A thing with the appearance of a pretty-colored stone, blue and green, managed to survive traveling from its home planet in the Andromeda Galaxy, only to find itself in a specimen jar on a shelf in Billy’s bedroom. The lid of the jar had air holes that Billy had punched for the benefit of the jar’s previous resident, a grasshopper. A jar to the left had an actual stone, a sliver of quartz, and to the right was a jar with a cricket (grown quite docile after a day of futile jumping about).

By 2:00 a.m., Billy was sleeping soundly. The thing from space made a slight movement as a tendril emerged from it and made its way up and out through an air hole, then pointed its tip toward Billy and emitted a spray landing lightly on the boy’s face. Billy licked a bit of it from his lips.

He slept well enough for a few hours more but then a nightmare ensued. He tossed about and had spasms that pushed his blanket off the bed.

In his dream, he was a thing born in an ocean, but he had made his way onto the shore. He settled into a comfortable spot that was mostly sand but was sheltered by some scattered blue-green rocks.

He sensed this was not the first time he had come ashore. This time, he would choose to stay out of the water forever. The ocean had predators that were adept at devouring his kind, and he was content to be away from them.

The ocean had his food, too, but he had learned the shore could provide for him as well. It was not long before he saw the smaller, familiar creatures scurrying toward him, no doubt thinking it would be they who would be taking a bite. He grabbed them with the ends of his longer tentacles, then squeezed them to death before dragging their remains to his mouth.

Although it was at night, he could see with the benefit of light from three moons. One was full and the two others were nearly so.

Farther up there was a cluster of carnivorous trees. After a close encounter on a previous visit to the shore, he knew to stay away from them. That was not easy, though. Even a gentle breeze through their branches managed to create enticing music. The melody was hypnotic in attracting animals to the hungry limbs. It was a struggle, but he managed to ignore the melody, even as he saw the shapes of other animals moving slowly toward the trees.

Billy did not fully wake until his mother roused him in the morning. “Time to get up,” she announced outside his bedroom door. “I’m making breakfast, the usual.”

She was gone only a few seconds when Billy began clicking his teeth, tapping them to the rhythm of the alien tune he had heard in his dream—the dream that had mercifully kept him oblivious to the pain of his joints over-extending and the bones softening in his arms and legs.

There was no softening of his teeth. His incisors actually seemed longer and sharper. He pushed himself off the bed. Had his mother been more attentive, she might have heard the sound of his tentacles slapping the floor, as he dragged himself to the hallway.

He was ready for breakfast, but not the usual.