Someone screamed. My friend Karis and I looked up from our homework as another scream ripped through the walls of our dorm. Megan, my roommate, strode nervously into our room.
“Does anyone have a disposable cup or bowl?” she asked looking around.
We shook our heads.
“What do you need it for?” Kim, my other roommate, asked from her place at the desk, books piled high around her.
Megan looked around the room. “Is anyone here not afraid of cockroaches?”
“There’s a roach in our bathroom?” Kim squealed in alarm.
I pushed my laptop to one side and stood up.
“I’m not afraid to kill it,” I told Megan. Last semester, I had bought two bags of plastic cockroaches to play a prank on my roommates. The roaches had become a favorite toy of mine. Because of that, I was more fascinated with the creatures than I was scared. That did not mean I wanted one on me, but I could smash it.
Megan blinked in surprise. “You’re not scared?”
I bent down and grabbed a shoe from under my bed. “Where is it?”
“You’re seriously going to kill this thing?” Karis set her notebook on my pillow and stood beside me.
I brandished my shoe, grinning in what I thought was a cocky manner. “I killed one yesterday, smeared its guts across the sidewalk.”
“Eww!” Kim cried.
“You’re seriously not scared?” Megan was still in shock.
“Lead me to the roach!” I cried, waving my shoe.
She eyed my “weapon” dubiously. “You’re going to squish it on the ceiling?”
I dropped my shoe. “Oh, it’s on the ceiling?” Now, that could be a problem.
Megan started for the door, and I followed her out into the hall with Karis close behind me. I was beginning to realize that I had underestimated the situation.
As the door to our room slammed shut, I saw a group of girls huddled outside the room three doors over. Lauren, one of my floor leaders, was peeking out from another student’s room, other girls hiding behind her.
“Hey, Debi’s gonna kill it, you guys!” Megan announced proudly.
Charity, my other floor leader, came over to me with a gray plastic bag in one hand.
“Okay,” she told me fiercely, thrusting the bag into my hands, “this is your weapon. Trap the roach in the bag. We’ll tie a knot in the bag, and suffocate it!”
Her eyes grew large, and her hands clenched, as if she were personally strangling the bug.
“Why can’t I just smash it?” I asked dubiously, a little disturbed by her vehemence.
She gave me a hard look. “Roaches fly.”
That was a disturbing thought because that meant that the roach had free range of the room.
The easily visible roach was contentedly standing on the ceiling tile over some poor girl’s bed. Someone had put a chair by the bed. It was the fastest way up, so I took it.
It was a bit difficult getting onto the bed since the silky bedspread was slippery. When I had wriggled a safe distance onto the bed, I sat up and warily looked the roach in the eye. The roach was a beautiful shade of dark red, and it was huge. It looked back at me with an amused expression.
I was in position, and the bag was ready when a thought occurred to me. What if I missed? That thing would fly right into my hair. For some reason, bugs seem to like girls’ hair. My hair happens to be super thick, and I have had several bugs become severely entangled in it as they struggled to get out. I sat there, eyes locked with the roach’s, figuring out how much time I had to trap it before it flew away.
“You know what you could do?” Karis offered from the floor, “You could reach up, put the bag around it and–”
“Come on up,” I told her, making room on the bed.
She paused indecisively, and then climbed onto the bed beside me. I handed her the bag, and then I ducked behind her, still eyeing the roach.
Karis’s hand shot out.
Girls in the doorway screamed. Some of them, including Charity, ran for cover. Karis’s hand held the bag against the ceiling, and we all held our breath. Where was the roach? The ceiling tile had lifted when Karis’s hand hit it, so the cockroach had an exit. Immediately, my hands went to my hair, searching for the creature, but thankfully it wasn’t there.
Then the bag moved.
“I got it!” Karis cried triumphantly as she closed her hand around the top of bag sealing the roach inside. We climbed off the bed, and she examined her prize. “I think I got it,” she said, peering into the bag. She yelped holding the bag away from her face. “Yup, it’s in there. It’s right next to my hand!”
“Okay,” Charity said, creeping up from behind me, “now we’ll tie the bag and suffocate it!”
“You can’t suffocate it!” one of the girls objected in horror. “Those things can live for weeks without a head!”
I rolled my eyes. “Let me see it,” I commanded. Karis held up the bag, and once I caught sight of the roach’s red shape through the gray plastic, I pinched it between my fingers. Girls shrieked as its exoskeleton cracked. A look of pure disgust settled on Karis’s face as she handed me the bag, and I crumpled it around the cockroach, making sure it was dead.
“You guys are heroes!” Charity said triumphantly as we walked out the door.
I nudged Karis. “We’re going to be famous because we killed a bug!” She laughed, and I continued dramatically, “We shall be known as ‘The Great Cockroach Slayers of 3908’!”
Karis followed me to the trash chute, and we watched the bag hurtle down the black hole, never to be seen again by anyone except the trash men.