Centipede Saga

Episode I: Spiders in Stilettos

These are dark days in my office, filled with a nameless terror. A monster roams about, scaring the beejeezus out of unsuspecting passersby. It especially likes to lurk in a certain, dimly lit stairwell, which makes those stairs even more dangerous. I didn’t think that was even possible, considering how many times I’ve fallen down them already.

Of course, each time a champion rises to challenge the beast, it craftily retreats to its secret lair. This disappearing act has caused several people to question its existence and declare it a mythical creature. I can assure you, however, that it is very real and horrifying.

Warning signs have been posted and a reward is being offered for its destruction. However, I must caution any who may consider the challenge, since this monster could give Shelob a run for her money. Though it skulks in shadows, once seen, its enormous body and hundred legs caution all comers that they risk life and limb if they dare antagonize the fiend.

I myself have seen and testify to its existence, as do Janis and Laura. Dubbed the Centipede of Death, it has caused me to avoid that staircase altogether and trek all the way around to the front stairs in the rotunda if necessary. The odious being nearly gave me a heart attack first thing this morning, menacingly advancing upon my precarious position.

Janis swears that she once had what sounded like an army of spiders in stilettos run through her house and even that fear does not compare to this terror. I said that Spiders in Stilettos would be a great name for a band. Stephen said we should make t-shirts. After we slay this beast, of course.

Bugs usually don’t scare me, but this is no mere insect. It may very well be one of the newest instruments of terror to be employed by such people as Al Qaeda and the Hamas. Genetically engineered to reach its full terror-inducing potential, it could pose a serious threat to national security. I should probably warn Washington… as soon as I can get down off this table.

Episode II: Revenge of the Twins

Everyone knows that every successful horror film is bound to spawn a franchise of sequels, each promising to be more gruesome and terrifying than the last. I should have expected the Centipede of Death to not go quietly into the abyss. Somehow I had assumed that its unpleasant death would serve as a warning to other monsters.

Revenge is a dish best served cold on a hot summer’s day in a dark stairwell. One would think that having seen the founder of their colony executed by drowning, the centipedes would flee in terror. Instead, they continued to lurk in the shadows, biding their time before implementing their demonic plot.

Just as we had begun to think that it was safe to use the back stairs again, they struck. The violent assault on my coworkers confirmed our worst fear: there were two of them! One beast had been dangerous enough, but battling two seemed a suicide mission. Nevertheless, Karen attacked with nothing more than a newspaper.

The screams could be heard in the halls the monastery, carried on the still air through the Romanesque arches by fear itself. When the newsprint settled, the brutes were pronounced dead. Life has gone back to normal in the library, except for the wary glances cast toward the staircase. After all, if there were two survivors, who’s to say that there aren’t any more?

Episode III: The Chilling Terror

Just in time for Halloween, we have the next installment in our story of the centipede. This tale of terror has continued to spawn sequels to such a degree that I now suspect George Lucas and Steven Spielberg of being involved. Although beginning in June, our last installation was in August when we caught a glimpse of the icy tip of the invasion.

In the past weeks, the demons have been seen far beyond the boundaries of their usual territory in the kitchen. One was spotted in the A/V area. Another attempted to take refuge under the copier before being executed for espionage. One even made it so far as my boss’s office (which, by the way, is adjacent to my own!). Today, we learned that another sanctuary has fallen into their hundreds of hands and feet.

Like most terrorists, “they are easily scared but will return in greater numbers.” Perhaps our initial encounters only provoked them to an enraged onslaught. Whatever the cause, the forays have become so frequent and serious that we are forced to consider our options. Discussion of introducing chemical and biological weapons to our arsenal has begun and is very popular—especially with this secretary!

These are indeed dark and desperate days, and not just because Daylight Savings is a week away. Escalation seems an inevitability for both sides. Everyone walks their rounds on heightened alert for the slightest shadow of a scurrying creature. Today… I dropped my guard. For a moment in the afternoon, I allowed myself a slight respite for which I paid dearly.

It was my own fault for, buried in contemplation, I neglected my customary caution. As I opened the refrigerator door, I was more concerned with the meaning of life than my own perilous actions. There, lurking within, awaited one of the monsters. His beady, black eyes stared into my soul with such cool audacity that I could not respond until it was too late.

By the time I had recovered presence of mind and lung capacity, he was gone. The crafty beast took advantage of my frozen shock to make his escape out along the carpet and back under the condenser. When I finally made my way back to the front desk, my coworkers were chilled as the realization swept over us all that this Battle for the Library may have only just begun.

Episode IV: A New Hope

This afternoon I returned to my office to find an old foe lying in wait for me: un ciempiƩs de muerte! Brashly perched on the wall behind my desk, it crouched just above my phone. Completely taken aback by this sneak attack, I was unprepared for the surprise visit. The months of silence had lulled me into a false sense of security and I had dropped my guard.

As my enemy and I stared each other down, I thought back to how many people had never believed in its existence. A lack of evidence has given rise to the general sentiment that I was overreacting, possibly even imagining the danger. Slowly, carefully I reached into my pocket for my cell phone—this particular monster would not perish unnoted. I snapped a quick picture.

My old friend and ally Laura is no longer with us in this library, having moved on to a better place. This particular specimen of evil was relatively small compared to some others I had faced. However, considering its location on pale taupe wall, this crafty devil could not be squished for fear of leaving a smudge: a different approach would be required.

Emboldened by Laura’s distant cries of “Kill it! Kill it dead!” I went in search of a new and fearless champion to slay the beast and discovered Ashley. She was hard at work on the laminator, a horrid machine which is no doubt in league with the centipedes. Hearing my pleas for help, she immediately left her post to come to my aid.

We searched high and low for the perfect weapon and finally settled on a napkin from the coffee station. Marching straight into my office, Ashley paused only to comment on the repugnance of the spawn of Satan. In one fell stroke, she yanked it from down from where it had been fleeing toward the cabinets, slaying it amidst loud cheers.

The body was disposed of in a public trash can to serve as a warning to other trespassers. While preceding Centipedes of Death have been full-grown to maturity, this was only a young scout. Doubtless, there is a nest nearby. The arrival of Spring has awakened the terror with new vigor. Dark and perilous days may be ahead of us, but we have a new strength on our side. We will prevail.

Episode V: Peter Parker

All’s been quiet in the library these past few weeks. I attribute the reprieve to Peter Parker. Peter Parker was strategically placed on my desk as a guard by my lovely flatmate. He guards my office, my workspace, and most importantly, my candy corn. I must say, he has been doing an excellent job as watchman.

Who, you may ask, is this enigmatic guardian? This silent protector who remains steadfast through the darkest night? He could be you or me, any one of us. He is only an ordinary pumpkin, even undersized and apparently insignificant. Yet when a hero was needed, he valiantly donned the painted mask of a spider and took up his post.

We librarians may now go about our daily lives free from fear. He who was once considered a ghoulish Halloween decoration has proven to be our shield against all that is creepy and crawly. Where dangerous, disgusting creatures once skittered unabashedly, now they dare not venture. While this peace may not last forever, we will enjoy it while it does.

Evil undoubtedly continues to lurk in the shadows. Even a brave little pumpkin cannot live forever. We are all keenly aware that this may be merely the calm before the storm. The last, great battle looms in all of our minds. While the final doom awaits, we make the most of our time with our beloved books… and Peter Parker.