08 Jun 2012 An epic battle
 |  Category: Miscellaneous

I don’t blog often (duh) so, when I do, naturally it’s something that really matters.  Any bug/insect/creepy crawly lovers out there, you may want to discontinue reading.  Based upon a true story.


So there I was one recent evening about 10pm, minding my own business at the “dining” table (so-called, but in reality it’s a foldable plastic table… but hey, it gets the job done).  All other Smithtopians were asleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads (or something equally yummy, I’m sure) and I was researching various Ph.D programs, academic institutions, degree specializations, etc.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed some movement.

To my disbelief and disgust I discovered a wriggly and slithery centipede coming toward me, no doubt with intent to kill or at least seriously maim.  Its purpose could clearly be discerned by its many, many, rushing legs, the audible clicking of its mandibles as it sensed fresh meat (and lots of it, though less than there used to be, thank you very much!), and the poisonous drool emanating from its mouth.  Did I mention its many legs?

Not generally prone to bother animals (I only squish our neighborhood cockroaches when cajoled/pressured into it by other Smithtopians), I may have been inclined to let this one go, too.  Or, more likely, capture it and release it somewhere outside, perhaps in an unpleasant neighbor’s yard (just kidding [as if we have any unpleasant neighbors anyway]; more likely I’d look for some humungous chicken [ya know, the 200lb+ kind] that could eat the sucka).  However, I knew with absolute certainly that if left alive in the house, either (a) because of apathy, or (b) because it escaped while I searched for something to hold it, that once known to Mrs. Smith in the morning, there would be no forgiveness in this life.  And, quite likely, none in the life to come, either!

Having planned ahead for this possibility, reading about centipedes and how to deal with them when we originally researched the prospect of moving to Hawaii in Jan 2011, I put my plan into action.  I darted into the kitchen and grabbed two knives: 1 meat cleaver (yes, very large and heavy, that was critical) and a smaller serrated knife, a last-ditch measure to use against myself (no cyanide tablets handy) in case the meat cleaver broke against its diamond-hard shell and I was left to its merciless jaws.

I swiftly returned – again, remember the NEVER FORGIVEN motivation if left in the house (or, perhaps worse, I’d be forced to move EVERY item we own in the house until located) – and set to the grisly task.  I chopped at the mid-section with the cleaver hoping it would neatly sever the beast in twain.  Beowulf ‘s Grendel surely was no more fearsome than this mighty centipede.

To my surprise, the meat cleaver did not break.  It (barely) managed to cut through and chopped into the floor (whoops, sorry dear!) with a satisfying THUD.  I mistakenly thought the task completed.  To my amazement, the hydra-like horror merely multiplied.

Where before there was a single monster, now there were two VERY angry (and likely in some pain, though it was evidently merely a flesh wound to this ignoble beast) halves in pursuit of my blood.  Call it a sense of morbid curiosity, but instead of immediately striking again (and again and again and again) at the beast, like my body urged me to do, I instead withdrew to observe.

For several minutes the two halves ran around – mostly in circles – unable to locate the cause of their physical separation.  Eventually the two halves settled down and died.  Or so I thought.

Deciding the monster was slain and that I was now prepared to journey to Mount Olympus – for surely Perseus was never so heroic or worthy, the “mighty” Kraken a mere child’s pet compared to this beast – I gathered something to pick up the carcass.  Only then I discovered the pernicious and insidious nature of the beast: when touched (by a very large piece of paper, ~3ftx2ft), the two separated halves attacked in tandem.  Legs failed, mandibles clicked, poison flowed.  Had the paper been my hand, no doubt my next of kin or poor widow would have discovered me on the floor the following morning, frozen in pain and terror by rigor mortis’ cold clutches.

THUD!  THUD!  THUD!  THUD!  THUD!  THUD!  This was no Grendel.  Surely this was Grendel’s mother’s mother, the very harbinger of death and embodiment of evil, whose powers I could scarcely comprehend let alone defeat.

One centipede had been freakish.  Two were horrific.  Now there were eight (only slightly smaller… somehow it seemed each new mini-pede engorged itself on my terror) monstrosities clamoring for blood, now frozen and unable to pump through my constricted veins taut with fear.  Amazingly, each separate entity continued to run around.  A stronger, more intelligent person may have retained some cognitive control in the situation, remembering that its movements were purely autonomous nervous-system responses.  But all sense of reason, rationale, and indeed humanity had long left me in a reduced state of fight-or-flight barbarism.

Either it was going down or I was.  Somehow I instinctively knew that if I could manage to separate the head from its body, its unbelievable powers of necromantic life-energy would diffuse and, finally, it would be dead.

THUD!  THUD!  THUD!  Legs, chitinous exoskeletal pieces, and other dismembered parts flew into the air in my frenzied and savage attack.  Slowly – oh so slowly – I could see a semi-transparent liquid pooling on the floor and some of the smaller pieces begin to slow.  THWACK!

With a final, mighty swing, the beast dodged left when it should have swung right, and the tortuous battle was over.  Human (or what had passed for one [occasionally] prior to the onslaught): 1, mother-of-all-evil-and-unholy-union-with-death: 0.

I expected the neighborhood roosters to crow momentarily, for surely the battle had raged throughout the night.  I was surprised [truthfully] that the encounter lasted 15 minutes (the ugly sucka waggled around that long in small pieces – crazy!!!).

Slowly some semblance of humanity returned and I had the presence of mind to wipe the knife and put it in the dishwasher, not back in the wood block (and Mrs. Smith thinks me uncouth, hah!).  I then used the large paper – not truly trusting myself to go nearer – to slide under the many, many pieces, and dumped it in the outside trash, then used several disinfectant wipes (thank you store that I will not name, but whose predecessor was called Price Club) to clean the floor and wipe away all traces of our horrific struggle (well, minus the deep slashes in the flooring… again, sorry).

The battle was over but the war, I fear, remains: I sense its children seek vengeance…

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2 Responses

  1. I laughed until tears were streaming down my face. Which, I suppose, you know, because you’re falling asleep on the floor behind me as I read it.
    Publicly, though, my Dear, you outdid yourself with this one. An epic battle, indeed. Posterity will be glad you both lived through it AND managed to documente it, thus immortalizing your bravery.
    My Hero!

    PS: You might have been spot on about the moving all the furniture in the house bit. 😉

  2. 2
    Wendy 

    Eeeeeew. Super creepy, though I certainly appreciated all the literary allusions. :) Way to slay the dragons, Mr. Smith!

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