I battled a dragon…and won

By Amanda Eakin

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It was at 6:35 in the morning when my worst nightmare came true.

Half-conscious and delirious, I stumbled into the kitchen of my apartment and flicked on the light, cringing at the sudden explosion of brightness. I had to be up early for my teaching field experience and I needed coffee, stat.

But as my eyes adjusted to the light, my gaze trailed down to the kitchen floor. I blinked. Slowly, a ball of fear formed in the pit of my stomach as all traces of drowsiness shook off, like passengers leaping off a sinking ship.

There, in the center of my kitchen, was a mutant centipede; also known as the creepiest critter known to man. These suckers are notorious for making an appearance, instilling terror into the weak-hearted, then darting off in a grand escape on its numerous pairs of legs. Then, while it is away hiding in some unreachable corner of the room, those who have spotted it tremble and wonder when it will attack next.

My dad once said that centipedes gravitate to cool and damp places, though I think that what they are really attracted to is fear. Do I break out into a cold sweat the moment I lay eyes on them? Absolutely.

My fear is not irrational. According to Wikipedia (do not judge me, this is an opinion column), centipedes are vicious, strategic creatures: “to capture prey they either jump onto it or use their legs in a technique described as ‘lassoing.'” Holy crap. Lassoing? Do I even need to explain that one? Basically, what this tells me, is that centipedes are like evil cowboys, flinging out their ropes (or, legs…) in order to latch onto the victim and take wild delight in the victim’s paralyzing fear.

Stephen Crane, in his short story “The Open Boat,” made the argument that nature is indifferent, neither favoring mankind nor intentionally working against it. Well, I’d like to disagree with Mr. Crane, using the very existence of centipedes as evidence. Plain and simple, they come directly from hell.

So, there I was, face-to-face with this centipede in my kitchen like two cowboys at a standoff. This centipede wasn’t gonna lasso me. The wheels in my mind began whirring as I thought of the best approach to putting an end to this demon. A direct approach, or simply smashing it with a shoe, would be ineffective; the centipede would be far too fast and an escape would be only too easy. Then I thought of how hairspray helped me kill off an irksome fly the other day, which had slowed down the filthy bug so much I was able to at last whack it with a newspaper. Would a blast of TREsemmé work against the centipede?

Carefully, I backed out of the kitchen and into the bathroom. The hairspray resided on the edge of the counter, like a beacon of hope, and I snatched it before approaching the battle arena again. I sucked in a deep breath, suddenly overcome with the urge to be religious and prayed for my tactic to work: Dear heavenly, merciful God, if you could just let the hairspray incapacitate this loathsome devil, or strike it down with lightening, I hereby swear to attend Mass every Sunday.

Holding back the tremors, I edged toward the centipede with my can of hairspray, its nozzle pointed toward it like a gun in our duel. Sensing that it was in danger, the centipede twitched like the girl in “The Exorcist” and slid backwards, moving to find a shadow in which to hide.

But I wasn’t going to let it retreat without an attack. I held down the nozzle and blasted the centipede.

I suppose I wasn’t too surprised that the hairspray didn’t work. Actually, it made my situation infinitely worse because it triggered a strange reaction within the centipede; it began to zip around in all directions, as if consumed by fire.

Knowing that my roommate was sleeping and would probably hear me, I slapped a hand over my mouth to stifle a yelp of terror. The centipede was reminding me more and more of the possessed girl in “The Exorcist.” If only I had some holy water.

Then, I remembered that in some sense of the word, I did have holy water. The thought came to me as a glorious epiphany, as if God had truly answered my prayers.

Bug spray.

The other day, a worker from AU’s Maintenance Department stopped by and gave me the bug spray, which I will admit had confused me at first. I had thought to myself, “Why would I need this? I can just kill a bug with some heavy object, like my TV.” Little did I know, I would desperately be needing its assistance.

There was one problem, though. As I stared at the convulsing centipede, I realized the bug spray was on the counter closest to it. In other words, I had to get past the centipede to reach the bug spray.

Never had my nerves been so tested at such an early hour, but I knew that I had to get the spray and put an end to this. There was coffee to be had.

I was absurdly reminded of the Harry Potter prophecy, and how it applied to me: “Neither can live while the other survives.” As long as that centipede was alive, I would not be able to continue making my coffee. And without coffee, my very soul would wither up and turn to dust.

I thought of walking into the classroom without any caffeine and knew I had to do it; I had to kill the centipede.

And so, with a courageous leap over the centipede, I snatched the bug spray, ripped off the cap, and sprayed the hell out of it. It took only a few seconds later for the fearsome creature to stop moving. I stared down at the bug, now as limp as a wet noodle, and knew the battle had been won. I could now make my coffee.

In short, I heartily thank you, Ashland University Maintenance Department, for giving me the weapon to slay the dragon.

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