White cups stamped with the green symbol of a mermaid litter the walkways and create heaping piles of old, forgotten coffee in the campus trash cans. Young men and women are strewn across the grass, down in the ravines, having fallen victim to the vile caffeine crash. Whipped cream drips from their mouths, resembling sugar-high induced rabies; coffee stains their teeth and clothes. The pungent scent of pumpkin and cinnamon replaces the fresh scents of the Allendale fall breeze. Onlookers stare from the safety of their dorms, peeking through the blinds, hoping and pleading with the gods that the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Doomsday will swiftly come to an end.
For the past few fall seasons, the infamous Starbucks original, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL), has been the ultimate form of fall excitement. Grand Valley students are gearing up for the annual re-release of the PSL, and after a few years of being the dominating fall factor, men and women alike are falling into cult-like tendencies, purchasing anything else pumpkin spice scented or flavored.
However, we now know these PSLs act as a brainwashing device. Starbucks’ motive is unknown, however, and there is no inkling of who the PSL zombies follow. Maybe it’s a single person, looking to become more popular on Instagram or Pinterest, where posting images of food-based fandoms is encouraged, or maybe it’s a company pushing for the pumpkin to be the greatest gourd of all. All anyone knows is that every October, PSL fanatics are on the move, trying to convert all they can to the PSL cult in hopes to achieve their primary objective…whatever that may be.
To survive this coming fall apocalypse in which people will be consuming more PSLs than ever before, GV students are buying out the entire stock of survival gear at the local Meijer. The top purchase is home-brewed coffee in order to avoid falling victim to the treacherous lines of students who “just can’t even.” These students are on lockdown for fall; their minds switch to survival mode, viciously fighting off the other protesters in order to get the last container of French roast, or the last travel coffee mug. “Every year has gotten worse, I’ve heard,” said Grand Valley freshman Luke Dillard. Since the winters have gotten colder and colder, the demand for hot drinks has spiked, which gives more opportunity for the horde to slip a survivor some PSL. “I have to constantly watch my back,” said Dillard, “and it’s terrifying.”
Grand Valley students have found creative ways to get to and from classes while still avoiding the horde. A vigilant passerby can spot pumpkin spice candles placed in peculiar places, lit to attract the cult to specific spots on campus. The scent acts as a trigger for the PSL zombies, and they flock to these pumpkin-scented zones. This creates a window of time for the survivors to scurry their way around campus and save them from being drawn into the spiciest of pumpkin cults. Survivors also arm themselves with pumpkin scent beads, so they can throw them into ravines in hopes of drawing off the converters.
Survivors and cultist alike are preparing themselves for the coming battle; arming themselves with pumpkin helmets and corn stalk spears, hoping to ensure that there will be larger numbers on one side or the other the following year.