Horror in the night.

I dragged my husband to hell last night.

temp bedLately, I’ve been running on too little sleep, so last night I decided to take a hot bath and turn in early (for me.)

At about about 1:30 am, I finished ripping off my skin with my new, incredibly effective, exfoliation cloth. It’s a chore, but it makes you all silky-smooth. It also restores a kind of tactile sensitivity that you didn’t even know you’d lost. You “feel” more — a warm breeze which would have been pleasant before the flaying, is even more noticeable and more pleasant afterwards. (The reason this matters will become clear in a bit.)

After applying restorative unguents and potions all over, I crept into our bedroom where Ogre had been asleep for an hour or two. The TV was turned on and a PBS show was filling the room with  a dim light and a soporific drone. The cat — who is normally curled up wherever Ogre’s hands are (because he knows The Man pets soft things, even in his sleep) — was NOT on Ogre, but, instead, on my nightstand. Every line of his body told me that he thought he was hunting something.

He does that.

I gleefully put myself next to Ogre’s hands (because I, too, know The Man pets soft things, even in his sleep) and told the cat he was a fool. He ignored me and continued to stare into the corner.

I was turning on my sleep tracker when a peripheral motion, a couple of feet to my left, caught my eye. I looked directly at the wall just in time to see something big and insectile scurry behind the drawn blinds.

Now, I don’t really fear spiders, but I don’t believe they belong in my home, and certainly not in my bedroom. I turned on the bedside lamp and carefully opened the blinds so I could see just how creepy this particular trespasser was. (Ogre is used to me moving around all night, so this didn’t disturb him.) I couldn’t find a spider. I kept looking, because I knew I hadn’t imagined the movement. After a long examination of the windowsill, I finally found the crawler, but it was no spider. It was a huge, hideous, billion-legged centipede (about two inches long) and it was trying desperately to blend into the woodwork.

We were both frozen for a minute, then it moved. No, that’s not right; It undulated. As each of its legs rose and fell, I could FEEL a corresponding footfall somewhere on my skin.

I threw on a robe and ran to get the little vacuum, which is my preferred bug-catching tool. By the time I got back to the room, the cat was on the floor under the window, peering into the heating register.

Well, damn.

I plugged in the vacuum which immediately roared to life. I quickly unplugged it and soothed Ogre, who was becoming just barely aware something abnormal was going on. I told him that I had to vacuum up a big bug, but that he could go back to sleep. He did.

I changed from my robe into a heavy flannel nightgown while keeping an eye on the cat and the area around him. I made sure the vacuum’s switch was off, plugged it back in, and took it into the bed with me. From there I could watch the cat, as he watched the register. We waited.

Nothing happened. I turned off the bedside lamp and kept vigil by the light of the TV. Sure enough, The Thing eventually came out of the register and headed toward the bed. The cat did not notice as it skittered past his haunch.

I turned on the light, switched on the vacuum, and dived for it. It escaped …into the shadows under the bed. Ogre rolled over.

I got up, went into the living room, tucked my legs up under myself in the desk chair, and googled centipedes. I found this:


Ayup. That’s it.

I read the article entitled, ‘The House Centipede: Get Rid of Them or Let Them Be?” I learned that centipedes are GOOD bugs. That they hardly every bite people, and that they eat other bugs (including spiders.) That they are scared of people. And that an individual centipede can live for TEN-FUCKING-YEARS.

Then I read the comment thread. (My son has warned me repeatedly to never read the comment thread, but do I listen?) I learned that centipedes do bite people (and that the bite isn’t much worse than a bee sting.) That they often skitter right toward, and over, people. And that they seem particularly fond of getting right into the bedding, then …wriggling. (With all their billion legs.)

Every few minutes I “felt” something crawl onto my exquisitely sensitized skin.

After an hour of that, I pulled on a pair of sweatpants under my nightgown and put on some socks. I went back into the bedroom, exhausted and determined to get some sleep.

As I sat  in the spot closest to center of the bed, in a posture that would make a second grade teacher proud, with my head  spinning 360 degrees every minute or so — you know, like you do when you’re tucking in for the night — I saw The Thing again. It was on the wall, up near the ceiling, above Ogre’s nightstand.

I took a few deep breaths. I slid out of bed and grabbed the vacuum. I crept around the foot of the bed to Ogre’s side. I got into a good position and stretched the hose out so that its opening was hovering just over the creature. I switched on the vacuum and and saw part of The Thing’s body lift away from the wall … then The Thing came to life again. With some magnificent, twisting motion, it managed to escape the hose. Instead of being sucked up, it dropped behind Ogre’s dresser and out of sight.

I lost my freaking mind.

Perhaps that doesn’t convey what happened clearly enough: I shouted bad words at the top of my lungs, then burst into tears, then fled the room. (Remember, I was very, very tired even before this saga began.)

Ogre woke up.

After some explaining on my part and some consoling on Ogre’s part, Ogre asked me to sit with him while he waited for it appear again so that he could kill it. Of course, The Thing refused to come out where we could see it. (It was probably under the bed … or somewhere in the covers. Or behind the picture that hangs over the bed …)

Finally, I decided I would have to sleep on the sofa. I told Ogre I’d be fine and that it was important that he get some sleep, and yada ya. I know he would have been fine just going back to sleep in there, but he opted to join me in the living room instead. I am a lucky woman.

Well, I’m a lucky woman who will not be able to sleep soundly any time in the next ten years.

(Yes, I am aware that The Thing could be anywhere in the apartment now. So very, very aware.)



20 Comments on “Horror in the night.”

  1. Ramona Ivan says:

    Didn’t know they were “good” bugs…they don’t look all that good!!! LOL

  2. OMG…too freaking funny! I say this because the same sort of issues with those little buggers occurred in my house. I once thought we needed an exterminator because they seemed to come out of the woodwork – all at once in our new-to-us home. Then..when we least expected it, they all died at the same time. I swear! We didn’t spray any toxins – they all just bellied up and died. We found bug bodies everywhere (to my delight). Maybe they were 10 years old already because the house we bought was built in the 50’s. Either way – I totally understand!

    • I can’t imagine having to deal with multiples. I’m so glad yours just died. I have to admit, a first thought was to call an exterminator but I hate to do that. I’d worry so about the effects on the animals.

      I think this is just one of those things where a creeper wanted to get in from the cold.

  3. Ha! Timely post, considering my own recent run-in with a bug in the house. Inside my tea cup, no less. Thankfully mine only had 8 legs vs. 100. Hilarious tale, by the way. I enjoyed the read.

  4. scoobyclue says:

    I would be afraid that it might crawl into my mouth while I was sleeping.

  5. scoobyclue says:

    http://mentalfloss.com/article/50951/how-many-spiders-do-you-really-swallow-your-sleep see, nothing to fear … although, let’s be honest, your centipede is rather brazen.

  6. My first experience with the House Centipede was at work, on April 1st when everyone else was out of the office at lunch. No one believed me until about 20 minutes later when the first co-worked SHRIEKED! A heads up, though. When/If you do manage to kill it, be warned it will kind of go POOF and there won’t be anything left. It’s like it just dissolves into nothing. I hope they aren’t the sort of Hell Spawn that can regenerate itself from discarded limbs. That’s the thing that nightmares are made of, ya know?

  7. scoobyclue says:

    they just POOF? Like the vampires in Buffy?

    • Pretty much, yeah. They are like 99% legs. Every one I have ever seen killed, all the legs just fell off when it was hit it with a flyswatter. The body and head are very, very slender. Once those legs are gone it’s like POOF!

  8. mike says:

    lol @ ten fuckin years. I watched one of these walk up my wall in front of the desk. I heard a “click” and as I looked up this centipede came off the wall right at me. right then my feminine side came out plus a little pee.

  9. We’ve had those in our garage before, where we used to collect our plastic grocery bags. Uuuugh!

    • I think we used to have them in the basement of our old house, but that was the basement, and I could pretend not to notice so much.

      Ogre sleeps in a mask anyway, and I don’t care if the light is on, so I’ve been keeping my room pretty well lit lately. (Because I am a child.) I think it moved into my son’s room. I only feel a little guilty.

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