Monster parent: blameitonthecroutons
Bertram’s hat obsession had cost him a lot—thousands of dollars (he avoided calculating how many), most of the space in his house, and his wife.
He hated the word hoarder. He’d seen enough hoarders on television to know they were filthy people, and he had always been extremely fastidious about his personal hygiene. Sure, his home was full of so many hats that his living area had narrowed down to thin little goat trails, his bed, his bathroom, and enough space in his kitchen to make very simple meals. But that was different. His house was a hat museum.
Wednesday was Bertram’s favorite day of the week, because Wednesday was Hat Buying Day. When he entered the hat shop, no one was behind the counter. This was unusual, but he was so focused on his itching need to purchase a new hat that he didn’t pay it much mind. Perhaps the clerk was in the storeroom.
He always felt safe and happy when he was in this shop, which was crowded and dark with a jumble of hats heaped everywhere. It reminded him of home.
Today, he was immediately drawn to a deerstalker, which was quite possibly his favorite style of hat. He loved to wear deerstalker caps while solving crossword puzzles—he liked to think they added a Sherlockian keenness to his mental powers.
He placed the hat on his head and turned to one of the mirrors to admire himself. He was startled by a sharp pain near his hairline. He yanked the hat off, and there was a tiny bead of blood on his forehead. He inspected the inside of the cap, wondering if perhaps a stray hat pin had ended up inside of it. He could see nothing wrong, but he set the hat down on the pile next to the mirror and decided to investigate other options. He tried on a jaunty boater and a handsome fedora. Then, his eyes landed on the most wonderful top hat he’d ever seen. It crowned the pile of headgear next to the mirror with a kingly air.
Bertram was almost certain this was the stack he’d set the deerstalker on, but there were so many hats in the room, it was hard to keep track. He lifted the top hat with reverence, admiring it from every angle before trying it on.
By the time he realized he’d put a monster on his head, it was too late.
A circle of teeth bit into his skull. Bertram shrieked, trying to rip the hat from his head, but the teeth only dug in deeper. In the mirror, his reflection flailed about while the hat monster changed form with dizzying speed: bowler, beret, fez, cricket helmet, pork pie, turban, pile of plastic fruit.
He staggered around, howling with pain. He stumbled toward the front of the store, and his screech of agony became one of fear as he saw the shop clerk’s body sprawled in a puddle of gore on the floor behind the counter. The top of her head was gone, her skull as hollow as a cracked open egg.
Bertram died with a dorky beanie hat chewing through his brain, its propeller whirring with malevolent joy.
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