Long ago, in the misty dawn of 2012, my beloved and I moved into our present abode, deep in the heart of the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington, VA. Comfortable and in love, we thought we were alone in our two bedroom condo.
We were not.
Awoken one night by the horror of the void-like nature of existence (and also my bladder), I stumbled into the dim, flickering light of the hallway… and saw it. A creeping abomination, as big as a baby’s foot, nothing but legs and pincers and hairlike protrusions, hailing from the pit of the deepest Hades, defying the laws of nature itself, clinging to the walls and even the roof above my head. Scutigera coleoptrata, I later learned from the sages of the sacred tubes.
With no thought to my own safety, I dove into battle, nude as a babe and wielding nothing but a slipper. Despite the ferocity and hideousness of the beast, I was victorious, and roared in triumph, scraping the ichor off my weapon (and into the commode).
But it wasn’t over. The next night, its brother came. And then another, and another. Again and again, I prevailed in battle, only to howl in frustration as the rest of the brood mocked me from their hidden refuges, coming forth the next eve.
I won’t deny it, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth between my beloved and I. Would we have to flee from our domicile?
No. This was our castle. We would not be driven from it, not even by these demon hell-spawn.
It was a dark time, and dark times sometimes require dark solutions. We consulted many sages – some offered potions, dangerous concoctions that would temporarily render us homeless. A few strange souls even took the side of the hell-beasts, insisting that they were benign, even helpful. How lost must one be to endorse peace with such creatures?
These were no solutions. We would not leave our homes, and we knew these creatures were not our friends. No friends would ever terrorize us in the night like these fell beasts.
So I made a journey. I must admit, my memory is hazy – was it a journey of the body, or the spirit and soul? I don’t know. All I remember is facing the Scutigera goddess herself – so terrible to look at I kept my eyes shut – and being offered a pact. If I kept the peace, her brood would keep to the shadows, forever hunting the unsighted vermin of our castle, and forever keeping their hideous visages out of view of our oh-so-fragile eyes.
And for many years this pact kept, and life was good. There was much feasting, laughter, ribaldry and joy. And in the shadows, I assume, there was much skittering and devouring of unseen vermin, and whatever joy such shadow-beasts must take in their littered burrows.
Until yesterday. Yesterday, while I was preparing the next feast, it appeared, in the bright light of the day. This was no tentative creeper, this was a bold explorer, thrusting itself forward along the wall of our kitchen, in search of nothing human minds can contemplate. I didn’t hesitate – I armed myself with a paper towel, and aroused my long-dormant battle-skills, quickly slaying the beast with a decisive blow. I don’t know what I’ve done that aroused the ire of their goddess, but I know this:
I am ready for the battle to come.