The Battle Concluded

Part II.

I laid in wait for my enemy to return. Four days passed and still no sign of him.

The morning after our initial encounter, I searched for him under my bed to no avail.

Once again, I donned my protective armor and, without physically touching any of the objects, painstakingly removed every item that had made its home under my bed. My protective staff-racket served its true purpose well again, keeping me from having to shove my unprotected hands into the dark void under my bed. The thought of it, of the demon potentially lashing out and ripping the flesh from my hand with its vicious pinchers, terrified me.

Instead, I used the racket as a rake and pulled the objects out one by one. With each jerk, as an object cleared the edge of the bed, I immediately jumped back to the ready, prepared for the monster to show itself. But no luck. Box after box. Game after game. Folding chair after suitcase. Nothing. It was as if he had disappeared as quickly and as suddenly as he had arrived.

Satisfied he had slipped from right underneath me, I, with the same deliberate attention to my protection, returned every item to its darkened place.


Part III.

Three nights of sleeping with the lights on later, and my enemy still had not returned. When will he show his disgusting face again? I wondered. Or did he retreat fully? Did he run back to the vent from which he came, too afraid to challenge me again?

How I wished that were true, but something told me this battle was only going to end one way: with one of us dead. Nay, my enemy was simply waiting for the right moment.

The moment came that very evening.

When the devil reappeared, I was sitting on the same couch he had first banished me to. He was at the top of the wall directly across the room. It seemed he liked to look down upon me. I started to push myself to my feet, as I had but one choice, to ready myself for battle. But then I paused. My eyes widened and my pulse quickened as the realization hit me.

He was positioned over the entrance of the hallway that led to my armory-closet.

What was I to do?  I certainly couldn’t fight without my weapons. I felt naked without them, and that was no condition to be in for fighting. There was but one solution. I would have to cross his path unprotected.

I immediately ran straight at him. The element of surprise! I believed if I ran fast enough, he wouldn’t have time to react, and, sure enough, I flew through that hallway entrance and didn’t hear any response nor see any flash. He had been bested for the moment.

It took me only seconds to prepare, but this timeI added to my arsenal. I realized, in our previous struggle, when my foe came so dangerously close to my feet, that I might need something bigger and stronger with which to crush him, something that didn’t require putting my body in harm’s way. There was one object that immediately sprang into my mind: a book. A big heavy book that would flatten a monster like him quickly, easily – and painlessly, I hoped. After all, I didn’t wish him pain. Just death.

With my racket and ball in one hand and a book in the other, I took off running again and didn’t stop until I reached the couch. Again, the devil had not moved. Perhaps he knew an action as rash as falling onto me was not ideal. He had other tricks up his sleeve. I could feel it.

This time I decided I would not be the aggressor. Instead, I would allow his actions to dictate the course of our combat. So I sat on the couch, waiting.

After a few minutes, my enemy became impatient. He frantically dashed back and forth across the top of the wall, as if looking for the best path to mount his offensive. In response, I got up from the couch and moved closer to him. I stalked his every movement, anticipating the time he would make a mistake and put himself in reach of my racket. This time, I would surely not miss.

It came sooner than I thought. He reached the far corner, the one that put the greatest distance, and the dining room table, between us, and veered once again toward the floor. Now I would have to maneuver around the table as well. He was smart, this one.

Then ingenuity struck! With the low hanging light over the table, the racket was too long an object to be swinging about. Plus, the narrowness of the racket’s frame demanded the most accurate of strikes, something, to be honest, I wasn’t sure I could deliver. If only I had something with a bigger surface, something that would have more force behind it during that initial blow, something that increased the odds of an instant kill, victory would be mine.

I quickly discarded my racket and book onto the table and yanked my heavy sneaker from my foot. Yes, I would have to get closer. Yes, my precious foot would be exposed. But these were risks worth taking for what seemed like a sound strategy.

He was halfway down the wall by the time I got it off. There was no time to waste. I took two steps around the table, cocked my arm back, and flung it forward with a force so violent it could rip the dead from their graves. The sole of my sneaker connected with the wall. For a second, as the shockwave reverberated back through my arm, I thought I felt a surrendering smush of exoskeleton.

But alas, I had missed again! As I pulled my arm back, the cockroach sprung from the wall. I let forth a banshee-like scream and once again retreated.

This time, the cockroach did not follow me. Instead, he scrambled onto the solid, black base of a wrought iron wine rack I had sitting in the corner. He must have thought it the perfect camouflage, but in reality it was a fatal mistake. It was the perfect surface on which to smash him with my book.

I slowly picked the book up off the table. This was it. The moment I had been waiting for, the moment I would finally rid myself of this horrible creature. He would haunt me no longer. With two hands to keep it horizontal, I drop-threw the book.


I then leapt onto the book and drove my feet into the ground to be sure the death blow had been successfully delivered. I heard a second crunch, then silence.

It was over.

The triumphant rush of victory was exhilarating. I had killed the monster! I had vanquished mine enemy! I was the winner!

Yet, I felt the tinge of remorse every hero feels when they take the life of their enemy, as if a part of their life’s purpose has been crushed as well.

I left the book there for over an hour. I couldn’t bring myself to see what had become of him. Out of respect for my valiant foe, I paid him the traditional time of mourning. He had fought a great battle, forced me to be resourceful and creative. It had not been a straightforward smash job. This one had taken planning, and I was the better bug killer for it.

Finally, I removed his dead carcass from the cover of my book – a cloth cover, which, in hindsight, was poorly chosen – as well as any remnants from the wine rack’s base. I then removed my armor and returned my weapons to their place. The battle was complete.

To this day, if ever I hear that sound…tsp. tsp….tsp. tsp… my eyes instantly return to the area of my wall where it meets the ceiling, expecting to see the devil again.

If he comes for me, I will be ready.


The Battle

A true story, in three parts.

Part I.

With the moon pinned at its highest, the devil came for me. He roused me from my slumber with a simple sound.

Tsp. Tsp….Tsp. Tsp.

My eyes snapped open, and even though nothing but darkness preceded them, I knew I was not alone.

Tsp. Tsp….Tsp. Tsp.

It was the sound of scratching steel. The sound of someone – or something – forcing itself through an opening it was not meant to pass.

Tsp. Tsp….Tsp. Tsp….Buzzzzz

The final noise forced me upright. My enemy had arrived.

I sprang from my bed and rushed for the light switch. Merciful light washed over my room. My eyes wanted to close from the resulting pain, but I forced them to stay open, lest I be caught unawares.

It took me only seconds to find him. My foe. Crouched and still at the point where the ceiling meets the wall directly over my dresser. The perfect place, I thought, for there’s no reaching him there.

He was black as a demon’s heart, and his six legs protruded from his armored body like spears. The only movement was from his two antennas, thrashing in front of him as they searched diligently for my pulse. Oh, those dreaded antennas. Like a wounded soul, they would never let me get close.

Nay, this hunt was going to be a challenge. Yet one thing was certain: this cockroach would not live to see the sunrise.

Luckily, in my initial flight, I had managed to place myself between the devil and the bedroom door. I slowly, silently crept out of my room and headed for my closet. It was time to dress for battle. A simple, cotton nightgown would not do. I carefully selected a pair of long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, leaving as little skin revealed as possible – less area for the monster to strike. I then put on my heaviest sneakers, the best for crushing roaches. If he rushed at my feet, I would be ready.

Or so I hoped.

Next I selected my weaponry. Considering where my foe had placed himself, I needed a way to coax him from his lofty perch. I selected a yellow, rubbery orb that could be hurled at my enemy quickly and precisely without causing damage to my domicile. Yes, a tennis ball would serve me well. Yet, while it was the perfect tool to use when on the offensive, I would need something should I have to fend off a counterattack. For that, the obvious pair: a lightweight, yet vicious staff that would strike down my opponent with a single stroke. A tennis racket.

Armed and ready, I returned to my room. He had not altered his position, but his antennas had ceased their search. I surmised that they must have found their target.

The battle was to begin.

I positioned myself along the wall opposite him, aimed my missile, and fired. Miss! It landed not two inches behind him, sending him scurrying towards the corner. I could tell he had not expected that. I quickly retrieved my bludgeon and took aim again. Another miss! I continued to reload and fire, pushing the villain further along the top of the wall.

But, alas, with each step, he was getting closer to me. I had not foreseen that my own attack would draw my enemy near. I made a quick, evasive action: I jumped onto my bed and crawled to the other side. Now there was once again significant space between us.

With the pause in my attack, the monster stopped. I froze as well. What was I to do now? I was a considerable distance from him, and any chance I had at hitting him with the ball had declined drastically. How could I get him back into striking distance?

As I contemplated whether to move closer or not, he made the first move. He ran directly to the corner, took a hard right, and began running down the wall. I leapt with a mix of excitement and panic. As he scurried towards the floor, he entered the range of my tennis racket. A blow from my trusty staff would mean almost certain death for him, even if it meant, for me, getting within an arm’s length of my attacker. But what if I missed? What if I was not successful and he made it to the floor? That would be disastrous. Too many objects to hide behind and openings to disappear into.

He was moving fast now. I had no time to think. I had simply to react. I ran around my bed and pulled my tennis racket high over my shoulder. I swung. This time… contact!

My racket connected with the target, but it only grazed him. Instead of smashing him flat, I managed to catch him with the lip of the racket’s edge and fling him from the wall. He landed silently on the ground. And, with the forward motion of my swing, I had pulled him dangerously close to my feet. As I stood staring at his unholy form, fear gripped me and I couldn’t move. I felt a shriek welling in my throat.

The devil was so close!

In that instant, with my guard down, he took his chance to strike. He ran directly at my frozen feet, antenna at the ready! Lo, divine providence had other plans for that night, for within a half inch of my foot, he veered again and headed directly under my bed.

Suddenly my faculties returned, and I ran from the room. Following such a close brush with imminent death, retreat could not be considered cowardice.

With my back firmly pressed against the hallway wall, I relived the events of the last few seconds. Was he toying with me? Had this been his plan all along and now, from under my bed, he would torment me? Or had he simply reacted like I had and was now regrouping for his next attack?

It didn’t matter, I told myself. The fact remained that an evil cockroach, sent by the Under Lord himself, was now under my bed, and, given the late hour, I had little interest in going after him. The process of removing everything from that underbelly in order to locate him was too daunting a task to undertake that night. Sleep was calling to me and tomorrow was fast approaching.

I shut my door, and then shoved a towel under it, blocking the slight opening. I considered for a moment the likely hood the monster would be able to escape my blockade and renew his attack while I slept, but I brushed the idea off as silly. Nay, the battle was over for that night. But it would continue, if not the following day, then soon. The devil would come for me again, and I would be ready.

I collapsed onto my couch, exhausted from the night’s events, and surrendered to the sweet release of unconsciousness.

To be continued….

Perseverance and the Spider, a short story

Here’s a quick story I wrote. Probably would work best as a picture book, which aren’t really my forte, but when I got the idea, I just went with it. Definitely sprang from all the unease I’m going through as I pursue my crazy dream of becoming a published author. Friends will probably recognize the inspiration from the spider I let live in my doorway for a few months. After all, who was I to knock it down? Not the Wind, that’s for sure. Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading!

On a clear, warm night, a spider found a tree to spin his web in. He worked all night to spin a big, strong web. The next morning, when it was time for him to sleep – for this spider liked to sleep during the day and come out at night – he went to bed happy, knowing he had spun the best web he could. While he slept, he dreamed of the feast his web would catch for him.

But when he woke up that night, he saw his web had been torn to pieces. The wind had blown so strongly during the day that his web was almost completely blown away. Now the spider had nothing to eat. As he was looking at his torn web, the wind came blowing by. The spider asked the wind, “Wind, why did you blow down my web?” The wind responded with two words, “You’ll see,” then went on his way.

The spider set back to work. He worked all night, making sure his web was twice as big and twice as strong. This way it would have a better chance of not being blown away. So when the sun came up and the spider went to bed – a little hungry, for he had not been able to find much food – he was still happy because he knew he had spun the best web he could.

But when he woke up the next night, his web was in pieces. The wind had blown it away again. Later that night, the wind came rushing by. The spider asked him, “Wind, this time I spun my web even stronger, and you still blew it away. Why did you blow away my web?” The wind responded with two words, “You’ll see,” then went on his way.

The spider once again got back to work – and he was very hungry this time. But he made the web even bigger and even stronger, stretching it across many branches in the tree. Surely the wind could not blow this one away. Surely his feast the next night would be grand. That morning, the spider went to bed knowing he had spun the best web he could.

But the following night, the spider saw it had happened again! The web that he had spent hours spinning – the biggest, strongest web he had ever made – was now only strings. The wind had blown it down again. When the wind came blowing by, the spider became angry and shouted, “Wind, I spun the biggest and strongest web I could! I spent hours working on it, and still you blew it down. Now I have no breakfast and am starving. Why, Wind, why did you blow down my web?” The wind responded with two words, “You’ll see,” then went on his way.

With an empty belly and tears in his eyes, the frustrated spider stared at his torn web. What would he do? Would he spin it again? Yes, he would. For there was nothing else he could do but keep spinning. All night long he worked harder than he ever had before. He made the places where his web anchored to the tree as thick as the branches. He spun until his web covered the entire tree. He worked until the sun was up, and when he was finished, he had made the biggest web he had ever seen. Surely the wind cannot blow this one away. That night, the spider went to bed knowing for sure he had spun the best web he could.

When he woke up that night, he was overjoyed. His web had completely made it! It was just as he had left it when he went to sleep. And it held for him the greatest feast he had ever seen! The spider had never felt so proud of himself.

Later that night, the wind came by again. The spider said to him, “Wind, thank you for not blowing down my web.” The wind replied, “You’re welcome. I’m sorry that I blew down your webs, but you see, if I had not blown them down, you would never have built this magnificent web. You would never have known how strong you truly are.”

And with that, the wind blew softly away, and the spider enjoyed his feast.

Hero, a short story

The other day I was playing around with writing flash fiction and wrote this silly little short story instead. It’s quick and goofy, so I thought I’d share it. It is about 1,000 words, though, so be warned it might take more than 30 seconds to read.


It was the first butt Bobby had seen glued to a locker.

It happened during recess of fifth grade lunch. He’d been waiting in the tetherball line when he’d heard about it, then rushed to see with everyone else, shoving his way through the school doors into a crowd of kids gathered in the hallway. Two teachers were there, too, holding up towels to block the view while the janitor worked to rip the kid free. Rip. Bobby shuddered at the thought.

It took him a while to fight through everyone to see who was stuck, but eventually he got a good look at… Laurence Borduck.

The poor kid, pants at his ankles and butt firmly affixed to locker, was trying to pull away but getting nowhere, like when Tom has Jerry by the tail. He was crying, but, despite the fussing kids and scolding teachers, he still looked determined.

Of all the kids, of course it would be Laurence, Bobby thought. To call him a nerd was unfair to the other fifth grade nerds, the ones like Bobby who did their best to go unnoticed, the nerds who preferred to pass their classes quietly in the back of the room. Not Laurence. He was the kind of kid who knew he was smarter than everyone else and reveled in it. He’d happily shout out right answers after kids got them wrong without waiting for teachers to call on him first. When adults asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d say astrophysicist, while most 11-year-olds just shrugged as they struggled to replace superhero or princess with more grownup answers. Heck, he was the kind of kid that insisted on being called Laurence instead of Larry or LB or anything less dorky.

Still, with all his annoying quirks, Bobby didn’t think he deserved to be embarrassed like this. No kid did.

With only minutes left in lunch, Bobby heard a slow, stuttering sucking sound, like a sticker being yanked off a window. Laurence was free. As the teachers led the sobbing boy away, one slow step at a time, Bobby heard a chuckle behind him. Not a laugh of innocent immaturity, but one of mean accomplishment. Bobby turned to see Mark “The Knife” Hawthorne, with a too-big smile on his face, watching Laurence leave.

Unlike Laurence, there was nothing unique about The Knife. He was a bully, plain and simple, cut and dry. He pushed third graders down for walking too close to him. He took fourth graders’ desert and ate it in front of them while they whimpered. And he forced any fifth graders who sat near him in class to let him copy their work.

Including Bobby.

Watching The Knife sneer, Bobby decided two things: he’d had enough of the The Knife; and, he hadn’t yet given up on being a superhero.

So, after school, Bobby walked over to Laurence’s. As he approached the front door, he picked up a blade of grass and rolled it in his fingers before sticking it between his teeth. Then he paused and flicked his nose with his thumb. Maybe his mom was right. Maybe he read too many comic books. But there was something in those pictures that seemed clear to Bobby, whether he had superpowers or not: if you could help someone in need, you had a responsibility to do so.

            “Hi, Mrs. Borduck. Laurence here?”

            “Hi, Bobby. He is, but, you know, I don’t think he’s up for visitors.”

            “Well, could you tell him I’m here and that I’d really like to talk to him.”

            “Sure. Just wait here.”

            After a few minutes, Laurence shuffled to the door.

            “Whaddaya want? To laugh at me?” he asked as he rubbed his back.

            “No. I wanna help you get back at The Knife.”

            “Oh really? And how ya gonna do that?”

            “The same way all superheroes beat their villains, by taking away their power. I’m gonna make it so kids aren’t afraid of him anymore.”

            “Superheroes? Villains? What are you talking about? Little you is gonna beat up The Knife with your super strength?” Laurence asked, laughing.

            “Look, do ya wanna get back at him or not?” Bobby asked, unfazed.

            “Of course I do. I hate that guy, always grabbing my books and throwing them.”

            “Well, I know a way you can. You know that presentation we have to make in Ms. Willsey’s class tomorrow?” Laurence nodded. “Do it on milk.”

            “What? Milk?! Now I know you’re crazy.”

            “He’s afraid of it.”

            “Of milk? The Knife’s afraid of milk? How do you know?”

            “Watch him go through the lunch line at school. You’ll see. He almost vomits on the lunch lady when she offers him milk.”

            “Are you sure?”

            “It’ll get him good. I promise.”

Bobby spent all night planning, with his posters of Spiderman and Batman looking on. If I pull this off, Bobby thought, all the school’s bullies will be on notice.

The next day in class, Laurence volunteered to go first. Dressed as a milk carton, he got up and gave an excruciatingly detailed presentation on milk, complete with papier-mâché cow.

And samples. Those had really sent The Knife over the edge. From the moment Laurence stood up, Bobby watched The Knife squirm in his seat and slowly turn green. He even gagged when Laurence demonstrated milking. And when the samples came out, sweat formed on his forehead.

            “Ms. Willsey,” The Knife said as Laurence poured. “I don’t feel good. Can I go to the nurse?”

            “My, Mark, you don’t look good. Yes you may. Just hand in your report first.”

As Laurence handed out cups of milk, The Knife searched his backpack furiously. When Laurence was only two desks away, The Knife turned it over and spilled its contents into his lap. “I can’t find it. But I did it this time, Ms. Willsey. Honest. Maybe it’s in my locker. Can I go look?”

            “Be quick.”

He jumped from his desk and ran just as Laurence offered him a cup. “I’ll be right back.”

He wasn’t.

For, when he got to his locker and ripped it open, he was greeted by a bucket of milk falling and spilling all over his head. Two girls walking in the hallway said they heard him scream, “It burns! My nose! It’s burning my nose!” before he stripped off his shirt and pants and ran down the hall and out the doors.

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, Bobby shoved a report entitled ‘Scorpions by Mark Hawthorne’ deeper into his backpack.