(Hello again! Guess this is my thing now, showing up sporadically to throw a story out there. Had this idea for a while, finally decided to write it. For reference, here's some [non-sneezy] pics of this story's main character, Mik: http://i.imgur.com/UizrYWy.png , http://i.imgur.com/VE1kpvr.png ; he's a sort of gator-y dream reptile my unconscious brain whipped up one night. That out of the way...)
Mik jumped, shaking himself out of the trance he'd drifted into. "Uh, what?" He mumbled as he reoriented himself in the bustling college quad around him.
"I said, you're number one," said a young, sporty-looking bull whose name Mik couldn't remember. "Jeez, you're spacey."
Mik gazed blankly into the bull's eyes for a moment, admiring the slightly-elliptical pupils, before looking down to the floor. An empty Coke bottle was pointing to him. "Oh."
"Told you," said a lanky frog sitting to Mik's right. THAT one Mik knew, that was his new dormmate. Yeah, him. He was studying abroad from somewhere. He was uh... his name was...
"Jekk, wanna spin it?" the bull asked the frog.
"K," Jekk nodded, leaning forward to flick the bottle into a spin. Mik had forgotten exactly what game they were playing with the bottle, but whatever it was, it required more than one person...
Mik quickly glanced around the circle of players. There was Jekk, and the bull, of course. A short fluffy moth was drinking a solo cup of punch through his proboscis. A muscular (mostly on the arms) eagle was checking her phone and barely paying attention to the circle. A wide-hipped mink was tapping their foot and humming, probably had a song in their head. Lastly two pangolins, probably sisters, giddily watching the bottle with an intensity that rivaled the bull's.
"Oh!" the two pangolins yelped as the bottle pointed to... the eagle? Sort of? "Melly, Melly!" one sister called to her.
The eagle, apparently named Melly, moved only her eyes away from her screen. "Eh? Oh, yeah. Uhhh, think that's you, Koba."
Seemed Koba was the moth, who slammed his cup down. "Hell no! That is 100% you," he fired back. "Get off that thing and show some damn participation."
Melly turned her head to the side, following the exact line of the bottle's tip. "Hey, hey, back there! Rhova!" she called back to someone in the corner. "Rhova, the bottle chose you!"
Rhova was sitting with all the introverts by the snack table. Mik couldn't tell exactly what species they were from where he was, but they looked greenish. "Nooooope, not happening, guys," they rejected at a volume just below a shout.
The pangolin twins pounded the floor in unison. "Se-ven-mi-nutes! Se-ven-mi-nutes!" they chanted. The bull joined in, followed by absolutely no one else. But for just three voices, they were certainly loud. Well, Mik knew what game this was now.
Rhova sighed forcefully, slammed their book shut, and stood up. Before Mik could get a good look at them, Jekk had grabbed hold of his arm and yanked him aside. "K, bro, seven minutes!" he whooped as he directed Mik into a moonlit closet that was quite large for what it was.
Mik leaned on a rack of coats as Rhova shuffled into the closet, Jekk immediately closing the door behind them. "Have... uh, whatever you two consider 'fun'." Jekk added before walking away. Only now could Mik discern the appearance of the person he was currently doomed to be alone with.
"You're, a... um, you..." Mik stuttered.
"A plant," Rhova finished for him, crossing two pairs of arm-like vines. They had no eyes, no nose, only a large mouth. Apart from a tightly-wrapped headscarf, they were completely naked - not that there was anything they'd need to cover up in the first place. Their body was a deep green that faded to white at their feet; or, well, roots?
"I've, uh, *snf*
, never met a plant before." Mik's nose felt twitchy.
"Yeah, me neither," Rhova chuckled. "Not here. Feel like the only damn one at this school."
"Heh. *snf snf*
What, kind of... plant are you? Can I ask that?" He felt a slight dribble on the tip of his snout.
"As your nose sounds like it's already aware of, I'm a ragweed."
Mik's nostrils flared. "O-oh?"
Rhova sighed. "Yup. Pollen season, too, so, uh, yeah. Sorry about that."
Is that what that's for?" Mik asked, pointing to the headscarf with one hand and wiping his snout with the other.
Rhova patted the scarf. "Mm-hm, but it leaks a little. Can't be helped." They cracked a grin. "You know, I kinda like watching everyone get all sneezy around me."
Why-y-yy?" Mik asked, starting to get just that feeling.
"It's cute. And it makes me feel powerful. Not like actually, but like, as a joke. But kind of not. Know what I mean?"
Mik had barely registered that sentence. "Huh, ah, *snifff*
, oh. H-hey, Rhova, I, um... I kinda..." He paused, sniffling more.
"I kinda, uh. Like. I like."
Rhova cocked their head.
Mik snorted. "How? Would you feel? About, um! Taking... off..."
"Oh. OH. OOOH."
His cheeks now flushed into the same color as his irritated nostrils, Mik stammered, "I, aheh, if the point of this game is, you know..."
Rhova was already untying the scarf's knot. "Oh, dude, between stroking some weird interests and awkward small talk, I'll gladly do this." Mik watched in anticipation as Rhova fully undid the wraps, letting a long mop of yellow stamen fall to their shoulders.
"That's, oohohoh, that's a lo- *SNRRRF*
" Mik's amazement was cut short by an involuntary breath as the air became dense with pollen. "Ah-ah! *snf*
Rhova smiled wide. "Oh, wow, you really are into this, aren't you?"
Mik defended, through his quickening fit; "No, no, I- tchoo!- not like that! Well, *snff*
, uh, kind of- Hi-hitCHOO! Only kind of like that! Ha-AH! A-CHOO!"
"But you'd say, generally, that you enjoy this," Rhova asked as they inched closer.
Mik backed into the wall. "HA-TCHNNNF! Yes, yes! Ju-juh-uh-uH-PFOOO!- just not, ooooh! *snuff!*
Not the LEWD way."
"Whatever you say, dude. It's lewd for me."
"You know what pollen is, right? Or, ahah, does that make it wei-"
Rhova put a vine to their chin. "Keep going as in... get closer?"
Mik was hitching breath too much to speak, but nodded in affirmation.
"Heheh... alright. I've got something for you." They hovered two vines over Mik's arms, hesitating as if expecting him to protest. When he instead nodded even harder, Rhova made their move. They pushed Mik against the wall, holding him by the elbows; gave Mik one last pause to change his mind; and when he didn't, threw their whole head of flowers over Mik's face.
Mik's eyes quickly squeezed shut against the stinging. Grassy strands drooped one by one over the side of his snout. Each one brushed against a nostril, simultaneously depositing a tuft of pollen and triggering a sniffle. "Oh! Hah-TCHOO! *snrf!*
Ge-ehh! Heh-CHNFF! *snff! snff!* PFCHOO!
" As each sneeze kicked up a flurry of stamen and pollen, each sniff drew in more and more of the itchy substance.
Buh?" Mik felt his left nostril become plugged, and forced a squint to look at it. One of the yellowest stalks of the bunch had gotten lodged inside, and considering that it was actually attached to Rhova it was very much active. "TCHOOO!" Mik sneezed forcefully, removing it. "TCHFF-CHOOFF!
" Mik continued. The fresh pollen included a viscous element that never went airborne, but the live flower had painted it all over Mik's weeping nasal membranes. It tickled relentlessly, refusing to be completely expelled by his consecutive sneezes. "*snif-snort-snrff!*
Rhova pulled back to give Mik some fresher air. "Wow, man, this is... great, actuallly."
Mik wiped his now fully-reddened nose and sniffed deeply, his sneezes finally starting to subside. "Huh. *snffff*
I think you were liking it, *snf*
, even more than me there. *snrrff*
"Haha, yeah... Got all this pollen and nothing to do with it, you know..." Rhova shrugged, picking their scarf off of the ground and patting it out.
"We could, *snoofsnoof*
, do it again sometime." Mik pulled out a tissue and blew his nose, soaking it, yet only barely clearing out the wetness. "*snurffff*
Gahhh. Not for a while, though."
Rhova leaned to the side, straightening their flowers. "Oh, yeah. Does look a bit much, doesn-"
A crash of a door and a flood of light suddenly whisked away any sense of privacy the two of them may have had. Mik jerked back in surprise and shot a glance at Jekk, who had appeared in the door. "Time!" he exclaimed. "What the hell were you even DOING in here?"
Mik looked to Rhova. Their mouth was wide open and curled down. They were completely frozen in place except for the two shuddering vines clutching their exposed stamen. Mik then looked to Jekk, who seemed fixated on Rhova as well.
Slowly, Jekk's lip curled up and his jutting nostrils widened. "Bleh... *snffffff*
"Oohh, here we go...