by Mathew W. Weaver
I am at war.
The enemy is right there, glaring at me, leering through its tiny compound eyes. It gloats, sadistically savoring its repeated triumphs, taunting me with that maddening hum.
I grit my teeth as I cradle my wounded, crippled pride and I swear upon my honor … this mosquito will never live to see the sun rise again.
As with any conflict, there was a calm before the storm. I had no idea what I was in for when I sat down at my laptop, cracked my knuckles and started work. For a short while, there was nothing that could have warned me about what was coming. I was focused, minding my own business, at peace with the world and with myself.
Then came the first blows.
My ankle began to itch. I used the heel of my other foot to rub against it. You know how it is. It then started to itch just a little to the left of the first spot. Then lower down.
I was getting annoyed by the time I drew my legs out from under my table and checked out what the heck was happening. That was when I saw it. The bumps, sporadically scattered across my lower leg and foot.
We were at DEFCON 3.
The klaxons where blaring as I yanked the chair backwards and got onto my knees. I peered under my table, but I couldn’t see it. But I knew it was there. Hah, of that, there was no doubt whatsoever.
Then, I heard that angry whine and I rolled back commando-style to my right, facing the wall next to my desk. There, against the backdrop of white wall, I saw my nemesis emerge, bloated and drunk by my blood. My legs burned at the sight of it, the itching almost unbearable. The battle … was joined.
Man constantly finds himself caught up in the war between humans and insects. Minor skirmishes here and there, border incidents around the globe, we have all been dragged into it at some time or another.
There are those heavyweights of the enemy; The Spider (which I know really isn’t an insect. They’re just mercenaries, who turn on their winged allies when they get pissed off or when they just get hungry); The Roach (shock troops. Infiltrate and attack. And they have the ‘grossing out’ factor as a special ability); The Fly (aerial recon and annoyance division); and The Mosquito. SWAT team of the Insect Kingdom.
Fighting a roach is a different deal entirely. Roaches are bigger, need more firepower, and well, though most thankfully don’t decide to fly at your face (though they have with me before, and that was NASTY) they can be put down with a little quick thinking, fast aim, a handy shoe nearby and a smidgen of luck. Not necessarily in that order, but pretty much all you need as a substitute to a can of bug spray.
That’s the roach. This is the mosquito. No comparison possible.
I lunge and slam my palm into the wall. I miss.
Lunge again. Miss again.
The tyrant starts circling upwards, heading to the ceiling where it knows with fiendish delight that it is beyond my reach. I must not let that happen.
I lunge for a final time, my itching feet lending strength to my will. A minor split second mid-air course correction, and then I make contact with the wall again. My fingers sting, but I hold on.
The mosquito is missing. It isn’t on the wall, it isn’t flying anywhere and I didn’t see it leave. There was only one possible place where it could be…
Trapped under my hand. I have it.
I press my palm as flat as I can against the wall, squishing the demon with as much force as I can muster. I knead the back of my hand with my other fist, and punch it in for a good measure. It’s worth the pain.
Slowly, I pull my hand back.
And through a crack in my fingers, it flies up and to the ceiling, literally doing a gloating dance as it does. My foot itches like crazy as I watch it go, and I vow revenge.
Now there it is, on the wall, watching me. Here I am, on my chair, watching it. It is a standoff, and it has been going for the last half hour.
There are those people who feel sorry for roaches. They would probably rather scoop them up and release them into the wild rather than stomp on them. No offense, but I feel that’s sort of futile, since pretty soon that roach will be inevitably stomped on by someone else, anyway. But no matter, it’s their choice, and I respect that.
But if you tell me that I should feel sorry for a hungry mosquito and just indulge it since it was nature’s design, and not its own fault? No, I’m not going to even bother with the malaria or dengue speech. I’m slapping the pest, right there in front of you, whatever it takes, and so help me.
My foe takes off and starts flying again. I notice the spider webs in the corner of the ceiling, and I will it to get tangled up in there, to be tortured by the patient, hungry spider. I don’t mind spiders as long as they stay away from me.
Then, as it starts flying to that very web, I begin to have second thoughts. How can I let some spider, who has nothing to do with our feud, deny me my revenge? That mosquito made it personal, and I was going to make it pay myself. No middlemen.
I let a sigh of relief as it zips adroitly around the invisible lines and moves away from the web. Then, I stiffen, because it has started to descend.
The time of thy reckoning hath arrived, ye bug.
I sit still as it comes closer, closer. My foot is itching like mad, but I do not dare to scratch lest the air currents from that movement send my enemy away again. Like Harry’s scar, my bumps go crazy as my Voldermort approaches.
It is here.
I reach out, and the world shrinks to just that moment in time. Seconds become minutes as my hands close together around the mosquito. My eyes wide, my teeth bared, my leg itching, the deafening whine in my ears.
In the stillness of the night, the crack that issues explodes out like the blast of an M67 grenade. My windows literally rattle, my books shudder on their shelves, and my hair is blown back.
Then silence. Outside, the wind blows softly.
I open my hands, and there, crushed and fallen, my defeated enemy lies in my palm. My respect for my fallen foe remains. For a moment, I toy with the idea of going out and burying her, as a token of honor. Then I flick the carcass into my wastebasket and go wash my hands.
My foot isn’t itching anymore.
I have won.