Monster parent: Ksenia Anske (@kseniaanske)
Cal belched and tossed an empty beer can over his bare shoulder, where it landed on a pile of its fallen brethren with a tinny clink. Cal was growing bored of watching one of the interchangeable Barbies on Fox News shrilly decry the war on Christmas. He began flicking through channels in search of something better.
For a moment, his TV was filled with a production of The Nutcracker. Cal scowled and jabbed at the remote with unnecessary force. The ballerinas were replaced with a reality show about doomsday preppers.
The sour frown didn’t leave his face. The ballerinas were no longer on the TV screen, but they were still dancing in his mind’s eye. Except each ballerina wore the face of Cal’s son, Paul.
Cal hadn’t seen Paul in years — not since the day he found out the kid had joined a dance troupe with some limp-wristed boyfriend in New York. Whenever he felt a flicker of regret over cutting off contact with his only child, Cal extinguished it by imagining what his drinking buddies would say if they knew his son was prancing around New York like a goddamn sugarplum fairy.
He heaved himself out of his beat-up old recliner and lumbered to the bathroom. He pissed for what felt like ten minutes straight, absentmindedly using his free hand to brush away a drop of beer that had landed on his hairy belly. When he was finally done, he trundled back to the living room, tucking his dick into his pants while he walked.
His hand fell away from the zipper of his jeans as his brain tried to process what was waiting for him in front of the recliner.
A ballerina in a white leotard and a fluffy pink tutu stood with her back to him. Her long, lithe legs looked even longer thanks to the way her delicate pink toe shoes helped her stand. She had brown hair pulled into a stern little bun that Cal would have found hot if he weren’t so confused.
“What the fuck?” he said, punctuating his words with a burp and a glance at the pile of beer cans next to his favorite chair. Maybe he’d had a few too many tonight.
The ballerina slowly spun around, rotating with effortless and inhuman fluidity, as if she were in a music box. Her face was as smooth and white as an egg.
Startled, Cal staggered back a step. The ballerina tipped her terrible blank face to the side, as if studying him, and flung her arms up in a graceful arc. Cal’s head, and then his neck, shoulders, and torso began to tingle. The tingle almost immediately became a fearsome burning.
He looked down and screamed. The skin of his upper body was melting off in a sheet. When the flesh reached his hips, it stopped oozing, forming a frill of meat above the top of his jeans.
The ballerina lifted one leg and pirouetted with her arms still held above her head.
The frill of melted skin began to ripple and puff while Cal howled in terror. He wanted to smack at it with his hands, but his arms were being pulled into the air by an invisible force, so that he mimicked the stance of the faceless ballerina. The floppy ring of flesh was rapidly thickening around his waist into something much more substantial. It poofed out around him now in flouncy layers — a tutu made of Cal-meat.
Cal’s feet jerked up so that he was standing on his tiptoes. Tears ran down his cheeks, stinging and turning pink as they touched his skinless face. The ballerina began to dance, leaping and cavorting around the dank little living room. She circled Cal, drawing closer by the second. Her sparkly pink tutu flounced up and down as she moved, and Cal caught a glimpse of narrow, malevolent black eyes peering out from its fluffy depths. After a beat, he realized the sparkles were caused by light glinting on the edges of innumerable tiny pink teeth.
Cal’s arms lowered, extending out toward the ballerina. She twirled into his embrace. Her featureless white face leaned towards his as if she were about to steal a kiss. Her arms locked around him with steely strength. The tutu monster pressed up against Cal’s ring of reshaped flesh and began to feast.
The sensation of Cal’s skin melting had been excruciating, but that pain was shadow-thin compared to the agony of thousands of pink teeth sinking into him at once.
In the background, the TV flipped through channels until The Nutcracker danced across its screen once more.
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