Writing prompt: “I’d seen some big ones in my time, but this one…..this one was huge.”
By Eilidh Thain
A loud thud woke Henry Jelto with a start. The glass of scotch resting on his crotch tumbled to the floor. He watched as the golden fluid absorbed into the sun-faded rug. Another thud caused him to tighten in his chair. He was sure it was coming from the bathroom. Roaches, he thought. He’d seen those little buggers scuttling around the place.
It sounded heavier like a mouse or worse a rat scratching around in the tub. He’d heard stories about pests climbing into the plumbing of old apartment buildings and coming up through the drains of people’s bathtubs and sinks. He’d even heard a story about a guy who was sitting on the crapper and heard a sploosh below him. When he looked between his legs, he saw a rat clinging to his log of shit. But that’s probably one of those urban myths.
He grabbed a bottle of Pests Bee-Gone and a pair of rubber gloves and headed to the bathroom. He pushed open the door. It hit the tub with a clang. He nearly leapt out of his skin and let out a surprised scream. “Jesus Christ, get it together Henry,” he told himself.
He peered around door at the tub tucked in the back of the room. He heard the familiar thud coming from the bathtub drain. He froze, mouth agape, as a thick antenna popped out of the drain hole, nearly poking him in the eye. He jerked back just as another appeared, bent in half until it cleared the drain and then snapped straight with a thwang.
He watched in disbelief as the two antennae independently felt their way around the tub, making light tapping noises on the porcelain. One had been molesting a shampoo bottle. A chunk of coagulated shampoo hung obscenely from its tip. “Hey, pal you’ve got a little something hanging from your, huh, antenna,” Henry said, a frightened cackle escaped from his throat. It whipped quickly to the side, dislodging the shampoo chunk and snapping Henry upside the head, sending him flailing backwards.
When he straightened up, the antennae had retreated slightly into drain as a brownish mass began to emerge from the hole. He watched in horror as a large, flat insect head squeezed through the opening with a thud. Two coal eyes between the antennae appeared, fixing on Henry. A pair of pincer-like claws at the bottom of its head snapped open, revealing the gape of its cruel mouth. Time seemed to stand still as its body continued to ascend from the drain, segment by impossible segment, until it reared back on what seemed like a million legs. A three-foot centipede stood before him. “I’d seen some big ones in my time, but this one . . . this one was huge,” Henry said, his voice strangled with fear.
He jerked back as the insect lunged at him. He felt himself falling backwards; he groped wildly at the air trying to stop the fall. As his head hit the sink with a sickly clunk, he remembered the bottle of Pests Bee-Gone in his hand as he world went dim.