Sunday, January 31, 2010


When I was seven years old I saw the movie Howard the Duck. And when I say 'saw' I mean watched obsessively on HBO for months because it was the only thing on and it had a talking duck and guitars. Also there was a crazy monster that came through a hole in space.

I blame the movie for a dream I had many years later during a really high fever. I was sitting up in bed trying to breath through my blocked up nose and get to sleep. I must have already been asleep because the light fixture in my ceiling opened up and a monster with a lot of teeth and tentacles came out. I thought maybe I should move. Get out of it's way before it fell on the bed. Somehow it didn't feel very urgent. Luckily I woke up before it fell on me.

So this story is based a little on my dream and a little on a stop motion animation monster fighting a talking duck.


Jeanie huddled, feet tucked against her thighs, arms wrapped around her knees, head down, in the furthest corner of the room. 

The problem was, it wasn’t a very big room.
The thing hadn’t seemed to notice her yet. It didn’t have any eyes so far, at least not any that had made it through the hole in the ceiling, just those waving tentacles. It had a lot of those. In the last nineteen minutes, counted off by the steady blinking alarm clock, it had worked at least eleven through. It was a little hard to get an exact count because the only light was coming from the alarm clock and the edges of the hole as the thing squirmed to push more tentacles in. Two of them had dropped so low they were looped on the bed, flat flared ends patting at the blankets.
Jeanie took a deep breath that shuddered in her chest. Her feet had been there twenty minutes ago.
When the sound of the portal opening, high and crackling, woke her, she thought she was staring into a mass of shimmering pink intestines where her light fixture had been. Not thinking, she scrambled off the bed, hitting the floor hard and loud where she cowered sure in her clearing head that the thing would strike. It seemed to come out faster for a moment but that was just the push that got the ends of the tentacles through to uncurl and wave in the cold air. It moved slower as the minutes ticked by, having to squeeze and writhe for each additional tentacle.
At least that meant the portal wasn’t getting bigger.
She tried to take long quiet breaths, only warm where her chest was pressed against her knees, sweating despite the cold. She needed to decide what to do. The bed and the portal over it were between her and the door. She would have to crawl right around the edge of the bed to make it. To get out and to the phone.
A steady hissing made her jerk back hard enough to smack her head against the wall. She froze but the tentacles continued to sedately twist and sway and the hissing continued at the same level. Shifting her feet under her she crouched, putting her head level with the edge of the bed.
A thick stream of faintly blue discharge was coming from the edges of the portal, giving off puffs of smoke and a soft hiss as it hit the bed.
She ducked back down, counting at least four new tentacles. It was melting her blankets. She didn’t realize she was chewing on her lips until the bottom one stung. She ran her tongue over the spot, not tasting blood, hands flexing on her knees.
There was only about four feet of space between the bed and the wall to crawl along. Then the dresser would force her to keep close to the foot of the bed for another few feet. Then she’d have to stand if she wanted to open the door and get through it fast. She rocked on her heels knowing she should make a break for it before it pushed something else through, like a mouth. The thought of what was beyond the tentacles made her shiver. She could feel sweat run down her sides, her hands freezing as she flexed them.
It was just so big.
The tip of one flared tentacle had been twisting at the edge of the portal for a few minutes when it suddenly found the right angle and shot through with a heavy plop. It slid sideways on the blue mucus, slipping over the side of the bed onto the floor.
Jeanie stared at it as it started patting the floor near the bed. Now there was only three feet between the waving end and the wall.
She closed her eyes hard, grinding her back teeth. She took a deep breath and rose into a crouch, not as low as she’d planned to be, but faster than crawling. She tried to keep her eyes on the tentacle on the floor and its mates over her head at the same time. Her foot slid in the blue mucus. She grabbed for the wall and stayed up, limping as she ran for the door. She jerked it open, breathing hard, remembering in time to close it softly.
She hopped into the kitchen, trying not to get her slick toes on the floor. She squinted against the harsh overhead light and hiked herself up onto the counter, sticking her foot in the sink. She turned the tap on, ready to pull her foot away if it reacted badly. The warm water only made her flinch because her toes were so cold. Over her shoulder she could just see her bedroom door. “At least fifteen flared tentacles,” she whispered to herself, only looking away from the door to douse her foot in soap and start in on it using the pot scrubber with the long handle. “No visible sensory organs, yet. Phosphorescent or at least highly reflective discharge, corrosive to some materials,” she muttered, trying to remember everything she’d seen. “Hopefully only some,” she said, rinsing her foot in the hottest water she could stand.
After a full minute of quick glances at her toes to make sure they were only red from the hot water, she patted them dry, leaving the towel in the sink in case any of the mucus was still on it. She hopped off the counter and picked up the phone. Leaning on the partition between the kitchen and the living room, where she could clearly see the bottom of her door, she dialed. Even with the kitchen light on she could see a blue glow coming from the space between the door and the floor.
“Do you have any idea what time it is?” a raspy voice asked on the fifth ring.
Jeanie opened her mouth and a rough squeak came out. She cleared her throat and flexed her red toes against the carpet. She was smiling so widely her mouth didn’t seem to want to form the words. “It’s time to get up, Frank. We just discovered a new species.”


  1. "the tentacles continued to sedately twist and sway" best line evar! Welcome to my vocabulary "sedately".

    Also, the only thing I ever have nightmares about are Wookies chasing me to Mos Def's Mathmatics while pelting me with marshmallows. You're nightmares are way better :D Very Lovecraftian!

  2. You're making me want to work on stuff other than my Girl Scout story now....

  3. I need to know how the Girl Scouts came to power. You can do tentacle monsters any time.

  4. You could always combine the two. I'm sure it would be huge in Asia...

  5. Wow I am so glad I don't have nightmares about this! Jeanie is one brave girl, because I think I'd have been in the corner weeping to myself until that thing ate me. The ending was fantastic and I broke into laughter as I realized the purpose of her clinical self-babble at the sink. Well done and in the words of Robot-Chicken Shyamalan, "What a twist!"

  6. Ha! The Robot Chicken reference made my day.


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