Another sneeze. She wasn’t sure what to do about how hard it was becoming to stifle them. This time she just barely had time to bring the handkerchief to her face.

She folded it quickly before shoving it back in her bag, trying to ignore the mold increasingly covering it.

Her head was throbbing, throat sore, and mind fuzzy, but she couldn’t miss work. It was extemely important she make it into the office today, though the fever was making it hard to remember exactly why.

She hoped she could hide for long enough how sick she was feeling.

It was the drugs at the party last night, she was sure of it. She didn’t even know what she had snorted; all she knew was the lady offering to share was charming and hot and interested in her. That was enough.

It felt like getting fucked so hard it opened her third eye.

She was wonderful. It was wonderful. It was also very probably laced with something.

“Infested” with something, her fevered mind told her. “Spores to heighten the experience.”

She didn’t know what she meant by that, but it felt right. The fever bestowed such lovely insights.

Somehow she entered the office building and made her way to her desk without arousing too much suspicion.

Her eyes were tearing up. Reddened. But she managed to hold back the sneezing as she passed her coworkers on her path.

She ducked into the bathroom and gave herself a chance to relieve the pressure. A moment after entering the stall, a colossal, fully uncontrolled, screaming sneeze rattled her body.

Blinking away her tears she found the whole stall painted in mold, like the handkerchief.

She was thankful to be alone in the bathroom as she snuck out, embarrassed and uncertain.

“A gift for others,” the fever told her cryptically.

By some miracle, she made it to the all-hands meeting without another event, but the sneezing was getting harder to suppress as the day wore on.

“You’re doing so well,” the fever said in praise. She thanked it for its support, though her clouded thoughts made work impossible.

She couldn’t last through the meeting.

The room was packed full. No way to sneak out the back, and the urge filled her sinuses. Her eyes watered uncontrollably with the effort of holding back.

And then the fever told her it was time to give in.

She gave in. Or tried to, though this time the sneeze floated, frustratingly out of reach, building and building but not quite reaching the trigger point…

She was done. Her fever allowed her to be done holding it, and now it was being difficult?

She inhaled deeply, seeking release, no longer caring what the consequences were. At last it tipped past the point of no return, and she sneezed.

Her voice was raw as she screamed, her body convulsed, and she sprayed infectious mold and spores around her.

It became a full fit of seemingly endless sneezing. Again and again. She gripped the coworker in front of her for balance even as the engineer tried to get away.

Annoyed murmurs floated through the crowd until more of them turned to look, spotting the mold. The ones who saw were terrified, and their panic spread to the others.

By the time everyone realized the danger, it was too late. The air was filled with spores, and every last one of them was inhaling what had been incubating within her.

The fever praised her. It promised her that she would be rewarded.

She looked up with clear eyes and a clear mind at last, and what she saw was beautiful.