A First-Hand Account of the Pumpkin Spice Apocalypse
I hadn’t been awake for even fifteen seconds before I heard on the radio what had happened. They had been saying for months that one day it would happen, but we were all too enthralled with our seasonal pleasures to give them the benefit of heeding their warnings.
This morning, at 6:21 am, the last pumpkin spice latte was served. An eyewitness reported that the recipient’s name was Caayti.
Nobody realized that nature’s supply of pumpkin spice was finite until it was well too late. It’s not the pumpkin, of course, nor is it the cinnamon. It’s a chemical that The Corporation refuses to call anything except Agent P, and apparently it’s very rare. They assured us that they had secured enough to last through at least the next six autumns, but it was a hoax. It was all a hoax.
I’m one of the lucky ones, in that my office is a few miles outside of town. I won’t have to drive through the parts of town that have already seen unchecked street violence. The rumor is that an entire block of 8th Street has been set on fire, across the street from the all-girls college prep school. With any luck, the riots will be controlled or died down by the time I get home from work this afternoon.
It has become quite apparent that I won’t be going to work today, or probably for the rest of the week. The entire town is up in flames. The fires on 8th Street have spread rapidly, and now the entire east side of the city is aflame. I can’t leave the house. I don’t even want to look out the window. I looked out the window for a brief moment about ten minutes ago and saw a twelve-year-old girl jumping up and down on the hood of my car, emitting strident screams like a season-obsessed siren. Her faded Aeropostale jeans were covered in undried blood.
I am not safe.
Mayor Sanders just made a radio announcement begging mercy of the rioters and urging survivors to stay in their houses. “If you must leave your homes to get supplies,” she said, “please, please avoid all Starbucks.”
It’s a 35,000 person town and there are 14 Starbucks. That is an unreasonable request.
An unapologetic bang on the front door.
Shit. What do I do? My instinct tells me it’s an ally, but I’m not sure I can risk it. What if it’s a rioter? What if it’s a 31-year-old MBA candidate, holding a sawed-off shotgun in one hand and a kale salad in the other, ready to blow my brains out if I don’t have any PSL to surrender to her?
Another bang, this time doubly urgent.
So this is what moral ambiguity looks like in the face of crisis. Ultimately, I realize I must answer the door; I’d rather die fighting than let a fellow human being be ripped limb from limb by pumpkin-starved succubi. And besides, teenage girls are much too entitled to knock.
After a long moment of hesitation, I opened the door to find my neighbor, Greg. He looked like a veritable vision of death. His face was pale, he was covered in nervous sweat, but he appeared to have avoided physical harm. Then it dawned on me.
Greg’s wife, Susan, is a yoga instructor.
My heart sank as I brought him into my house and we sat down in my living room. I grabbed us a pair of hard ciders. We might not be willing to burn a city to the ground for a pumpkin spice latte, but we still enjoy a seasonal beverage on occasion. We’re not savages.
“She went to teach her class at 6 this morning,” Greg said, holding back tears. “I haven’t heard from her since. I figure there’s no way she’s alive.”
I patted Greg on the back.
“Let’s not jump to any conclusions until the dust settles,” I said, consolingly. “Right now, what we need is a distraction.”
Christ, I had forgotten just how bad daytime television was.
We switched on the local news and our greatest fears were confirmed: the riots in our city were far from unique. New York, Chicago, London — the entire first world is in shambles. Within six hours, modern society has been crippled by the response to the end of PSL.
The government has advised all survivors to delete their Instagram accounts, as the rioters are using Instagram’s geo-tagging feature to locate and track down survivors. And here I was thinking that the end of Pumpkin Spice Lattes would make Instagram tolerable again.
I begrudgingly deleted my Instagram account. Really not thrilled about this one. I had some great Instas on there. Greg testified that they were good Instas, saying he would have definitely favorited them if he had Instagram.
We heard another knock at the door. This one is unmistakeable. This is them.
Greg and I exchanged nervous glances. We decided to quietly creep into the unfinished basement. It’s dark down there, and there are a few loose 2x4s that could be used as weapons if it came to it. But…but it’s okay to hit a girl with a 2×4 if she’s trying to rip your throat out with her freshly-manicured hands, right? Like, that doesn’t make me a dick, does it? I definitely don’t want to bludgeon an adolescent girl or middle-aged divorcee to death. I just don’t want them to kill me first, you know?
The front door came crashing down with a thud. They entered the house loudly. After a minute or two of listening, I was able to deduce from different voice registers and different-sounding Ugg boots that there were four of them.
They raided my pantry but found no Pumpkin Spice Latte, because I didn’t have any. If I want a coffee, I’m just going to get a goddamn coffee, I don’t need a pump of synthetic pumpkin syrup just to get a fucking caffeine fix.
I listened closely to hear them discussing their next move. They were split on whether to move on to another house or check the basement.
I found myself whispering, supplicating to a higher power that, if today’s events are any indication, has never existed.
“Please don’t come down here,” I mouthed. “Please. Please.”
The monsters upstairs finally reached an agreement, stipulating that two of them will explore the basement while the other two watch Ellen.
The door at the top of the stairs opened.
The girls began a slow, cautious descent. Each stair creaked as they step on it, and with each creak shot through my ears like screeching brakes preceding a deafening collision.
Greg and I nodded at each other, grabbed our 2x4s, and braced ourselves for certain death.