This curious floater is most associated with high altitudes and extreme cold, exhaling its buoyant gases at sub-zero temperatures and often drifting in the upper atmosphere under freezing cloud cover. Its natural diet consists of aerial plankton and other minute organisms ensnared in its mucus-coated tentacles, but it may descend to ground level, especially during cold rain or snow, to hunt for prey it incapacitates with a powerful stream of its own chilling breath and trillions of its own manufactured rhinoviruses. The unusually large viral bodies - comparable to some pollen grains - cause an instantaneous histamine reaction characterized by intense sneezing fits, mucus production and generalized pain that can be recurrent for several days. Weakened prey is engulfed into the monster's rubbery, elastic body with a deafening "snort," suffocated in mucus and finally consumed by a small mouth on the back wall of the leathery bell.
The Sneezola's infectious cold is most volatile of all among the Plaguemen, whose subsequent sneezing fits can escalate to total cranial eruption. These the Sneezola finds particularly appetizing as prey, and it may even train itself to recognize and imitate the sneeze-language of Mumblegog and related monsters.
What resemble "warts" dotting a Sneezola's bell are actually reproductive polyps, typically undergoing steady development into cloned offspring one at a time. A "wartlet" attains consciousness quickly, but may spend up to a year observing its surroundings and even assisting its parent as an additional set of eyes before it finally breaks free and begins a slow, gradual metamorphosis over many months.
Though ruthlessly attracted to Plaguemen as prey items, Sneezola are otherwise reclusive, noncombative creatures and sometimes reluctant to actively hunt until almost ravenously hungry. When they do at last engage prey, they regard their cold breath and infectious virus in a similar manner to "cooking" and "seasoning" a meal, each Sneezola preferring food at differing degrees of refrigeration and sickliness.
Few adversaries can fully resist both the cryogenic and pathogenic properties of a Sneezola's breath attack, and even those that do can be incapacitated by its adhesive tentacles and strong bell. Capable of shutting off its virus production, it is also a viable form of portable indoor climate control, and a fleet of the creatures serve as signature employees of Mortasheen city's most recognized frozen confectionary distribution network.
It is not presently known if the Sneezola was engineered as it is currently known, or represents an evolution of some long-forgotten biological experiment. The first known population was discovered in dense numbers at the peak of a frozen mountaintop, otherwise occupied only by a small, long abandoned laboratory. No data could be recovered from the facility, but the interior walls were thickly saturated with several layers of ink, paint, chalk, and even dried bodily fluids repeatedly spelling only the word "GESUNDHEIT."
MUCOSAL TENDRILS: covered in a glutinous slime, the monster's stretchy tentacles can hopelessly entangle foes.
DEATH SNORT: the monster can draw prey at least partially into its stretchy, mucus-lined bell to be asphyxiated.
FREEZING BREATH: a Sneezola's exhalations are below freezing in temperature and difficult for many creatures to endure.
RHINOMEGAVIRUS: the Sneezola's genome manufactures an abnormally large cold virus (up to 35 microns) that aggressively attacks the respiratory system and causes an immediate, debilitating immune response.
Contents copyright Jonathan Wojcik