“Teratology 101: A Handbook for New Mothers in the Monster Age,” by Christina Dalcher

Apr 20th, 2016 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Mom-friendly rating: *****
Monster rating: **

To ensure a head of disproportionate smallness, it is recommended the mother be an alcoholic. While moderate drinking may effect inadequate head size and facial defects, the desired malformation of ears, nose, and digits cannot be guaranteed without regular and heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages, particularly during the first trimester. Spirits are preferred to grape-based products.

“What do you think of a small head, honey?” Clara asked her husband.

“Eh. Not very interesting. Is that all?”

“It might have odd-looking ears. Maybe a missing thumb.”

Tony went back to his newspaper while Clara poured another two fingers—toes, really—of vodka, eyed the tumbler, and decided on an additional splash.


Dilantin (and related chemicals)
Mom-friendly rating: ****
Monster rating: ****

Cleft palate, particularly if accompanied by cleft lip, is a felicitous outcome of anti-epilepsy drugs, specifically Dilantin. One out of three fetuses exposed to such treatments will be born with an orofacial cleft and other abnormalities. Note it is not necessary the mother be prone to seizures, as regular and early administration of this drug will ensure the desired outcome. Post-natal surgery is strongly discouraged and customized feeding bottles are indicated.

“This one’s good, Tony. Cleft lip, maybe even on both sides. It would have a nice, nasal voice, too. Like yours.”

“Cleft lip is good,” Tony whined.

“And I might get some mouth sores.”

“Even better.”

Clara reached for the vial on the kitchen counter, shook the solution a few times with her left foot, and dumped the contents into her drink. “Bottoms up!”


Mom-friendly rating: ***
Monster rating: ***

Maternal exposure to Varicella, commonly known as chickenpox, during the first twenty weeks of pregnancy may result in limb paralysis and blindness. Though both are popular qualities in a newborn, the rate of success is an unfortunately low two-percent. Side effects on the mother include attractive rashes and blisters, although it must be noted these are concomitant with unwanted itchiness. Furthermore, one-third of infected fetuses will not live beyond two months.

“I don’t think I like the sound of this one,” Clara said, sipping her drink through a straw. “What’s the point if it won’t be able to see itself?”

Tony agreed without looking up.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if it had your lobster claws?” Clara stroked his left hand with her toe. “I wonder what I have to do to make sure it has a claw.”

“It’s genetic, dear. You don’t have to do anything.”

Clara beamed, and drew a large, red X through the chickenpox entry.


Mom-friendly rating: ***** (but see below in cases of maternal leprosy)
Monster rating: *****

Thalidomide is an excellent choice for parents desiring severe limb deformity, including underdeveloped arms and legs. Note, however, that the extent and location of physical defects correlate with the timing of exposure; therefore, to guarantee long limb damage, take Thalidomide between days 22 and 28 of gestation (see chart on facing page). Mothers with leprosy should consider that exposure to this drug will result in temporary healing of skin lesions.

Clara examined the chart, scratched at a sore on her neck with her big toe, and made a quick calculation. “If we time it right, we can still get some arm damage. Maybe even a stump.”

“Thalidomide?” Tony set his newspaper aside and looked up at her adoringly. “What about your leprosy?”

“Could you live without it for a few weeks if I promised not to go outside? That’s what Mother did, and look how I turned out.”

Tony admired his wife’s armless torso and nodded. “I’ll live.”

Clara bookmarked the page.


Mom-friendly rating: *****
Monster rating: *****

A perfect drug for expectant mothers who prefer numerous facial and cranial defects, including, but not limited to, receding chin, underformed or missing ears, squinty eyes, and unusually small head size. In many cases, infants will be born with conical heads. A success rate of well over 25% has been attained with regular dosages before and during pregnancy. Highly recommended, although Accutane has been known to cure acne.

Lovely, Clara thought. She didn’t have acne anyway, although she would have liked to. She made a note to visit her doctor tomorrow morning for the prescription. “Look at this sweet profile, Tony. Doesn’t it remind you of Alfred Hitchcock?”

Tony glanced at the page. “Very nice.”

“Tony?” Clara asked, swirling her glass between the soles of her feet. “What if it doesn’t come out the way we want?”

He shrugged again. “I suppose we’ll have to move out to one of those colonies where the outcasts live.”

Clara shivered at the thought, poured herself a third vodka, and called her doctor’s after-hours number.


Defenestration-Christina DalcherChristina Dalcher is a linguist and novelist who prefers gin to small children. Find her short work in Zetetic, Maudlin House, Pidgeonholes, and other child-free corners of the literary ether. www.christinadalcher.com

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.