Sunday, 25 August 2013

The cockroach


It darts out from behind the draining rack, waving its antennae lazily. A dirt-brown invader, an aberration, a hideous blemish on the white surface. It crouches in the middle of the worktop, facing me with its blind, truncated, pincered front.

I can’t move. My throat constricts. My skin crawls. I swallow a wave of nausea.
It can’t be a cockroach. It can’t be. It’s bigger than my thumb.
Oh Jesus.

It lifts a leg, puts it down again. Suddenly, horribly, it clatters up onto the tiled wall, clackclackclackclack, vanishes behind the shelves. I hear a faint crunching sound. It’s eating something. I think I’m going to be sick.

I’m still rooted to the spot. I can’t see it now. But it’s getting closer and closer to the larder. I picture it crawling over my apples, burrowing into my porridge oats. Tracking the dregs of whatever cesspit it calls home across my fresh tomatoes.

I know that something must be done. And I have to be the one to do it.

I dive for the cupboard under the sink, scan the arsenal. I grab a can of Raid. It trembles in my fist. Here we go.

It skitters down the wall again. OhChristit’shorriblegetitawayfromme. I extend the can towards it, every muscle in my body clamouring for a hasty retreat. What are you doing, run away, run AWAY. I’ve stopped breathing.

I squeeze my eyes shut, and I spray, almost driving the button into the canister with the force.
But it’s too late. I missed. It’s gone.

It’s in amongst the dishes on the draining board now. The clean dishes. I was going to eat my cereal out of that bowl.

Crunch. Oh Jesus.

Here it comes, out from under the tray, skittering on its hideous little legs. I spray it, bullseye this time, yes, yes, die you bastard, DIE.

The cockroach skates blithely, elegantly, through the pool of Raid. It leaps onto the tiled wall in a feat of super-cockroach agility.

What manner of creature is this? That a faceful of poison doesn’t even check its many-legged step? Can it even be killed?

They say they’ll outlive us all. These vile survivors of prehistoric deserts will forge, invincible, through the furnaces of any future hell, watching with their eyeless faces as humankind perishes, screaming, in the flames. Sparks will glance off their armoured phalanxes; they will ford the Styx itself. Nothing else will survive.

What manner of land have I stumbled into? Where such hellbeasts as this roam unchecked across countertops, in larders? It jumps off the wall again, crouches on the counter. It knows that it has won.

Not this time.

I lunge for the kitchen paper, rip off a sheet, wrap my hand in it and bring a thunderous fist, a mighty and terrible fist, down on its cringing form. Crunch, squish, BAM. And again. BAM.

An antenna spasms feebly, a leg jerks. And then all is still.

Your move, Texas.


  1. Fáilte go Texas.

    Reporting in from the North here. The war against the bug hordes continues. We see some progress from time to time on various fronts, but the "SS Fire Ant" and "SS Tree Roach" Divisions are elite units. I have learned they take special weapons and tactics.

    Sounds like your first skirmish against a Tree Roach scouting patrol went well. Maith an bhean! Comhghairdeas! ;)

  2. Go raibh maith agat! It was pretty traumatic, but I lived to tell the tale. Just about.