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Kevin was patrolling the fifth floor hallway when he heard the noise. It wasn’t unusual to hear yelling - a lot of the apartments were section 8, and a lot of the rest were college students, so he'd hear all sorts of stuff happening late at night. But this was coming from the south stairway, and it didn’t sound like an argument or a party. Just loud grunts, and clattering, and a deep voice saying fuck a lot. He frowned at his watch. More than five hours left.

He was still new; if this was serious, it would be his first time. Most of the security thought their uniforms made them look badass, but he always felt ridiculous in his, and they wouldn’t even let him have pepper spray. Whatever, he thought, and pushed the door open.

Somehow, the first thing he saw was the guy. He was tall, with sweatpants and an old T-shirt hanging off his frame. He looked exhausted and sweaty. He was wielding a huge stick - no, a spear. And then, after noticing that the guy was actually pointing the spear at something, only then did he see the tentacles.

They were as thick as a man’s torso, a cluster of them filling the entire stairwell and suggesting more beneath. Unmistakably those of an octopus, but far larger (and, he would later realize, far too numerous). They wriggled along the walls, floor, and in the air, like probing fingertips. Whenever one got too far up onto the landing, the guy would slash at them, driving them back; whenever he came near the stairs, they tried lazily to snare him, forcing him to dance away. It looked like they’d been at it for hours.

“What are you doing?” Kevin finally managed.

“Holding… it… back,” the guy spat between spear thrusts.

A moment passed.

“What is it?” Kevin tried again.

“It’s an octopus, man. I don’t know what it wants here, but shit, what was I supposed to do? Go back to bed after I saw it?”

“How long has this been going on?” Kevin took a step back, toward the hallway door.

“Every night for, I don’t know, like five years now. It goes away at dawn.”

“Five years?

“Five years. I haven’t—“ he jabbed downward, yanking his foot out of reach. “I haven’t really made much progress.” He stepped back, tapping the wall with the spear, taking a break as the tentacles followed the sound. “I don’t know what it wants,” he whispered, conspiratorially, “but we obviously can’t let it happen.”

Kevin swallowed. “Why us? Why doesn’t anyone else know about this?”

The guy frowned. “I think, mostly, they just use the elevator.”

Kevin eyed the wandering tentacles. They tried to grab at the guy whenever he got too close, but other than that seemed content just to poke around. “Where do they go?” he asked.

“You know, once or twice, I tried to go around the other side and come up from underneath,” the guy said. “I went up the stairs to where its head should be, and you know what I found?”


“More tentacles, my friend. More. Fucking. Tentacles.” The guy stepped abruptly into the creature’s path, swinging his spear. It recoiled, then sent two arms tumbling in his direction. He grit his teeth, raised the spear, and grinned.

Kevin backed slowly out the door. He looked down at his radio. For a moment he stood, considering, but in the end he left it in his belt. He resumed his patrol. He still had five hours left. He made a mental note: next time he ended up on third shift, he’d stick to the north stairs.

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