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Emil jumped out of bed with cockroaches on the mind. Actually, they were more on the unconscious mind. He had been dreaming about them since he was a little boy. Cockroaches. All sorts of them. Jungle ones and water bugs and even ones that he had fabricated all on his own. There was one, he recalled as he sat at the edge of the bed and pulled on his socks, that looked like the president of the United States, complete with little swatch of orange hair and impossibly bordered lips. Well. Emil knew that it was all a hoax. Those cockroaches had probably come from some memory in his battered childhood at one point or another. He couldn't remember when, but he was sure that was it. He hadn't told anyone about the cockroach dreams, not when everyone else had normal dreams of flying and walking on beaches with supermodels and eating large amounts of tulip flavored cupcakes. They would have sent him straight to the house of loons, for lack of better words, and then he would be certainly destined to eating lackluster porridge and watching reruns of Cheers on a broken glass television. He headed down the stairs of his apartment building and whistled a merry tune. On the way down, he greeted his friend Mr. Dumas, who was busy sticking feathers in his large hat. "Hello, Dumas!"

"Oh, hello, Emil." With the casual greeting done, Emil continued down the stairs and walked out the door. But just as he turned from the doorway, there was a sickening crunch under the toes of his boot. Emil raised his foot and glanced at the bottom, quickly smashing it back down again. There was cockroach parts on the bottom of that boot and that made Emil want to vomit. He hadn't seen a cockroach in real life for a really long time.

"I'm sure it's just a coincidence." He kept walking, but didn't get a few blocks away when he heard not one but two more sickening crunches under the soles of his worn boots. "More cockroaches?" He swallowed hard and lifted one, then the other, of his feet to examine the damage. "Oh, that's weird." Three cockroach stomping in one day after almost fifty years of no cockroaches anywhere but his dreams. "At any rate, I have to get to work." He kept walking as quickly as he could to get to the building where he worked. Fortunately, there were no more cockroach stomping to be seen or heard... Until he walked into the building and sat down at the board room meeting. Even then, it was more of a sitting than a stomping. Emil knew, he just knew, he had sat on a cockroach the minute he did so.

The CEO of the company looked at him curiously. "Is there something wrong, Emil?"

Emil stood up and brushed his backside off; the smashed cockroach fell and he kicked it smoothly under the table before sitting down again. "N-no sir. Nothing wrong at all. I just felt so excited for the meeting that I wanted to stand up and hop around! Hooray!" He pumped a fist into the air. No one joined him. "Hooray, hooray, let's sell some vacuums today?"

The CEO frowned deeply at the offending Emil and crushed his face into his hands. "Emil... do you know what this meeting is for?" A cockroach ran across the table. "Do you?"

Emil admitted that no, he did not know what the meeting was for but he assumed it was for vacuum selling because that was what the company did, after all. "Is there another purpose for the meeting?" He tried his best not to glance at the darting around cockroaches that were parading around his feet.

The CEO nodded, solemn as no cake on your birthday and no pyrotechnics on the Fourth of Ju-ly. "We're trying to plan a memorial service." Emil was very surprised by that, but a cockroach had just climbed up his pant leg so he seemed very very surprised as he leapt up and away from the table and started to smack, smack, smack at his body. The CEO stood up too, ready to call security on the strange antics of Emil. "What do you think you are doing?"

Emil whacked at his chest, beating out the cockroaches there and making them fall out of his shirt. "I, well you see, Mr. CEO, I am..." He had to think of something fast before he was known as the strange man who didn't know why he was covered in cockroaches all the time. "I like to eat them!" The whole table glared at him unanimously. He brushed the last few clinging bugs off of himself and went back to sitting. "Yes, I must admit. I have gotten quite into the habit of eating, um, those cockroaches. All sorts of them. Jungly ones and spotted ones and, oh, there's this one variety that I promise you anything tastes just like rice pudding. I don't know how it started but..."

"THAT IS QUITE ENOUGH!" The CEO slammed his fists together on the table. "Get out." Emil flicked a cockroach off of his neck. "Get out." Emil wasn't sure what he should do. "By Jove and the good things in this world, Emil, I said get OUT!" It wasn't two minutes before the guards came in and took poor Emil away for loving to eat cockroaches. He should have expected it though, especially knowing who his CEO was. Then again, though, maybe no one knew who the CEO was, or why his only name was CEO. Later that night, as he stood at the balcony of his home, he shivered to think of Emil eating cockroaches. He wrapped an arm around his wife, a German girl, and looked behind her, at their fifty new children. Such lovely little babies. CEO twitched uncomfortably. Human skin was not suiting him anymore. He waited patiently for the full moon, when he would turn back to his true form. Much like a werewolf, the rise of the cockroach every onceinawhiles was coming soon.

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4 comments

Len Mooring
09:11 May 15, 2020

I loved it. He should have harkened to the mantra which says 'When you are in a hole, stop digging.' With your writing skills, Rhondalise, I hope you are also going for those slick, big money prizes. There's even a 50,000 one going on at the moment. Of course, from my observation, too much, or even any weird won't cut any ice with 'give me an actual slice of life heartbreak, betrayal and reconciliation judges.'

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Rhondalise Mitza
13:48 May 15, 2020

I know, they only want the angsty John Green talent. Which is very nice, but there's so many John Green's the world can handle haha. We need some more Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potters. If I had time I would volunteer to be a judge but I just get busy.

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Sue Moreines
20:18 May 13, 2020

Rhondalise, You certainly are a prolific writer! In order to choose which one to read, I began by reviewing the first few lines of your stories. This one caught my attention as soon as you mentioned one of the cockroaches looked like the president. Then, I noticed that many people had "liked" the story, but no one had commented. I usually look for stories without feedback, and I don't think it was a coincidence. Now bugs are not my favorite creature, and cockroaches always elicit a creepy feeling. Emil's description of his unusual focu...

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Rhondalise Mitza
21:04 May 13, 2020

Ah, yes, Buggers was a bit of a ride for me. I had just had a bad encounter with a giant cockroach in the shower, nonetheless, and was feeling so dubiously inspired by this nightmarish experience that Emil and the rise of the were cockroaches was the result. Thanks so much for your comment, I appreciate the feedback on the lack of clarity at the end! If you liked this one, I do recommend my newest story, Blue Moon Cockroaches.

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