What Jake Found In The Basement

Submitted into Contest #78 in response to: Write about someone who keeps an unusual animal as a pet.... view prompt

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   “I hear a sound in the basement,” said Claire to her husband Jake. “Go see what it is.”

     Jake turned on the basement light and went down the steep, old steps. He saw a small sort of reptile writhing on the floor. It had many legs and continuously changed its shape and colors.

       “It’s some kind of lizard.”

        “Lizard! I don’t think I want a lizard in the basement. What kind of lizard?”

         “Damned if I know; I’ve never seen anything like it.”

          “Come get my phone and take a picture of it.”

         Jake walked up the stairs and took the phone from Claire and went back down in the basement. He took several pictures of the animal. Its constant movement made getting a clear shot difficult. Each picture looked entirely different from every other one. 

          Jake handed Claire the phone.

           “Couldn’t you get better shots than this?”

             “I did my best.”

              “If you say so.”

               Claire spent the next twenty minutes surfing on her phone. “Uh-oh, it looks like we have an entropy beast. Every website recommends professional extermination.”

                “How much will that cost?”

                Claire showed Jake a figure on her phone that made his jaw drop.

                “Why so much?”

                 “It seems that when an entropy beast is visible only elaborate exorcism processes are effective. Because they are manifestations of Newtonian concepts rather than demons, religions don’t handle them. Physical exorcists are rare and expensive.”

               “We can’t afford that. Anyway, it looks kind of cool. Why don’t we just keep it?”

               “They live by turning order into chaos. It will just get bigger and more powerful. Meanwhile, everything around it will become more disorganized, random, and broken.”

                  It was something he would never tell Claire, but Jake felt he could use some more randomness in his life.

                 For several days Jake would use his spare time watching the thing in the basement. It was interesting, sometimes beautiful, often repulsive, as it writhed on the floor. Everyday, it was getting bigger. Then one night, Jake and Claire woke to crashing sounds in the kitchen. They rushed downstairs. Everything in the cabinets was now on the floor. There were broken glasses and plates and burst bags of food scattered everywhere.

                 As they cleaned up Claire said, “We’ve got to get rid of that thing.”

                 “How do you know Proteus did this?”

                  “You named it!? Of course, it did it. It isn’t a pet. That thing is dangerous.”

                  “I think it likes me.”

                   “Tomorrow you’re going to get rid of it.”

                    “I like Proteus. If you want to get rid of him, you’ll have to do it yourself.”

                      The next day, Jake lay on the couch reading a book while Claire put on old clothes, rubber gloves and a breathing mask (just in case.) She went downstairs. Jake found it hard to concentrate on his book due to the amount of crashing and swearing coming from the basement.  

                     Claire stomped up the stairs enraged. “I couldn’t get my hands on it and it attacked me.”

                      “Proteus wouldn’t hurt you. He knows I wouldn’t like that.”

                       “It knocked me on my ass three times!”

                        “But you’re okay.”

                         “It could’ve killed me.”

                          “Proteus won’t hurt you. We have an understanding.”

                           “It’s an entropy beast! They don’t understand anything. If you have an understanding, why did it wreck the kitchen?”

                          “Proteus needs to create disorder to live. You don’t want him to die, do you?”

                           “I want it exorcised from the house.”

                             “I read on the website that exorcists will not even attempt entropy beast removal unless they are promised full cooperation from all parties associated with the location. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

                             “You’re responsible if anything else goes wrong.”

                             That evening Jake was walking their dog, Rags, who sometimes barked and growled at the beast but usually seemed unaware of its existence. He saw something pink and green on the sidewalk, a scratch-off ticket. Jake took a quarter from his pocket and scratched it off, five hundred dollars. He walked a little further and found another ticket, two thousand dollars. He walked to the near-by convenience store and tied up Rags outside. When he went to the counter, he found he had lost the two-thousand-dollar ticket. He cashed in the five-hundred-dollar when Rags came into the store.

                           “No dogs allowed,” said the store owner.

                            Jake pocketed his money, picked up Rags’ leash and left the store.

                           “What do you think happened to the two-thousand-dollar ticket?” Claire asked after Jake told his story.

                       “Beats me but don’t you see the whole thing is really improbable. I think Proteus caused it.”

               “He grants wishes?”

               “Don’t be ridiculous. He isn’t a genie. He just makes random events and he can make randomness go our way.”

              A few days later he called the bank. Their mortgage payment had not left their account.

             “Our computer system went down. We’re crediting all payments.”

              Jake hung up. “Claire, I think our mortgage was paid for free this month.”

              The next few months were a round of unexpected deliveries, bureaucratic oversights, and happy accidents. Everything was unplanned and Jake and Claire never knew what would happen next. Jake tried not to think that in almost every case it was caused by someone else’s plans going completely awry.     

             One night in bed, Jake heard Claire sobbing.

              “What’s the matter, sweetie?”

              “I don’t think I can take this anymore. I have to have some idea what will happen.”

              “But things are going well.”

              “I know you think so but it’s driving me crazy. It’s easy for you; you never were one for making plans or taking precautions. As long as you’re not hungry or in pain everything’s fine. I think that’s why that thing likes you. I can’t live like this. I need to have plans. I need to know what I’m doing. It used to be you’d go along with me but now with Proteus it’s “let’s just see what happens” every single day.”

               “I love you, sweetie.”

                “I know you do but something needs to change.”

                The next morning Jake went down to the basement.

                “Proteus is gone!”

                “How did you make him go away?”

                “I didn’t do anything; he’s just gone.”

                “I know you’ll miss it but I think it’s for the best. Do you think it will come back?”

                “Who knows? It’s an entropy beast.”

January 29, 2021 14:07

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1 comment

Sarah Ross
02:13 Feb 04, 2021

This is a cool read! I like how normal you make finding a creature like this is the basement seem. It makes me want to know more about their world. I would’ve liked to see more build up showing how anxious Claire got before crying too. The end makes me want to know where and why the monster left. Feels like a good cliff hanger. Good work!


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