. At one point, it became lost, and I fancied I never would smell it again.

I smelled it in this. It smells of the lilac that grew outside my bedroom, of dust and sweet incense, and has a sharp tang I’d have attributed to alcohol if I didn’t know this contained none. It is a perfume that, if I’d not had that one in my childhood, I would call an old lady smell (albeit not unkindly.)

It elicited quite a bit of nostalgia in me for a fair part of today, but not of the sort that makes me particularly want to keep it. I think it shall be better suited finding a home one someone else’s skin, telling them newer tales.

The Scent of Bliss – 9

9 by Sarawen Perfume Art

The Official Product Description Sez:
9 – Doctor Who inspired

What was down that hall? A noise? A shape? What is following me? Closer, around the corner, something looms, something sinister. What is it? … A hand reaches out from behind me and grasps my own with a smile. The scent of leather, woods, chocolate, and coffee catches my senses. “Run,” he says. And I do. I run to the stars through Time and Space and I never look back.

9 is a balanced and rich leather-incense blend with hints of gourmand black coffee chocolate in the background. Perfect for all gals and guys traveling with the man in a blue box.

Primary notes: leather, chocolate, oud, musk, dragonsblood, coffee

Did you miss these? I missed doing them. I had a flood of goings-on and needed to take a break, but I’m back in it – and to make it more fun and interesting, there are a few scents from a new maker in the mix? I’ve tested one of them today, in celebration: 9, a scent from Sarawen Perfume Art inspired by the first Doctor of the modern reboot of the famous BBC series.

I was both excited and nervous, opening this one; I so very much wanted to like it, particularly since it’s inspired by one of my favorite fandoms, and by a regen of the Doctor that I particularly love and wish there could have been more of. As it was, I was delighted by the mere packaging. A sample size from Sarawen is 1.5mL, where most perfume oil samples are only .75 to 1mL, and rather than being in the standard skinny glass vial it’s an adorbs squat-and-fat number with a screwcap. I have to say, I dig this vial in a big way. Screwing off the top beats those pop-em-out ones, even with the attached wand, by miles.

But you’re not here for the packaging, even really good packaging – you’re here for the smells.

I opened the bottle and took a whiff. LEATHER. That leather jacket! That hits the nose first, and strong, like burying your face in it. It was immediately backed by something darker, almost woody; The Doctor’s Sorrow. Following on their heels were fainter but distinct scents of chocolate and coffee – perfect for the Doctor that calls every disaster fantastic, and dives with all energy into turning it into something good.

Already I was pleased, and on the skin it went. LEATHER. Also, Chocolate, leather, ozone, leather, leather, and did I mention leather? The leather doesn’t dominate, exactly, but it’s a running thread in and out and around all of the scents, and clinging closest to it in that omnipresence is the ozone smell. I could almost taste it, the way that it tastes when you put your tongue across the two contact points of a nine-volt…. what? Don’t give me that look, I can’t be the ONLY kid who ever did that. suffice to say it’s a very distinct smell, like copper and electricity and energy. I can only imagine that it’s what the Time Vortex must smell like, and it would make sense for the Doctor to have it clinging to him.

Once it dries on the skin, it goes very subtle, caught in faint whiffs; leather here, chocolate there, a smidge of ozone clarity cut off by a wee zing of coffee. It remains subtle but lasts for hours, and I kept catching myself sniffing at my skin all day, and once I held it to my ear, just to see – hear – if I could catch the round rhythmic scree of the TARDIS coming in for a landing in miniature in the valley of the lines on my wrist.

Some of the scents I’ve been trying, I like. Some I could take or leave. A rare few I actually wash off and don’t want to contemplate wearing again.

This one is on a very short list of Scents Of Which I Intend To Buy A Full Size Bottle. I’m very tempted to get the entire Blue Box Sampler that contains sample sizes of the scents Sarawen has created for 9, 10, and 11. More 9 is awesome, and I truest that 10 and 11 would probably be just as amazing.

The Scent of Bliss – Pirate Queen (on duty)

Pirate Queen (On Duty) by ZOMG Smells

The Official Product Description Sez:
Can’t burn the town? Mustn’t burn the town? Even just a little tiny bit? No? Well, phooey. A layer of sweetness and light just barely obscuring the urge to LOOT AND BURN AT WILL.

Maybe later?

Sticky, sugary kheer, golden raisins, and sandalwood incense over golden amber and khus.

I was belated with my last scent choice, and this one, delightfully, had a good showing of interest – including my own. Just what exactly would a Foglion Pirate Queen smell like? There was only the cracking of the bottle to find out, and

DRAGONSBLOOD! Blood and fire, and an unexpected threading of sweet cherry/raspberry syrup running through it all, landing on the unsteady edge of something hard, harsh, sharp.

Like the landing of the lash, I had to have it upon my skin in short order.

That sweetness followed through, but it was stirred in with fresh ashes still hot from the burning, like syrup in the fireplace but on a far larger scale. As it faded away on the breeze, I found myself contemplating hot leather and the cool canvas of an airship canopy, and the chill of almost ozoney air as I sailed away on the gusts far above the remnants of my pillaging.

It was, I told my significant other, I smelled of strawberries and destruction, and I looked very much forward to having him in the midst of a cloud of this scent. It encouraged me to be aggressive, to feed my base hungers.

More than twelve hours later, the scent lingers sweetly, as much as the hungers it inspired; they are as treacherous in covering their darker depths.

The Scent of Bliss – Orion

Orion by Possets Perfume

The Official Product Description Sez:
The first unabashedly masculine Posset, and the first of The Constellations, Orion is probably the most recognizable star set out there. Possets rendition is woody in extremis but not obnoxiously loud. Very masculinely charming, outdoors in a very sophisticated way, a hard outside with a very warm heart. This one features Oude, rare and unexpected woods and smoked vanilla. Very sexy. If it were a person, it would be Oliver Mellors from Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Characteristics: woody, sophisticated, masculine, spicy, home scent, long lasting.

I was eager to open this up. With a name like Orion, I had all sorts of imaginings in mind – something cold and sparkling as space with a belt of scent through the middle, perhaps, or something lushly wet and vegetative and earth to recall the primordial hunter of legend.

Then I opened the bottle, and it… confused me.

It hit my nose as what I could only term as dry-rub spices – onion and garlic, sugar and salt, oregano, paprika. It’s the kind of thing you’d get in a pre-mixed shaker to put on steaks and chicken to grill, or perhaps run across made fresh in a steakhouse. There was a little something else behind it, a cedar woodiness with a layer of moss. This was far from what I was expecting, and trying not to feel like a plate of steak tips, I put it on.

The scent changed hugely on the skin. The big front note was the sweet, creamy smoothness of cocoa butter, cut through with white pepper, followed by wood and salt and wet mossy log. The dry-down lost the pepperyspices scent entirely, until I was left with a hint of the cocoa butter sweetness, the salt, and the wet wood. I was completely at a loos as to what this could be likened, until I plaintively held out my wrists to SecretAgentLoverMan to inhale, and rattled off the things I was smelling and my frustration at attempting to draw a contextual association.

Boardwalk, he said, and I looked blankly at him. He looked wide-eyed back at me. “That’s RIGHT!” he declared, “You grew up here, with public beaches that you don’t need to pay to get upon!”

He, however, grew up in New Jersey, and with the aid of reminding me of a scene in the movie Lost Boys, he painted for me exactly the picture this scent was trying to offer. Of driving and driving toward the coast and getting out in a hot parking lot and walking to the boardwalk past a steakhouse; someone in the kitchen has dropped the white pepper, and there’s a burst of that and the spices in their cooking. Then you step onto the board walk, and the sun-hot scents hit the nose in a carillon riot of sweet and salt, the sugar of funnelcake and the suntan location of the passersby and on your own skin, and somewhere beyond it is a teasing breeze from off the ocean that has crept over the fences. Not until later, when the night has fallen and the lights come up and you’ve found a spot to jump the fence and run free down the beach, letting the dark surround and the lights fade away to the stars above, the salt wind wrapping around to welcome you while you step over a piece of mossy waterlogged cedar, and Orion’s belt glimmers high above, the hunter’s arrow pointing the way toward the freedom of the seaside night.

Sadly, the scent fades far faster than the image or the memory of such a night.

The Scent of Bliss – Madboy

Madboy by ZOMGsmells

The Official Product Description Sez:
This scent is the scent of mad genius hard at work. There’s leather toolbelts and handy restraints, of course. And over here, the shelf of glutinous unguents and resins imported in plain brown wrappers…a scrim of dust on the old projects that no-one is allowed to discuss…

…and a bit of that unknowable SPLAZANG that gives a creation LIFE! NEW LIFE! HA HA HA HAAAAAAaaaaa….

That description is fantastically in line with my own experience of this scent, and I’m going to go out of my way to tag in +Amanda Rachelle Warren on this one because I think she’d fall in lurve with it.

In the bottle, the very first thing that hit me was the scent of leather that I think of as ballet slipper leather; it’s a leather that is bright and fresh and warm and flexible and soft to the touch. There was an inexplicable sweetness with it as well, that I could only nail down as slush puppy or candy on an apple. All these were smeared with the scent of oil and salves, with a tang of electricity running through it. Ever put your tongue across the prongs of a 9V battery? That taste. That’s the smell.

…stop looking at me like that, I never said I wasn’t weird. (And a Madgirl needs to understands all aspects of what she’s got to work with.)

On the skin, these all smoothed, but none of it really fell away. My first skinwet notation specifically is Leeaatthherrr and that was handwritten, so you know I mean it. Leather smeared with oil, and stained a bit with a hint of what comes across is a spiced candy, though I like that in the OPD it’s put up to unguents and resins. I can completely roll with that. Bookending that spiced sweetness is the subtler scent of oiled metal, balancing out the warm leather.

The life on this is pretty long – 24 hours after putting it on, there’s still a hint of it on the wrists, and a slightly strong whiff of it still in the décolleté. Something that holds on so strong, it’s going to be a pity to wash off. But wash I will, and not just because I have all my own smelliness to deal with – I need to wear a new scent today!

The Scent of Bliss – Outpost

Outpost from Solstice Scents

The Official Product Description Sez:
Sugar Crystals, Spruce, Fir, Soft Woods, Bayberry, Mistletoe, Amber

A Best Seller! A beacon of light amidst cold, desolate wilderness. Pass through a copse of young evergreens into a warm cedar cabin and thaw out under a soft Afghan blanket by a blazing fire while sugared treats from the kitchen fill the air. Notes include sugar crystals, spruce, fir, a medley of soft woods including sandalwood, agar, cedar, aloeswood, patchouli, guaiacwood, bayberry, mistletoe and a touch of amber.

On opening the bottle, the scents that hit me were strongly organic; they hit the nose as clove oranges, lemongrass, tea – the kind of things one would consume at a remote and distant outpost cabin to sooth the spirit and stave off scurvy.

Hitting the skin, these scents shifted and yet remained: it was clove tea, sweetened with honey. The citrus tint of orange and lemongrass remained but it was as if were drinking said tea from a warm and polished-smooth-from-use wooden mug in front of a fire.

Now, some twelve hours later, the scent remains distinct upon the skin, but has shifted again to be almost entirely woody and sweet. The fire has burned down, leaving behind only the scent of the wood for tomorrow’s burn warmed and dried upon the hearth, and the remnants of powdered sugar in the air from a long-since-eaten dessert.

The Scent of Bliss – Inquisitor

Inquisitor from Solstice Scents

The Official Product Description Sez:
A Dark Resinous Blend of Myrrh, Labdanum, Beeswax Absolute, Frankincense, Amber, Leather & Fire.

Like the history that inspired its creation, this blend is dark, heavy on Myrrh and Labdanum Essential oils with a background of Frankincense Essential Oil, all on a blanket of sweet smokey Beeswax Absolute, Benzoin Resin, Peru Balsam EO, Amber, Leather and fire. This is a very resinous blend that is supported by the sweet vanilla-balsamic ambered notes and is definitely geared towards those that like darker essential oils and resinous scents. The drydown is dry and sweet.

Sometimes I think picking out certain notes in these scents would be easier if I read the description… but then I am afraid I’d be slanting my own perception. as it is, I like seeing my assessments bourn out by what was actually used in the mix.

In the bottle, this smelled like my spice cabinet in the kitchen – and that is not a bad thing. There was a hint of sweetness, swirled together with pepper, something sweetly green like basil, and cold whole cloves. It was all bound up with one very non-kitcheny scent, though – of dry leather straps, like on old luggage that hasn’t been oiled or conditioned for years and years.

Many of these came through while wet on the skin, particularly the smell of clove and dry leather. They rode high over a subtler, less easy to distinguish scent that was hard and flat and cold; the closest impressions I could fix of it were oiled metal, and stone. I think this might have been the Labdanum.

After it dried, the scent changed in a big, wonderful way; it smelled of ash and heat, of leather, and a faint hint of emptied beesewax impregnated with vanilla. It was a startlingly soft, smooth, sweet note to play against the harsher tools of an Inquisitor – bespeaking perhaps the incenses and sweet perfumes of one overseeing an upcoming auto-da-fé.

Given the inspiration for it, this is an uncomfortably enticing scent, sweet and spicy and hinting to the nose at a heat out of sight.

The Scent of Bliss – Jack and the Devil

Jack and the Devil by Solstice Scents

The Official Product Description Sez:
JACK & THE DEVIL* ~ Vanilla, tobacco, oakmoss, amber, Patchouli, pumpkin and soft spice. Contains vanilla, tobacco and oakmoss absolute with patchouli essential oil and fragrance oils.

Jack & The Devil is part trick, part treat and all autumn delight! A blend of sweet vanilla absolute, dried brown tobacco leaf (absolute), green and delightful oakmoss absolute, warm amber, 2 different kinds of patchouli essential oil, sugared golden pumpkin and subtle spices.

I opened this bottle with both eagerness and trepidation; the generous patron who gifted me these many samples was ever so excited and curious to have me try it, and I wasn’t sure what I would be getting into. Off came the cap, and… Spicey! It hit my nose in a wash of peppery heat and sweetness, of cinnamon and old oranges and clove. Were I feeling unkind, I’d liken it to the seasonal crafts aisle in early to mid fall – but I am feeling kind, because it instead smells like what those aisles aspire to.

Wet upon the skin, it was nothing so much as donuts. Cinnamon donuts. Not day old half-stale grocery store numbers, oh no – the dank, rich, weighty spiced donuts I have only ever had on trips to visit my great grandfather’s farm in Maine. Cinnamon. Cinnamon! Peppery sweetness of cinnamon and pumpkin, and slowly burning thick wax candles.

The scents remained, but more subtly, after it dried upon the skin: Pepperspice/Cinnamon. Warm sweetness. Warm wax.

That scent has remained so all day, and it is definitively autumnal. Jack and the devil indeed – I can feel in this oil the Pumpkin King vying with the Lord of Hell for unsuspecting souls on All Hallow’s Eve.

The Scent of Bliss – Spellbound Woods

Spellbound Woods by Solstice Scents

The Official Product Description Sez:
A Soft, Incensy Blend of Vanilla, Sandalwood, Cedar & Amber

Spellbound Woods is magical blend of alluring vanilla, sandalwood, amber and cedarwood. It is amazingly soft, light and sensual…not overpowering at all. It is softly sweet from the vanilla, but not in a buttercream foody kind of way. It is a nice unisex scent and smells like a light, very mild incense without smoke notes. A soft vanilla is the strongest note, laying on a bed of very mild and delicious woods. This scent is pure magic. Contains sandalwood essential oil. A top seller!

This is one where the name is so wonderful that I was actually leery – I so VERY much wanted it to be as good as it sounds, that I was terrified it would fail me. Dear self: Stop placing so much importance on smells and words.

(Dear self: Are you kidding? You know who you’re talking to.)

The track. I’ve gotten off it.

….I blame the Spellbound Woods. 😀

So I opened the bottle, and for quite possibly the first time since I started doing these reviews, I had trouble picking out any singular notes on first whiff. It was too rich, too complex. Rich woods and heavy lilies and other exquisitely fragrant florals blossomed out from under that tiny cap like the spring kiss of a druidic goddess. There was dampness to it, dank vanilla, and an ever-so-faint hint of something fruity.

I HAD to get this onto my skin to see what it would do.

The first flush of scent was pure, dark vanilla, shot through with a note that was part soft rubberball, part decaying vegetation, and part wet crumbling wood. It was strange, and rather wonderful, and a little concerning. I was afraid that entrancing in-the-bottle spell was fading.

A short while later, as it dried down, the scent was sweetly rubbery, like a powdered bouncyball of my youth. Yet there remained, doo, the sweetness of a dark and decaying vanilla tree, succumbing to the dampness of a deep wood. Yet it was still intriguing. As time went on through the morning, the scent faded, and much more quickly than I anticipated. Come lunchtime, it was nearly indistinguishable, and I was thoroughly saddened.

Then the day carried on, and I found myself catching hints and wafts of scent here and there. A tease of vanilla, a brush of glimmering deepwoods flowers, a dash of old wood would catch my nose at the most unexpected moments. Come evening I found myself sniffing deeply at my wrists again, eager to discover what the Spellbound Woods were up to. They did not disappoint; vanilla flowers and dark woods, while now muted, dance together upon my skin.

Spellbound indeed.