I hear the slow scrape of the window sliding open. I’ve been in a writing trance for a while, but that only leaves me susceptible to that sort of thing. I glance over, then do a double-take. The window is open and it’s sitting on the ledge.

I instinctively freeze. Any sudden movement could cause it to spring. I’ve been seeing this thing in my dreams for a while now, but this is the first wakemare it’s been in.

I shouldn’t really say ‘it’; after all, it’s a her. Exaggeratedly so. I’m sure if I told a shrink about her they’d say it was unrequited lust or something like that. She’s staring at me with her eyes wide and her mouth in a slightly-open pout, revealing needle-sharp fangs. Her fur is ruffled a bit, standing up on her hackles as she looks at me. Her claws are out and ready to dig into any flesh that gets too near. Her tail is swishing gently back and forth over entirely too anatomically-correct parts.

We stare at each other for a silent moment. I mouth her name and she squints. This could go either way, and we both know it.

I inch closer to the window, never breaking eye contact. In this sort of situation you never break eye contact. I reach out blindly and locate the stick I normally use to lock the sliding window shut. I don’t know how it came out, but it has to go back in. That protective sheet of glass is absolutely necessary.

She leans toward me, tongue darting out between her teeth. She sniffs, oversized nostrils tasting the air of the room. She bats at the stick half-heartedly, but I still touch the window slider with it. A quick flick and the window closes.

She stares at me as though I’ve somehow betrayed her, but when I reach out my arms and pick her up she doesn’t resist. By the time I hold her to my chest she’s grown to nearly my height, standing on two legs and purring.

I stroke her soft fur and make wordless comforting noises, then slowly push her back into my chest. Her claws touch my heart, which jumps just a bit when she does, and then she slides the rest of the way into my soul. That beast is tamed again; I hope none of the others got out.