Chapter 1

The night was humid. Squished in the midst of the sweltering summer heat of South Florida, Faye lay with her bedroom window slightly ajar, allowing for a moderate breeze. Pale moonlight filtered through the open crack, softly illuminating the interior of her room in a low glow that accentuated the cozy atmosphere of the space while highlighting pairs of dirty sneakers littered across the floor and her wide arrangement of animal posters that plastered the length of her blue walls.

Faye sat up in bed, her dark hair pulled back in a tight ponytail in an effort to keep it from frizzing and sticking to her forehead, in part due to the mugginess of the air, and largely because she preferred the efficiency of the look. She'd been up for the better part of the night, partially using that time to glue miniature green stars to her ceiling that happened to glow in the dark.

There was a frantic scratching at the wooden sill of her window. A sudden pause occurred, wherein a wet snuffling could be heard, before the scraping resumed. A big grin tugged at Faye's features as she quickly rolled from bed onto the tan colored carpet floor below. She crossed the distance between her bed and the window in three big bounding steps to pull back the shades of her blinds and reveal a peculiar creature pressed up eagerly against the glass.

A distance away, an untrained eye could've easily mistaken it for a possum. Up close as Faye was, however, was an entirely different story. It stood bipedal, about the size of a raccoon covered intensively in dark brown fur, with a long wet and constantly quivering snout that left a dribbling smear on the clear glass. The most significant part of its appearance though, had to be the scaly, reptilian like, multicolored tail it had, slithering behind it as though it possessed a mind of its own.

"Hello, Martin," Faye greeted the creature, warmly, pushing the window up further before stepping back to allow it access inside. "Was wondering if I'd see you tonight."

The odd creature, now known as Martin, darted inside the room and began madly circling around Faye's bare legs in an exaggeratedly exuberant manner. It ran its nose along her ankles, tickling the tops of her feet and covering them in its sticky mucus, until, giggling brightly, Faye lightly nudged it back.

"Okay, okay," she was laughing, "I know what you want. I'll get it."

Reaching underneath the bed, Faye produced a bag of cat food along with a tiny porcelain bowl that she carefully then placed down in front of Martin. She unraveled the partly full bag and poured a decent helping of hard kibbles into the white bowl. Sitting on its hind legs, Martin wasted no time by digging its hand like paws into the food and shoveling several kibbles into its mouth, munching noisily. Almost remembering too late, Faye immediately placed a blanket under Martin, knowing its habit of slobbering all over her carpet and staining it while eating.

Faye sat cross legged on the floor across from the nibbling creature. Humming softly, she reached out and fondly stroked Martin behind its head, feeling the coarseness of its short fur beneath her fingers. She originally met Martin, roughly about a year ago, scrabbling at her window after a failed go of rummaging through her garbage for food. It'd been her first time encountering a creature quite like it, but certainly wouldn't be her last.

She was immediately enraptured by its strangeness, possibly more eager to befriend it, than she actually was about figuring out exactly what kind of animal it was. With a bit of coaxing, Faye was able to successfully lure it inside her room, where she spent just as much time studying it as she did playing with it.

Back then, she hadn't known what was proper to feed Martin, going through a course of several different types of food until eventually discovering the creature carried a strong affinity for cat food. Not actually owning a cat made smuggling the bags past her mother on a biweekly basis quite an interesting game of cat and mouse.

Subsequently, after that first night they spent together, the creature had proceeded to return each night, wherein that same week it was then that Faye decided upon the name of Martin for it. Truthfully, she wasn't even certain of the creature's gender, choosing the name solely on the basis that it just felt right to her. There was a slight tingle she felt on her tongue that always occurred whenever she said it.

Martin continued to gnash and gnaw on the kibbles in a resounding crunch as brown crumbs flew from its mouth, cluttering its fur and the blanket underneath it. Faye brushed some of the specks away, only for them to immediately be replaced by more, seconds later. She didn't really mind the mess, though. Martin remained just about as cleanly as she did daily. They were actually quite alike in that shared trait.

The bowl was soon depleted of its content. Martin wiped at its nose, cleaning it thoroughly, before releasing a satisfied belch that Faye couldn't help grinning at. Its hunger sated, Martin now trailed the floor of the room, giving one of Faye's shoes a curious sniff before moving on. It headed towards the window, where it scrabbled its way up onto the sill and then turned to look at Faye with its beady black eyes. He never did stick around too much longer after finishing eating.

Faye rose to her feet and joined Martin over by the window. "See ya later then, Martin," she bade the creature farewell, giving it a brief scratch behind the ears. "Take care and come back soon."

Martin temporarily wrapped its scaly tail around Faye's wrist, almost in what could be perceived as its own form of a handshake. Its tail was cold to the touch, a sharp difference to the warmth that radiated from its body whenever she touched it.

Faye smiled, mimicking the motion of a shake, until Martin released his gripped and then hopped off into the grass of her backyard. It sniffed the air and then cast a fleeting glance up towards the starless night sky. Appearing to be satisfied with the lack of danger, Martin scurried across the yard before hopping onto the steel fence, separating her yard from the next, and scaling it in seconds. The oddity of a creature disappeared a moment later, vanishing completely from sight, as though it'd never existed in the first place, while Faye waved a cheerful goodbye.