The usher guided a replacement couple into the newly vacant seats a row ahead of Max and his date.

Max’s date gripped his thigh, fingernails like talons. “Run,” she hissed at the new couple, but they were already concentrating on the movie. An usher swooped in at the end of the aisle and squeezed perfume into the air.

“Just inhale,” Max said. “It helps.”

His hand clamped around his date’s arm. She winced in his grip, refusing to inhale the cinnamon haze that drifted onto them. “No, no, no.”

She tried to stand. Max gripped her head, made her look at the freshly-vacated seat by his side. She stopped struggling, eyes wide and tired.

–The Movie, by Graham Fielding