The lights flickered.
Winston placed his hand on the knob.
scrape. scrape. shuffle. shuffle.
He slowly opened the door.
“My good chum, welcome home,” a deep voice said.
Winston’s hands trembled as he reached for the light switch.
“My good chum, the darkness suits us. Suits you,” the voice bellowed from the living room. “Please, have a seat. There is a matter for us to discuss, my good chum,” it called from Winston’s inherited armchair.
scrape. scrape. scratch. scratch. shuffle. shuffle.
Winston exhaled, quivering while placing his groceries on the ground. He inhaled and tried not to scream or shout. Winston had never been afraid like this. He’d never even shouted at someone. How was he going to deal with this? What if he has to miss work? Oh god, what if he gets mugged? Shit. Killed. Burned. Then, mugged.
Fear, curiosity and compliance propelled Winston’s feet forward.
“My good chum,” the voice said. “We thank you. Please. Sit. Mind the little ones. They have a tendency to be naughty.“
Winston yelped abruptly, then slammed his hands over his mouth. His knees buckled. His eyes screamed because his mouth could not.
Winston dropped to his knees. He made the gesture of a cross across his chest. He concluded by pressing his hands in prayer.
He tried to shut his eyes, but was too afraid.
Minutes had passed and Winston still couldn’t comprehend what he was looking at.
His chest spasmed forward as he looked around his knees.
He slammed his hands on the ground.
squish. crunch. crack. splatter.
Winston crushed hordes of roaches. He felt their slime and crushed shells against his palms.
He looked down. “Blaargh” Winston shouted lurching forward, vomiting. “Blaaaaaaaargh! Blaaaargh!”
Rice grains, pineapple, jerky bits, beans, slime, oil and water spread out in a pool around Winston.
shuffle. shuffle. scrape. scrape. shuffle. shuffle.
Hundreds–No, thousands–of small, writhing cockroaches devoured Winston’s vomit.
shuffle. shuffle. scatter.
The roaches vanished into the darkness.
“My good chum,” said a large roach in a top hat. “Do not fret, or make sudden moves you will regret. Your home I bless because I am in distress.”
Winston hurled, but only foam came out of his mouth. He pressed his palms to his lips and wept.
Winston slowly stood, complying with the roach in the top hat.
The spines of its long, fuzzy arms scraped together as the large insect rubbed its palms like a nervous tick.
scrape. scrape. shuffle. shuffle.
Cowering on the couch, Winston tried to listen to his intruder, but he only had one thought: where did the rest of the roaches go?
Then, suddenly: shuffle. shuffle. scrape. scrape. scatter.
Roaches covered Winston’s windows.
“My matter of concern requires a brief lesson you must learn. A price of admission, possibly an entry fee. It is not often I ask for aid from one such as thee,” the roach in the top hat bellowed. Its voice rattled Winston’s ribs and sent shivers down his spine. “If it’s no bother, and you wouldn’t mind, could you, perhaps, accompany to a place filled with my kind?” It asked in the pitch black living room. The floor creaked as it stood up.
Winston cringed and said no, then told the roach it must go.
Winston screamed and cried.
scatter. shuffle. shuffle. scrape. scrape.
crunch. crunch. munch. munch. crunch. crunch.
Roaches devoured Winston’s flesh.
They gnawed through his eyelids and his cheeks as he shrieked. Roaches filled Winston’s mouth, crawling on his tongue and scraped his gums as they ate him from the inside out, and outside in. Winston shrieked.
No one answered. No one came. No one cared.
Suddenly, Winston woke up to his alarm. His blankets drenched in sweat. “Only a few days until Halloween. Every year it’s the same. Halloween comes, and so do the nightmares.” His fists trembled and he jumped out of bed.
Winston walked out to his living room. His groceries sat upright next to the front door. Winston shook his head and sighed. He put the groceries away and shut his fridge, feeling a chill.
A small man wearing a top hat tugged at Winston’s pajama pant leg.
Winston looked at him and froze.
The little man’s eyes were small empty pits.
The little man grinned.
“The dream, the dream, the dream,” he chanted. “You survived. You survived. You survived. Oh boy, you did in fact make it out alive. That can’t be denied. It can’t be denied. It can’t be denied,” the little man declared. “My good chum. My good chum. My good chum, what a thrill! I extend an offer, join me, you will?” the little man tipped his hat, exposing a bald, liver-spotted and wrinkled head with small patches of black hair.
“I am Alpdrücke, but you, my good chum, can call me your pal, Alp. I’ll be there through thick and thin, but first you must give me permission. Yes. Yes. Yes. Permission. Words are bonds. A word given is an oath taken. Oaths taken?” Alp asked himself aloud, pausing in an exaggerated, eerie manner. He pressed a finger below his lower lip and shouted, “I know! I know! Oath taken is like oath token. Oath token. Oath token. Oath token. Permission and our bond will never be broken!” Alp shouted with a smile. He clapped and danced around Winston.
“If I refuse?” Winston asked.
Alp stopped dancing. He stopped moving. He stopped smiling.
Alp crossed his arms and shook his head. “Were the roaches a fun way to be dead? Ants? Mosquitos? Gnats? Spiders? Perhaps vermin! Vermin! Vermin! Vermin!” the little man shouted, disgusted at the thought Winston might refuse. “The ones with hands for mouths? Perhaps, I know! I know! I know! Yourself! Let’s have a show!”
Winston’s double stood in the door frame behind the little man.
“Fangs and claws, you have. Easier to devour yourself once you grab!” Alp sang.
Winston extended his hand. “Okay, okay, we’re friends–we’re friends. Just, please, let me wake up, Alp.”
“Of course! Of course! When I call you run coming with no remorse, or else,” Alp said, pausing. He traced a finger across his neck. “Shwooik! Every night, in every dream! The most horrific things you’ve ever seen! The worst atrocities a mind can hide within!” Alp clapped and twirled.
Morning. Winston woke up to his alarm.
“What have I done?” he asked himself.
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I will get back to posting at 8 pm M, W and Friday consistently.
Saw a roach the size of my palm and was inspired to write this.
I couldn’t bring myself to kill it when it blinked.
I was deeply disgusted. Horrified too; however, I felt that the roach had seen, and survived too much to have its life cut short.
Also, I was in shock.
I’d never seen vermin roaches the size of a door knob. It be like that sometimes though. Absolutely horrifying.
Anyway, thanks for enjoying my stuff.
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Stay tuned for information about my novel, The Cloak of Nothing.