If you’re just joining us, you’re here for the sixth and last segment of the entirely free short story – Psychic Roach. In parts one through five, the…
Psychic Roach Part Six
by Headley Hauser
Finally the TV and other people sounds stopped. Just to be sure, Only Roach waited in the shoebox until he saw patterns of sunlight illumine the carpet by the box’s edge.
Cautiously he made his way down the stairs and returned to the familiar sights and smells of the kitchen.
Three humans were in the kitchen, the adult female, the infant male, and the female child. The adult female was attempting to manipulate food into the infant. The female child noticed Only Roach and shouted, “Bug!” The adult was too concerned with the infant to notice.
The infant was a symphony of brown. Having the good sense of the human young, he hadn’t sent his excrement cascading down a toilet, but wore it within easy access in his diaper.
Still, it wasn’t his diaper that drew Only Roach’s attention. The baby was eating some soft brown goo that looked a lot like excrement but smelled much sweeter… pudding. The mother was spooning the pudding into the infant’s mouth. Each spoonful was enough to bathe in! This was opportunity that couldn’t be ignored! He had to take a chance. He had to try to send a wish to the infant.
“Throw the pudding!” The words fizzled across his antennae. “Throw the pudding!”
The baby became noticeably more restless. His legs pounded the high chair as his arms flailed. Even the mother seemed distracted. Could he be reaching her as well?
Splat! A puddle of pudding appeared a few steps from where Only Roach stood. More pudding fell to his left and right. The infant giggled as the woman sighed.
Only Roach ran through one of the smaller puddles, dipping his thorax into the goo as deeply as he dared. He wasn’t stupid, like a fly. He knew better than to get stuck.
Again the female child spotted Only Roach and this time got up from her chair and approached Only Roach in an unsteady hurried gate.
Quickly Only Roach ran beneath the refrigerator.
“Mommy, buggy unda here!”
“Move away, honey, Mommy’s going to move the refrigerator.”
Only Roach was cornered. If he ran, the humans would spot him, and he was much slower now, weighed down with pudding. “Don’t look under the refrigerator, don’t look under the refrigerator.” Somehow he knew that wishing wasn’t going to work this time.
What else could he do? Could he make the mother see an enemy like he had done with the spider? What beast could possibly be big enough to threaten a human? He might be able to distract the child, but what good would that do? It was the woman who was the real threat, and there was something immovable about the way she was thinking.
Above him the refrigerator rocked. There was only the mother, the child, and the infant. They had no enemies; he had no allies. Or did he? With the same intensity he had used with the adult male earlier, he wished to the infant. “You’re very bored, you’re very sleepy, you’re very cranky… that’s it! You’re very cranky! You’re very cranky!
The infant erupted into the squeals of the most beautiful music Only Roach had ever heard. Suddenly the woman’s mind wasn’t so immovable. “You should check the baby, you should check the baby!” Only Roach felt the mother’s resolve crumble and then fall away. The refrigerator stopped rocking.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart? Is your world coming apart? Ewww! I see what’s wrong. Let’s go upstairs and change that right now.”
As the mother carried the infant up the stairs, Only Roach peaked out from under the refrigerator. Staring down on him was the child… Cassie.
“Hello, Cassie,” Only Roach wished at her.
“’Lo Buggy,” the child replied. If she thought it was strange to be talking to a roach, she didn’t show it.
“You almost got me squished.”
“No, I want to play.” The girl looked sorry.
Only Roach studied the girl in front of him. She was enormous, but she was tender and little inside. It surprised him that he liked the little girl, just as he liked her little brother. Even the adults were better than most of the roaches he’d met – if you get past them trying to kill you all the time. It was as if a space had opened inside Only Roach allowing Cassie and her family to move in.
“Hey, Cassie,” Only Roach wished, “can you find me some cookie crumbs to go with this pudding?”
Will there be more Psychic Roach adventures? I’ll tell you when Only Roach tells me – assuming Cassie doesn’t step on him as she fetches his cookies.
And now – another amazingly unrelated video.
Come back on Monday to see what happens next on Just Plain Stupid. I know I’m anxious to find out.