I asked Caspar about the scuttering sound and was surprised to learn that he’d actually witnessed its source. He hadn’t mentioned it to anyone because the whole incident was so outlandish, he’d figured that no one would believe him.
Shortly after midnight on a Saturday, he’d happened to be awake, watching a late movie with the sound turned down so it wouldn’t disturb other tenants. It was then that he heard the sound in the hallway. It only took a moment to cross to the door and open it.
He looked down the hall and there he saw it – a nimble, hideous thing, at least five feet long and three feet high. Caspar said that it looked like a starfish with seven legs, covered with black-velvet fur. It moved by running on the tips of its limbs, with its body held up in the air. On the top of its body, at the root of each limb, were flexible stalks that ended in glistening, spiderlike eyes, as red as rubies. He added that he could not see a mouth anywhere on the creature’s bizarre body.
The thing did not seem to notice him as it scuttered quickly down the hall. Caspar went back inside his room, but afterward, he wished he had followed to see where it was going.
“I have no idea what a thing like that could be,” I said. “It sounds like a weird cross between a land mammal and a sea-creature, but such a thing just doesn’t exist.”
“I know. It’s just impossible! I wouldn’t have told you about it if you hadn’t asked me about that noise.” Caspar shrugged. “I suppose it was all a dream. But still, can you smell things in a dream? That thing was close enough for me to smell it. Like ammonia.”
“Sometimes I smell ammonia in the halls,” I said. “I just assume Mrs. Veng has been doing some scrubbing.” I thought for a moment. “Can you show me where it might have gone after it ran off?”