Monster Perfume

I’m reading the H.G. Wells classic “The Invisible Man” and it’s gotten me thinking about the five (or six) senses of MONSTERS.

This morning, I found myself pondering the aromas of monsters. Does a werewolf, after a long run through the forest, smell like a wet dog? I’m guessing that a zombie might smell more than a little ripe — maybe even reek of rotting flesh? A ghost might waft into a room on a cloud of scent reminiscent of the person they were in life: Chanel No. 5, cigarettes and whiskey, mint Girl Scout cookies, cherries, motor oil, leather, furniture polish…

But the aroma of a vampire has me stumped. The idea of the undead — the living dead — leads me to speculate a complete lack of aroma. In fact, the absence of an aroma would be part of their nature.

As human animals we often denigrate the important information our nose gives us. Where other animals start with their noses, the sense of scent often takes a back stage role for 21st century humans. This is not to say that scent has no impact — it’s just less of a conscious impact than what we see, hear taste or touch.

I have a pretty good nose. It’s not a perfumer’s nose, but it’s good enough to make me cringe at the smell of burned coffee beans when I enter a Starbucks or change the kitty litter quickly. When I get a particularly good or bad feeling about another person and can’t put my finger on what’s causing my reaction, upon reflection I usually find the answer in my nose. (Stinky sweat, aggressive aftershave, sour breath…)

In paranormal fiction, hungry werewolves and vampires often catch a whiff of human blood and pursue their prey. Some vampires even express preferences for a B+ or a rare AB- served at a perfect 98.6. Having no aroma doesn’t mean a lack of interest in my scent or yours.

Why was I pondering aromatic monsters? Maybe it was because I started my monster meditation at the gym. If I start at the coffee bar, I might focus on MONSTROUS taste buds. What do you think?


  1. Here’s something to ponder re your monsters Candy. All taste except for sweet and sour is really smell. I had no sense of smell for a few years and it was terrible, hardly worth eating!

    • Candy

      No sense of smell?! Sounds like a curse — maybe not on the order of becoming a werewolf, but certainly a bad one.

      Thanks for the evil thought!

  2. I don’t have a particularly good sense of smell either but I am aware of smell as an integral part of life. In fact one of my earliest memories is always triggered by one particular, burnt balelite smell. Every time I catch a whiff of that smell I’m transported back into some point in my very early childhood. For maybe a fraction of a second I’m actually there, reliving that moment. The weird thing is that there are no real images attached to that memory, just a sense of place. lol – time travel via scent.

    Smell is something I’m very conscious of in my writing as well. Perhaps vampires do have a scent, that dry, almost mineral smell of age? The way dust would smell if we were capable of discerning it.

    • Candy

      Dry and mineral…. sounds like a description of the aroma of a very dry, white wine. Umm…. Now that is the start of an interesting story!

      I’ll like the time travel through smell idea to you. Or maybe… LOL. It’s a tempting idea. Smell the plum cake from grandpa’s bakery and GO directly to his bakery. That’s a variation on the science fiction time travel genre.

      Thanks for sharing these AROMATIC insights!