Monster parent: M. Andrew Patterson (M_A_Patterson)
For the bazillionth time in her miserable, snot-choked life, Fiona wished she could drill two giant holes in her face. Sure, her gruesome visage would terrify people, but that was an entirely acceptable price to pay for the ability to breathe unimpeded.
Fiona couldn’t remember a time when her nose wasn’t her greatest enemy. She was allergic to pollen, feathers, mold, dust, dogs, cats, perfumes, and quite possibly existence itself. Her septum was deviated, her turbinates hypertrophied, her sinuses too narrow. Nasal polyps grew inside her head with the enthusiasm of mushrooms after a hard rain.
Her waking hours were a grim parade of medications, saline rinses, and drifts of tissues. Her nights were interminable battles between her need for sleep and her body’s instinctive loathing of breathing through her mouth. She couldn’t imagine what her face would look like without dark smudges beneath her eyes or a nose so bright red from irritation that no concealer on earth could disguise it.
Fiona shuffled aimlessly through her house, which could have easily been mistaken for an air purifier museum. She’d had a particularly sleepless night, and her thoughts were slow, sludgy things. Her brain felt like a lump of cold oatmeal. She’d called in sick at work, but she was running as low on leave as her boss was on sympathy.
Miserable tears prickled in her eyes, and she fought to suppress the impulse to weep. Crying would only make her discomfort worse. She pressed a hand to her lips, but couldn’t stop her mouth from making pathetic mewling sounds.
Fiona’s pity party was interrupted by a loud crash of shattering glass in her dining room. She yelped, whirling around, her eyes wide with alarm. Was an intruder breaking into her home through the dining room’s large window?
Her self-preservation instincts were as dulled by exhaustion as every other part of her brain. Instead of calling 911, she ran to investigate the sound. She dashed into the dining room at high speed and slipped in a puddle of water, landing hard on her ass.
Her large aquarium had been smashed to pieces. Her lovely fish — the only creatures on earth that didn’t seem to exacerbate her allergies — flopped about on the floor amid shards of glass.
She began to stand up and then her knees went weak and she thunked right back down, screeching as she realized she wasn’t alone in the room.
Strands of slimy, thick black hair were snaking around the brightly colored fish, picking them up and stuffing them inside the nostrils of a — Fiona moaned and shook her head back and forth rapidly. Lack of sleep had finally dragged her right around the goddamn bend. She had to be hallucinating.
But hallucinations couldn’t break aquariums.
This was real.
An enormous nose filled up the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room.
In a second that felt like it spanned eternity, Fiona’s mind cataloged an incredible amount of detail. The nose had a sheen of grease across its skin. It was a little crooked, as if it had been broken once. Its pores were large and speckled with blackheads. The tip was as red and irritated as Fiona’s own schnoz. Its bulky form was supported by a mass of long black hairs that bushed out of its flared nostrils like the legs of innumerable spiders.
The hairs it wasn’t using for legs nimbly wriggled across the ground, plucking up fish and leaving trails of green snot everywhere they touched. Fiona glimpsed rings of sharp, mucus-covered teeth as the prehensile nose hairs crammed fish into the monster’s nostrils.
Fiona tried to stand up again, and was successful this time. Wailing in fear, she sprinted toward the hallway she’d used to enter the room. Behind her, several dozen nose hairs whipped around the base of the dining table, lifting it up and hurling it against the wall nearest Fiona. Splinters of wood bit into her flesh and she instinctively zagged to the left instead of running down the hall, which was her only avenue of escape.
The nose skittered forward on its spidery legs of hair, while other snot-slicked strands snatched up blades of broken aquarium glass and flung them at Fiona with cruel precision. The shards pierced her arms and legs, sliced into her stomach, slashed open her forehead. Bleeding from dozen of cuts and half-blinded by the sheet of crimson pouring down her face, Fiona fell to the ground for the final time.
The slimy nose hairs were unpleasantly cold when they touched her skin. “No, no, no!” Fiona honked, twisting and writhing. The more she fought, the tighter the dexterous filaments squeezed around her.
As the nose hairs dragged her toward the quivering black caverns of the monster’s nostrils, a preternatural calm flowed through Fiona, filling her up like cool water. Her body relaxed. She stopped screaming. She didn’t even tremble as the rings of teeth that lined the nostrils’ walls began gnashing eagerly.
Her nose had been stuffed up her entire life. If it was her time to die, so be it. At least her end would be a poetic one.
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