If you didn’t know already, moths hate me. I have a life-long history of horror with the fuzzy creatures of death. You may reference my journey of doom here. I only wish that were the end of the story, but it is not so. I will be forever tormented by moths. The most recent incident occurred just this week. The following is not just based on true events, it is, in its totality, a true story.
It all started when our air conditioning stopped working. And following Murphy’s Law, we were of course, right in the middle of summer. Heat seeped unmercifully into our house, smothering us, weighing us down with lethargy and bathing us in constant sweat. After 2 days, I couldn’t take it any longer, and that evening, I took the admittedly risky step of opening windows and doors to try to coax air flow through our stifling house.
I should have known. I should have known that opening my doors at night was just the break that the demon spawn had been waiting for. There was a crack in my fortress, and to quote Reverend Hale from The Crucible, “no crack in a fortress may be accounted small,” and Satan’s minions knew this all too well.
The Moth rose from its evil slumber, its radar alerted to my weakness, to my short-sightedness, to the opening in my fortifications.
It knew what it had to do. It developed a plan, and moved in for the attack.
I was in the kitchen, excitedly scooping up ice-cream, preparing to watch a show and relax before bed. The kids were safely stowed downstairs in front of a movie. My husband was out of town on business, and I had chick flicks to watch. I hummed happily to myself, anticipating my evening of delightful entertainment, comfy pants, and cheesy romantic movies.
But alas, no, ‘twas not to be. The Moth, sensing my obliviousness, initiated Phase One of his war campaign. He rose up, fluttering madly through the air, alerting me to his presence.
I froze, ice-cream scoop midway between bucket and bowl.
Panic welled in my heart. I knew that I was doomed. This was my life, how it always played out. I would never be free. They would find me, no matter where, no matter how far. Resistance was futile.
A scream welled up in my throat. “Jeeeeeeeff! Jeeeeeeff!” No reply. Through my haze of panic I remembered my husband was out of town. Of course. He had abandoned me to my death. Figures. He was probably off somewhere eating high-class sushi in some moth-free restaurant with his fellow nerdy scientists, telling lame math jokes that elicited academic chortles of delight, while I was here, in the sights of my mortal enemy, about to die.
The Moth dove. And like always, it went for my hair. Flailing, I ducked. Ice-cream splattered on the cupboards, like a scene from a sickly-sweet crime.
I frantically slapped at my hair with my hands and the ice-cream scooper, head-banging in an attempt to oust The Moth. After what seemed like hours, I saw it flutter out and head upwards, towards the light, no doubt gathering strength for Phase Two.
I would like to say that at this point I sucked it up, grabbed a fly swatter, and went for my revenge. After all, I am a grown woman, and one who is fully capable of killing spiders and cleaning up kid puke. But, no. Sadly, dear reader, at this point, I was naught more than a quivering mass of goo, huddled on the kitchen floor, ice-cream scooper clenched desperately in my hands, a sad reminder of now-begone happiness.
I struggled to breathe, to gather strength, and eventually managed to scream my eldest son’s name. No response. I yelled again, and again, until finally, my panicked cries broke through his movie soundtrack. Most likely sensing the unusual urgency in my voice, he, for once, responded immediately and came upstairs. After looking around for a bit, he found me on the floor. A primordial instinct had kicked in by this point, and I had risen and was crouching on the floor in a defensive caveman pose, ice-cream scooper held out in front of me like a club.
My son furrowed his brow, confused. “Mom? Uh...what’s going on?”
“Moth. It attacked me. Get the moth. Get it. You must get it. Get it now! Get it, please!”
Of course, his first reaction was to laugh. He is incredulous that such a small creature holds such power over me. He spends a good deal of his life mocking me and attempting to mimic moth fluttering sounds, just to startle me when I am relaxed and happy. But now, I started to sob, and his laughter stopped.
“Okay, okay. I’ll get it. Where is it?”
I responded with another sob and a vague gesture towards the ceiling. I heard rustling in the pantry, and he came back, chest puffed up with knightly valor, and flashed the flyswatter in front of him like a sword.
“Don’t worry, Mother. I and my trusty royal moth-slayer will save you from certain doom.”
Apparently, he had inherited my penchant for flowery language and exaggeration. Too bad that doesn’t actually do much good in emergencies, because in the end, my son’s valorous intentions were not enough to thwart The Moth.
My son did not save me. No. The Moth, anticipating my reinforcements, had disappeared. After 5 minutes, filled with my son insisting he didn’t see a moth anywhere, I peeked my head out of my cocoon and glanced around. No moth. No fluttering. No schizophrenic flight patterns. No flashes of wings. By this time, my younger son had come up and grabbed another fly swatter, and both of my children were striding around, waving their weapons, trying to rouse the monster from its hide-out.
Another 5 minutes passed, and there was still no sign of the enemy.
But I knew. I knew that wasn’t the end. We might have survived one battle, but the war was far from being over. I grabbed my sons on the shoulders and looked them in the eyes, issuing this dire prophecy:
“Mark my words. That moth will find me. This isn’t over. He is somewhere in this house, laughing at me, waiting for me to let my guard down. Then he will attack.”
My sons stifled laughs and attempted grave nods in response to my serious and weighty stare.
“If it does, Mom, we will save you,” my eldest offered. Then they both ran back to their movie.
The rest of the evening, I tried to relax, but I could sense the moth. Every door I opened, I opened with fear. Going down the stairs, the hairs on the back of my neck bristled with the presence of evil.
As time went on and there was no sign of The Moth, I began to relax a bit. Maybe, just maybe, I will get lucky. Maybe it gave up. Maybe it somehow went back outside. Maybe it is happily bashing its head on some light somewhere else in the world.
Ah, such naivety.
Later, I crawled into bed, snuggled under the covers, cast one last paranoid glance around the room,
and reached to turn off the lamp by the side of my bed,
and saw it.
It was there, on my lampshade.
Right where my hand was headed. Mere inches from my face, perched like a sinister vulture, waiting for me. I attach photographic evidence of the beast’s ingenious stake-out:
How long he had been there, I knew not, but what I did know was that this was no ordinary moth. First of all, he had sought me--just ME--out. Then, he had issued not only physical attacks, but psychological warfare by alerting me to his presence, then disappearing, allowing horror to haunt me all evening, only to show up right at the moment I thought I had conquered. And somehow he knew which light, out of all of the lights in the house--and the world--would be the one I would reach for.
Slowly, not daring to breathe, I took the picture and then retreated under the covers, shimmied my way to the opposite side of the bed, slid out onto the floor, and as quietly as I could, crawled out of the room and closed the door.
Then, I made a mad dash down the hall, screaming my son’s name. Never mind that it was 12:15 a.m. and my son was most likely asleep--this was an emergency.
I gathered my sleepy-eyed reinforcements, handed them their weapons, and shooed their pajama-clad tooshies into the room. As I closed the door to prevent the devil spawn from escaping the battlefield, I looked at my brave sons and said, “All hope rests with you. I’m counting on you. Don’t fail me.”
Then I huddled on the couch in the other room and tried not to have a panic attack. I offered desperate prayers. I focused on not fainting.
I heard banging and screaming and scrapes and thuds. Then, all was quiet. I heard the bedroom door open. The pitter-patter of small feet. I looked up, daring to let hope flutter in my heart. My oldest son stood over me. “Well, I have bad news. It fell behind your nightstand.”
“That’s it. It fell.”
“That’s it? What are you here for? GO GET IT! MOVE THE NIGHTSTAND! What are you thinking? It’s escaping! It’s probably burrowing into my bed right now!”
He fled. More bangs, scrapes, shouts and thuds and smacks. Then, silence. Both boys ran out of my room, triumph painting their faces. “We got it! We got it!”
I looked at them, scanned their hands, which were empty, save for the flyswatters. I was skeptical.
“I don’t see a body. How do you KNOW you got it?”
“We smashed it over and over on the floor.”
“Unless there is a body, I won’t believe it. You need to grab a napkin and get it, and take it outside, and put it in the outside trash. Even better, the neighbor’s trash.”
They hurried out but were back just a minute later. Their hands were still empty. “Well? Where is it? What’s going on? Why isn’t it gone yet? WHAT IS HAPPENING?”
“Well, we looked more closely, and it was just a feather from your feather pillow.”
“Nooooooooo! Nooooo! I KNEW it! Oh, what are we going to do? It’s in there somewhere! Probably under my covers, waiting to attack when I go back in there! You HAVE to find it! You just have to! Please! Go back and find it! I am going to die! I can’t take this!”
With hung heads, they skulked back into the room. I tried to control my breathing. I felt my lungs closing in. The Moth was thwarting us all, and he would succeed in killing me in the end. I could feel it in my bones.
And at that moment, I saw it. The Moth. Not in my bedroom. Not anywhere in the vicinity of my knights in pajama’ed armor, but out in the same room with ME, its target. Fluttering with evil intent. Getting closer and closer in its malevolent journey.
“BOOOOOYS, it’s out heee--e---e-eeeeere!” I sobbed, diving under the pillows of the couch.
They ran out, brandishing their weapons, and began to furiously swat at the moth. But each and every time, it evaded their tactics. It went higher and higher, eventually staying up in the heights of our vaulted ceiling. My eldest son climbed on the table and started swatting. His swats were aimed towards me and I screamed at him to swat the other way, for crying out loud, not at me. Eventually, through this process, he managed to herd it against the back wall of the kitchen. It fluttered into one of the glass pitchers I had on top of my cupboards.
This was it. I knew we had to act now, or the war would be lost. “Quick! Put something on the pitcher! Trap it! Get it! Hurry! Now!” My son clambered on top of the counter, my other son handed him a large plastic lid, and it was slammed down on the pitcher. “Hahahahaha! Gotcha!” my son triumphantly shouted.
I was wary. “No, no, we’re not safe yet, that lid isn’t heavy enough. You need to weigh it down!”
My other son handed him some spoons (?) and a plate to weigh it down, and the eldest grabbed the nearest thing to him--a softening cantaloupe on the counter.
And it was over. I had triumphed. Well, I hadn’t. My sons had. That evening, they had stepped up and become men. I tiptoed over to the pitcher and peeked up at it. I could see the dark figure of the moth inside, crawling around, looking for escape. I could sense it thinking, “This isn’t over. Not yet. Never say die.”
But, it was trapped. And I had won.
I went to bed and slept the exhausted sleep of the battle-weary. The next morning, I got up, relieved that I was safe. I dared to hope that maybe now I could live a happy, moth-free existence.
But, my life is like a serial horror movie that never ends, where the villain never dies. When I went to check on The Moth that morning, the pitcher was empty. The lid was still there, secured by the spoons, plate, and cantaloupe, but The Moth was gone.
How? How was that even possible? Did The Moth possess supernatural traits? Could he morph through walls and glass? I know not. But this I do know: it isn’t over. It never will be. It will be, forever, to be continued....