I turned on the light and something moved

Image courtesy of Roger Brown at Pexels. https://www.pexels.com/@roger-brown-3435524/

I got up this morning about 3:30 to use the bathroom. When I turned on the light I saw something move.

There, on the bathroom floor, stood a cockroach – not one of the cute TV commercial cartoon roaches that checks into the roach hotel but doesn’t check out. This was a bull, so big it didn’t care about its surroundings or the fact that I’d turned on the light.

I was paralyzed by fear. What to do? If I sprayed it the thing would go crazy, probably start flying around, crawl into a hidden nook then emerge once the lights were off to crawl into my mouth.

But I couldn’t squash it. When squashed roaches release a chemical marker that attracts other roaches – I read that somewhere. Besides, I didn’t want to get close enough to the infernal thing to squash it. And I no longer had a cat I could sic on it.

I decided to take my chances with the spray.

I went downstairs to fetch a can of Raid. When I came back, the roach was gone. I searched for it – from a distance – when suddenly it scuttled between my feet. I did the Crazy Dance; the roach did the Crazy Dance and scurried under my bed. Great. Now I’d never find it.

I circled the bed a few times, hoping it would come out, but when it didn’t I mustered the courage to get on my hands and knees and peer under the bed. There it was, nonchalantly marching across the carpet. I gave it a shot of insecticide and the thing went berserk. It headed for the other side and I jumped up and ran around the corner of the mattress to intercept.

When it came out I hosed it. The thing went bonkers and started running everywhere. I kept up my attack and its wings began to flutter. I took off for the door, ready to bail out of the second floor if that thing launched itself into the air.

I lost track of it for a moment, then BAM! There it was, skittering past my feet. I gave it another blast of Raid and it finally rolled over on its back and started doing one-legged backstrokes in circles.

God, what a nightmare. I soaked it again and it finally lay still.

Then I was faced with the problem of getting rid of it. No way was I going to touch it, not even with a wadded up paper towel. Roaches have a habit of springing back to life when disturbed from their death knells.

I went downstairs and got the vacuum cleaner. Plugged it in, detached the hose, turned it on and sucked that disgusting creature into the dust bin. Except I couldn’t see it in the dust bun.

Later that morning, I took the vacuum cleaner outside and dumped the dust bin in the trash can. No roach. And it wasn’t trapped in the filter, either.

That means it’s somewhere inside the vacuum cleaner and one day in the near future it’ll come tumbling out, giving me another fright.

With luck it won’t came scrambling out!

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .