One evening, my roommate came home from an illegal grocery store in the western quarter. She was wearing one of those heavy canvas military jackets, and it was covered in fresh smears of indigo fluid that I would later find out was something’s blood. “Check it out.” She slammed a gallon-sized mason jar down on the table. A creature could be seen squirming inside, something covered in tentacles and thorns with no discernible body of its own, sloshing around in that same blue ooze. “They let me pick one out of the tank myself.”
It wasn’t the first time that she’d made such a trip; a few months ago, she brought back a massive pile of edible fireworks that we tore through while watching a marathon of Friends. This was a step further though, buying an endangered species to chop up and cook live, especially one more than capable of killing us both. The Agarthan hell cactus was no joke- after being plucked from its roots, it could survive indefinitely as long as it remained submerged in a constant supply of deoxygenated blood; otherwise, it would grow restless and seek out new sources to drain with its thirsty needles.
Mostly I wanted to say “what the fuck,” but I couldn’t say anything at all. I just watched those fifty-dollar tendrils slide against the glass and wondered if she would call the cops if they found their way around my neck, or if she was even going to be able to make rent after this. Either way, we agreed that we had to eat the damn thing fresh for her to get her money’s worth.
For the next three nights, we deliberated over what to do with it. We came up with a number of strategies in the kitchen, ways to ensure we killed it before it could latch on to one of us. Rube Goldberg style combinations of meat cleavers, blenders, boiling water, and just about every other utensil we had were considered. Every time one of us put our hands on the jar to enact our plan, however, it reacted to our body heat by thrashing and hissing wildly, and we backed down.
Eventually, it started to shrivel, and no longer jumped at us when we approached; it just wheezed somberly, no longer able to maintain its violent demeanor. It spent most of the time with its appendages curled on itself, trying to keep warm. At that point, the thought of eating it was just sad. We threw the jar out the window, watched it scurry away, and never spoke of it again.