Thursday, May 6, 2010

Were-roaches and Social Media

The Internet is a funny place. You can find anything out there from the freakish to the geek-ish.

As a part of my foray into writing, I've discovered an entire online world dedicated to the craft. Twitter, Facebook, blogs....they are all out there filled with e-savvy folk at the other end of a computer typing away very happily.

But sometimes it gets pretty strange.

Which leads me to 'Were-roaches.'

Someone in the World Wide Web of insanity, connected to the writing industry, tweeted about Were-roaches. Not Werewolves. Not Were-goats.


I thought it was hysterical. So as a bit of a challenge to myself, I decided to write a quick 'n' dirty short story. About,--you guessed it. Were-roaches.

Have a laugh and enjoy. And if you are reading this at night, you might want to keep the light on.

"...THERE Roaches!"

Janet Mercer sat nervously sipping her black and tan in McSorley’s Old Ale house on 7th Street in the East Village of Manhattan a few doors from her cheap apartment house. The famous pub was filled with old trinkets from decades past. There were a pair of handcuffs attached to the bar rail--said to have belonged to the great Houdini. There were wishbones hanging above the bar. Young soldiers heading off to World War One supposedly placed them there. Those ‘dough-boys’ who had come home safely had collected their wishbones back. Far too many remained unclaimed.

Although the history of the ale house had always fascinated the young aspiring actress from Wisconsin, tonight the normally chatty and inquisitive Janet sat alone in a dark corner nursing her half-pints aimlessly running her fingers over decades-old graffiti carved into the thick butcher-block table.

Janet ignored the hellos that normally led to hours of conversation and laughter. She even didn’t react in the normal mock-indignation she feigned to the delight of the elderly regulars when they booed every woman coming out of the ladies restroom. New York had made McSorley’s put in a ladies room back in the seventies much to the chagrin of it’s all male clientele.

The history, the conversations, the good-natured needling didn’t matter. Not this evening. Not when a full moon was only a few hours away.

* * *

Thirty minutes later, the door to the old pub opened and the ancient brass bell tinkled signaling the arrival of another customer.

A heavy-set man wearing greenish-gray dirty cover-alls walked into the pub. He was about five foot six, wore coke bottle glasses and had long thin greasy hair tied in a ponytail. He was unshaven and a bit grimy, with dark stains scattered sporadically over his one piece. He looked like a sanitation worker who’d gotten off a long shift. A filty, sewed on name tag said ‘Dinklespot.’

The man looked around the room, his dark beady eyes adjusting to the dim light of the ale house. His gaze found Janet, and he walked over to her and sat down without an invitation.

“Ms. Mercer?” he said in a high-whiney sort of voice.

“Yes,” Janet replied tentatively.

“Dinklespot,” he said. “I understand you have a problem.”

Janet looked over the man and her resolve waned a bit. She’d been in her little apartment for almost three months and had experience the strangeness of two full moons. Janet had been dreading a third experience due this evening, when she had come across a little flyer that had been posted on the street lamp outside her building:




(212) 555-2847

She had rang the number and left a message to meet her at McSorley’s. She might be from a little town in Wisconsin, but she wasn’t stupid. A public place was always the best place to meet up with strangers.

Janet looked over Dinklespot a second time. “I think this might have been a mistake. I’m sorry to have wasted your time...” she began to stand when the strange man grasped her arm.

“When the moon is full it happens,” whispered Dinklespot intensely. You hear strange noises after midnight. You’re afraid to leave your bedroom. The next morning, your things are strewn about the apartment and all your food; even what’s in the refrigerator, is gone. Am I right?”

Janet slowly sat down.

“Is there a problem, lassie?” called an Irish brogue from behind the bar.

“No, it’s fine, Seamus,” Janet called back.

In a lower voice she said to the man, “Everyone at the restaurant thinks I’m crazy. But I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

Dinklespot nodded knowingly and released Janet’s arm.

“Every full moon for the last couple of months, it’s happened,” began Janet rapidly, throwing the explanation out there as if an auction caller. “I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. Oh Mr. Dinklespot, what’s happening?”

“Were-roaches,” he said simply.

“What?” asked Janet confused.

“Scourge of the city,” said Dinklespot. “Were-roaches.”

“What the Hell are ware-roaches?” sputtered Janet out loud. Patrons at the surrounding tables turned to look at her.

“Shhh!” Hissed Dinklespot. “You’ve heard of werewolves?”

“Sure,” Janet said, her voice breaking slightly. “I have an audition for a werewolf musical tomorrow, in fact. But I’ve never heard of where...where...”

“Were-roaches,” said Dinklespot seriously. “Same concept as werewolves, only smaller with more legs. I’ve made it my mission to take care of them.” Dinklespot shook his head.

“It’s personal, so don’t ask,” he added.

“Can you help me?” Janet asked miserably.

“The moon is almost up and it will be midnight soon. Let’s get my gear,” said Dinklespot in reply.

* * *

Janet fumbled nervously with the key to her apartment building. She and Dinklespot had retrieved a large, black gym bag from the back of a dilapidated white Ford van parked on seventh.

“I’m sorry, I’m just... ya know...just really nervous,” said Janet as she finally got the key into the lock and turned. The front door opened with an ominous creak.

“No problem, ma’am. Happens all the time in my line of work,” said Dinklespot as they entered the converted brownstone.

They made there way up two flights of stairs. The building smelled musty and the dim glow of a single bare light bulb threw shadows that seemed to follow the two mockingly as they made their way to Janet’s apartment.

Fumbling again with her keys, she finally let them inside. Janet’s little apartment was typical of an East Village conversion. The entryway opened into a small living room/dining room combo with beat up hardwood floors. A galley kitchen with cheap wood paneled cabinets and avocado-colored appliances was off to the right. The place was sparsely furnished with a rickety card table with folding chairs and a paisley-patterned couch. A small television sat on top of a plastic milk case in the corner.

“It’s not much,” Janet said. “But the price was right. Can you really help me Mr. Dinklespot?”

The little man smiled. “I’m a professional, ma’am.”

He sat his gym bag down in the center of the room, unzipped it and pulled out two cans of what looked like bug spray. They were black with no labeling with silver plastic tops.

“What’s that?” asked Janet.

“My own concoction,” said Dinklespot. “Silver nitrate mixed with RAID.”

“And that will kill these...were-roaches?”

“Oh heavens no,” said Dinklespot as if speaking to a slow child. “They don’t like the stuff so they’ll go around it. I’ll spray it around the baseboards of the place, leaving open a spot in the living room here. Then we’ll bait the trap.”

The man went about his work, humming tunelessly to himself as he sprayed the silver RAID around the apartment. While he was in her bedroom, Janet took a peak in Dinklespot’s gym bag. It seemed to contain more cans of the were-roach spray and a white plastic garbage bag that smelled slightly foul. Before she could investigate further, the man came back into the living room.

“Right,” he said. “That should do it. Now for the bait, and then we wait for midnight.” Dinklespot reached into his gym bag and pulled out the white plastic. He unwrapped it and plopped a large piece of raw meat right in the center of the floor.

Janet wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“Is that really necessary?” she asked choking back a bit of bile from the now overwhelming stench.

“Only the best will get them all out,” said Dinklespot. “And I want all of them tonight.”

Trying to only breath from her mouth, Janet said, “We really haven’t talked about your fee, Mr. Dinklespot. Maybe if you could tell me what you charge I can head out to an ATM to get you cash...?”

“Oh no,” he said. “There is no charge. I told you. This is my passion. I’ve been looking for the nest in this area for a while.”

Janet coughed as she mistakenly used her nose to breathe. “Then maybe I should leave you to it and come back when the job is...”

“Please stay,” said Dinlespot. “After all, you want to be sure the job is done right, don’t you?”

Janet thought about the last two full moons and shuddered. “Yeah, I guess so.”

The two fell into silence for the next three-quarters of an hour. As midnight approached, Janet asked. “So. If the bug spray doesn’t kill them, how do you get rid of the were-roaches? Cut their little heads off?”

“No,” said Dinklespot. “That would just leave a bunch of headless were-roaches running around. You’ll see.” And with that, the man fell silent once more.

The church bells down the street began to chime. Midnight of the full moon was finally here. Janet suddenly felt cold, and goose flesh popped up and down her arms. She moved closer to Dinklespot.

“Do you hear it?” he whispered.

Janet cocked her head to one side and listened. A ‘scritch-scritch’ sound was coming from behind the baseboards. The sound was all around them.

“I left a little open spot right over there,” Dinklespot said pointing near Janet’s TV.

The apartment lights were off, only the moonlight that streamed in through the dusty window illuminated the apartment. But even through the dim gloom, Janet could make out movement in the corner Dinklespot had indicated.

A cockroach came out from behind the TV. Hesitant at first, then with more confidence it skittered across the floor toward the raw feast in the center of the room. The bug crossed into the windowpane-shaped moonlight reflection on the floor and stopped dead in its tracks.

Antennae twitching, the bug began to shake. Then there was a light ‘crack’ sound as it’s hard, brown shell-like body split from head to thorax. The little creature let out a tiny howl.

“Oh God...that’s what I heard!” stammered Janet.

The exoskeleton of the roach split even wider, and the little creature seemed to expand in size. Crawling out of the shattered roach was something that looked like a cross between a tarantula and a nightmare. A hairy, six-legged creature easily three times the size of the original roach slowly made it’s way out of the ruins of the bug. The transformation complete, the were-roach reared up on its hind legs and gave a high-pitched howl, snapping its fangs hungrily.

From behind the baseboard, hundreds of tiny muffled howls answered the cry.

“Jesus Christ!” exclaimed Jane. “Do something Dinklespot!”

“Patience, ma’am,” said the man quietly. “We want them all, remember?”

There was a deeper, somehow more menacing scuttling from behind the baseboards and the creatures made there way to the only exit provided by Dinklespot. The little TV fell off it’s egg crate as the baseboard exploded behind it and hundreds of the little fury monsters poured into the apartment. Janet screamed.

The creatures, howling and snarling as they went, made a beeline toward the trap Dinklespot had set. Within seconds the meat was devoured.

“Dinklespot!” screamed Janet.

“Oh, you’ve been very bold,” said Dinklespot in a cooing voice. “It’s time to go home.”

“What are you talking about?” shouted Janet in horror. “Kill them!”

“Kill them?” said Dinklespot. “What are you, some sort of monster? You don’t kill children!”

With that, the little man opened the zipper on his overalls. He let out a little grunt as his bare chest began to pulsate. The skin on his sternum split bloodlessly and large, hairy insect like limbs began to rip apart Dinklespot’s flesh from the inside.

“Come my children!” hissed a voice from the chest cavity. “First you may feast on the female, then we will go home!”

“Fuck this,” spat Janet as the little horrors turned toward her. She dove for the gym bag. Grabbing cans of silver RAID in each hand she prayed. Then sprayed.

Squeals of pain came from the little were-roaches as silvery foam touched their skin. Janet sprayed at anything that moved.

“No!” Hissed the Dinklespot-bug, still only halfway out of it’s human flesh cocoon. “Don’t hurt them! Bitch!”

The larger were-roach struggled frantically to extract itself from its human form. Tossing away the now empty cans, Janet scooped up two more and walked over to Dinklespot, stepping over its squealing off-spring. She flipped the silver tops off both cans and emptied the contents right into the face of the the Dinkle-were-roach.

A loud howl of pain was followed immediately by the were-roach flopping out from Dinklespot’s chest. The human body fell to the floor with a sickly thud as a bug the size of a small dog; now covered in bubbling welts, also fell twitching to the hardwood. For each loud bellow the large were-roach gave, the smaller creatures mimicked the sound with their higher-pitched voices.

Janet, realizing the hoard of smaller were-roaches were connected to their parent, dropped the second set of bug spray cans to the ground and ran into her little kitchen. She grabbed a large butcher knife from the counter and raced back into the living room.

Lifting the knife high over her head, Janet brought the blade down and cut off the Dinklespot-were-roaches’ head with one stroke.

The hundreds of smaller creatures let out a simultaneous screech, then went silent. Hundreds of little bodies twitched all over Janet’s apartment.

The head of the large were-roach rolled around for a moment and settled in front of the would-be actress, six eyes staring at Janet.

It laughed.

“I told you cutting heads off wouldn’t help!” it hissed.

The headless body of the Dinkle-were-roach began to move. Janet didn’t hesitate. With one big leap, she jumped and landed both feet on the large body. Guts splashed everywhere.

She stepped out of the disgusting mess, breathing heavy and looked around. None of the smaller were-roaches were moving. They were all dead.

Janet wiped sweat off her brow, breathing heavily. “How am I going to explain this to the landlord?” she panted.

A weak hiss answered her. “I’d worry more about the were-queen when she finds out what you’ve done,” said Dinklespot-bug as it died.



Amy B. said...

I was all very amused and laughing along until, "Janet cocked her head to onside and listened. A ‘scritch-scritch’ sound was coming from behind the baseboards. The sound was all around them." That sent a shudder down my spine, and then things just got terrifying! *lol* I particularly loved their tiny high-pitched howls.

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