“… and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.”
I’m closing tabs in Firefox when I notice something move from the corner of my eye. What is that. I look up and, from behind the wooden cabinet, is a molasses colored cricket. Big cone-shaped head, wing-equipped, and angular legs with the muscular capacity to jump me at any moment. Time freezes for a moment as we stare at each other. Then it edges closer.
“Evan,” I say slowly. He turns his head.
“There’s a huge cricket like, right there.” I point it out to him. He’s totally indifferent about it. I dig around for a Panera cup, but by the time I start to Elmer Fudd, I couldn’t find the damn thing. You win this time, cricket. Feeling slightly relived, I sink back into my chair. A few uneventful minutes pass by, but then I look up again: the cricket’s right where it used to be. Ohmygod.
I see Adam walking over, unconscious of where he’s placing his foot and I cringe.
“It’s because a cricket,” I try to explain and point to the unscathed creature at his feet. Adam grew up on a farm and the closest town to him had a population of 7k. He often tells tales of his sports record and how much he doesn’t want to go to class. He chuckles at my statement and purposefully steps towards the cricket. Hop. Step. Hop. Step. Oh, the hopping’s actually kind of cute. Bu then I realize that the cricket’s closer to me than ever.
Ohmygod, ohmygod. I instinctively roll my chair backwards and didn’t even notice when I ram into Evan’s chair. My eyes are locked on the cricket. All of my previous courage goes down the drain. I can’t do this. I’m defenseless. “This is my irrational fear. I don’t know what to do,” I say aloud and notice how close I am to Evan. I modestly scoot back to my computer. Before I could reach my destination, the cricket abruptly changes directions and goes towards me. I let out a yelp, my fear overriding any tinges of embarrassment, and grab the back of Evan’s chair as if it could somehow make me invisible to the cricket.
“You know what, if you’re gonna be this jumpy, I’ll just kill it.” Evan rises from his chair, grabs a Brawny industrial tissue and squishes it on his second try. “Got it.” He throws it in the trash bin right under my desk.
“You didn’t have to,” Adam says a little disapprovingly. I quietly return to my station, envisioning the cricket’s corpse staring up at me. Why Sherry, why. I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Is it bleeding? Can they do that? Is it dying slowly, gasping for breath, its vision of the world slowly blurring out? I try to calm myself down and order Jimmy John’s.
Erika and I haven’t bought groceries since August. At the self-check out lane, we line up two carts and bag each others food. “This is great,” she states as I stock up the fridge.
“I’ve never been so excited to not eat out,” I say in agreement. Over the weekend, Erika went to New York to see a Japanese band while I went to a concert of my own. (Our music combo is interesting.) We lightly chat before saying goodnight.
I turn on the light in my room and reach down for my backpack on the floor. Then– from the corner of my eye– I notice something hop. Ohmygod. Pupils dilate. Adrenaline’s pumping. I let go of the backpack strap and take a step back. At the corner of my bed against the wall, on the small pile of plush gifts and a green alarm clock, is the biggest cricket I’ve ever seen. It’s bigger than the last one; I could feel its gaze on me like a king to a peasant. It has distinctively long and wandering antennas. It’s back to haunt me. It spreads its filthy legs all over where I put my head every night. I’m cursed.“Erika,” I say slowly.
Her voice travels easily through the room’s thin walls. “What?”
“There’s a really, really big cricket on my bed.”
“Are you serious?” She walks out of her room and peeks her head into mine. “Where?” Hop. We both scream and retreat to the outer edges of my room. “That’s HUGE! What should we do?” We both keep our eyes on the cricket, completely petrified.
“What should we do?” I echo. Erika could squish spiders but not crickets– we’re standing there like noobs trying to play at a boss level. I unlock my phone and start going through recent contacts. “I’ll call someone.”
“Really? Do you think they’d come?” 11:00 P.M. Surely someone’s still up? The phone rings as we wait in anticipation. Luckily my friend who lives close to us picks up. Hello?
“Hey so, are you busy right now?” I fail at sounding calm. “Because um, there’s like a bug in my room…” I continue to jumble a slew of words, all the while knowing how trivial this all must sound to him but he agrees to come over. I’m making something in the oven though, so I’ll have to leave right after. “That’s fine.” Hurry, hurry!!
“You can go to sleep if you want,” I tell Erika after I hang up. “I’ll wait.”
“I can’t sleep with that thing still alive!” Where did it go? Did it jump in that direction? We let out a few more startled screams and nonsensical scrambling before he shows up. We direct him to my room, where I hide behind the corner of a wall and Erika hides behind my back. He tosses aside the pillows, checks all the plush toys and the alarm clock. Then he moves the entire mattress. We withdraw further into our invisible safety nets. He looks down at the carpet, his arched back facing us.
“Did you find it?”
“Yeah.” Did you find it cowering in the corner, knowing that its life is about to end and sympathize with it? These cruel girls, you poor thing. Are you sad that it will never be able to sing along with its choir of brothers right outside my window? Are you going to kill it?
It’s too much for Erika and I to bear when he brings judgement down upon the cricket. What is going on right now with you two? But more importantly: “Did you get it?” she asks. He nods and throws the cricket in the room’s trash bin.
“Wait, don’t. Could you– could you bring the bag out to me? For me?” My voice cracks and I have no control over its inflation. He tilts his head questioningly.
“That was like three different levels of terror in your voice.” He hands me the bag. I rush to tie it, the cricket’s body outline like a diluted turd amidst the milky plastic bag. I throw in the bag into our main garbage bin and shut the lid as if I was sealing the Mummy.
“Thank you.” I hand him a container full of rocky road cookies.