It started, as so many of these things do, with Robin sneezing and saying, "I've got a cold."
"Bless you," I said, absent mindedly.
"My nose is dripping like a tap."
I examined her carefully. There really was a chromium plated tap sticking out of her left nostril, and its twin protruded shinily from her right nostril. One tap was engraved with the word Hot, the other with the word Cold. Intrigued, I twiddled them, adjusting them carefully for both flow rate and heat. Body temperature mucous streamed freely from her nose and the house began to fill with slime
The cats perched themselves on the top of the furniture and regarded the swelling sea of snot with horror. "How am I going to get to my food bowl?" asked Porgy plaintively.
"Swim," advised Bess.
"But I can only do the doggy paddle," whined Porgy, "and I'm scared of dogs."
"You're not getting me in there," said Harpo. "I've got beautiful fluffy fur there's no way I'm going to slime that up." He watched in admiration as Robin swam past on her way to the bathroom. "That's a stylish Australian Crawl you've got there, Robin."
"Thanks," said Robin. "That's because I'm Australian."
"Are you?" asked Harpo, surprised. "I didn't know that. Prove it to me. Tell me what to do with a wombat."
Robin thought for a moment. "Play a game of wom?" she suggested.
"That's right," said Harpo. "Gosh, you really are Australian."
"Dingbat," muttered Robin in disgusted tones.
"Is that what you use to play a game of ding?" asked Harpo.
"No," said Robin. "It's a precision instrument used for tuning bells."
"Hey," said Porgy. "I've got one. I've got one. What's a numbat?"
"It's a nocturnal, flying mammal that feels no pain," said Harpo.
"Oh, you've heard it before," said Porgy, deeply disappointed, and he pushed Harpo into the seething slime.
Harpo struggled out of the snot pool and began to comb his long, shaggy fur with his claws. "Hey," he said, "look how well my fur holds its shape now. This stuff is even better than brylcreem. Hairdressers would pay a fortune for product like this!" He began to curl, tease and slime his fur into place.
Robin laughed so hard at the sight of Harpo carefully styling his fur that she forgot to control her breathing. She inhaled at precisely the wrong moment, choked on a bogie, coughed and sank beneath the surface. She struggled to the kitchen and supported herself on the sink while she regained her breath. I've always wanted to include the kitchen sink in a story, and now I've managed it!
"Turn it off," begged Robin. "Please turn it off."
I swam over to her, using a rather clumsy breast stroke. I've always enjoyed stroking breasts, I've just never been very good at it. I turned the taps firmly in the direction of off, but to my horror they came away in my hands.
"Oh no!" I cried. "They've broken off and now there's a gaping hole in your pipes."
"Aaagghh!" sneezed Robin as more torrents of high pressure snot threatened to fill the house and drown us all. I opened all the doors and windows, but Robin was producing fluid faster than I could get rid of it. A bowl full of cat biscuits floated past with Bess in hot pursuit. Being the clever animal that she is, she was swimming with an elegant catty paddle.
"See?" I said to Porgy. "Pay attention to your sister. You can learn a lot from her.".
"Woof," said Porgy, miserably.
By the next day, Robin was feeling a lot better. The slime had dried out and the house was now full of huge grey, grimy lumps. Robin hit one with her silver hammer (the one she borrowed from Maxwell) and it disintegrated into a fine, powdery dust.
"Hey! This is fun."
She raced through the house, hitting the dessicated piles of snot. One by one they vanished into a haze of fine ash. All our furniture, the TV, the stereo system and the computers were covered with a thin grey film. Harpo strode in to the room, proudly displaying his new beehive furstyle.
"That looks good," I said.
"Thanks," said Harpo. "You can stroke me if you like."
It was like stroking a concrete path. Harpo wiped his bushy tail over the coffee table, producing clouds of fine grit. Then he sneezed.
"Bless you," I said, and he bit me to show his appreciation.
"That gives me an idea," said Robin. She went into her room and started rummaging about in the drawers and digging around in boxes. "I know I've got them somewhere," she muttered.
"Are you looking for something?" I asked.
"Yes," she said, as she examined and rejected a shoe, a ship, a stick of sealing wax, a cabbage and a King. Then: "AHA! I knew they were here." She was clutching a bag that was packed full of small gaily painted boxes.
"What are you going to do with those?"
"I'm going to fill each one to the brim with my snot dust and then sell them for a vast profit on TradeMe."
"Who's going to pay money for a small box full of dried slime?" I asked.
"Everybody will want one," said Robin. "I'll market it as genuine, high class, luxury, fully tested, pre-sniffed snuff."
"Snuff," she confirmed. "Straight out of my nostrils and into yours. Satisfaction guaranteed. An authentic sneeze in every particle. It can't fail."
And now you know why Robin has as much money as she does.