The Crawly Space
Bernadette awakened from a restful sleep to see a large palmetto bug perched on her bed inches from her face flashing his antenna. Arising with a screech she found herself across the room in three leaps running in place as she expended the excess adrenaline the bug had conjured from within her. She hated bugs. Especially ones that were abnormally large. Something was going to be done about this today. The crawl space below the house was filled with those horrible creatures, the estimate from the exterminator sent a shock through her system so she had picked up a 6 pack of bug bombs at the local hardware store and was going to plant them under the house. No more of these monsters, it would end today and she would be the one to put an end to it. Pulling on the protective suit she entered the small hole under the house. Thick cobwebs clung to her arm as she waved her hand in front of her. That alone should have driven her out, but she wanted to reach every corner. She put on the face mask and safety glasses attempting to Army crawl her way to the back of the house putting the flashlight ahead of her as she inched her way. The house stood 18” above the ground on pylons. Bernadette reached the farthest corner of the house planting the first bug bomb. The dust from the ground made her cough raising more dust. The exterminator idea seemed more appealing to her at this point.
She was fully creeped out by the time she reached that end of the house. It was difficult to turn around in the confined space. Aiming herself at the exit, she pushed the button on the bomb slid herself forward as the smoke started to fill the crawlspace.
Panic. She hadn’t thought this through. Why hadn’t she just thrown the bombs to the back of the house. She pushed herself forward again and moved a few feet. Coughing from the smoke. She heaved herself forward again. Not moving! Her protective suit had caught on a nail. She tried to move back, but her body was no longer on the ground but suspended in the air by the nail. She tried to leap forward. Stuck! She unzipped the suit to pull herself out. She could make out the small exit hole at the other end of the house through the smoke of the bomb. Talking to herself. “You can do this!” She pulled her body out of the suit, grasping for anything that would take her to the opening, when she struck her head on a floor joist.
She saw stars the as searing pain raced through her head. Swearing, she absorbed the pain. Her hand went up to her head and came away bloody. Crying out at the sight of her own blood, she tried to push forward. The blood-soaked hand touched the ground crusting with dirt. The bomb poured out more poison burning her lungs and her eyes. Could the bug poison kill her, she wondered.
Inch by inch she tried to make her way to the outside edge. Her head was spinning she was sick, she couldn’t breath the smoke was blocking off the exit. Bugs were falling on her scurrying in the race to the exit of the crawl space. Bernadette could no longer pull herself forward. She lay her head down in the dirt. Blood from the gash on her head pooled around her head. She had passed out from her efforts to escape.
The bomb worked exactly as it should have, filling the small space below the house with its poison. While she lay gasping, a moving army of liver red bugs ran over each other and over Bernadette’s body in search of breathable air.
Dawn DeBraal lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, two rat terriers and a cat. She successfully raised two children. (Meaning they support themselves and didn’t come back!) Recently retired, her love of telling a good story has turned into trying to write one!