Monster parent: Sara Amundson
Robert grabbed his love handles and flabbled them up and down, his eyes narrow with loathing as he watched his paunch jiggle. By god, he was going to lose weight next year.
He’d never been one for making New Year’s resolutions, but starting tomorrow morning, that would change. January 1st would mark the beginning of his unwavering, disciplined journey into a land of smaller pants and bigger self-esteem.
He sucked in his gut. His shoulders sagged with dismay. How could he actually look fatter when he was sucking it all in? Much, much fatter?
Robert would have cried out in alarm, but his rapidly ballooning cheeks squeezed his lips together into a kissy caricature of a fish-mouth. The only noise he could produce was a pitiful glub.
His double chin began multiplying so fast that he couldn’t even count the rolls — an expanding Elizabethan collar of fat folds that threatened to squish his windpipe into a useless noodle.
His sweatpants strained around his bloating thighs, ripping to tatters as his legs became great tree trunks of flesh. Robert’s stomach flowed down over his crotch in a wave of blubber. Unable to bear the load, his knees gave way and he sagged to the floor.
The sensation of his flesh pushing up against the walls of the bathroom was so strange, Robert barely had any bewilderment to spare for the sight of a glittering silver ball descending from the ceiling. When the ball came to rest on his chest, sparkling teeth popped out of its surface with switchblade speed.
Robert felt no pain, though. His heart had already been crushed by the weight of his mountainous breasts.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Katie stared at the pack of cigarettes like it held the meaning of life. Her last pack of cigarettes. She’d resolved to smoke her final ciggy right before midnight.
She’d tried to quit in the past without success, but not this time. The new year was going to mean a new Katie — a Katie who didn’t hack up nasty shit every morning, a Katie who wasn’t beholden to cravings, a Katie who didn’t get lectured by her mom during every weekly phone call.
Thinking about her nagging mother gave Katie a burst of extra motivation. Hell, maybe she’d quit right now. Thumbing her nose at the deadline she’d set for herself felt like the perfect beginning to the end of her addiction. When the ball dropped in a few hours, she’d already be filled with the glow of her good choices.
She strode across the room to the garbage can and tossed the pack of cigarettes into the trash with a decisiveness she relished.
Katie pumped her fists in the air victoriously, and then doubled over as a hacking cough ripped through her body. Thick smoke poured from her mouth and nostrils. She wheezed and fought for breath.
She coughed and coughed, gagging on an object in her throat. Katie spat it out into her palm and then instinctively dropped it when it burned her hand. It was a lit cigarette.
Then, she was vomiting up more lit cigarettes, hundreds of them. They formed a mound in front of her, adding their smoke to the dingy gray river rushing from her nose and mouth.
Katie couldn’t breathe. When she was on the verge of passing out from lack of oxygen, the smoke stopped gushing out of her. She flopped onto her back, sucking in air with ragged desperation. It tasted like an ashtray, but god it was sweet.
The haze in the room began to clear as the smoke gathered in on itself, deepening to black and forming an impossibly dense, whirling column. Katie caught glimpses of something sparkling and silver descending through it. She scrubbed at her burning eyes, too weak to get up.
A glittering ball — just like the one she’d planned to watch drop on TV at midnight — emerged from the foul, inky cloud. Sharp teeth popped out of its round surface with a shink sound.
Katie couldn’t scream when the toothy ball landed on her chest. The column of smoke was returning from whence it came, ramming down her throat in a searing tentacle.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Marco was going to be more organized. He’d always been messy. Sometimes, he felt as if a cloud of clutter surrounded him like the dirt nebula that swirled around Pigpen from Charlie Brown.
Things would be different next year. He’d spent his entire weekend cleaning his house from top to bottom. He’d bought a fancy planner, a filing cabinet, finance and spreadsheet software, special storage devices and display cases for his collections of coins and toys and comics and shoes.
When the stroke of midnight came, it would be greeted by a better Marco. A Marco who lived among pristine and gleaming surfaces, a Marco who mapped out his expenditures and budget with the loving precision of a cartographer, a Marco whose clothing was always tidy thanks to an expensive closet organizer.
Marco admired his living room, brimming with pride. It was spic and span for the first time since he’d moved in. He spun in a slow circle, relishing the sight of so many spotless surfaces — and frowned.
A messy heap of files sat on his couch — files he could have sworn he’d already tucked away in his new filing cabinet. After a beat, the frown turned into a rueful grin and a shake of his head. He’d done so much vigorous cleaning in the past forty-eight hours, he was addled from exhaustion. There were probably other things he’d missed, too.
He bent over and scooped up the files, turning around to march them off to their new home. They immediately slid from his arms, without him even realizing it, as he stared in stupefaction at the sloppy stacks of overstuffed boxes that now filled his living room.
“What the fuck?” he croaked. He rubbed his face with hands perfumed by the sharp scent of the tile cleaner he’d used to scrub down every inch of his bathroom. Was he hallucinating? Had he inhaled too many fumes from cleaning products?
Something brushed his legs. He yanked his hands away from his face, a startled squeal shooting out of his mouth. The boxes had multiplied, and brought some friends. Comics and clothing and action figures formed tangled mounds around his feet.
“No. No no no no no no no!” he babbled as the piles around him grew, new items popping to the surface and then disappearing into the undulating mass of belongings: dishes, video game consoles, tools from his garage, picture frames, books, exercise equipment. Fountains of papers and receipts spurted into the air.
Marco tried to flee, but there was nowhere to run. The hills were almost as tall as he was, teetering precariously. He stumbled into one and it collapsed on top of him. Before another swell of stuff — so much stuff, why did he own so much stuff? — washed over him and buried him entirely, Marco saw a glittering silver ball drop from the ceiling.
The sphere spun and whirred, its teeth chewing a path through the drifts of crap, burrowing through Marco’s belongings effortlessly — and then into his flesh.
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