War of the Roaches – Part 1
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As the poor creature spun around in circles on its way to a watery grave, I replayed the events over and over in my head. I still cannot be certain my report is completely accurate, I was both sleep-deprived and under intense stress. Like a political lobbyist’s intern, my alarm clock faced great difficulty in calling me to action. And so it was that morning.
I was nowhere near deep sleep, though I was closer to it than I was to being awake. In the past forty minutes I had tapped the snooze button on my alarm clock no less than 5 times. I lay there rolling the idea of being awake around in the back of my mind, but it was a lofty goal that I wasn’t sure I would reach.
And then I felt it, a subtle brushing across the back of my neck.
It came in quick flutters against the base of my hairline, a strange alien motion that I couldn’t compare in my sleepy state. My subconscious could. It nudged me awake with the urgency of a small house fire. When my eyes were open, I brushed it all off as any other dream. But as soon as my eyes closed and I let myself relax, I felt it again.
My subconscious forced me to action and I reached up in self-defense, slinging whatever it was as far away as I could manage. I sat up in bed, scanning the room for whatever it was, but I saw no sign of it anywhere.
I cannot explain how the next part happened. Even something as cliche as a dream within a dream seems as likely a scenario as any. I don’t recall putting my head on the pillow again, but the next thing I remember is a sound echoing through the pillow. It was the sound of fluttering wings against the light material of the pillowcase.
I bolted upright, completely alert. At the top of the pillow a giant cockroach looked up at me with an evil glint in its eye.
It did not speak, not with a voice you could hear. Instead, it twitched its antennae back and forth until I understood its telepathic message.
“I claim this house in the name of our queen. You are to report to the palace at once for registration.”
I assume by “palace” he meant the cabinet beneath our sink.
Out of respect for the diplomatic process, or maybe because it rested on MY pillow and I could not kill it outright, I captured it in a glass. (It is the same courtesy I show spiders after all.) In hindsight, the glass was neither covered nor deep, and it was a terrible choice of vessels in which to transport a prisoner.
The poor decision was obvious when I flipped the glass upside down to shake the roach into the toilet.
Instead of falling to its demise, it leapt with gazelle-like agility to safety. But that safety was short-lived. Inside the nearby closet, my old trusty boot was ready for action. The now aged leather, though cracked, met the ground with a loud thud.
I take no pleasure in the death of a cockroach. But by its own telepathic admission of guilt, it was in my apartment on a mission of conquest. And our apartment is not large by any stretch of the imagination. We would have needed another bedroom for a cockroach of that size.
A shower was in order, perhaps to wash the blood of war from my hands. After that my daughter woke up, meeting me in time for breakfast at the dining room table. I had already put the bacon in the oven, and the eggs were on the stove when I heard her shriek. She was across the room, but the open-plan of the kitchen and living area gave her a clear line of sight to where I stood.
“Look!” She yelled, pointing in my direction.
“What?” I asked, not entirely sure her cries were warranted.
On the ledge just above the stove crept a lone scout. It wore the marks of its clan across its face like a tribal warrior. With a twitch of its body, and a flick of its antennae, it stopped forward motion and reached out with its telepathic fingers.
“I know what you did,” a slippery voice in the back of my mind scolded.
And I believed it.
But it could not escape fate. There was a fancy candle with enough heft to get the job done, and leaving a witness is a bad idea. There would be one more death before the sun had risen above the top of the moss-covered trees. But knowing that one cockroach was agile enough to escape is what keeps me on edge today.
The war has begun indeed.