The Squid that Came to Phil’s Basement

Scott Pearson

The thing in the puddle in his basement stared at Phil. Phil clamped his hands over his ears, but the thing’s mournful wailing passed through his soul like an icy wind in the trees.
       His legs had been shaking when he reached the bottom step, his hand clenched on the railing. He’d followed the terrible lamentation down from his bedroom, expecting to find some crazy homeless person had broken into his house. Breathing fast and shallow, smelling an odd tang of salt in the air, he had lowered one slippered foot to the basement floor, expecting the firm feeling of concrete, not a soft splash.
       Oh, great, he had thought. The basement’s flooded. Was that all it was? Could that be the source of the sound, spraying pipes, a malfunctioning water heater? But as he stepped down with his other foot, something yielded beneath his weight, like stepping on a rubber hose. The dreadful sound increased in pitch, and something moved slimily along his ankle.
       “What the—” He caught a glimpse of something, a blur of color, something that he couldn’t quite focus on. He blinked and shook his head, disoriented. For a moment he seemed to see it directly, a writhing mass of tentacles, coiling and uncoiling, distending and shrinking, a moist knot of flesh tying and untying, and above the tentacles an eye, an unblinking eye the size of a softball, a giant pupil dilating into an unnatural shape as it focused on him.
       Phil turned and stumbled up the stairs, his soggy slippers falling from his feet, a viscous smudge on his ankle where he’d been caressed by a cold tentacle. . . .

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