Monster parent: Alisha Rai (@AlishaRai). Alisha Rai is hilarious, sometimes she makes awesome MS Paint illustrations for Make a Monster, and she’s a badass erotic romance writer. You should go buy a fuckton of her books RIGHT NOW. Or else.
Alisha bounded out of bed. Ever since she’d become a Swiftie, the act of waking up, of simply being alive, felt caffeinated. Her eyes sparkled. Energy and boundless joy fizzed through her, as if her blood had been replaced with glittery soda pop.
Who would she convert today?
She knew she should shower and change out of the oversized pink Taylor Swift t-shirt she used as pajamas (okay, lately it was doing double-duty as daywear too). She knew she needed to buckle down and get to work. She was scary-behind on her newest book.
But listening to Taylor, reading about Taylor, talking about Taylor, that was practically research for a romance writer, right? No one understood love in all its aspects better than Taylor Swift.
Instead of bathing, she went straight to her computer. Instead of opening her woefully neglected manuscript, she signed onto Twitter. It was the best place to create new disciples and spread Swiftie fever far and wide.
There were so many lost souls out there not listening to TayTay. It tore at her heart to imagine people stumbling through a grim gray world untouched by the shimmering beauty of T-Swizzle.
Alisha had developed a habit of putting a mark on the wall next to her computer each time she found cracks in someone’s armor and successfully squirted the T-virus all up in their business. She used red lipstick to document her triumphs. It was the color that always adorned Taylor’s perfect lips.
Her office was running out of space for the hash marks. Alisha had lost track of how many tubes of lipstick she’d used up. An outsider would’ve taken one look at the Crimson Room of Crazypants and fled like it was the devil’s boudoir. But the redder it got, the more she loved it. Red was practically her favorite Tay-Sway album.
Within a few minutes of prowling Twitter, Alisha successfully badgered a horror writer into buying Taylor’s newest album. She whooped with delight, searching her desk for the tube of victory lipstick. But it was gone.
She peered beneath the desk. There was nothing on the floor but old cupcake wrappers, tabloid magazines with Taylor’s face on their wrinkled covers, empty bulgogi takeout containers, and a large quantity of dust.
She turned around to search the carpet behind her, and saw legs. So many legs. Long, gangling legs. Some wore cowboy boots and Keds. Some wore kitten heels. Some wore the glittering shoes of fairy tale princesses, and some wore high-fashion strappy numbers full of look-at-me attitude.
It was the style evolution of Taylor Swift in footwear form, laid out before her!
Her eyes trailed up the legs, as her hands lifted instinctively into a pose of reverent prayer. This was a vision. A holy vision, being sent to her by Tay-Sway.
A column of glitter and confetti swirled around the legs, one second pink, the next white, purple, blue, then red — a shifting cloud that formed outlines of outfits TayTay had worn on red carpets and at concerts. (Alisha recognized each one, of course, clapping her hands for her favorites.) The being had numerous arms, which swayed and waved with the trademark gawkiness that made Taylor’s bad but earnest dancing so endearing.
Its head was nothing but mouths surrounded by waves of blonde hair with just the right amount of curl to make them bounce. So many perfect red mouths, tilted up at the corners in tiny, knowing smiles. Alisha hoped she had enough hot cocoa for all of them.
“Thirteen!” she whispered in awe. There was thirteen of everything. Thirteen legs. Thirteen arms. Thirteen mouths. Thirteen: the most powerful number in the Swiftieverse.
Though Alisha knew this had to be the most important moment in her life, unease shivered through her. In the being’s center, lurking amid the glitter and confetti, was an utterly blank space. A nothingness so absolute, it made Alisha feel sick and scared to look upon it. It was like going blind. Like being unmade.
She resolutely forced her eyes away from the bad spot and said, “Why are you here? Does Taylor have a message for me? A mission? Do you want hot chocolate?”
The glitter flared and danced. A pale arm lightninged forward. There was a small black object in its hand. It took a second for Alisha to recognize the lipstick she used to document her triumphs. Perfectly manicured fingers twisted the tube, and the worn down crimson lippy emerged from its tip.
Alisha watched with her own hands balled under her chin, eyes wide with wonder, like a child witnessing a spectacular magic trick.
The hand scrawled ALISHA across that dreadful blank space she didn’t want to look at.
And now it was quite easy to avoid looking at the impossible, mind-warping void, and the smeary red letters that seemed to hover over it, because pain tore through Alisha’s middle like a chainsaw.
She struggled to yank her shirt up, which stubbornly clung to her skin, glued to it with blood.
ALISHA was hacked deep into the meat of her torso. Here, a bit of white rib flashed flirtatiously. There, her intestines tumbled out of their proper place, like a love-struck businessman persuaded by his impulsive girlfriend to do something wacky and carefree, just this once.
“Why?” Alisha screamed. Tears couldn’t quench the betrayal burning in her eyes.
The hand drew a red heart above the I in Alisha’s name, and a hole carved itself into her chest, through skin and breastbone, down to the piece of her that meant the most.
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