Imagine this: out of the corner of your eye you become aware of a dark shape moving slowly over the tastefully neutral Scandinavian rug in your flat… Almost unwillingly you turn your head, dread sparking into life and gathering speed along your neural pathways, tunneling through the blank screen of shock… A cockroach!
After having screamed and flailed and spilt your coffee as it scuttles off behind the sofa, you go off trembling and clammy to buy something lethal in a spray can, and when you get back it announces it has claimed squatter’s rights and is sitting on your sofa-bed working its way through a family-sized packet of Anzac biscuits. It has been browsing your books, it says, waggling its antennae all over Paths Towards Utopia, and has radicalised itself in the time you were standing in the checkout queue taking steadying breaths.
You are more troubled by the fact it can speak, in a voice that sounds like dozens of pairs of scissors in flight. Amused by your shock at its rapid adaptation and sheer bloody cheek, it then berates you as to the folly of your species. We outlasted the dinosaurs, it snickers. We can survive your doomed empire and your Raid and your Deet and your Ariel Ultra and your Venus Gillette and your damned gluten-free cereal bars too.
You return home after the night shift to find it weeping in the bathroom smeared with all the skin creams it could find in your medicine cabinet, because it is drawn to unattainable feminine stereotypes of beauty even though it considers them to be harmful, and the cognitive dissonance between these two contradictory ideas overwhelmed its prehistoric brain and it short-circuited. Its body casing is greasy and faintly perfumed. Blobs of Nivea SPF 15 splatter from its rattling heaving wings onto the tiles.
Then you find it has been ordering slimming pills on your credit card. You are livid but finally have grounds for the arrest of the cockroach for larceny and fraud. The attending officer laughs in your face and suggests you take some time off work. The cockroach has perked up, amused by your failings. It pours itself a gin and tonic, and moves back towards the bookcase.
Story by Badger
Illustration by Eleanor Percival