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Are you a fan of Twilight? Have you ever wondered why the vampires sparkle? I know why. I stumbled upon the secret quite by chance. I was reading Harlan Ellison's massive anthology Again Dangerous Visions. And then I sneezed. Suddenly everything became clear to me...

I suffer from what the doctors call chronic non-specific rhinitis. For a long time I thought that meant that I had a rhinoceros stuck high up inside my nasal passages, but even though that is exactly what the symptoms feel like, actually the phrase just means that I sneeze a lot and nobody really knows why. It's obviously an allergy, but I've had all the standard allergy tests and they were quite inconclusive. So I sneeze and I drip and I sneeze some more. Now that the doctors have given a name to my condition, they feel that their job is done. The rest of it is up to me.

It's not a seasonal thing. Attacks come upon me out of the blue at irregular intervals throughout the year. There is no warning and no obvious cause. I just feel a gradually increasing sense of discomfort high inside my nose as the rhinoceros wakes up and starts to stomp around in there. I find that I am blowing my nose more and more frequently as the rhinoceros gets more and more lively. It pees and poos enthusiastically just behind my eyeballs. Obnoxious substances increase in volume and flood my sinuses. Soon I am sneezing uncontrollably and leaking foul fluids like a high pressure rancid hosepipe. Soggy tissues accumulate in the waste bins and I feel more and more exhausted.

A very bad attack can see me use five or more boxes of tissues in a day (I think my all time record was seven boxes) and it leaves me so tired and wiped out that I need to sleep for fifteen or more hours to recover from it. It can be unbelievably debilitating. I get an attack of this severity once or maybe twice a year. But less severe attacks happen every month or two, always right out of left field when I'm not looking.

Returning now to the book I was reading -- in the introduction to Again Dangerous Visions, Harlan Ellison admits that there were some visions that were far too dangerous even for him to publish. He rejected a story from a writer called Barry Weissman because it was about a snot vampire, a concept that even Ellison found too vomitous for comfort.

Combining my recent rhinitis attack with Ellison's editorial prejudices gave me a great insight. It is quite obvious to me that Stephanie Meyer's sparkly vampires are actually snot vampires straight out of that unpublished Barry Weissman story, and they sparkle because they are covered from head to toe with a silvery film of dried snot that they've sucked up from the nostrils of their unsuspecting victims, all of whom, presumably, had a rhinoceros just like mine up their noses.

Trust me on this; the life I lead has made me an expert on all things mucous related. And keep this picture of snot-soaked vampires firmly in your head the next time you read the Twilight books or watch the movies; you'll enjoy them so much more now that you know the secret.

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