Juliet Dink woke with a snort, instantly sitting up in bed. Something was inside her mouth. She spit, letting the hard object fall into her hand. It was a wet, black thing. The room was very dark, and for a moment all she could do was stare with dreamy unbelief at it. It was a small, half-chewed cockroach. “Fuck!” she screamed. Her arm started flapping like a trapped animal, flinging the cockroach away.
Juliet sat in bed opening and closing her mouth in silent pain, like a fish dying in air. She pushed her fingers inside her mouth, touching every corner and cavern. She walked to the bathroom with a nervous expression and brushed her teeth, rinsing her mouth out with Listerine many times. As she was brushing her teeth for the second time, she caught herself scowling at her reflection in the mirror.
“Diffphuthing,” she said. A shiver of pure revulsion pulsed through her body. She spat into the sink again and again.
Like most pretty girls, Juliet Dink wasn’t used to having small insects crawl out of her mouth in the middle of the night. It was a very shitty way to get woken up at two in the morning, especially considering that she had to be at work very early the next day. She needed to go back to sleep…but how can somebody go back to sleep after something like that? She was wide awake.
Rubbing her nose, Juliet turned on the main light in her tiny apartment—really just a single room with a bathroom and a kitchen. She squinted her pale blue eyes and scanned the apartment from left to right, looking to see if more roaches were around.
Cockroaches are sneaky little fuckers. If you see one, you can be sure that there are others. You can never really know how many cockroaches might be hidden all around you at any given moment—hidden in the walls, in the cupboards, in corners, under beds. Cockroaches don't have ears or brains. They don't make any noise. They come out when everyone is sleeping, or gone. Their hard black bodies creep out from the shadows like manifestations of darkness itself, like tiny bits of Night that have grown legs and antenna and gone out into the world.
Juliet looked and looked but no more cockroaches could be found. She didn't sleep that night. She couldn't. Sitting in her favorite chair she read a fat novel alone, occasionally glancing up from the pages to check the apartment, her eyes stabbing left and right, her face jerking around like a bird's. Finally the sun came up, and she got ready for work.
When she got back home, Juliet threw off her dress, crawled into bed, and fell asleep instantly. Her transition from waking life to sleeping oblivion was dreamless and complete, like turning off a light.
She woke up feeling something moving inside her mouth and jerked up, screaming and spitting and spitting and screaming. The cockroach fell on the bed on its back, its hairy legs franticly clawing the air. “You fuckerrraahhh!” Juliet picked up her giant novel and smashed the bug again and again, until it was nothing but a greasy dark smear on her Pink Panther blanket.
Her hands were shaking and her mind was racing so fast she could hardly keep up with it. She couldn't believe it. Was she dreaming? No, she was not. Did she imagine it? She glanced back at the greasy smear on the blanket.
Cockroaches are sneaky, stealthy, disgusting little things and they might be hiding anywhere, at any time. They are scavengers and can eat almost anything. They can even learn to eat poison. They breed like dividing cells, and can take over an entire building in less than a few weeks. Once they've infested and taken root, they are very difficult to get rid of. They are tenacious, and they are legion. They can crawl on walls. They can survive for an entire week with their heads cut off. They like dark, moist places.
Chris Dankland is from Houston, Texas. During the day he is a public school teacher and at night he writes stories, some of which have appeared in Metazen, New Wave Vomit, Keep This Bag Away From Children, and have u seen my whale. He blogs at Neato Mosquito Alt Lit Fireworks Show and dankland.blogspot.com.