“The creature in the depths could see—did at least see—only a limited range of colors. Her pleasures were more those of taste and feeling. She liked the sensation of burrowing through loose layers of decaying cellulose and fishy spines, the rustle and ripple of her own muscles and the tiny, endlessly testing pads on the ends of her multitudinous hair-legs. She had a particularly energetic ripple of her whole length, from snout, through all her elastic joints, to the flickering sensors at the end of the fork of her tail. She would exaggerate this motion, just for the pleasure of it, letting her plump ribbon float up on a sluggish current and using all her strength to drive down again, letting water trickle through her hairs and over her chitin. She loved eating, too. She was a scavenger. She watched for the falling flesh of the dead—a minnow rigid in its last struggle, an earthworm, bloodless and falling away from a hook, little delicious chunks of very high duck flesh, mashed with feathers, clinging to shreds of bone. She had avoided being eaten. She could whirl away from a questing, snapping bird mouth, and she could lie, still, still, indistinguishable from the mud itself, her own odor masked by its pungency, whilst the trout, and the carp, and the pike floated by.
“She was curious about the smell of the sharp vegetable molecules and the bitter lichen tea that wound their way past her toward the surface. She went toward the bubbles in the mud and sniffed, and tasted, and tested, and recoiled slightly. She closed her nostrils briefly, and backed away. Later she thought of these odd smells as the beginning. Somewhere, even, they troubled her eyes with unaccustomed frequencies, a ghost of a red glare, a rush of bluish shadow, a yellow stain.”
—A. S. Byatt, from “The Narrow Jet”
Art credit Ibai Acevedo