Question: What Does Franz Kafka and the NSA have in common? (answer at the bottom of the post)
I negotiated an early release and have come down from the castle just outside Moscow to resume stewardship and posting for our First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage Contest. (I suggest you google Meadow Winds, Inc to see where I was incarcerated. I highly recommend that you commit some heinous crime and declare the castle as your residence, and pray the judge condemns you to house arrest…)
My thanks to Derek the Brit for assuming the duties while I served my sentence. And speaking of servicing sentences, I have about 750 words worth of sentences to serve you now with our next contestant, Jean Rodenbough,
Enter our contest for your own chance to win five Franklins. Details on the home page.
by Jean Rodenbough
Louise picked up the small insect crawling along the bathroom tiles. The hard dark brown shell encased a set of little legs, the long feelers at the head waving this way and that. It wiggled a bit, twisting to release itself, but she held it too firmly for such an escape. Dropping it into the toilet bowl she flushed it down, picturing in her mind its journey to the sewers of the neighborhood, and left for her meeting down town.
A few days later, at her home office working on her computer, she heard Mazie the cleaning woman shriek and run out of the bathroom. “Help!” she cried. “It’s gonna get me!” and she flew out of the house with a slam of the back door. Louise, startled, headed for the bathroom to see what caused such an alarmed reaction. There it was: a large, slimy creature making its way out of the toilet bowl by its six gooey, bristly legs, its long feelers aimed at Louise as if to examine her. The bright red round eyes then scanned the area around her, as it slopped out from the toilet. Louise realized this must be the metamorphosed insect she had disposed of earlier in the week. She joined Mazie outside, both of them shaking with terror. Katie, the beagle, had fortunately been out in her pen, and had not met this horror. The women began to hear muffled bumps and bangs from inside, as the creature roamed through the house, finally reaching the kitchen area with the clatter of kitchenware, pots and pans, being knocked about.
“I need to get away from here,” Mazie said, gasping for breath. “I just can’t come back here until that . . . that . . . THING is gone forever!” Louise nodded in understanding. Could she, and could Katie, go inside and confront the oozie creature? By now Katie was aware that there was something wrong inside and began barking. Between her loud barks and yips, and the noises coming from inside by this uninvited guest, Louise wasn’t sure what she should do next. Her cell phone was inside, so she couldn’t call 911. The neighbors around her all worked away from home. She was alone except for Katie and the creature.
Peeking through the window, she saw it staring back at her and she screamed. Katie started her frantic barking again, when suddenly the back door opened and a tentacle-like appendage reached outside. Before Louise could make a move, it pulled her indoors, and pushed her toward a chair. Katie refused to come in. Held in thrall by the creature’s movements now, Louise watched but remained still and silent, while the waving arms and legs of this newcomer seemed to be checking out everything. It did not threaten her, but simply roamed through the small house as if to understand where it was and what was there. She watched silently while it inspected everything in the living room. It dawned on her that this creature resembled a cuttlefish. Just that past week she had been watching a science program about such underwater beings, with their wavy tentacles and their ability to disguise themselves as they searched for prey. The major difference was that this was much larger, a bit longer than Louise, and far wider through its body. The distinct odor reminded her of wet sand at Myrtle Beach, where she had spent many summers at her aunt’s cottage: salty and redolent with the smells of objects washed up by the tide.
“Glorp?” The creature asked. “Glishgg,” it went on, pointing to various objects around the room. Louise was too numb to answer. This moment, however, marked the birth of a new though odd kind of relationship between human and creature, and even Katie slowly became accustomed to its presence after a few days. The large and sometimes clumsy body of the creature began to take on a familiar appearance to Louise even though she did not dare mention any of this to her friends, who sensed changes in Louise’s behavior but never asked what was going on. Thus the threesome, Louise, Katie, and the newcomer whom she named Roger, embarked on their relationship.
Louise’s social life was down the tubes. Roger’s smell had by now applied itself to both Louise and Katie, and people dodged them whenever they appeared outside the house. They in turn seldom left their back yard when they were out. Louise was lonely. She wondered if Roger might also be lonely without companions like himself.
“Roger,” she began, “do you miss having friends like you to be with?”
“We need to check the sewers in the neighborhood to see if there may be more like you.”
Roger immediately brightened up—literally—his face turning an illuminated green. “Whmmgglshp!” he told her excitedly.
Louise went out to search the street gutters in the area for signs of Roger lookalikes.
Nothing other than a stray cat peeked out from one of them. Returning home, she shared her disappointment with Roger. He was not dismayed, but instead settled contentedly onto the living room sofa. “Wzzbblnrrr,” he mumbled. Louise understood this as his effort to console her.
“Should we give up, Roger, and make the best of this arrangement?”
Roger stared at her and she noticed he now had a third eye near the top of his head. He seemed to consider other possibilities. He conveyed to her in his garbled syllables that maybe the two of them could come to some agreement about life together.
“But how, Roger? How can we learn to be . . . um . . . more permanent companions?
“Glemsprrng vgglnspx,” he answered, then added hopefully, “Ltgssqrxxx.”
Louise understood. “You’re right. I swear, it’s not too late.” She sighed . . . in resignation.
(answer: Both seemed to be obsessed with bugs as an encroachment of freedom)
27 thoughts on “Whmmgglshp! $500 can buy a lotta creature comforts, Jean Rodenbough!”
This is brave, Jean. Not having learned bug in school or the sewer slang, the reach is not that far. Who among us can ignore a future living with bugs more than we already do?
Your writing is light and entertaining as something like this needs to be. A terrific change of pace.
When you have a moment, would you come over and help me get Roger out of the house? He is eating up all our food supplies . . .
Ah, you know what, Jean? I really appreciate that you think I can take bug-control over the situation, but wait…my momma’s calling. Talk to Casper, he’s got the 12 gauge thing going, I’d just end up as fodder.
If you say so . . .
it is better to be somebody’s fodder than nobody’s mudder
I’ll swing by in my Bugatti
a HUGELY fun read! And the reader doesn’t even have to know how to speak bug because of the strong/creative speech tags, ie. “…then added hopefully, “Ltgssqrxxx.” The speech tag shows me the bug is looking up at Louise with it’s head tilted slightly and eyes open wide. GREAT and Creative. It’s all about character development and you’ve got it!!!
Roger hisself taught me how to use those effects and speech tags.
I nominate Jean for the Kafka award for fiction! Gllzwshpqnp!
awww, gee whiz, and I’ll let Roger know.
Jean – wonderful…and sooooo creative. I’ve talked to my bugs on my plants and none of them have ever spoken one tiny speck of syllable to me…now I know what I can say to them. Thanks and wow!
You have to learn particular dialects of buggery first. Keep trying.
I sense a new style of pornography coming soon to the citadels of Moscow.
Yikes, Ken. Roger would never dive so low into the sewers of life as to promote porn stories. . . .
it’s called thornography
Thorn thorned himself for your literary pleasure just now. Way to go Thorn. Gravitas and carbs… Gravitas and carbs…
As a writer of alternative romance stories I have tip my typewriter to you, because that is the only way I could type the several new words to the English language or are they everyday in the coddle fish language? Roger could tell us. See, that’s the thing. You drew me in and while I was reading I believed in the characters including Roger and liked him very much. Your use of descriptions and the senses are excellent only topped by the flow of the storyline which is consistent in scene making and yet ever surprising. Great story with excellent writing skills.
from such a writer as you, that is a real encouragement.
I just found these comments, and all of you have made my day. I shall go trippingly through the hours, thinking of your kind words, all of you. So thank you very much, or, as Roger might say, TLSSGMMMMM’s!!!
Whoa. Were ‘Roger’ ever to visit Casa Casper he’d get a ‘bugshot’ welcome from my trusty 12 gauge and a one way to my compost pile. Thanks for a fun read, Louise needs to get a hold of herself and ditch this critter…
What a great, imaginative tale! I really enjoyed Kafkaesque, speculative fiction tone of this piece.
Very clever story!! You conveyed how a scary bug can actually be endearing…. when we are searching for love. Thanks Jean!
I do so hope Roger will find a mate, and soon, so he gets out of the house . . .
We are all beloved monsters… Talk about a change in loyalty! I mean, I loved to hate the “thing”, and then I loved to love the thing. Awesome job!
This is not the same Roger from “The Cure,” right? Right?
…Whatever happened to a good old can of Raid? Or a nice tap dance on the bug?
Well, you never know where love springs up, and if it springs up from the toilet, so be it <3