The sound of breaking glass yanks Curt from his sleep. Bolting upright in bed, he turns to face Gail, her eyes also blown wide with surprise.
"Downstairs," he mutters.
"Maybe," she whispers. Without taking her eyes from her husband, she fumbles for the cell phone on the nightstand beside her. "911..."
Curt hops out of bed.
"Curt," she pleads.
"I have to check." His scowl says too much: Three tours in Iraq and I come home to some scumbag in my own home. There's your freedom. He ignores her voice chattering into the phone. At the top of the stairs he pauses and listens for another sound. Nothing. The house is cold.
Curt takes the stairs one at a time, his ears ready the whole time. He wishes for the 9mm in his nightstand drawer, the one Gail isn't fond of, especially loaded with a four-year-old in the house.
He hears the other sound when he reaches the first floor. Wind?
The thing is on the kitchen floor, swollen and blue, stretching across the room. The small table they'd inherited from her parents is clearly broken, smashed under the thing's weight. One leg juts out at a strange angle. The kitchen window above the sink is broken, and chill breeze cuts through the opening.
Curt spies a slip of cardboard on the floor, approaches carefully and picks it up. The blue thing undulates like jelly after someone taps the side of the jar. He can almost hear it breathe.
The slip of cardboard is from the package. They'd bought the Magic Growth Sponge at the checkstand earlier that day to keep Sophia quiet. She'd begged; he'd given in. It was supposed to grow into a cow after soaking in water. A fucking cow.
Curt read the label in the dim moonlight: Continuous Growth.
The thing swells...
"Bring the gun, Gail."