Its two arms detached from the tub and rose to either side of him. He winced, expecting the claws to tear into the flesh of his neck or his face, but those claws retracted quietly (save a drizzle of clear mucus) and then both of the tentacles looped behind his head. There was an audible squelch as they melded together, turning the creature into a reverse yoke.

A sound began to emanate from inside the thing’s navy depths. Nutter – in what few chambers of his sanity remained – had expected a predatory hiss, maybe even an inexplicable roar from inside that starry void. But the sound the monster made was a vibrating undertone, more felt than heard.

The thing was purring.

Nutter’s skin blazed with an itch that made him want to take sandpaper to it. The weight of the creature and his angle in the tub would make standing up again a nightmare. He imagined those claw-things bursting from its flesh to maim or blind him if he tried anything. But within the monster’s inky depths, a sickly glow began to pulse. The purr got louder as the itch got worse. At last Dwayne Nutter understood suicide.

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