Something’s growing in the corner. It took root while I was out, and is spreading its tendrils across the floor, wrapping the tiniest of vines into the threads of the carpet. So faint you almost can’t see it. But rest assured, if you look close enough, it’s there.

I knew it had sprouted before seeing it. Just the smell alone enough to give away the introduction of a strange new presence in the house.

The cat won’t go near it. Carlos won’t even enter the living room now. Instead he just mewls from the kitchen, like he wants his bowl filled. But his bowl is already full.

This is something else.

At first, I was worried he’d use the dug-up mess as a litter box. Mistake it for something which it is not. But perhaps that would have been better. At least that would be a smell I can recognize. One which has a place already catalogued in my olfactory memory. This new one though, it crept into my nose just as it crept into the carpet. Secretly under the cover of night.

I hadn’t noticed it when I returned to the library with my stolen book. I hadn’t noticed it even when I flipped through the first few pages. A strange book, to be honest. Filled with visions and religion and sadomasochism and penance. Not quite something I felt like reading at the time, and perhaps never will. As I thumbed through the pages, snippets here and there fought for my attention.

Words like “Dionysus” and “Frenzied Women.”

“Mistress.”

“Jew”

“Cult”

“Priestess.”

On page 49, something fell from the book onto the floor, but sleep caught me before I caught that something.

Before it scurried away to the shadows.

And when I woke, the room stunk of earth and growth and an undercurrent of death.

As I said, a present from Carlos would have been better. Better than whatever had taken root.

In the dead of night, I stumble to the corner. The stench growing with each step I take in the direction of my dalliance of excavation.

Stars like twilight sparkle like dew on mossy leaves, betraying the invader’s subtle physical presence.

I unzip my pants and piss in the corner, defiling that which has dared trespass.

A thousand microscopic screams ring out as the growth becomes death and the stink goes away.

Only to be replaced by a whiff of ammonia and the welcoming arms of a deep, comforting sleep.

Continue to Chapter Nine